The Cubs have won four their first six games after the All-Star break, two wins from the Rangers and two wins from the Mets. Prior to the break, the Cubs were in a bad way, losing to pretty much everyone they played. For nearly a month the Cubs were a sub .500 team starting back in June. Were it not for their historic start, the chatter surrounding the Cubs would be very different this season.
The Cubs are now, for the most part, rested from their break. Ben Zobrist was given a few days off after the break, but the rest of the regular starters returned to action. According to Carrie Muskat, Joe Maddon did this to further rest Zobrist. The Cubs did not need him though, as they finally snapped the streak of eight consecutive wins that the Mets had over the Cubs, including the 2015 playoffs.
The Cubs were without Dexter Fowler during their current stretch, and have been without him for some time. Coach Joe Maddon expects star Outfielder Dexter Fowler to return to the starting lineup by the end of the week, Carrie Muskat reports. Fowler has been out for some time. As the Cubs regular lead-off hitter and starting centerfielder, his presence is sorely missed.
Albert Almora has been taking Fowler’s place in his absence, gaining valuable experience, and putting up respectable numbers. He has a .265 batting average, 22 hits, and 2 home runs (as of 7/20). While he hasn’t been spectacular and gained Kyle Schwarber-like hype, he has done well in his impromptu audition and could be a valuable bargaining chip as the trade deadline approaches.
Cubs Acquire Pitcher from Mariners
Speaking of trades, the Cubs made one with the Seattle Mariners. The Cubs received left Mike Montgomery and Triple-A pitcher Jordan Pries in exchange for prospects. The move bolsters the Cubs’ pen and gives them a possible in house option to replace a member of the starting rotation in the coming years.
Montgomery is not Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman, but he is an effective reliever and will help the Cubs down the road, beyond this season. Montgomery is currently under team control until 2021, not becoming a free agent for five years from now. That period is longer than Miller and Chapman have on their contracts put together. Chapman is a free agent after this season and Miller in 2019.
The Cubs improved their roster and gave up some of their lesser known prospects to get a valuable arm. This was a good move on the part of the Cubs, who will benefit in the short, and the long term.
The Cubs will travel to Milwaukee to play the Brewers on 22nd, then begin the Cross-town series vs the White Sox, the first half of which will be on the south side, and play the Mariners at home to round out the month of July. The Cubs will play the majority of their August games at home. The Pirates, Cardinals, and Brewers will come to Wrigley at various point in August.
The Cubs had problems down the stretch in the first half. Whether or not this was on account of rest, or lack thereof, will be determined as the Cubs power through the second half of their schedule. The Cubs have a seven game lead over the Cardinals and will try to maintain their place among the best clubs in the league. Every game counts in the hunt for October.
MLB Investigating Racist Social Media Messages Sent to Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr.
Major League Baseball is investigating racial messages sent, via social media, to Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. prior to his demotion to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs back on April 6th.
According to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney, the messages have caught the attention of both the Cubs and the MLB Players Association, leading to the launch of the investigation.
Mooney had been a solid bullpen option during the last few seasons, but had a nightmare start to the 2019 season posting a terrible 32.40 ERA in just 1.2 innings of work over four appearances.
Chicago Cubs Signs Big Name Free Agent
Over the weekend, the Chicago Cubs announced that they have signed MLB free agent and Japanese Phenom Yu Darvish from free agency according to multiple sources.
Before joining Major League Baseball, Darvish was playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball League with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters down in Japan. After spending six years with the team, many MLB scouts tapped him as being one of the top Major League prospects in several years.
In 2012, Darvish signed with the Texas Rangers. Yu Darvish played with the Rangers four full seasons and half of the 2017 season with the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels. In his five year MLB career, he has a 56-43 record, as a starting pitcher, 1,021 strikeouts, and a 3.42 ERA.
Now, Darvish is going to start the 2018 season playing for the one of the most historic teams in baseball history… The Chicago Bears.
Steve Bartman Issued World Series Ring By Chicago Cubs
One fateful night at Wrigley Field.
October 14, 2003.
The Chicago Cubs were five short outs away from their first World Series appearance since 1945. With a 3-0 lead against the Florida Marlins in the eighth inning of Game 6 and Mark Prior dealing on the mound, thousands of fans throughout Chicago were on the brink of celebration.
