Championship season hangover?

As the MLB season is quarter of the way over, some are wondering whether the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs are dealing with a championship season hangover. No world series champion has repeated since the 2000 New York Yankees and Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated notes that, in the first 20 games the next season, champions have an average winning percentage of .569. However, when you look at the overall season, that number goes down to .535. In other words, the reigning world series champions winning percentage falls off by 43 points. What could be worrisome for some Cubs fans is that from 2000-2015, 7 of the 16 world series champions have made the playoffs the next season.

However, I am not worried about the Cubs not making the playoffs this year, but there are some concerns that the team will have to address in order to make another long playoff run. Two of their starters, John Lackey and Jake Arrieta both have an ERA of almost 5, and while their team ERA is 3.99, the team ERA was almost a run lower in 2016 (3.15)

Part of this is that Cub pitchers accumulated so many innings in 2016 that they may be going through a ‘dead arm period.’ Arrieta pitched 197.1 innings in 2016, Lackey 188.1, Kyle Hendricks 190 and Jon Lester surpassed 200. Another reason why the Cubs are not where they were last year at this time is that their offseason was cut short. Some of the players did not get much rest over the offseason, all the sudden Christmas comes along and it’s time to work out, plus spring training is only a month and a half away.

The defense is a cause for concern as in 2016, the team’s defensive efficiency rating was at .728. The defensive efficiency rate is the rate in which they turned batted balls into outs, was the highest since the 1991 Chicago White Sox. This year has been a different story as that number has dropped to .680, which is in the bottom 5 in the NL.

The Cubs should feel fortunate because other teams that made the playoffs in 2016 have seen their winning percentage drop. Take the San Francisco Giants, who had a .549 winning percentage in 2016, their winning percentage is well below .500, while the Cubs are slightly above .500.

If you look at recent history of teams that have won 100 games in the regular season, most of them lose in either the division or championship series. Yes winning 103 games like the Cubs did in 2016 looked good, but there are perils. Yes the Cubs made it look easy at times in the regular season last year, but they used a considerable amount of energy to get to the century mark.

Remember back in 2006, that team won 83 games, won the division and yes went on to win it all. There is something to be said to playing pre-playoff games in September and the Cardinals did not clinch a playoff spot until game #161 on October 1. Compare that to the Cubs world series championship, they won the division on September 15. As contradictory as this sounds, I would have preferred the Cubs to go through a stretch where they lost 5 of 6 because it can give the team the sense that despite what we have done, we are not unbeatable in a short series.

If the Cubs are to repeat this season, I would argue that going for 100 plus wins will not work. Furthermore, winning between 92-96 games is where I expect the team to finish and playing meaningful games deep into September is what can help accomplish the goal of winning another world series championship. The Cubs are not going through a hangover, but I am not surprised that they haven’t kept up with the 2016 record and I do not expect them to win 100 games, which may play to their advantage in October.

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NL WEST BATTLE FOR 1st PLACE-DODGERS vs ROCKIES PREVIEW

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The battle for NL West Supremacy starts tonight as the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers travel to Denver to battle the first place Colorado Rockies.  Both these teams are coming off huge series wins after the Rockies took advantage of an underachieving Cubs team and the Dodgers swept a Pirates team that looks more like potential sellers at the deadline with each disappointing loss.  The Dodgers and Rockies lineups are both having great offensive seasons, but this series really comes down to some outstanding pitching match-ups over the next four days.

Although the Dodgers were thrilled with their recent sweep of the Pirates, it unfortunately did come at a steep price.  Outfielder Andrew Toles tore his ACL while attempting to catch a fly ball that would have preserved the current ho-hitter starting pitcher Julio Urias was in the midst of.  Toles will miss the remainder of the season, but the silver lining is current rookie of the year favorite Cody Bellinger is likely to stay with the club for the remainder of the year since he is currently the best hitting outfielder on the LA roster and injuries are starting to pile of for the Dodgers.  Speaking of no-hitters, the Colorado Rockies pitcher German Marquez had a no-hitter going against the Cubs in the series finale yesterday until Kris Bryant was able to end it with a double in the 7th inning.  Both the Dodgers and Rockies had success against two different underwhelming NL Central teams this week, but tonight starts a four game series which will either keep Colorado atop the NL West, or see a power shift with the Dodgers taking over first place in the division.

