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Posts Tagged ‘Cincinnati Reds’

Sportsmaven Invades Cincinnati

Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007

222The plans for a road trip to Cincinnati were in full force on Friday night, even though the Cubs clinched a playoff berth by the combination of beating the Cincinnati Reds and a loss by the Milwaukee Brewers to the San Diego Padres. Saturday morning we packed ourselves into the car at 6am and made the trek to The Queen City from our north suburban Chicago home. Along the way, we encountered tons of screaming Cubs fans, who apparently had the same idea we had. For 4 1/2 hours, we dodged through the traffic of crazies so we could get to Cincinnati before they did. We finally rolled into the city and parked our car right outside the stadium and made our way to the ticket window, asking for the best seats available. For $65 , we got tickets in their Scouts Alley section, about 10 rows behind home plate, very nice seats indeed.

After being in the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis 2 weeks prior, my first impressions of The Great American Ballpark was that is was not nearly as nice. The park is on the Ohio River, with the back facing the river, but the very first thing I noticed was that the back of the park was closed — no view of the river. The park also had a sterile, cold feeling about it. It didn’t feel like the warm, friendly, inviting Midwestern ballpark that Busch Stadium was in St. Louis. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. We enjoyed the game, saw Jerry Krause scouting the Cubs for the New Your Mets, had a wonderful server named Bernie, who kept us refreshed with cool drinks and some good ballpark food, and Rich Hill took a no-hitter into the 6th inning and pitched well. The Cubs won, the Reds fans were friendly, and the weather was tremendous.

As we made our way back to Chicago that evening (yes, we did this trip in a single day), my thoughts drifted back to Wrigley Field, the start of the NLDS, and the fact that my urge to go to Cincinnati was finally filled. I don’t think I would go back to that park again, (or Cincinnati for that matter) as I just didn’t find it compelling enough to make a repeat visit. Let the playoffs begin, thankfully, not in Cincinnati.

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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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Chicago Cubs Are An Early Season Disaster

Posted by sportsmaven on April 23, 2007

I was going to refrain from writing about the Chicago Cubs early this season, but after this weekend’s series against the St. Louis Cardinals and watching tonight’s come from ahead loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, I can no longer hold my tongue or my typing prowess any longer. I have watched this Cubs team in person for 5 games now (1-4 record for the games I’ve attended) and watched pretty much every other game this season on TV and I have come to the conclusion that the Cubs are an unmitigated disaster.

Carlos Zambrano Loses to BrewersCubs Lose to Brewers 5-4 in 12 innings

(Tribune photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo)

Lets look at some of the numbers, just to make sure the assessment is not without empirical evidence. The Cubs are 3-8 at home. They are 0-3 in extra inning games. They are 0-5 in one run games. They are 0-3-2 in series wins at home. They are 1-4-2 in the 6 series they have played this season and are down the first game of the 7th series of the season. The Cubs are 7-12 overall for the season, 5 games behind the division leading Brewers and fading fast. To highlight how bad it has become for the Cubs, only the Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals have worse records than the Cubs (both are 6-13) and both teams have actually been on an upswing as of late. If you take out the performance of Rich Hill, projected to be the 4th starter this season, the Cubs have only 4 wins this season. Four.

Now the naysayers and optimists of the world are saying “C’mon SportsMaven, the Cubs have played only 19 games this season. It’s too early to write them off.” Well maybe so, but the signs are not encouraging to say the least, and when you spend in excess of $300 million in the offseason, 7-12 is not satisfactory at any point in the season.

Just to point out some of the weak points in the Cubs season, you don’t have to look very far:

1. The Cubs outfield situation is a mess. LF Alfonso Soriano gets hurt 12 games into the season (slight tweak of his left hamstring). Felix Pie is called up play CF. That leaves LF and RF for a combination of Matt Murton, Cliff Floyd, and Jacques Jones — until Soriano comes back and management says that he will play LF to protect his hamstring injury. Cubs management also says that Felix Pie will play as well, in CF for the Cubs. That leaves the Cubs with 3 RF’s and a messy rotation in the OF. Pie will eventually be sent back to Iowa leaving the original mess that started the season.

2. The Cubs setup men are a disaster. LP Scott Eyre, with a 15.00 ERA after tonight, giving up the tying runs in the 8th inning on a HR by Brewers 1B Prince Fielder ( a left handed batter) and a couple of hits by left handed batters to score the second run. RP Bobby Howry has given up key hits in the late innings to blow leads and ultimately to lose games. Factor in LP Will Ohman’s 40 ft. curveballs, and walking in two runs in an inning against the Cincinnati Reds to lose that game, the set up men in the Cubs bullpen are losing games at an alarming clip.

