Cubs Visit Trump in the White House, Setting Off Another 108 Years of Bad Luck

The Cubs are not the power house they were last season. The bats haven’t always been there, it was a tough blow losing their lead off hitter to the Cardinals, and the pitching staff is starting to show it’s age. It’s not uncommon for teams to suffer a “World Series Hangover,” few teams often go back to back. Hence the San Francisco Giants and their “Even Year Magic” theme. It’s tough to create a baseball dynasty, I’ve only seen the Yankees pull off such a feat in the late 90s/ early 2000s. 

The Cubs have floated just below or above .500 this year. Which is a shock in comparison to how they ran away with the NL Central just a year ago. And while they consider their curses to be broken, they may have just kick started a brand new one. 

It’s tradition for a World Series team to visit the White House to visit the president in office that year, to present him a jersey. 

So much about that was fun. Obama grew up in Chicago, (although he is a White Sox fan) and it was cool to see a hometown team with the President in DC. The Cubs winning that World Series was one of the last good memories I have of last fall before our country descended into the rule under a tyrannical baby. 

I remember saying I was going to order one of those W flags so I could run down the street with it too once we had our first female president. (Something I still plan on doing if the world doesn’t end before then) 

But of course, nothing gold can stay…away from 45’s little grip. The Cubs visited the White House yesterday, presenting him with his very own piss colored jersey. It was completely unnecessary, aside from the fact that I assume 45 demanded it happen. Seeing those pictures forever ruined the good memories I had of that World Series run for the Cubs. It put a stain on that feeling I get when ever I think about that last good thing from October 2016. 

The Cubs season, already mediocre, seemed to continue in a downward spiral when later that night Kris Bryant suffered an ankle injury. One of their best players could now be headed to a stint on the DL and it could not come at a worse time. Just several hours earlier, catcher Miguel Montero had been released by the team for mouthing off against Arrieta. 

So I’m calling it now, this second little visit may have just caused the Cubbies another 108 years of bad luck. 45 is the black cat that crossed the dugout, the fan that had to touch that fly ball, and the dirty goat that was dragged into Wrigley, all rolled into one. 

Flippin’ Bats

This Dodgers/Mets series continues to tug at my heart as LA has now taken three of four from New York. Wheeler is on the DL, and Tyler Pill is back to make Mets fans sick with anxiety. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t been using LA’s trouncing of New York as another sign that my time in this city is coming to an end. But enough of about my moving feelings. Let’s talk about bat flips and homer celebrations. 

Wilmer Flores had some words with Yasiel Puig last night as he rounded first. The Mets were down 2-1 and being pummeled by the Dodgers bats all series long, and he felt Puig took just a little too long at the plate admiring his monster shot. 

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this plenty of times before, but I have no problem with these home run celebrations. I love bat flips and I love when players watch their destroyed baseball fly out of the park. I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t celebrate a feat like that. Even this season where it seems like balls are leaving the park at an alarming rate, home runs are still a tough thing to do. And when you’re the guy that hits the home run that breaks the game open, you should be excited, you should be proud of yourself for putting your team on top. And of course, if you’re not a fan of that particular team, or a player who just gave up that home run, it’s going to sting a little. It’s definitely not as much fun to watch, but I say don’t take that away from them. 

As a fan, tough it out, and honestly as the opposing team, do better. Cespedes and Reyes had a chat with Puig between innings, probably saying something along the lines of “Hey we’re already down in this series, and down in this game, maybe cool it with throwing it in our face.” That’s where I differ on this point of view. Unless there was an issue, or an argument earlier in the game, I don’t look at bat flips or “home run watching” (I’ll think of a better name for that if there isn’t one already.) as something that the batter is throwing in the other teams face. I look at it as a personal celebration. The other team is of course going to feel like it’s being done to be thrown in their face, but if you’re already beating a team the entire series, there would be no reason for the batter to celebrate as a personal attack. If you’re having a bad night, then you’re having a bad night. There’s nothing you can do sometimes unless you get an offensive push late in the game or a momentum shift, but sometimes it’s just beyond control. 

