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Saturday 10/14/17

The Cubs jump on all-world Clayton Kershaw with 2 runners in the first, but leave them both stranded. A two run blast by Albert Almora Jr. gives them a 2-0 lead and Kershaw hits the showers an inning later.

But the Dodgers storm back with five unanswered runs as their bullpen shuts down the Cubs for a game one 5-2 win.

Highlight was a controversial play at the plate that went to the replay booth who overturned the call on the field which ended up giving LaLa Land momentum for the remainder of the game.

I won’t dwell on the call, but kudos to normally mild mannered Maddon who delivered multiple F bombs as he charged the field to make his feelings known in defending an excellent play by Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.

Sunday 10/15/17

The culture of the spectating Dodgers fans amazes me still to this day. They arrive in the 2nd inning and leave by the 8th, even on the weekend. Prime seats behind the plate are seem empty on TV.

I made a few notes tonight while viewing the game:

7:53. I do kinda dig the LA organist playing the Light My Fire keyboard riff and blend it in to the Da duh Da Dun thing. Sometimes he blends Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody in there too.
8:15 Pitch black and 52 degrees in Chicago. 83 degrees and sunny with a palm tree sunset on the horizon in LA. Gotta love ‘Merica.
9:26 A little heavy on the simple Da duh Da Dun riff by the organist. Come on dude, I know you got some other jams in you.
9:34 1-1 in the 9th. Another nail biter. MVP K’s. Rizzo takes one for the team. Contreras K’s. Groundout Almora. O God. It’s up to the Cubs bullpen.
9:51 1 out. Runner on second base. Lackey on the hump now. Bulldog time.
9:59 Walk off homer by Sammy Hagar. Oh well. 4-1 Dodgers win.

Post-game observations.

I had mixed emotions when Maddon called again on the old gunslinger, John Lackey to step out of the OK Corral and into the fray on the street. But why not give the 38 year old veteran a chance for some more October magic after going 1 and 2/3 innings Saturday without giving up a run? The Cubs won 19 games that Lackey started this year, more than any other pitcher.

It speaks to the unreliability of the Cubs bullpen.

Speaking of bullpens, six Dodger pitchers from the LA pen are currently 9 strikeouts and 8 innings into a no-hitter. 4 innings Saturday. 4 innings again on Sunday. Phenomenal. That’s the difference in the series so far.

Fact is, 2 runs and 7 hits in 18 innings will not advance a team in playoff baseball. Cubs need to find their sticks.

So, it’s time to separate the faithful from the fair-weathered who say it’s over.

OVER

Was it over when the Cubs were down 5-2 in the 9th inning of Game 4 in the NLDS in 2016?
Was it over when the Cubs were down 2 games to 1 against the Dodgers in the 2016 NLCS?
Was it over when the Cubs were down 3 games to 1 against Cleveland in the 2016 World Series?
Was it over when the Cubs were losing 4-1 against the Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS?

“What’s this lying around shit?”

First, Cubs tee off on this game 3 starter. Yu Who?!?!
Then, break up this LaLa bullpen no-hitter.

The time is NOW.

Let’s go!

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As a youth, I occasionally wasted away more than a few days (and nights) playing a dice baseball game called APBA. Sometimes, when things weren’t going my team’s way, I rolled the dice again to try and get the desired result, a homer instead of a ground out, perhaps.

Thursday evening in DC, the Cubs kept shaking the dice until things went their way.

The dice were really rolling for the Cubs in an unbelievable fashion in the top of the 5th inning that went something like this: Mad Max Scherzer, the hero hurler of the Nationals comes in in relief presumably to save the day as the Gnats had a 4-3 lead at this point.

Rizzo and Bryant were retired routinely. Two outs. Then after three straight hits by Contreras, Zobrist and Russell, the Cubs tied it up.

This was when it started to get weird. A walk, a dropped third strike with a throwing error, a catcher’s interference and a bases loaded hit batsman ensued. When the dust-y settled, the Cubs had taken a 7-4 lead that they would not relinquish, advancing to the NLCS with a 9-8 W in a 4 hour and 37 minute game.

According to an ESPN article, the odds of everything that happened in the top of the 5th inning happening was 1 in 2,183,406,113. (That’s Billion.) Here’s the article explaining if you’re into the baseball Sabermetrics sort of thing:

http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/21006931/max-scherzer-unbelievable-impossible-unprecedented-loss

The Nationals go home. They have now won their division, but have never advanced to the next round of the playoffs having lost in the first round in 2012, 2014, 2016 & now 2017. Stand back Mister Billy Goat, there’s a new curse in town.

And, Chicago goes to Los Angeles for the weekend to play the Dodgers in a rematch of last years’ NLCS. Back to Wrigley on Tuesday for a trio of midweek evening contests.

It’s the Cubs third straight appearance in the NL Championship Series. These aren’t your granddaddy’s Cubs. Backs to the wall, they are 4-0 in elimination games the last two years. Now that I’ve had a taste of it, this October playoff baseball thing never gets old.

This time the Dodgers are the favorites to win according to the odds makers. But, I wouldn’t roll the dice against the Cubs.

The rainout.

“Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains.” Bull Durham.

Today’s installment turns out to be an unintentional salute to perhaps the best baseball movie ever made.

As if there’s not enough drama already for Cubs fans for what could be an NLDS deciding Game 4 versus a formidable opponent, today’s game is postponed by rain. I can’t imagine how the players feel.

So we wait. We wait for game four. It’s the first Cubs post-season game in history postponed by rain. I don’t know that for sure. Usually I do diligent research to come to such conclusions, but this time I didn’t. So, if I’m wrong, let me know.

As WGN TV used to do during rain delays back in the day, let’s flashback to Monday’s thrilling victory. Keeping with the theme, let’s invoke a “Bullish” analogy.

In the movie Bull Durham, a whiskey influenced Crash Davis describes how a fortuitous hit can change a season’s batting average: “You know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? …. if you get just one extra flare a week – just one – a gork… you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes… you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week… and you’re in Yankee Stadium.” — Crash Davis

In game 3 yesterday, in the bottom of the 8th inning, with the score tied 1-1, two outs and a runner on second base, in a crucial game 3 of the NLDS, a fortuitous pop fly changed the game and Anthony Rizzo got ALL of those in ONE HIT.

Rizz hit a dying quall flare into left center field that screamed, “Respect Me” as three Nationals converged on the ball. But, they all stopped at once as the fly ball with eyes dropped to the ground untouched amidst them as what proved to be the winning run crossed the plate from second base.

I watched the replay almost as much as Jim Garrison (Ironically also portrayed by Kevin Costner in the movie JFK) watched the Zapruder film. The blooper dropped perfectly between a triangle of Gnats. This is the best picture I could clip from the internet (The photographer IS credited).

The three Nationals stop or move “back and to the left.”

Perhaps this photo most defines this match-up and why I believe the Cubs will prevail and move on to the NLCS.

Were Cubs converging on the same pop fly, I imagine a picture of players splayed out on all over grass making diving attempts at the flare ending up with Javy Baez catching the ball in his right armpit inches above the grass. “El Mago” saves the day.

We shall see what happens. I’ll be along for the ride for another three dimensional witness of the 3:08 scheduled start game. (Dimension 1: Regular internet score checks on my phone at work. Dimension 2: Listening to the radio broadcast on the ride home. Dimension 3: Catching the final innings on TV.)

Baseball in October on the north side of Chicago. Does it get any better?

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