3. The Cubs defense and baserunning are atrocious. Soriano has been picked off 3 times in key situations in the last 9 games. Apparently Ronnie Cedeno overuns second base on a WALK and gets tagged out. The Cubs have committed so many baserunning gaffes this season (and mind you, it’s only 19 games into the season) they have already had to dispatch baserunning instructor Bobby Dernier to get this fixed. The defense has been terrible as well. Sure handed SS Cesar Izturis commited 3 errors — in ONE GAME. 2b Mark DeRosa drops a sure out infield popup, allowing an inning to keep going and for the eventual winning runs to score later in a loss to the Reds. Jacque Jones still can’t hit a cutoff man.

4. The #1 starter (Carlos Zambrano) with 16 walks/16 strikeouts and a 7.77 ERA entering tonight’s game and the #5 starter (Wade Miller) with a 10.54 ERA giving up a whopping 24 hits in 13 IP this season. Zambrano will come around, so not as concerned about his early season struggles, but it may be time to move RP Angel Guzman (2.45 ERA) into the #5 slot in the rotation.

5. The Cubs have been killed by lack of clutch hitting, as noted by the one run and extra inning record noted above. Latest case in point — tonight’s game. The Cubs had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs in the 7th and failed to score. Had the go ahead run on 2nd in the 8th and 10th and failed to score. Had a runner in scoring position in the 11th and failed to score. Had the tying run on base in the 12th and failed to score. That’s a lot of failure in the clutch. And that’s just ONE game. This has been a trend in most of the games this season. The hitting, the clear strength of this team, has been a no-show for most of the season.

6. RP Mark Prior is finally having arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder…..

Amazingly, the Cubs are losing in the midst of some very strong performances by key question marks, specifically:

1. The “weak” spots of the starting rotation have come up big time: LP Rich Hill leads MLB in wins (3) and ERA (0.41) and batting avg. against ( .192) LP Ted Lilly is the hard luck pitcher in the rotation, 1-2 record with a 2.42 ERA. His 2 losses were a 1-0 decision against the Cincinnati Reds and a 2-1 loss against the St. Louis Cardinals. Lilly is leading the NL (and 5th in MLB) in strikeouts (30). RP Jason Marquis is having an outstanding season so far, with a 2-1 record, 1.88 ERA, including 7 shut out innings against the Cardinals last Saturday.

2. 1B Derrek Lee and 3B Aramis Ramirez have been in the NL Top 10 in batting average all season long, both starting the season hot with Lee hitting .360 and Ramirez hitting .340. SS Ryan Theriot has also been on a tear, hitting .340 as well.

3. RP Michael Wuertz has been completely lights out unhittable….in the Will Ohman walking in runs game against the Reds, Wuertz enterted the game with the bases loaded with no outs and proceeded to strike out the side. Wuertz has a 0.00 ERA, 13K’s in 11 IP. Masterful.

4. The Cubs have scored the second most runs in the division (87) and given up the second fewest runs in the division ( 77) and are still in last place….go figure.

So, 19 games into this wonderful season and the Cubs are on pace for a 56 win season, 10 less than last season’s drive to the basement. Makes you pine for the salad days of Dusty Baker…… the old saying goes “you can’t win a championship in April, but you can certainly lose them in April. If that holds true, we will be in year 100 of the latest 5 year rebuilding plan by Memorial Day.

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SportsMaven Returns With A Flourish — Chicago Bulls Crush the Washington Wizards

Posted by sportsmaven on April 16, 2007

Hello loyal readers! The SportsMaven is back from a break and ready to catch you up on all things Chicago sports! In my absence, a lot of things have happened in the Chicago sports world, but I wanted to kick off my return post beginning with the Chicago Bulls. I attended today’s Chicago Cubs game against the Cincinnati Reds this afternoon. I actually attended the entire three game series this weekend, but today’s game was on one of Wrigleyville’s famous rooftops (thanks to the folks at Beyond the Ivy). More to come on the Cubs, but one of the cool things about going to a rooftop game is the fact that I was able to watch both the Cubs game live and the Chicago Bulls play the fading Washington Wizards in an all important game for the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

bulls-beat-wizards-4-15-07.jpg

I’m happy to note that the Bulls looked OUTSTANDING again today. They are peaking at the exact right time of the season. After today’s 101-68 blowout of the Washington Wizards, the Bulls are on track to finish their season with 50 wins and the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The beauty of the situation is that the Bulls are getting better and better as the season goes on. With each passing day, the Bulls are proving that they are a strong contender for the Eastern Conference championship and a shot at the NBA Title.

A win on Wednesday against the New Jersey Nets will seal the #2 seed in the East and a date most likely against the same Nets team or possibly the Wizards, who are in a free fall and predicted to be a quick exit from this year’s post-season. I LOVE the Bulls chances to get to the Finals this season. The Eastern Conference is wide open and the Bulls have beaten the conference’s top team, the Detroit Pistons three of four games this season. If all things hold true, look for a classic Bulls-Pistons matchup that has more sub-plots and drama than a good Shaquille O’Neal – Kobe Bryant feud.

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