The Match-ups and likely starters look like this for the series:

THURSDAY

Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA (LHP, 1-4, 4.04 ERA) vs Tyler Anderson, COL (LHP, 2-3, 6.69 ERA)

Thursday’s game might be the most important of the series since it could set the tone for the rest of the weekend.  Ryu last pitched for LA on 4/30 when he struck-out nine Philadelphia batters and recorded the win before heading to the DL.  Anderson is looking for his second win in a row after a tough start to the season that saw his ERA shoot up to 8.59 at one point, but his last outing saw him strikeout 10 Diamondbacks batters on 5/6.  Each team will be looking to get the W in tonight’s contest and likely are pleased it’s two “question mark” pitchers that’ll face off in the series opener.

FRIDAY

Clayton Kershaw, LA (LHP, 5-2, 2.40 ERA) vs Tyler Chatwood, COL (RHP, 3-4, 4.74 ERA)

Clayton Kershaw is 1-1 vs Colorado this season with a combined 16 strikeouts, while giving up 13 hits between the two contests.  Chatwood has seen his numbers get better this season after 7 starts and has yet to face LA this season but only has 1 actual win against a team over .500 this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does against a Dodgers lineup that is currently putting up more runs than any team in MLB.  If Kershaw can dominate and get run support from the LA lineup, the odds heavily favor the Dodgers in game 2.

SATURDAY

Alex Wood, LA (LHP, 3-0, 2.73 ERA) vs Kyle Freeland, COL (LHP, 3-2, 2.93 ERA)

Alex Wood vs Kyle Freeland could be the highlight match-up of this series since both players are off to fantastic starts this season.  Wood looks like he finally reaching his potential and meeting expectations after battling injuries the past two seasons and was outstanding against Pittsburgh when he struck out eleven batters while only giving up two hits and extended his winning streak to three games.  Freeland had a bad outing against the Cubs on Tuesday but has pitched very well against LA twice this season with a combined 9 strikeouts while giving up 8 hits.  This game starts a two game stretch of very interesting pitching match-ups to closeout this series featuring promising young talent.

SUNDAY

Julio Urias, LA (LHP, 0-0, 1.06 ERA) vs Antonio Senzatela, COL (RHP, 5-1, 2.86 ERA)

This is a great match-up to wrap up the series on Sunday since it’ll be the best young pitchers on each team facing off in the finale.  Urias flirted with a no hitter earlier this week, although Manager Dave Roberts insists that LA is standing firm on limiting Urias’ pitch count and he likely wouldn’t have been kept in once he reached his max pitch count.  Senzatela is coming off a solid performance against the Cubs and has won 5 of his 6 starts this season to help lead the Rockies to 1st place in the NL West.  Neither of these pitchers have faced the opponents this season and this pairing could be a preview of a pitchers’ duel we may see for years to come in the NL West.

This is should be a fun series for MLB fans over the next four days featuring two dynamic offenses and stellar pitching staffs.  Coors Field has always been know at a hitter’s park, but some of the best pitching in MLB resides on both rosters and will be showcased over the next four days.  No doubt, with 10 more games between the two teams left to be played this season, things are just starting to get interesting in the NL West with a battle for 1st place this weekend which quite possibly an early playoff preview.

