Spring Training

There isn’t anything better in March than the Hot Sun, Beer and Baseball in Arizona (The Cactus League).  New friends and old friends come together to cheer on our home town teams. Also known as “Adult Spring Break” for Baseball fans.

In three quick hours and thanks to the two kind gentleman sitting in front and behind me at the newish Sloan park I learned all I need to know for opening day @Wrigley.  So, amid all the Vegas odds and Chicago’s premature parade planning…

What decisions remain for Joe Maddon and the Cubs before we crack open the champagne?!? Three come to mind:

Where in the world do we play Jorge Soler?
He would be a great DH but we only play 18 games at American League ball parks!  He has been used out in LF and RF and other than having one of the best arms in baseball he has shown to be a defensive liability anywhere you put him .  It looks like he will play the outfield in a platoon with Schwarber when lefties are on the mound.

Do the Cubs have a seven  or eight man Bullpen? 
With Lester, Arrieta, Lackey, Hammel and Hendricks already ticketed for the rotation, that sets up options left for the bullpen.  
For that matter how many pitchers are on the roster ????  Let’s go with the for sure spots taken with Rondon, Strop, Grimm, Wood, Cahill and Richard.  That leaves Neil Ramirez on the bubble with having no options left to go to Triple A.  His velocity seemed down throughout camp but he has been productive in most of his outings. 

And Finally who gets the coveted Bench Spot?
Kawasaki has played well throughout all of camp and provides a great clubhouse personality that can’t be overlooked.  The Cubs already announced that Shane Victorino won’t be going North with the team due to his reoccurring leg issues and Matt Szczur had the same problems with his oblique injury until his recent his recovery.  So, it seems that Szczur would have the advantage as an outfielder because the Cubs have LaStella and Baez who can do what Kawasaki would do in the infield. It’s nice to have quality options.
Cubs

The Cubs 2016 season is a guaranteed can’t miss with tons of media attention and fan support, here at Reverse the Curse we encourage feedback and ideas.  Most importantly what is going to be branded this year’s hashtag?

#wrigleyhustle #weareready  #northsidemagic #gocubsgo

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We’ve been constantly complaining about our never-ending winter in Chicago, ailment but things are looking hot in Mesa, sildenafil Arizona for Spring Training. With the first day of spring this Thursday and two weeks until Opening Day, cialis it seemed fitting we turned our attention to baseball.

Both the Cubs and the White Sox are busy narrowing down their teams, and there’s one player we’ve had our eye on for a while: Cubs prospect Javier Baez, our HAM of the Week.

The 21-year-old Puerto Rican played shortstop with the minor-league Tennessee Smokies in the Double-A leagues, but his strong performance at Cubs Park throughout the past two months could earn him a spot in the major leagues someday.

He’s been ranked as the 4th overall best prospect, and the buzz surrounding him and former HAM of the Week (and another Cubs prospect) Kris Bryant is unimaginable, although it’s likely that both players will not be on the team’s roster until next year.

Baez, meanwhile, has hit 37 homers and 111 RBIs with the Smokies last season. With all the media hype surrounding him, it could also be a good move for the team that is looking to rebuild its organization.

Javier Baez, http://www.mlb.com

Javier Baez, http://www.mlb.com

Baez moved to Florida in 2005 and played baseball on his middle and high school teams. The Cubs selected Baez in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, and he began his professional career playing shortstop for the Rookie Class Arizona League Cubs.

After floating from a few other teams, Baez was back with the Cubs for spring training the following year, and followed up with the Peoria Chiefs of the Class A Midwest League and the Daytona Cubs in the Class A-Advanced Florida State League. Baez led the latter with 17 home runs.

Baez ended the 2013 season with the Smokies in the Southern League, and was named both the FSL and Sothern League All-Star teams. The Cubs named him their Minor League Player of the Year, closing the season as the team’s top-ranked prospect and third in the Southern League.

He was also awarded the 2013 MILBY Award, given to the best Minor League Game of the Year, for his four home run and seven RBI game this past June.

Baez has seen more regular playing time in this year’s training camp since Starlin Castro’s injury, and is expected to play at second and third base to close out spring training. And there’s no doubt he’s got a lot of power:

 

Baez has a tattoo of the MLB logo on the back of his neck, which he says is because of his love for the game and his goal to get to the big leagues. The love for the sport runs in the family—his brother Roberto Baez plays shortstop for the San Diego Padres.

