September 30th

Before we flip the calendar to October, there is going to be game 162 for the Cubs and Brewers.  I was going to tell you, your favorite team would get into the playoffs and win the division.  I was going to tell you that Milwaukee would make it interesting, but maybe not this close though!  What I thought was a sure thing division crown, has been turned into one day of breathless, white knuckle baseball.

Every major league team will play today at 2 pm and nearly every game will finish at the same time.  In the National League two division crowns still have to be decided and will be played on Monday afternoon if they are not decided today.  The Cubs will host Milwaukee on Monday, and the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies will square off as well if their division isn’t decided today.

What is the point of winning the season long head to head series, if it doesn’t decide the division crown?  The Cubs won the season series just to host one more game?  That’s bullshit!  Give them the crown.  They won head to head, fair and square.  Ridiculous!!

Confession, I have faith in the CubsScratch that.  I have faith in Maddon.

September 29th

I must confess that I haven’t followed them as closely as the most rabid Cub fan has, because I’m not really a Cubs fan.  I haven’t had my faith shaken by injuries and bullpen failures.  You  might think that’s because i’m not a Cub fan, it’s actually the opposite.  I am a fan of Joe Maddon, and I had faith that one of the best managers I’ve ever seen, would guide the talented Cubs to yet another division crown.  I also had faith that Team President Theo Epstein, and Jed Hoyer, the general manager, with bottomless sums of Cub fan’s dollar’s, would find enough players and fill holes well enough, to accomplish the playoff mission.

Maybe I underestimated the Brewers, who can still win the division as of this writing.  But they didn’t make any real huge moves to shore up their starting pitching and overtake the Cubs.  The fact is, it’s tougher to chase than be the one who is chased.  The Cubs to me, kind of toyed with Milwaukee.  They let them get close, but then pulled away, having the Brewers expend so much energy to get as close as they have.   When the Cubs needed to win, it’s like they said to each other, “Okay, we really have to play tonight!” When they needed health or someone to step up this season, someone did.

I think it was Shakespeare who said, “To be, or not to be… that is David Bote!”

MVP, MVP!

To think that in the past two season’s the most inconsistent and maddening players on the Cubs roster were Javy Baez and Jason Heyward.   Now Baez is in the running for league MVP?!  And Heyward has become a clutch hitter?!#%!  What kind of fresh hell is this?  It’s like some sort of bizarro world.  Even Theo has had a bad year, whiffing on Yu Darvish and acquiring the old, now broken down, Brandon Morrow, and touting his health the last few years, when he signed him.  Jinx!  Somewhere Jake Arrieta is laughing, now crying, now jealous and will later have to reconcile turning down the Cubs for one more year on his deal.   The competitor in him will anguish over no more playoff baseball… possibly ever.

Back to Javy! 

What can you say about this kid and his enormous talent.  If I were a Cub fan he would probably be my favorite player.  As it is i’d say my favorite is probably Rizzo.  Baez has baseball instincts that just can’t be taught.  The way he fields, runs the bases and loves the game is something that is very special.  Players like him don’t come around often.  He has continued to improve every day he has been here and is untradable as far as I’m concerned.

This year he has been like Michael Jordan on the diamond and I feel like this is just the beginning of a five year run of his greatness.  Sit back and enjoy it, because you may never see this kind of talent or performance in Chicago baseball ever again.

Let’s just watch and see what he and Maddon can do, while this Cubs core of players keep their championship window open for the next five years.

Speaking of windows being opened.

If the air in Chicago seems dusty and smells like a mausoleum outside, it’s because the McCaskeys have actually opened the windows at Virginia’s ranch in Des Plaines, and George’s bachelor pad in Lake Forest.  The Bears first family can finally venture outside the confines of their homes and limo’s, as the Bears seem to have miraculously regained respectability, from embarrassing futility.

