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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

BASEBALL IS FULL OF SIGNS, RIGHT? TODAY, LOS ANGELES GOT ONE FROM GOD.

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

BASEBALL-SIGN

It rained in Los Angeles today. Normally that’s not exactly a film-at-11, David Muir-esque breaking news kinda thing, but then it hasn’t rained in LA since May 5th. (By the way … what the hell does Muir put in his hair … glue? You could do a reverse 3-1/2 somersault off of that do.) Anyway, until today it had been 165 consecutive days without so much as a peep from heaven, unless you count Kobe retiring and takin’ his .350 field goal percentage with him. Not every sign from God is a good one, though. Sometimes it’s more like a No Trespassin’ sign, or a Keep The Hell Off The Friggin’ Lawn sign or, in this particular case, a Closed For The Season sign addressed to the Dodgers.

I found it interesting that today’s sprinkles came right on the heels of last night’s prognostication, in which I predicted a wicked Chicago storm is about to blow through Tinseltown this week. I was talkin’ about the Cubs, of course, but I think the chocolate mess that a few raindrops made outta LA’s freeways today was definitely a sign of what’s about to happen to the Dodgers. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

And they totally deserve it, too. Why? Dave Roberts’ laugh. Last night, when Baez flew out in the 7th about 3 eyelashes from the wall, Roberts unleashed a laugh that coulda gotten him the roll of #1 understudy for Dr. Evil. Michael Clair called it “maniacal,” So true. And I ask you, do normal people laugh like that, or just the possessed, mad scientists, and devil incarnates in the form of Major League managers? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Don’t be surprised if there’s an eclipse or somethin’ over Chavez Ravine tomorrow, or maybe some sort of pagan sacrifice bunting or somethin’ else on the part of the Dodgers designed to conjure the demons of baseball — like Bud Selig — in an effort to skew the game’s outcome through satanic influence.

Joe

PS. By the way, cry me an LA River on the 165 day thing, Los Angeles. You wanna talk drought? I give you the Chicago Cubs, who have gone somewhere in the vicinity of 39,420 days without a ring.

NLCS GAME 2: NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL A TEAM EFFORT.

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

KERSHAW-COOPER-TEAMWORK

Hey there, drumsticks. Well, that was fun, huh? Now I could be all magnanimous ($10 word bonus) and say what a great game it was, it bein’ a one-run ball game and all, but I’m not gonna do that.

Tonight, Clayton Kershaw and home plate umpire, Eric Cooper, teamed up to show the Cubs just how wussy their offense has been in the playoffs. Kershaw was text book Kershaw, no doubt about it. But the guy behind the plate — not Grandal, the one with the white cane … Cooper — he was masterful, incredible and 100% overpowering with his inconsistency. Look, I don’t mind a guy havin’ a wide strike zone or a narrow strike zone, or a high or low one … but when two balls are thrown in precisely the same friggin’ place, and one is called a ball and the other a strike, it makes me wanna mow the infield with the ump still on it.

And I don’t need the “well, he called it the same for both teams” BS, cuz he didn’t. The strike Cooper called on Bryant in the 9th is pretty much Supreme Court-worthy proof of that, my friend.

I’m not blamin’ the loss on Eric Cooper or Stevie Wonder or whoever the hell that was callin’ balls and strikes. I’m just sayin’ he sucked like a top-of-the-line Dyson. The Cubs did most of the damage on their own; standin’ in the batters box just watchin’ the pitches go by. News flash, Cubbies: This is the NLCS, not Shark Tank. Even Robert Herjavec knows what to do with a good pitch, and just standin’ there like a friggin’ zombie isn’t it.

I’m guessin’ the Cubs strategy goin’ into Game 2 was to run the pitch count up on Kershaw — typical for the Cubs no matter who’s on the bump. Just two problems with that: 1) Kershaw doesn’t walk people and 2) not swingin’ at strikes leads to outs, not gettin’ on base. Perhaps they shoulda rethought this approach at some point. Before the game woulda been ideal. I mean the Kershaw start wasn’t a surprise to anyone, was it? So his track record in the first 6 innings shouldn’t have been an unknown quantity, right, Joe? But, ok, so we go into the game thinkin’ we’re gonna run the count up. When do you reassess and start being aggressive at the plate? How ’bout 4 innings in when Kershaw has tossed a measly 40 pitches? Not then either? Hmm. Ok.

In spite of that, I never once thought we were out of it. In years past, yeah. But not this team. Not this year. In fact, it looked a whole lot like we were gonna show ’em the door again late in the game, thanks to a Rizzo walk, a Little League play by Grandal, and Javi at the dish. Not quite, though. So anyone shakin’ cuz we’re headed to LA for the next two oughta take a Valium. Think about it. Except for our staff, Javi Baez, Bryant and one notable AB from Montero, our bats have been sawing logs throughout the playoffs. And tonight, against LA’s best pitcher, along with the help of Colonel Frank Slade behind the plate, we still almost won.

