Saturday, August 30, 2008

22

Nice game by the Cubbies yesterday which I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for. It was one of those perfect summer days in Wrigleyville that makes you happy you live in the city and reminds you why you put up with Chicago winters.

I'll get to the game in a minute, but yesterday was the first game all year at Wrigley were I really noticed a different feeling in the air outside of Wrigley. I was waiting on Addison about 30 minutes before first pitch for my wife and I was just mostly people watching and taking in the circus that is Wrigleyville on game day. In addition to the usual suspects: clueless tourists; visiting fans...of which there were a surprising many for the Phillies; drunken 20-somethings still pretending they're in college (I'm 30 now, so I can say that); endless snarled traffic; Cubs security guards making their rounds; even the Hi Guy; there was a surprising number of engaged "serious" Cubs fans. You could spot them in the crowd by that no-nonsense walk and look on their faces while walking up to gate. The walk says, "out of my way, I've been to Wrigley at least 100 times in my life, I just want to get to my seat". The look says, "Oh My God the Cubs are 34 games over .500! I am going to enjoy this with tepid excitement as it's still only August and I've been burned before, but this may actually be the year." It was best described as nervous excitement amongst some of the masses....and it was exciting to see. I haven't seen it since the '03 NLCS and it was kind of like being reacquainted with a long-lost friend.

On to the actual game. Another case of everybody chipping in and sharing the hero responsibilities: Marmol pitching a brilliant 1 2/3 to earn the save and bailing Samardzija out of a jam in the 8th (why was Samardzija pitching more than one inning anyways?) with 0Hs, 3ks and 0BBs; Soriano blasting a monster solo HR to give the Cubs their first and final lead of the game in the 7th....it was only "measured" at 385 ft, but the wind was howling straight in, so for anybody to hit a HR out was amazing; 4 Cubs being patient and drawing walks from two different Philly pitchers in the 6th to tie up the score (thanks Eyre for walking in the tying run for the Cubs, ironically doing the Cubs the biggest service this year as a Philly. Somehow he then thought hanging out in the Cubs club house and players parking lot after the game was a good idea. I wonder what Charlie Manuel thinks about that?).

It was a game where Harden clearly didn't have his best stuff and I think, had his worst outing as Cub, but still kept them in the game giving up only 2 runs (only 1 earned) in 5 innings. Also, Fukudome made a rare error in RF with a bad throw to the cut off man that ended up costing the Cubs a run. I know he's made other errors this year, but this is the first one I've actually seen. The Cubs did get even by getting a gift run back from the Phillies in the bottom half of the 5th when the Phillies failed to convert a routine DP that would have ended the inning (Isn't that the worst scoring rule in baseball? You can't "assume" a double play, so you can't award an error on an attempted DP where at least one out is made? Really? I can't assume professional ball players will take a routine grounder to the second baseman, flip it to the shortstop covering 2nd and then throw to 1st before Blanco can get there?) But the Cubs kept it all together and still managed to find a way to fly the W flag on top of the scoreboard at the end. You knew it was going to be another low scoring affair with the wind blowing in, and except for Soriano's bomb, it was.

So all in all, a great day.

A few quick side notes about what I saw at the game. I set a personal record for seeing the most number of fake breasts at a Cubs game in my life (and I've been to about 1,000 Cubs games, so that's saying something). And I wasn't even in the bleachers! It was so ridiculous that my wife was even pointing them out to me as we both laughed and all the men around me in section 240 cheered them on. So, to the two women with the implants in the very appropriate Hooters outfits, the men in section 240 would like to say thank you.

I also saw a lady in my isle wearing a Prior jersey. Really? Isn't it time to retire that into your closet or give it to the Salvation Army? Not only was the guy a bust in every sense for the Cubs, but he also screwed the Cubs over by signing for the Padres last winter for less money even after the Cubs showed him nothing but loyalty over the year through all his injuries. I know, it's hard to admit you made a mistake by spending $150 on an authentic jersey with Prior's name on it....I even did it myself as evidenced by my Prior jersey hanging in the back of my closet never to be worn again. (I have since instituted a strict rule: no purchasing of any Cubs gear more than $20 with any active player's name on it. I either go no name at all, or with a classic Cub that has stood the test of time: Santo, Sandberg, etc.) Wearing a Prior jersey to a Cubs game in 2008 basically says, "Hello everybody, I either live in a far away suburb or I am from out of state. I say I'm a Cubs fan, but I couldn't name more than three players on this year's team and I don't know which team is in 2nd place behind the Cubs. But I sure do like to drink Old Style at Wrigley!"

