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A Chicago Cubs Fan Community Since February 9, 2005



Updated: 2016-10-04T18:00:03-05:00

 



2016 A.L. Wild Card Game: Orioles vs. Blue Jays, Tuesday 10/4, 7 p.m. CT

2016-10-04T18:00:03-05:00

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These teams play for the right to play the Rangers in an American League division series.

Baseball’s postseason begins tonight with the American League wild-card game. It’s the first time since the two-wild-card system was created in 2012 that the two teams playing in the A.L. game have identical records.

The Jays got the home game by virtue of their 10-9 record against the Orioles this year. Toronto won 10 of the first 17 to clinch that before losing the last two games against Baltimore, just last week in Toronto, so these teams have faced each other quite recently.

Orioles lineup:

Jones CF, Kim LF, Machado 3B, Trumbo DH, Wieters C, Davis 1B, Schoop 2B, Bourn RF, Hardy SS

Blue Jays lineup:

Travis 2B, Donaldson 3B, Encarnacion 1B, Bautista RF, Martin C, Tulowitzki SS, Saunders DH, Pillar CF, Carrera LF

Chris Tillman will start for the Orioles. Marcus Stroman goes for the Jays. And therein lies the tale of this game, or maybe not. These teams are first (Baltimore, 253, and 28 against the Jays) and third (Toronto, 220, and 29 against the Orioles) in home runs in the A.L. this year. Slugfest? Well... Tillman had a 3.63 ERA against the Jays this year, 2.38 in Toronto. But he had an 11.32 ERA against them in 2015, and his lifetime ERA at Rogers Centre is 7.01 in 13 starts.

Meanwhile, Stroman has posted a 7.04 ERA in four starts against the Orioles this year, and he has a higher ERA in his home park (4.59, 16 starts) than on the road (4.14 ERA, 16 starts).

These numbers point to a high-scoring game, which means we’ll likely get a 1-0 pitchers’ duel. Or not.

Today's game is on TBS. Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling, Cal Ripken Jr. and field reporter Sam Ryan. (As usual, trying to squeeze too many voices into not enough time.)

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Blue Jays site Bluebird Banter and Orioles site Camden Chat. If you do go there to interact with Blue Jays or Orioles fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

Discuss amongst yourselves.




Former Cubs Manager Lou Piniella On ‘Today’s Game’ Hall of Fame Ballot

2016-10-04T15:30:03-05:00

Will “Sweet Lou” get into the Hall? This kind of got lost in Monday’s shuffle of season wraps, but the Hall of Fame Monday announced the "Today’s Game" Hall of Fame ballot, which will be voted on by members of the Today’s Game Era Committee (a fancier name for "Veterans Committee") at the MLB Winter Meetings December 5. (If you were wondering, this year’s Winter Meetings will take place in National Harbor, Maryland, which is just south of Washington, DC, across the Potomac River.) Lou Piniella, who managed the Cubs to two division titles but fell short of his goal of winning a World Series in Chicago, is on the ballot, along with Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Mark McGwire, Lou Piniella, John Schuerholz, Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner. Baines, Belle, Clark, Hershiser and McGwire are included for contributions as players. Selig, Schuerholz and Steinbrenner are included for contributions off the field, and Johnson and Piniella are included for their work as managers. All candidates except for Steinbrenner are living. In my view, none of the players listed really clears the bar for induction. It seems likely this committee is going to wind up inducting Selig, and you could certainly make a case for Schuerholz or Steinbrenner for their influence on the game. (Personally, I think Marvin Miller should be in, as he’s one of the most important figures in baseball over the last 50 years, but that’s a discussion for another time.) So what about Sweet Lou? In addition to his managing career, which included seven postseason appearances and a World Series win with the Reds in 1990, Lou was actually a pretty good player. He was A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1969 and hit .291/.333/.409 over an 18-year career with the Orioles, Indians, Royals and Yankees, and he played in four World Series, getting two rings. He had over 1,700 hits and was worth 12.5 bWAR. This isn’t a Hall of Fame playing career, but I think combined with his managing career, it’s enough for induction. If he’d have won with the Cubs, I think his ticket would have been punched long ago. As a manager, Lou won 1,713 games. Every manager who won that many is in the Hall, except for Gene Mauch, who never got to the World Series and had an overall losing record. Here's Lou's playing record and here's his managerial record. What say you? Should Lou be voted into the Hall of Fame? Poll Should Lou Piniella be elected to the Hall of Fame? Yes No   278 votes | Results [...]



