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Category: Chicago Cubs (Page 1 of 20)

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Old Sport Shorts: Edge of my Seat #1604

Spring is nearly here – pitchers and catchers reported this week. Spring Training games begin at the end of February, so just a few weeks away. The Dodgers are picked to repeat, while the White Sox are in the favorites mix for once. The Cubs are picked behind the Cardinals and expected to have a mediocre year. As basketball heads to Selection Sunday, I.U. can take another step towards a spot in the 64-team field with a victory over Michigan State this morning. It’s another 9 a.m. start on the West Coast, far too early to get my blood pressure up. The match-up will likely be frustrating, with the Hoosiers unable to string multiple BIG victories together. Five games left until the BIG Tourney, after adding another this week, and I.U. needs at least two of them to go their way. 

At least there’s some excitement to look forward to watching, regardless of the outcome. It was hard when the pandemic reared its ugly head a year ago and there was no I.U. basketball for me to rant about. In fact, the only basketball was TBT, the first of the sporting events to play all tournament games in one quarantined location. MLS Soccer was next, then the NBA, and now the NCAA, all in venues around the state of Indiana. Baseball will probably continue to be regionalized and fans limited until the vaccine finally gets the viral spread under control.  My age group is eligible in a few weeks. 

I.U. looked strong to start the game for once, but Michigan State caught on fire to reverse a 13-point deficit.  I.U. then rallied for a rare 4-point halftime lead. It looks like another close BIG battle that will come down to the wire. There were a few brief moments when I foolishly thought it would be a blowout, but the Hoosiers could not hit an outside shot and too many bunnies. Dunk the ball dammit! We’re also 2-10 from three, but fortunately they aren’t shooting much better. The Spartans stole a couple of Indiana All-Stars from under our nose, so hopefully this won’t come back to haunt us down the stretch. I’m on the edge of my seat!

P.S. 78-71 I.U. loss!

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Beach runs #1578

“Dodgertown” in Vero Beach was closed and extensive renovations are being done by MLB, so the closed I could get was the front iron gates. Our friend grew up there, her dad a pitcher for the 1955 World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers. He set a rookie record for 27 strike outs in two successive games before an injury ended his career. The park’s historical significance also reflects the 1947 signing of Jackie Robinson. Corona also affected visits this year to Cubs/White Sox Spring training in Phoenix and a Cardinals/Rangers exhibition game at the new Globe Life Park in Arlington. 

I found myself in front of the TV again last night with the Chiefs and Buccaneers headed to the Super Bowl. I also monitored another IU Basketball loss, this time to Rutgers after the surprising Iowa victory. The game against Michigan State this weekend has already been stomped out by the pandemic, so we’ll have to live with this disappointment for at least a full week before Illinois comes to town. That game will then likely lead to further despair, as tourney chances once again have been sadly derailed. 

We returned our rental car to the airport last night only to find a dent in the hood. I remember parking at a Cracker Barrell restaurant the other day under the shade of a coconut tree. Could one have fallen and caused this costly damage or was it like that when we picked it up? It’s just another hassle we’ll have to deal with on this journey. I’ve run the beach path and street in front of our hotel the past two mornings past all the Art Deco hotels in our area. The once heavily congested Ocean Avenue has been shut down to traffic, so the restaurants have all expanded into the streets. It’s now a much more pleasant atmosphere on the beach front if there’s such a thing as a plus-side to the Coronavirus outbreak. Running near the water and in the sun is always a nice distraction from the dreary streets of downtown Portland. 

Old Sport Shorts: Outback #1557

It’s a New Year with hopes of an I.U. Outback Bowl victory. Last year, they fell short against Tennessee with a late game letdown. With last night’s Ohio State Sugar Bowl domination of Clemson, this Hoosier team is even stronger than I thought. We came so close against the Buckeyes, plus Northwestern throttled Auburn, so the BIG 10 has proven to be a very formidable league, especially against the highly touted SEC. Indiana can add to the 3-0 conference bowl record today with a victory over Old Miss in Tampa. This would set the stage for more respect when next year’s postseason slate is determined. 

The Hoosiers should have played in the top tier Citrus Bowl instead of Northwestern but fell in the final rankings to #11 despite a convincing win over Wisconsin, the other BIG bowl representative. Clearly politics played a role, just as Notre Dame was awarded a playoff spot despite the Clemson blow-out loss. Coach Tom Allen has vaulted the I.U. program into the upper echelon of a powerful conference. They can prove their worth today! My other team, #25 Oregon, plays #10 Iowa State later today in the Fiesta Bowl. 

