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My Cubbies are doing pretty awful this season. Currently they are sporting a record of 43-64, and they are sitting 22 Games Back of 1st Place.  Yet, for all of the bad this season, there have been some exciting developments.  The Cubs have debuted a lot of young talent this year.  Chief among these is our future-star First Baseman – Anthony Rizzo.

Cubs First Baseman Anthony Rizzo

“Since making his debut June 26, Rizzo was second among NL rookies with a .314 average behind the Rockies’ Jordan Pacheco (.327), but led in home runs (eight) and RBIs (20)” (source).  Rizzo has been a blast to watch.  I haven’t been this excited about the promotion of one of the Cubs’ prospects since this kid named Starlin Castro got called up.

Starlin Castro 2x All Star

Starlin has been to the All Star Game twice already.  I predict Anthony Rizzo will join him there next year.  While they are no Tinker, Evers, and Chance, I expect great things from Castro, Barney, and Rizzo.

All of us (Cubs fans) knew this season was not going to be great.  It was pretty obvious it was going to be a rebuilding year.  This was confirmed by our abysmal first half of the season, and left no room for doubt at the trade deadline.  Thus far this season, we have traded away Marlon Byrd, Reed Johnson, Paul Maholm, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker, and Ryan Dempster for a heap of minor league players.  It was hard to see most of those guys go (even though Marlon Byrd has subsequently fallen from my graces for testing positive for PEDs).  I was a huge fan of Reed Johnson, Paul Maholm, and Ryan Dempster.  All three of those guys were super classy.  I am thankful that the Cubs traded them to the Braves and Rangers respectively.  The Braves are my second-favorite National League team, and the Rangers may be my favorite American League team (close contest with the Red Sox).  I’ll admit…it’s a little difficult to see a bunch of quality players traded for players you’ve never heard of.  But then, I remind myself that players like Ryne Sandberg and Fergie Jenkins came to the Cubs via trades.  Maybe one of these anonymous minor leaguers could be the next Cub legend.

As a result of all of this trading (and an unfortunate injury to Ian Stewart – a very classy player in his own right), the Cubs made a big move on Sunday.  They called up two of their prospects that Cubs fans have been begging to see in the MLB for years: Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters.

Josh Vitters (3B) and Brett Jackson (CF)

I am excited about these guys.  I am especially excited that they get to play 50+ games this season without any pressure of a playoff run.  I personally don’t think they’re ready to shine at the MLB level yet, which was evidenced by Jackson’s 4 strikeouts yesterday.  People are worried about Jackson’s strikeouts and Vitters’s defensive play.  I think calling them up now is great.  Let them work on those things at the MLB level, and then they can produce like crazy next season.

Overall, in spite of the fact that the Cubs are terrible this year (and will only get worse since we traded our best pitchers and Matt Garza is hurt), I am enjoying the developments of this season.  An infield of Vitters, Castro, Barney (who just broke Sandberg’s single-season errorless game streak), and Rizzo is very exciting to me.  The influx of young talent (14 rookies debuted this season) on this Cubs team has me hopeful for the future.  It makes me feel like we are getting back to our winning roots, because the Cubs earned their name for having so many young players back in the day when they dominated the National League.  Here’s hoping

 

Until later friends…

Marlon Byrd's New Batting Helmet - (July 8, 2011 - Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America) Today is Marlon Byrd‘s birthday.  Happy Birthday Marlon.  I’ll admit it, I was unfamiliar with Marlon Byrd when the Cubs acquired him, but I am so glad they did.  Marlon Byrd is legit.  He has an excellent work-ethic.  I love that I can always count on him to do everything he can to make a play.  He hustles when he makes contact, and he sacrifices his body to make plays in center field.  He is a true veteran that has played on several teams, and has earned respect from everyone along the way.

Marlon Byrd Has ClassHe was great in the All-Star last game (even if Joey Votto was a royal jerk towards him).  He made a spectacular put-out on David Ortiz, and he scored the winning run.  That couldn’t have happened to a classier guy, and I was thrilled for him.

I was at the game where Marlon Byrd got hit in the face by a fastball.  It hurt from where I was in the outfield seats.  I was scared that it could be the end of his career.  Seriously, people have died that way.  Remember the Kirby Puckett beanball?

Marlon Byrd BeanedI am so glad to see Marlon Byrd playing again.  Especially with the sweet custom-helmet he is wearing (see picture at the top).  Marlon Byrd exudes manliness and class. I hope he has a great birthday today by beating the San Francisco Giants.

Happy Birthday Marlon

Until later friends…

Marlon’s BlogThe Byrd’s Nest

Today, I will continue on with my Fields of Dreams blog series.  In my last post in this series I talked about the first Cubs vs. Red Sox game we went to, and what a shellacking it was. Friday night after game 1, we didn’t get back to the hotel till around 1:00am.  On Saturday, we got up and went on a Duck Tour of Boston, which was a lot of fun.


After we finished riding a duck around, we met up with my friend Matt.  He gave us a walking tour and took us to a cool coffee shop called Thinking Cup (where I had a nice cup of Kenya from a Bee House).  After that, we went to Fenway for a tour.  The tour was fun, and we got to watch some of the Red Sox batting practice.  After the tour, I looked for a t-shirt for Jen.  While walking down Yawkey Way, I ran into Bill “Spaceman” Lee.  He was very friendly – even though I was wearing all Cubs gear.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee

Once again, I waded my way through the crowd to get close to batting practice.  This time I changed my strategy and went to left field.  I was really hoping to get Kerry Wood to sign a ball, but he never came close.  I did, however, get to meet 1984 Gold-Glove winning Bob Dernier.  He was super friendly, and he signed stuff for a lot of people (would you really expect any less of a teammate of Ryne Sandberg?).

Now onto the game.  The game was great.  They decided to celebrate that this was the first series these two teams played at Fenway since 1918 by wearing throwback jerseys.

Carlos Zambrano started for the Cubs and Alfredo Aceves started for the Red Sox.  We were seated in center field for this game, and it was great.  Whereas Boston had jumped out to an early lead the night before, this game started off pretty even.  The first play worth noting was an awful HBP.  In the second inning, a fastball got away from Aceves and hit Marlon Byrd right below the eye.  It hurt from where I was sitting.  It was a really scary moment, and Byrd got taken to the hospital immediately (he is ok now, and hopes to return to play in a couple of weeks).

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the third, but then the Sox went up 2-1 in the fourth and 3-1 in the sixth.  I thought for sure the Cubs were going to hand this one in too, but then the 8th inning came.  The Cubs scored 8 runs in the eighth inning to make it a 9-3 game.  It was beautiful.  The Cubs held on to win, and I was very pleased.

One interesting feature of the night was all the references to the 1918 World Series.  In honor of that series, Fenway Park regressed to 1918 technology for two innings.  That meant: no broadcaster announcing names of batters, no digital pitch count or mph for all to see, and the only ball/strike counter was on the Green Monster.  I was keeping score throughout the game, and I became really popular at this point in the game.   It was amazing how quiet the whole park got.  Everyone was intent on watching the game, because they had to in order to know what was going on.  I really liked it.

Overall, it was a great experience.  I loved Boston.  The Boston fans were still friendly, even after the Cubs laid it on the Red Sox that night.  I like Boston as a city, and I recommend that you visit if you haven’t already.  Stay tuned for a post on my first trip to the Bronx.

Until later friends…

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