Until one play—one infamous play—changed everything.
After a one-out double by Juan Pierre, Luis Castillo comes to bat against Prior. Castillo works the count full, and on Prior’s 113th pitch, hits a foul pop-up down the first base line. Left-fielder Moises Alou seems to be in position to make the play as he times his leap while reaching into the stands, until a fan—wearing headphones while sporting a Cubs hat—appears to interfere with the ball. Alou’s visibly angry after failing to make the catch, glaring at the fan as he makes his way back to his position in left.
That one fan’s name was Steve Bartman. And from that point on, his life had changed forever.
On the next pitch and ninth of the at-bat, Castillo walks as Pierre advances to third on a passed ball. Ivan Rodriguez’s up next. Prior gets ahead 0-2, but hangs a curveball as Rodriguez promptly slaps a single to left to make the score 3-1. Up steps 20-year-old rookie Miguel Cabrera. On the first pitch, he hits a grounder that shortstop Alex Gonzalez boots. Everyone’s safe. Bases loaded and one out now. Up next is Derrek Lee, coming off a career year in 2003 up to that point. Prior’s at 118 pitches. Kyle Farnsworth is loose in the pen. Manager Dusty Baker leaves Prior in. On the first pitch and Prior’s 119th of the game, Lee drives a fastball to left to drive in two runs.
Tied at three. Prior’s night is done. Here comes Farnsworth.
Intentional walk, sac fly, intentional walk. Here comes the light-hitting righty Mike Mordecai to hit with two outs and the bases full of fish. All Farnsworth has to do to keep it a one-run game is get him out. Keep it close and within reach. But it wasn’t to be, as Mordecai rips a double in the left-center field gap. Three runs score, now the Cubs are down 7-3. Exit Farnsworth. Florida scores one more that inning, wins 8-3, wins Game 7 to advance to and eventually win the World Series, and the rest is history.
And who were Cub fans most angry at?
You already know.
Soon after the floodgates had opened in that disastrous eighth inning, Bartman had to be escorted out of Wrigley Field by security personnel soon after fans began chanting and pointing. Drinks and other debris were thrown at him, insults were hurled his way left and right, and his life was never the same. Following the incident, personal information about him was released on online-message boards. Cruisers even had to surround his home for his own safety. It wasn’t too pretty.
Bartman was Chicago’s public enemy #1, as many Cub fans associated him with the Curse of the Billy Goat.
However, that curse finally ended last season, as the Cubs won their first World Series since 1908 to put an end to the longest championship drought in professional sports.
Two days ago, Monday, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts handed out World Series rings in his office to players and other team members.
And none other than Mr. Bartman himself.
In a statement from Ricketts, he said: “On behalf of the entire Chicago Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship ring to Mr. Steve Bartman. We hope this provides closure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series.”
Bartman also made a statement, breaking his silence:
“Although I do not consider myself worthy of such an honor, I am deeply moved and sincerely grateful to receive an official Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Championship ring. I am fully aware of the historical significance and appreciate the symbolism the ring represents on multiple levels. My family and I will cherish it for generations. Most meaningful is the genuine outreach from the Ricketts family, on behalf of the Cubs organization and fans, signifying to me that I am welcomed back into the Cubs family and have their support going forward. I am relieved and hopeful that the saga of the 2003 foul ball incident surrounding my family and me is finally over.”
If this is how the Cubs organization saw fit to finally put an end to the “Bartman play”, then great. I can dig it. One can’t help but feel for Bartman. He made a mistake. Since that night he hasn’t made any appearances at Wrigley, has declined interviews, and for the most part has been out of the public eye.
Even though it was just one play, it’s not the reason the Cubs lost that game or the series. It changed the course of the game for sure, but Chicago just couldn’t seal the deal. Prior hung an 0-2 pitch to Pudge, Gonzalez boots a ball, Farnsworth doesn’t do his job, Cubs can’t win Game 7 which was also at Wrigley. The Cubs made mistakes, but of course, it was easy for their fans to create a scapegoat.
But it’s all over now.
Who knows, maybe a first-pitch at Wrigley will be in Bartman’s near future. We’ll see.
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