The century mark
It’s been tough to be a Cubs fan for the last 100 years, and it just got a bit tougher. On to Saturday’s games.
DODGERS 3, CUBS 1
I can’t say I’m totally surprised that the boys in blue knocked the Cubbies out of the National League Division Series, because it’s October and anything can happen. And, oh yeah … because they have Manny Ramirez and a combination of young up-and-comers and proven veterans that are coming together at the right time. But a sweep? You can’t be serious. But for the fans in the seats at the Cozy Confines, this is a tough one to swallow. It’s wait ’til next year. Again.`
BREWERS 4, PHILLIES 1
In Milwaukee, the Brew Crew showed they have a little fight left. Dave Bush did his job and the Brewers got it done at home. It will be tough for them to win two of the next three against a tough Phillies club, but we’ve see teams win three straight Division Series games before.
What are your thoughts about last night and tonight and beyond? What will the AL and NL Championship Series teams be and who will meet in the World Series?
Let me know.
Thursday’s Division Series games once again blew my mind. You want October amazement? You got it yesterday, big-time. Let’s recap the games.
DODGERS 10, CUBS 3
I don’t remember the last time I heard Wrigley Field so quiet, and for long-suffering Cubs fans, this was a tough one to swallow. The Dodgers offense has come to play, and for the second straight night, they got great pitching, too. In Game 2, it was Chad Billingsley dealing. But enough about the Dodgers. What about the Cubbies? The best record in the National League and they lose two in a row at home? Unreal. But remember, folks. Strange things happen in October. The Yankees went down 2-0 at home in 2001 and came back and beat the A’s in their Division Series. It can happen.
PHILLIES 5, BREWERS 2
This one was all about Shane Victorino’s grand slam, and maybe about a team finally finding its postseason groove after getting swept in the first round last year. The Phils left for Milwaukee on a serious high point and can you blame them? They did something that hardly anyone could do down the stretch — beat CC Sabathia — and now have huge numbers in their favor. Teams with a 2-0 lead in NL Division Series have won their last 16.
RAYS 6, WHITE SOX 4
And how about those Rays? Experts claimed they didn’t have enough talent to make it to October, and they shot that down. Critics said they didn’t have the experience to make it all the way through October. Well, maybe they don’t, but they certainly didn’t look intimidated yesterday in improving their league-best home record. And who did a huge portion of the damage? The probable AL Rookie of the Year, Evan Longoria, who looked about as ready for the postseason as anyone ever has in his first crack at it.
It’s starting to get crazy in these series, and I’m watching every inning. Now I want to hear from you. What was your favorite Thursday moment? Did any team make a major statement? Will the Cubs rally? How far can the Rays go?
I’m all ears.
First things first
Three Division Series Game 1s yesterday and already more than a few surprises. And isn’t that typical of October?
Let’s go game by game.
PHILLIES 3, BREWERS 1
It isn’t surprising that Cole Hamels dealt the way he did, but the Brewers, particularly Yovani Gallardo, showed a lot of poise for a young team that has practically no postseason experience to speak of. If the Brew Crew can clean up a few mistakes, this might become a very competitive series very quickly — especially when CC gets his say. Here’s Chase Utley’s big hit in the third inning.
DODGERS 7, CUBS 2
Now I didn’t expect this one. Who would have thought the best team in the National League would go down at home in Game 1 in the 100th anniversary year of their last World Series title? But James Loney had the big hit, the grand slam in the fifth inning, Manny and Russell Martin homered later, and that was all she wrote. The Cubs will have to regroup in a hurry tonight, but their big horse, the Big Z, is on the hill, so Cubs Nation has to be feeling good about that.
RED SOX 4, ANGELS 1
The Angels had the best record in all of baseball this year and were at home with their ace, John Lackey, in Game 1, but the same old same old happened again — the Red Sox beat them in October. This time it was lefty Jon Lester giving the Angels hitters fits and the newest member of the defending world champs’ outfield doing most of the damage.
Almost too much to blog about, but I want to hear your thoughts. What was the best moment of the first day of October baseball in 2008?
And what’s going to happen tonight as the Rays-White Sox series starts and two other series continue?
Let me know.
We’re here, and the Postseason is ready to roll. I hope you all watched the White Sox come up big with that 1-0 win over the Twins like I did.
