Tagged: Carlos Zambrano

Cubs Win First Game With Teamwork!

Cubs Win!  Cubs Win!  How?  A combined effort of solid pitching and timely hitting gave the Cubs their first victory of 2011.  Everyone contributed and provided the kind of teamwork that will carry this team to new heights.  As a diehard Cubs’ fan, I am very encouraged by this team’s tenacity to hang in there.  I am pleased by the effort that everyone gave.  Indeed, this will be a fun group to watch.  Mike Quade deserves a world of credit for the way this team has come together.  I think there is good reason to be optimistic this season.

Carlos Zambrano struggled early but managed to keep the game close.  Cramping in his hand forced him to leave the game, but Kerry Wood came in and took care of business.  Sean Marshall followed Wood and also shut down the Pirates.  Then in the bottom of the 8th, the Cubs came to life and battled for a 5 run inning.  The beauty of that inning was that everyone contributed with timely hitting. 
60602722.jpg Alfonso Soriano had a key hit and of course, Blake DeWitt delivered in the clutch.  Dewitt, who struggled in Spring Training, deserves a lot of credit.  His confidence needed a boost and he needed that hit as much as the team did.  It was a total team effort. 
60602747.jpg I like the way that this team sticks together and supports one another.  It is refreshing.  Carlos Marmol came on in the 9th and struck out the side for his first save of the young season.
60602748.jpg  In fact, the bullpen retired the last 9 Pirate batters of the game.  Now that’s a solid bullpen! 

Matt Garza is on the bump today.  He will be starting his first game in a Cub uniform.  If he can have a solid outing, then the Cubs should win again.  Garza seems like a really good teammate.  He’s a gamer, you can tell.  With the addition of Garza, Carlos Pena, and the return of Kerry Wood, I believe the club house chemistry is finally coming together.  Mike Quade has good reason to like his chances this year.  Teamwork is what champions are made of and the Cubs are showing signs of having the right chemistry. 

Good job to everyone!  Keep up the good work!  Go Cubs Go!!! 

Advertisements

My All-Time Favorite Cubs!

I have been a diehard Cubs’ fan for over 32 years.  Here is a list of my all-time favorite Cubs.

In no particular order, I have broken my favorites down by position.  Former Cub Greats like Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, and Ron Santo are NOT listed since I never had the opportunity to see them play.  However, obviously, they are the best.

In the OUTFIELD, my favorites include ANDRE DAWSON.  Andre Dawson is a Hall of Famer and his numbers speak for themselves. 
thumbnailCASVJS4E.jpgSammy,
thumbnailCAGSWXSZ.jpgon the other hand, lost favor with me when I, along with the rest of the world, discovered that he used a corked bat while hitting 66 homeruns in 1998.  Sammy was exciting to watch, but with the steroid scandal, he became a major disappointment.  I was at Wrigley all summmer long in 1998 and was a witness to history, unfortunately it was all smoke and mirrors for the fans.   Another favorite has been Gary Matthews.  “Sarge” always took charge in the outfield and played hard-nosed baseball.  He was an all-out effort kind of player. My third favorite outfielder, in my time, is BOB DERNIER.
thumbnailCASG8UGU.jpg
thumbnailCAYVE10S.jpg  He was a speedster that not only stole bases, but had a gold glove as well.

At THIRD BASE, the Cubs haven’t had anybody that has stood out until Aramis Ramirez came along. 
thumbnailCA6WKXR1.jpgAlthough he struggled with injuries last season, he has been a solid performer over the past few years with the Cubs.  Hopefully next season, he will return to form.

At SHORTSTOP, my favorite was Ivan DeJesus
thumbnailCAU6D3I4.jpgHe was the lead-off hitter back when I began watching the Cubs.  He played solid defense and stole bases.  He always gave 100%.

At SECOND BASE, there is only one RYNE SANDBERG. 
thumbnailCACA1ZSP.jpgA Hall of Famer, Ryno was simply the best.  He was the most clutch hitter that I’ve ever seen.

At FIRST BASE, while most fans would arguably pick Mark Grace and rightfully so, my pick is BILL BUCKNER.  Back in the day, Buckner was a hitting machine.  In my opinion, he was a better hitter than Gracie.  He was a pretty good defensive player as well.  It is unfortunate that fans only remember the ball that went through his legs at Boston.
thumbnailCAK2MV8C.jpg  The same could be said for Leon Durham in 1984.  Derek Lee deserves special recognition.  I almost picked him and probably should have.  He is probably the best first baseman the Cubs have had in my 32 years as a fan, I just was a big fan of Buckner, that’s all. 

At CATCHER, my favorite was JODY DAVIS.
thumbnailCAIL1KLX.jpg  He was awesome.
thumbnail.jpg  Back in 1984, the Cubs had a good team up and down the line-up.  It was probably my favorite team as a whole.

STARTING PITCHER is none other than Greg Maddux
thumbnailCAXBVF46.jpgHe is the king of the hill.

My favorite CLOSER was BRUCE SUTTER.  He had a split-fingered fast ball that was lights out.  Carlos Marmol recently broke his strikeout record for closers.

thumbnailCA01ENS8.jpgSome of my other favorites include, most notably, JOE GIRARDI, LEE SMITH, DENNIS ECKERSLY, Kenny Lofton, FERGUSON JENKINS, MARK GRACE, Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, RICK SUTCLIFFE, LEON DURHAM, KEITH MORELAND, Derek Lee, DAVE KINGMAN, SHAWON DUNSTON, Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Marmol.   My FAVORITE CUBS’ TEAM was 1984. 
thumbnailCAFW14WS.jpgIt was a season to remember!
thumbnailCAWZTYEX.jpg

Why Diehard Cubs’ Fans Are Angry!

Mike Quade is now the new Cubs’ Manager, but that’s not why diehard Cub fans are angry.  While Q may be deserving, many fans are bitterly disappointed and some are downright outraged by the lack of loyalty and disdain demonstrated by the Cubs toward Ryne Sandberg and Joe Girardi.

After replacing Lou Piniella in August, Mike Quade made a case for himself to be the next Cubs’ Manager as the Cubs finished the season strong.  The Cubs went 24-13 under Quade, who made an immediate impression as he proved that he can manage.  A new attitude was adopted by the Cub players and Quade influenced the team to get better, and they did.  Rather than playing out the season, the Cubs stormed back and compiled the best record in the National League, next to the Philadelphia Phillies, during the last 37 games of the season.  The Cubs’ Pitching Staff was vastly improved, Carlos Zambrano was unstoppable, and the bullpen was lights out.  The new look Cubs looked like a different team under Mike Quade, who deserves alot of credit for the turnaround.  Q made a statement, and seemingly out of nowhere, emerged as the leading candidate for the Cubs’ managerial position.

But that’s not why Cub fans are angry.

As the interview process dragged on, many diehard Cub fans waited eagerly as the drama began to unfold.  The Cubs interviewed Freddi Gonzalez, who withdrew his name as the Atlanta Braves announced that he would replace the legendary Bobby Cox following his retirement after the Braves lost to the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS. 

Eric Wedge was interviewed but ended up getting a job with the Seattle Mariners.  Bob Melvin was also on the list, but many felt that he was not a good fit for the Cubs.  Finally, Bob Brenly, the Cubs commentator, withdrew his name from consideration because he felt that he was not a good fit.  Brenly was supported by many of the fans, but it appears that he will look elsewhere.  No one really knows why.

Ryne Sandberg was a leading candidate as well.  After managing 4 years in the Cubs’ farm system, many believed that he was being groomed to take over as the next Cub Manager.  The former Cub second baseman and Hall Of Famer, managed the Cubs’ Triple A affiliate, Iowa team to a first place tie this past season.  Sandberg won the Pacific Coast League Manager Of The Year Award and proved that he was a legitimate candidate to manage at the big league level.  Upon hearing the news that Quade was named Manager, Ryno expressed his disappointment and decided that he will explore other opportunities.  He has said, that it is his dream to manage in the Major leagues, if not in Chicago, then somewhere. 