Maybe I’m just used to tough love, but players, and announcers, and who ever else want to make a case over ending the the bat flip, need to get over it. July 1st is Asdrubal Cabrera bobble head day at Citi Field, and he’s posed in his famous walk off bat flip from last season against the Phillies: 

I loved that moment. The joy on his face, the joy on the fans faces, the joy on my overtired face as I stayed up in my dark living room trying not to wake up my roommates as I screamed. Sure you could argue that Cabrera’s bat flip was more appropriate in the moment, but I bet most Phillies fans don’t see it that way. 

You can’t have it both ways. Banning the bat flip and other celebrations would be pointless. It’s emotional, it’s in the moment, and no one is going to care if they impose a fine. You’re playing a kids game professionally, why not show a little joy and fun every now and then. 

 

 

One Night in Hollywood

This Mets/Dodgers series is bitter sweet to me. Last night after Wheeler gave up 7 runs in the first two innings I almost turned off the radio broadcast all together. I stuck it out in hopes to hear of a Mets comeback. Well I was right about the comeback part, but it was no where near enough. Even with 4 home runs, and Gavin Cecchini’s first in the bigs, the Dodgers still overpowered the Mets flailing bullpen. It was like watching your new dad beat up your old dad.

Through the first half of the game, Howie Rose described the beautiful mountains and sunset over Dodger Stadium, trying to put a smiley face on the fact that the Mets are slowly going down in flames. All I could think was, at least I have that view to look forward to in a few weeks when I’m there. But it was Cody Bellinger’s home runs into the sunset that was the highlight of the evening. 

In a weird way, I’m proud of the Mets for giving Bellinger two dingers last night. Why? Well, the first home run tied Bellinger with Gary Sanchez of the Yankees for the fastest to 20 career home runs. While a multi homer run game isn’t completely impossible, it would seem unlikely that he would manage to break the record in the same night. Unlikely I suppose, if you’re not playing the Metropolitans of New York. Bellinger hit his second home run of the night in the bottom of the 2nd, making him the fastest to 21 home runs in 51 games. 

Whether your a Dodger fan or not, in the post steroid era it’s an amazing thing to witness young players come up and put on a show of raw talent. Way more impressive than watching big puffy guys like Bonds or McGuire back in the day. (At least I think so)  

If the Mets did one thing for me last night, it was prevent an Yankee player from breaking another record. That’s how far we’ve fallen this season. I’m praising a Met’s pitcher for helping another player reach a milestone. 

At least the baseball atmosphere will be a bit more positive when I make my home in the Hollywood hills. 

Rockie Start

Somewhere in Denver, a witch stumbled drunkenly into Coors Field and cast a spell that said the Colorado Rockies will be a good team every 10 years. And poof! Here we are in 2017, just a decade after the Red Sox swept them in the World Series. It was such a sweep, that I didn’t even remember that the Rockies were the other team that went to the World Series in 2007. 

The Rockies were off to a great start this year. A start that maybe we’ve seen a handful of times before, but as my friend and Denver native always said about them “it never lasts.” And so I watched the NL West, waiting to see if and when the Rockies would take their eventual tumble. But it never came. They’ve battled it out with the Diamondbacks, another team that’s been a surprise for the season, and now are nearly in a three way tie for the top with the Dodgers too. 

Much like the Mets of 2015 the Rockies are blessed with a young pitching staff. Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, German Marquez and Jeff Hoffman have a collective ERA of 3.66. But unlike the Mets of 2015, they’ve always had the offense ready to go. 

I’ve always said that the Rockies would never have a young successful pitching staff considering Coors Field is such a hitters park. In fact it has to be the ultimate hitters park. The mountain air is so thin, you could sneeze and hit a home run out there. Yet here are the Rockies, currently posting a record of 46-26. 

If you’re still not convinced this is going to be a magical season for them. Look no further than Nolan Arenado’s walk off home run yesterday to beat the Giants. A walk off that was also the last piece he needed to hit for the cycle:

Now, I don’t know if this means they’ll make it all the way back to the Fall Classic. But the signs are there, and they have more than enough pieces to battle it out and win the NL west. 

The Impact of the MLB Draft

Draft days for professional sports are made into quite the production. The MLB draft however fun and interesting to watch, doesn’t usually have a huge impact on the drafting teams. Yes. It’s very exciting to see young talent drafted right out of high school. And in the days leading up to the draft, sports analysts and broadcasters will debate which teams will pick which top prospect, and all that I can ever think about this is “does it really matter?” 

