Chicago Sports – Not Great Bob!

I’m not sure anyone would have predicted how poorly all of the Chicago sports teams would do this year. It was just a few years ago that the Cubs were kicking butt, the BlackHawks had just won the Cup, and the Bears…still had a ways to go. They looked great last year though and seemed like they might be turning corner. Jump to now, and all of them are riding the struggle bus to say the least. I had a few thoughts on each of them, and figured why not put them down on the blog I haven’t used in over a year!

First up – the Bears.

What can you say about this season but OOF. The have a coach who refuses to give up the play calling and a quarterback who has regressed beyond any one’s expectations. I’ll own up to having been on the Trubisky hype train after last year. Not mention all the talk about the steps forward he had taken from the coach. That really blew up in a lot of people’s faces and an offense that score isn’t going to go very far. The one saving grace is that the defense, while not other worldly like last year, has still been solid and kept the Bears from getting completely torn apart.

Next up – the Cubs.

Last season was a complete grind to watch on TV. You never knew if you were going to watch the good team the Cubs had the potential to be, or the mess that never stood a chance. The two brightest spots were easily Nico Hoerner and Nick Castellanos, because they both provided a nice jolt into the team that helped make the Cubs fun to watch again. The team still has great players but most definitely needs a shake up, and some additional help. Unfortunately, I’m not sure either will come this off season. The Ricketts have already started putting the “we’re not going to spend big” message out there, and putting together a trade for a star player is never easy. At this point, I’m guessing the they make a few minor trades and sign a couple cheaper free agents, and ride the “Hope are current players get better” train all the way to next season.

Now, lets talk about the BlackHawks.

I had a decent amount of hope going into this season. Not the “THE HAWKS WILL WIN THE CUP!” hope, more of the “The Hawks will be a playoff team!” hope. That’s looking less and less likely though. Of the games I have watched this year, they’re just getting out played by most of the teams. They get beat to the puck constantly, and the shots they allow are ridiculous. The only thing that has kept them from getting blown out several times is the spectacular goal tending of Lehner and Crawford. Without those two, the goals allowed in a couple games would have been double digits. The best part of this season has easily been the young players making their way on to the team. Dach, Nylander, and Boqvist are fun to watch, even if you’re occasionally cringing at some of the mistakes they make. Along with Debrincat and Strome, they are the future of the BlackHawks, and it doesn’t look to bad. There is still some time for them to right the ship, and hopefully they do, but that window is closing quickly.

Finally, I’m going to mention the White Sox.

This is the team I know by far the least about, but also the team I feel like could be the best in the near future. They have several good young players that have made their MLB debuts, and some more on their way. Again, much like Cubs, I believe it will hing on if the ownership/front office is willing to spend some money and supplement the young-ins with some needed veteran players (them being good would help too). They seemed wiling to spend on Machado last year, so hopefully they take that money and spend it this off season. They kind of remind of me of the 2014 Cubs. – a good start but need that extra boost to really get going.

And there you have it. My thoughts on the state of Chicago Sports. Not that anyone asked for it.

P.S. I know these aren’t the only teams in Chicago (Fire, Sky, etc.), but the other ones I know absolutely nothing about, so wading into those topics would make no sense.

Goals for 2018

Inspired by my friend Brian, instead of naming some resolutions this year, I’m going to set a few goals that I can *hopefully* keep myself accountable for. So let’s dive right in!

Blog More. This is the main goal for this year. I keep telling myself I’m going to write a post for the blog, but have a bad habit of not falling through. This post is a great example! I’ve been meaning to write these goals down for two weeks and despite having ample time I just hadn’t done it. I’m going to keep this goal conservative and make just one post a month. If I do more than that great, but there will be at least one a month. And two in one month doesn’t cancel out the next month either.

No unfinished video games. The last few years I always seem to have a game or two on the shelf unopened when it comes to an end. Life does keep me pretty busy, but completing the 4-5 games I buy every year shouldn’t be hard. So the goal here is to complete the 3 games I currently have sitting on the shelf, plus any new ones I buy. The goal is to complete one game every two months. That might be cutting it close, but I think it will get me there.

House Renovations. In 2017, I managed to get the basement finished, and it’s worked out really well. Now we have two places to hang out and play games, which is nice when Alyssa’s friends come over. This year I want to re-do the upstairs bathroom (currently trapped in the 1960s) and the back and front porches. The bathroom is the bigger of the two projects so I’m going to start with that one first. I’m going to give myself until the end of May to complete it, and then spend the summer/fall working on the porches which really just need a fresh coat of paint.

Keep getting faster at running. I set a whole bunch of running personal records last year, and want to keep that going. I’m not doing another a marathon, as two years in a row is enough for me, so that one isn’t manageable but everything else is on the table. In particular I’d really like to take a few more minutes off my half marathon, which is probably also going to be the hardest. I managed a 1 hour and 59 minute finish last year and it was pretty tough. It also felt really good, so that should give me some serious motivation. I’m going to set my goal for the half at 1 hour and 55 minutes, but I’ll settle for anything under my current time.

