The Playoffs

IS IT SAFE, NOW, FOR STEVE BARTMAN TO COME OUTTA HIDING?

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez, News, The Playoffs · , ,

STEVE-BARTMAN-SHADOWS

Not while I’m around, it’s not.

This morning, Bleacher Report’s Mike Chiari wrote, “Regardless of if or when Bartman decides to emerge publicly, it is abundantly clear that Cubs fans are ready to embrace him.” That seems like pretty strong language to me, my friend. Yeah, I’m fairly certain most people are ready to forget Steve Bartman’s crime against humanity, but “embrace?” I’d rather embrace a porcupine.

“Forgive and forget,” Sister Demarus used to say to us in 2nd grade. This, while right behind her was the J man — life size — nailed to a cross and hangin’ on the wall above the whole room, as if to say, “you better be good or this could happen to you, kid.” That always sent mixed messages to me. Yeah, yeah … I know Jesus was all about forgiveness, and deep down I think Sister Demarus, in her snow white habit, was right. Besides, I suppose the last 13 years have been Bartman’s own special kinda crusifiction. The difference, though, is that Bartman’s suffering hasn’t saved anyone. It hasn’t washed one single square inch of my soul, I can tell you that. Or guaranteed me a spot in the clouds for eternity. Or even something as mortal as blessin’ me with some season tickets. Instead, the entire Cubs nation has continued to suffer right along with him. Not in the shadows like a sewer rat, the way he has, but sufferin’ nonetheless.

So … should I forgive him? Full disclosure: I’m actually thinkin’ about it. Seeing your team jumpin’ around the infield, having just become World Series champions, has a way of melting even the most arctic of frigid of hearts. But I’ll tell you … even as recently as 2012, when we lost over 100 games — same old Cubs — I woulda paid money to see Bartman draggin’ some t-shaped lumber down Sheffield on his way to wherever they settle the score with guys like him. But now we’re the champs, and holdin’ a grudge is stupid (unless it involves the White Sox or Cards).

Maybe it makes sense to try and ween myself off of Bartman, almost like an addict. Besides, I’ve read where goin’ cold turkey doesn’t always work. Perhaps there’s a 12 step program, like BA — Bartman Anonymous — out there. Whatever. I think it’s probably best to take it slow. I could start by removin’ some of the pictures of him that I rubber banded to the urinal cookies at work. A few, not all … and then see how I handle that. One baby step at a time, I say. You can never be too careful when you’re dealin’ with a jaggoff.

Joe

I DON’T KNOW WHAT NUMBER THIS CLOUD IS, BUT IT’S GOTTA BE A LOT HIGHER THAN 9.

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez, News, The Playoffs · , , , , , , ,

I don’t know about you, but I got one question: Where in the hell did all these people come from?! I ask in that particular way cuz there are definitely some major league ice sickles hangin’ off of Satan’s ass today. Yup. The biblical equivalent of a large Canadian low swooped down and turned the lake of fire into somethin’ the Blackhawks could win another Cup on. But, whew … Cloud 9? (Or whatever number it is.) It feels way more like Sardine Can 9 to me. You’d think Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made simultaneous announcements to drop outta the race for Idiot in Chief. Nope. It was the Chicago Cubs winnin’ the last game of the last series of the 2016 baseball season.

That’s right, pal. After sufferin’ through 108 years, 19 days, 2 world wars, 1 billy goat curse, Steve Bartman and the Kardashians, the Chicago Cubs are finally sittin’ on the very tip top of the baseball world. If I was friggin’ Shakespeare I still couldn’t find words to explain how good this feels. I think it’s in the general vicinity of playin’ hide the sausage with the missus, but with mustard, relish and some cheesy fries. I can tell you this, whatever this feelin’ is … I’m not alone, cuz it appears as though I’m celebratin’ with 15 or 16 million of my closest friends.

CUBS-WIN-STILL

At the risk of stating the obvious, I don’t know when I’ve seen a better World Series. I know. That’s a little like saying, “Those are some major league yabbos, you got there, Dolly,” to Ms Parton. Sometimes, though, you just gotta say stuff, even if it doesn’t need sayin’. Of COURSE I haven’t seen a better Series than that. Anyone who saw the previous one ain’t breathin’ anymore.