Finally, many diehard Cub fans expected Jim Hendry, the Cubs’ GM, and Tom Ricketts, the Cubs’ Owner and Chairman, to wait till after the post-season to talk to New York Yankees’ Manager, Joe Girardi.  The Cubs have stated that they wanted to have a manager in place by the November Organizational Meetings in November, but there was no hurry to rush the interview process.  That led many to speculate that the Cubs were waiting to interview one last managerial candidate, particularly former Cubs’ Catcher, Joe Girardi, whose New York Yankees were still alive in their quest for another World Series championship.  Apparently, Joe Girardi, who many believed to be the most experienced, successful, qualified candidate for the job, was never even considered.  Upon hearing the news at a Yankee press conference, Girardi appeared shocked by the news but quickly congratulated Mike Quade on the decision.

So why are diehard Cub fans bitterly disappointed and angry?

thumbnailCAJV0B2C.jpgNo one can argue that Mike Quade earned his right to manage.  The reason that the diehard Cub fans are outraged is the complete lack of loyalty and disdain that Jim Hendry and Tom Ricketts have displayed toward two of the diehard Cub fan favorites, Ryne Sandberg and Joe Girardi.  First of all, the fans expected Jim Hendry to wait for Joe Girardi.  While Girardi’s contract with the Yankees expires at the end of the season, there was some question as to whether or not he will return to New York for another season.  Many believed that he might have interest in coming home to Chicago.  He has said in the past, that managing the Cubs was his dream job.  He interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial position before, but failed to land the job because of his inexperience managing.  Since then, he managed a young Florida Marlin team and has led the New York Yankees to a World Series championship.  This time around, Joe Girardi was completeley snubbed by the Cubs.  He wasn’t even granted an interview.  Sad.  The other sad part of the managerial search was the treatment of Ryne Sandberg.  Many believed that if Mike Quade did get the job, then Ryno would be promoted to Bench Coach.  Instead, Sandberg was snubbed once again.  He was never offered the position.  Now Ryno has to deal with the disappointing news and will most likely leave the Cubs’ Organization to manage another team somewhere else.  Two former Cubs, unwelcomed in their own backyard.  This is why Cubs’ Fans are furious.

Tom Ricketts trusted Jim Hendry to make the final decision.  Jim Hendry demonstrated a complete and utter lack of loyalty in the managerial search.  He has shown disdain toward former Cubs, who have become fan favorites over the years.  While it was a great day for Mike Quade, who finally gets the opportunity to manage in the big leagues, it remains a sad day in Wrigleyville.  Tom Ricketts has stated publicly, that the Cubs should listen to the diehard Cub fans more.  Unfortunately, no one is listening and the diehard Cub fans are extremely angry and disappointed by the PR disaster that Jim Hendry has created.  Many fans have expressed their anger by deciding to no longer support the team.  Many will stay away from Wrigley.  Many have cried for Jim Hendry’s resignation or termination.  Many diehard Cubs’ fans have simply given up.  I have been a diehard Cubs’ fan for the past 32 years and my hopes and dreams of seeing the Cubs win a World Series has been crushed, not because Mike Quade was named Manager, but because two of my all-time favorite Cubs, Ryne Sandberg and Joe Girardi were treated with a lack of respect and a lack of loyalty.  Somebody please tell me why I should remain loyal to the Cubs when there is no loyalty in the Cubs’ Organization.  I will have to search my heart before I will watch the Cubs again.  My faith and trust in this organization has been shattered.  It breaks my heart.  Thank you, Tom Ricketts and Jim Hendry, your lack of loyalty has just cost you thousands and thousands of loyal Cub fans everywhere.  What were you thinking?

2010 Diehard Attaboy Awards!

The 2010 season is finally over.  Now it’s time to reflect on the players who deserve special recognition.  Introducing the 1st annual Diehard Cubs’ Fan Attaboy Awards.

While my choices may not reflect the opinion of all Cubs’ fans, here are my selections nonetheless.  Feel free to leave comments regarding your choices.  It’s a free country.