The Bears mothership seems to have entered some kind of bizarro world as well.  General Manager Ryan Pace, who has largely wasted the last 4 years of his tenure atop the Bears personnel department, miraculously pulled off the deal of the last two decades.  His acquisition of Khalil Mack has the NFL spinning.  The Bears suddenly look like contenders, Green Bay is looking frail and older by the minute, and Minnesota has been revealed to have a backbone made of paper mache’.

Okay I’m exaggerating.  You don’t have to make your playoff deposit just yet, but the McCaskey’s might ask for it all the same.  They are a little rusty at the whole playoff thing.  My crystal ball shows the entirety of the McCaskey clan rubbing their hands, Mr. Burns style, at the prospect of asking for playoff deposits.

Click this link for my latest article for The Last Word on Pro Football, previewing the Bears game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

https://lastwordonprofootball.com/2018/09/29/tampa-bay-buccaneers-chicago-bears-game-week/

At the United Center,

the windows don’t open, but that hasn’t stopped the Blackhawks from trying to be the team of the last decade.   Three Stanley Cups and counting, the Hawks efforts were derailed last year by the mysterious maladies that have plagued goalie Corey Crawford.

Is it vertigo, or some kind of concussion syndrome?  Things haven’t been made 100% clear, and this week news channel ABC 7, reported that Crawford won’t be ready for the season opener on October 4th.

This was confirmed by head coach Joel Quenneville, and Hawks captain Jonathan Toews, who said, “at the end of the day, we’ve got to do a better job playing in front of our goaltender, regardless of who is out there.”

That person will be veteran goalie Cam Ward, a Stanley Cup winner from 2006 as a rookie, who was acquired from Carolina this off season.  He will be able to shoulder a heavy workload that the young backup, Anton Forsberg cannot.  As of this writing the Hawks had not yet demoted goalie Collin Delia to Rockford.

The thing I’m most excited about this year, is the signing of Chris Kunitz, a four time Stanley Cup Champion.  Even at age 39, Kunitz will provide the kind of instinctive play that the Hawks younger players cannot.  Always in great shape, Kunitz wil provide valuable leadership and scoring on the 3rd and 4th lines.  He may even at times be elevated to playing with Toews, as they played together on many Canadian national teams.  At a very reasonable price, this was a great signing that could impact as many as 4 or 5 more wins over a year ago.

The Hawks enter the season for the first time in nearly a decade with money to spend at the trade deadline.

The Bulls,

are about to embark on their own preseason schedule, feeling good about having won the Jimmy Butler trade a year and a half ago.  That Butler may end up on a contender such as Houston, means naught to the Bulls, who have saved face after dealing a cornerstone piece of their franchise, to the coach they had just fired.

Because that’s what it’s all about in the NBA, for all of the also ran teams right?  Saving face, winning the p.r. battles.  It has seemed like the Bulls have been preoccupied with how they are perceived, instead of winning.

With 2017 1st round pick Lauri Markkanen having turned into one of the very best players selected in the whole NBA in the last several years.  The Bulls have suddenly decided to stop tanking and restart their ascension in the Eastern Conference now that LeBron has moved to the Western Conference.  By drafting Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison in the first round in the 2018 draft, many NBA pundits now believe the Bulls have the best core of players, 23 years old and under, in the league.

They are probably right when you consider the Bulls core runs eight players deep.   I don’t think the quality matches what the Philadelphia 76’ers have, which runs only six players deep.  If superstar center Joel Embiid stays healthy for the 76’ers, I think they can come out of the east.

Unless another member of the Bulls core develops into a star player, I don’t see the Bulls challenging for the eastern crown.  That doesn’t mean they won’t be entertaining though, as this season should represent the window opening for a long sustained playoff run by the Bulls.  If a top flight free agent in the next few years decides he wants to join the Bulls core, then they can challenge.  For now, enjoy the baby steps this team will take this season as they try to become the Golden State Warriors of the eastern conference.

White Sox

Today the White Sox will try to avoid losing their 100th game of the season… that is all!

Advertisements