Cubs Heroes and Goats: The Wins vs. The Losses

2016-10-04T13:00:02-05:00

You've seen how the plus / minus chart ended for the 2016 regular season... but how did it look if you look at the wins and the losses as separate groups? Of the three years that I have done the Heroes and Goats feature, I would venture to say that this year has definitely been the most interesting. One of the main reasons for that feeling is that the feature feels like is has engaged readers a bit more than in past years, very likely due to the Cuyler and Marmol polls being a daily addition this year. The audience feels like it has also gotten a little wider this year than in the previous years as I've even gotten the occasional comment from readers on Twitter, which is most certainly a departure from the first two seasons. One thing is for sure: It's been a heck of a lot of fun. And the best part is... the fun's not over yet. Not even close. Over the past few weeks, I have had some requests come in from readers that wondered about how the chart would look if only the wins were considered as a group, as well as the losses. It was definitely an interesting take, one that I had not thought of before myself. Going into it, I wasn't really sure what to expect from the results; my only real thought was that the starting pitching would dominate the chart in the wins as they had done all season on the chart regardless of win or loss, but aside from that I didn't have a gauge on what the rest of it would look like. Some of the results will likely come as a surprise; others, not as much. Also, as part of the exercise, I wanted to include the players' WPA that was earned in their podium appearances over the course of the season; I'll refer to that figure as the pWPA here for short (and if any stat organizations are out there reading this, you can gladly use it yourself as well... just tell people that I came up with it first). It's important to clarify that the pWPA is not necessarily the players' cumulative WPA for the season; it only reflects the WPA that they earned as a result of being in the top or bottom three spots for the game. With all that said, here's a look back at how the plus / minus chart ended for the season as a whole: All 162 Games Hero Goat +/- pWPA Jon Lester 66.5 15 51.5 4.557 Kyle Hendricks 51 14 37 3.689 Anthony Rizzo 100 65.5 34.5 4.510 Jake Arrieta 46.5 19 27.5 1.594 Jason Hammel 36 24 12 0.959 John Lackey 30 20 10 0.467 Tommy La Stella 21.5 14 7.5 0.514 Hector Rondon 20.5 14 6.5 -0.056 Rob Zastryzny 7.5 2 5.5 0.035 Miguel Montero 34 29 5 1.451 Jake Buchanan 3 0 3 0.287 Felix Pena 2.5 0 2.5 0.344 Ryan Kalish 2 0 2 0.316 Munenori Kawasaki 2 1 1 0.156 Aroldis Chapman 6.5 6 0.5 -0.620 Travis Wood 22 22 0 0.086 Carl Edwards Jr. 8 8 0 -0.298 Neil Ramirez 1 1 0 -0.002 Spencer Patton 1.5 2 -0.5 -0.162 Joe Smith 6 7 -1 0.031 Joel Peralta 2 3 -1 -0.134 Gerardo Concepcion 1 2 -1 -0.049 Kyle Schwarber 0 1 -1 -0.027 David Ross 21.5 23.5 -2 0.709 Jeimer Candelario 2 4 -2 -0.189 Tim Federowicz 2 4 -2 -0.054 Chris Coghlan 11 13.5 -2.5 0.003 Mike Montgomery 6 9 -3 -0.164 Clayton Richard 3 6 -3 -0.160 Brian Matusz 0 3 -3 -0.354 Trevor Cahill 11.5 15 -3.5 -0.930 Adam Warren 11.5 16 -4.5 -0.467 Willson Contreras 26 32.5 -6.5 -0.046 Albert Almora Jr. 8 15 -7 -0.209 Dexter Fowler 51.5 59 -7.5 0.944 Justin Grimm 8.5 16 -7.5 -0.223 Matt Szczur 15 24.5 -9.5 0.174 Jorge Soler 28 39 -11 0.499 Pedro Strop 10 21 -11 -1.293 Ben Zobrist 59 71.5 -12.5 1.088 Kris Bryant 76.5 90.5 -14 2.728 Javier Baez 37 56.5 -19.5 0.353 Addison Russell 73 94.5 -21.5 1.9[...]



A Look At 2016 Cubs Postseason Tickets

2016-10-04T11:00:07-05:00

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Here’s what season-ticket holders got for this year’s playoff games.

The format of the 2016 postseason tickets is quite similar to what Cubs season-ticket holders received last year, just with different designs and/or photos behind the lettering.

As was the case a year ago, we paid for an entire strip of tickets, including the wild-card game that, even at the time the payment was due (September 2), was unlikely to involve the Cubs. Season-ticket holders could choose a refund or account credit for unplayed games at the time they made their payment. I chose a credit, since I’m going to wind up sending in more money for next year’s season tickets sometime over the next couple of months anyway. Personally, I wouldn’t mind getting more credits, if the Cubs can win each series in fewer than the maximum number of games.

The designs are pretty generic, and I can’t say I like the wild-card game one much (red and white plaid? Really?), but that one’s not going to be used anyway. The World Series tickets, with the trophy, are kind of nice.

The Cubs also gave all season-ticket holders electronic versions of the tickets. I’ve heard from some fellow season-ticket holders that they are going to use those and keep the sheet intact. Interesting idea, but I think I’ll separate mine and use the actual physical ticket.

