Chicago Sports Inside and Out – The Chicago Sports Maven

Bringing Chicago sports to the world!

Posts Tagged ‘NL Central Division’

Top 10 Moments In Chicago Sports In 2008

Posted by sportsmaven on January 17, 2009

The new year has already started and amidst the resolutions, fresh starts, diets, and new beginnings comes the ever reverent look back at the year that has passed.  The year 2008 was a banner year for Chicago sports, as three teams won their prospective division titles, and one, the Chicago Wolves won a championship.  There was good, bad, ugly, and everything in between for Chicago sports fans.  So, lets take a look back on the Top 10 Moments in Chicago Sports in 2008 (in no particular order):
Bears use goal line stand to beat the Eagles 24-20

Bears use goal line stand to beat the Eagles 24-20

Bears goal line stand against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 — The Chicago Bears were leading the Philadelphia Eagles 24-20, Eagles had first and goal from the Bears 4, 5:40 left in the game.  Eagles run RB Cornell Buckhalter off right tackle for 3 yards.  Second and goal was a handoff to FB Tony Hunt for no gain.  Third down was back to Buckhalter to the right for no gain.  Eagles call a time out and decide to go for it on 4th down.   Buckhalter again off left tackle, this time, stood up by RE Alex Brown of the Bears for no gain.  Game over.  Bears win.

Zambrano hurls a no-hitter.

Zambrano hurls a no-hitter.

Cubs RHP Carlos Zambrano throws no-hitter against the Houston Astros on Sept. 14th —  The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros waited two long days to find out where they would be playing their key late season series against each other.  Houston was being devestated by Hurricane Ike and MLB moved the Astros to “neutral” Miller Park in Milwaukee to face the Cubs.  Zambrano brought his “A” game with him to “Wrigley North”, shutting down the powerful Astros lineup, striking out CF Darrin Erstad swinging for the last out of the first Cubs no-hitter in 36 years.

Chicago Cubs Win 2008 NL Central Division

Chicago Cubs Win 2008 NL Central Division

Cubs win back to back NL Central Division titles — The Cubs began the 2008 season with one of it’s goals to win the 2008 NL Central Division title, as well as seeking their first World Series appearance since 1945 and first World Championship since 1908.  Alas, the Cubs could only slay one 100 year drought, as they won an NL-best 97 games en route to the 2008 NL Central Division title for their  first back to back division titles since 1908.  A quick sweep in the NL Divisional Series by the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers dimmed what was to that point, a most magical season for the North Siders.

chicago white sox win 2008 al central division title

chicago white sox win 2008 al central division title

White Sox win 3 elimination games in a row to win the AL Central title — The Chicago White Sox looked dead in the water, losing  4 of their final 5 games to the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, coughing up a 2.5 game division lead and falling 1/2 game behind the Twins with one game to play.  The final game of the Cleveland series and the regular season was a must win game with Mark Buehrle on the bump, the Sox beat the Indians to force the Monday afternoon post-season makeup game against the Detroit Tigers.  The Sox win the makeup game against the Tigers, forcing a one game playoff game against the Twins for the AL Division title, this time, in Chicago.   The Sox, behind a masterpiece by LHP John Danks, beat the Twins 1-0 and claim the AL Central Division title, winning three elimination games in a row.

derrick rose drafted #1 by chicago bulls

derrick rose drafted #1 by chicago bulls

Chicago Bulls win the 1st pick in the NBA Draft and the right to select PG Derrick Rose Chicago Bulls GM John Paxson had to work wonders to undo all the bad karma and decision-making by Bulls brass in the post-Michael Jordan/Phil Jackson era, but by sheer luck,  one of those bouncing ping-pong ball went red, and the Bulls, with a x% chance, landed the #1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft.  Around the same time, a young freshman PG from Chicago was leading his one-loss  Memphis Tigers team to the 2008 National Championship game against the Kansas Jayhawks.  The Jayhawks win the title, the young freshman forgoes his eligibility and declares eligible for the NBA Draft and the prodigal son returns a hero.

The City of Chicago becomes a finalist for host city for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games — Chicago survived the US bid process to emerge as the US entry for host of the 2016 Olympics.  Election Night provided the world a glimpse of what Chicago 2016 could be as Grant Park served as the world’s stage for President-Elect Barack Obama’s election night speech.  Chicago is President Obama’s hometown and can be in prime position to be named 2016 host, but it can’t rest on that momentum as concerns about finances, transportation infrastructure, and sports facilities still shroud Chicago’s Olympic bid chances.

