Friday, April 12, 2013

Improv and Ivy

Big win today. 
A slow, steady and perfect rendition by up and coming comedy members means a solid group effort from multiple members of the team. No standout. No mistakes. A solid team effort win. 

Will Get another run in the last three innings due to the strong "LET'S GET SOME RUNS" call at the end.

Should be a strongly-pitched last two innings by the cubs due to the strong "ONE, TWO, THREE STRIKES YOUR OUT."


A strong effort today from both the ensemble cast from Second City singing the stretch and the Cubbies themselves against the durty Giants of San Francisco. 

The stretch translated into a win as I predicted and the correct "Let's get some runs!" call got the Cubbys a few runs and a good thing too as the Giants ruined my prediction trifecta by scoring three runs in the 9th and taking the lead until Starlin Castro came through with a knock off the wall to drive in the hot-hitting DeJesus. Navarro also had a clutch HR to tie it up.

Based on who they had stretching, I should have known that this win would require some improvisation on the part of the Cubs. And it just goes to show you how important nailing the Caray Call is. But apparently you can only emphasize one part of the song though or it backfires. I'll keep an eye on this trend. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013


- Terrible rendition by old BlackHawk netminder Tony Esposito.
Cubs won't get the lead back.
- No rhythm and couldn't stay on tune
This hints to some weird late-inning shenanigans and not in a good way.
- Mic kept fading in and out and ended with "Let's get some runs, Cubbies!"
Changing the Caray Call won't give the Cubs the runs they need to come back.

Ouch. That was tough to listen to. 
The stretch AND the game. Esposito was all over the place and that  cost the comeback. 

I like getting the prediction right but hate seeing the Cubbies drop a game like this at home. They gave up the big lead and then wasted opportunities in the late innings. 

The botched Caray Call at the end of the Stretch did get the Cubs a run but it came at the expense of a double play, thus costing the Cubs their momentum and quelling any chance of getting the other run they needed to catch up. 

They also finished the game with two straight strikeouts from Rizzo and Castro stranding the hot-hitting DeJesus on base which just emphasized what happens when you botch the stretch. GET IT RIGHT!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Take Me Out to the Ball Park ...

Defense will be a factor due to the start-stop cadence. Cubs will score some runs as per Fergie's request but not enough.
(I'm going to try to predict the final three innings right after the stretch) ----

Fergie Jenkins wore long sleeves during every game he pitched, hot or cold, rain or shine. Keep in mind that was in the days of non-breathing wool and 4-man rotations. A very cool customer.

Fergie brought some of that Canadian Cool to Wrigley today as he stretched out the Cubbies in their second home game against the durty Brewers.

Sloppy but fast, "Fly" was into Take Me Out before the radio commercial break even ended. The crowd was caught off guard but quickly got behind Jenkins before he got done with the first stanza. That's when it happened. HOF-er Ferguson Arthur Jenkins changed the words to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."  

Instead of singing "Ball Game" at the end of the first line, Fergie sang "Take me out to the Ball Park." It was an extreme shock and If one didn't know any better they would think he forgot the words but we know that wasn't the case. What we don't know is why he changed the words?

My guess is it has something to do with the impending Wrigley Field renovation. Stadium name change coming perhaps? What does Fergie know that he's not telling us?!?

The rest of the song was a little choppy in places - which led to a nail-biting - and predicted - diving stop and throw out by Castro to save a run in the 8th and an error in the 9th - but Fergie ended with "All right guys! How bout getting some runs, guys? Let's go!" 

And the Cubbies did just that.  A few clutch hits and DeJesus' third hit in a row got the Cubs a three-run lead!

Fun Fact: 
You have to love Fergie and not just because he's the sole Canuck in Cooperstown but how about the year he pitched 325 freakin' innings on the way to win the 1971 Cy Young?  Do the math, that's averaging 8 1/3 innings a game over his 39 starts. That's some Brass.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Welcome Back

And welcome back Mr. Cub! 

Ernie Banks - my second-all-time favorite cubbie and whose jersey I am sporting in my profile pic - opened the home-season stretch. Wow. I was giddy when I heard him take the mic to lead the stretch. This is huge as when you combine Mr. Cub and the first stretch of the season you are gonna have some powerful season-predicting mojo. Then I heard this: 

"Listen to me. The Cubs will be supreme in 2013. Don't forget it"

Just incredible. The man they call Mr. Cub used the first words of the most-powerful Cubs plupit to plead with fans to pay attention ... and believe just one more year. 

When the greatest Cub of all-time pleads with fans to not lose heart before they are even through the first Wrigleyville game of the year, things must be worse than I thought but a prediction like that from that guy on that stage could bode very well. I for one will be listening Mr. Banks. And I won't forget. 

Then he sang. Slow. Plodding with a certain sureness and grandeur, like Tony Bennet singing today.

Two big things to note. 

1. He threw in another plea, shouting "LOUDER!" in the middle of the song. This is really bad for moral as Take Me Out to the Ball Game is the Cubs' "Eye of the Tiger." It pumps up just on merit alone and should not require any additional encouragement. This can only mean the middle of the season is going to drag before a Cubbie comeback.

2. Mr. Banks ended with a bazaar, lengthy and sing-songy "gaaaa-uuuuu-aaaaa-uuuuu-aame!" which is a clear portent of the Cubs' closer situation this season. Based on Mr. Cub's rendition of TMO, the ninth inning is going to be up and down all season and never end when we expect. Thanks Marmol. But this could also predict the end of the Cubs season going on past when we expect. 

