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Posts Tagged ‘Arizona Diamondbacks’

Chicago Cubs Playoff Baseball Takes Yet Another Cruel Turn

Posted by sportsmaven on October 1, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, this series is over.  That’s it, all up in smoke in 2 hours of bad baseball.  The Chicago Cubs were on the biggest of the biggest stage tonight.  Most everything has been going their way in what has been an amazing baseball season to this point.  What was needed was a Game 1 victory in the National League Division Series, to show the world what we have seen in Chicago for the past 6 months, but the Cubs came out flat, nervous, and scared, a virtual repeat of last season’s sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Cubs suddenly have developed a severe case of the flop sweats.  From the outset of Game 1, the Cubs looked shell shocked, scared.  Looked as if they were pressing, the pressure of all the expectations, burdens of 100 years of fan expectations, on their shoulders.  The burdens of 100 years of failed Cubs teams to make up for.  They took that on the field with them tonight and played as though they wanted to wipe out 100 years of expectations in one failed swoop.

After the game, everyone looked completely stunned, in a state of shock, with no confidence.  From the tone and look on manager Lou Piniella’s face in his post-game interview, to the tentative, shaky answers the Cub players provided after tonight’s 7-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, from body language, tone of voice, not one bit of confidence oozed from anyone associated with the Cubs tonight.

This team looked defeated.  And this is why this series and the season will be over for the Cubs in 4 or 5 short days.  The Cubs have an 0-7 record in their last 7 playoff games, going back to the 2003 NLCS, and there are no discernable signs of this trend breaking any time soon.  And now, ironically, the season is in the very erratic hands of RHP Carlos Zambrano in a must win Game 2 tomorrow night.

Tonight’s Cubs team performance, and RHP Ryan Dempster in particular, reminded me of actor Albert Brooks in the 1987 hit movie “Broadcast News”.  Brooks plays an uber intelligent reporter named Aaron Altman.  Altman is a neurotic, socially repressed reporter who is craving for a chance to dance on the big stage of network news, the anchor desk of the prime time news cast.

He wants to anchor the prime time news show.  When all the regulars are attending the White House Correspondents Dinner, Altman is given his chance to star on the prime time evening news.  Altman is beyond smart, almost overqualified in many ways, but he craves just one opportunity to shine in the limelight.

When the camera light blinks on at the most crucial moment when newscast begins, Altman suddenly realizes the enormous magnitude of the moment and his perceived inadequacy, he gets the “deer in the headlights” look in his eyes.

As the newscast contunues, he begins profusely sweating, so bad that William Hurt’s character described it as “singing in the rain”.  An utter disaster.  This is what happened to Dempster and the Chicago Cubs tonight.

The baseball gods are very fickle at this point of the season.  They don’t care about destiny nor the burdens of 100 years of baseball futility.  They have no room for perceived entitlement, fans expectations, nor do they care what you did yesterday.  They don’t care about predestinations, or history.  They certainly don’t care about curses, billy goats, or pressure.  All they care about is baseball played today, played well, and with execution.  Today’s game.

Tomorrow night’s game is the most important of the season.  It is the season.  The short divisional series is the great equalizer in the baseball playoffs.  It’s where dreams, hard work, and grandiose expectations go to die.  The Chicago Cubs are in a must-win situation tomorrow night and in Game 3 in Los Angeles on Saturday.  Carlos Zambrano, lets see what you’ve got……

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Kevin Hart Pitching His Way Off Chicago Cubs Roster

Posted by sportsmaven on July 22, 2008

In watching tonight’s Chicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks game, the performance of the long relievers has been nothing short of abysmal.  Blame the performances on being rusty for not having pitched for the last 10 days due to the All-Star break, or any other reason that may be contrived, but some of these arms are headed back to the Chicago Cubs AAA affiliate, the Iowa Cubs, with RHP Kevin Hart a strong favorite to be the first one out the door.

Hart was called up on July 11th when RHP Michael Wuertz was sent to Iowa.  In 1 2/3 innings pitched since his callup, Hart has given up 6 runs (4 earned) 5 hits and 3 walks.  His ERA is a lofty 27.11 since the callup, raising his season ERA to 7.23.  Hart has control issues, which have plagued him all season.  I expect Hart will be sent down as soon as tomorrow to make room for LHP Scott Eyre, eligible to come off the DL now.

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The Mental Aspect Of Baseball

Posted by sportsmaven on April 4, 2008

The Chicago Cubs played their 4th game of the 2008 season today and already, it seems that destiny’s team is off to a slow start for the second year in a row. Cubs manager Lou Piniella stated early this spring the importance of the Cubs to get off to a strong start this season because the 2008 schedule is front loaded with early home games and light with home games in September. Four games into the beginning of this season, the Cubs have seemed to pick up where they left off last season. Lack of hitting, timely hitting, scoring runs, timely pitching, and poor execution and fielding have contributed to the Cubs 1-3 start.