Youngsters lead the resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks

Youngsters lead the resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks

The arrival of a young and resurgent Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, who finished  the 2007-08 season very strong and opened the 2008-09 season even stronger — the Chicago Blackhawks under owner Bill Wirtz became the city’s red headed stepchild of Chicago professional sports.  Even the minor league AHL hockey team, the Chicago Wolves, were outdrawing the Hawks in attendance.  Things couldn’t have been any lower, and then, Bill Wirtz died.  Bill’s son Rocky took the team over and his first move as team owner was to steal marketing genius John McDonough away from the Cubs, hiring McDonough as his new team president.  A change in coaches (Joel Quenneville in, Denis Savard out), a #1, and #3  draft pick later, youngsters C Jonathan Toews and RW Patrick Kane lead a marketing and on-ice resurgence of the Chicago Blackhawks.  High point to date, a team best 9 game winning streak leading into the 2009 Winter Classic against the Detroit Red Wings.  The game resulted in a loss for the Blackhawks in the standings, but was a HUGE win for the Hawks in prestige and heritage.  A vintage Original Six team is reborn.

Chicago Bears Matt Forte leads Bears ground attack

Chicago Bears Matt Forte leads Bears ground attack

Bears hammer Indianapolis Colts on national TV in the season opener, marking the coming out party for Bears RB Matt Forte and ruining the home opening of the Colts new Lucas Oil Stadium — The Chicago Bears were playing on national television.  They were also playing the mighty Indianapolis Colts on the road in the Colts brand spanking new stadium.  The Bears have traditionally been nothing short of horrible in nationally televised night games and this was Sunday Night Football on NBC.  And QB Peyton Manning, coming off a knee injury, was planning on starting this game. The Bears were doomed, but fate forgot to mention that to this Bears team, lead by a resurgent defense and the nimble running of rookie RB Matt Forte, the only Bear to eclipse 100 yards rushing in his first ever game (123 yards), the Bears down the mighty Colts 29-13.

QB Juice Williams leads Illinois to 2008 Rose Bowl

QB Juice Williams leads Illinois to 2008 Rose Bowl

The University of Illinois football team plays in it’s first Rose Bowl since 1984 — In 2001, the University of Illinois football program was reaching it’s pinnacle capped by a Big Ten Conference Championship and an appearance in the 2002 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.  Two short years later, the Illini hit rock bottom, going 1-11, eventually firing coach Ron Turner and hiring master recruiter Ron Zook as his replacement.  In year 3 of the rebuilding process, the Illini found themselves with a 9-4 record, stunning #1 Ohio State on the road in a 28-21 victory that propelled the team to it’s first Rose Bowl in 24 years.

Chicago Wolves win the 2008 Calder Cup Championship

Chicago Wolves win the 2008 Calder Cup Championship

Chicago Wolves win the 2008 Calder Cup Championship, bringing a hockey title back to Chicago — The Chicago Wolves AHL hockey team beats the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5-2 bringing the Calder Cup back to Chicago.  It is the 4th title for the Wolves in their 14-year history.  Soon after, Wolves Coach John Anderson is promoted to coach the parent team, the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers. The Wolves dip into a famous Chicago hockey family, tapping Don Granato as their new head coach.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Fighting Illini | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chicago Cubs Should Trademark The “Wait ‘Til Next Year” Slogan

Posted by sportsmaven on October 5, 2008

It’s been over an hour since RF Alfonso Soriano took the last of his pitiful swings to end the season for the Chicago Cubs and I am still pissed off.  I, like millions of other people, am a Chicago Cubs fan and again, we have been turned into a mockery again by the very team that we live and die for.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

WE have become a national laughingstock, a total joke.  There are hundreds and thousands of Cubs fans in the city of Chicago, as well as all over the world that are angry tonight after the Cubs were swept out of the 2008 playoffs by the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Los Angeles newspapers accuse Cub fans of giving up after being down in Game 1.  TBS showed shot after shot of grieving, somber Cubs fans after both Game 1 and Game 2, heads in their hands, stunned beyond belief.

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Practically every person associated with Cubs management has sounded off about how there are no such things as curses caused by billy goats, that those things are the concoctions of the imaginations of over-restless fans and yet Cubs management felt the need to sneak in a Greek Orthodox priest to Wrigley Field to splash holy water over the Cubs dugout hours before the start of Game 1only to get caught by a TBS camera crew who showed up early to set up for the Game 1 telecast, thus broadcasting this absurd event to the entire baseball watching audience.

This Cubs team had brought so much pride and joy to Cub fans in a magical regular season with 97 wins, and a second consecutive, NL Central Division Championship.  In three short playoff games, this very Cubs team has brought shame and embarassment to Cubs fans all over the world.  Extinguished all the wonderful, inspiring, positive feelings about Cubs baseball in 27 innings of the worst playoff baseball played in recent memory — by ANY team.  I don’t care what Lou Piniella or any of the 25 guys in the Cubs locker room says – this season was a failure, no other word to describe the end result.

It’s not that the Cubs lost, it’s the ridiculous manner in which they lost.  It’s not that the Cubs played their hearts out and just got beat by a superior team, because that wasn’t the case at all.  The Cubs lost because they failed to show up to play.  No hitting, no pitching, and no fielding.  A pathetic, lifeless effort by every member of this Cubs team.  Not one player played good baseball in this series.  Cubs P Ryan Dempster said in tonight’s post-game interview that the Dodgers just brought more energy to the series than the Cubs.  How utterly ridiculous is that?  The Cubs just have a tendency to play appallingly bad baseball at the absolute worst possible time.