Meanwhile, basketball continues to struggle, but did manage to pull-off an OT win over Penn State. Another W against Maryland next week and they can even their BIG record after an 0-2 start. Basketball used to be the big sport on campus in Bloomington, but surprisingly football has proven to be more successful in recent years. In the Bob Knight era it was “The Magic of 60.” If the Hoosiers got to 60 before their opponent victory was eminent. However, with the addition of the 3-point shot, 70 is now coach Archie Miller’s defining number.  With his leadership, in conference play (including the B1G tourney) the Hoosiers are 18-7 when scoring 70 or more points and 10-30 when scoring below 70 points. 70 is the new 60 going forward. 

Purdue basketball is off to a 7-4 start, but 2-2 in the conference. They play #15 Illinois this afternoon, after losing to #14 Rutgers. It would be nice to see a ranked Purdue or Indiana program. Unfortunately, both rivals will be in the lower half of the BIG since the league is loaded with 7 nationally ranked teams. Here on the West coast, the undefeated Zags are still the #1 team in the country while the Oregon Ducks (6-1) stand at #21.

On the baseball front, the Cubs continue to clean house with the trade of Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the Padres. Yu has been the pitching leader for the last two years, with Cy Young consideration. There’s also talk of dealing my favorite and IU alum, Kyle Schwarber. Rizzo and Bryant will soon become free agents, so the World Series Champions of 2016 are seeing their winning foundation deteriorate.  Today, however, my concern is football the Indiana Hoosiers in the Outback Bowl. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Variety is the Spice of Life #1527

Today started like most every other day in 2020 with a run and a blog post. There’s little indication that it will change soon. I do appreciate this mild December weather with clear blue skies, a rarity in Portland this time of year. We also continue to remain healthy and active. Travel would be nice, but not likely the remainder of this year and probably into next. Today’s calendar features a trip to the dentist for a cleaning. Basketball on TV keeps me entertained. Sadly, there’s not much variety in my life these days and little spice to go with it.  The words are from a William Cowper’s poem called “The Task,” written in 1785: “Variety is the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor.”

We watched an old Bill Murry movie called Quick Change as a change of pace last night. It was slap-stick comedy and somewhat disappointing. A couple more episodes of Suits filled the evening. I broke out a bottle of WhistlePig whiskey that I received as part of a Flaviar subscription. Tonight, they’re attempting to break the world record for participation in a virtual toast. I’ve yet to decide whether or not to get involved in this tribute to Dean Martin. Too many of the TV shows I’ve been watching are centered around the office beverage cart. They’ve finally tempted me enough to make my happy hour a sip or two of whiskey rather than a glass of wine. Variety is the spice of life thanks to Flaviar

I.U. finished third in the Maui Invitational after bouncing back from their poor performance against Texas to whip Stanford. Times have certainly changed to the point where Texas is now ranked higher than Indiana in basketball but lower in football. It’s always been the other way around as long as I can remember. Hoosier Football can take another giant leap with a victory over Wisconsin on Saturday. Injuries and Covid may be the determining factor. I do like the possibility that Ohio State may not be able to get in enough games to qualify for the BIG Championship. If I.U. somehow wins, it will be interesting to see if Michigan will thwart the rival Buckeye’s bid to compete for a title by simply not playing. In the world of baseball, former I.U. star and Cubs’ World Series hero Kyle Schwarber is now a free agent. Thankfully for me, there’s always variety in the world of sports when all else fails. 

Old Sport Shorts: Fantastic Finishes #1489

It’s a fantastic finish only when your team wins, otherwise it’s a nightmare! I saw two such glorious endings yesterday, in pandemic times when excitement is often hard to find. Thankfully there are at least live sports to watch on TV, plus I.U. athletics are up and running again. Yesterday, I was consumed in college football and World Series action. Even when my team isn’t playing I can always find another to hate and therefore someone else to root for. This is the case in the Fall Classic as the L.A. Dodgers battle the Tampa Bay Rays. The adrenaline was still flowing from the Indiana vs. Penn State game that kept me on the edge of my seat for four hours. 

