I have read many discussions of pledges Cubs’ fans will make for the 2012 season through the Master Card “Priceless Chicago” campaign. But an article written by Sarah Spain (Sports Center Anchor for Chicago’s ESPN1000 and a reporter for ESPNChicago.com) inspired me to make a pledge as well.
Spain’s article, Fans tie on-field success with off-field antics, makes a personal pledge to run a mile for every Cubs’ win by the end of the season. This pledge encourages her to regain the status of being a runner after being laid off due to injury. I suggested to Spain that she incorporate a charity fund-raiser; some monetary donation for the miles she runs, etc. But if I’m willing to make a suggestion for a pledge, shouldn’t I be willing to do the same?
For every Cubs’ win during the 2012 season, I pledge to:
1) Run 1 mile. I will complete these miles from the end of the Cubs’ season to the beginning of the 2013 season.
3) If by some miracle the Cubs’ win the World Series, I will donate $500 to each of the above charities.
I encourage all of you to make a pledge of some sort to the Cubs’ 2012 season. Further, I encourage fellow Cubs’ fans to support these charities by making some sort of donation (either on your own or through my pledge).
If the Cubs’ end this terrible 103 season streak, my bank account will be a little lighter…
Go Cubs, Go!
Cubs’ fans know, just as the previous 103 seasons, this is likely not the year. Expectations of ending the longest drought of a professional sports team without a championship is unlikely to occur during the 2012 MLB season. However, amassing countless number of losses is greatly unacceptable. Many fans would be grateful if the Cubs finish one game above .500, but doubt this will likely happen (read Bullpen Brian’s post of the subject here). I simply ask the Cubs to be contenders in each game, playing one game at a time and giving the fans the best possible lineup from our club for each game. Here are my two suggestions to Dale Sveum and the Cubs’ ownership that need to change now!
Improve the Bullpen
Every game when the Cubs have a lead and Wood comes in as the setup man and/or Marmol comes in as the closer to get the win, Cubs’ fans will be holding their collective breathes all season long; I’m sure the organization and coaching staff will do the same. The issue is these two pitchers are the veterans of the bullpen. If, and when, one of them struggles, the depth of experience within the pen is cut in half. And if both of these pitchers struggle as we’ve seen in the first two games of the season…!?
The Cubs recently called up Rodrigo Lopez, a 10-year veteran righty who made his season debut last night (2IP, 0H, 0ER, 1K, 1BB) and also have Shawn Camp, an 8-year veteran righty who is 0-1 in relief appearances this season (3.1IP, 7H, 3ER, 3K, 0BB). But both pitchers are 36 years-old, likely nearing the end of their careers and are not a longterm solution.
The Cubs have three active relief pitchers with a combined three years of experience in Lendy Castillo (23), Rafael Dolis (24) and James Russell (26). The three relief pitchers have combined for 6.1IP, 1H, 1ER, 5BB, 4K, 1.00ERA, 0.86WHIP. The trio has promising numbers, well, at least better than Wood and Marmol have performed so far this season. If the Cubs’ organization is not going to pursue options outside of the organization, then Sveum should focus on developing these pitchers throughout the season to establish potential setup men and/or a future closer.
Reorder the Batting Lineup
Many analyst/fans agree Starlin Castro is a great player and possible future star at shortstop, but he is in wo-way shape or form a #3 power hitter. I believe the theory behind Sveum placing Castro third in the batting order is in belief if the first two batters get on base and Castro can duplicate his batting average from 2011 (.307: 207 of 674), than the Cubs will ultimately score runs often. However, my arguments for moving Castro back to first in the order are as follows:
1) The third position in the batting lineup should be a guy who can physically handle the position, but more importantly, mentally affect the game. He should rattle the nerves of an average pitcher from the opposing team, while also giving you the potential for late game heroics. Castro does not have this effect. He only hit 10 home-runs in 2011 with 674 AB. The power to hit balls out of Wrigley with the wind blowing in is not there and the intimidation he projects is less than many batters in the same position (as seen in the 9th inning against the Brewers).