Of course, we’ll all have the offseason for the anger to diminish, the Cubs will be back next season and we’ll do this all over again for the 101st consecutive season without a World Championship.  We’ll also be entering our 64th year without making the World Series.  We may even have a new owner that will do whatever it takes to erase those indignified statistics.  If next season’s Cubs make the playoffs again, I’m sure the pressure will still be there, the statistics will still be there.  The Cubs are not the New York Yankees. They don’t make the playoffs every year.  Opportunities are few and far between and the Cubs blew this one in a disgusting, embarassing, shameful, uninspiring and lacksidasical, manner.  Wait ’til next year?

Posted in Chicago Cubs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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!

Posted in Chicago Cubs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Rainy Days and Mondays

Posted by sportsmaven on August 20, 2007

Carlos Zambrano made his first start after signing the 6 year $91.5 million contract last night and he looked like an entirely different pitcher.  I suppose $91.5 million would make most anyone a diferent person, but Carlos looked like the Carlos since the Michael Barrett fight — well at least for 3 innings anyway.  The 2007 version of the Chicago Cubs may go down in history as the team to break the curse, the best team that money can buy, or the biggest bust in baseball history (that’s what close to $400 million dollars in salary will buy you).

Carlos Zambrano Signs New Contract

(AP Photo/Jerry Lai)

That’s what makes last night’s rain postponed game and today’s afternoon game against the St. Louis Cardinals even more important in the here and now, take one moment, one game, one series at a time approach that Lou Piniella and his Chicago Cubs ballclub have adopted in their drive to the top of the NL Central standingsMomentum is a mysterious, sometimes fleeting force, often times, escaping at the times when it is needed the most.  The Cubs harnessed momentum on their side wth the Zambrano signing on the heels of the latest most important series of the season.  While Mother Nature lovely buckets have overflowed with much needed rain (at least for me and my newly sodded back yard), she hasn’t been so kind as of late, making the Cubs earn back that lost momentum gained at the outset of this series.  Whether the Zambrano signing/Cardinals series was an intentional marketing or motivation ploy, or just purely coincidental it seems to have worked.  Now if only Mother Nature, Ted Lilly, and the baseball gods would cooperate…..

Posted in Chicago Cubs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chicago Cubs Lose Soriano and to Mets — What’s Next?

Posted by sportsmaven on August 6, 2007

So, Chicago Cubs fans, have we seen this before?  The Cubs got out of the gate playing horrible baseball this season, topped off by an on the air dugout brawl between their best pitcher (Carlos Zambrano) and their since departed emotional catcher (Michael Barrett), followed the next day by a tirade by their new manager, Lou Piniella, over a play that was called correctly.  All this vaulted the Cubs from a low-water mark of 8 games under .500 to a high water mark of 8 game over .500 in the span of 2 months to contend in the weak NL Central division.  Just when the tide is turning, the Cubs become human again, going 3-4 against the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets, and now this.

Alfonso Soriano Leaves Cubs Injured

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

It appears that OF Alfonso Soriano will miss 2-4 weeks due to a strained quad muscle, the same injury that sidelined 3B Aramis Ramirez for the last 5 weeks of the season in 2005.  Furthermore, the back of our rotation, needing to step up significantly, appears to be stepping BACKWARDS with horrible performances.  RP Kerry Wood saw his first action since being reactivated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday and looked impressive, striking out

Last night’s game was a prime example — SP Jason Marquis wasn’t sharp again, giving up 5 earned runs on 9 hits (including 4 doubles) and 3 walks.  The Cubs were still in the game until the suddenly flammable RP Will Ohman came in and put the game out of reach with his horrid performance.  The New York Mets are clearly the best team in the National League.  That was a proven point in this weekend’s series.  You can’t give a team like the Mets 23 baserunners and expect to win.  You can’t walk 7 guys and expect to win.  You can’t lose arguably your best hitter for a month and expect to win.  You can’t have your #3, 4, and 5 starters go less than 5 innings and expect to win.  You can’t have your bullpen lefty relievers take close games and put them out of reach and expect to win.

The Cubs have 51 games left in the regular season.  Do they compete despite the loss of Soriano, or do they fold in August like many a past Cubs team?  Only time will tell, but I do know one thing, history is certainly not on the Cubs side…..

Tom Glavine Wins 300

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

On another note, the Sports Maven does want to congratulate Mets P Tom Glavine on his 300th victory last night.  Tom Glavine is surely the best left handed pitcher of my generation, and it was a treat to watch him pitch another masterful game.  Not only is he an excellent pitcher, he is also one of the game’s all around good guys.  Congratulations, Tom Glavine!

Posted in Chicago Cubs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »