Tag Archives: jorge soler

Cubs A Ray Of Light In Ugly Sports World

Let me start by borrowing a phrase and saying that I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.

I get paid to pay attention to sports. I have a TV on my desk at work and am supposed to watch SportsCenter, live games etc. As my wife points out whenever I complain about work, I have a job that 99 percent of guys and many, many women would give their left something or other to have. It’s true and I appreciate it.

This exposure, however, sometimes leaves me thinking that the sports world sucks. Not the sports, the sports themselves are beautiful. But some of the people who play the sports and some of the people who organize them are despicable. You see, I spend a lot of time editing stories, posting stories working on stories of athletes, owners, and others behaving badly. Most people read a paragraph or two and move on. Not me. Whether it’s Sandusky molesting children or Adrian Peterson beating them, I have to read every story, every day, day after day.

I’m not complaining. Really. I have worked many different kinds of jobs in my life — from assembly line to telemarketing to food service and many things in between — and I realize that I have it easy. Every day, every hour people sweat and toil to put food on their tables. I won’t disrespect them by saying that I have it rough. No way.

I’m just saying that seeing how they make the sausage changes your feeling about eating it. Looking behind the curtain at the athletes who play these great sports has created conflict in my mind, has made something pure more complicated.

I grew up loving sports. As a kid I would drag blankets and pillows into the family room, make a big pile and pretend I was plowing into the line of scrimmage with my Nerf football as college football blared from the TV all afternoon. From organized sports to pick-up games after school, my friends and I played sports constantly. Baseball, Whiffle ball, football, basketball, Nerf hoops, you name it, we did it … in joyful oblivion.

And we worshiped our sports heroes. Payton, Jordan, Buckner, Sandberg, we pretended we were them like all kids do. We didn’t know about their personal lives. There wasn’t as much media back then. Kids don’t watch that much news. It was easy to love the athletes within the context of the games. It was pure.

Even as I got older, my fandom allowed me to compartmentalize the personal failings of athletes and let me concentrate on the actions on the field. Jordan gambling, cheating on his wife? I barely heard the stories through my Bulls fan earmuffs.

It’s not so easy now. The crimes seem to have amplified in degree and volume. Cheating on your wife is morally reprehensible, but it’s not illegal. Child abuse, domestic violence, that’s a whole new ballgame. I can’t compartmentalize that. I look at my own kids and wonder how, why.

Charles Barkley said years ago that athletes shouldn’t be role models. He created a lot of controversy then but now seems like he was ahead of his time. We don’t really know the person inside the uniform, just like we don’t know the movie star behind the makeup. Most are people just like you and me. They have their good points and bad, but they’re mostly good. Others are horrible, and those are the ones I read about all too often.

So as I fight being jaded, I find a young team like the Cubs to be totally refreshing. Who can’t look at Jorge Soler’s smile after he blasts another homer and not rediscover your love of the game? The team is so young and hungry that they are closer to the sandlot than the penthouse. Their love of the game is still palpable. Some of them will become big stars, make silly money, run with the wrong crowd and make bad decisions that seem to accompany riches and fame.

I’ll be editing stories about their downfall and it will suck. But right now a team like the Cubs offers a respite from the harsh realities, and I’m thankful for that.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

OK Cubs Got Swept; I Was Getting Nuts

I’m fine with the Cubs getting swept by the Pirates. Really.

I’ve been getting way ahead of myself, treating this September like I would when the Cubs might actually have something to play for in the final month of the season. Baez-mania gave way to an epidemic of Soler-ia. I even drew a little cartoon with a bear eating a Cardinal.

Now, I can go back to my mental vacation from stressing about Cubs wins and losses, feel good about the long-term building project and use my sports angst to wonder how the hell the Bears can lose to the Bills … AT HOME.

For the past few years, I have been on a vacation of sorts when it comes to the Cubs. After Theo Epstein was hired and said that this was going to be a multi-year rebuilding process, that they were tearing down before building back up, that the draft and international signings would restock talent, but that we wouldn’t actually see this talent in Wrigley for years, well, I bought it. I lowered expectations accordingly, and it felt great.

Like most of us Cubs fans, I lived and died with each pitch. I yelled at the TV. I saw doom around every corner and booked my tickets to the World Series after a two-game win streak … in April. Basically, I was nuts — when it came to the Cubs (I swear, that’s it). I sounded like I knew what I was talking about because I know a little about the game and I’ve been around long enough to know a thing or two, but I was a transparent homer.

And then it was gone. Theo said that we know we’re going to suck for a while and all the pressure was off. I still celebrated victories but in a subdued “hey, look what I found” kind of way. I got excited about individual achievements from young players like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, but I didn’t really expect them to win a division by themselves. I felt like help was on the way, but the cavalry was coming from the moon, so they’d have to take their lumps for a while.