The Ernie Banks Award goes to the player who exemplifies the heart and soul of the team.  The player who demonstrated heart, determination, and who led by example.
!cid_6EE51BB917EE44FAAA637C9D313E92FC@PC270429458147.jpg  Numbers aside, it goes to the player who contributed to the team in tangible and intangible ways.

The Ernie Banks Award goes to… Marlon Byrd. 
thumbnailCAGLQ18E.jpg His hustle and determination made him an all-star in 2010.  Marlon batted .293, with 12 homeruns and 66 RBI’s.  Byrd had a .346 OBP and defensively shined in centerfield.  He brought a winning attitude to the club.  Attaboy, Marlon!

Rookie Of The Year Award goes to Starlin Castro AND Tyler Colvin.
thumbnailCAX4JZ3Z.jpg  While Castro would be thumbnailCARXR0C1.jpgmost fans’ choice for the award, Tyler Colvin has proven to be a valuable part of the team as well.  Starlin Castro batted .300, with 3 homeruns and 41 RBI’s.  Castro led the team with 10 stolen bases.  Meanwhile, prior to having his season end prematurely due to the broken bat incident, Tyler Colvin hit .254, with 20 homeruns and 56 RBI’s.  Both youngsters did a tremendous job in 2010.  While both players have room for improvement, Castro and Colvin had an excellent rookie season.  Attaboy, you guys!  Good job!

Most Dominant Pitcher Award goes to… Carlos Marmol.

Carlos Marmol has been one of the most dominant closers in the game today. 
thumbnailCA0U7BJV.jpg Marmol has become one of the most feared pitchers for batters to face.  He has a NASTY slider that when Carlos is on top of his game, is unhittable.  He has been lights out this year.  Marmol surpassed Bruce Sutter’s single-season record for strikeouts by a closer with 138 K’s.  Carlos finished the year with a 2.55 ERA and 38 SAVES.  Attaboy, Carlos!  Excellent work!

Comeback Player Award goes to… Carlos Zambrano.

thumbnailCAHAZ47R.jpgBig Z was on the verge of being finished in Chicago following his infamous tirade in the dugout after Derek Lee failed to dive after a ball driven down the first base line.  His outburst landed him on the Restricted List where Carlos was forced to undergo Anger Management classes.  Upon his return to the starting rotation, Big Z was resurrected and given new life.  Zambrano made the best of his second chance as he calmly returned and was better than ever.  Big Z made a statement to silence the critics, not with his mouth, but with masterful pitching performances.  Since the all-star break, Big Z proved that he is one of the best in the business as he went 8-0, with a 1.41 ERA in his last 11 starts.  Zambrano finished the season 11-6, with a 3.33 ERA.  Big Z is back, better than ever!  Attaboy, Carlos!  Keep up the good work, and don’t forget to stay calm! 

The Mr. Consistency Award goes to… Sean Marshall.  Sean is a true team player.  He would rather be in the starting rotation but the team needed his services in the bullpen where Sean has quietly turned into one heck of a reliever.
thumbnailCAOO32DN.jpg  He has been the premiere set up man.  Marshall finished the season with a 7-5 record and a 2.65 ERA in 80 appearances.  Sean has proven to be one of the best left-handed relievers in the game.  Attaboy, Sean!  Nice job!

Special Award goes to… Mike Quade.  Since Lou Piniella retired, Mike Quade assumed managerial duties to finish out the season.  No one had Mike Quade on Jim Hendry’s ShortList but, Quade didn’t waste any time opening people’s eyes. 
thumbnailCACT6MC2.jpg He quickly turned the Cubs around.  Under Mike, the team finished 24-13.  Quade deserves a ton of credit for the turnaround.  No one expected that he would emerge as one of the front runners to win the 2011 managerial position, but here he is.  The players have endorsed him and have played their hearts out to finish the season strong.  The Cubs looked like playoff contenders the last month and a half, a huge accomplishment since there wasn’t anything to play for at that point.  In any event, the strong finish will undoubtedly carry over into next season.  I tip my hat to Mike Quade for making the end of the season enjoyable to watch.  Attaboy, Mike!  Good luck on the interview process!  You have proven your ability to manage and manage well!