2) Castro had 24 stolen bases throughout 2011 and has the speed to improve on this number for 2012. Granted Castro has four stolen bases within the first week of the season, his attempts will be limited throughout the season if even one batter ahead of him reaches base. With the aggressive base running Sveum wants to use, Castro could easily be in scoring position before the second batter even leaves the box. This would greatly improve the potential for runs being scored within the first inning and thereafter. He would also intimidate pitchers by his on-base presences and potential for stealing bases.
3) With his .307 batting average from 2011, Castro is bound to reach base. Soriano has hit 20+ home-runs in each of his last 10 seasons and is currently batting a .353 with four RBIs. Soriano has the power and presences needed that a #3 hitter HAS to have. He intimidates pitchers and can change the outcome of a game with one swing of his bat. He has the experience and confidence to bat in that position with runners in scoring position.
As I stated, realistic Cubs’ fans don’t hold high expectations for this season, however, that doesn’t mean a high number of losses this season will be easily tolerated. This fan would like to see the perviously mentioned changes to occur sooner than later, especially the reshuffling of the batting order.
What are your thoughts?
As we come to the closing of the first week in the 2012 MLB season, many Cubs’ fans are disheartened by the team’s performance thus far. Realistically, the Cubs’ record should be 3-2; however, after two blown leads by the bullpen occurring twice in the 8th inning, the Cubs sit at 1-4. But I’m here to provide support to my fellow fans, and hopefully give a glimmer of hope for the direction the organization is headed. Let’s look at the areas in which the team has performed well in after week one:
- Granted, the efforts of Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm are still fresh in everyone’s mind, the Cubs rotation has looked decent. Dempster, Garza and Samardzija have pitched strong performances in their season debuts, protecting the team’s late game leads to only have the bullpen give it away. Here are the numbers compared to the league:
- Strike Outs: 1st (31)
- WHIP: 4th (0.96)
- HR: 5th (5)
- IP: 6th (31.1)
- OPP AVG: 7th (.196)
- Runs: 9th (15)
- ERA: 15th (3.73)
Aggressive Base Running:
- Besides the gaff by Mather representing the tying run during the season opener by being thrown out at home, the Cubs have been running the bases smarter and harder. The Cubs led the league in triples (3) and are ranked 17th in doubles (6). Fans have noticed the hustle down the first base line by Cubs’ batters, even when the play is a routine out; we are very appreciative of the efforts.
- After finishing the 2011 season ranked 28th in the MLB in Stolen Bases (69), the Cubs are currently ranked 2nd with 5. At this point, the Cubs are averaging one stolen base per game and are on pace to amass 162 stolen bases for the season.
- From Ian Stewart’s throw from his knees to Soriano laying out to in left field, the Cubs have looked better defensively. They are tied second in the league for fewest errors committed (2), tied fifth in the league for base runners caught stealing (2), and are tied seventh in the league for fielding percentage (.989). Every fielder is making smart throws, hitting the cutoff man and moving around the diamond effectively in support of each position.
So Cubs’ fans, not everything is terrible with start of this season. Yes, the team has only one win, but remember, this team is rebuilding and moving in the right direction. The on field play proves this. Just like the show, the numbers never lie…
Few things we know are for certain going into tomorrow’s 10 April 2012 series of MLB games:
1) The Brewers are a fundamentally sound ball club at the plate: advancing runners, sacrifice flies and scoring on squeeze bunts down the line.
2) Sveum is going to use the season in order to develop the young players of this ball club; winning isn’t as important at this point.
3) DeJesus’ arm will be sore after throwing at least four cross-field throws to 3rd and home plate from right field.
4) Soriano was unable to chase down fly balls that a younger left fielder would have been able to snag. What we are not certain of is why: is it age, past hamstring problems, other injuries or commitment issues?
5) Maybe it was the intra-division rivalry, but Braun faced negative reactions during his first game away from the safety of his home field. This will likely continue throughout the season.
6) Cubs’ fans are mixed about Ramirez’s return to Wrigley, and the errors continue as seen in during bottom of the 9th.
7) This young Cubs team is full of fighters who will not quit, even when down four runs in the bottom of the 9th (as many fans felt differently during the past few seasons).
8) Axford is not invincible.