After the game, walking down Sheffield I saw a rather large and muscular, belligerently drunk Cubs fan in a Santo jersey, berating any Phillies fan he saw to the point where if anybody dared to actually reply they might have actually been attacked. For a split second, I thought I was on the South Side outside of "The Cell", or whatever they're calling it these days.

I also saw a super-white-trash, drunk Phillies fan talking smack to Cubs fans waiting outside the players lot for autographs after the game. So many questions ran through my mind as he mentioned repeatedly the past 99 years in Cubs history. 1. Don't the Phillies have more losses than any other professional sports franchise in the world with more than 10,000? 2. You're heckling parents with their kids trying to meet their heroes and get an autograph? What's next, calling kids pussies as they are wheeled out of Children's Memorial Hospital? 3. You live in Philadelphia and you're talking trash to Chicagoans? 4. Haven't the Phillies only won 1 World Series Championship in their 125 year existence which is 1 less than the Cubs have won? 5. You're drunk and not that big, eventually if you keep berating people, somebody is going to kick your ass. (The last one was not a question, but my final conclusion on that guy).

Finally, a correction from my previous post 24. I mentioned that Kevin Mitchell made his famous bare handed catch vs. the Cubs in the 89 NLCS. I was wrong (shows you how the memory shapes things to what you want to remember after a few years). He made that catch in a regular season game in 89 vs. the Cardinals off of Ozzie Smith. Thanks to several readers for keeping my facts straight.

Friday, August 29, 2008

22

Cubs Win!!!

Another great game by the Cubs, and another poor showing from the Phillies bullpen. That huge homerun by Soriano in the 7th inning was just perfect.

Okay, Chicago Cubs fans, it's time to sing...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

23

ARAMIS! ARAMIS! ARAMIS!

A preview of the national league playoffs? Well, then we saw how it went down. I'm reposting post 24's text. Good read from 89Cubs.

READ BELOW FOR THAT POST. GREAT STUFF! GO CUBS!

24

At this point it has become obvious that the Cubs WILL make the playoffs. I can say that now because it's a statistical certainty, not a prediction. Just check out this: ESPN MLB Standings the last column says the Cubs are a 99.4% certainty to make the playoffs (Division winner or Wild Card).

So armed with that knowledge, what is a loyal, experienced Cubs fan to do?

First off, what do I mean by experienced? Well, I'm old enough to remember the '84 Cubs (I wasn't yet born for the '69 Cubs) and still remember their infield and pitchers. However, I was only 6 yrs old so the ramifications of what happened that post season didn't really mean anything to me. The only way I knew something was seriously wrong was that my Dad was depressed for 2 weeks after the Cubs were eliminated by the Padres.

Fast forward to the '89 Cubs. Now there is the team from my childhood. My three favorite Cubs of all time: Grace, Sandberg & Dawson; were on that team and I was old enough now to appreciate it. The playoffs vs. San Fransisco were a debacle, not in that the Cubs choked or blew it, but that they got thoroughly spanked by a superior team. I think Will Clark had an OPS that series of about 7.000 that series and Kevin Mitchell made a bare handed catch in LF that still replays in mind with awe & amazement. It was disappointing, but not gut wrenching....and besides, there was always next year, right?

Moving on to '98. That was the first Cubs team to take advantage of the Wild Card and they needed 163 games to do that despite Brant Brown's best effort to keep the Cubs out of the playoffs that year. You knew those Cubs weren't going to do anything in the playoffs despite Harry Caray trying his best from up above to push them along.

Finally, we come to the 2003 Cubs. Yes they played in a weak division that year and yes they didn't clinch it until the last series of the year, BUT do you remember how dominant Wood & Prior were that year? Do you remember that feeling of invincibility going into game 6 in the NLCS vs. the Marlins (really, the Marlins have now won 2 World Series already? how can the baseball Gods justify that?) when the Cubs were up 3-2 with the final 2 games at Wrigley with Prior & Wood scheduled to go? I learned a long time ago not to gamble on sports teams you're emotionally involved with, but before that game 6 if I was in Vegas I would have bet $10k on the Cubs winning the series even with a 1-10 payback.