But then Javier Baez was called up and he hit balls harder than I’d seen in a while. Kyle Hendricks kept fooling batters. Jake Arrieta was looking like an ace. Jorge Soler arrived and launched bombs and hit for average. Kris Bryant wrapped up an minor league MVP season. Rizzo had 30 homers. Castro’s average was back up. And, and, and … it all coalesced into an excitement I hadn’t felt in a long time. The Cubs could be good, like, soon. The switch was turned back on.

Even when Rizzo and Castro went down with likely season-ending injuries, the switch remained on. See, that’s what I mean about being a little nuts when it comes to the Cubs. I still expected them to own September, to show the rest of the Central what was coming. And in my defense they were playing damn good. They swept the Brewers after all.

Then the Pirates came to town and gave me a nice slap in the face. “Snap out of it, fool,” they said. “You can’t lose guys like Rizzo and Castro and win every game. Settle down.”

“But what about Soler?” I implored.

But they slapped me again. “Wow, you got it bad,” they said. “I hate to admit it, but you’re time will come. It just ain’t now.”

I took a deep breath for the first time in a month.

“OK, OK,” I said, settling down. “When is the draft?”

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Poll: Who Will Be Cubs’ Best Player?

Who is going to be the Cubs’ best player in two years? Hmmm … The fact that it’s a tough question is simply AWESOME.

If you asked a few years ago, the answer might have been Starlin Castro. Maybe Anthony Rizzo. And then both struggled mightily last season.

The answer last year might have been “Who the hell knows?” Then the kids started making some noise. It soon became a racket, loud enough to reach the ears of depressed Cubs fans in Chicago.

Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and now Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber. They’ve become household names in most Cubs households. At the same time, Castro and Rizzo bounced back with All-Star seasons this year.

Baez came up and homered in his first MLB game. He followed with six more homers, though he has also struck out more than a high school nerd repeatedly asking out the prom queen.

Bryant has absolutely destroyed the minors — posting perhaps the best line in all of baseball. How about .325/.438/.661 with 43 homers, 110 RBIs and 86 walks against 162 strikeouts? I’ll take it.

And then there’s Soler. Ah Soler. The big issue with him was injuries. He broke his leg last year, battled hamstring injuries the past few years. He looked like he could be something special. He put up great numbers when he played, but he just didn’t play that much. He only had 200 at-bats in the minors this season but definitely made the most of them (.340/.432/.700). Was it enough to judge?

Well, if his debut in the big leagues is any indication, he looks like he could be something really, really, really special. He’s got three homers in five MLB games. C’mon. He had two doubles in his Wrigley debut Monday, the ball hopping off his bat even when he didn’t hit the sweet spot. It’s like he’s playing in a video game while everyone else is mired in reality.

So the question of the Cubs’ best player in two years now becomes a little more interesting. Rizzo or Castro, who have already proven themselves in the big leagues? Baez, whose swing resembles a young Gary Sheffield’s? Bryant, who owned the minors? Soler, who is demanding that he be included in the conversation? Or somebody else, like Schwarber or Albert Almora, or a player that comes over in some crazy trade?

You decide:

Who will be the best Cubs player in two years?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Cubometer shirt

Jorge Soler Debut Lifts Cubs-O-Meter

The Cubs-O-Meter reflects how I’m feeling about the Cubbies at any given time. The name pays homage to the famous Shawon-O-Meter of Cubs days gone by.

How can the Cubs-O-Meter not be upgraded after Jorge Soler’s stunning debut?

This says it all:

That second home run was … ah … destroyed. It would have traveled another 100 feet if it hadn’t run into immovable objects in the bleachers. You can’t really hit a ball much harder that that. And these homers came against the Cardinals. Yes!

So the Cubs meter goes up to “I shaved and this is a new shirt,” but it’s a really nice shirt — how about a brand spankin’ new Soler Cubs jersey. Wish I could wear it at his home debut Monday. Wrigley should be hopping on a holiday with Soler, Baez and possibly the return of Anthony Rizzo from a bad back.

I think Soler has a chance to be the best of the bunch when we compare all of the Cubs young guns. His combination of bat speed, eye and overall balance at the plate is ridiculous. You can’t start off much better than .533/.563/1.267 in the first four games of a major league career.

Pitchers will make adjustments, but Soler appears to be more advanced than Javier Baez is in his approach at the plate. Baez’s swing is a rocket to the moon that when unleashed goes boom or bust spectacularly. Soler’s cut is more like a supersonic fighter plane that can adjust to conditions around it but still unleash lethal power.

That’s no knock on Baez. If he can get a better handle on the strike zone, he can be something special. What about the other Cubs youngsters? Rizzo has grown into an All-Star before our eyes — flashing a combo of power and average that is fun to watch. Starlin Castro has his detractors due to his mental lapses, but he just keeps getting hits. Kris Bryant has had a ridiculous season in the minors, so good in fact that the team doesn’t want to burn service time by calling him up. Like Baez, Arismendy Alcantara has shown flashes of brilliance while also struggling to adjust to major league pitching. But he’s young.

