The Gist: Cubs 2, Brewers 1

11:12 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

What Happened: I fell asleep some time after the 11th inning. But apparently the Cubs won. Hooray! According to my phone, it happened on a...bases loaded Travis Wood walk? HAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That's the most Milwaukee way to lose a game in the history of Milwaukee losing games (it's a long history)! AND the Brewers loaded the bases with 0 outs and didn't get anything out of it? This is PEAK BREWERS.

Game MVP: Today's award was all ready to go to David Ross for gunning down a thousand (seriously, look it up) Brewers on the basepaths last night, but I gotta give at least a share of the award to Travis Wood who not only came into a bases loaded, 0 out game, but escaped without giving up a run. That's the equivalent of picking up a 7/10 split in bowling. And to top it off, he drew a bases loaded walk to score the go-ahead run in the top of the 13th. I'm as far from being a major league pitcher than anyone, but I gotta believe that with the bases loaded and a pitcher at the dish, on a full count you would be like "Well, I should probably make sure to get this one over the plate and see what happens!"

Nope! Cubs win!

Game LVP: I can't quite say that I disagree with a lot of what Joe Maddon does, but he does have an annoying habit of taking players out of the game when I don't think he has to. He pinch ran Baez for Rizzo in the 9th inning. Yes, Baez is faster than Rizzo, but Rizzo is a great baserunner for a man his size and in the end Baez's speed wasn't even a factor. Then again, Joe Maddon is being paid more than I'll ever make to decide those things, so who am I to criticize?

So About Those Cubs Bats...: Let's address the elephant in the room: the Cubs have been completely shut down over the last 2 days by Chase Anderson and Jimmy Nelson, who are not what anyone would call "solid". I think that part of it is that both of them pitched really well. The Cubs haven't looked bad necessarily, and I do think that Anderson and Nelson pitched at about the best of their abilities. Hey, even the hottest teams cool off and have a stinker every once in a while.

One thing that I think is contributing to the Cubs Offensive Funk of May 2016 is Dexter Fowler. When he was smoking hot during April, the Cubs offense followed suit. Hell, the hashtag #YouGoWeGo was created for that very reason. But what we all need to keep in mind is that Fowler has always been a suuuuuuper streaky player, so to see him cool off a bit in May isn't too much of a surprise. Look at his monthly OBP splits from last year:

April: .372
May: .293
June: .286
July: .411
August: .408
September: .293

Six months...three over .370 OBP, three under .300. Remember going into the playoffs last year when there was talk of benching Fowler in September? I think what you're seeing now is what the Cubs offense might have looked like those first few weeks in April when Bryant/Rizzo/Zobrist were ice cold if Dexter hadn't been playing out of his mind.

It doesn't mean that the Cubs aren't still the best lineup in baseball, because I firmly believe that they are. I'm just saying that we have to remember stretches like this happen, and when your leadoff guy cools off, it makes it tough on the whole lineup. And it also doesn't help that our #2 hitter is almost non-existent on the offensive end.

"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):

The Cubs try to take the series from the Brewers at 12:40 CST with Jason "Great Before July" Hammel going against Javy "Who?" Guerra. It would be great for the Cubs to finally flex the pecs against the Brewers and put up 5-6 runs like we're used to because we've been spoiled so far this season.

Cubs vs. Brewers Preview

11:22 AM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

This is what happens when you do a Google image search for "Jimmy Nelson"

The Weekend Gist: Pirates Edition

10:50 AM | Comments (1) | by Rich Funk

What Happened: The Cubs continued to put the hurting on the Pirates. I know that we all wanted to see the sweep at Wrigley, but that's just greed. If you would have asked any Cubs fan before the season started if they would be happy going 4-2 against the Pirates over the first 6 matchups with the Cubs and I bet all of them would gladly take it, so the fact that the Cubs are 5-1 against Pittsburgh in mid-May is just gravy. And hell, the Cubs almost won Sunday's game too!

What Looked Good: Did you see Jake Arrieta on Saturday? He was vintage (and by that, I mean 2015) Arrieta. And I know it's hard to complain about a guy that hasn't had an ERA over two in like, a year and a half and also threw two no-hitters over that time, but for the last handful of starts, Arrieta hadn't looked like the invincible world-buster we've come to know and love. His control seemed off. He didn't seem like he was striking out as many guys on a whim like he did last year. But after a rough 4th inning when he gave up 2 ER (THE HORROR!), Arrieta seemed to get locked in the same way he got locked in during his historic second half last year and absolutely mowed down the Pirates.