It was cool to see them celebrating. Fortunately for them, they’ve got an extra day to prepare for Thursday’s Game 1 in St. Pete!
Three Division Series games today to kick it off, and I can’t wait to see what happens and what memories are made. Here are some quick blog thoughts on each one.
Brewers at Phillies
Tough call here, but the Phightin’ Phils came up huge down the stretch to take the division from the Mets, and I don’t know if you have noticed what Ryan Howard’s been doing for the last month, but you’ll probably find out in this series. Philadelphia is a great baseball town and they haven’t tasted World Series champagne since 1980. They’re hungry and I expect them to come out aggressive.
Dodgers at Cubs
Does anyone have higher expectations this season than Cubs Nation? It’s been exactly 100 years since the Cubbies won it all, and their fans have heard enough about curses and billy goats. They’ve also had to watch as the Red Sox won in 2004 for the first time since 1918 and the crosstown rival White Sox took it the next year for the first time since 1917. With the pitching, the defense and the hitting that led them to dominate the NL this year, the Wrigley faithful have to think this is the year.
Red Sox at Angels
The Angels got swept out of the first round by the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007, and the Red Sox won the World Series both years. This season might be different, with the Angels winning 100 games for the first time in franchise history and owning the best record in the Majors. Great pitching matchup tonight with the Angels’ John Lackey going up against the Red Sox’s no-hitter man, Jon Lester.
Three games and all kinds of memories to be made. Now I want to hear your thoughts. What will happen tonight in each game? What are your predictions for these three series?
Let me know.
Today there’s a lot of baseball to watch and a lot of important moments to witness as we head into October, full speed ahead.
Grab some snacks, put on that seat belt and have fun. This is what we’ve been waiting for.
The tight pennant races are getting tighter, and I’m feeling the intensity every night as the Twins and White Sox battle it out for the last Postseason spots in the American League. I’m sure you are, too.
Meanwhile, as the Mets and Brewers try to keep the pace in the National League, the Mets are set on prolonging the life of that charming 44-year-old ballpark in Queens called Shea Stadium that’s going to make way for the new Citi Field next year.
What does it all mean? It means we’ve got less than a week to go until October, and the first five teams that have clinched as I write this are waiting along with the rest of us to see how it’s all going to shake out.
And those teams still have so many unanswered questions, too.
Can the Dodgers keep up the excitement and ride the hot bat of their newest star all the way through October?
Can a healthy Evan Longoria help the Rays continue to prove the doubters wrong?
Do the Red Sox have another magical run in them?
Is it THE year on the North Side?
Or will the team with the best record in baseball live up to its billing?
Vote in the poll and let me know how you think it will all play out. The good news is we won’t have to wait very long to see what happens.
The Cubs and their Nation of fans are partying like it’s 1908, and can you blame them? They officially joined the October dance over the weekend, making it two postseason appearances in a row.
Now comes the fun part — seeing if the team from the North Side of Chicago can take 100 years of close calls, disappointments and heartbreakers and turn it all into one World Series title. And why not? Their South-Side neighbors did it in 2005 and the Boston Red Sox did it in 2004. It’s the decade to end all “curses.”
Or maybe it’s just the year of the underdog.
NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY, thought the Tampa Bay Rays could go from the worst record in the Major Leagues to an October clinch with a week to go in the regular season. But when you’ve got young talent all over the field, veteran role players, a great bullpen and defense and an optimistic manager who gets you to click from Day 1 in Spring Training … well, I’ll say it again. Why not?
But before we all say hello to October, we had to say goodbye to Yankee Stadium on Sunday night. I’m a grown man, but I’ll admit that my eyes watered a bit, especially when the Captain delivered the final speech.
That’s what baseball is all about. And October’s what baseball’s all about, too.
One more week and we’re there.
A big week
Are you sweating yet? September is getting tight and the pennant races are heating up even more, but three prime-time players made big-time statements that can carry all the way into the Postseason, and I’ve got to give them some October Gonzo blog love.
First up is Big Z, better known as Carlos Zambrano. He hadn’t pitched in 12 days but he served a whole lot of National League notice that he’s ready now and ready for October by no-hitting the Astros in Milwaukee.
