Tag Archives: Joe Maddon

Confession of a Phillies fan who left the Harper walkoff slam game early

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I have a confession to make. I’m a lifelong Phillies fan. A partial season ticket holder. I write about the team frequently here at my website.

I was at Thusday night’s game in which the team rallied scoring seven times in the final two innings to come from five runs down and win on Bryce Harper‘s walkoff grand slam.

And I saw none of it. None of the runs. No part of the rally. Not live and in person anyway.

I gave up, and I left early.

To set the stage for you, this was perhaps the eighth game that I had been to this season. After an early season hot streak, things had deteriorated, for me and the ball club.

In each of the previous two games that I had been to, the Phillies had been blown out. Not only that, but they had not even shown up. Both times they were nearly shutout, had few hits, and the games were over by the middle innings.

Thursday night was much the same. The Phillies were down 5-0 when the top of the 8th inning rolled around. They had just four hits. Yu Darvish of the Cubs was dominating, striking out ten batters over seven innings.

So, as the 7th inning rolled around, I turned to my daughter with whom I was attending the game and told her that we would give it one more inning.

Really, I wasn’t hoping for much from the Phillies at that point. The club was down 5-0 on the scoreboard and showing no life. This night on the field appeared to be solely for the many Cubs fans in the stands, including one who was seated directly behind us and had been chirping all night long.

No, I was willing to stay through the 7th inning to see, of all things, the Phillie Phanatic. Hey, the big green furry guy puts on a nice show in that frame, dancing on the Phillies dugout roof. He didn’t disappoint, doing a nice number with a dance troupe from Temple University.

And so, as the action got underway in the top of the 8th, we left.

There was a good crowd at the ball park on a beautiful night. More than 37,000 showed up. Many left, both before us and as we were leaving. But there were still many who stayed. Those who stayed to the end would be the lucky ones. Well, at least those rooting for the home team.

We headed to the car, down towards I-95, and up onto the highway northbound. At somewhere between Bridge Street and Academy Road, the Phillies scored a run. I told my daughter, who was flipping through her phone in the passenger seat, that we scored a run. “Yay” she said, with sarcastic feigned enthusiasm.

I dropped her off at her house, and continued on to home. On the way, my wife asked me to make a stop at Wawa. As I drew nearer to our neighborhood, the Phillies had put two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning, still down 5-1.

I slipped through the dark and quiet streets of our neighborhood, my headlights streaming out and the street lamps helping light the way, and as I pulled into the Wawa parking lot a base hit by Brad Miller scored Cesar Hernandez to make it a 5-2 ball game.

Things were getting a little interesting. Roman Quinn, who has been hot for awhile now, was coming to the plate. He would be followed by Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper. Dare we dream?

As Cubs skipper Joe Maddon went to the mound to make a pitching change, I went into the Wawa.

Got myself a coffee, and the night manager, a nice guy who I’ve seen in there many times, saw my Phillies t-shirt and cap and said “I guess they lost, huh?

I told him that I had been down there, left when it was 5-0, but now they had a little rally going in the bottom of the 9th, down 5-2. He asked who was up, and I told him that it was Quinn. He kind of nodded with an “oh well” look on his face.

As I walked through the store to find an item for my wife, a notice came over my phone that Quinn had delivered an RBI single to make it a 5-3 game. I rushed back to Mr. Wawa Manager to let him know, and he said “guess I better find a place to listen.” I hope he did.

I got my items, paid, and left the store. Back in my car, I heard that Rhys Hoskins had somehow reached base – I just assumed a walk at that point – and that Bryce Harper was now up with the bases loaded.

Harper battled reliever Derek Holland during my four block drive home. I had just pulled in front of my house and was parking my car when…

You know the rest. Scott Franzke’s typically fantastic voice raised with the call “Swung on…hit high and deep…right field…and that…ball…is……goooooone!

Needless to say, finishing my parking job got a little bit tougher with that adrenalin jolt.

I got out of the car and hurried into my house. My wife, knowing that I was on my way and knowing her husband, had the game on, watched that ending, and had rewound it so that I could watch the end.

