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.”

*  *  *

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.

Like My Tomato Plants, The Chicago Cubs Are Still Alive

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

tomatoes

Look close. There are some tomatoes still growing in my backyard this last day of October. For some inexplicable reason, I’m equating late season tomatoes to the Cubs’ hopes of winning the next two games in Cleveland.

Like the four tomato plants still yielding fruit on this last day of October 2016, my beloved Chicago Cubs are still in the chase to win the World Series of baseball.

Okay, I admit that’s a goofy, wacky, somewhat nonsensical mixed metaphor.  But it’s the best I can do after a wild, emotionally-charged weekend following the Cubs versus Indians via television, radio and handheld device.

Yes, the Cubs played their last home games of 2016 and head east and — hopefully — will return as World Series champions.

While I didn’t get to attend a playoff game at Wrigley Field, I of course watched, listened and read all things Cubs.

However, now that the action has shifted to Progressive Field in Cleveland, there are a few things about following the Cubs World Series quest I will not miss:

  1. Flashes of John Cusack, Eddie Vedder, Bill Murray and other celebrity Cub fans on the TV screen during games. Heck, I just read that Lady Gaga was at the game last night! Who cares? Not me.
  2. Seeing images of that frumpy — unquestionably rich — guy in the pink cap and green shirt with the awesome first row seats right behind home plate. Who is this guy and why doesn’t he stand up and root for the Cubs once in a while?
  3. Reading reports about bars in “Wrigleyville” (silly name, if you ask me) charging $250 or so to watch a game. Oh yes, you get beer and hot dogs. Can you say, “take advantage of the situation.”

So, why draft this post?  Well, we’ve failed to attract any more trick or treaters this Halloween night, and I need something Cubs related to do.

But on second thought, my analogy between tomatoes in November and the Cubs in the World Series does have merit. I don’t recall ever having a tomato yield in the 11th month of the year. And, to my knowledge, the Cubs have never won a game in November.

So there: As long as there are tomatoes still struggling to grow and ripen, the Cubs have a chance to win two more games in 2016.

The Chicago Cubs and a Reflection on the World and Society Today

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

Let’s leave the current on-field performance of the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 National League Championship Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers to those communicators who get paid — and know a lot more than I do about sports — to offer commentary.

Rest assured Mr. Kaminsky, your childish actions may come back to haunt you.

Rest assured Mr. Kaminsky, your childish actions may come back to haunt you.

As of this writing, the Cubs are down two games to one, have been shut out the past two games and appear to have lost heart and how to win. But there’s a game tonight!

Anyway, this post will focus more on the state of our world and society today, rather than Chicago’s National League baseball franchise.  What prompted this post is an article from the Redeye, a free tabloid published by the Chicago Tribune Media Group and geared to the Millennial demographic.

The article centers on a “fan” of the Chicago White Sox, a Chicago area native named Frank Kaminsky, who is taking his self-professed hatred of the Cubs to an extreme, childish level. As noted in this Redeye piece published today, Mr. Kaminsky — a professional basketball player with the Charlotte Hornets — promises to wear a custom-made Cubs jersey bearing the name of a man who was never a Cubs player until the team is eliminated from the playoffs.

Providing of course, that happens.

As noted in the Redeye piece: “It’s my stance, how I feel about the Cubs this year. I don’t want them to win.” He also has launched an “attack” of sorts in the Twittersphere.

So what do Mr. Kaminsky’s actions have to do with the much larger perspective?

It’s a demonstration of a lot of things that are wrong with the world today.  Here are a few:

  • It’s Okay, No Cool, to Hate. Rarely a day goes by when we don’t hear of an atrocity in war-torn places overseas and in my home city of Chicago. To me, it’s hate that drives people to kill and hurt others. Why should hate be part of sports? Because, apparently to some, it’s appropriate and it’s become part of “cheering on” your team.
  • The “Power” of the Digital Arena. This blog, is, of course, part of modern online communications. I’ve published what I believe are informative, fair and ethical posts.  Others use the digital arena to spread lies and inflame hatred.
  • The Ability to Change the Conversation.  What’s happening in baseball today? The NLCS and the ALCS. With garbage news like Mr. Kaminsky’s rants, part of the focus of real sports news gets mixed up with nonsense that’s taking place off the field of play.
  • Continue to Bash Bartman. I can’t believe that anyone with any sense of scruples would continue to slander Steve Bartman, a fan who tried to catch a foul ball in a game 13 years ago. He did nothing wrong, but weak, petty cowards still hold him responsible for a Cubs collapse.

Cub fans and many in Chicago fly the “W” flag to promote and support the team.  So, fly the “L” flag Mr. Kaminsky, if you want.

But in my mind you’re the loser.

 

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.

