Monday, February 29, 2016

Joe Maddon and the Cubs Celebrate Leap Day in Mesa

It's no surprise to hear that Joe Maddon planned some fun into his team's workout in Mesa on Leap Day.  The Cubs manager was dressed for the occasion as he pulled up in his van, which he named the "Cal State Fullerton." 

Joe Maddon arriving at Cubs spring training in his van on Leap Day (photo from @MLB Twitter)
For the full details of today's dose of fun, you can read this article from cubs.com.

Speaking of fun, last week the Cubs let loose with a dance circle during practice.  Reliever Justin Grimm got that party started with his smooth moves and pitcher Justin Grimm joined in (see video below).

video

The Cubs will open Cactus League play on Thursday against the Brewers, where Travis Wood is scheduled to start, followed by Kyle Hendricks.

Pierce Johnson will start the game on Friday's spring home opener against the Angels at Sloan Park.  Trevor Cahill will start Saturday's game against the Reds and Adam Warren will start against the Diamondbacks on Sunday.

In other Cubs news, have you heard that first baseman Anthony Rizzo is taking piano lessons this spring, in the hopes that he can play music with some of his teammates in the future?  I absolutely love how this team really knows how to mix in some fun along with hard work!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Spring Training is in Full Swing for the Cubs, Even in Chicago!

Spring Training has officially started in Mesa for the Cubs and Kyle Schwarber has hit another car in the parking lot with one of his home run bombs, or should we say #Schwarbomb?

Kyle Schwarber lands another BP homer on a parked car on Tuesday (photo from Wally Rzemienski)
Back in Chicago, the Cubs held a pop-up #HitForTix event at Wrigley Square in Millennium Park.  Fans found out about the event through social media posts and showed up to try to hit a homer in order to win a pair of Cubs tickets.  Too bad I had to be at work, otherwise that would've been fun to give it a shot and be around the camaraderie with fellow Cubs fans!

Here's a link to a lucky fan hitting one out to win tickets.  Mother Nature cooperated, as it felt more like an early Spring day in Chicago today as the sun was out and the temps were in the high 40's.

Anyway, enough about the weather.  Fox Sports is the latest media outlet to jump on the Cubs bandwagon, as their article 3 reasons to believe this finally will be the year for the Cubs shows.

Can the Cubs win it all in 2016? (photo by Jon Durr)
What do you think?  Are you a believer that the Cubs will win the World Series this season?  Let's hear your thoughts!  You can also tweet your thoughts to me on Twitter @kcburchell

Monday, January 25, 2016

Guess Which Team is Ranked #1 for Their Starting Rotation in 2016?

That's right, the CUBS!  What?  Yes, you read that correctly.  If anyone had said even just a year ago that the Cubs would be ranked as having the #1 starting rotation, not many people would have believed it, including myself.

The USA today article ranks all 30 MLB teams in terms of their starting rotations.  It's definitely worth a read.

Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta pitching during the NL Wildcard game in 2015 (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images)

As a bonus after reading the article, you can even vote on which team you think will have the best starting rotation in 2016.  (Right now the Mets are in 1st place with 57.57% of the vote, with the Cubs in 2nd place with 15.05%, so us Cubs fans need to get voting!)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Postseason-Bound Cubs are having fun with Rookie Dress Up Day

The Cubs just swept the Reds in Cincinnati by winning their 94th game this season, which was also their 5th W in a row.  Joe Maddon's team kept in the tradition of having their rookies dress up for their last flight of the regular season.

Here are some photos of what the Cubs rookies are wearing on the plane to Milwaukee:

Cubs rookies dressed up in their costumes for the flight to Milwaukee from Cincinnati

Kris Bryant as Elsa

Javier Baez on Cubs rookie dress-up day (photo by Jesse Rogers/ESPN.com)

As more photos surface, I will add them for your viewing pleasure.  Don't you agree that the Cubs have the BEST rookies in MLB?

The Cubs have 3 regular season games left to play in Milwaukee.  Tomorrow's game is at 7:10pm CT, where Jake Arrieta will make the start for the Cubs.  Arrieta holds the best ERA following the All-Star break in Major League Baseball history (0.80) and leads the Majors with 21 wins. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cubs win 5-4 over Cardinals for 5th consecutive win as rivalry continues

Wow, just wow.  The Cubs beat the Cardinals 5-4 Saturday at Wrigley Field for their fifth consecutive win.  The crowd at the Friendly Confines was definitely charged up and into the game as there was plenty to cheer about.

Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant hit back-to-back homers to lead off the fifth inning.  The homer into the last row of the left field bleachers was Bryant's 25th home run of the season, which ties Billy Williams'  rookie record for home runs.  Williams set the record in 1961.

Fernando Rodney (not pictured) pours sunflower seeds onto Kris Bryant after he hit a home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fifth inning at Wrigley Field on Sept. 19, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

The Cubs held a lead during the entire game, beginning in the bottom of the first inning.  Trevor Cahill earned the win and Michael Wacha gets the loss.  

Addison Russell made an impressive diving catch and then flipped it to Javier Baez at second base to get the final out of the game.