Buckle up Cubs fans. Ernie said so. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Even with weeks to plan, the Cubbies stuck to their line and trotted out another company man to sing the stretch. Cubs television play-by-play announcer, Len Kasper, flexed his velvet pipes from Sheffield to Waveland with a pitch-perfect but very slow rendition of the 7th inning classic.

It was a nice welcome back to Wrigley after the long road trip and getting a sure thing for the stretch was a good plan. Kasper delivered, giving a slow, deliberate, pitch-perfect recital.

He shared the glory, letting the fans sing "One, Two, Three Strikes Yer Out" and hit all the key parts with the comfortable consistency you'd expect from someone who has heard every stretch since 2005.

His slow cadence was an exact duplicate of the game it serenaded - a 0-0 sleeper on a cold, Chicago day that saw many would-be homeruns get knocked down by the frigid air. Even the normally reserved Carlos Pena had a rare burst of emotion after his would have been walk-off homer fell just short of the wall with two-outs in the ninth.

Len notably finished with "Let's get A run! Go Cubbies!" emphasizing the "A" instead of the customary, "Let's get SOME runs." This meager request coupled with his steady, error-free overture gave him his wish.

It was so well-sung, in fact, that the Cub's only and winning run came as a result of catcher Giovanni Soto beating out a double play ball due to a defensive bobble. This was followed by a Tyler Colvin double that got him all the way home from first. Soto is not a fast guy by anyone's reckoning but it was the trundling catcher who won the plodding game, not with his arm but with his legs - twice in two plays.

Now that is some play-by-play mojo. Thanks Len.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Stacey King - Bulls broadcaster and horrible singer - stretched the Cubbies out today and admitted to never having attended a Cubs game in 20 years of living in Chi-town. What a fan.

I guess the Ricketts want to wring a little bandwagon love out of the Bulls playoff run but finding the one available bulls guy who hadn't ever been to a Cubs game is weak sauce.

And if you don't care about fandom, at least get a good singer in there. 0 for 2. My eardrums still hurt. He just yelled into the mic with no decipherable melody.

O.k., maybe he's a Sox fan. I mean, we had a D-bags fan in there yesterday, why not just a baseball fan who knows the song and can pull it off regardless of musical ability. But no. We got our first triple play.

Not a Cubs fan, can't sing, doesn't even know the words to the song.

And it wasn't some un-important part of the song either. He blew the most important part. "Root, Root, Root for the Cuh-Bees" became "One, Two, Three for the Cubbies!" and it immediately spelled doom.

Nothing but errors, Cubs left on base and opposing home runs came after the flub. The game in general was all run-saving plays by the D-bags and run-costing mistakes by the Cubs, leading to another loss we could've had.

He did compel the Cubs to get some runs when he said "Give me the hot sauce!" before he graciously gave up the mic and this most-likely resulted in a Alphonso Soriano home run. Which was nice but not enough.

The Cubs have a long road stand the next few weeks and hopefully they will take the time to get some actual fans with talent lined up for future stretching. At least get someone interesting in there, show us you're trying.

See you in a week or so.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grace is gone

Mark Grace, heart of the many Cub teams he was apart of in his Chicago tenure, sang the stretch today at Wrigley and cut my heart out.

As all Cub fans know and what truly makes the "Take me out ..." song during the seventh-inning stretch the Cub's own, is the changing of the words "Home Team" to "Cub-Bees." It is as essential to the Cubs as pinstripes and ivy, Old Style and losing. It is the American flag lapel pin of sports. It shows your allegiance to the team and fans and is always, ALWAYS required. It may be contractually obligated for would-be stretch singers.

If there were a list of 5 people in this world who know this unequivocal fact, Mark Grace would be 3 of those people.

Yes, Mark Grace is an EX-Cub. All the good ones since 1980 are. Dawson, Maddux, Eckersley, Wood, Sosa. (Note: Mr. Company Man Sandberg is the only one I can think of who didn't leave.) Yes, Grace won a World Series with Arizona and now he's the tv color man but if I thought he still had some ivy in him.

As a song itself it was beautiful. The man knows his "Take me out to the ball game." Perfect rhythm. Perfect pitch. Perfect cadence. Right in time with the music. The excitement mounted as I wondered if he would move through "Cub-bees" smooth and comfortable like an old leather chair, or blow my eardrums of anticipation with a barrel-chested "CA-HUUUBBB-BEEEEEES" bringing the wrigley crowd to a frenzy and a tear to my eye.

I felt the soft "Huh" sound slip into my soul, nearly undetected. Momentary confusion was severely removed by the hard steel of betrayal, sliding between my shoulder blades and firmly into my heart.

"Ooome Team" finished the blow. Loud and sure. Not even a hint of regret in his dead eyes. As he wiped the blood of the knife he said, "Kerry Wood, welcome back," as if to say to his old teammate - "Sucker! Want to see my ring?"

I want to say the fans immediately dropped their beers and charged to the booth to carry out retribution on this traitorous son but they just took another sip. I at least expected my beloved spokesman Pat Hughes to decry the hateful deed but not a word. I haven't missed Ron Santo or Harry Carey more than at this moment.

At least the Cubs didn't let me down and have given me a renewed hope in this ramshackle team. They responded immediately with two runs for the lead and, though giving one back to the D-bags in the ninth, scrapped their way through to assure the victory and the series win.

The game-ending strike out came like a triage plasma bag, jerking me back from the light. Whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger. How strong remains to be seen but I have renewed hope for this team. Goodbye mr. grace ... and watch your back.