Blog Ambassador: Cubs

Al Yellon founded and has blogged at Bleed Cubbie Blue, a popular and very informative Chicago Cubs Web site since 2005. He was kind enough to answer some questions for us, and more importantly, answer them honestly. I appreciate his time and perspective, and before blindly ripping him a new one in the comment section, I suggest you take his answers for what they are - the imput of a knowledgable baseball fan. Like what he says or not, the man knows his Cubs. Read on!

First off, good season (I guess!). With the Brewers on the up and up, the Cardinals still relevant and Astros making a ton of moves this offseason, did you expect this kind of success from the Cubs?

I did expect success, to see them build on what they started last year. To win close to 100 games and win the way they have? No, that’s totally unexpected. They have figured out ways to win where past Cubs teams would have found ways to lose. This is the best Cubs team since 1935, when they last won 100 games. 

In their second half matchups, the Cubs have basically throttled Milwaukee and snagged some key games in heartbreaking fashion. Do you expect Chicago to rest some key players or shorten outings in the last series to ready themselves for the playoffs? 

Yes, and they have already done so through shortening pitching starts and resting two or three regulars every day. I’d expect them to start the regulars this weekend vs. the Brewers, as they don’t want anyone to get too rusty before the playoffs start. 

Your guys have taken two from the Mets this week - and I thank them for it, as it’s keeping Milwaukee in contention. Speaking for the general Cubs fan, which team of New York, Philadelphia, Milwaukee or Los Angeles would you prefer to see the Cubbies face in the first round and why? 

Speaking only for myself, I’d like them to face the Mets (sorry - I know that’d mean the Brewers are out, as the Mets aren’t likely to win the NL East). I think they match up well with the Mets and they have won four of six this year from them. 

“Sweet Lou” is expected to name his playoff rotation soon, how do you expect him to align Zombie, Dempster, Harden or even Lilly - and would Carlos really be that pissed if he wasn’t the game one starter? 

After [Wednesday] night’s Z meltdown, I think Z understands that he has to accept that he might not be the game 1 starter. Lou keeps trying to help him not allow his emotions to get the better of him, but Z has failed so far. I expect Ryan Dempster to be named the game 1 starter. 

You’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about CC Sabathia’s performance as a Brewer, but the Cubs made a rebuttle of their own in bringing in Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin for significantly less, what have each of those players meant to the team’s play in the second half? 

Rich Harden has given the Cubs yet another “ace” type starter, someone who can go in and mow down lineups — assuming he stays healthy. He has had to go on long rest several times, and has stayed healthy as a result. With the extra off days in the playoffs, he should be just fine. 

Chad Gaudin was out for four weeks after hurting his back. He hasn’t pitched well since returning… it’s possible that Gaudin might not make the playoff roster. 

Matt Murton, a player I personally like a lot, was sent packing in that deal. Why did Murton get such a bad wrap in the Windy City? Attitude? Crowded outfield? Or just his goofy ass red hair? 

Murton wasn’t that good a player; that’s the bottom line. He drew walks and got on base — but hit .290 instead of .330, and that would have been fine if he hit for any sort of power — which he didn’t really have. He’s the classic example of a player who’s decent at everything but outstanding at nothing. He was a mediocre outfielder with little speed and only an average arm, and could only play left field. He had the right attitude, but that’s not always enough. 

Jim Hendry made two low-risk moves in acquiring outfielders Jim Edmonds and Reed Johnson that seemed to pay volumes in dividends. Knowing what you know now, how key where those pickups? And do you think some fans regret being as worked up as they were when the moves were made? 

I’ve always liked Reed Johnson, even all the years he was with the Blue Jays. When the Cubs were in Toronto in Johnson’s rookie year in 2003, he led off a game with a homer and then hit a walkoff in the 10th inning. He’s got a great attitude, plays great defense and hits well enough to be a fine platoon partner with Edmonds. 

I was one of those who thought Edmonds was done when the Padres let him go, and looking at his numbers, what else could you have thought? But it was a low-risk signing - SD and StL had to pay all of his contract except the minimum, and if he hadn’t produced the Cubs would have let him go. He’s not only produced but been a model citizen. It was surreal to see him get a standing ovation at the season’s last home game — one of Cubs’ fans most hated rival players becoming one of the most loved players on this year’s team. 