But Wednesday night … holy CRAP, was that nail-biting or what?! I created a new divot in the edge of the Schlombarcalounger from being perched there for 4 hours. Comin’ back from a 3-1 series deficit, and givin’ away a 5-1 lead in game 7, and going extras, and the whole “did Joe overtax Chapman by using him needlessly in game 6” thing … it was a baseball thrill ride of Magic Mountain proportions. Havin’ an umpire crew from the Stevie Wonder school of rock was like the whip cream on top of this extra large tension sundae, too. I didn’t much like it, and it’s definitely a good reason to keep the Second Amendment intact, but the umps did, in their own pathetically incompetent way, make things interesting. Of course, some people find reality TV interesting, so I think “interesting” is in the eye of the beholder. Except for umpires, cuz their eyes don’t work much).

If I could change anything about Game 7 (besides me havin’ front row seats with Bill Murray) it would be to bring Harry back from his skybox to call the game … for two reasons. 1) Harry was the definitive, quintessential, beer-drinkin’ Cubs fan, not to mention the voice of the team for like a million and a half years. He had more Cubbie blue in him than the Chicago River does today, and … AND … I was walkin’ outta the Ambassador East, where Harry lived during the season, and where I used to get up for the game, and he took one look at the missus and me and offered us a ride to the ballpark. No shit! Of course I think he gave us the ride so he could enjoy ridin’ with the missus for 15 minutes. Anyway, reason #2 is that if Harry woulda been doin’ the game, no one’s ears — mine especially — would have been assaulted by the moronic commentary of one Joseph D. Buck. (That’s a D for douche bag.) He’s like a friggin’ Ken Doll, except he’s not as knowledgeable about baseball. Obviously, I’m not the only one with this fantasy, cuz Budweiser did a pretty good job of showin’ us what it woulda been like if Harry had called the game:

Anyway, I could go on and on, but it’s taken me 2 days just to stop celebratin’ enough to write this little bit down. Bottom line is the Cubs are world champs, which has put grins the size of the Sears Tower on about 30 million people. Enjoy the parade, baby!

Joe

PS. I believe the groundbreaking ceremony for the Theo wing in Cooperstown will be underway soon.

I PITY THE FOOL THAT GETS IN OUR WAY. INCLUDING KLUBER.

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez, The Playoffs · , , , , , , , , ,

CUBS-INDIANS-GAME-1

Hey there, wing nuts. Well, watchin’ Game 1 was about as much fun as gettin’ a colonoscopy from the Tasmanian Devil. Things didn’t go well from the start. The “start” being the stupid friggin’ Bud Selig All Star game rule which takes World Series home field advantage away from the team that actually earns it. So let’s see, Bud … Umm, a game that doesn’t count at all steers the direction of the most important series in the entire baseball season. Great friggin’ idea, ass hat. We shoulda been in Chicago last night for the opener. Period. Would it have made a difference? Well let me put it this way: If it doesn’t make any difference, why then are the best teams in every sport in the known universe (except for baseball) ALWAYS given home field/court/ice/pitch (whatever you wanna call it) advantage in a championship series? If it were up to me, I’d throw Selig in a poorly lit basement with Marsellus Wallace, the Gimp and a blow torch. Maybe a pair of pliers, too. That rule has gotta be flushed.

Anyway, let’s take that outta the equation. It still didn’t start out well. I mean it did, but then it didn’t. Lester threw 5 pitches and had 2 outs in the bottom of the first. Total cruise control. And then it started raining dirty diapers on us. When you’re the Chicago Cubs, Lester is on the mound, you’ve got two outs, and the bases are 100% Indian-free … you oughta get outta the inning unscathed. Not last night.

On top of that, Kluber Lang struck out almost everybody in the first 3 frames. What a fascist. Reminded me a lot of NLCS games 2 and 3 when the Cubs pretended they couldn’t hit. They did a convincing job, too. We snuck a few in last night, though, and had some excellent scoring opportunities, especially against Andrew Miller, that sky scraper they brought in for Kluber. Even Schwarber, who’d had 11 at bats all season before steppin’ into the batter’s box in the 2nd, smacked a double. On balance, though, we looked like Tim Tebow at the plate.

