Looking forward to some Mighty Cubs Blasts

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I recently happened upon Evangeline, a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I’m not very much of a poetry guy, but I found an old book at an estate sale with some poems inside, and decided to start paging through them. I even spent a quarter on the book, so I may as well see what is inside.

Evangeline, as Longfellow wrote it in the middle of the 19th century, tells the story of the expulsion of the Acadian people (who were largely French) from the village of Grand Pre, located in what is now the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The events happened in 1755, and nearly a hundred years later Longfellow decided to tell their story in poetic form.

In the initial lines of the poem, Longfellow writes:

Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o’er the ocean.

Longfellow’s blasts had nothing to do with baseball, but instead with the cold wind gusts that can occur at this time of year. But there’s a different type of blast that will hopefully be on display tonight and through the weekend, as the World Series returns to Chicago’s north side for the first time in my lifetime.

The mighty blasts I’ll be looking for will come from Rizzo and Bryant, from Russell and Zobrist, and perhaps even from Contreras and–dare I say it?–new folk hero Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs won a game in Cleveland without the benefit of any longballs, but the October winds will be blowing this weekend, and the blasts should follow in short order. We’re just three wins away, after all, and things are looking great for the weekend ahead.

Go Cubs!




The incredible flying Rizzo

Baseball is not a contact sport, or at least it’s not designed to be. But put nine men on a field, and collisions are bound to occur. So it was with the Cubs and their future, Anthony Rizzo, in Houston last night. Here’s a piece I wrote about it for ThroughTheFenceBaseball (with a link to the collision itself).

I’m reading that it’s not as bad as it could have been, which is a relief. I’ll certainly hope for a full recovery, realizing that it won’t happen anytime soon. The Cubs’ future is riding on him, to a large extent. I’m hoping this is more of a bump in the road than anything else.

What’s different now

After a slow start, when hiring a new manger was the main focus, the Theo Epstein braintrust has kicked into high gear recently. The Zambrano trade received the most notice, but the turnover has affected the starting rotation, the bullpen, the outfield and the corner positions of the infield. No player seems to be off limits other than Starlin Castro and perhaps Geovany Soto, but Castro now has a different type of distraction to deal with.

The dizzying rate of moves being made is something that Cubs fans aren’t used to, and I think I understand why. To make this point, I’m going to use an analogy of an old house. When the Cubs were Jim Hendry’s house, he was forever remodeling different rooms, with the expectation that bringing in a Milton Bradley or a Nomar Garciaparra or a Matt Garza was all it took to put the Cubs into championship contention.

But Epstein’s approach has been something closer to a gut rehab of the organization. By stripping the team down to its bare walls, so to speak, the team can be remade with younger, less expensive players. Players like Anthony Rizzo and Ian Stewart and Travis Wood are becoming the new normal, and higher-priced veterans like Zambrano are becoming a thing of the past.

Aramis Ramirez may have seen the writing on the wall when he left for Milwaukee, and Ryan Dempster should start thinking about life after the Cubs, if not at the trading deadline, then certainly after this final year of his contract is up.

Jim Hendry’s incessant remodeling of the team didn’t bear fruit, and Theo Epstein has realized–correctly–that the only way to move to the next level is to start all over. It will be messy, and the winning won’t happen as quickly as we want it to, but I’ll take these new Chicago Guts over what we’ve had for the past few seasons.