I watched my Hoosiers fall behind early, as the Nittany Lions dominated the line of scrimmage but not the scoreboard. Two missed field goals, two interceptions, and critical penalties penalties allowed I.U. to lead 17-7 at half time. The end of the first half was a comedy of errors by both teams, so it was an emotional relief to take a break and catch-up on other scores. I.U. had not beaten a top-ten ranked team since 1987 at Ohio State. Penn State was ranked #8 in the country, so a 10-point halftime lead and getting the second half kickoff put the Lions on the ropes. I could smell blood in a moment of temporary insanity, but the punch-less Hoosiers could only muster a 48-yard field goal in the second half and fell hopelessly behind 21-20 with 2:30 remaining in the game. After a futile attempt at the two minute drill, the Nittany Lions were in a position to run out the clock. Miraculously, Penn State running back, Devyn Ford, took an unadvised step into the end zone. He realized his mistake too late, giving the Hoosiers one last chance. It led to their only TD of the second half, followed by a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 28. With 22-seconds left on the clock, I thought we were headed to overtime but a squib kick attempt went array, allowing Penn State a last second field goal attempt – it was their third miss of the day, just short of the school record distance. 

Both team scored in overtime, as the I.U. faithful like myself continued to sense another close loss. The game came down to a gutsy 2-point conversion by Hoosier QB Michael Penix, Jr. I held my breath as he attempted a dive for the goal line. It was unbelievable how he launched himself towards the pylon in desperation. It was questionable if he scored, but after a thousand replays it was confirmed. The decision was the break we needed to destroy the curse of loss expectation that has plagued the program since I can remember. A fantastic finish!

But there was more on this day of breathtaking endings. As a Cubs and White Sox fan, I have many reasons to hate the Dodgers more than the Rays, so picking a favorite in this year’s World Series is easy.  I watched a back-and-forth game-four with the evil Dodgers hoping to gain a 3-1 advantage over the less-evil Rays. They led 2-0 in the 3rd, 4-2 in the sixth, 6-5 in the seventh, and 7-6 in the eighth. The Rays had one last chance to win or send the game into extras, with rookie hero Randy Arozerena due to hit if they could just get a man on base. Kiermaier singled with one-out, while Wendle lined out to left. It was the World Series scenario that every kid dreams about, even in Cuba. Two-outs, full-count, and a home run wins it all. It was all set up for a Bill Mazeroski walk-off moment, but instead “Randy-Roza” walked in less dramatic fashion. However, he was soon to make an impact, as Phillips then singled to right center, scoring the tying run. Arozerena tried to stretch his luck, as Taylor bobbled the Phillips blooper and stumbled rounding third base on a dramatic attempt to score. The throw to the plate was mishandled, allowing Arozerena to score the winning run and tying the series. Another unbelievable, fantastic finish – two on the same day for my favorites.

 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Elimination #1466

I suppose that yesterday could have been a much worse day for my baseball teams, but rain prolonged the agony. The White Sox frustrating 6-4 loss to the A’s was enough for one day. The Sox were forced to use nine different pitchers and the A’s eight, so the game lasted an eternity. (Not as if I had anything else to do!) Injuries also had an impact on the final score.  However, one man’s misery is another man’s triumph, as the A’s ended 14-years of playoff futility to move on and face the Astros in the next round. 

Home field advantage for the A’s this year boiled down to last at-bats, since only a few family members were allowed inside the stadium. A 487-foot monster home run by Luis Robert was not enough to win, as the Sox stranded 12 baserunners, matching the A’s inability to drive in runs.  Sox pitchers gave up nine walks, including two with the bases loaded. It was a pitcher’s dual of the worst kind, and a bitter end to a promising season. I guess I should just be satisfied that the Sox won one playoff game, after twelve years of failure to even make the postseason. 

At least the Sox scored some runs, unlike the Reds that were totally shut-out in their two games with the Braves. Their AL Central division foes, the Twins and Indians, failed to win a game.  The Cubs got another day to think about their opening game loss to the Marlins, as rain postponed the action at Wrigley Field. The Cubbies remain my last hope for postseason success. Their division rival, the Cardinals, won their first game but in the process woke-up the sleepy Padre bats. That series will also be decided today. There have been few surprises with the undefeated Yankees, Rays, Braves, Astros, and Dodgers advancing with ease. Will the Cubs or Marlins join them? 