And … AND … the home plate ump had two strike zones — one for Kluber and another for Lester. It was as plain as the blank stare on Bud Selig’s face. Seriously, the quality of the umpiring in the playoffs — at least the games I’ve been watchin’ — is like it was made in Taiwan. Pathetic.

We got KO’d by a team that’s not nearly as good as we are. Personally, I don’t think that’s gonna happen again. We didn’t win 103 games by accident, my friend. As nice as Cleveland’s story is — gettin’ to the Series with so many injuries and all, and not even being in the thing for 68 years — I just don’t think it’s gonna hold up against the Cubs. We only have to do one thing — play like the 2016 Chicago Cubs instead of the Wexley School for Girls.

Joe

HOLY COW! FINALLY, JOYFULLY, THE CHICAGO CUBS ARE GOIN’ TO THE WORLD SERIES!

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez, The Playoffs · , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

CUBS-WIN-2016-NLCS

“This is it! This is it! It’s two, they’re gonna turn two! Eeeaaaaaahhhhhhh!” The moment the ball was hit to Russell, I jumped outta my chair, screamin’ like a banshee. I don’t really know what a banshee is, but it’s gotta be loud and somewhat unhinged. (That would make my sister in law a banshee.) I bear hugged the missus who was already workin’ on a full set of raccoon eyes. If I was a woman, or Johnny Depp, I woulda had ’em too, cuz I realized she wasn’t the only one cryin’. That’s what happened at the Schlombowski household Saturday night. And I’ll tell ya … except for the Swedish Bikini team servin’ me beers without their bikini’s, blubberin’ like a newborn was the last thing I expected to happen. I guess the Cubs going to the Series means more to me than I thought it did … And believe me, I thought it would mean one helluva lot.

More than anything else, I feel gratitude towards Mr Ricketts who, as the Cubs owner, sorta takes a back seat to Theo, Jed and Joe in terms of getting credit for puttin’ this club together. But if it weren’t for Mr Ricketts, none of those guys would be here and, in all likelihood, our season woulda been over by the mid-season classic, like usual. So … thank you, Mr Ricketts. On the 10 million to 1 chance that you’re readin’ this, I want you to know how grateful I am that you brought Major League Baseball to Wrigley Field. Yeah, there’s always been some sorta reasonable or unreasonable facsimile, but until you started signin’ the checks, it’s never been anything like this. Thank you for givin’ so much joy to so many people who have patiently waited for so very, very long. We do, however, need a sit down about concession prices, my friend.

Full disclosure: I was more than skeptical at times over the last 5 years. 55 seasons of nothin’ will do that to a Cubs fan. So for me, bringin’ in Theo wasn’t an instantaneous Kyle Schwarber moon shot. Not that I didn’t wet myself with excitement when Theo first signed. I mean he came with the Red Sox miracle on his resumé, which was huge. Still, it took a while before all the ingredients started to come together. That’s when the intoxicating aroma of Theo stew with Maddon sauce started wafting out over Wrigleyville, and I realized that Mr Ricketts was really baseball’s Charlie Trotter. So sue me if I’m a little slow on the uptake. Nobody except Javi Baez is perfect, pal.

“Try not to suck.” That was the mantra this year. A Joe Maddonism that’s Yogi-esque in its utter simplicity and purity. And the Cubs lived up to every bit of it. They did not and do not suck, my friend. The same can’t be said for the Dodgers. Sorry, it may be unsportsmanlike to kick your opponent when he’s down, but somethin’ has got to be said about what happened to the Dodgers and their messiah, Clayton Kershaw.

Personally, I wasn’t surprised in the least. Kershaw had squeaked by with a 1-0 victory in game 2, in spite of the fact that the Cubs couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. Goin’ into Saturday night, though, with the Cubs’ bats turned up to the 50 megaton level the previous two games, it seemed obvious that Kershaw could be in trouble. Of course this was the last thing most people expected. Why? Cuz of the sycophantic baseball writers and broadcasters, who for a week had been pourin’ Kershaw syrup all over everything. Especially Joe Buck, whose lips have gotta be surgically attached to Kershaw’s buttox. I got sick and friggin’ tired of hearin’ about some new, lower delivery angle and how devastating it was gonna be on our guys. “When?” I ask. Best pitcher in baseball? Once, maybe. Unhittable? Like your mama. I’ll take Hendricks, Lester or Arrieta over fuzzy wuzzy any day of the week. And twice on elimination days. Between Kershaw and Hendricks, the latter was the superior pitcher this year, in every respect, most especially when it really mattered. So baseball press, can we please shut the hell up about Jesus Effing Kershaw, and how Dave Roberts is such a genius manager? It’s nauseating.