9) Whoever tracks the attendance record for Cubs home games may not be the best attendance record keeper in the MLB. The reported attendance was 38,136. I watched from home, but there seemed to be a lot of empty seats for only having 3,000 less in attendance from the home opener.
10) Cubs’ fans are diehard and will tweet all game long and thereafter!
It was another loss, but this loss stung much less than the previous two and I’m left with a feeling of hope for the remainder of this series.
I was fortunate to attend Cubs’ Opening Day for the start of the 2012 MLB season (a great recap of the game can be found here). While driving back to Fort Knox, I listened to ESPN 1000 to catch highlights of opening day from around the league. Instead, what I found myself listening to was disheartened Cubs fans angry and bitter about the Cubs opening day lose. I had to turn off the radio, I felt so betrayed.
Fans commented on many aspects of the game: stating this was typical Cubs fashion, a sign of things to come throughout the season, terrible pitching from the bullpen, poor decisions from Sveum, a lackluster ball club, Theo should become accustom to these events and many others. These were not the same Cubs fans I have read and listened to throughout spring training. Where was the excitement, the hope, the understanding that the organization is in a revamping stage?
Consider the following factors:
1) Before Wood/Marmol gave away the Cubs’ lead, Dempster pitched an impressive game (7-2/3IP, 2H, 3BB, 1ER, 10SO). However, it took Dempster three innings to adjust to the weather conditions (explained in my next point) and to the home plate umpire’s strike zone. Dempster struggled with his command early (his three walks were in the first/third innings) and gave up two big hits (which could have resulted in seven runs for the Nationals, but thankfully the wind was blowing into Wrigley). Wood had 25 pitches and Marmol had 16 pitches to make adjustments; it took Dempster 54 of 108 pitches to make these same adjustments before he ultimately gained his composure and retired the next 11 batters. Wood also had 41,000 fans chanting on opening day with a 1-0 lead, which would shake any vets’ nerves.
2) The drastic change in weather conditions between Mesa, AZ and Chicago was evident for Dempster and Wood. Granted, the weather in Chicago has been above average this spring, the average temperature throughout March in Mesa was 77 degrees (84 degrees the last 10-days of March). Yesterday’s high temperature was 49 degrees with winds bellowing between 17-22mph during the game. The cold was obviously hindering Dempster and Wood’s grip and control of the ball as they both blew hot air on their pitching hand in attempts to warm-up.
3) Yes, the Cubs have struggled with base running and the coaching staff indicated they worked on this area throughout the spring. Joe Mather’s performance yesterday has fans scratching their heads in wonderment, thinking “Really!?” Understand, Mather came into the game as a pinch runner, standing on third, representing the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning, on opening day. Should he have run? No. Why did he run? More than likely the excitement got to him. This is in no-way shape or form an indication of unimproved base running.
Granted, Cubs fans have every reason to be disgruntled with the organization throughout the past 103 seasons. However, if I felt that the true blue Cubs fans were betraying their team after just one game (the first game) of the season, I’m sure the Cubs players/organization feel the same way. My advice to Cubs fans: remain loyal to your team; don’t go off the deep-end after the first blown game of the season (it happens in 162 games!); and have hope, understand the organization is revamping and look forward to the next few seasons – we’re moving in the right direction.
IN THEO WE TRUST!
After creating this blog with the mindset to discuss all things from the past, present and future of our beloved Chicago Cubs, I have had a few readers question the web address title. The address contains the title The Chicago White Stockings, and it appears that a majority of Cubs fans are unaware of the founding history of our Cubbies. What better way to first post “Historic Facts” on this blog than to discuss the founding of our Chicago Cubs!?
The Chicago White Stockings was the founding name for the professional baseball team that would later become known as the Chicago Cubs. The team was founded in 1870. This was before the National League or American League had developed, thus the White Stockings competed against a small, limited number of teams. The team was governed by the National Association of Professional Baseball Players and competed to have the best overall record by the end of the season.