Addison Russell's diving catch to secure the Cubs win on Saturday over the Cardinals

The Cubs now trail the Pirates for 2nd place in the NL Central by a half game (The Pirates will play the Dodgers at 8:10pm CT).  I'm sure I won't be the only one cheering on the Dodgers tonight!  The Cubs are now 5 games behind the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central. 

The Cubs magic number is now 6!  Go Cubs Go! #wearegood

The Cubs and Cardinals will play their final matchup of the regular season on Sunday at 1:20pm CT.  Jon Lester (10-10, 3.38) will face Carlos Martinez (13-7, 3.02). 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Starlin Castro's career-tying 6 RBI game leads Cubs to big win over Cardinals; Kris Bryant, Lyft driver

Starlin Castro is the Cubs MVP today after hitting two homers and a single totaling 6 RBI in the series opener against the Cardinals.  Did you know that the Cubs are 11-0 this season whenever Castro has at least three hits?  Castro's 6 RBI today matches his Major League debut game on May 7, 2010, against the Reds, where he also had 6 RBI.

Austin Jackson congratulates Starlin Castro after one of his homers during Friday's game against the Cardinals

The Cubs now have a four-game win streak after beating the NL Central division leading Cardinals 8-3.  What an intense game it was, as you could feel the rivalry between the two teams even more than usual.

Cubs starting pitcher Dan Haren accidentally hit pinch-hitter Matt Holliday in the helmet in the fifth inning.  At this point, both teams were given a warning.  However, Cardinals reliever Matt Belisle still retaliated by hitting Anthony Rizzo in his back leg in the seventh inning and was immediately ejected from the game, along with manager Mike Matheny.  It was the 29th time Rizzo has been hit by a pitch this season, which leads the Major Leagues and was also the second time he was hit by a pitch in this game.

Joe Maddon was less than pleased with the Cardinals way of doing things and said, "I'm really disappointed in what the Cardinals did right there.  We did not hit their guy on purpose.  That was an absolute mistake.  To become this vigilante group that wants to get their own pound of flesh, that's absolutely insane, ridiculous and wrong."  I don't blame Maddon for being mad...really mad.

Anthony Rizzo argues with home plate umpire Dan Bellino after being hit by a pitch for the second time in Friday's win over the Cardinals. AP Photo/Paul Beaty

"I never read this book the Cardinals wrote way back in the day regarding how to play baseball," Maddon said, fuming.  "You can take that book and read it yourself because I don't give a crap about that book.  I want everyone there to understand we don't start stuff but we stop stuff." 

The Cubs are now 86-61 (.585) and trail the Cardinals by 6 games in the NL Central and are just 1.5 games behind the Pirates, who will play the Dodgers in Los Angeles tonight at 9:10pm CT.   The Cubs currently hold the second NL Wild Card spot and have a 8.5 game lead over the Giants for the Wild Card.

In other Cubs news, have you seen this video by the ride sharing service Lyft featuring Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who went undercover as a driver?  Here's a link to the video, which is pretty entertaining.

Kris Bryant goes undercover as a Lyft driver to unsuspecting Chicagoans

The Cubs and Cardinals will play the second game of the three-game series at 12:05pm CT tomorrow at Wrigley Field.  Joe Maddon plans to use a relief pitcher to start tomorrow's game, which could be either Trevor Cahill, Carl Edwards Jr., or Travis Wood.  Michael Wacha will make the start for the Cardinals.

What an exciting season this has turned out to be.  It's far from over yet, so let's keep cheering on our Cubbies because #wearegood!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cubs beat Pirates 4-1 to win 6th consecutive game

I was lucky enough to be at the Friendly Confines today to see the Cubs continue to play some really excellent baseball to win 4-1 over the Pirates, which was also their 6th win in a row!  Not only was it great to see the left and center field bleachers full again, it was also a different atmosphere at Wrigley Field.

You could definitely notice the electric crowd and you could see the way the players seemed to gel with each other and their skipper, Joe Maddon.  It was completely different than what I've seen the past several years.

Jon Lester pitched up to his ace status as he allowed one run and nine hits, struck out seven and walked one in seven innings for his fifth consecutive quality start.  Kris Bryant continued to impress with his hitting (although no homers today) and smart baserunning.  Bryant also extended his career-best hitting streak to six games.  Addison Russell made an outstanding catch to rob Neil Walker of a hit.  Travis Wood stepped up to pitch in relief and earned the first save of his career.

Here are some photos I took at the game:

Cubs players during the National Anthem before Saturday's game against the Pirates (photo by Karen Burchell)


3B Kris Bryant on deck (photo by Karen Burchell)

Kris Bryant on the Jumbotron (photo by Karen Burchell)
1B Anthony Rizzo (photo by Karen Burchell)

2B Addison Russell (photo by Karen Burchell)
Left field digital display and Jumbotron after the Cubs' 6th win in a row (photo by Karen Burchell)

Right field display after the Cubs win on Saturday (photo by Karen Burchell)

The "W" flag on the Jumbotron (photo by Karen Burchell)

The Cubs are now 21-15 and are in 2nd place in the NL Central, 3 games behind the Cardinals.  Another fun fact:  The Cubs are also six games above .500 for the first time since Oct. 3, 2009.

I love the way this team is playing and I'll admit I'm really fired up for this season.  Go Cubs Go!  #wearegood