Sure the Braves drafted a top pitching prospect Kyle Wright from Vanderbilt. He’ll stay in their minor league system anywhere from 3-5 years and then maybe make an appearance for the team. The truth of the matter is most of these young prospects won’t even end up playing for the team that drafted them. At some point some of these top guys could be used as trade bait if a particular team should fall into a “win now” situation in the next two or three years. 

I think about the Red Sox last season. Tossing all of their young talent to the highest bidder to boost their chances at another World Series. Mocada, Kopech, Basabe, and Diaz all went to the White Sox for Chris Sale. Mocada and Kopech were two young talented players I thought for sure we’d see playing for Boston in the coming years. I remember particular fanfare being made around Mocada and his abilities at the plate. And then just like that he’s off to play for a different pair of Sox. 

There’s of course absolutely nothing wrong with this trading process. It’s all part of the game. As for the teams that do develop and hold on to their first round picks, I salute you. There’s nothing more magical that watching a player develop through a teams farm system and then eventually make his debut for them. My point here is that because of the way that this usually plays out, is not to put such weight and over analyzation on what teams selected who and when durning the draft. 

The NFL draft is really the only case where drafted players have the option to make an impact on the team that drafted them right away. So it makes sense to have all that coverage and daily updates. But it’s clear that the MLB draft never has that immediate of an affect of what ever team drafts a particular player. To the point where one broadcaster even said “I guess will see how this pick works out in 5 years.” 

All of this aside, I can see how it’s still fun to watch. In fact, one of my favorite things is just seeing the reaction of the players once they’ve been drafted. Celebrating with their families, that reaction of pure joy on their faces knowing this is everything they’ve worked so hard for, and at the same time, that there’s still so much further to go. 

Dodger Blues

As of next month, for the first time in my life, I will be living outside of the city where I grew up. Not just a few minutes away, but across the country in Los Angeles. Aside from the difficulties of leaving friends and family behind, I will of course be leaving behind my beloved New York Mets. In the past four years I’ve lived just a half hour train ride from Citi Field. If I went to my roof at night and the Mets had a home game, I could see the faint stadium lights in the distance while listening to the game on the radio. Citi Field has always been one of the places that has felt like a second home to me, and leaving it behind is going to be like saying goodbye to one of my best friends. 

LA. My new home on the west coast is a 10 minute drive from Dodger Stadium. A beautiful ballpark in it’s own right. Home to the team that I probably would have grown up loving if they hadn’t done exactly what I’m doing now, trading New York for sunnier skies and the hope of better things. My great Uncle Nick was a huge Dodgers fan back in the day, and once they left for California, he was one of many who jumped on board to love this new team they called the Mets. And so started one half of the line of Mets fans in my family. 

I love baseball, I’ll still be able to watch Mets games on MLB.tv, and I have no doubt that living so close to Dodger Stadium I’ll attend plenty of games. Especially on those days where LA feels a little lonely. And yet, I’m oh so hesitant to say that I’ll be a Dodgers fan. It all goes back to the 2015 NLDS. Mets/Dodgers and of course the Chase Utley slide that broke Ruben Tejada’s leg.

As a die hard Mets fan, it’s difficult to not have this still leave a bad taste in your mouth. Though the truth is this dislike is more for Utley than the team as a whole. It’s hard to say whether or not these teams have a real “rivalry” going since they only met the one time in that very intense post season series. 

There are things I enjoy about the Dodgers though, one of them being Justin Turner. Forever the Met that got away. I adored him and at the time felt as though I was the only one who saw his potential to be a great player. But of course those were the days when David Wright could still stand and we thought we wouldn’t need Turner. He’s fun to watch and a class act both on and off the field. 

I suppose if I look at what I like about the team, and hope that I don’t have to see Chase Utley’s face after this season. There could be potential there to say that the Dodgers could grow into my second favorite team. A home away from home. Something I would probably say about any other team, in any other city (EXCEPT THE NATS) until the Mets come to town. Then, I’ll be decked out in orange and blue, screaming for New York. 

The Dodgers left New York in 1957, and 60 years later, I’m doing the same.