Watching it on TV was just as dramatic, even knowing how it ended. I rewound a little further so that I could enjoy the entire rally. When that TV coverage got to the home run, chills again thanks to John Kruk‘s now legendary “Oh my God!!” as soon as the ball left the bat.

So, I was there on Thursday night. I was at Citizens Bank Park for the game in which the Phillies rallied from down 5-0 in the 8th inning and 5-1 in the 9th to win on a walkoff grand slam by Bryce Harper.

I had a nice evening. My daughter and I ate and had a couple of beers before the game at Pass & Stow. We enjoyed each other’s company and chatted as we watched the game.

But we were not there at the end. We didn’t get to enjoy “the moment.”

You tell yourself a lot of things when you leave early, as I have done many times over the years. Gotta beat the crowd, the traffic being the main thing. I don’t believe that what happened last night has ever happened in a game that I left early before.

So, the question is – will I ever leave early again? Of course I will. Probably the very next game that I attend. And if the Phillies are losing, even losing big, I’ll hope and pray that I get to listen on the radio and/or watch on TV as they rally again.

 

Cubs walkoff the Phillies with rally in bottom of the 9th

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Kris Bryant led the Cubs past the Phillies on Tuesday night at Wrigley

The host Chicago Cubs (28-18) rallied to a 3-2 walkoff victory over the Philadelphia Phillies (28-20) by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the 9th inning on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field on Chicago’s North Side.

The Cubs got on the board first thanks to the aggressiveness of Kris Bryant. The Cubs third baseman singled with one out in the bottom of the 1st inning and moved to second when Anthony Rizzo followed by drawing a walk.
Both runners were moving as Willson Contreras grounded to short, keeping them out of the doubleplay. The move paid off doubly as Bryant never stopped running while Jean Segura threw to first. Bryant slid in to home plate just ahead of the throw from Rhys Hoskins to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs nearly put another on the board in the home 4th inning. With two outs, Kyle Schwarber drew a walk. Bryant followed with a double down the left field line as Schwarber raced home and crossed the plate.
However, a challenge from Phillies skipper Gabe Kapler went the Phillies way thanks to a “stadium ground rules boundary” ruling that changed the play to a ground rule double. Schwarber was put back at third base, and Eflin then retired Rizzo on a fly out to center to escape trouble.

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After making the final out in right field in the sixth inning, Bryce Harper trolls Cubs fans and LAUNCHED the ball out of Wrigley Field and on to the rooftop. 😂

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Maddon pinch-hit for Quintana in the bottom of the 6th inning. He had stymied the Phillies to that point, but also had reached 100 pitches for just the third time this season. It would prove to be just the opening that the visitors needed.

With Carl Edwards on to pitch in the top of the 7th inning, Cesar Hernandez led off with a looping single to left field. After Scott Kingery hit into a force out, Maikel Franco one-hopped a double off the ivy in left field. Kingery rolled around to third and the Phillies had runners at second and third with one out.
Kapler sent the slumping Odubel Herrera up to hit for Eflin. Herrera ripped a ball back to Edwards, who made a fantastic stab to grab the ball and retire Herrera at 1st base with the runners holding. Maddon then went to a pitching change again, and again it burned him.