The Rangers Need to Trade Yu Darvish, Here are Some Ideas…

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The Texas Rangers are in big trouble right now, and it doesn’t look like things will get easier any time soon.  They just escaped getting swept by the 1st place Houston Astros last night and now head to Seattle to play three games in the Pacific Northwest against a Mariners team that plays far better at home opposed to the road.  The possibility of the Rangers getting swept this weekend is very real, meaning Texas could fall to at least 10 games behind the AL West leading Astros and panic will ensue…if it hasn’t already.  They currently sit 7 games back in the AL West, and it appears that the Astros will run away with this division if they continue their strong play and stay healthy.  The AL East already looks like a lock for the one game Wildcard Playoff (some combo of NY, BOS and BAL), so the Rangers have to clean house immediately and trade current players in order to help rebuild a farm system that only boasts 2 players in the MLB Top 100 Prospect list (#49 OF Leody Taveras and #50 LHP Yohander Mendez) or risk falling into obscurity for the foreseeable future.  That brings us to their next problem being that they have very few veteran players that are the least bit appealing on the trade market and ones that would be enticing are currently on the DL.  To make matters even worse for Texas, it was learned yesterday that ace Cole Hammels will miss at least the next 8 weeks due to injury, so let the Yu Darvish sweepstakes begin!!! Here are a few ideas as to where Darvish could be headed, and how the Rangers can help re-build in the process.  Yu Darvish not only the best trade asset Texas has, but could also be the best available pitcher in MLB via trade and teams will be lining up to add him to their rotations before the deadline.

CHICAGO CUBS

CUBS GET

Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)

Darvish

RANGERS GET

Javier Baez – IF (Under team Control with Arbitration until 2021)

Baez

Jeimer Candelario – 3B (Hitting .333 in Iowa right now)

Jeimer

WHY THIS WORKS FOR BOTH TEAMS-

The Cubs offense is fine and in no way, shape or form does the absence of Javier Baez from the Cubs lineup hurt them offensively. The Chicago lineup is currently stacked, and let’s be honest here folks, Ian Happ WILL be your starting 2B for the next 8+ years once he arrives (which will be soon) and Baez will be the odd man out.  As For Candelario, he is having a great season in Iowa but the reality is that Bryant and Rizzo aren’t going anywhere any time soon.  No matter if it’s Texas or some Place else, he will be traded or be a reserve at best.  Baez and Candelario would give Texas 2 young players to add to the mix with Baez possibly taking Odor’s spot at second base and Candelario either moving to 1B or DH in the near future.  The only questionable position for the Cubs right now is pitching.  There is a really good chance that Darvish will leave Texas as an UFA so Rangers need to get what they can and this move gives the Cubs a Solid SP which is an instant upgrade from John Lackey and Brett Anderson.  If Darvish had numerous years remaining on his deal there is no doubt that Texas could get much more, but getting a king’s ransom for a “rental” player will likely scare away many suiters from over-paying.  Cubs have the luxury of being the reigning Champions and certainly have more than enough to win right now, but no sense in not making your team better if given the opportunity.  Since you never know when injuries will strike, there is no such thing as too much good pitching, and this move would be a win-win for both teams.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

DODGERS GET

Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)

Darvish

RANGERS GET

Will Smith – C (2016 1st Round Pick)

Will Smith

Mitchell White – RHP (2016 2nd Round Pick)

White

Gavin Lux – SS (2016 1st Round Pick)

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WHY THIS WORKS FOR BOTH TEAMS –

As a Die-hard Dodgers fan, I am in NO WAY sold on the LA starting pitching right now.  Dodgers have a #1 followed by question marks, inconsistent performances and injuries.  Adding Darvish to the LA rotation would be an immediate upgrade from anyone they have who isn’t named Clayton Kershaw.  “If” healthy (and I stress the “If”), a rotation of Kershaw, Darvish, McCarthy, Wood and Urias could certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason.  Yes, as you made have noticed, I am being extremely optimistic about the LA health and outlook when I include McCarthy and Wood in a potential post season rotation for the Dodgers – but it’s Friday, I ain’t got no job, and I believe in the power of positivity (it’s a new day, yes it is!)  As for the Rangers, they would get to take advantage of LA in this deal by getting both of the Dodgers first round picks from 2016 along with a second round pick that surely has potential.  Will Smith has a few years to go, but he will become an MLB everyday starting Catcher down the road, and the same can be said about the young Gavin Lux.  With the emergence of Seager as the top young SS in MLB and top 2B prospect Willie Calhoun awaiting his call the MLB level, Lux will be the odd man out in LA, so his loss wouldn’t be as hard of a pill to swallow as would be the loss of Will Smith, BUT……if it gets the Dodgers a World Series Championship by adding Yu Darvish it’ll all be worth it.  Mitchell White would be a great addition for Texas as he certainly has a high ceiling and recently converted from a RP to SP.  This move would give the Rangers players that will need a few years to develop but that is a great way to bring along your farm system when your able to trade an UFA and get two first round picks along with a second round pick in return.

