Happy Opening Freaking Day! Ok. Back to calm.
Another season means another season’s worth of Series Previews here at Bleacher Nation. The idea is to hook you up with what you need to know about every series this year – streaks, broadcast information, pitchers, lineups, etc. That way you can look like a genius, hardcore fan in front of all your friends, with minimum effort. Oh, and there will be pictures of beautiful women, too.
Up first on the year is the Cubs’ nemesis of recent memory: the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite being annual punching bags for the rest of the league, the Pirates always seem to give the Cubs trouble. Mark my words now: if the Cubs don’t win this series, the whole damn season is doomed.
We’re Going Streaking
The Cubs come into the series riding a zero game winning streak – but also a zero game losing streak, so there’s that. The team was 14-19 in Spring Training, near the bottom of the Cactus League. Of course, if you count the end of last season as a “streak,” the Cubs have won 24 out of their last 37.
As for the Pirates, if you can believe it, were even worse than the Cubs in ST this year, going 11-21 in Florida. I smell a cripple fight.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Friday, April 1 at 1:20 CT on WGN.
- Saturday, April 2 at 12:05 CT on CSN.
- Sunday, April 3 at 1:20 CT on WGN.
Expected Starters and Lineups
Starters: Ryan Dempster (0-0, -.–), Carlos Zambrano (0-0, -.–), Matt Garza (0-0, -.–)
Lineup (as usual, this is a best guess):
- Fukudome, RF
- Castro, SS
- Byrd, CF
- Ramirez, 3B
- Pena, 1B
- Soto, C
- Soriano, LF
- Barney, 2B
Starters: Kevin Correia (0-0, -.–), Paul Maholm (0-0, -.–), Ross Ohlendorf (0-0, -.–)
- Jose Tabata, LF
- Neil Walker, 2B
- Andrew McCutchen, CF
- Lyle Overbay, 1B
- Pedro Alvarez, 3B
- Ryan Doumit, C
- Garrett Jones, RF
- Ronny Cedeno, SS
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
You already know who had a good Spring – Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano – and who had a bad Spring – Matt Garza, Koyie Hill, Alfonso Soriano, Koyie Hill. The guy we’re all itching to see is Garza, who says his absurdly awful Spring was a product of pitching in Arizona for the first time. His season starts Sunday.
Zambrano is another one to watch, for obvious reasons: reformed or regressed?
Hopefully Byrd’s hot Spring will carry forward into the season, thus justifying his 3rd spot in the order.
As for the Pirates, last year’s surprise youngster Neil Walker put together a solid Spring, with an OPS just over .900, and Andrew McCutchen was, predictably, awesome. The other two young hopes – Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata – were mediocre to bad.
The only pitcher of note who had a solid Spring for the Pirates was Charlie Morton, whom the Cubs will not see this series.
So, we’re going to do something a little different with the Series She-View this year. It will still be one beautiful woman representing the Cubs taking on another (usually) beautiful woman representing the opponent, but the Cubs won’t have one set representative for the entire year. The Cubs’ representative will change as the team’s needs change – in other words, if the Cubs are winning, the rep will stay the same. But if the Cubs’ performance calls for a change, someone new will step in. The opponent’s representative will change from series to series, at my whim. But at least she’ll probably be wearing the opponent’s colors.
So, to start things off, we begin with the woman who started it all: the lovely Marisa Miller. I know, I know, the Cubs have sucked the last two years under her watchful – and sexy – eye. But she’s suffered as much as we, and she’s earned the chance to start off the season as the Cubs’ rep.
As for the Pirates, we’ll go with Reese Witherspoon. She’s got some elephant movie coming out with Robert Pattinson, in which I’m almost certain she plays a vampire. Or a werewolf. Or a pirate.