Also Looking Good: Don't look now, but Jason Heyward has a .409 OBP over the last two weeks and looks like he's actually driving the ball a lot better than he was during April. I feel like he's going to be due for what Zobrist did a few weeks ago, where after the pressure of his first Cubs home run is off, he'll relax a bit more and go on some kind of tear. As Fowler cools off (and he should because his April was absolutely unsustainable), Heyward will be a big key in how the Cubs lineup functions over the next few weeks.

TMS Cock of the Week: That would be Gerrit Cole of the Pirates, having this to say after shutting down the Cubs on Sunday:
Look, I know that sometimes players think it's a good idea to always think of their own team as the best team in baseball and I understand that to a certain extent. But 2 caveats:

1. The Cubs are, in juuust about every single measurement, absolutely the best team in baseball. When you start talking about historic starts to a season, which the Cubs have had, you gotta give them that title until you knock them off. Had the Pirates even taken 2 out of 3 from the Cubs, maybe Cole can get away with that. But they didn't. And in the 5 games the Cubs have won against the Pirates this year, none of them were even particularly close.

2. Notice that Cole waited to say that he didn't think the Cubs are the best team in baseball until after he had a good start against them. Meaning he didn't have the balls to say that when the Cubs bitchslapped him for 6 runs in less than 5 innings the week prior.

What a cock. Congrats, Gerrit! You're the Cock of the Week!

The Chicago Tribune has a good piece on what Cole's comments say about the Cubs being in the Pirates heads. Go read it here.

"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):

The Cubs hit lots of home runs. The Brewers give up a lot of home runs. Miller Park is a ballpark that favors the home run. Expect the Cubs to hit all the home runs over the next 3 games in Milwaukee. The Cubs and Brewers kick off a series at 7:10 CST tonight with Kyle Hendricks facing former Diamondback and current human garbage Chase Anderson.

TMS Investigates: Why Won't Joe Blanton Release His Tax Returns?

2:16 PM | Comments (0) | by Governor X

TMS recently found out Dodgers pitcher Joe Blanton won't release his tax returns.

What is he hiding?

We're on to you, you slippery son of a bitch.

The Official Catchup Cubs Post

9:05 PM | Comments (3) | by Rich Funk

In all the excitement over the last week, with the Cubs sweeping both the Pirates and Nationals, I totally didn't write anything. And neither did anyone else. So if you're one of the...two people that loves The Gist, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you had to go elsewhere to get the latest and greatest Cubs news. Welcome back.

To get everyone caught up to speed, here's a bunch of random thoughts that have to do with both the Cubs and whatever comes to mind over the next 20 minutes that I'm giving myself to grind this out.

Welcome To Sweeps Week: Man, the Cubs were amazing all of last week. And they definitively answered the question of whether they could beat the best teams in the NL. The Cubs did what they do all week: timely hitting, great pitching and a little bit of luck. Maybe if the wind wasn't blowing out on Friday, helping the Cubs smack 4 homers off Max Scherzer, they don't take that game. Maybe if Bryce Harper makes the catch in right field on Saturday the Cubs don't win that game. Maybe if Strasburg pitches against the Cubs once during their series, the Nationals could have taken one.

But none of that happened. And the Cubs beat up on the Nationals, with Javier Baez's 312th inning homer in the early evening of Mother's Day serving as the exclamation point for the week.

How Much Do We Hate The Padres?: After the Cubs smacked around the Padres on Tuesday night, they racked up 25% of their total losses for the year in a single day, getting swept by San Diego in a day/night doubleheader. The Cubs could have easily wound up winning either of those games, with the Padres not taking the lead until human impostor Brett Wallace (more on that in a minute) hitting a 3 run homer late in the early game to take the lead, and then John Lackey only making one mistake in a 1-0 heartbreaker for the Cubs during the nightcap. But that's how luck swings sometimes.

Don't Panic: The Cubs are still great even after losing 2 out of 3 to the Padres. Put it this way: if last Monday I would have told you that the Cubs would take 2 of 3 from the Pirates and 3 of 4 from the Nationals and then sweep the Padres in Chicago, you would have been ecstatic! Well guess what? The Cubs still went 8-2 over those same 10 games, so it all evens out in the end.