Andrew McCutchen‘s clutch two-out, two-run single in the top of the 7th inning gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire)
Andrew McCutchen stepped in against the new Cubs hurler, righty Brandon Kintzler. The Phillies veteran right fielder jumped on a 2-2 sinker, ripping it up the box for a two-run single that finally put the Phillies on the board with a 2-1 lead.
It was Kapler’s turn to go to his bullpen, and he called on 22-year-old Edgar Garcia for the bottom of the 7th. After surrendering a leadoff base hit to Bryant the young righty retired the next two batters.
Kapler then brought in Jose Alvarez to face the lefty bat of Jason Heyward. Alvarez sawed off Heyward’s bat, getting him to ground to shortstop for the final out. Alvarez then came back out for the bottom of the 8th inning and worked around a couple of baserunners to keep the 2-1 lead intact.
In the top of the 9th inning, Kingery drilled a one-hopper off the ivy in left off Cubs reliever Xavier Cedeno for a one-out double. Maddon then made another bullpen move, bringing in Kyle Ryan. The lefty got Franco to ground out to third base for the second out, then struck out pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin to end the threat.
Kapler brought out Juan Nicasio to try to close it out in the bottom of the 9th with a one-run lead. He promptly broke the baseball cardinal rule, walking Bryant as the leadoff man. Rizzo then followed by ripping a double into the right field corner and the Cubs had the tying run just 90 feet away, the winning run in scoring position at second base, nobody out.
Contreras then lifted a short fly into left field. Harper grabbed it and set to throw home, too shallow for the tagging Bryant to score. Kapler then ordered Heyward walked to load the bases. Almora  dribbled a ball in front of the plate. Nicasio grabbed it, but delivered a weak flip home as Bryant slid in with the tying run.
The next move in the chess match was Maddon’s, and he had a good one available to him. He sent the electric Javier Baez, normally the starting shortstop but out of the lineup the last two nights with a minor injury, up as a pinch-hitter. Baez wasted no time, ripping the walkoff base hit to right field as Rizzo trotted home with the winning run.
On Wednesday night for the first time in his career, Cole Hamels will take the mound to go against the Phillies team with which he won the 2008 World Series.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

  • Zach Eflin, Phillies: 6 IP, 6 hits, 1 earned run, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts. 104 pitches, 62 for strikes.
  • Jose Quintana, Cubs: 6 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts. 100 pitches, 59 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: KRIS BRYANT

The Cubs third baseman went 3-4 with a walk and a pair of runs scored. His hustle led to the Cubs first run of the game back in the bottom of the 1st inning. And that walk started off the rally in the bottom of the 9th inning that won it for the home team.
NEXT GAME

Big four-game series between Phillies and Cubs continues at Wrigley Field

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Wrigley Field is the site of a four-game series between Phillies and Cubs

The Philadelphia Phillies (28-19) woke up this morning in the Windy City with the club sitting at nine games over the .500 mark for the first time since last September 2.

On Tuesday night at Wrigley Field the Phillies will try to clinch at least a tie from this four-game series with the host Chicago Cubs (27-18) as the two first-place teams continue their battle. In last night’s wild series opener, the Phillies captured a 5-4 victory in 10 innings.
The Phillies have now won four straight close affairs to fashion their first four-game winning streak since capturing the first four of the 2019 season. During this stretch, the Phillies have won three times by a single run and won by two runs in the other game.
From July 31 through August 5 of last season the Phillies won five in a row. That pushed the club to 15 games over the .500 mark for the first time since the 2011 season. It was also the last time that the team won five straight games. They won six in a row twice during last season. On Tuesday night they will try to get five straight for the first time in the 2019 season.

TUESDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES LINEUP

  1. Andrew McCutchen LF
  2. Jean Segura SS
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto C
  6. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  7. Scott Kingery CF
  8. Maikel Franco 3B
  9. Zach Eflin P


CUBS LINEUP

  1. Kyle Schwarber LF
  2. Kris Bryant 3B
  3. Anthony Rizzo 1B
  4. Wilson Contreras C
  5. Jason Heyward RF
  6. Albert Almora CF
  7. Daniel Descalso 2B
  8. Addison Russell SS
  9. Jose Quintana P

INJURY REPORT

Phillies: Starting pitcher Vince Velasquez hopes to throw a bullpen this week after suffering a strained elbow and being placed on the IL back on May 11. Relievers David RobertsonTommy HunterEdubray Ramos and Victor Arano remain on the Injured List. None is close to a return at this point. Outfielder Roman Quinn has ramped up running as he continues recovering after suffering a groin strain. He will not return for this series.
Cubs: Electric shortstop Javier Baez will miss a second straight game in this series with a heel injury suffered in Sunday’s game. He could see action as a pinch-hitter and is considered day-to-day at this point. Reliever Pedro Strop is on the IL with a hamstring injury and will miss this series. Also out from the Cubs pen mix are Brandon Morrow and Kendall Graveman, both with elbow injuries. Graveman underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2018.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