Against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs salvaged the final game of the opening series, but looked overmatched by the bold, dynamic play of the youthful Brew Crew. The most surprising part of the beginning of this Cubs season is how mentally unprepared the Cubs appear.

The Cubs possess all the physical skills to be World Champions, but mentally, the Cubs have so far come across as the 90 pound weakling. P Kerry Wood imploded in his first game as Cubs closer. He hit a batter, gave up hits in a tie game, in the 9th inning. Game 2 of the season looked like something you would expect from a team just starting spring training. The defense was terrible, the situational hitting was atricious. The pitching was abominable.

Today’s game was lost by an 8th inning fielding error by Cubs 2B Mark DeRosa, booting a ball hit right to him with nobody on base, and then 2 batters later, Cubs LF Alfonso Soriano badly playing a Miguel Tejada double into a triple, on a play that should have been an error, but was gifted as a triple by Tejada, scoring Lance Berkman. In today’s post-game press conference, Cubs P Rich Hill admitted a lapse in concentration in the 4th inning, walking Mark Loretta then giving up a home run to the 8th hitter, Astros C J.R. Towles.

Mental mistakes and lapses in concentration are what held the Cubs back last season. Yes, the Cubs won the National League Central Division last season with an 85-77 record. The favored Cubs were then promptly swept out of the playoffs by the underdog Arizona Diamondbacks. For the Cubs, the series was punctuated by what we have seen so far this season: lack of situational and timely hitting, poor defense, and huge mental lapses at critical moments. The mental aspect of baseball is perhaps the most difficult of skills to master. If the Cubs do not grasp this concept immediately, next year will be 101 years of championship futility.

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Chicago Cubs Get Swept Out of 2007 Playoffs

Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007

222Somewhere, somehow, Lou Piniella is sitting back, scratching his head, wondering if it was the goat after all. The Chicago Cubs160168 were ushered out of the playoffs on Saturday night with a resounding thud, as they lost Game 3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks161169, 5-1, sealing their fate once again, bringing the championship drought to 99+ years and counting. Fate was sealed when Cubs P Rich Hill’s 162170first pitch of the game to Diamondbacks CF Chris Young163171 was golfed into the left field bleachers. Four double plays later, the Cubs were left with memories of 2007 and the “Wait ‘Til Next Year” cry.

Cubs Lose To

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Watching this series, I was totally shocked at how the Cubs did absolutely nothing to merit winning even one game. Their defense was flawless in the series, otherwise, offensively, they were a complete no-show. The Cubs big 3 hitters had exactly 0 RBI. Outside of Carlos Zambrano, Cubs starting pitching was not very good. I liked how Cubs C Geovanny Soto172 competed, cementing his position as Cubs starting catcher for next season.

Outside of a nice run in June/July, the Cubs season was woefully short on good, sound, fundamental baseball. They didn’t do the little things to win games on a consistent basis. They didn’t do things like bunt very well, advance baserunners, didn’t show good discipline at the plate, run the bases well, or any of the other little things that a team like the Arizona Diamondbacks did to win the NLDS.

This has got to change for 2008 if the Cubs plan on ending the championship drought. When you do the little things, all of a sudden breaks start going your way. You get a couple more calls, you work yourself out of jams, the big hit gets you runs. My big wish for the 2008 Cubs is that their baseball IQ triples, that they take care of the little things. Oh, a closer and a power hitting RF wouldn’t hurt either.

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Chicago Cubs Pull One Out Of The Fire

Posted by sportsmaven on August 21, 2007

The Kid was dealing it tonight.  I said that to myself after every missed swing and strikeout.  Down and hard with nasty movement.  Giants P Tim Lincecum was bringing the heat and was virtually un-hittable tonight, shutting out the Chicago Cubs on 3 hits through 8 innings.  Then came the 9th inning, the three hardest outs in baseball.  Lincecum deserved better tonight, but he got hit in the 9th, hit by Ryan Theriot, Jacque Jones, and Derrek Lee.  By the time Cliff Floyd and Jason Kendall were through, the Cubs were on their way to a 5-1 victory and Lincecum was hung with a loss.  By the way, is it just me or does Lincecum look like the long lost twin of Ferris’s best friend, Cameron Frye from the movie Ferris Buehler’s Day Off?  Talk about pulling one out tonight, the bats looked dead, Cubs P Jason Marquis looked like a hard luck pitcher.  Marquis threw a wonderful game, escaping time and time again from the 5 walks he issued.

Cubs Pull One Out Of The Fire

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
With the St. Louis Cardinals winning earlier tonight against the Florida Marlins and the Milwaukee Brewers taking it to Arizona Diamondbacks, the Cubs needed this win badly and came through in the clutch.  Wins are at a premium now, with less than 40 games left in the season, the Cubs are finding ways to win.  With OF Alfonso Soriano set to return in the next two weeks, the Cubs surely have another good run in them with their envisioned lineup intact.  Tomorrow’s matchup is a dandy, with Cubs LHP Rich Hill facing Giants LHP Barry Zito….stay tuned for more magic…….

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