When our bats wake up — and you know they will — it ain’t gonna be 72 and sunny in LA anymore. In fact, I predict a wicked Chicago storm to blow through Chavez Ravine for the next few days, with all manner of unseasonal disturbances raining down on their little mini-parade. This ain’t over. You’d have to be blind, or Eric Cooper, not to see that.

Joe

THE ITALIAN STALLION VS THE MASTER OF DISASTER? I GIVE YOU GAME 3 OF THE NLDS.

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

NLDS-GAME-3

Holy meat balls, that was some friggin’ game last night, wasn’t it?! Am I happy we came up short? No, I am not. Was it a friggin’ epic battle royal cage match fought by two teams refusing to yield to the bloody gloves of the other? In spades, my friend. In spades.

It was Godzilla vs King Kong; the Federation vs the Clingons; the Sharks vs the Jets (no, that ain’t hockey vs football); Neo vs Agent Smith; the Crows vs the Wildlings. You know that scene in Gangs of New York where the Natives and the Dead Rabbits have it out in the square? Last night’s game was like that, my friend. EPIC! It reminded me of the Thrilla in Manilla. Howard Cosell’s grating New York cadence was in the back of my head, deliverin’ the blow-by-blow. Only insteada “Frasier goes down! Frasier goes down! Frasier goes down!” it was “Bryant has tied the game! Bryant has tied the game! Bryant has tied the game!” That was electrifying. No matter what happens through the rest of the playoffs, you’re not gonna see a better game than that.

When Arrieta went yard, I went in my pants. No, not really, but holy crap! I usually need an elevator to get that far off the ground. Whatever Maddon has been feedin’ our staff, it’d be nice if he started givin’ it to some of the rest of the guys. Bryant has obviously discovered where he’s hidin’ the magic dust. But Rizzo? Keee-ryste … he looks like me at the plate. The offensive prowess of our Murderer’s Row pitching staff is probably somethin’ we should not totally rely on if we expect to beat theses yayhoos.

Kudos to Montgomery, last night, too. He gave it up in the end, but I think he did a lot more than anyone expected, including Maddon. And speakin’ of Joe, who is a certified, Grade-A, Wagu genius, I can’t say I thought bringin’ in Chapman when he did was his most Einstein-ish move of the season. What do I know, right? But I read it like a sign of desperation; like we couldn’t play regular and still win. We had to bring the Saturn V rocket arm in early. And that’s what the Giants thought. They smelled blood in the water, started circling and then takin’ chunks outta Chapman’s hide. Hindsight. I know. But I’m just sayin’.

So now Bochy is 10-0 in elimination games. Ten and oh! Unreal. Someone has gotta put an end to that. Personally, I’d like it to be John Lackey and the re-ignited bats of the best offense in baseball. And, if it’s not askin’ too much, it’d be nice if the game is more like we’re playin’ Cincinnati, so when we have a 10 run lead by the 5th, I can relax and enjoy myself a little insteada bitin’ my fingernails down to the second knuckle. Go Cubs!

Joe

9 IS A GREAT NUMBER. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S A CUBS WINNING STREAK.

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez, News · , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

CUBS-9-GAME-WIN-STREAK

Hey there, pool cues. As you know, the Cubbies logged their 9th straight win yesterday. Nine. Three times three. The square root of 81. The number of planets in our solar system. (Yeah, yeah, everybody heard about Pluto gettin’ demoted to “really big ice cube” status, but lemme tell you somethin’: I don’t give a crispy crap what National Geographic says … Pluto is still a planet in the Schlombowski solar system, pal. I think they only said that cuz they were tryin’ to sell magazines. That’s it. Besides, if any celestial body deserved to be nixed, it’s Uranus.) Anyway, like I was sayin’, we posted number 9 yesterday, and that, my friend, is a pretty long streak. It’s not 10, but 10 is cliché. Don’t get me wrong … I like 10. And today, when we get there, I’ll totally disavow any knowledge of 9. But there’s something a little too Alexander Hamiltonish about 10, don’t you think? Furthermore, everybody rides the 10 bandwagon. Hell, I’ll be right up front on it myself! People like 10. Maybe cuz it’s a nice round number. Maybe cuz it represents perfection. Or maybe, just maybe, cuz of Bo Derek. I know that’s a lost reference on anyone under 50, but I’ll tell ya … You wanna talk about heavenly bodies? Bo Derek is one you wanna land on and explore, my friend.

Anyway, as a non-conformist (Sister Mary Elizabeth used to call me a hellion and a rebel, but I know she meant non-conformist) … anyway, as someone who likes to up the down staircase, and because, as I already mentioned, the Cubs are ridin’ a 9 game winning streak, I wanna Sesame Street the number 9.