In 1876, the league was re-organized into the National League. The league still held a limited number of teams; eight in the inaugural season, six teams for the second and third seasons, and then back to eight teams until 1891. The World Series had not been created yet, and neither had the post-season, but the team with the best overall record at the end of the season was awarded the National League Pennant. The Chicago White Stockings are credited for having won the first ever pennant in the history of organized professional baseball with a record of 52-14.
The White Stockings best players were infielders Ross Barnes, Deacon White, Adrian “Cap” Anson and star pitcher Albert Spalding. In the inaugural season of the NL, Barnes led the league in batting average with a .429 and Spalding won 47 games. Albert Spalding is also the founder of the Spalding sports equipment chain, which every sports fan knows this chain makes balls for a variety of sports. (This author was also surprised to learn that Spalding was born and raised in Byron, IL; which is the author’s hometown.) Spalding would later take ownership of the ball club. Anson was the first player in history credited with collecting 3,000 career hits and became the first “super star” of baseball. The White stockings would later three-peat as champions, winning the National League Pennant from 1880-1882, becoming one of the top teams of the league.
In 1882, the American Association was formed as a second major league baseball organization to rival the National League. This ultimately led to the creation of the first World Series games starting in 1884. Although unofficially recognized and largely seen as an exhibition match, the games pitted the top team from each league against one another. The Chicago White Stockings competed in two of these matches in 1885 (resulting in a tie with ST Louis Browns) and again in 1886 (losing to ST Louis Browns). In total, the Chicago White Stockings won six National League Pennants and appeared in two World Series games between 1876 and 1886.
In 1890, the Chicago White Stockings changed their name to the Chicago Colts or better known as “Anson’s Colts.” When Anson left the team in 1898, the team name changed to the Chicago Orphans due to the loss of the teams’ super star. The team name was once again changed in 1902 when Spalding sold the Orphans to new ownership and the team became the Chicago Cubs.
So here in a brief historical lesson is the development of what is affectionately known as the Chicago Cubs. I hope this clarifies some confusion as to why the web address for this blog is thechicagowhitestocking.wordpress.com and I hope I provided some interesting insight for our Cubbies.
Do you have “opening day blues” because you are unable to attend the Cubs 2012 home opener at Wrigley Field? Are you hoping for some “opening day miracle” to occur with tickets falling into your lap (like the author of this post; having won two tickets from Paul Maholm)? Are you chancing catching the game by scalping tickets in front of Wrigley Field April 5th? If you feel as if all hope is lost and your 2012 MLB season is ruined, don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
Having been a Navy brat, and now enlisted in the Army for the past 10 years, I have moved frequently and often. I have had many different opportunities to experience baseball on TV. But no broadcast equals that of a Cubs game live on WGN.
One of my fondest memories from my youth, and still occurs to this day, is summer time baseball. Having the windows open in my house, a warm/humid breeze blowing around me, the smell of hotdogs and hamburgers cooking on the grill, opening a cold beverage of my choice (a few additional choices became available once I came of age) and watching Chicago Cubs baseball recreates a romantic nostalgia that many fans look forward to after a long cold winter. Especially if you’re from Northern Illinois.
Len and Bob (Twitter: @LenandBob) conduct a very entertaining broadcast for our beloved Cubs. They talk of past, present and future Cubs, the current game, upcoming games and MLB news. They discuss game day events from around the ballpark, respond to emails live on TV and even encourage “tweets” from followers during live broadcasts. Their commentary is upbeat, joyful and clever.
The production staff does a great job of showcasing not only the game, but the players, the fans, the atmosphere and Wrigley Field. Each and every game I have watched, I have felt as if I was at the ballpark without even leaving the comfort of my home. They really do an amazing job of highlighting the entirety of Cubs baseball.
So I encourage you to hold your head high if you are unable to attend the Cubs Opening Day at Wrigley Field. With the unseasonably warm weather around the nation, invite friends over, bust out the grill, open a few cold beverages of your choice (responsibly), bring out the Corn Hole boards/bags and tune in to WGN on April 5th at 1:20pm CST to experience the beginning of the Cubs 2012 season. You’ll be happy that you did.
And if all else fails, you can follow this author on Twitter @Helms83 as I will be at Wrigley Field for the home opener and posting tweets/pictures. I’m just saying…
Go Cubs, Go!