One last thing on this point: Hendricks pitched to the minimum number of batters. As did Chapman. Meaning game 6 was only the second time in playoff history — the other being Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game — that that’s been done. So, again … zip it on the Kershaw blather.

I know everybody is lookin’ forward to tomorrow night, but I think some of the fun and games from Saturday bear repeating here:

Toles hits the first pitch of the game into right for a single. The Dodgers were jumpin’ around in their dugout like a bunch of Girly Scouts who just got their first training bras. Two pitches later there were two outs and the bases were empty, and Javier Baez was tucking his cape in. LA took the field in the bottom of the 1st with a goose egg on the board.

In our half of the first, Fowler says hello to Kershaw with a ground rule double, and Bryant brings him in with a shot down the line. 1-zip, Cubs. In a Rorschach moment, the non-abbreviated version of F-U Dodgers blurted outta me. Don’t know what the psychology behind that is, but it felt like it needed to be said.

Somebody in the booth mentions that the Cubs are  47-13 when Fowler gets on to lead off a game. I’m guessin’ that Toles had his rabbit ears on when they said it, cuz instead of makin’ a routine catch, he channels Keith Moreland and drops Rizzo’s routine fly. We end up with guys on 2nd and 3rd. A sac fly by Zobrist scores another run. 2-nothin’, Cubs. Time for another Old Style. We leave Rizzo at third, but at this point in the game, with Hendricks on the mound and the Cubs bats in perfect working order, I’m startin’ to wonder how long it takes the club house crew to prep things for a champagne shower.

In the top of 2, Baez, Mr Steady, blows an easy one. Call me crazy, but I say he did it on purpose so Hendricks could pick Reddick off of first. Which is what he did.

Addi hits the 3rd double of the night and it’s only the 2nd inning. What a shame. Kershaw? More like Kershawshank, and definitely in need of redemption at this point. Instead, Fowler brings in Russell, and I have that same Roarschach moment.

The 3rd. Rizzo. Another double. Uh … that’s 4, so far, right Kershaw? I guess it’s hard to pitch when you’re walkin’ on water.

In the 4th, Joe Buck offers some of his unique wisdom by stating, “This place is crawling with blue.” No shit. It’s the Cubs and Dodgers. Blue is the color for both, you putz! Too bad all the rocket science and brain surgery positions were filled when Buck got outta school. The world missed out.

Contreras goes yard. Rizzo goes yard.

In the 8th, Toles appears to be checking his email on the field. Or maybe checking in for his flight back to LA. Seriously. If you recorded it, go back and look.

When Joe pulls Hendricks for Chapman in the 8th, again, I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. I mean given recent history with that move. But another double play later I understand the difference between the mind of a savvy baseball genius and one that’s under the influence of Old Style. Yes, I started early.

Which bring me back to where I started — a series-ending double play that’s sent the Cubs to the World Series for the first time in 71 years, and me to the bathroom for some tissues. Not to sound ungrateful or appear greedy, but 4 more wins would be nice.

Joe

THE DEAFENING SOUND OF A BUNT HAS AWAKENED THE SLEEPING GIANT.

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez, The Playoffs · , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

AWAKEN-SLEEPING-GIANT

The bunt. No one likes to bunt. Pitchers bunt, but that’s cuz they can’t hit. Except for Cubs pitchers — who CAN actually hit — which means they don’t like to bunt. There’s no majesty in a bunt. No glory. Not a single player has ever been signed to a multi-year, silly-money contract cuz he could lay down the perfect bunt. You won’t see the Bunt Derby substituted for the Home Run Derby at the All Star Break. Ever. They don’t hand out plaques at Cooperstown for tappin’ the ball down the line. And no fan will ever bid a hundred grand for a ball that went 37 feet. Most of the time, a bunt means you’re willing to give yourself up for the cause. It’s noble in that regard, but in the arsenal of offensive weapons, it’s the BB gun.