But Back To Brett Wallace: Brett Wallace is an alien walking around in human skin. You cannot convince me otherwise. Look at how absolutely wrong his face is:

Remember in the first Men In Black movie where the alien crashes into the Earth and climbs inside of a human being, but looks all weird because they don't know how to be a human being? That's what Brett Wallace is, only the Padres are so bad at baseball that he somehow is one of the best 8 hitters on the team. It's gross, and really this won't stand in Trump's America.

And it's not just his face! I had the pleasure of being at the Cubs game on Tuesday night and took a picture of how weird Wallace's body is. Look at this shape and tell me that it's human and I will call you a goddamn liar:


Those are the legs of someone that would be 6'4 and the upper body of a man put together from flesh colored Play-Doh that was probably supposed to be 4 feet tall. After Wallace hit his home run in game 1 of the doubleheader, the Padres stuck him in front of a TV with a tube of cookie dough and turned on Doc McStuffins. He sat there for 12 hours.

Here Are Some Other People That Think The Cubs Are Great: As predicted, there has been a crap ton of ink written (typed?) about the Cubs so far, and with good reason - they are really good. At Sports Illustrated, Charlie Pierce wrote a great piece about the Cubs. Fangraphs LOVES the Cubs. They also love Kris Bryant's new and improved swing. Oh, and Hector Rondon could be the best closer in baseball right now (read this one, because it's awesome and has tons of info about next level pitching stats).

Enough With The Braun Rumors: I don't know where it started, but the Cubs are not going to trade for Ryan Braun. And for all the Cubs fans boo-hooing such a move, are you nuts? Even at what, 32(?) years old, Braun is still one of the better hitters in the league. I mean, 10 times out of 10, I would rather the Cubs trade for another pitcher for the stretch run, but Braun is great and even if he's a douchebag, he could help the Cubs win. We already have Lackey and remember when we traded for Jim Edmonds? Good players are good players.

But this particular move is not happening, so stop talking about it.

That's all I got. Take us home, Chong Li!

"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):

ARRRRRRGGHHHH!!!! The Pirates come into town starting tomorrow at 1:20 CST with Jason 'First Half' Hammel against Francisco 'Fist Half' Liriano. Let's murder them on the field all weekend.

From the TMS Vault: War Hero, The Wicked Game Video

10:00 AM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

As we celebrate the Saloon turning 10 years old this year we'll be digging into our archives from time to time to unearth some classic posts from way back when. Aside from reposting these pieces we'll also be talking with the TMS bartenders that wrote them and getting a little more insight on them.

In July 2007 we decided to expand our ranks and bring in some more bartenders to the Saloon. Nick was the first to join the fray, writing under the pseudonym "The Hundley". I was able to talk with Nick recently to discuss this memorable War Hero piece.

Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan: How much of this do you remember writing? It's been nearly 9 years ago.  

The Hundley: To be fair, I was doing a copious amount of peyote at that stage in my life. That being said, it would be tough for a boy to forget that video as he was coming into adolescence. If I remember correctly, that article was my "test piece" to see if I made the cut for TMS. I remember it went pretty quickly because obviously that video had a profound effect on me.

JTCF: Yeah it was your "test piece" as you were the first outsider we brought into the fold. We didn't have a vetting process in place (Did we ever?) so I just sort of let you write whatever you want. I have to say it's the most impressive debut we ever had. Bursting onto the scene with the swagger of a young Doug Dascenzo. 

Music videos seem to have fallen out of favor with today's kids and aren't really that big of a deal anymore. You have two young boys now. When the time is right, will you teach them the ways of the "Wicked Game" video, or will they have to find their own path? 

TH: There's no way that I'd want them to suffer from the awkwardness of watching something like that in the presence of parents. You have to remember, that was a super risque video in the 90's. I'm not sure if Cinemax showed that much at the time. I think videos still have a place, if they didn't, then they'd stop making them. Thus far I've been blessed to have toddlers that incessantly ask for Johnny Cash and Nathaniel Rateliff videos instead of Wheels on the Bus and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I'll take that.

JTCF: Well no one's probably fighting off boners to Johnny Cash, that's for sure.

TH: Can you be so sure? (ruing the fact that I wore sweatpants)

War Hero: The Wicked Game Video

The full version of this post ran on July 2007 and can be found here.