BOSTON RED SOX

BOSTON GETS

Yu Darvish – SP (UFA in 2018)

Darvish

Adrian Beltre – 3B (UFA in 2019)

Beltre

A.J. Griffen – RHP (UFA in 2019)

AJ

TEXAS GETS

Pablo Sandoval – 3B (UFA in 2021)*Boston pays 100% of Sandoval’s contract

Pablo

Jay Groome – LHP (2016 1st Round Pick, #1 LHP in MLB Top Prospects list)

Groome

Michael Chavis – 3B (2014 1st Round Pick)

Chavis

WHY THIS WORKS FOR BOTH TEAMS –

This trade “technically” involves six players, but really only five since Texas would only take on the roster spot and not the contract of Pablo Sandoval.  This deal would actually be perfect for both team because of the two pitchers involved.  Boston would add Darvish to a rotation that could possibly look like Sale, Price, Darvish and Rodriguez as your one through four, with Porcello, Pomeranz and Griffin all competing for the five spot entering the postseason.  Boston would be adding Darvish, Griffin and also Adrian Beltre to a roster that is built to win and compete right now.  Beltre is an UFA in 2019 and it doesn’t appear as though he will get that chance to win a ring by remaining in Texas, and this move would allow him to move to a contender and play at 3B for at least the remainder of the season when he returns from injury and he would certainly be an upgrade from Sandoval.  I am totally aware that Jay Groom is the #1 LHP prospect in all of MLB, but Boston is in the most competitive division in baseball and by giving up their top pitching prospect, they would receive what could be the best SP that will be available by trade this season along with an outstanding player to cover 3B or be a DH in Beltre.  Texas, in return, would get a top pitching prospect to build around along with a young 3B in Michael Chavis that will give them flexibility at the corners along with the DH spot for the future.  Taking on Sandoval isn’t ideal, but if Boston was willing to cover his cost, it’s worth it to be able to develop young players during that time along with “tanking” for a few season in order to get those high draft picks.   If Boston was able to add another ring their recent collection, I don’t think they would have any issue giving up Groome and eating Sandoval’s contract to achieve that goal.

I think it’s pretty obvious that Yu Darvish will be traded this season due to the poor play of the Texas Rangers along with the recent loss of Cole Hammels to the starting rotation.  I truly believe that a large market team (like the Cubs, Red Sox, or Dodgers) will be willing to part with some key future assets and possibly current everyday players to add what might be the best player available at the deadline to their respective rotations.  It’s only the first week of May and things are already getting interesting in the MLB trade market, it’s already looking to be an interesting summer.

Cubs biggest threat

The 2017 season is not even a month old, but people are asking who are potential threats to the Cubs going repeating as World Series champions. It has been nearly 20 years since a team has repeated as World Series champions and I argue the competition will be stiffer.

Some of the potential teams that could pose a threat include the Los Angeles Dodgers as people may remember they were leading the Cubs 2-1 in the championship series before the Cubs took off. “They’re developing a powerhouse out there,” said team president Theo Epstein. “They’ve got a ton of resources. Andrew and his whole team are really bright and we see them as a team we have to go through year to year.”

The Dodgers have a ton of money and talent including Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, pitcher Julio Urias along with stud Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig. The best part of this from the Dodgers stand point is that all of these players are still in their prime years. However, the Dodgers are off to a sluggish start, starting under .500 almost one month into the season. The Dodgers surprised me the most out of any team last season, considering they lost Zach Greinke and the names in the starting rotation besides Kershaw did not really stand out.

