It's hard to believe that it's been over a year since I took over the helm of Cub Tracks. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to take over a feature that was already well-established and taken care of by its creator, Erik Peterson. But with the Cubs' season at its close and with other responsibilities on the way, including a much-expanded season as the man on the basketball court in zebra stripes, it's time for me to hand over the reins as well.
If you have been looking for a chance to become a part of the writing staff at BCB, enjoy reading stories about the Cubs, and have a knack for being creative, then this is a perfect opportunity for you. Feel free to send a note to Al and he and I can give you all the information you need to get started.
As for me, I'll probably be taking a majority of the off-season off from writing. I'm working on some ideas for an off-season feature or two, but they're still very early in the works at this point. As for next season, I'll be back again with Heroes and Goats, and I'll also be taking over the helm of On The Horizon when the Cubs start their season in April in Anaheim (against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Orange County California U.S.A.)
I'd like to publicly thank Al for all of his support that he has provided me with this feature and for his patience when the deadlines sometimes ran a bit long, which happened more and more as the season (and the postseason) went on. I'd also like to thank Erik again for all of the help that he gave me in my initial stages, as well as for giving me a feature that really didn't need any changes to make it any better than it already was. I can only hope that I'm leaving the feature in as good shape as it was when I took it over myself.
And as always, I'd like to thank everyone who comes by every day to read this feature, because I know that there are a ton of people that do. I hope that I was able to do a good job in giving you links to the latest news and stories, and maybe even a chuckle or two along the way. It's been an honor and a pleasure.
From Comcast SportsNet Chicago:
- It wasn't black cats, billy goats, or curses that caused the Cubs to be swept by the Mets, writes Patrick Mooney. Simply put, the Cubs were completely outplayed by the Mets in every phase of the game.
- Another factor in the Cubs' loss in the NLCS, according to Tony Andracki, was their inability to keep the Mets from stealing bases throughout the series.
- Kyle Schwarber, on the season being over: "There's a pit in the stomach. But trust us, we'll all be looking forward to next year."
- Miguel Montero has a simple message for the team: Don't take anything that happened this season for granted.
- [AUDIO] Even though the year is over, many people feel the same way about the future, including Michael Wilbon: "It feels like it's the beginning."
- [VIDEO] There is one big goal for the offseason for Theo Epstein: "We would like to add more quality pitching."
- [VIDEO] Here's the transcript and video of Joe Maddon's interview after the end of Game 4.
- Another glaring factor in the Cubs being swept in the NLCS: The inability of the first hitter of the inning to get on base, something which the Cubs only did four times in 36 chances.
- If you missed the seventh inning of Game 4, you probably didn't see Miguel Montero get hit in the helmet while he was in the on-deck circle in Rube Goldberg-esque fashion.
- And if you tuned out by the third inning, you probably missed David Ross trying to head to the dugout a bit too early.
- After giving the Mets time to celebrate on the field at the end of Game 4, the Cubs took some time to tip their caps to the Mets for their strong performance and to the fans for all of their support.
- Despite the ending to the season, there was no sadness in the clubhouse after Wednesday's game was over, writes Carrie Muskat.
- Maddon also was extremely proud about the overall season, saying that the perfomance "validates the entire organization."
- Phil Rogers echoed the optimistic sentiments, saying that unlike the six previous teams to be swept in the Championship Series, the Cubs are clearly on their way up and not at their height with down being the only direction left to go.
- Dan Haren made it official on Wednesday night: He is retiring from baseball.
From ESPN Chicago:
- Jason Hammel, on his second half of the season: "I felt like I sucked for about three months." That's called not mincing words right there.
- Jesse Rogers summarizes the 2015 season by saying that the Cubs learned how to win this year, and that in 2016 they'll expect to win.
- Rogers also looks at five Cubs storylines to follow during the offseason.
- Jon Greenberg writes that the Cubs' ability to make postseason runs an annual affair will depend on their ability to avoid complacency and also how well they prepare for next season.
From CBS Chicago:
- Tim Baffoe writes that fans shouldn't be mad about the way that the season ended; instead, they should be thankful for what the team brought this summer as well as what the philosophy of the team will bring for the future.
- Matt Spiegel agrees, saying that while the final four games of the season were awful, the seven months that came before it were something to remember.
- Bruce Levine also chimes in, saying that no one should complain about the results of the 2015 season.
- And from the point of view of Chris Emma, the 2015 season was a great success with the best still possibly yet to come.
- The plan for Kyle Schwarber in 2016 is to continue to develop him as both a catcher and an outfielder, according to Theo Epstein.
- As for Dexter Fowler, Epstein is interested in seeing if there's a way to keep him in a Cub uniform next season.
- Other goals that Epstein would like to see the Cubs achieve in 2016: Improved defense in the outfield and improved situational hitting.
From the Chicago Tribune:
- There were accolades in the Cubs' direction from the Mets after Game 4 ended, with Daniel Murphy commending the Cubs' fans and Mets' manager Terry Collins calling Joe Maddon "the best manager in the game."
- Paul Sullivan writes that while the season didn't end well, the incredible ride will be remembered long after the shock of being swept in the NLCS wears off.
- Steve Rosenbloom writes that the main difference between this playoff appearance and others from the past is that this season is sustainable. He also writes that the areas that need to be improved will be, primarily because the front office has shown that it can and will do what is necessary and sensible.
- Addison Russell is optimistic about the future: "It's just going to get better from here on out."
- David Haugh writes that the Cubs' toughest challenge in 2016 may not be either the Cardinals or the Pirates, but instead the ability to fulfill expectations that will be placed upon them.
- Although the Cubs will be looking for pitching help this offseason, factors including raises for arbitration-eligible players -- including Jake Arrieta -- could put a dent in the plans to land a top-end name, writes Mark Gonzales.
- Sullivan writes that it's not only pitching that the Cubs will be looking for this offseason, but also finalizing a deal with Theo Epstein. Sullivan says that at this point it's not a matter of whether or not Epstein will remain as the Cubs' president, but instead how much it will cost to keep him.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
- Rick Morrissey writes that the future looks bright, but there are also obstacles to overcome and holes to be filled.
- Rick Telander writes that the Cubs' success next season, and the ability to overcome other teams that will also be looking to improve, will depend on one thing that the Cubs have and no one else does: Joe Maddon.
- For the first time in seven seasons, the entire coaching staff will be invited back for another season. Whether or not any of the staff will land other positions in the offseason remains to be seen, and Theo Epstein is expecting demand to be out there.
From the Daily Herald:
- Barry Rozner writes that the Cubs broke many rules on the road to playoffs this season, and the lessons that they didn't have to learn as the season went on were handed to them by the Mets in the NLCS.
- Rozner also writes that while the NLCS may have been a cruel finish to a remarkable season, it's a "sweet tease" for what the future holds for a group of young players that may be together for the next six years.
- Mike Imrem writes that what the Cubs did this season was remarkable under the circumstances... those circrumstances being that management wasn't all-in to win the World Series this season.
- Imrem also writes that now that the season is over, the Cubs have some big decisions to make.
- Our friends at Beyond The Box Score look back at the Cubs' 2015 season.
- Grant Brisbee writes that whether or not the Cubs are able to duplicate the success of this season in 2016, they'll have just about the best shot of any team in the league to do it.
Today's food for thought:
- [VIDEO] What does it look like when a black hole shreds a star? Something like this.
- What happens if you're on the International Space Station... and a medical situation arises?
- And, finally... We may not have the flying cars, and we may not have the hoverboards, but we do now have something from Back To The Future II: Shoes with power laces.