We’re definitely on Javier Baez Watch. And we think you should be too. Here he discusses his spring training progress with MLB.com:

Thankfully, Baez is pretty active on Twitter, posting in English and Spanish. Follow him at @javy23baez 

The Cubs plan to send Baez down to Triple-A Iowa for the 2014 season, but we think it will only be a matter of time before he takes center field on the North Side. Keep this one on your radar, ladies.

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Pink's Pulse

Missed a few headlines this week? Worry not, purchase  I’ve got my finger on the sports pulse for you. Below is my weekly round-up of what’s trending in sports: perfect for water coolers, cialis cocktail parties, for sale sports bars and board rooms.

HOT

Tom Brady, Source: espn.go.com

  • Tom Brady’s new deal: Deep down, Tom Brady never wanted to play for anyone other than the Patriots, the team he has played for his entire career. As of Monday, it looks like Brady’s career will most likely end where it started. The New England Patriots signed Brady to a 3-year/$27 million contract through the 2017 season. By the 2017 season, Brady will be 40 – and probably still looking fabulous. The biggest buzz coming out of this deal? Brady SHOULD have gotten paid more. However, by locking Brady in at a lower paying contract, the Patriots will now have more room in their salary cap to sign, say, Wes Welker. Smart move Patriots.
  • Derrick Rose dunking: It was only two weeks ago that Derrick Rose admitted to the media that he couldn’t dunk yet. However, prior to the Bulls’ blowout to the OK City Thunder on Sunday night, ESPN played a prerecorded clip of Derrick Rose dunking from warm ups earlier in the evening, reigniting conversations around Rose’s return being sooner than originally thought. Needless to say, Rose is making strides to come back to play the hero of the Bulls yet again. Ultimately, despite all of the speculation and conflicting information coming out of the Bulls’ camp and Rose’s camp, it will still be Derrick’s decision if he wants to play this season or not. Watch the dunk that set off a million tweets below..

  • Spring Training Time: One of the few promising things to look forward to in February in Chicago is Spring Training. The Cubs and White Sox are underway in Arizona playing five weeks of exhibition games to determine their 25-man rosters for starting day. One of the earlier stories coming out of Arizona is Dontrelle Willis. With just four exhibition games in the books, the Cubs might already have a bust with their risky acquisition. The 2003 rookie of the year, who has been passed around more than Kim Kardashian, is so injury prone that it only took him seven pitches before injury set in.

COLD

  • The Bulls in February: After a strong January where Bulls fans were gaining faith in the team’s ability to compete without Derrick Rose, February has been a sobering experience to say the least. The Bulls are 4-8 in February and have been blown out by the Heat and the Thunder but have also dropped games to inferior opponents. The Bulls continue to deal with poor ball handling, inconsistent offense and injuries while fans continue to guess on when or if Derrick Rose will return this season.  
  • The Anti-Climatic NBA Trade Deadline: The NBA Trade Deadline came and went last Thursday with little drama and fanfare, much to the dismay of those of us who love the suspicion and sweeping trades that normally come with the annual deadline. Names like Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Kevin Garnett all turned out to be just rumors as teams remained conservative this year in attempts to save money. The only big trade? Eye candy J.J. Redick, the sixth man of Orlando who was sent to Milwaukee.  Snooze.
  • 2013 NFL Scouting Combine: Speaking of snoozes, here was another opportune sporting event that simply didn’t live up to the hype. I would know because part of my job was to watch all of it. The “Underwear Olympics” didn’t have as many dynamic personalities compared to last year. I’ll give you a quick recap. West
    Manti Te'o running his 40-yard dash the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Virginia QB Geno Smith may or may not be taken as the No. 1 pick. USC QB Matt Barkley didn’t work out. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o had to continue to field questions about the girlfriend situation and looked slower than what the media expected and is now expected to drop out of the Top 5 all together.

     

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wrigley scoreboard

The Cubs season home opener is Thursday, generic April 5th against the Washington Nationals.  Opening Day is earlier this year than normal, and considering the extremely mild winter we’ve had, we might actually get lucky with the weather.  But, we’re not counting on it.  Notorious for crummy weather, the Cubs’ Opener brings an interesting mix of folks to Wrigley.  The corporate crowd, drunks, avid Cubs fans, and people just looking to party, flock to Wrigley on Opening Day, all with high hopes and a fresh sense of anticipation for the upcoming season. But before we dive into the important series and dates on this season’s Cubs schedule, here are the must-know details of the normal baseball season.