The next potential team that could overtake the Cubs in 2017 are the Cleveland Indians. One of their key guys the tribe missed all of 2016 and could have made the difference was Michael Brantley, left-fielder. Add to that, the Indians got Edwin Encarnacion from the Blue Jays and will add to a line-up that should score runs on a consistent basis. The Indians have some unfinished business to do and look for that sense of urgency to be there, assuming they make it to October.

One team that has so much to prove in 2017 are the Washington Nationals, the expectations have been sky-high for a few years, but while they have been in the playoffs, they have not been able to advance past the division series. If the Nationals win their division and I think they should, considering the competition in that division is not real impressive, look out for the Nationals because if they make the playoffs, there will be a sense of urgency to win this year.

I am not going to predict anything in April, but I would not be surprised to see a Cubs-Red Sox World Series in 2017. The Sox got Chris Sale from the White Sox and he has not disappointed. In 37.2 innings pitched, his ERA is not even 1.25, which is better than his career ERA of 2.94. He is an intimidating at-bat and the Red Sox are going to ride on #41 to go as far as he can help take them. Even with David Ortiz retiring, the Red Sox offense will make pitchers throw pitches, as many Sox games end up being 4 hours or more.

One of the most difficult accomplishments in any sport is to repeat as champions, the league knows the Cubs and the game is all about adjustments. What will largely determine whether the Cubs repeat in 2017 or not is who will make the adjustments and whoever does that the best I argue will either dethrone the Cubs or the Cubs will raise a second straight World Series pennant.

An Important Week for the Rockies

colorado-rockies-logoAs we near the end of the first month of the young MLB season, one of the biggest surprises has been the first place Colorado Rockies (13-6).  Of their 13 wins, 10 have come against division rivals San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles after winning the season opening series 3-1 while on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Over the weekend, they completed a sweep of the Giants and have actually only lost one series this season against the fourth place Padres.  The good news for the Rockies is that they are winning divisional games early in the season and currently sit in first place, but the bad news is that they haven’t really played anyone that has been the least bit impressive, thus far.  The Dodgers have been floundering at the 500 mark while underachieving, the Giants are completely falling apart (including losing their ace to a dirt-biking accident last week) and only have six wins this season, while the Padres and Brewers are just bad baseball teams and both will likely meet low expectations this year.

That brings us to this week where the Rockies will face two opponents that will test them and show the rest of the league if the Rockies are “for real”, or if they have just had a hot start to the season and will be brought back down to earth.  They host the first place Washington Nationals for four games at Coors Field starting later tonight, with a match-up of Jacob Turner for DC going up against Tyler Anderson for the Rockies.  Anderson is 1-3 this season and is off to a terrible start with 7.32 ERA, however, Turner is making his first start of the year tonight as he fills in for Stephen Strasburg who will miss the series while on paternity leave.  This is a good matchup for Colorado and a win tonight would be huge for the Rockies since they will likely be facing Joe Ross (1-0, 3.86 ERA), Tanner Roark (2-0, 3.65 ERA) and Gio Gonzalez (2-0, 1.35 ERA) to finish out the series.  The Rockies have yet to name a starter for Tuesday’s game, but it looks like they’ll have Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 4.10 ERA) on the mound Wednesday and Antonio Senzatela (3-0, 2.08 ERA) facing Gonzalez on Thursday to wrap up the series.  DC is the hottest team in MLB right now fueled by both stellar pitching along with a great lineup and are currently on a seven game win streak.  This will not only be the first real test for Colorado this season, but could also be a potential playoff preview if the Rockies are able to continue winning games and stay in first place.  Their week gets even more difficult after the Nationals series, though, when they travel to Arizona to face the 12-8 Diamondbacks.  Arizona starts a four game series against San Diego tonight and depending on how that plays out, The Rockies could be playing for first place in the NL West over the weekend.  Both these series will be a true measuring stick to see if the Rockies are in fact, “for real”.  Arizona is another team that many are questioning the legitimacy of due to their hot start, but on paper they appear to be built to contend after a disappointing 2016 season.  The diamondbacks certainly are a better team than both the Padres and Brewers but I can’t say the same about the Dodgers and Giants, so this week will be a test for them, as well.