One very important thing I’d like to mention, about which the Cubs remind you on the instruction sheet that came with the tickets: If you are lucky enough to get postseason tickets and are excited to share them with your friends on social media, please make sure to cover up the barcodes and other personally-identifiable information.

I honestly can’t emphasize that enough. If you post the ticket barcodes, they could be copied and used by someone else.

Here’s the entire ticket sheet. If that’s too small for you to read everything, click here for a larger version.

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The 2016 Cubs By The Numbers

2016-10-04T09:00:10-05:00

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No, not uniform numbers this time. Fun and interesting facts about this year’s 103-win ballclub.

Here are a few fun and interesting factoids about this year’s 103-win Cubs. Let’s start with this one, that I posted in Sunday’s recap, in case you missed it:

I could go on all day or all week with these, but you get the idea. This Cubs team did things as a whole that hadn’t been done in living memory, and players accomplishing feats we hadn’t seen in years, if not decades. It’s the most impressive baseball I have witnessed in all my years as a baseball fan. Got other numbers you particularly liked about this year’s Cubs? Post them in the comments.

Finally, indulge me a plug, if you will, given the title of this article. The new edition of my co-authored book “Cubs By The Numbers” is now available. Updated through the 2015 season with uniform numbers and new stories, it’s a fun read. You can find it at your local bookstore, at Costco, or on Amazon.

Here’s hoping the Cubs put up some more memorable numbers over the next few weeks — in particular, “11,” the number of victories they need this month to become 2016 World Series champions.




Cub Tracks Confounds Expectations

2016-10-04T07:00:10-05:00

The Harry-meter, the physics of October baseball in Wrigley, and other bullets Previously on it’s the Cub Tracks, we examined the fascinating phenomenon of meat, in several permutations, because Meat Loaf is no longer sufficient as a metaphor when one has to win three of five or four of seven to survive. No one here that was left alive in nineteen hundred and eighty-five (to pick a year that rhymes) will ever forget that object lesson...indeed, it is taken as gospel that the postseason may be capricious and that expectations exist to be confounded. The object can be propelled over the outfield wall by the opposition on any pitch, at any time. Certainly any preparations are inadequate, and superstitions are nonsense, but on the off-chance that I can somehow influence the random, I’ve been growing my nails out for a month, to have adequate grazing surface. I have rubber bricks, a small bullhorn, and eleven of those 3x5 “W” flags, unopened. Home and road jerseys, Cubs sweats, Cubs socks (three pair), Cubs boxers, three different hats, even Cubs “marshmallow” booties I got from my ex for Xmas once. I refuse to shave until it’s over. I’m gonna bathe, though. I hope that doesn’t jinx anything. My cats even have little Cub hats and tiny pennants. They won’t have anything to do with them, but they have them. I have my Cubs mug and my Cubs cups, and plastic Cubs dishes that I got from Jewel/Osco back in the day. I have my jacket that I got from the same Jewel. There are Vienna Beef franks in my freezer. I have bright green Chicago relish. I sent away for sport peppers. I have a six-pack of Old Style in my fridge. I have a ditty bag with a guitar pick from Steve Goodman, a souvenir Ron Santo-autographed miniature bat, and a picture of me and some of my friends playing darts with a board that wore Steve Garvey’s face. The ticket from the “Ryne Sandberg game” is in there, and a little bit of Wrigley Field dirt. There’s a “Try Not To Suck” shirt, a “Fear the Beard” shirt, a “Vote for Bryzzo” shirt. I have Cubs glasses with a Cubs lanyard and a set of playing cards with the ‘60s logo on them. I worry that I don’t have enough gear. Just a little ‘stitious. I dunno how I’ll make it to Friday. I’m a basket case already. How about you? Here’s some stuff to tide you over ‘til the wild-card game tonight. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome). ESPN*: 2016 Week 26 MLB Power Rankings. Back where we started. Shelbie Lynn Bostedt (Chicago Tribune): If the Cubs win the World Series, Chicago might need 100.8M beers. On the Harry-meter. Jay Jaffe (Sports Illustrated*): The big question facing each MLB playoff team. The Cubs don’t have an obvious weakness. So the burden of history is cited. Jared Wyllys (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Unfinished brilliance: The 2016 regular season. “...it feels like the Cubs have arrived at the stage they were meant for.” David Kagan (The Hardball Times): The physics of October baseball in Wrigley. “...the difference between the dog days and the postseason at Wrigley isn’t just the fact that fly balls can become homers.” Ted Berg (USA Today): Predicting the MLB postseason is pointless, but the Cubs are totally going to win. Yes. That’s what I’m talking about. 269 games? I’m all for small sample size. Jeff Sullivan (Fangraphs): How the Cubs stack up within baseball history. “You could say the Cubs were the most outstanding baseball team in two decades.” Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): Mind-Blowing Records set by the historic 2016 Chicago Cubs. Good article; really annoying format. ESPN: ESPN's experts predict the 2016 postseason. Odds? What odds? Andrew Simon (MLB.com): Who should Cubs root for in Wild Card Game? “...the club with three championships over the previous five years offers the more troublesome matchup.” Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Why Gi[...]