Important Details About the MLB Season:

  • Spring Training begins in mid-February and usually lasts two months.  There are two divisions of Spring Training:  Cactus (played in Arizona) and Grapefruit (played in Florida).  The Cubs are part of Cactus League and the White Sox are Grapefruit.  Warm climates in prime Spring Break locations drives tourism and ticket sales, making Spring Training big business for the teams.  Pitchers and catchers show up a week before other players due to the extra practice needed for these tougher positions.  Potential players try out for the team and returning members prepare for the season.  At the end of Spring Training, teams finalize their roster. A team can only have 25 men on their ‘full-time’ roster – meaning they can play in every game.  However, teams keep a 40-man roster – with the additional 15 slots designated for the Disabled List, Farm Teams and other exceptions.
  • With 162 regular season games, the MLB season is the longest and most grueling season in professional sports, with games 5, 6 and sometimes 7- days a week.
  • Games are played in series – which usually include 3 games, but can include 4 at times.  If a team loses all 3 games – then they are ‘swept’.  Conversely, if they win all the games in the series – then they ‘sweep’.  If the series is split, then it is usually described as “the Cubs took 2 of 3, or 1 of 3”, etc.
  • Interleague Play is when teams from different Leagues play each other.  Games are always played before the All-Star Break and are usually the 2nd and 3rd weeks of May and June.  The Cross-Town Classic between the Cubs and the Sox is an interleague series, of the highest profile.
  • The All-Star Game – also called the ‘midsummer classic’, is the second week in July and is the halfway point of the season.
  • The regular season ends the last week of September.  A total of 10 teams advance to the Playoffs:   6 Division Winners – the teams with the best overall record in their Division –  along with 4 wild cards in each League (up from 3 last year).
  • There are 3 rounds of Playoffs in baseball:  Division Series, Championship Series, and the World Series.  For more information on how the MLB Playoffs work, check out our post on Baseball Playoffs.

Now that you know how the season plays out – let’s focus on some of the hottest upcoming series for the Cubs this season.

APRIL:

  • April 13 – 15:  at the St. Louis Cardinals:  This will be the first match-up between the Cubs’ Division Rivals and 2010 World Series Champions – without former slugger, Albert Pujols, who left St. Louis for the Annaheim Angels this off-season.
  • April 17-19:  at the Miami Marlins:  First match-up between Cubs and former Sox skipper, Ozzie Guillen and former Cubs’ hot-headed pitcher Carlos Zambrano.  It is unknown whether Zambrano will start this game, but it will be a lot more fun if he does.

MAY:

  • May 14 – 20:  A huge week for the Cubs as they take on St Louis Cardinals (5/14-5/15) in St. Louis, then home to face the Phillies for back-to-back night games (5/16 – 5/17) and then face the Sox at home in the first Cross-Town Classic series over the weekend (5/18-5/20), making this one exhausting week for the Cubs and their fans.

JUNE:

  • June 8-10:  Interleague play in Minnesota vs. the Twins
  • June 12 – 17:  Big string of interleague play home at Wrigley between the Detroit Tigers (6/12 – 6/14) and then the popular Boston Red Sox (6/15-6/17).  This will be a huge week of partying in Wrigley as both visiting teams draw huge crowds and rarely come to Wrigley.  If you can secure tickets for either of these series – DO IT.
  • June 18-20:  Right after the Cubs finish up their series against Boston at home, they head across town to take on the Sox at the Cell in the second Cross Town Classic.  Falling on a Monday – Wednesday, and at the Cell, this is the much calmer of the two Cross Town Classic match-ups.

JULY:

  • July 10:  2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City – hopefully we’ll have at least one Cub on the roster
  • July 17 – 19:  Ozzie and crew return to Wrigley – hopefully Zambrano hasn’t been committed to mental hospital in Miami by this time, and makes an appearance
  • July 27-29:  St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley

AUGUST:

  • August 9-12:  4-game weekend series at Wrigley versus the up-and-coming Cincinnati Reds
  • August 31 – Sept. 2:  San Francisco Giants over Labor Day Weekend at Wrigley

SEPTEMBER:

  • September 18-23:  Cincinnati Reds followed by the St. Louis Cardinals at home over the weekend.  This last stretch of the regular season against two of the best teams in the National League could be do-or-die for the Cubs if (and we sure hope) they are in Playoff contention at this point.

 Download the Cubs Regular Season schedule in PDF Here:

schedule_printable_20120120_horiz-2

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