The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are falling, and the Chicago Cubs are Marching to Victoria.
This is the way life was meant to be without having to live in St. Louis.
You may recall I was a tad nervous the last time we met. Four straight losses on the west coast always does that to me. And then Jake Arrieta arrived, followed by the pajama party on the way back to Wrigley. Gotta hand it to Joe Maddon. The tighter it gets, the looser he gets. When the Cubs were struggling earlier in the year, he brought a magician into the clubhouse to pull a win out of a hat. The Cubs then won four straight.
Maddon is a little looser than former Cub player turned skipper Rabbit Maranville. Fearing his job was on the line. the Rabbit went to the streets mimicking a newsboy hawking papers. He cried out, "Read all about it! Maranville fired!"
And the next day he was.
September also means roster additions, and the Cubs picked up Fernando Rodney and Austin Jackson in waiver deals, while Javier Baez is up from Iowa. Meanwhile, Rafael Soriano and James Russell have been sent packing. The Cubs are hoping Rodney can give them what Soriano didn't, just some middle innings. Jackson looms larger as a defensive replacement for the injured Jorge Soler in right field. But clearly the biggest newbie is Baez.
It's hard to say what exactly has happened with Starlin Castro, but clearly, his days in Chicago are coming to an end. The last straw came Monday night, when he dropped a throw from Addision Russell for an easy force out at second to end the inning, opening the flood gates for a Reds explosion. Incredibly, it was the second time in a week Castro couldn't catch a soft toss for a force out. You know, the kind little leaguers make routinely. Twenty four hours later, Baez was starting at second. He brings a lot to the table, defense, power, speed, and of course, strike outs. He will fit right in with this bunch.
Bryant-Russell-Baez-Rizzo. Our team is on the floor.
You never know about these players called up. We brought in a player from Michigan once named Don Eaddy. He was a running back for the Wolverines. Carried nine times in his career for a loss of 49 yards. After graduation, he had his choice, believe it or not, between football and baseball. Here's what he had to say:
"I thought I would have a better chance to reach the major leagues sooner with the Cubs, because they are not loaded with material."
Hey, I feel insulted.
Anyway Eaddy makes his major league debut with the Cubs in 1959. He only appeared in one game, playing third base. He comes in during the 5th inning, and on the only ball hit to him, he makes an error. He batted one time and struck out. The Cubs waved goodbye to Mr. Eaddy. After retiring from baseball, Eaddy became a franchisee for the Burger King. I guess McDonalds was loaded with more material.
For players like Soriano and Russell, this could be the end of the line. Although Russell, being left handed, can probably get paid by somebody until he's at the mandatory retirement age of 75. Who knows, he may be back at Wrigley for his third tour of duty someday. Doubt we will hear from Soriano again as he fades into oblivion.
He can only hope he is as fortunate in life after baseball as former Cub pitcher Mike Prendergast, who retired to Omaha to work for Falstaff as a beer taster. To top that, he won the Omaha Ping Pong championship,
And you never know what you are going to get with these additional players. One time, the Cubs brought in a complete stranger named Mathias Schroeder. He was the warm up catcher for star pitcher Burleigh Grimes before games. Nobody could find any record of him in baseball, but he was the only person that Grimes would throw to warming up.
Turns out Schroder was just a "nice guy from Burleigh’s neighborhood."
We are the Cubs.
30 games left now. The lead over the Giants is 6 and a half, as they've dropped four straight. If the Cubs go 15-15, the Giants could roll 20-10 and still fall short.
Of course, if we go 10-20........