Wednesday, October 7, 2015

National League Wild Card Game...Cubs at Pirates

It's day two of the big league playoffs, National League Wild Card Game in Pittsburgh between the Chicago Cubs and the Pirates.

Yesterday I picked the Astros to win, although my 7-3 score wasn't even close to the final score of 3-0 in favor of Houston.

In the case of the Cubs, I've been a long time observer of the Cubbies since growing up in the Kalamazoo/Portage area of Southwest Michigan in the 1960s.

My favorite shortstop was Don Kessinger of the Cubs, and I can here Jack Brickhouse "Hey Hey!" as Ernie Banks 500th home run cleared the famous Ivy covered left field wall at Wrigley Field.

That Cubs '70s infield of Ron Santo, Kessinger, Glen Beckert, and Jim Hickman was as good as any infield in the National League.

As for the Pirates, the 1971 World Series was as great an individual performance as you'll ever see,  by a great ballplayer named Roberto Clemente.

I was rooting for the American League Baltimore Orioles in the Series, but fell in love with the man wearing #21 on his Pirates uniform, wheeling around and firing a laser beam from right field to 3rd Base on the fly to throw out an unsuspecting Orioles base runner.

In 1979, in a Birds-Buccos rematch, I once again rooted for Baltimore, but was mesmerized by Willie "Pops" Stargell , the heir to the Clemente legend in Pittsburgh.

Not a lot has gone right for either team in my lifetime.

Playoff misery for the Cubs in 1984, 1989, and the unforgettable meltdown against the Marlins in 2003.

The Pirates lost N.L. Championship Series against the Reds in 1990, and to the Braves in 1991 and 1992, and have lost the Wild Card Game each of the last 2 years.

Who to pick?

Clemente and Stargell's Pirates, now led by another young outfielder in MVP Andrew McCutchen and hard throwing pitcher Gerrit Cole... or Mr. Cubs kids,  led by first year manager Joe Maddon's group of rookie superstars Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, and Cy YoungAward front runner Jake Arrieta...?

Everyone seems to be picking the Pirates, even though Arrieta has been unhittable for months...the team over the best pitcher theory.

Give me the young Cubs, 6-1.

Simply, in my best guess, the Pirates are under tremendous pressure not to lose their 2nd straight WC game, and the players from Chicago are in a no lose situation...who thought these kids would be here?

Just like the Astros last night at Yankee Stadium, I see the Cubs under little, or no, pressure to win.

So... "... Go Cubs Go, Go Cubs Go, what do you say Chicago, the Cubs are gonna WIN today..."

Play Ball! 

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