Chicago Cubs: Officially under their rivals skin
You don’t have to read between the lines to know the Chicago Cubs aren’t well liked by their division rivals. The lovable tag has been shed and this team is disliked. Why? Because they’re the best in baseball, regardless of what Gerrit Cole seems to think.
If last season’s Wild Card game which included a couple of bean balls, a bench-clearing tussle and Sean Rodriguez taking things out on a Gatorade cooler wasn’t enough–the Pittsburgh Pirates are right back at it in 2016.
Career .230 hitter Rodriguez continued his…bullying? I don’t even know what it is he’s doing but let’s call it that. A stare down with Pedro Strop followed by some jawing with the Cubs bench showed he hasn’t learned a thing. Even after Strop sent him down on strikes he kept his “blue steel” gaze fixed on Strop.
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To follow that up, Pirates’ starter Gerrit Cole decided to say the Cubs weren’t “the best team in baseball”. Well, hate to break it to him, but they are–and they’ve pretty much owned the Bucs. Even a reporter got into it on Twitter after Jake Arrieta hit Jung Ho Kang.
So what to take from all of this? The Cubs are under their opponents skin and it’s going to play to their advantage. The Cubs are 5-1 against the Pirates this season. They knocked the Bucs out of the playoffs in the Wild Card playoff at PNC last season. I mean, the Cubs have a lead over the second-place Pirates that some teams only have over the last-place teams.
Baseball isn’t played on paper. We’ve all heard that before. Even with the additions the Cubs made, the depth they supposedly had, there were plenty of things that could go wrong. One of them did with Kyle Schwarber going down for the season early. But the Cubs didn’t slow down. Jason Heyward was awful at the plate in April, but they just kept winning.
The San Diego Padres are the only team that have beat the Cubs in consecutive games, is that the team Cole thinks is the best in the league? The Padres did indeed get the best of them in that series. The Cubs were outplayed, and that will happen. But did you hear any of the Padres make claims the Cubs aren’t the best? Any stare downs? No, none of that.
There’s a confidence in this team that scares the opponents. If not for Hector Rondon allowing the ninth inning home run to the Pirates’ Kang the Cubs would have tied the game in the bottom-half of the inning. Always battling. Clearly they’re under the skin of the Pirates, and they won’t be the only team that feels like that.