Category Archives: Division Title

CENTER STAGE TODAY – THE CUBS AND WRIGLEY FIELD

With no disrespect to the New York Mets and what promises to be an electric Citi Field,  the centerj of the baseball universe today has to be Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs. Opened in 1914, this venue (along with Fenway Park and the old Yankee Stadium) stands as a Mecca for baseball fans – including myself in 2009 – across America. Even today, after the “lights came on” few years ago, a Friday afternoon game at Wrigley is reason to leave work early and bask in the bleachers Sun on Addison Street.

For Cubs fans, today is also a day to bask in the setting sun of a 96 game winning season (the third best in baseball) and to welcome home a team that carries with them a hope and a prayer that this just might be the season when all doubts spanning numerous decades are cast aside – and a long awaited Championship comes to the Southside of Chicago.

Excitement and drama of this kind draws itself from a long history that dates back to 1876 when the Cubs became an original franchise of the National League. Interestingly, they were known in those days as the Chicago White Stockings (not to be confused with the White Sox), not taking the name of the Cubs until 1902. And yes, the last World Series won by the Cubs was in 1945 – a drought long enough to span the years of the team’s oldest fans.

But today, all that changes or it at least moves to the back of everyone’s mind as Jake Arietta takes the ball  to face the St. Louis Cardinals, a team much different from the Cubs. For while the Cubs field a team stacked with very young home grown talent, the Cardinals present a team of veterans who have a storied history behind them with the second most Championships (only the Yankees have more) to face the hottest pitcher in baseball today. 

It doesn’t get better than this. The steel beams erected more than a century ago will be rocking and shaking at Wrigley today. You couldn’t tell a better baseball story than the the one being played out in Chicago this afternoon.

 

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THE METS CAME TO A FORK IN THE ROAD – AND THEY TOOK IT

There are several ways to win a Division Title. The Dodgers and Cardinals did it by pretty much leading wire to wire competing mainly against themselves. Another way is what the Rangers are doing to the Astros with their late surge “got you last” game of tag against a team that seemed destined to fade. The New York Mets did it the old fashioned way……grinding it out and always looking over their shoulders at the Nationals who were virtually everyone’s pre season pick to win – except they didn’t – the Mets did.

You may recall the torrid start to the season when they opened the eyes of many and perhaps even their own eyes. Hope was the buzzword back then as in “Hey, maybe we do have a pretty good team here”.images-17 That hope images-28turned downright nasty though in June when they lost seven in a row and dipped below .500. The swoon continued into July as scoring four runs in a game was considered an outburst while the young arms tried to hold the team together. This writer included pleaded with Sandy Alderson (right)  to make a move to get a big bat or two at the trading deadline. Meanwhile Terry Collins (left)  the Manager of the Year ( he should be) kept a cool confident air even though he must have been thinking to himself “S__t, this is my job on the line here”.

The rest is pretty much as they say (recent) history. Alderson did get the big bat in Cespedes (below) with minutes to spare while picking up two qualityimages-134 relievers in Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed. Along the way, he also solidified the bench with Ryan Franklin and Uribe. Andimages-9……….in perhaps the most important development David Wright (right), the Captain of the team came back with a home run in his first game and at bat. Suddenly, there was fresh air to breathe, The Mets came to a fork in the road and they not only took it (as their former Manager Yogi Berra said)  –  they seized it. They not only survived the long haul of a baseball season but they have emerged as a team knit tightly together and one with battle wounds to prove it. 

So now, the Mets have a little more than a week to prepare and repair their regulars (give Wright, Murphy, Granderson a blow), rest the bullpen and especially Familia, and get that all importantimages-1 starting rotation New York Mets Spring Training at their Minor League practice facility located within Tradition Field in Floridain order and ready for a all out attack throwing pitch counts and innings off the table. Matching (in order) DeGrom ( left), Syndegaard, Harvey (right), and Matz against Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greineke, and……let me see who else……….. leaves the Mets with a bit more than hope at this stage of the season. Don’t be surprised if you see Kershaw and Greinke in games four and five for that reason. It’s the crapshoot playoffs and it will be fun watching the Mets take the stage. Continue reading