  • Zach Eflin: 5-4, 2.89 ERA, 1.089 WHIP, 52 hits allowed over 56 innings across nine starts with a 45/9 K:BB ratio.
  • Following three straight Quality Starts, Eflin was whacked around by Milwaukee last Thursday at Citizens Bank Park. He surrendered four earned runs on seven hits over five innings in that afternoon affair.
  • Eflin is 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA over three appearances against the Cubs, against whom he has not allowed a home run over 19.2 innings. The righty has made two career starts at Wrigley, one in each of the past two seasons, and lasted at least seven innings in both.
  • Jose Quintana: 4-3, 3.68 ERA, 1.266 WHIP, 50 hits allowed over 51.1 innings across nine outings, eight starts with a 50/15 K:BB ratio.
  • The 30-year old lefty from Colombia lasted just five innings in his most recent start on Thursday in Cincinnati. He surrendered three earned runs on six hits in suffering his second straight loss.
  • Quintana has faced the Phillies just four times over his eight-year big-league career. He tossed a pair of no-decisions against them last season, allowing just six hits over 11.2 innings, striking out 17 while walking just three batters.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • Monday night’s extra-inning victory was the first win for the Phillies this season when trailing after eight innings. They had been 0-14 prior to last night’s rally.
  • Jean Segura‘s game-tying base hit in the top of the 9th on Monday night extended his hitting streak out to 11 games.
  • Bryce Harper worked a walk on Monday night and has now reached base safely in all 19 career games that he has played at Wrigley Field.
  • Hector Neris has converted 10 straight Saves since last May 21, the second-longest streak of his career. In those last 10 save opportunities, Neris has pitched 11.1 innings, allowing just three hits and a walk with 15 strikeouts. He has a miniscule 0.98 ERA since allowing a pair of runs on Opening Day.
  • Juan Nicasio earned his first Save with the Phillies on Monday night. The veteran right-hander has not allowed an earned run in his last 11.1 innings over 10 appearances.
  • In a 14-game stretch at the start of May, 27-year-old third baseman Kris Bryant slashed .377/.500/.906 with eight homers and 17 RBIs. But after going 0-5 in Monday’s series opener he is now just 1-12 over his last three games. Hopefully the Phillies are catching him just as he cools down.
  • Joe Maddon is now in his fifth season as the Cubs manager. He was at the helm of the Tampa Bay Rays during their 2008 World Series loss to the Phillies. Maddon now has a 1,195-1,008 record as a big-league skipper. The wins total is 43rd all-time in MLB, with only Bruce BochyTerry Francona and Clint Hurdle ahead of him among active managers.
  • The Phillies have announced that their recent “Phantastic Auction” raised a record $205,000 to benefit Phillies Charities, Inc.

TUESDAY PROGRAMMING INFORMATION


Sean Rodriguez signs with Phillies and could bring veteran versatility to club

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The Phillies signed Sean Rodriguez and invited him to spring training

The Philadelphia Phillies announced the signing of another free agent on Friday morning. Unfortunately, he once again is not the name that fans are hoping to hear.

Sean Rodriguez is a 33-year-old (turns 34 in late April) multi-positional player with 11 years of big-league experience. The Miami, Florida native was originally drafted by the Anaheim (now Los Angeles) Angels in the third round of the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft out of a Miami high school.
Rodriguez rose through the Angels minor league system before finally making his Major League Baseball debut during the 2008 campaign. After appearing in 71 games for the Angels over the 2008-09 seasons he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays in December 2009 as the player-to-be-named-later in a trade in August of that year in which the Angels had landed pitcher Scott Kazmir.
Rodriguez would play five seasons with Tampa Bay, becoming a versatile piece for manager Joe Maddon, who used Rodriguez at every position other than pitcher or catcher during that time. He also appeared in a dozen postseason games with the Rays between 2010-13, with seven of those coming as a starter.

