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/

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

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Kris Bryant highlights Spring Training, Cubs shaving heads for charity

It's been an exciting and eventful Spring so far for the Cubs.  Top prospect Kris Bryant has been setting records with his 8 homers (best in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues), new manager Joe Maddon has been keeping it fun, and the Cubs are taking time to raise money for charity.

Cubs players, coaches, and fans had their heads shaved today and raised over $12,000 for pediatric cancer research.  This is something Maddon brought with him from Tampa Bay.  More than 20 players participated by donating $100 to have their heads shaved and get a "Respect Bald" T-shirt. 

The players that participated included:  Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Phil Coke, Drake Britton, Mike Olt, Chris Denorfia, Matt Szczur, Ryan Sweeney, Felix Doubront, Justin Grimm, Chris Coghlan, Edwin Jackson, Welington Castillo, Neil Ramirez and Starlin Castro.

Here are some photos from the fundraiser:

Anthony Rizzo tweeted this selfie after getting their heads shaved for charity today in Mesa

Joe Maddon gets his head shaved to benefit pediatric cancer research
Cubs players taking a selfie before getting their heads shaved to benefit pediatric cancer research

Kris Bryant will start to work in the outfield after the off day on Monday, according to Joe Maddon.  It's still up in the air as to whether Bryant will get to start the season at Wrigley Field or if he'll have to wait a few weeks.

Kris Bryant signs autographs for fans during Spring Training

In other Cubs news, lead off hitter and centerfielder Dexter Fowler is celebrating his 29th birthday.

The Cubs lost to the Padres 6-1 today and have the day off tomorrow.  They will play the Oakland Athletics at HoHoKam Stadium on Tuesday at 3:05pm CT.

Two weeks from tonight is Opening Night at Wrigley Field!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rest in peace, Ernie Banks

The City of Chicago and the country is mourning the loss of the back-to-back National League MVP  (1958-59) and the first African-American player on the Cubs also known as "Mr. Cub," Ernie Banks. 

The shortstop known for his positive personality and dedicated loyalty to the Cubs passed away on Friday, January 23 at the age of 83. 

Ernie Banks in 2014 (Chicago Tribune photo)
I feel very lucky to have met Mr. Banks on a couple of occasions and he always made me feel like I was the most important person he was talking to and that he genuinely cared about our conversation. 

Ernie Banks at Wrigley Field in the 1970s (Chicago Tribune photo)
Reading quotes, tweets and comments from others about Mr. Banks only solidifies my feelings for him even more.  Here's what some had to say:

"Approachable, ever optimistic and kindhearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub.  My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie's life in the days ahead."  --Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts

"He was always an individual who was the happy type.  He was always an optimist.  You only saw the cheerful side of Ernie."  --Teammate and Hall of Fame Member Fergie Jenkins

"Mr Cub.  What you have done for the game of baseball and the city of Chicago and everyone you have ever touched will never be forgotten.  RIP"  --Tweet from Anthony Rizzo

"New to the family but always admired Ernie Banks. Mr. Cub's play on the field was only matched by his demeanor off of it. "  --Tweet from new Cubs Pitcher Jon Lester

"Ernie actually didnt get ENOUGH credit as player bc never talked about himself. He was way more interested in the person he was talking to"  --Tweet from Len Kasper

"RIP Ernie banks/ sad day for Chicago and cubs nation - great human being"  --Tweet from actor and Chicago native John Cusack

"We lost a legend tonight. Sad night."  --New Cubs Outfielder Dexter Fowler

And there are many, many more if you scan Twitter, the internet or the media.  Here's a link from the Chicago Tribune to an in-depth article that's worth reading about Mr. Cub.  

Ernie Banks hit his 500th career home run on May 12, 1970 (Chicago Tribune photo)
Even though Mr. Banks was an amazing player, he never talked about himself or touted his accomplishments.  Banks is the Cubs' all-time leader in games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), home runs (512), total bases (4,706) and extra-base hits (1,009).

Mr. Cub was second in all-time hits (2,583), home runs (512) and RBIs (1,636) for the Cubs franchise during his 19 seasons played from 1953-1971.  

Banks was a National League All-Star for 11 seasons and played in 14 All-Star games.  Mr. Cub hit his 500th career home run in 1970 and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.  More recently, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2013.

Ernie Banks is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on November 20, 2013 (Chicago Tribune photo)
Banks coached for the Cubs until 1973, served as a minor-league instructor from 1974-76 and also worked in the Cubs front office.  His uniform No. 14 was the first one to be retired by the Cubs organization and can be seen on game days on the left field foul pole.

Mr. Cub will always be remembered in the minds of so many and his contribution to baseball and everyone he met will definitely live on.  Let's play two!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Welcome to 2015!

Welcome to 2015, which is sure to be a milestone year for the Cubs.  There was much excitement at the 30th Annual Cubs Convention, which was held last weekend (January 16-18) at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers.  

Current and past Cubs players on stage during the Opening Ceremonies of the Cubs Convention (photo by Karen Burchell)
This was my 7th Convention and the mood during the weekend was noticeably different than in previous years.  Cubs fans were pumped, energized and seemed to have a renewed outlook on a team that's ready to compete, rather than "re-build." 
For the first time in years, Convention passes and hotel rooms sold out before the Convention started, which I think is a sign of things to come!  All of the panels were packed and had people standing in the back of the ballrooms and flowing into the hallway.

Fans were the most excited to see Joe Maddon, the new Cubs manager, Jon Lester, the new Cubs starting pitcher, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and top prospect Kris Bryant.  

New Cubs Manager Joe Maddon shakes hands with Cubs Alumni during the Opening Ceremonies of the Cubs Convention (photo by Karen Burchell)

Cubs Shortstop and All-Star Starlin Castro walks out during the Opening Ceremonies of the Cubs Convention (photo by Karen Burchell)

Top prospect Kris Bryant on stage during the Opening Ceremonies of the Cubs Convention (photo by Karen Burchell)

Another highlight of the weekend:
I, along with approximately 550 other guests, had the great opportunity to attend Kerry Wood and the Wood Family Foundation's (WFF) 4th Annual Woody's Winter Warm-Up on Friday, January 16th.

The event had a new venue this year, which was Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch Restaurant and Chicago Sports Museum located in Water Tower Place on the 7th Floor.  The Plain White T's performed while guests mingled with Cubs players and local celebrities, who also took turns guest bartending to earn tips to benefit the WFF.

I got a chance to get a photo with former Cubs Pitcher (and the event host) Kerry Wood

The night raised over $100,000 for the Wood Family Foundation's "Pitch In" program.  This is always an event I look forward to each year, because not only is it a lot of fun, it's a wonderful feeling to also know that my support ends up helping children through the Wood Family Foundation's programs.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo gets ready to guest bartend during Woody's Winter Warm-Up (photo by Karen Burchell)

Now that the Cubs Convention is over and there are just 28 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, I am thoroughly looking forward to this season.  As Chairman Tom Ricketts mentioned at the Opening Ceremonies, "Let's Go!"