A Tale of Two Cubs Songs

2016-10-03T17:00:03-05:00

BCB's Danny Rockett interviews two very different Cubs songwriters who both wrote about one incredible Cubs team. I received an email a few weeks ago from a man named Rick Wade. He introduced himself as a former college and minor-league player, who won the 1985 College World Series as an assistant coach. He detailed his personal connections to some Cubs names you might also recognize: Ed Lynch, Jim Hendry and former Cubs trainer John Fierro. After reading about his impressive baseball resume, he also told me he had written a song -- a Cubs song. And he needed my musical help. Katie Day needs no introduction to many of you, as she is the artist behind last years Cubs anthem "By The Lakeside". She DID NOT need my help in creating her new Cubs song, "We've got the Fire". What she sought and needed was inspiration to create a follow up track to last years song. Inspiration she found at a Cubs game. Rick sent me the lyrics to what was then called "World Series Fever." To get the song to an appropriate radio-friendly length, I edited the prose and sent it back, with a few lyric suggestions of my own. I then recorded Rick, who does not claim to be a singer, singing his song on the phone, and I got to work turning it into what our current society deems "a song." Katie, an Indiana native, sat near the Cubs bullpen during the August trip to Los Angeles. Aroldis Chapman got up to warm his arm with his weighted ball. The POP the ball made in the catchers mitt was so sonically intense, that it reminded Katie of a snare drum. She recorded the sound to sample it, determined to find a way to use the intensity of Chapman's caught pitch in a song. I edited and futzed further while recording the demo of "World Series Fever," laying down piano, guitar and vocals to a drum loop and then MP3'd it back to Rick. Rick called me with various lyrical concerns, but also genuine excitement about what we were creating together! "This could really be the year!" Rick exclaimed! The spirit of positivity and his enthusiasm for the Cubs was infectious, and I promised him I'd do all I could to convey the spirit of his sentiment in my voice. Katie went to work, spending hours working and reworking the song. She wrote harmonies and fussed over sounds and timbres. She mixed and remixed. Listened and re-listened. She turned Chapman's pitch into an instrument. I did the same for Rick's song, except for the Chapman snare bit, all the while channeling Rick's passionate spirit. I laid down a banjo track. Katie downloaded clips for "We Got the Fire"'s video. Rick sought out artists for the album cover and navigated for the first time, the strange and convoluted world of music distribution and promotion. He also changed the name of the song to "Chicago Series Fever." After days of performing, tweaking, compiling, mixing, emailing, sampling, and discussing...  both songs were "In the can," as we say in the biz. Done. Finished. Ready for release! Two very different paths to the same end. We all made music while dreaming of a Cubs World Series Championship. Just as Arthur O'Shaughnessy famously wrote and Willy Wonka popularized, "We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams." Musical dreaming on the path to reality. A World Series victory reality! So here they are! Two new Cubs songs! Along with interviews with each composer and a spanking new hype video from Katie Day. You can buy "We Got the Fire" on ITunes, and "Chicago Series Fever" is on BandCamp. style="border: 0; width: 100%; height: 120px;" src="https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/track=3169005415/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/transparent=true/"> And here's the new hype video from Katie Day on Youtube! frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WAw-wx0L_cs" height="315" width="560"> A video of "Chicago Series Fever" featuring many of my favorite photos from th[...]



Jon Lester Named National League Pitcher Of The Month For September

2016-10-03T16:10:27-05:00

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Cubs honors just keep on coming.

Let’s forget about that little start Jon Lester had on Saturday for now — because that was in October.

Lester was honored by MLB Monday as the National League pitcher of the month for September, when he posted a 5-0 record with a 0.48 ERA (two earned runs in 37⅔ innings, the second-most innings thrown by anyone in the league in September). He also issued only four walks in those five starts and his WHIP for the month was 0.690. And, he struck out 31 and allowed just one home run.

His season numbers make him a Cy Young candidate. He likely won’t win, though he could finish in the top five in the balloting. He’s done that twice before, finishing fourth in 2010 and 2014.

This is Lester’s second Pitcher of the Month award for 2016, as he also won in June, and his fifth such award in his career.

Congratulations to Lester. Cubs pitchers have picked up quite a bit of hardware this year; in addition to Lester’s two Pitcher of the Month awards, Jake Arrieta won the award in April and Kyle Hendricks got it in August.

Here’s hoping for some more team hardware later this month.