Then there’s Big Papi, better known as David Ortiz. He’s been injured for the Red Sox, but he lives for this time of year and he showed the Tampa Bay Rays a thing or two about that Monday in St. Petersburg.
And let’s not forget the Phillies, who are right in the thick of it again. Sunday saw Brett Myers continue his resurgence to the top of his game, throwing a two-hitter against the Brewers and showing he might just be the October ace they always thought he’d be.
A quick shout-out to the thousands of you who voted in the last poll and kept our conversations going. I want to keep hearing all your thoughts about October and who you think will win it all and make the next Postseason memories. It was also good to see that we’re up to sixth in the rankings of the Latest Leaders at MLBlogs. Who knows? Maybe we’ll make it all the way to the top.
But on the field, you can be sure that more history will be made soon, which is why I don’t plan to miss many games between now and the end of the World Series. Only two weeks until October, and I can’t wait.
A long time coming
October’s all about making the most of opportunities, and four teams this year have the opportunity to make some serious history and give their fans a long-awaited party.
It’s been 100 years since the Cubs last won it all, but they’re looking good for the Postseason and could make the North Side as happy as the South Side was three years ago when this happened.
The Milwaukee Brewers only got one shot at the Fall Classic, when they were Harvey’s Wallbangers in 1982, but this year’s model has Wild Card written all over it, and we know what Wild Card teams can do with everything on the line.
Then there are the Tampa Bay Rays. They’d never even had a winning season until this year, and they’re still holding on to the American League East lead. The Tropicana Field faithful have to be saying, “Why not us?” And a recent series win in Fenway Park shows the Rays can get it done on the road when it counts.
And don’t forget the Houston Astros. They’ve been counted out before only to shock the world with a sizzling September. They made it to the World Series in 2005 and the NL Championship Series in 2006 and are getting huge pitching performances — led by Roy Oswalt — at the right time.
In other words, don’t be surprised if one of these four prospective drought-busters ends up parading through their city with a trophy. And don’t be surprised if baseball crowns yet another champion that’s been waiting a long, long time to celebrate.
Here’s a trio of random O.G. blog-servations from the heat of early August… only seven weeks from October, but who’s counting?
*Have you been watching the Cubs? Signs throughout Wrigley say “It Will Happen,” and I can’t really argue when I watch these guys play. Sweet Lou has them feeling it, Ryan Dempster’s out of his mind, and Kerry Wood’s coming back, too. They’ve pulled away from the Brewers a little bit and might be ready to finally give the North Side some World Series championship love for the first time in exactly 100 years.
*No matter how you feel about the Yankees (and I think I know how a lot of you outside New York feel), it’s a bummer that Joba’s hurt. The Yanks already don’t have Chien-Ming Wang and Phil Hughes right now, so now we’ll see what this kid Ian Kennedy is made of. We might also get a Carl Pavano sighting soon. Who knows? Maybe the fresh arms will get the Bombers back on top. Stranger things have happened in October.
*I’ve got one more for you and it’s got three words: Tampa Bay Rays. OK, two more words: Still there. These guys keep winning games in crazy fashion, they’re absolutely ridiculous at home, and their manager, Joe Maddon, has them believing there’s nothing they can’t do. I’m here to tell you that when you have a little confidence, you can rule the postseason — even if you’ve never been there before. Joe saw it close up when he was the bench coach of the ’02 Angels. And now he’s got Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena. That doesn’t hurt, either.
More coming soon as we march toward October memories… are you getting fired up?
No black cats, no excuses
A little bit of bad luck can go a long way toward knocking teams right out of October — if they let it. And while it shouldn’t happen, history has the ability to make sure it does from time to time.
Just ask the Dodgers, who haven’t brought a title back to Chavez Ravine since 1988 but hope new outfielder Manny Ramirez can reverse results like this:
Just ask the Brewers, who couldn’t quite make it all the way when they won the pennant in 1982.
Just ask the Mets, who haven’t won a World Series since 1986, in part because of bad-luck moments like this:
Ask the Phillies, who haven’t won it all since the Tug McGraw days:
And don’t forget to ask the Cubs, still talking about billy goats 100 years later.
Bottom line is this: October is all about putting aside the excuses, ignoring the black cats and superstitions, and coming together at the right time. One of these teams might have the magic to finally pull it off this year.
And the beauty of it is that we’ll all be watching.