In December 2014, Tampa Bay shipped Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he would help the Bucs reach their third consecutive NL Wildcard Game. After two years in the Steel City, Rodriguez signed with the Atlanta Braves as a free agent. The Braves dealt him back to the Pirates in August 2017, and Rodriguez again played last season in Pittsburgh.
Over his 11-year career, Rodriguez has slashed .226/.300/.380 with 77 home runs and 119 doubles over 2,761 plate appearances. His best season came in 2016 with Pittsburgh when he produced career highs of 18 homers and 56 RBI, slashing .270/.349/.510 over 140 games.
How many players in the history of baseball have played 7 positions (not even including DH) in 3 straight seasons? Sean Rodriguez has.

And he’s now played 6+ positions (not counting DH) in 6 straight seasons.

Anyone want to research that one? America needs to know!

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Particularly known for his versatility, Rodriguez has played the following positions, with total games in parentheses: first base (212), second base (335), shortstop (176), third base (130), left field (116), center field (25), right field (65), with no career appearances on the mound or behind the plate.

Rodriguez may be the best of a number of long shot veterans who the Phillies have signed and invited to spring training in Clearwater, Florida. That list includes catcher Rob Brantly, infielders Andrew Romine and Gregorio Petit, outfielder Shane Robinson, and lefty pitchers Edward Paredes and Jeremy Bleich.

NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs preview and prediction

The Dodgers and Cubs meet in a repeat NLCS

For the second consecutive season the National League Championship Series will be contested by the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The two teams engaged in a spirited series last October, eventually won by the Cubs in six games. Chicago would then go on to defeat the Cleveland Indians, winning the franchise first World Series in more than a century.

A year ago, Chicago took the opener. But LA then received back-to-back pitching gems from Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, shutting out the Cubs twice to take a 2-1 series lead.

After that, it was all Chicago. The Cubbies bats awoke with a vengeance to take the final three games by a combined 23-6 score.

This season, the Dodgers staggered out of the gate, going 10-12 over the first few weeks of April. But from April 27 through August 25 they accumulated an unreal 81-24 record.

That four month stretch of dominance allowed the Dodgers to run away with the National League West Division race. Even a month-long slump over which they lost 20 of 25 games would not allow either the Arizona Diamondbacks or Colorado Rockies, both eventual NL Wildcard teams, to make a dent in the division.

Los Angeles would recover to take eight of their final 10 games, finishing with 104 wins and an 11-game cushion over Arizona. The 104 victories gave them the best mark in all of Major League Baseball, and were the most by any Dodgers team in more than four decades.

The Dodgers would stay hot in the postseason as well, sweeping the 93-win Diamondbacks in three games in a National League Division Series.

Over in Chicago, the defending World Series champion Cubs had a much tougher go of things in the 2017 regular season. They would ultimately win 92 games and a second consecutive NL Central crown by six games. But that would not be decided until September, following spirited challenges from the upstart Milwaukee Brewers and arch-rival Saint Louis Cardinals.

That tougher road would continue in their NLDS against the Washington Nationals. The Cubs and Nats split the first four games, with Chicago taking a pair of low-scoring 3-0 and 2-1 affairs. Washington won by 6-3 and then in a 5-0 shutout behind Stephen Strasburg to send the series to a deciding game.

In that decisive Game Five, the two National League giants threw hay makers at one another. At the end of the battle in our nation’s capital, it was the Cubs left standing following a 9-8 victory.

The Dodgers are led by skipper Dave Roberts in his second year at the helm. Roberts has guided the LA club to division crowns in each of those two seasons.

The Cubs manager is the colorful Joe Maddon. The longtime skipper in Tampa Bay, Maddon guided the Rays to a pair of AL East crowns and the 2008 American League pennant. Now in his third season in the Windy City, he has an all-time managerial record of 1,073-922 and that 2016 World Series crown.