 

 

Chicago Cubs: Here’s Who Should Throw Out the First Pitch at NLCS

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

An open letter to the Chicago Cubs (and anyone else who wants to read this post):

After careful consideration, this life-long Chicago Cubs fans is making an unbiased recommendation on who should throw out the ceremonial first pitch when the team takes the field the evening of October 20 to face the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field:

Me, Edward M. Bury, APR.

Want some reasons why? Please keep reading.

  1. Long-Time Fandom: As noted, I’ve rooted for the Cubs as long as I can remember. There were good memories, and some not-so-good.  (Think 1969, 1984, 2003 — forget it; that’s ancient history.) At the end of the game, my allegiance never faltered.
  2. Color Blue: People have told me I look good in blue. Something about bringing out the green in my eyes. And, there will be lots of blue and green at Wrigley Field the evening of the first NLCS game.
  3.  Vintage Cap: The cap that accompanies this post was
    One of my most prized possessions.

    One of my most prized possessions. Note the “Ball” pin on the brim.

    purchased back in 1984. Or perhaps it was 1985. It’s “the same kind the players wear.” I’ve worn it only to games and while watching the Cubs during playoffs. I promise to wear it next Tuesday.

  4.  I’m an APR. Okay, so why should holding the Accreditation in Public Relations count toward my qualifications? Simple: I don’t have a ticket, and having the honor of throwing out the first pitch would get me a seat. I think.  I’m demonstrating open disclosure, a sign of ethical public relations practices.
  5. Not a Hater. If you’re like me, you’ve had enough of the references in the media and by fans to “the hated Cardinals” and now, “the hated Mets.” Get over it! It’s a baseball game and the Cub fans need to demonstrate positive energy.

As the Cubs prepare to take the field in tonight’s NLCS game in New York, I’ll be rooting for an opening series win. And, of course, I’ll be hoping to get the honor to stand on the mound and throw that first pitch Tuesday.

One more thing: I promise to throw a strike.

Go Cubs!

 

 

 

 

Chicago Cubs, Last Day Regular Season, Thoughts

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

On this cool, dreary, cloudy October 4, a day more akin to November, it’s warm, bright and sunny in Cubdom.

Cubs

The guys with this emblem on their jerseys will play in the post season. Bu for how long?

Yes, it’s the last day of the Major League baseball regular season, and my Chicago Cubs — actually everyone’s Chicago Cubs — will be playing a meaningful game later this week.

Counting the hours, no minutes, until the first pitch Wednesday, against the very dangerous and talented Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, where my Chicago Cubs will be playing a wild card, single elimination game in order to advance to the National League playoffs.

Well, let’s check that: Last night’s shutout win added more thrills to the 2015 season; the Cubs may host the Pirates at Wrigley Field with a win today.

As a lifelong and long-suffering Cubs fan, of course I’m thrilled my Chicago Cubs are in the post season.  And, while I won’t make a prediction, I will share these thoughts.

An artist's rendering of proposed renovations to the venerable Wrigley Field.

Later today, we’ll know if the Cubs will play the October 7 Wild Card game at Wrigley Field.

On the Field Headlines Are Best. Throughout this glorious season, one where the Cubs provided tremendous baseball drama, that drama was confined to the field of play. I can’t recall news reports of Cub players or management making headlines for what took place off the field.  (Well, unless you count the litigation with the property owners on Waveland and Sheffield avenues.) In short, skipper Joe Madden and his boys behaved themselves, keeping the focus on baseball and not antics that could get them in trouble.

Treating Baseball as It Should Be: A Game.  Years ago I read an article that included a line that stated: “The umpire yells ‘Play Ball’ at the start of a game, not ‘Work Ball.'” My 2015 Chicago Cubs know how to enjoy the game of baseball, but they do so in a workmanlike way. Scenes in the dugout show a team that’s relaxed but focused, and seemingly unaffected by a bad loss or bad call from umps. These guys are having fun, which much of the time leads to winning.

Little Things Lead to Big Wins. Visit this page from Major League Baseball for official stats. But some casual observations of my Cubs reveal a team that rarely got beat when failing to execute  fundamentals: Hitting the cutoff man, hitting behind the runner, laying down the bunt, putting the ball in play, turning the easy double play.  These little things have paid big dividends for the 2015 squad, setting them apart from many, many Cub squads of past seasons.

My Cubs today have as many wins this year as they had losses in  seasons not too long ago. In around an hour from now, they’ll take the field for their final regular season game against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

It means something, because the Cubs may get home-field advantage and host the Wild Card game.

Regardless of where the game is held, after the ump yells “Play Ball,” I’ll be watching, waiting and hoping.

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But wait! There’s more from the PRDude on the Chicago Cubs: