What Needs to be Done for the Chicago Cubs to Win the 2017 NLCS

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The four-hour-plus National League Division Championship deciding game October 12 between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals will long be remembered as one of the most bizarre, event-filled, exciting, error-prone and entertaining games ever played in recent times.

Yes, Bill Murray is a funny, funny guy and true Cubs fan. But what about the rest of us? Image courtesy of CNN.com.

One game in the same league: The November 2, 2016 World Series clinching game between the Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

As a life-long Cubs fan, I’m glad the Cubs won both contests.

Today, the North Siders (is that name still used?) will begin the 2017 National League Championship Series against the very powerful Los Angeles Dodgers at that mid-century ballpark located in a neighborhood called Chavez Ravine.

Cub fans world wide are rooting for a repeat of this scene November 2, 2016 in Cleveland. Image courtesy of CNN.com.

If you are a Cubs fan, you probably are thinking about what the team needs to do to win what should be another engaging series. I mean, besides score more runs than the Dodgers, throw more shutout innings and commit fewer errors.

To help my beloved Cubs, I offer these three directives.

  1. Stop the Fan Trolling Nonsense. I’m referring to the low-class practice demonstrated by fans at the October 11 game against the Nationals — the wearing of surgical masks by some (including kids) as a way to mock the Nationals after Coach Dusty Baker said some players (including starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg) were ill due to mold reportedly present at the hotel housing the visitors.  How does this action demonstrate support for the Cubs? How does this promote sportsmanship? What this kind of garbage does is this: Gives the opposition an incentive to win, as demonstrated by Strasburg’s masterful shutout pitching performance in Game 4.
  2. Shut Out Excessive Celebrity Camera Shots and Interviews. Yes, we all know Bill Murray, Eddie Vedder and John Cusack are Cub fans. But so are millions of other people. Showing images of these millionaire celebrities in choice seats or a corporate skybox is kind of a slap in the face to those of us who aren’t on the A, B or C lists and lack the discretionary funds to purchase seats to every playoff or World Series game. Here’s a suggestion: Give me great tickets to the games at Wrigley Field next week. I’ll act funny like Murray, bring my guitar and play the National Anthem as Vedder might do, and stare and look cool like Cusack.
  3.  Find that Pivotal, Binding Experience. In 2016, it was the famous “rain delay” locker room speech by outfielder Jason Heyward during Game 7 in Cleveland. What will surface in this post-season? A walk-off homer? Dramatic come-from-behind extra-inning W?  Who knows. Actually, it might have already taken place. As noted in this Chicago Tribune column by David Haugh, the Cubs had to make an emergency landing in Albuquerque en route to Los Angeles, leading to a lengthy delay. Coach Joe Madden maintained the experience helped build camaraderie among the team.

Finally, a prediction: The Cubs in six.  Yes, six.

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Woke Up and It Was Not a Dream: Chicago Cubs are 2016 World Series Champions

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Shortly after dawn this mild-for-early-November morning, I woke up and wondered: Was it all just a dream?

Some fictional occurrence? A tale built upon hope, anxiety and perhaps one too many beers?

What road will the 2017 Chicago Cubs follow? The PRDude thinks it will be a road that leads to more World Series victories.

What road will the 2017 Chicago Cubs follow? The PRDude thinks it will be a road that leads to more World Series championships.

But no, it actually happened. It dominated local and national news and social media channels.  And, it will for a long time after the days of November get shorter and colder.

The Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 8 to 7 in the seventh game of the 2016 World Series, ending a 108-year drought and — hopefully — ending forever tales of ineptitude and losing involving goats, jinxes, hexes and even a hapless fan reaching for a foul ball. It was a game made all the more surreal and dramatic through long balls and timely singles, great pitching and wild pitches, errors and fielding gems.

There were heroes and goats, some questionable ball and strike calls, and, for good measure, even a rain delay.

So the big question: Are the 2016 Chicago Cubs one-hit (pun intended) wonders in spikes? Given the current on-field talent, management, ownership, fan base (and, hey let’s be real here — baseball is a business) and corporate support, the Chicago Cubs will be contenders to hoist the World Series trophy for a few years to come.

The mantra, “We can’t wait until next year,” will now replace “Wait until next year.”

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But wait! There’s more recent Chicago Cubs-related thoughts from the PRDude:

  • In this September 18 post, I share thoughts and observations in the waning moments of the regular season.
  • On October 19, the focus centered on how “hatred” of the Cubs, as exemplified by a basketball player named Frank Kaminsky, was emblematic of some things very wrong with society today.
  • And, who could forget my October 31/Halloween day commentary that somehow melded my still alive tomato plants with the Cubs’ hopes to win two in Cleveland.

Chicago Cubs in the 2016 Post Season: Thoughts and Observations

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Was it somewhat scripted late last week that the 2016 Chicago Cubs “back in” to clinching the National League Central Division, then bring pandemonium to the Wrigley Field faithful the following day with a walk off win via a home run from a reliable replacement catcher?

Who knows, and at this point, who cares!

Cubs

What will the post-season hold? We’ll find out soon enough.

This forever Chicago Cubs fan — like millions of others — is thrilled the team has locked in a playoff spot with two-plus weeks of baseball left and boasts the best record in baseball.

But unlike many of my Cub fan colleagues, I’m going mute on predictions on October. But, I do have thoughts and observations to share about the season so far, and what I’ll be looking for in the post season.

So, as the legendary Cub public address announcer Pat Pieper would say, “Attention: Have your pencils and scorecards ready.”

  • Madden Post Game Analysis. Yes, he does wacky things like make players dress in goofy outfits for road games and has brought in a magician as a strategy to build camaraderie and ease tensions during the 162-game season. But the true genius of  Manager Joe Madden comes out in his post game commentaries. He’s eloquent, imminently quotable and always on target regarding what just transpired on the field. Win or lose, players know Joe already is thinking about how to get the best of his squad the next time the ump yells, “Play Ball!”
  • Best Off-Season Move. The big contract to outfield star Jason Heyward? The late season signing of fireball closer Aroldis Chapman? Yes, both are integral to the team’s success to date, and both will be vital cogs in the post season. But my vote goes to the versatile Ben Zobrist.  (Did you know he was born in Eureka, Illinois?) His stats are not off the charts, but in an 11-year pro baseball career, he has put up impressive numbers when at the plate and he plays solid infield and outfield positions. And, he played for the 2015 World Series winning Kansas City Royals, so he knows what it takes to play in crucial games in October. Sometimes, it’s the guy who isn’t in the headlines who makes the most impact.
  • Who I’d Like to Meet for a Beer. A tough choice, so I’ll pick two: David Ross and Dexter
    True, the Cubs have not sucked this season.

    True, the Cubs have not sucked this season.

    Fowler. Not much in depth analysis or statistics here, but I like a guy who’s cool with the nickname of “Grandpa Rossi.” And whether he smacks a lead off homer or grounds into a double play, Fowler gives it his all and looks like he’s having a good time. Shout out to Grandpa and Dex: I’ll always make time for a beer with you guys.

  • From a Public Relations Perspective. Yes, I had to sneak in a thought on the brand that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have built under the Ricketts family ownership.  (Actually, I tackled public relations and the Cubs in this 2013 post regarding plans to rebuild Wrigley Field.) The 2016 team has — fortunately — generated headlines for its performance on the field, rather than off the field. Yes, there have been injuries and that losing streak before the All Star break.  And, oh yea, the Tommy LaStella meltdown. But all season there has been an absence of scandal and unnecessary drama. This squad contains players who are unselfish and only focus on winning, not personal stats. In a more colloquial perspective, the Cubs have received “good PR” all season because ownership and management put together a group of winners, not whiners.

In just more than an hour, the Cubs will take the field at Wrigley to conclude the weekend series with the Brewers. After yesterday’s “hangover” blowout loss, perhaps Madden’s guys will get back on track.

One milestone down.  Three to go.