The Diehard Award goes to… THE ENTIRE CUBS’ TEAM for not giving up when all was lost, for having the heart to play hard and finish strong. 
thumbnailCA3BRO06.jpg I salute you, Cubs!  This team has given me a new ray of hope as next season draws near.  I can’t wait till next year!  It should prove to be a different story, one with a happier ending!  ATTABOY, CUBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! See you next Spring!  Get some rest, work hard in the offseason and come back healthy and ready to play!  We shall embark on a journey together, a quest for a World Series Championship!  BELIEVE!!!  What the mind can conceive and believe, the Cubs can achieve!  Believe it!

 

Big Z, Cubs, Finishing Strong!

In his final start of the season, Carlos Zambrano delivered yet another quality start to finish the year on a positive note.  Big Z went 8-0, with a 1.41 ERA in his final 11 starts since returning from the restricted list. 
thumbnailCAHAZ47R.jpg What more does Zambrano need to do to silence his critics?  He has gone out to the mound and quietly gone about his business.  He is calmer and more subdued.  Big Z has changed, not only his mindset, but has changed his approach to pitching.  Instead of trying blow batters away, Big Z has shown signs of maturity as he has learned to change speeds and mix up his pitches.  Whatever changes he has made, it has made a world of difference as Zambrano does not appear to be the same guy that we saw earlier in the season.

Baseball is a game of adjustments.  Big Z has made some adjustments and it shows.  I just hope people will get off of his back.  He has changed.  Give the guy a chance.  There’s nothing more Big Z can do other than come back next year and keep up the good work.  I think it is time for Cubs’ fans to show the guy some love and support.  He has earned it.

The Cubs as a team deserve credit for a strong finish.  Under Mike Quade, the Cubs are 24-12, that is a .667 winning percentage folks.  What more can you ask for?  True, it would be nice to see that kind of effort sustained for an entire season but the Cubs have built a solid foundation going into next year.  Whether Mike Quade returns to the Cubs or not, he has definitely opened some eyes.
thumbnailCACT6MC2.jpg  He deserves to manage somewhere.  I for one, have been impressed.  The Cubs are starting to look like a winner and I am pleased to see the turnaround.  There may be hope after all for the Cubbies!

Marlon Byrd drove in 3 runs last night to spark the Cubs’ offense and Aramis Ramirez hit a grand slam to put the game away.  Marlon Byrd has been a blessing as he has consistently done a great job this year.  Byrd has been a leader who has set a good example for the rest of the team.  He hustles on every play and demonstrates what a player should be.  He gives every game 100%.  THAT is how you make it to the postseason.  If we had 25 guys who played as hard as Marlon Byrd, the Cubs would have something special.  Since Mike Quade has taken over team, it seems that the team as a whole has adopted that mentality.

Aramis Ramirez has had a rough year, battling injuries all season. but has finished strong as well.  With a healthy Ramirez, the Cubs are a far better team.  He is a great player who struggled because of nagging injuries.  His grand slam last night was beautiful.
thumbnailCA6WKXR1.jpg  It made me feel good to see him swing the bat again.  I hope Aramis can get some rest in the offseason and come back healthy.  A healthy Ramirez translates into a much better Cubs’ team.  The lineup pretty much revolves around Aramis.  Hopefully, the Cubs can acquire a slugger to precede Ramirez in the lineup.  Aramis Ramirez is a far better hitter when he has protection and doesn’t have the burden of carrying the Cubs’ offense.  Too much pressure was put on Ramirez to hit the long ball this year.  A-Ram is a much better contact hitter when he isn’t swinging for the fences on every pitch.  Anyway, it’s good to have him back in business. 

The Cubs have been road warriors, winning 17 of their last 21 road games.  WOW!