Speaking of fans, I know Brewers fans regard Chicago as its biggest foe - but St. Louis has been an even bigger rival of the Cubs for much longer. Are you noticing a shift in your fanbase’s hatred to grow to despise Milwaukee more, or will the Cards always be number one on Joe Cubfan’s shitlist? 

Don’t call it a shitlist - as a Cubs fan I respect Cardinals fans, who love their team, are passionate and knowledgeable about baseball, and there’s a lot of history between the Cubs and Cardinals. 

Not so much - yet - between the Cubs and Brewers. I’d LIKE there to be more of a respectful rivalry, because of the proximity between Chicago and Milwaukee, but it seems as if the Brewer fans are more like the little brother nipping at the big brother’s heels, saying, “Can I play? Huh? Can I? Can I? Can I?” 

Wrigley Field - dump or semi-historic dump? I’m (half) kidding… Have you ever been to Miller Park? If so, what’s your opinion of it? 

I’ve been to Miller Park many times, including for Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter. It’s a nice park, sightlines are good, prices are pretty reasonable, and I have always liked the “Secret Stadium Sauce”. 

Predictions for this weekend’s series, playoff fate(s)? 

Of course, I’m picking the Cubs to win it all. Why wouldn’t I, at this point? This weekend I’m sure the Cubs will be playing all-out in a playoff tune up. You’ll be seeing Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis and I know that CC Sabathia will likely be going in the season’s last day. I’d love to see the Cubs sweep all 7 games in Milwaukee this year, but that isn’t likely. You guys have a good team. Looking forward to the series and - who knows - maybe seeing you again in the NLCS.

15 Responses to “Blog Ambassador: Cubs”

  1. Tyler Says:

    I don’t know how I managed to ask him about Matt Murton and Reed Johnson, but not Fukudome - I suppose that shows how much Fooker means to me.

  2. Shooter Says:

    I’ll be donning my “Cub Killler” shirt all weekend here in Michigan. Get it done Crew!

  3. badger Says:

    I know you asked us not to rip on the guy, but the little brother comment is so typical of the arrogant Cub fan base. I’m sorry but who’s fan base is it that feels obligated to come to the other team’s house and act like a-holes? In the spirit of his analagy I would then have to compare the Cub’s fans to the wierd uncle who is 50, still lives in his mom’s basement, drives a used Escalade and wears way too many gold chains on his hairy chest. He believes that people think he’s cool and envy him but in reality he’s a joke who really hasn’t accomplished anything. Rant over.

  4. Kade In Dubuque Says:

    Where did the Cubs…. suprememness come from what makes them think they are the greatest franchise ever? I am not mad or being whiny I really am curious.

  5. Jared Says:

    I’m on board with badger.

    It’d be easier to respect the guy and Cubs fans in general if they came off their make-believe pedestal once in a while.

    “Little brother”? Give me a break…

  6. Tyler Says:

    No Badger, I meant say what you want… I can’t control what people say, but was asking that it not be said solely because he likes a different team than you. Even than, I have no say over what people type.

  7. Joe Says:

    You have all the say over what people type, Tyler. Come on!

    When I was reading the interview, that comment definitely hit a nerve. Badger, you took the, not so exact, words out of my mouth.

    Jared, doesn’t that description sound a lot like what Uncle Joe will be like?

  8. Tyler Says:

    “before blindly ripping him a new one in the comment section, I suggest you take his answers for what they are”

    The key word is “suggest” in that sentence. A lot of us know that one Brewer fan who automatically hates every person with a C on their cap without further reason. The disclaimer was to hopefully weed out some of those kind of comments. Sorry I tried.

  9. alli Says:

    Came over from Bleed Cubbie Blue: To further explain the “little brother” thing, I haven’t embraced the Brewers as a rival yet because theres so much less history. I think it *could* grow into something great, but its going to take a long time for y’all to get to the same status as the Mets or Cards. (Obviously I speak just for myself)

  10. Peter Says:

    SE Wisconsin native and resident, UW alum (Let’s Go Red!), Packer Backer — and Cubs fan.

    Tyler is right — there is a fair amount of Brewer fans who hate Cubs fans for no reason other than they are Cubs fans. Are there jerks that follow the team? Absolutely. Every team has jerks and good fans. I cringe when Cubs fans act like a-holes, just like I do when Badgers fans do.

    Alli is right - the history just isn’t there. This could be a great rivalry. I’ve had nothing but good baseball discussions with Brewers fans sitting around me at Cubs-Brewers games and I like getting their perspective. Being from the area, many of my friends are Brewers fans. If they win, I’ll be happy for my friends. A lot of us would.