The Dodgers lineup receives most of their offense from five players. Two of them, shortstop Corey Seager and first baseman Cody Bellinger, are the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year and the likely 2017 ROY respectively.

A pair of 27-year olds have emerged as the most pleasant surprises this season. Left fielder Chris Taylor hit for a .288/.354/.496 slash line with 21 homers, 72 RBI, 85 runs scored, and 17 steals. Austin Barnes has taken over primary catching duties. His big 6th inning homer off Dbacks ace Zack Greinke in the NLDS Game Three helped the Dodgers clinch that series.

The mercurial Cuban right fielder known as “the Wild Horse”, Yasiel Puig, put together his finest season. The final influential lineup piece is third baseman Justin Turner. Known for his long red hair and beard, Turner is also one of baseball’s most underrated superstars.

There are plenty of veterans to provide Roberts with lineup support. They include Logan Forsythe, Chase Utley, Andre Ethier, and Yasmani Grandal.

On the mound, Roberts will go with his ace Kershaw in the opener. You can expect to see the lefty, one of the top pitchers of this generation, to come back twice more in the series if needed.

The lefty Hill will go in Game Two, followed by right-hander Yu Darvish in Game Three. Another lefty, Alex Wood, will start Game Four. If the series continues beyond that, expect Kershaw to start Game Five, and then to be available in a decisive seventh game.

The Dodgers bullpen is anchored by one of baseball’s top closers. Kenley Jansen is a big, 30-year old right-hander. He saved 41 games this year with a 1.32 ERA and 0.746 WHIP in his second consecutive NL All-Star campaign. Jansen allowed just 44 hits over 68.1 innings with a dominating 109/7 K:BB ratio.

Between his starting pitcher and his lights-out closer, Roberts will lean heavily on righties Kenta Maeda and Brandon Morrow, and left-handers Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson. He is likely to also have right-handers Pedro Baez and Josh Fields available.

Maddon is well aware of what it takes to beat good pitching in October. “Mr. Kershaw, obviously, and they’ve got Darvish, etc. Listen, we just went through Strasburg and Scherzer, and that’s no day at the beach either. When you get to this time of the year, you really have to be prepared to beat good pitching, which they have.

The Cubs group of hitters have proven they can beat that good pitching. One of the deepest and most versatile lineups in the game today is led by the 2016 NL MVP in third baseman Kris Bryant and clutch first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, Javier Baez, Albert Almora, and Jason Heyward are all 20-somethings and all are talented enough that they can be difference-makers in a particular game.

The old man of the team is versatile 36-year old Ben Zobrist, who followed Maddon from Tampa to Chicago and still contributes heavily. When he takes the field in the opener, Zobrist will be participating in his 60th MLB postseason game over the last decade.

The biggest question mark in this series may be what Maddon decides to do with his starting rotation. Even as late as Saturday morning, the starter for Game One has not been announced.

Maddon could choose to go with lefty summer acquisition Jose Quintana, who tossed 2/3 of an inning in relief during Game Five against Washington just two days ago in the NLDS.

He could also come with righty John Lackey, who won a dozen games and started 30 games in the regular season. The veteran turns 39 years old in a couple of weeks, has 26 games of postseason experience, and is well-rested after not seeing any NLDS action.

I would expect to see Maddon go with those two as starters in the first two games in some order. They would be followed by Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and Kyle Hendricks. But that’s only what I would do.

The good news is that whomever becomes the choice to start, there is plenty of talented bullpen support available should they get into early trouble. Maddon should have righties Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, and closer Wade Davis available. From the left side it would be Justin Wilson, Brian Duensing, and Mike Montgomery. And if he doesn’t start, Lackey would be available as well.

The Dodgers had the best record in Major League Baseball this season and swept their NLDS opponent. The Cubs are the defending world champions and play with confidence and swagger. This should be a fascinating matchup.

During the regular season, the Dodgers took four of the six meetings between the two clubs. But I am going to call it for the defending champs. I believe that the Cubs have the talent to take out the Dodgers by that same margin. Call it Chicago in six games.