The Cubs still can’t hit, but have the advantage of Yu Darvish on the mound today. He’s had a remarkable season, considering the disappointment of his first couple years in Chicago. With a “W” today, fans could begin to feel some redemption regarding his addition to the team after a 2-4 record in six postseason starts. He has not pitched well against the Marlins. Even though they won the first game, “The Fish” may have lost center fielder Starling Marte with a hand injury suffered against Cubs pitcher, Dan Winkler. If you can’t beat them…hurt them! It’s a Cubs win today or elimination!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Monopoly Mutt #1464

My wife was out walking our schnauzer, Tally, the other day, when I guy on a skateboard went out of his way to say hi. “Your dog reminds me of my favorite Monopoly piece,” he remarked. She didn’t have the heart to tell him that the Monopoly dog is actually a Scottish Terrier, but there is a resemblance. It gave her a bit of a chuckle, even though her first thought was that he was going to rob her. Thankfully, first impressions are often wrong. My fancy Monopoly set that I bought years ago on a whim, was then coincidentally one of the conversations that I had with our moving estimator yesterday. The mahogany board with a swivel base, gold hotels, silver houses, and built-in cash drawers reminded me of our Monopoly Mutt. 

With a lack of space in our two-bedroom apartment, we have stuff crammed in every nook and cranny. The Monopoly set is currently stored under our bed, along with dozens of framed pictures. It all needed to be accounted for in our estimate, and served as a reminder of how daunting and expensive this cross-country move will be. There will apparently be two days of packing, another to load, and a week or more to get it to Florida.  At this point, we don’t know exactly when it will all take place, pending construction on the new house. Plus, we’re trying to work in a cruise from Barcelona, Spain, once we get everything somewhat organized. This trip is at the mercy of Covid restrictions that have cancelled most of our other travel plans. It’s much more pleasant to look forward to the cruise than the stressful move.

The Moving Company rep interrupted my day of baseball, that turned out to be a major league disappointment.  Both the Cubs and Sox are now facing elimination today. In addition, the Twins lost their record 18th consecutive playoff game, after surpassing the Sox for the American League Central division championship in the final days of the regular season. The Indians also sneaked by the Sox in the standings, once the Cubs took two of three from their faltering Chicago rival to claim the top spot in National League Central. It will take much more than lucky socks to assure that today is not the end of the (Red) line for both of my Chicago teams. 

One of the punishments in the game of Monopoly is drawing a card that states, “do not pass GO and do not collect $200.” It was the only card that I was dealt yesterday, hoping that someone unexpected wins this season of Covid challenges. I naturally found myself rooting against the perennial favorites like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Cardinals, but they were all winners, while my teams are beginning to go “bankrupt.” By this evening, I will know the fate of the Cubs and Sox in their quests to somehow pass GO. Maybe my newly-dubbed Monopoly Mutt has the answer?

 

Old Sport Shorts: Favorites #1463

Baseball and cold pizza, two of my current favorites, came together for lunch yesterday, before the yard work started. The White Sox were up against the higher-seeded A’s and playing on their home turf. I’ve never been a fan of the once Kansas City now Oakland A’s, but since childhood the White Sox have always been my favorite. Catcher Sherm Lollar has perpetuated this relationship since 1959. Granted, I’ve strayed to the Cubs at times when they were winning, following suit with my son and dad. I’ve been fortunate to see both Chicago favorites first-hand in World Series victories. 

Lucas Giolito pitched seven innings of perfect baseball and the Sox bats were hot in a 4-1 victory. The lucky socks proved their worth. Today, I’ll wear a Cubs sock on one foot and the Sox sock on the other, hoping for the Chicago sweep. There will be no fans to interfere with any Marlin foul balls, reminiscent of Steve Bartman in 2003, so there should be no excuses for anything less than a Cubbies “W” at Wrigley.   

I do have a busy today with a second moving estimate, Cubs & Sox baseball, dinner to cook. and the first game of the NBA Finals, in addition to the eight televised MLB playoff games. LeBron has oddly become a basketball favorite of mine, even though he’s never played for the teams I support, with the exception of the Olympics. Part of this is the lack of respect he gets, especially from Michael Jordan fans. In my opinion, they are equal greats from separate eras. Comparisons are unfair, especially considering that there wasn’t nearly as much free agency in the Jordan era and contact rules were vastly different. 

While championship match-ups were being determined in baseball and basketball, the Tampa Bay Lightning claimed their second Stanley Cup title. I’ve officially adopted them since we now own property in Florida, along with the Rays, Buccaneers, and Rowdies. Having now owned homes in six states, I’ve amassed quite a collection of teams, improving my chances to win something…anything. Chicago is still my favorites sports town, with the exception of the Bulls. Michigan teams don’t count. The Portland Trailblazes have now replaced the Pacers as my favorite NBA team. When it comes to college football, I lean to the Texas Longhorns and Oregon Ducks, even though my pigskin favorite will always be the hapless Indiana Hoosiers. Soccer favs are the MLS Portland Timbers and Indiana University, while my vote for college baseball goes to the Oregon State Beavers. College basketball is hands down Indiana, as well. I do enjoy sports of all kinds and genders, but do not have as strong of allegiances. I also know the teams and players I hate in any given league – but this is all about favorites. 