Why 9 is a good number:

1  Baseball games have 9 innings — more if you go extra innings, fewer if you get rained out. But unless Rob Womanfred institutes 7 inning games to speed things up (a moronic idea of Donald Trumpian proportions), I think we can agree that ballgames are 9 inning affairs.

2  You got 9 guys on each side. Actually there are a lot more than that, but only 9 in the line up at any one time. Unless were talkin’ that sissy DH kinda baseball they play in the American League. That makes it 10 a side. Which is yet another reason why the DH is an abomination whose sole purpose is to give a job to fat guys with no glove. Pathetic. Real baseball has pitchers who hit, so I’m stickin’ with 9.

3  Ted Williams, Roger Maris, Bill Mazeroski, Graig Nettles, Matt Williams, Enos Slaughter, Minnie Minoso, and the straw that stirs the drink — Reggie Jackson — all wore number 9. Yes, Jackson wore it until he went to the dark side. Nettles already had it. Doesn’t really matter, though. You could take everyone off this list except for Ted and the number 9 would still be one of the greatest.

4  The first World Series, in 1903, was a best-of-nine affair arranged between the champions of the older, and I might add, better National League (founded in 1876) and the American League. Of course leave it to the Pirates to blow a Series they were favored to win. The Boston Pilgrims upset Pittsburgh, 5 games to 3.

5  There are usually 9 Justices on the Supreme Court. Not right now cuz Scalia passed, but normally you got 9 so you don’t have stuff endin’ in a tie. Ties suck. I would think that even Bud Selig has learned that lesson by now.

6  There are 9 months in the average human pregnancy. That’s a pretty good 9. I mean we got billions of people on this planet so it’s workin’ pretty well. Yeah, some of ’em are jaggoffs and/or root for the Mets, and probably shoulda baked longer or somethin’. But overall, I’d say that 9 has worked out.

7  Two words: Nine Ball. Rackin’ up the resin at Wrigleyville North with a couple of buddies and a pitcher of Old Style is pretty high in the male bonding line up. Although now that the Cubs have turned into an actual Major League baseball team, and nobody leaves the ballpark ’til the last out is in the books, it’s way tougher to get in. Makes the missus happy, though.

8  It’s been 108 years since the Cubbies won the Series. But I hasten to point out that 108 is evenly divisible by 9. Twelve times, to be exact. And 12 happens to be the number of months in a year. And this year belongs to the friggin’ Chicago Cubs, my friend. You DO see how the dots connect, right? 108 years; 9 fits into 108 twelve times; 12 is the number of months in a year; this year is ours. Sister Mary Elizabeth woulda said that’s Schlombowski logic. Makes perfect sense to me, though.

Why 9 ain’t such a good number:

1  Cats have 9 lives. I have seen a few road kills in my day, though. Kinda hard to imagine the fury bundle of indifference gettin’ up from bein’ Wiley Coyote’d into the asphalt. It’s fair to say I’m not a cat person. Cats treat you like you’re the pet. And they stink. Walk into someone’s house and you know right away if they got a cat or not. Plus, if it weren’t for cats, there’d be no cat ladies — 70 year old former librarians livin’ with 43 felines and wearin’ an ugly print bathrobe 24/7. And, of course, there’s the friggin’ cat curse at Wrigley. My blood pressure goes ballistic just thinkin’ about it. Cats havin’ one life is quite enough. Nine? That’s a friggin’ horror movie.

2  There are 9 squares in tic-tac-toe — perhaps the stupidest game in the history of history. It’s fine for little kids, of course, but once you’re old enough to pick your nose, you figure out that you can’t win it … unless you’re playin’ against a White Sox fan. (Speakin’ of nose pickers …)

3  Niners. As in the San Francisco 49ers. They misappropriated the number 9 by callin’ themselves the Niners. Now, anybody who knows me knows that I don’t really give a crap about football. But if I did, I’d be a Bears fan which oughta explain what I just said about the Niners.

4  Dante’s Divine Comedy describes nine circles of Hell. I never finished it, but why would I? Bein’ a Cubs fan and all, I’ve had my own circles of Hell. Plenty of ’em. Way more than Dante, by the way. Readin’ about 9 more would be like bein’ roommates with Steve Bartman. Who needs that?

5  Nine is considered a lucky number in China. A lotta dynasties used a nine-rank system in their hierarchy, and it’s a number that’s related to tales of dragons and Emperors. Kowloon, a district in Hong Kong, literally translates to “nine dragons.” Why is all this bad? It’s friggin’ China, dude. Does Tiananmen Square ring any bells?

On balance, I’d say 9 is a pretty friggin’ good number. Most especially when its the number of Cubs consecutive wins. And let’s not forget that Javier Baez wears 9, and he’s one of the reasons that the Cubs will be takin’ home the hardware this season. For those of you who think otherwise … I got a 9 for ya. Imagine I’m foldin’ down all my fingers except one. There’s your 9, pallie.

Joe