Yet, with all 10 mph of its minuscule exit velocity, last night’s bunt, by Ben Zobrist, was perhaps the most powerful blast of the night. Yeah, yeah … Rizzo and Russell went yard. But I say that four run 4th doesn’t even get started without Zobrist makin’ the bunt heard ’round the world. It was the catalyst for the entire 10 run barrage, and simultaneous collapse of the Dodgers’ ability to play defense. In fact, if you consider what happened from that point forward, it would be more accurate to call it a lionalyst or tigeralyst than a catalyst. Name it what you want, Ben’s willingness to get the ball rolling by … uh … getting the ball rolling was what it took to CPR the Cubs offense. In psychological terms, that bunt was a 500 foot moon shot over the center field bleachers.

After that, the genie was not only outta the bottle, he was grantin’ just about every single wish that could possibly come to the mind of a Cubs fan. At least the ones that can happen in front of 54,449 people, and that don’t involve Salma Hayek, Scarlett Johansson and a can of Reddi Whip. We’d gone 21 innings without so much as sneekin’ a peek at the plate, and had accumulated just 6 hits in 60 at bats in games 2 and 3. For a while there I was hopin’ we could pull Mario Mendoza outta retirement. Instead, Zobrist ignited the Cubs’ jets by doin’ somethin’ most clean-up hitters probably have written outta their contracts. What followed was epic.

Four runs in the 4th. Monkey? What monkey?

In the bottom of the 2nd, Adrian Gonzalez is called out in a close play at home, but on review it’s plainly obvious that he was safe. Still, the bozos in New York uphold the call. That was baffling. I mean what’s the point of havin’ reviews if the umps in New York are gonna leave their seein’ eye dogs at home?

A one-run 5th. After givin’ back a couple of runs in the bottom half of the 4th, Rizzo says, WTF, and takes one of ’em right back.

During this particular at bat, Rizzo starts headin’ to first on what he believes is ball four, only to be called back by the called strike of home plate umpire, Angel Hernandez. Then, in the words of Harry Caray, “ho-leeeee coooooowwwwwww!” Instead of standin’ on first with a walk, Rizzo deposits Pedro Baez’s pitch in the bleachers. Don’t know if he said anything to Hernandez when he crossed the plate, but I think a thank you would have been in order.

How ’bout five more runs in the 6th? Cubs world, Cubs world! Party time! Excellent!

Rizzo and Russell gather 3 hits each, and both had round-trippers. I don’t know how many times that’s happened, but I can’t imagine it’s been very often.

In a game where just about everything goes right for the Northsiders, Zobrist gets a second bunt single, of the swinging variety this time, makin’ it a multi-hit game. This one involved a close play at first, and Zobrist was originally called out. But the review went in favor of the Cubs, again, and the call was reversed. This time, New York got the call right.

Like Zobrist, Fowler, too, has a couple of hits, including a double.

Contreras unloads the Guns of Navarone on Justin Turner, pickin’ his bushy red ass off — not first, not third, but second. Awesome.

The Dodgers, who made just 80 errors over the course of the regular season, make four in this one game. So no matter how much Adrian Gonzalez whines about that call at home plate, or how much momentum he thinks was stolen from them as a result, the Dodgers dirtied their own diapers, defensively, last night. They LOST the game. AND they were beaten. And how did they handle it? Like you’d expect. They were moanin’ louder than the entire stable at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Montgomery, in keeping with the hitting prowess of the rest of the staff this post season, bangs out a single.

Heyward, although 0-5 and pretty much as anemic at the plate as he’s been all year, has a couple of good at bats, one that ended up drivin’ in a run.

All in all, things were different last night, for both ball clubs. The Cubs finally started playin’ like the Cubs, and the Dodgers had their season-long luck run out, followed by a heapin’ helpin’ of sour grapes in the clubhouse afterwards. Given the trouncing we took in games 2 and 3, it would give me a world of satisfaction to tell LA to “go get your shine box” right now. But it ain’t over. It’s down to the best 2 outta 3. No room for mistakes.

Though never definitively proven, Isoroku Yamamoto, architect of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, was believed to have said afterwards, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” I think LA unleashed their Pearl Harbor in games 2 and 3, and now the sleeping giant is wide friggin’ awake.

Joe