Hey there, ice chips. How ’bout those friggin’ Cubs, huh?! I gotta tell ya, I luuuuuuvvvvv flyin’ the playoff W. I’d say it makes me feel like I’m on top of the world but that’s kinda stupid. I mean think about it. First — SPOILER ALERT — there’s no Santa Claus up there and second, it’s butt ass cold. It’d be a lot more accurate to say I’m feelin’ like I’m sittin’ on a clothing-optional beach in Bora Bora, the missus has exercised her option, and is feedin’ me pork sliders while I sip on a frosty Old Style. Yeah, that about captures it. Thank you for that, Cubbies.
Anyway, as the Central Division Champs are makin’ their way to the city of whackadoos for Game 3 against the Giants, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the meaning of the oldest phrase in baseball: Keep your eye on the friggin’ ball.
Lemme start by sayin’ that anyone who pays attention to my microscopic corner of the Cubs universe knows that I live and die with them. If that’s you, 1) thank you for payin’ attention and 2) you know that my 55 seasons have seen a whole lot more dyin’ than livin’. That’s given me a certain … let’s say … perspective. I tend to call it like I see it, rather than wearin’ Cubbie blue shaded glasses. Sometimes the Schlombowski forecast is “cloudy with a chance of losing.” Hey, I don’t make the weather, pal, I just report it.
Don’t get me wrong. I not only think the Cubs are in the driver’s seat right now, I think the Giants have been stuffed into the trunk and are about to get dumped on the side of a dark, winding road out in the middle of the redwoods.
IF they keep their eye on the ball, that is.
And I don’t mean pickin’ up the rotation on Bumgarner’s cheese and watchin’ it all the way to the plate. What I mean is that bein’ up 2-0 to the Giants, even in a best-of-5 series, isn’t a Labron James better-get-the-hell-outta-my-way slam dunk, unless we do one thing: stay focused on the ball that matters — winnin’ the World Series. To me, that mean’s not actin’ like we just won the friggin’ lottery cuz the first two games went our way, or cuz our pitchers have turned into Babe Ruth, or cuz Wood just penned his name in the record books. The Cubs gotta go about their business like they’re mailmen or something. You know … that whole “neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night” thing. Only with us it’s “Neither Mad-Bum, nor Posey, nor wicked line drives off our pitchers will keep us from our appointed victory over the Halloween-colored San Francisco Giants.” Do I think that’s gonna happen? You bet your sweet ivy-covered ass I do. Do I think it’s gonna be easy? Read on, my friend:
I suppose “bombs” might be a slightly overly-dramatic description for Sale’s performance last night in his 3-1 loss to the Cubbies, but hey … one drama queen to another, right?
That’s the problem with drawin’ attention to yourself by bein’ a complete douche bag. Everyone is watching and waiting for you to screw up. Not that he actually screwed up, but anything short of perfection after his Little Lord Fontleroy bit the other day doesn’t cut it. And if anyone oughta know how to cut somethin’, it’s Chris Sale.
The real story was Mr Lackey, who was vintage last night, and a helluva lot more effective than Scissorhands. Yeah, I think the game probably qualified as a duel, but in the end it was the Lackmiester who filleted his 6′-10″ opponent into bite size chunks. Add to that the new Strop, Rondon, Chapman 3-headed bullpen monster and the Cubs (in the movie parlance thing) are startin’ to look a lot like Jason Bourne.
Chapman definitely changes the dynamic. First, havin’ him in the wings has gotta have some kinda super-power effect on starters. I mean if I know that all I gotta do is get through the 6th and the door is gettin’ slammed in the face of the (ANY TEAM NAME HERE) well then it gives me some extra confidence. That’s gotta make a dif. Second, if I’m Strop or Rondon, besides being ecstatic about makin’ stupid money for throwin’ a few pitches now and then, I still have the same basic job. It’s just that my shift got moved up an inning or two. Third, havin’ to face Strop and Rondon while also watchin’ Chapman warm up is a sure fire way to deflate any misguided hope the (ANY TEAM NAME HERE) might get back into a game in the late innings.
You could see that happen tonight. You could literally feel that the decision has been made — the Cubs are winnin’ the last game of the World Series this year and there’s nothin’ anybody, not King Kong, not James Bond, not Ironman and certainly not Sale Scissorhands is gonna be able to do about it.
Hey there, turn signals, Joe Schlombowski here; a little bruised and banged up emotionally from yesterday’s opener with the Mets. I had been lookin’ forward to this series all season long, and not being able to just get to it and settle the score was makin’ be break out. It was like being a snarling rottweiller on a 5 foot leash with a juicy slab of porterhouse steak dangling 6 feet away. I fully expected Joe and the boys to rip them to shreds, and the way the game started, it was lookin’ pretty much like I was right. Bryant, once again, was channeling himself. (Normally I would say he was channeling Babe Ruth or Reggie Jackson, but I think Bryant bein’ Bryant is about as explosive as you can get right now. Oh … and for any of you San Francisco fans wonderin’ why I didn’t mention Barry Bonds? Bite me. He’s a cheat, everybody knows he’s a cheat, and on top of that he’s a jaggoff.) Anyway, Mr Bryant got us off to a really nice start, thank you very much.
So did Lackey. The guy was on cruise control until his arm started farting in the 5th. Weird. Happened in the 5th in his last outing, too. Still, I was a little surprised Joe yanked him when he did. Yeah, sure … Cespedes launched one of his pitches into a geosynchronous orbit around Neptune, but that was pretty much it. Me personally? I think Joe pulled out the hook a skosh too soon. It’s easy for me to say that, cuz … you know … that hindsight thing is in play. But holy monkey droppings, did all 4 wheels come off the wagon then, or what?!
Now if I was politically correct, I’d say Peralta was less than stellar. But I’m not. He sucked. He walks pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza, then dishes an RBI single to Brandon Nimmo. If there’s one thing that drives me to drinkin’ — never mind … everything drives me to drinkin’. But I have a hard time with relief guys who come in and start walkin’ hitters. That’s the polar opposite of relief, my friend. I mean when pitchers are yanked it’s usually cuz they’re havin’ a hard time. Relievers are brought in to do what the guy before ’em couldn’t, not the same damn thing. That’s why it makes no sense to me to have guys in that roll that hold the friggin’ flood gates open with ball 4. Sure, everybody is gonna give up some hits, but any reliever that’s got an arm full of walks oughta be workin’ at 7-11, not pitchin’ for the Cubs.