“Don’t blame us if we ever doubt you, you know we couldn’t live without you…”
Originally, it was sung by Dropkick Murphy’s towards the Boston Red Sox, but I think this definitely applies to our Chicago Cubs, especially in the 2007 season.
We all know that, from time to time this season, I have doubted Piniella’s boys. I’ve doubted their character, determination, and hustle, because let’s face it: their effort on the field was, at times, pathetic. But riding the ups and downs with the Chicago Cubs this summer has been an experience quite unlike anything else. I remember 2003 and 2004, but there’s no doubt that my love for the team has grown since then, and this season will definitely be one that sticks in my head for a long, long time.
Coming into the season, there were very many differing opinions about the Chicago Cubs. Few had hoped that the division might be bad enough for us to have a shot at it. Others thought that we were a .500 team, at best. I thought that we were still one or two pitchers short. Thankfully, those pitchers appeared from within the organization. Sean Marshall was more than serviceable as the team’s fifth starter for the greater portion of the year. When Wade Miller and Angel Guzman couldn’t get the job done, Marshall kept every fifth day from being an automatic loss, by going 7-8 while posting a 4.00 ERA.
The bullpen pitchers, who started off real slow, really have stepped things up, too. Carlos Marmol was the surprise of the season, throwing 68 1/3 dominating innings, allowing just 41 hits and 11 earned runs, while striking out 95. Bobby Howry had a horrible April and Scott Eyre had a disastrous first half, but both of those pitchers have bounced back and closer Ryan Dempster has been literally just a sliver shy of absolute perfection. We can't forget about Kerry Wood and Michael Wuertz, either; they've been equally terrific.
Now that all is said and done, the Chicago Cubs have won the division in 2007 and now are looking to make some noise in the postseason. The likely first round opponent is Arizona, who currently lead the NL West by one game and own the tiebreaker over San Diego. Brandon Webb tossed for the Snakes on Friday, meaning he could go in game 1 on regular rest, just like Zambrano.
Before then, however, there are still two regular season games to play. Rich Hill will throw in Saturday’s game and Ted Lilly may still get some work in on Sunday. With off-days on Monday and Tuesday, Lou might want to get some work in for his relievers, too. I would even advocating treating Sunday’s game like the all-star game: make sure everyone gets one inning.
But we can worry about that later. For now, we just enjoy the moment.
Thank you, Chicago Cubs for a wonderful year!
Did Piniella predict this? Remember when Lou Piniella said at the beginning of the year that he wanted to break the season down into 10 separate sixteen game seasons? Many joked that Piniella couldn’t add while others suggested that implied that we would’ve had the division locked up after 160 games. Well, the latter turned out to be true.
Rotation lining up nicely: If the Chicago Cubs have one thing going for them in the postseason, it's the way the home/road splits match up for the starting pitchers.
Carlos Zambrano would pitch games 1 and 5, which are on the road, where he's 11-4 with a 3.26 ERA compared to a mediocre 6-9, 4.96 ERA at Wrigley Field. In game 2, Lilly will most likely get the nod but location doesn't seem to bother him: 3.86 ERA on the road while 3.87 at home. Then, Jason Marquis and Rich Hill will throw games 3 and 4 at Wrigley Field. Jason Marquis is 8-3 at home, and the young left hander is 6-2.
Go Brewers, Go? Now that we have won the division, should we be pulling for the Brewers? With just two games left in the season, the Padres still are alive in the race for their division. Facing Peavy, Young, and Maddux would be a daunting task, and I'd much rather wait and worry about them later. That means the Brewers are going to help us out.