 

It’s a little difficult to judge how good this Colorado team actually is right now because of the lack of talented opponents they have faced and the hot offensive starts to the season for Gerardo Parra, Tony Walters and 33 year old Mark Reynolds.  Speaking of Mark Reynolds, he is actually putting Colorado in a tough spot when Ian Desmond returns to the lineup in the near future.  Desmond was signed this off-season for $70 million over 5 years to play first base and he may have to shift to the outfield when he returns to the lineup due the hot start of Reynolds.  Desmond did prove last season that he can play outfield, but that would force the Rockies to move either Parra, Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez out of the lineup.  I suppose that could be a good problem to have for Colorado in regard to “too much talent”, but at the same time you don’t want to fix what isn’t broken and mess around with team chemistry that is currently working well enough to keep them in first place.  Nolan Arenado is also off to an amazing start while becoming the face of the franchise and even if the Rockies do simmer down, the silver lining is that the future is bright in the Mile High City.  Colorado needs to get through this week first, and with two formidable opponents in both the Nationals and Diamondbacks, the Rockies will face their first true test of the 2017 campaign.

Introducing the Cubs 2017 walk-up songs

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With the season now underway, most of the players have selected their walk-up and pitcher entrance music for the 2017 season. While some of the guys have the same song as last year (Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo) other players have gone new directions this year. Here’s a look at the music of each member on the 25-man roster and I will do my best to update this playlist/article as often as possible with new songs that the players come out to

NOTE: The only player that is missing is Brian Duensing as I have yet to hear his pitcher entrance music so he was replaced by Tommy La Stella

#5 Albert Almora Jr. – “Ahora Estoy en el Bombo” by Jacob Forever, “Bailar (Remix)” by Deorro & Pitbull, “Greenlight” by Pitbull & Flo-Rida

#37 Brett Anderson – “Seek and Destroy” by Metallica

#49 Jake Arrieta – “Just What I Am” by Kid Cudi, “Goosebumps” by Travis Scott, “Miss Primetime” by Big Gigantic

#9 Javier Baez – “Informer” by Snow, “Visionary” by Farrukko

#17 Kris Bryant – “Warm It Up Kriss” by Kriss Kross

#40 Willson Contreras – “El Amante” by Nicky Jam, “Shaky Shaky” by Daddy Yankee, “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee

#71 Wade Davis – “Ackrite” by Dr. Dre

#6 Carl Edwards Jr. – “Kelly Price” by Migos & Travis Scott

#52 Justin Grimm – “Baba O’Riley” by The Who, “Tush” by ZZ Top and “Take It Outside” by Brantley Gilbert

#28 Kyle Hendricks – “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith

#22 Jason Heyward – “Tunnel Vision” by Kodak Black, “This Girl” by Kungs vs. Cookin On 3 Burners

#30 Jon Jay – “Public Service Announcement” by Jay-Z, “Born N Raised” by DJ Khaled

#2 Tommy La Stella – “Booty Swing” by Parov Stellar

#41 John Lackey – “Friends In Low Places” by Garth Brooks

#34 Jon Lester – “Gonna Know We Were Here” by Jason Aldean, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” by Jake Owen, “Rebel Kids” by Justin Moore

#47 Miguel Montero – “Subeme La Radio” by Enrique Iglesias

#38 Mike Montgomery – “The Show Goes On” by Lupe Fiasco, “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes

#44 Anthony Rizzo – “Intoxicated” by Martin Solveig, “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift and “It Ain’t Me” by Kygo & Selena Gomez

#56 Hector Rondon – “Tu Me Quemas Remix” by Chino y Nacho

#27 Addison Russell – “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” by Kanye West

#12 Kyle Schwarber – “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, “Bombtrack” by Rage Against The Machine, “Slam” by Onyx

#20 Matt Szczur – “Renegades” by X Ambassadors, “Wanna Be A Baller” by Lil Troy

#46 Pedro Strop – “Dame Banda De Camion” by El Alfa El Jefe, “Ella Me Dice” by Diol

