A Cub Fans Guide to Blackhawks Hockey
A funny thing happened on the way to the NHL Winter Classic:
The Blackhawks got good. Very good.
As a result, the spectacle that John McDonough begged his league to bring to Wrigley to help him reanimate a recently dead franchise has turned into something else:
A signficant matchup between the Detroit Red Wings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, and the Blackhawks, the Wings' closest divisional pursuers, one of the league's youngest, highest scoring, and most dynamic clubs.
In case you have been too busy following the Cubs' off-season exploits to pay attention to the Blackhawks--or, more likely, if you have never paid attention to the Hawks--here is a Cubs baseball/Blackhawks hockey translator just for you.
|100 years (longest in MLB)||=||
|=||47 years (longest in NHL)|
|Banks, Williams, Jenkins||=||
Beloved former stars
|=||Hull, Mikita, Esposito|
|St. Louis Cardinals||=||
Hated rival whose most
|=||Detroit Red Wings|
Grizzled leader with
Flashy veteran who parlays
Vet who seemed to be
Emerging young star
|"Hey, Hey, Holy Mackarel!"*||=||
A team song from
|=||"Here Come The Hawks"|
|B- and C-list celebs singing
"Take Me Out to the Ballgame"
|=||Tired intermission distraction||=||Random hot woman in
tight jeans shooting from
center ice to win a prize
between 2nd & 3rd periods
*I know that "Go Cubs, Go" is the current de facto team song, but that would have ruined my '60s team song parallelism. Also, I'm sorry but "Hey, Chicago, whaddya say?" is just no match for "They got the hustle, they got the muscle."
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.