Hello again, everybody! And holy cow hello again Major League Baseball Playoffs!
Wow, the Cubs take the field in Pittsburgh tonight for their first playoff game since 2008. Five managers, two general managers, and what seems like decades in between, it’s now time to play baseball in the playoffs. And it is quite a beautiful thing very few thought would happen in 2015.
27 Sundays ago, I walked into Wrigley Field on Easter to watch the Chicago Cubs play the St. Louis Cardinals on the Opening Sunday of the Major League season. At that very moment in time, I had no idea how much my life would change in the coming months. I had no idea how much greatness could possibly evolve and manifest itself over 27 weeks.
From that day until now, I had no idea about many things. And I had absolutely zero belief that I would be watching the Cubs in the playoffs in 2015. Life is a lot of things, but more often than not, it is supposed to be fun, rewarding and enjoyable. In the end, our journey is the reward. It is what we have earned. Let’s never forget that. And let’s never forget how great each and every one of our journeys have been, with so very many phenomenal chapters left to be written.
So with my philosophizing out of the way, let’s get down to the BRASS TACKS and go rambling on the wonderfully wishful Wednesday.
• No one should ever question a manager like Joe Maddon, nor one with his pedigree, but La Stella over Coughlan has to be for defensive purposes. It must.
• And it a one-game, sudden-death matchup, defense could not be any more important.
• I must say that I was first taken aback by Arrieta’s interaction with Pirates’ fans on Twitter, but it grew on me, and I absolutely love it. Confidence is one of those qualitative components, where it cannot truly be measured. However, I am not sure pure confidence, in this type of situation, can truly be overvalued.
• And here comes the cavalry telling my how we truly can measure qualitative components, and how wrong I am. As the great John Madden once said, “I do not know what “IT” is, but he has “IT.”
• Jake Arrieta has “IT.
• Truth be told, if the Cubs win this game, I would rather see them against the Cardinals than either of the other two teams.
• The Cards are the Cubs arch-nemesis (yes, thank you Captain Obvious), but this season, it appears they lack the power pitching of the Dodgers and Mets. And we all know that in the playoffs, pitching trumps all. It even trumps Donald Trump’s hair.
• I am, and have always been, a forever optimist. While losing tonight would be heartbreaking, this Cubs team is geared up for what could be a decade-long run that has never been seen before on Chicago’s North Side.
• Folks … Cubs’ fans … this is nothing less than unbelievably fun! We hoped for a meaningful game in September … at least I did. And now we get at least one meaningful game in October. Never did I ever dream that for this season.
• And here is hopefully only the first set of playoff stats ramblings from Best Pal Sports, Inc. …
• Jake Arrieta pitched 36 innings against the Pirates in 2015. He gave up three earned runs. That there, folks, is a 0.75 ERA. And that is not too shabby. Not at all.
• To be more specific on these 36 innings, he gave up 18 hits, allowed five walks equaling a 0.64 WHIP.
• The Cubs went 4-1 in Arrieta’s five starts against the Pirates, winning all three games played at the intersection of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers.
• Anthony Rizzo is not going to win the MVP award. And I am not really sure he should, but at 26, he has developed into an amazing player, an amazing leader, and what appears to be an amazing young man. He has a lot to be proud of, and I know that none of that matters to him at this very moment.
• As fans, we get to watch from afar, enjoy the games and spout out theories while rambling and ranting incessantly.
• To most of the Cubs players walking on the field tonight, this is the biggest game they will ever play in to this moment of their lives. There is an equivalent to this in all of our lives, be it the VP’s office for that promotion, or watching the love of your life walk down the aisle or walking or wheeling into the delivery room on the precipice of parenthood.
• Many people have been truly blessed to experience those moments. To these players, this is that moment for them. When they come running out of the dugout to take the field, a gamut of emotions will overtake them, and this will be their biggest moment in life.
• I have read where some believe that this playoff season could be a true coming out party for Addison Russell. Hey, I am all about that and then some. I hope this post-season is a non-stop party for the entire Cubs organization.
• As for my last rambling point, I will simply say this: The Cubs are competing in a playoff game tonight, and I truly do not have the proper words to justify this amazing feat or the feelings of all of us diehard fans. Enjoy the ride, folks. Please, just enjoy it!
To close, I will offer this thought: Tom Ricketts and his family have been much maligned during the past five years. Their choices, decisions and actions have been scrutinized to no end while fans casted aspersions and made sweeping generalizations about the approach. Now, as the playoffs beings, many of these same people are saying the White Sox and Bears should employ the same strategy as the Cubs implemented many years ago.
Vindication feels good, but it is very nice to see and read that no one from Tom Ricketts to Theo Epstein and on down is satisfied yet. There is one elusive title that must be acquired first. And until then, while there was a plan, The Plan has not been accomplished.
As I said, the journey is the reward … enjoy it all … ENJOY IT ALL.
And until next time …
Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!