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Archive for September, 2007

Chicago Cubs are 2007 NL Central Division Champions

Posted by sportsmaven on September 29, 2007

When it seemed to be the most bleakest moment of the season, being swept by the lowly Florida Marlins, the Chicago Cubs put together perhaps their best game of the season in beating the Cincinnati Reds, 6-0 tonight. An hour later, the San Diego Padres set off the celebration by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 6-3, crowning the Cubs as your 2007 NL Central Division Champions. For those who feel the Cubs are backing into the playoffs, tonight should erase all thoughts of that. The Cubs had to win tonight with their top pitcher, Carlos Zambrano manning the mound and he was spectacular. The Cubs got enough hitting and put the misery of southern Florida behind them. By the way, what the hell is up with the Florida Marlins anyway? If they had played their entire season like they played the last 2 weeks, they would be NL East Champions. Instead, they get the unenviable position of being a spoiler. I’m sure that 40 years from now, each Marlins player is going to have his grandkid on his lap and will tell them how in 2007, they slowed down the mighty Cubs from clinching the division and spoiled the division championship for the New York Mets. Do they give rings out for that? I think not.

Cubs Win NL Central Title

(AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Carlos Zambrano Wins Division Title!

(AP Photo/Al Behrman)

The Sportsmaven is heading to Cincinnati tomorrow morning to see the Cubs face the Cincinnati Reds at a 2:55p gametime start. This game should be a dog. Will this be more than a spring training B game? Doubtful, but none the less, look forward to seeing yet another new ballpark this season, the Great American Ballpark. On Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, everyone starts from scratch. Eight teams will have a magic number of 11, the Cubs one of those teams and they are living on cloud nine tonight.

Cubs Win!

(AP Photo/David Kohl)

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs……2007 NL Central Division Champions!

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Sportsmaven Invades St. Louis

Posted by sportsmaven on September 28, 2007

The Sportsmaven decided to venture into enemy territory two weekends ago, following the Chicago Cubs to new Busch Stadium for the 4 games in 3 days series against the arch rival (literally!) St. Louis Cardinals. Having never been to St. Louis, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the city, the fans, or from the baseball world in general, but I will have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much St. Louis is a small town dressed up as a big city. The downtown area, where the Gateway Arch, our hotel (the Adam’s Mark Hotel, which I highly recommend), and Busch Stadium are located, was very quaint, with all the aforementioned points of interest within walking distance of each other. We started our trip on Friday afternoon at The Feisty Bulldog Bucket Shoppe and Billiards for lunch and a few pre-game beverages and then worked our way to Busch Stadium, via a detour through Mike Shannon’s Steak & Seafood Restaurant, infamous for the bar that supposedly over served Cardinals P Josh Hancock the night that he died in an automobile accident on April 29th of this year. I have never been to old Busch Stadium, but the new Busch is a terrific venue to watch a baseball game.

Friday night, we found ourselves in section 139, on the first base side. Carlos Zambrano was pitching for the Cubs and hurled a great game, the Cubs taking a 5-1 lead into the 9th inning. It was important for the Cubs to set the tone early in this series, and they did just that. Ryan Dempster, in a non-save situation, gave up two homers and a couple of other hits before being relieved by Bobby Howry, who gave up a hit, but secured the 5-3 win for the Cubs.

On Saturday, for the early game of a day/night doubleheader, we had seats in the left centerfield bleachers, near the Cubs bullpen. As our luck would have it, we were sitting a row in front of the two most absolutely obnoxious Cardinals fans. One thing I do want to note about the Cardinals fans, in general is how absolutely wonderful they were to the Cubs fans overall. I was expecting Cardinals fans to be loathesome, some of which we experience in our fan encounters at Wrigley Field. I was very surprised to discover that 99% of the Cardinals fans we met in St. Louis were totally awesome and treated us with respect. They were friendly, considerate, and a great time to hang out with, except for the two jokers in the bleachers. They were obnoxious, insulting loudmouths that wouldn’t shut up. For seven innings, we listened to these guys, as the Cubs were down 2-1, until Alfonso Soriano came to the plate in the 8th inning with a man on base. The obnoxious twins were going at it full bore, jabbing their red foamed fingers into every Cub fan’s face……with one swing, Soriano parked that ball into the left field bleachers and all of a sudden the dynamic duo went silent. Soriano hadn’t even touched home plate when we turned around and discovered two empty seats where the loudmouths were sitting. That was just pure justice for those cretins.

After the day game, we strolled out the front gate of Busch Stadium and made the short stumble to Paddy O’s, a small bar with an outdoor tent right outside Busch Stadium. Paddy O’s had cold beer, vodka cranberry for me, and a cool mixture of Cub and Cardinal fans drinking together in harmony. It was their version of Murphy’s Bleachers, and it was pretty awesome.

The night game found us quickly, as our seats were on the first base side of the stadium again, this time in the Redbird Club section, which by the way, were quite nice. We were definitely the only Cubs fans in our section and felt like Custer facing the indians at Little Big Horn. The seats were padded, the section was awesome (was able to catch parts of the Nebraska-USC game in the Stadium Club) and the Cubs opened an early lead, but with shoddy base running (2 men thrown out at home plate) and fielding (2 errors by Jason Kendall), the Cubs ended up losing the nightcap, 4-3.

Our wakeup call on Sunday morning came early, at 4:45am. We had a 7:30am flight back to Chicago as we needed to get back to town for the Chicago Bears-Kansas City Chiefs football game. The Cubs ended up taking the final game of the series, 4-2 thus winning the series and essentially putting an end to a miserable season for the Cardinals.

So, our experience with the new Busch Stadium is that every seat seems to be a great seat, with a great view. Even the bleachers were a nice seat, not quite Wrigley Field bleachers, but close and pretty fun. For the baseball, we took 3 of 4 from the Cardinals and never looked back. It was a great weekend, we closed the door on the Cardinals, got to experience new Busch Stadium and made it out of town in time to catch the home opener for the Bears. All and all, a great Chicago sports weekend!

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Jim Thome, You’re A Class Act

Posted by sportsmaven on September 19, 2007

The Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005.  One member of the current White Sox who was not on that championship is 1B/DH Jim Thome.  Thome was traded to the Sox after the World Series for CF and local hero Aaron Rowand and minor league P Gio Gonzalez.  Since then, the Sox have taken the death spiral to the bottom of the AL Central Division, battling the likes of the Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Florida Marlins, amongst others, for the top pick in next year’s amateur baseball draft.

Jim Thome Hits 500th HR

(AP Photo/Jerry Lai)

The one person who deserved to be called a World Series champion is Jim Thome.  Nobody expected the White Sox to decline in the manner in which they have done this season.  The hitting has been spotty and poor, the pitching, especially the bullpen, has been horrific.  The one constant on this train wreck of a White Sox team has been the attitude and professionalism of Jim Thome.  Thome hit his 500th HR in dramatic fashion, a walk off HR to beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (it rolls off the tongue) 9-7 on Sunday afternoon.

Congratulations, Jim Thome!  It is unclear whether this season was a blip on the radar of Sox lore, or if it’s truly a sign of decline, but I hope the Sox make one more run at a championship next season, because nobody on that roster deserves it more than Jim Thome.

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