#19 Koji Uehara – “Sandstorm” by Darude

#18 Ben Zobrist – “Bennie And The Jets (Cover)” by Julianna Zobrist, “Alive” by Julianna Zobrist

Raise the Banner

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Monday night was a special night for the reigning World Series Champions. Rain delayed the banner ceremony nearly two hours — which seemed fitting since the Cubs took advantage of a rain delay in Game 7 to regroup and beat the Indians — but once it stopped, the players went out to the bleachers in their gold-trimmed jerseys and raised banners to commemorate winning the 2016 National League pennant and the World Series, as well as the 1907 and ’08 World Series. “You must enjoy the celebration,” Maddon said. “You should celebrate achievement always.” The game also ended in celebration as the Cubs walked off on Anthony Rizzo’s ninth-inning single. Wrigley Field was filled with fans singing “Go Cubs Go” even though the game ended right before 1 A.M. CT. The Cubs will receive their diamond-studded championship rings on Wednesday, which Maddon said should be the point when the team officially turns the page. But he’s also enjoying the hangover from winning the franchise’s first World Series in 108 years. “I want [the players] to take the mental snapshots,” Maddon said. “It’s possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so don’t miss out.”

There was a moment of silence before the game for Major League Baseball executive Katy Feeney and former Cubs general manager Dallas Green, who both recently passed away. The flags will flank the center-field scoreboard, and Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams took part. Sandberg and Jenkins each raised flags to signify the 1907 and ’08 World Series championships, respectively, and Williams raised the flag for the 2016 NL pennant. The Cubs players, who had gone into the bleachers, then took turns raising the flag to celebrate the 2016 World Series, beginning with Rizzo.

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Rizzo led the players back on the field while holding the World Series trophy, which he passed to Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. Tom, Todd and Laura Ricketts then each threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

The last time the Cubs won the World Series, Wrigley Field didn’t exist, so Monday was a first. In 1909, the Cubs waited until June 3 to raise the NL pennant, doing so before a game against the Phillies at West Side Park, according to historian Ed Hartig. Both teams walked out to center field to raise the flag. The Cubs players then went to home plate and manager Frank Chance was given an envelope containing $10,000 in playoff bonus money, which was to be split among the entire team. The Cubs didn’t raise the World Series flag until June 16, 1909, doing so against the Dodgers. However, the pulley snapped and the flag broke off and sailed into the left-field bleachers. The grounds crew was able to get the flag up during the game. Hartig said it was common for teams to wait to celebrate rather than do so on Opening Day. However, the Cubs did raise the NL pennant flag on April 20, 1946, the home opener, rather than wait.

Maddon likes the rings but prefers the banners because they will be a permanent part of Wrigley Field. “I know it’s wonderful, but I’ve never been that much into jewelry and I do like banners,” Maddon said. “They’re seen on a daily basis, and I like that kids get to see that and they hear about it.”

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On Monday night, Ben Zobrist’s wife, Julianna, sang “God Bless America,” Wayne Messmer sang the national anthem, and the Cubs’ owners, the Ricketts family, threw out ceremonial first pitches. Jenkins, Sandberg and Williams led the crowd in the seventh-inning stretch. “It’s a special moment in Cubs history,” said Zobrist. When the Cubs were in St. Louis, a Chicago police officer approached Zobrist after he had lunch, and started to talk about how much the Cubs winning the World Series meant to his family. “He just bear-hugged me and started crying on my shoulder,” Zobrist said. Maddon has gotten the same response. “It’s a lot of gratitude, that’s what I hear more than anything, and it’s pretty much the same refrain from everybody we meet,” Maddon said. “Nobody wants anything, which I love; everybody just wants to say ‘Thank you.’”

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the team split the banner and ring ceremonies so fans could enjoy each celebration on its own. “I think it will prove to be a benefit to the fans,” Epstein said. “More people can say they were there for one of the ceremonies. Hopefully, there will be special moments, and by the first pitch on Wednesday we can truly turn the page.”

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Gabriella Garcia @gabybabyyy