Unfortunately for me, I was in Chicago, and at that game. I won't rehash what happened, because we all know what transpired (although for the record Alex Gonzalez owes Bartman dinner for life for letting him off the hook because it was Alex's fault we lost game 6), but that game/series is when I was officially indoctrinated into what it truly means to be a Cubs fan. Apparently the only membership requirement to get into this club is that you have to get your hear ripped out and stomped on. The last positive thought I remember having in the stands that night was "oh my God! only 5 more outs!"

I also remember fooling myself as I went into Wrigley for Game 7 thinking that "everything will be fine, Woody is pitching tonight and we still have home field advantage for this game." Deep down I knew the truth even as I watched from the bleachers as Woody hit a home run into LF and beer fell from the sky like rain and I didn't care because we had the lead! It didn't take long before the Marlins were celebrating on the infield at Wrigley.

Now, THAT is what I mean by being an experienced Cubs fan. I brought that experience into last year's playoffs so I wasn't completely crushed again. I was hoping for the best last year knowing that we had a good team, but I also knew we didn't have the best team and that going deep into the playoffs would be gravy on a good season.

This year, however, I believe the Cubs are the best team in baseball and have all the tools for a deep October run. However, that is NOT prediction. I repeat, that is NOT A PREDICTION.

But back to my original question: What is a loyal, experienced Cubs fan to do armed with the knowledge that the Cubs will make the postseason this year? The answer: don't make any predictions to anybody and just sit back and enjoy the ride. My standard answer when inevitably a "fan" asks me: "Do you think they're going to do it this year?" is "I don't make those types of predictions. That's like predicting your own death." That usually draws a laugh and no follow up questions, which is ideal.

And what do I mean by enjoy the ride? Enjoy the fact that we're 33 games over 500 in August....I repeat 33 games! Enjoy that we are not dependent on a small group of players, rather it seams as though every day that a new player steps up and has a big game. Case in point, last night, Cedeno grounding out in the 7th in a 0-0 game and not only Reed Johnson alertly scoring on the play, but DeRosa alertly advancing to 3rd which then enabled Blanco to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt to perfection that allowed DeRosa to score to make it 2-0 which was the final score. So, the Cubs score 14 runs in an ugly win on Tuesday night in a slug fest, but then, backed by two good starting pitching efforts still get the job done with small ball with their first suicide squeeze attempt since '07 vs. the White Sox? Now THAT is a fun team to watch.

So, enjoy the ride. Enjoy Santo on every radio broadcast practically oozing with joy over the air; enjoy grumpy grandpa Lou mumbling with a beer in his hand at every post game press conference about the Cubs getting it done; enjoy the mid-season acquisition of Harden and Gaudin that has worked out better than anybody anticipated (did you hear that Sean Gallagher who was part of that trade to Oakland is on the DL? How's that for irony?); enjoy Edmonds being re-born with his new team and sticking it to the Cardinals on a daily basis; enjoy Dempster's unexpected dominance as a starter and his good sense of humor (did you see him in his bowling outfit and Kerry Wood's charity event a few weeks back? if not, check it out here: Dempster bowling); enjoy DeRosa's ability to play any position and being the glue of the team; enjoy Theriot leading the team in BA; enjoy the most lethal 1-2-3 bullpen combo in all of baseball with Jeff Samardzija, Carolo Marmol and Kerry Wood; enjoy Soto being the rookie of the year and calling a game like a vet; enjoy Lee quietly having another great year; enjoy the Cubs making the playoffs.

But don't you dare make any predictions. That's a zero sum game that you'll lose.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

24

Number drops by 2 today! YEE HAW!
Why would I care other than be upset when the Cardinals win? Well, it's this year, when the Cards are slipping to mathematical probablility of making the playoffs and we have they beat the Brewers that the Cubs are leading.

So, yes! Cardinals win one (and hopefully not many more) and help the Cubs chances.

Cubs are on pace of reaching about 100 won games. Unbelievable.