    I think overall the Brewer fan base is knowledgable and respectful, but there is a vocal minority that gives the impression that Al referenced with a chip on its shoulder. Sometimes it seems that that vocal minority is more obsessed with the Cubs than the Brewers, and that’s too bad - because this should be a fun rivalry. And, it’s a GAME.

  11. Wisconsin Cub Fan Says:

    I was born and raised here in Wisconsin. Am a HUGE Packer fan but also a Cubs fans. Being a Cubs fan I HATE the Mets, much like I do Vikings in football. But that is because of the history of the two teams. The Cubs and Cards have played for well over a hundred years, I respect the history there. The Brewers have only been in NL for a few years. I have no reason to dislike them.

    But sny of my Brewer fan friends act like it’s no fair for it to be Wrigley North. Well every spring I buy my tickets off the Brewer site. Yes some Cub fans will buy then off Stubhub but each year I get mine straight from the Brewer site in March. So when someone comments that it’s like a little brother that is one of the reasons. Don’t complain about Cubs fans taking over Miller Park, buy the tickets yourself then it’s less likely to happen.

  12. liam Says:

    i’ll say it first, i’m a cubs fan.

    that said, i enjoy watching the brewers. they’ve been playing great baseball this year, and miller park is a hell of a place to see a game. (one thing, add extra entrances from the highway, man that takes forever if you don’t get there two hours early). i’m mainly commenting because while i agree with the sentiment that the rivalry hasn’t cemented itself, i’m not sure i’d have used the little brother analogy (did make me laugh though). that said, i’m excited about seeing some good baseball being played over the next few days, and deep into october.

  13. Tyler Says:

    Good comments guys, thanks for venturing on over to these parts.

    As WI Cubs fan mentioned, the Brewers have only been in the NL (promise land) for a decade. As a child I loved the Brewers, but also follwed the Cubs - not caring whether they won or lost. I still love “Tuffy” Rhodes to this day. That said, our team are now rivals and - in time - I hope this develops into larger, heated (but non-violent) rivalry between two teams. 10 years in, and it’s hard to act like it’s actually as big a war as you feel it is. The Cubs and Cardinals are 100 times more the rivals, and I’m cool with that.

    It seems the fans that fuel this ultra battle between our fan bases with fights and mindless hatred of all things opposing their viewpoint are the ones who weren’t around when both our franchises of choice were sucking it up.

    The Cubs are an easy team for me to not like, but long story short… I can still manage to talk baseball and respect some Cubs fans - like Al and the others who commented.

    It is what it is, baseball. And as a Brewer fan, it’s fun to finally cheer for a team good enough to even have a weekend/budding rivalry like this. That said, Fukudome is bogus.

  14. bbison Says:

    Don’t forget-many of us Cubs fans also followed the Brewers when they were in the AL. I know quite a few of us who spent many a day (or night) at County Stadium, sharing tailgate space and our common hatred of the White Sox. It wasn’t that long ago. Hell, I paid $40 to some old geezer for a last row bleacher seat for game 4 of the Series in ‘82, and it was worth every penny. I can still remember the 6th inning of game 7 to this day-what a nightmare.

    Now it’s like an extension of the Bears/Packers rivalry-with 8 times the games, half the distance between venues, and more easily available tickets. Rivalries are part of what makes this great.

    See you in the playoffs!

  15. Jared Says:

    It’s not the rivalry comments that bother me at all. I understand that to Cubs fans, the Cardinals are vastly superior rivals. I will say, however, that it’s a total joke to pretend like the games between the teams are just games on the schedule. A lot of Cubs fans come to Miller and 99.9 percent of them certainly act like it’s more important than just 1 of 162 games.

    What bothers me is the superiority complex. The tired comments we hear 10,000 times every time the Cubs come to town. “The only time you guys sell out is when we’re in town.” “Wrigley North!” The in-your-face attitude. No, it’s not every fan, but it happens every time the Cubs come to town and it’s a good number of fans.

    I want to watch baseball, not participate in some stupid, macho douchebag contest. If the Cubs win, it doesn’t make you a better person. For some reason, a vocal part of Cubs Nation must feel this way because I can’t count the number of times I have been walking to my car after a game and some dickhead decides to get in my face to tell me how much better the Cubs are than the Brewers.

    The “little brother” comment falls exactly in line with this douchebag attitude.

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