I still have fond memories of watching a White Sox playoff game back in 1983 from a motel room in Indianapolis. I was down there from Ft. Wayne on an overnight business trip and played hooky for the afternoon game. It was players like LaMarr Hoyt, Floyd Bannister, Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, and Ron Kittle, as I check the memory banks of Wikipedia. Tony LaRussa was the coach of this team that won their division and made it to the American League Championship, losing to the Orioles after winning the first game of a series of five. The Orioles went on to win the World Series. It was the first time the Sox were in the postseason since the 1959 World Series, featuring for me a home run by Sherm Lollar. They wore the patriotic uniforms with SOX in block letters on a blue stripe, trimmed in red, across the chest. They’ve brought them out on several occasions this year – one of my least favorite looks!

2008 was the last White Sox postseason win, falling 3 games to 1 against the Rays in the opening series. They did win the division that year. The team featured Ozzie Guillen, Jermaine Dye, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher, John Danks, and Mark Buehrle, along with Manager Ozzie Guillen. The Sox were eliminated on the day I started work in Austin, Texas, one of my least favorite jobs. 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Final Score #1460

It’s the last day of the baseball regular season and I know who to cheer for today because there’s no Chicago Conflict. The Cubs have clinched their division with the Cardinals loss yesterday, while the White Sox still have a chance for the same top  prize. It will involve winning against the Cubs coupled with a Twins loss to the Reds. My new Sox socks arrived just in time for the game today at Comiskey, so I can show my “support.” It’s exciting to have both of my teams in the playoffs, but to have both win their divisions in the same year would be the first time since 1906 when they ultimately met head-to-head in the World Series. A repeat of this is unlikely but still possible, even if the Sox fail to win tomorrow. I’m excited for the postseason possibilities.

The Cubs have nothing to play for today but pride, with not even a chance to even the Crosstown series of 2020 that the Sox now lead 5-2, including Summer Camp.  They can’t move up or down in the seedings in the National League brackets.  The Dodgers, Padres, and Braves will finish with better records regardless of the final scores today, so it’s assumed that the #3 seed Cubbies will rest their starters against the Sox today. The White Sox, on the other hand, have everything to gain, while keeping a hopeful eye on the scoreboard. They own the tiebreaker against the Twins, having achieved a 5-5 series draw but enjoy a better overall record in the American League Central. The victory over the Cubs last night ended a horrible 6-game losing streak, their longest of the short season. They could salvage this Titanic-like disaster with a win and a little luck. The Reds could suddenly become my favorite team if they could somehow beat the Twins and stay pace with Miami in the National League race.  I’ll be waiting for the Final Score.

The Red Zone will keep me occupied today, as I keep an eye on the Bears and Colts while stuck with local broadcasts of the Raiders, Seahawks, and 49ers. On the basketball front, the Celtics have another do-or-die game against the Heat, both teams vying for the opportunity to meet the Lakers in the Finals. LeBron had another triple-double to upend the Nuggets last night. With regard to hockey, the Lightning failed to claim the Stanley Cup as the Stars prevailed in double overtime. Plus, when the final scores were posted yesterday, college football saw upsets of two top-ten teams and an incredible comeback by the Texas Longhorns. 

It’s another exciting day of sports that we’re fortunate to at least be able to watch on TV. It’s surprising how smoothly the seasons have progressed, despite the initial pandemic panic that threated to cancel everything.  We’re on the verge of crowning an NBA champion, Stanley Cup winner, and having a MLB postseason. Although the achievements in each sport will be tainted with asterisks, there will be a satisfying sense of accomplishment given the intense challenges. Yes, there will be a Final Score. 

P.S. (Could stand for Post Season)

The Cubbies came out full strength, scoring 6 runs in the second inning behind Bryant and Bote home runs. The Final Score was 10-8, as the Sox fell short after stumbling behind early. They did rally with the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 9th. Too little…too late! The Twins lost to the Reds and the Indians beat the Pirates. It was a frustrating fall from grace for the hite Sox in the final week to drop from first to third in the division standings and plummeting to the seventh seed, losing seven of eight down the critical stretch. It sets the stage for next week’s A’s vs. Sox series in Oakland and Cubs vs. Marlins match-up at Wrigley. The Cardinals travel to San Diego, while the Giants and Phillies were eliminated in when each Final Score was  posted.  

