Cubs Report 4/23...The First Twenty
There isn't any doubt Cubs fans have been patiently waiting for the Northsiders to be World Series champs. The 2008 season marks the 100th anniversary of the Cubs last pennant. There aren't many people alive today that were living when the Cubs beat the White Sox in a cross-town series. I am sure we have all had family members whom had passed on that wished they would have been able to witness a Cubs win in October. One of my worst memories came at a baseball game in Milwaukee in September of 1998. The Cubs were battling the Giants for the N.L. Wild Card playoff spot. With a 7-5 lead in the Bottom of the 9th with 2 out, bases loaded and closer Rod Beck pitching, a routine fly ball was hit to Brant Brown in left field of County Stadium. Brown bobbles the ball and Milwaukee had won . A classic E-7 that would tie the Giants with the Cubs in the wild card race, and leave plently of doubt wether or not the Cubs would make the playoffs. I will never forget as my father and I were exiting the parking lot my dad said "Love the Cubs for who they are, because they won't win anything. They'll break your heart. They are loveable losers." Something I'll never forget at age 12. I couldn't comprehend with what my father has lived through to say such a thing. That was only 1998, Imagine what happened after the 2003 season. Just another "wait till next year" season.
Opening Day was one of those 'heartbreaks'. Ernie Banks Day was a cloudy, rainy day with chilly temperatures. One of those day's that only Todd Hundtley would be "breaking into a sweat". After about an hour delay the game starts. Carlos Zambrano and Ben Sheets are pitching a classic "pitchers duel". Koske Fukudome, in his first major league at-bat, hits a ball to center field off the wall for a double. After Kerry Wood gave up 3 runs in the Top of the 9th inning, Fukudome later hits a 3 run home-run that could have been as famous as Will Smith's opening day homer in the 11th inning of 1969. Yet the Cubs gave up the winning run in the top of the 10th, and then went quietly 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.
Here we are now at 4/23/08 and the Cubs are 20 games into their 2008 season. They sport the 2nd best record in baseball at 14-6. I have to say that it wasn't until the sweep of the Mets that I had thought the Cubs were that impressive so far this year. After losing the opening series to the Brewers 1 game to 2, the Cubs have played the Astros, @Pirates, @Phillies, Reds, Pirates, and then the Mets. Sure the Cubs have been 13-4 since the playing Milwaukee, but they almost got swept against the Philies. The Cubs had a record of 2-4 against teams that are expecting to be in the playoff hunt come October. Having the Mets come into Chicago, whom had won 5 of their last 6, was a big test for the Cubs because many people picked New York to win the N.L. East this year. The Cubs had dealt fatal blows to the Mets each game in the 8th inning while all runs came with 2 out. Beating a first place team with a combined score 15-2 was an accomplishment.
The Cubs bats are red hot right now. Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are producing runs. Koske Fukudome is having quality at bats in which he is working the count in his favor. He is showing how smart of a batter he is, that doesn't strike out much. Ronny Cedeno and Felix Pie had big hits with 2 out and RISP. The pitching has also been stellar. Starter Carlos Zambrano has been a machine, and Ryan Dempster whom is 3-0, has been very impressive. In the bullpen, Carlos Marmol has pitched brilliantly in the 8th inning holding onto slim leads to give Kerry Wood a chance to get the save. Wood has settled down greatly into the closing role, and has pitched lights out since his Opening Day 3-run 9th inning.
I know many on the boards know about my displeasure with Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly this season. Lilly had started 0-3 after 4 starts before facing the Mets yesterday. It's good to see him get his first win of the season by only giving up 1 run to a very talented Mets lineup. The Cubs are certainly going to need Lilly if they wish to contend this year.
The Cubs have a road trip now playing 2 against the Rockies at Coors Field, and then onto Washington D.C to take on the Nationals for three, in their new ballpark. Hopefully they can come back with even more momentum for when Milwaukee comes to town on April 29th.
I Picture the season as a horse race. The Cubs came out of the gate strong, but are just crosing the 1/8th mile pole. There are always those horses that start so fast that they run themselves out of competition before the stretch run.
Go Cubs We Believe