That’s the joke. They’re all young. Rizzo is the elder statesman at age 25.

And the nobody can put a ceiling on any of them yet. I have to let that sink in. We’re not talking about serviceable major leaguers. We’re saying that the Cubs have multiple potential superstars coming up. Wow.

If I was betting, I’d put my money on Soler to be the best of the best. It all puts a big smile on my face. Not as big as Soler’s though.

Where would you set your Cubs-O-Meter? Leave a comment and/or tweet to #CubsOMeter.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Poll: What Would You Give Up For Cubs Title?

God is willing to deal. Finally. The lesson may be over.

You see, about 80 years ago, some 10-year-old kid on the North Side prayed to God asking him to help the Cubs win the World Series. It had just been chance, bad luck really — and the Yankees — that saw the Cubbies title drought surpass 25 years.

But when God heard that kid praying he got mad.

“You don’t think I got better things to do?” God thought and put the prayer in the dustbin.

But the kid prayed the next day and the day after that and every day. The kid talked to his friends and they started praying. Whole neighborhoods implored God to see it in his heart to let the Cubs win.

“There are maniac rulers in Europe unleashing the fires of hell on Earth,” God thought. “There is drought and famine in the good ol’ U.S. Of A. And these baseball fans in Chicago are praying about the Cubs? Talk about misplaced priorities. I’ll show them.”

And he did. The big guy in the sky turned a deaf ear.

Not only that, if the Cubs appeared to be on the verge of something big despite God’s indifference he intervened in the form of a goat, a black cat, that devil Steve Garvey or, some would say, Bartman — though God will giggle and tell you that Bartman was just a happy accident. God didn’t let Alex Gonzalez get his glove down and paralyzed Dusty Baker’s lower half so he couldn’t go settle down Mark Prior.

And so Cubs fans have suffered for another 80 years after that kid on the North Side started his prayer campaign. Truth be told it’s not real suffering. Cubs fans for the most part are eating. There appears to be no shortage of beer at Wrigley Field. Things could be a hell of a lot worse.

That’s the conclusion that many Cubs fans have drawn over the years. We’ve become a group practiced in the art of perspective. And God has noticed and is thinking that maybe, just maybe, we’ve learned our lesson.

There are indications he’s softening his stance. Letting Theo Epstein come to Chicago was one. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and more are other examples of God giving Cubs fans hope.

Then there’s this. A parchment — yes parchment — dating to 45 B.S. (That’s Before Sandberg) has been found in the secret excavation to build new clubhouses at Wrigley (You don’t think they were actually waiting for the city or Rooftop Big Business to approve, do you?), and the document says:

“In the Year of our Lord (that’s me) 2014 I will give ye the opportunity to make a sacrifice that will allow thy beloved Cubs to win the championship. I’m not telling ye (oh, forget the ye and thou stuff. I don’t even remember how to use them) which deal I will make, so answer these questions truthfully, and I will then decide which sacrifice is acceptable to me. (Voting and tallying could take a while so I can’t give you an exact year that I might let the Cubs win, but let’s just say it could take a while. Yes, I crested the world in seven days, but we’re talking about the Cubs winning it all here. This might take me a year or so. Three tops.)”

The note also included the above explanation of why the Cubs were smote with an unprecedented drought.

So there you have it. No pressure or anything. Like the big man said, just answer truthfully. Here are the questions:

Would you give up a promotion for the Cubs to win it all?

  • Yes (57%, 8 Votes)
  • No (43%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

Loading ... Loading ...

Would you give up a kidney for the Cubs to win it all?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Would you live with no other Chicago team winning another title in your lifetime for one Cubs title?

  • Yes (67%, 10 Votes)
  • No (33%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

Loading ... Loading ...

Would you take a Cubs title if all of your offspring and their offspring had to become White Sox fans?

  • No (53%, 8 Votes)
  • Yes (47%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

Loading ... Loading ...

Would you take a vow of chastity for a period of five years for a Cubs title?

  • No (85%, 11 Votes)
  • Yes (15%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 13

Loading ... Loading ...

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

epstein

The Cubs’ Brain Trust

There are pissed-off Cubs fans who see the losing of the past few years through the same lenses they’ve worn since 1974. It’s all the same, all crap and it will never end.

There are those of us, however, who feel that this time is different. The Cubs have abandoned Band-Aid strategies for a grand plan. Like any plan worth its salt, it’s not easy, but if you’ve ever tried to get back in shape, you know that “no pain, no gain” is a real thing.

For those of us who believe in Theo Epstein and Co., this article by Ryan Ferguson of Cubs Insider is right on.

He writes: “The Cubs’ plan, to build through outstanding player development a sustainable roster of impact players who’ll flourish into their prime years at the same time whilst providing greater financial flexibility with which to acquire the accent pieces required to win championships, has been attempted by other teams in the past, but never with such discipline, sincerity or meaning.”

Well said, as they say.

And since he wrote it, I figured I’d add my visual take of the “Cubs Brain Trust.”

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.