Old Sport Shorts Playoff Time #1457

The baseball season is now down to a long weekend, with the Sox and Cubs both in miserable slumps. As a pessimist, I should have anticipated this, but this season is unprecedented. It all started back in March when we were supposed to attend a Spring Training game between the two Chicago foes. It was cancelled, along with many of our plans this year. When the season finally officially began on the 24th of July, I did not have great expectations for the league to make it to the postseason. The Cubs jumped to the top of their division but stumbled against the slower-starting Sox in their first series. The Pale Hose finally claimed the top spot in the AL Central over the Twins and Indians, only to falter down the stretch.  I’ve watched them go 3-7 against the Twins, Indians, and Reds in the past week or so.  

The last two nights have been particularly painful for the White Sox, losing in walk-off fashion to Cleveland on both occasions. On the other side of town, the Cubs lost another one this morning, their third straight, to the last-place Pirates. They could have helped the Sox in the series before that against the Twins, but Minnesota took two of the three. They did top the Indians in two of three, after a 12-0 drubbing of the Brewers and a no-hitter by Alec Mills. However, the poor-hitting Cubbies are now in danger of being caught by the Cardinals, Reds, and Brewers. The Covid-plagued regular season ironically all comes down to a three-game series against the Sox at Comiskey (excuse me – Guaranteed Rate). For a historical first, they each play in role in the other’s playoff fate this late in the season. Sadly, I just watched the Sox blow another early lead by the Indians – at least it’s not the last inning last the previous two, although there’s still three innings to go. It’s looking like a repeat of last night’s disappointment, with the White Sox up by one again after a Yoan Moncada triple in the 7th. If the Indians make it a four-game sweep, the Sox could fall to a full-game behind the division leading Twins, who are idle today, and could potentially face the perennial powerhouse Yankees in their first post-season appearance in twelve-years.

On the other hand, if the Cubs lose all three to the Sox, they could be passed by the Reds and/or Cards. It will be a tough weekend about who to cheer for in each critical game? Allegiance could easily change depending on the circumstances. In a normal season, both Chicago teams would be facing division rivals rather than cross-town foes. It’s just another Covid quirk, that also includes a expanded 16-team Playoff field, empty ballparks, limited homefield advantages, and designated hitters for both leagues. The World Series will take place in Arlington, Texas, another deviation from normalcy.  It’s been a tough year for baseball purists. 

The Covid-Cardinals are of particular concern to me, with respect to the Cubs. The Red Birds have seven games remaining, while standing  only one game behind the Cubs in the loss column. They would have to win all seven to pass the Cubbies, but also postseason seeds are at stake. Three losses to the Sox would give them 27 for the year, while San Francisco, Cincy, Milwaukee and Miami could also disrupt their current #4 NL placement, down from #2 just a few days ago.  This weekend, and possibly Monday, determines who plays where, who, and when. I’ll have to wear a Sox sock on one foot and a Cubs on the other. 

In other sports important to me, the Celtics are in trouble, while the Lakers dropped their first to the dangerous Nuggets, who have miraculously come from behind in their last two series. The Timbers won their second straight match, outdueling the regional rival Seattle Sounders 1-0 last night. Against all odds, each sport has somehow  persevered over threats of the virus. Thankfully, there are live sports to watch every day, including both NFL and NCAA football. The Pac-12 announced today that they will join the other power conferences in pursuit of a 2020-21 National Championship. However, teams won’t start play until November 6th, with a 7-game schedule. They reversed their initial decision and joined the BIG-10 in delayed reconsideration. It sets the stage for college basketball to start, missing only a few non-conference games this year.  But first, I’ll focus on a expanded baseball Playoff that involves a very rare joint appearance by both of my teams – Cubs and Sox. 

P.S. The White Sox brought in a reliever named Bummer following a 4-run collapse in the bottom of the 7th to the never-give-up Indians. It seemed like an appropriate name to describe the bullpen in this series. The red-hot Tribe took a 5-4 lead in response to falling behind once again in the series. Hand then shut-down the Sox, with two strike-outs and a easy grounder to finish up the 4-game sweep.  Cleveland is now just one-game behind the Sox and two short of the Twins, after 5 straight Pale Hose losses. I couldn’t be more frustrated after cross-town losses today at a time when teams need to be playing their best ball. Who wants it more this weekend – the Sox or the Cubs?

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