25

The Big Blue Train is approaching full speed down the stretch. If the Cubs keep winning, it's in the bag!!!

Another Pirates sweep. That's the way to do it. The Cubs are over .500 on the road now.

Back to Wrigley for a 4 game set against the Philly's.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

26

26 BABY!!!

Can you feel the excitement building in Cub nation? This game was a little crazy with all the runs being scored by both the Pirates and the Cubs, but in the end (or should we say in the 8th inning) the Cubs brought home their players. Oh, and those 2 walks in a row where very nice.

Looks like the Brew Crew is going to win, so we can hope that the Cards lick their wounds and rebound for tomorrow's game. Go Cubs, let's sweep the pirates.

Monday, August 25, 2008

27

Well, as of right now, the Cubs are 5 full games ahead of the Brewers. Of course, the Brew Crew did not play tonight, but they are playing the Cardinals this week, so there is a chance to see the magic number go down and the gap get bigger.

GO CUBS!!! Let's see some magic happen.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

28

Great win today for the Cubs. Does this mean this is the 8th consecutive series win? The Brew Crew has taken the lead in the 8th. Let's hope the Pirates can come back in the 9th inning. Let's Go Cubs!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

29

CUBS WIN!!! CUBS WIN!!! The Cubs are now in the 20's for the magic number. It sucked that we lost to the Nationals yesterday, but we came back with a beating of our own today.



The Brew Crew plays tonight. Stay tuned to see if the number goes down again today.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

30

CUBS WIN!!! CUBS WIN!!!

Interesting stat from Len and Bob: the Cubs have won 7 series in a row. Big Z got me a little nervous earlier with some of his walks, but his home run was the frosting on the cake.

No Milwaukee game today. We are about to enter the 20's for the magic number. Get ready to go crazy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

31

It's always great to see the magic number updated twice in a day. The Brew Crew fell to the Astros.

Let's Go Cubs!!! By the way, the Cubs are 29 games over 500. Just wanted to share that.

32

CUBS WIN!!! CUBS WIN!!!

Another great performance by Rich Harden kept the Cubs and Reds battling for any run they could get. Thank god we saw some great base running in the 5th inning by Geovany Soto to get the Cubs their first run. The bats and legs of the Cubs finally came to life in the 8th, with the help of the Reds pitchers, and Kerry Wood was on fire.

Up north, Houston was leading the Brew Crew, so go Astros. Their game is almost done, so we will alert all you Cubs fans out there when their game ends.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

33

Not only did the Cubs win today, but the Brewers lost to the Dodgers, again. This is great news.
Once again, the magic number goes down twice in a day. This is getting exciting, folks. We could see this number drop into the 20's this week. Stay tuned.

34

Cubs Win!!! Great road trip. Back in Chicago this week.

It was great. I went to the pool with the Cubs down 2-0 and came home to 9-2. Ahhhh. What a refreshing afternoon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

35

Brewers lose to the Dodgers. Cubs win thanks to Ward's 3 run homerun. Friday was a good day.

35 is the number now.

Friday, August 15, 2008

36

I normally don't like baseball being played in football stadiums, but with Daryle Ward's 3-run home run in the top of the 9th inning, well, let's just say that I'm ok with the cubs playing in the Dolphins stadium, just as long as we beat the Marlins.

I am a little nervous that Big Z had another bad start, but at least the Cubs kept the game close with some clutch hitting. Another quality save for Kerry Wood also made this game close and exciting, but in the end we see another Cub's win.

Go Cubs Go!! Let's get another win tomorrow. Brewers are in LA, so go Dodgers!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

37

Cubs win! To Florida. Brewcrew will be in LA. Go Dodgers!

38

Brew crew finally dop one. Cubs on soon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

39

Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks was so right. Playing two games (and winning them both) is so much better than playing one. It was great to see the Cubs bats come to life, especially since road games have been such a roller coaster ride for fans and Cubs alike.

Since there is so much to talk about, I will try to make each item brief.

First, I want to take the moment to talk about the wonderful memorial the Braves gave to honor Skip Caray. The Caray family has meant so much to baseball, and the tribute was very touching. Our thoughts go out to the Caray family.