Have you ever stopped to look back on your life? Thought about certain things that you've experienced and how they had a profound impact on your life? Maybe you learned the valuable lesson of taking nothing for granted after living through the 2003 Cub postseason or Brant Brown's gaffe in 1998. Perhaps you were taught a lesson on how to be a 'Class Act' by worshiping guys like Andre Dawson, Dale Murphy, and Walter Payton growing up. Quite possibly you learned to never give up after watching Jim Valvano's speech or simply by watching Stallone, Pele, and Michael Caine in "Victory". Yes, sports and pop culture have the power to teach us valuable lessons that will help us all on our journey through life. One of the greatest things I've learned in my 29 years from television, is how to fight off a boner. And I have Chris Isaak to thank for that.

When 'Wicked Game' was shown on MTV in the early 90's, I was but a lad trying to transition from elementary school to junior high. You remember, don't you? All of the girls were starting to get breasts and wearing bras while you sat there with a few whiteheads, your hair chock-full of Dapper Dan, parted on the side, sporting "The Wave" hairstyle that Tyler from "Life Goes On" had (sans mullet, of course). Hypercolor shirts were taking precedence over your Rude Dog shirts from 6th grade. Those were the bomb, but could do little to suppress the stiffy you got from staring at your partner's chest in Spanish class. Something had to be done, and quick. You couldn't possibly sit cross-legged all the time. Sure baggy shirts were in, but what if you got called up to the chalk board? You can't hide that thing.

Luckily Chris Isaak helped me out. This was back when MTV actually showed videos (a novel concept). My family had exactly one TV in the house so consequently, we watched it together as a family. Perhaps I was being punished by God, but 'Wicked Game' seemed only to come on when I was watching TV while my parents were around. Talk about awkward. Hopefully my parents were distracted reading the paper or playing Jenga, because watching Helena Christensen rolling around on a beach half naked was a bit "off-putting" to view in the presence of your parents, to say the least. Changing the channel was out of the question, you couldn't bring attention to it, and goddamn, that was one video that was too steamy to leave. Nevermind the fact that Chris Isaak looked like he was stuck in the 50's with his get-up, that guy quickly became my hero. It was a video you watched over and over, thinking perhaps you missed a nipple slip the first 100 times you saw it. It made good conversation in the lunchroom, bragging up your macho-ness by saying jugs, tits, rack, set and the like. As a good friend of mine states, "Any male between the ages of 22 and 32 remembers EXACTLY where and when they saw 'Wicked Game' for the first time." This was life-altering stuff. Once I found that I could get through that video while still managing to hold back "The Glory", I pretty much had Junior High figured out. No longer would I feel that slow dancing with a female was impossible. Teen Night at the YMCA swimming pool? Bring it on. Walking on a nude beach in Cancun as an 8th grader? Well...okay, just like the Pull-Out Method of birth control, it isn't 100% effective, but it's better than nothing.

It sure was a groundbreaking experience for me. And I'll be damned if I've ever seen a video since that leaves me more uncomfortable when in the presence of family. Christ, that's saying something when you're 29 years old. God bless you, Chris Isaak. Now, if we could only get your show back on the air and more of you on Leno...

The Gist: Game 27 (Cubs 5, Nationals 2)

10:34 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

What Happened Wednesday: So I'm a little behind on the Gist, so here's what happened on Wednesday in Pittsburgh in two photographs:

Continuing what is easily the toughest week of the season so far, the Cubs opened up a 4 game series against the Nationals last night. How did that go?

What Happened: The Cubs did what the Cubs have done all year: they won. But they didn't do it by knocking the opposing starter out of the game after the 4th inning (Joe Ross went 6.2 innings) or by drawing a million walks (they only got 2 all night), but we knew that to take a few games from the Nationals, we would have to work for it. The Nationals are one of the only teams in the majors that can match the Cubs in pitching, so runs and walks are going to be harder to come by this series.

The Cubs got a whole lot of timely hitting from Ben Zobrist, who has been on fire since he calendar flipped to May, and Addison Russell, who seems to have at least one big base hit per homestand. Travis Wood got into a little trouble with Jayson Werth in the 9th, but Rondon came in to nail down the final out, giving the Cubs their 4th straight win over a quality opponent.

That's It?: No, but I spent last night seeing Captain America: Civil War instead and it was fantastic. So to tie this into the game, The Cubs are Captain America and the Nationals are the nameless HYDRA agents that get slapped around for 4 hours.

"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):

It's an early one today, with the Cubs and Nationals squaring off at 1:20. The Cubs go with John Lackey while the Nationals counter with Max Scherzer. The last time Scherzer faced the Cubs he struck out like, 14 or 15 guys. I know because I was there as part of my Failure Tour of Wrigley in 2015 when the Cubs went 1-14 with me in attendance during the regular season.