The Cubs will finish the season today at Houston.  2010 has been bittersweet.  It has been a year of frustration and disappointment, but Mike Quade and the Cubs have given us HOPE and encouragement as we look forward to next season.  Thank you, Cubs, for finishing the season like true champions!!!

Introducing… The New And Improved, Big Z!

Carlos Zambrano appeared to be finished earlier in the season.  Since his return, Big Z has successfully gone 7-0, with a 1.27 ERA in his last 10 starts.  Zambrano looks to finish strong as he takes the mound today.

Big Z has received a ton of criticism following his tirade in the dugout.  Cubs’ fans were crying for a trade of Zambrano and Management had grown tired of it and placed him on the restricted list and forced him to undergo anger management classes.  It appeared that Big Z was done in Chicago but that would not be the case.  Carlos Zambrano returned and quietly went about his business.  Big Z appears calmer and more collected than ever.  Keeping his emotions under control, Zambrano has gone out and delivered a quality start in every appearance since rejoining the rotation.  He has proven that he is the ace of the starting rotation.  The numbers tell the tale.

thumbnailCAHAZ47R.jpgZambrano hasn’t allowed a run in his last 13 innings of work.  He is arguably the best starting pitcher in the majors since the all-star break.  He has only allowed 7 earned runs in his last 59 innings pitched and has held opponents to a .183 batting average.

Big Z faces the team that he got his no-hitter against two years ago today.  His mother will be in the stands supporting him as he finishes the season, hopefully on a high note, against the Houston Astros.  It’s good to see Big Z doing so well.  He deserves a lot of credit for turning himself around.  I tip my cap to him.  Good job, Big Z!

Cubs Win Pitching Duel!

The San Diego Padres ran into a brick wall on Monday as Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs came calling.  The playoff contending Padres fall a game back of the Giants for the divisional lead and a half game back behind the Braves in the wildcard race.

Big Z returned to the mound on Monday and pitched seven shut out innings while surrendering only three hits as his mother watched on.  Carlos Zambrano escaped the bases loaded jam in the seventh to earn another win.  Big Z has allowed two runs or less and pitched five innings or more for the tenth straight start, the most such string by a Cubs’ starter since 1920.  It was vintage Zambrano.  Big Z is 7-0, with a 1.07 ERA in his last 9 starts.  Zambrano hasn’t been throwing as hard as he used to but has been effectively mixing up his pitches and keeping hitters off balance.  Whatever he is doing, it’s working.  Big Z is back, and better than ever!

thumbnailCAHAZ47R.jpgThe Cubs would need a quality start from Big Z since the only run of the ballgame came in the top of the seventh when Blake Dewitt lined a single scoring Alfonso Soriano who had reached on a double to left.  The San Diego Padres had solid pitching and solid defense but the Cubs’ pitching staff was even tougher.

Sean Marshall pitched a scoreless eighth.

thumbnailCAOO32DN.jpgCarlos Marmol entered the game in the ninth with a 1-0 lead.  That’s when it got really interesting.  With two outs, Marmol gave up a single and Chase Headley was awarded first base when a pitched bounced between his feet.  The umpire, apparently thought that the pitch had hit Headley.  It did not.  Mike Quade came out of the dugout to argue but to no avail.  There’s no replay in baseball.  Then, Marmol walked Tony Gwynn, Jr. to load the bases and Cubs’ fans were biting their nails at this point.  At least, I was.  Everytime Marmol pitches, there is lots of drama.  The game hangs delicately in the balance, sort of twisting in the wind as it were.

thumbnailCAOOZ7K3.jpgNick Hundly hit a drive to left.  It scared me when he hit it, because I thought it was going to be a grand slam but to my relief, it was caught for the final out. 

Carlos Marmol made his 300th career relief appearance and notched his 35th save of the season. 

The Cubs’ pitchers outdueled one of the best pitching staffs in the majors for the shutout.   The Cubs have come to play in the final week.  Hope it doesn’t SPOIL San Diego’s fun too much.  After all, it’s still payback time.  Remember 1984.  I haven’t forgotten and the Cubs haven’t either!  Go, Cubs, Go!  Let’s do it again tonight!