Second, the Cubs face the Marlins after tomorrow's game. Is this a do or die series for the Cubs?

Third, the Brewers play tonight. Will they keep winning? Stay tuned.

40

Woohoo! One more Cubs game today.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

41

Well, the Brewers didn't lose all weekend. But the Cubs do take 2 out of 3 from the Cardinals. Cubs off tomorrow, brewcrew have one more with the Nats.

Anyways, back to female synchronized springboard diving. USA! USA! USA!

Friday, August 8, 2008

42

Holy Cow, Cubs Win!!

You know this is going to be a good series when the first game goes into extra innings but, ends with a Cubs win.

What a great day for Jimmy Edmonds. He scored 2 homeruns off his old team. Jimmy looks much better in blue. Samardzija, Samardzija, Samardzija. Maybe Jeff can make the Cardinals lose by having them say his name alot. Thankfully, his arm tired them out instead.

With Soto out, Blanco came through in the end to win. Go Cubs! Brewers play tonight, stay tuned for more information.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

43

Cubs Win!! Cubs Win!!

Marquis had some tough moments, but was able to keep the Astros down. Of course, it also helped that the Astros pitcher just wanted to help out the Cubs on the road to the playoffs. It is hard to believe that we are actually talking about playoffs so early in the season. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Off day tomorrow, then the Cardinals are in town. Time to take care of those pesky red birds.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

44

Cubs Win!!

It was great to see the Cubs battle back for this win, especially after they lost the lead. A 3-run home run by Soriano in the bottom of the 7th put the Cubs back on top, and Wood and Marmol smothered the Astros. It's great to see Woody back. One sad note to report, Scott Eyre was designated for assignment today. I liked Eyre, I just wish he had been healthier. Good luck Scott Eyre.

What a crazy and scary night we had. Lots of rain and lightning, and the tornado sirens got a great workout. Thankfully everyone took cover, or ran for cover like Lance Berkman.

It's a night game for the Brewers, and maybe we will see more shenanigans.

Monday, August 4, 2008

45

UPDATE ** Cubs game was called in the 8th. So, Cubs lost 2-0 **

Cubs Rain Delay! (post during the storm)

I am sure you are all aware of the severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings. To all of our fans in harms way right now, please be safe and take cover. The worst of the storm has moved away from Wrigley and hopefully they will resume the game soon.

But...

There is good news from Cincinnati. The Reds have beaten the Brewers. If the Cubs start to play again, and comeback from the 2-run deficit, we will see another decrease. Go Cubs!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

46

Hey Chicago, what do you say? The Cubs are gonna win today!

CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!

One week ago, the Cubs were tied with the Brewers for 1st in the central. Today, the Brewers lost and the Cubs won, which puts the Cubs back at 5 games up in the NL Central!

It's August, time for the bats to rule. Let's enjoy the march to 0!

47

The Brewers lose the final game against Atlanta. Cubs are still looking good at 5-2 over the Pirates. We could see the number down again today.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

48

What a beautiful day in the city of Chicago. Not only was there a great game going on in Wrigley, but some fans also got free sharpie pens. I always miss the good giveaways.

That was a great game, especially after yesterday's shut-out loss. Lilly had some tough moments, but kept himself together to get the win. Marmol looked like his old self. With the exception of the walk, he was on fire. I would like to see Wood back and healthy, but as long as Marmol stays on track we should be fine.

Nice, time for the "Big Blue Train" on comcast.

How The Number Works

The Chicago Cubs Magic Number is derived by the following equation: Total Number of Games + 1 - Wins by the Cubs - Losses by Best Opponent.

The Magic Number is affected by one of two events, a Cubs win or the best opponent losing. The number is 163 at the beginning of the season. When the number hits 0, the Cubs have clinched the NL Central and are in the PLAYOFFS!

This site represents the Magic Number for clinching the National League Central Division . If the Wild Card becomes relevant for getting into the post season, this site may contain both. In that case, the Wild Card number will clearly be denote.

Shoot an email to 2009@cubsmagicnumber.com with comments and suggestions. Also, drop a Cubs theme'd photo with a story. It may be posted during future number updates.

This is the year

This is the year
I will watch from just over the rail.

My Other Blog: Mister Pickles Down the Stretch