That’s all the goals I’m going to set as that list should keep me occupied for most of 2018. They should also generate plenty of things for me to blog about! Exciting!

Here’s to a great year!

Voltron: Season 3

Emily and I just finished the surprisingly short Season 3 of Voltron. It was about half the length of the last two seasons, which we didn’t know, so when we saw episode 7 was the season finale it caught us a little off guard. I thought I would jot down some quick thoughts while it’s still fresh in my mind. I’ll keep it as spoiler free as possible!

My biggest take away was that the story wasn’t quite as good as the last two seasons. It was interesting enough to keep my attention, but didn’t draw me in like before. While I found it really hard to stop watching before, this time it didn’t take much convincing. The story was a little slow the entire season, and felt a bit to predictable at times. It did have a couple good “didn’t see that coming” moments, and added some backstory though. I can also give it a slight pass based on the fact it feels like it was setting up for a much bigger story in Season 4 which is only a couple months away. Hopefully it pays off!

I mentioned it above, and one of my favorite things this season was the back story and the throw backs to previous seasons. They did a great job explaining some the history of Voltron and the first paladins, and tying it to the present. It was definitely one of the better episodes. There were also a few “I HAD COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN ABOUT THAT!” moments when recalling past events, which was a nice touch.

***This next paragraph gets into some spoiler-ish moments***

The part I was most disappointed with was the Shiro story line. It’s obvious from the beginning that he is not actually dead, and when they do finally bring him back, it happens way too fast in my opinion. He is reunited with the team in the same episode he appears in, and then goes back to being his old self in the next. They hint that there is a nefarious plan behind it all (and that’s why he was able to escape so easily), so much like the rest of the season, I’m betting this gets better in the next season.

It sure seems like I’ve been ragging on this season an awful lot, but overall, it still felt like the Voltron I have come to enjoy over the last two seasons. I just wish the story had been more exciting and other things had been flushed out better. I suppose that’s what happens when you only get seven episodes though. I’m still very much looking forward to Season 4 and watching Voltron and the paladins kick some more butt!

Drinking my way through the Pacific Northwest

As Emily has mentioned in some other posts, we went to Portland/Seattle a few weeks ago to visit her brother and his family. We did a lot of fun things while we there, and in between them, we enjoyed one of the other things the area is known for: great beer! We didn’t over do it by any means, but we both were very “beer’d out” by the end of the week. We love good beer, so you know it was a good amount when we opt to skip the final brewery Nick and Kim were going to take us to. We decided we should put all that drinking to good use and note all the ones we had for each day, and pick out our favorites! (All scores are out of 5)


Sprinkles (Everybody’s Brewing) – 3.75
Covfefe (Thunder Island Brewing Co) – 3.5
NW Red (Ancestry Brewing Co) – 3.00
Scaler Single Hop (Backwoods Brewing Co) – 3.75
Kumite (StormBreaker Brewing) – 4.00
Space Cake (Clown Shoes) – 4.5

Small note about this first day – we had a sampler so five of the six beers were just tasters. We didn’t drink as much as it appears!

As you can tell by the ratings, my favorite of the day was the Space Cake. It’s an Imperial IPA with an ABV of 9%, so it will catch up to you quickly if you’re not careful. It’s got a good malty taste with a bit of hop to it, and a nice mild bite at the end. The west coast style of IPA is definitely different, and this was a great introduction.


Inversion IPA (Deschutes Brewery) – 3.75

I didn’t realize until I was looking back that I only had one beer this day. This was actually because we had planned to go to a Bar/Arcade that night, but we were all fairly beat after spending the day downtown and just ordered a pizza and crashed at home instead.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a Deschutes beer that has disappointed me, and the Inversion IPA was no exception. It is a hoppy IPA with a floral taste to it, and is also quite smooth. It went really well with grilled cheese and tomato soup I had to eat. I easily could have had two or three, but had to much walking to do to warrant it.


I’m just going to preface this with that fact that this was the day we visited Seattle and signed up to go on a Road Dog brewery tour. There is a lot of beers listed here but keep in my mind many of them were samples (although some were larger than what I would consider a “normal” sample size). The brewery tour was awesome by the way, and I would highly recommend it to anyone in the area. Sufficed to say, a good time was had by all.

Supergoose IPA (Hale’s Ales) – 4
Night Troll Porter (Hale’s Ales) – 3.5
Hale’s Cream Ale (Hale’s Ales) – 3
El Jefe Weizen Ale (Hale’s Ales) – 3.75
Pale American Ale (Hale’s Ales) – 3.5
Holy Basil Pale (Outlander Brewery) – 3
Tiramisu Brown (Outlander Brewery) – 4.25
Ancho Amber (Outlander Brewery) – 3.5
Imperial Peanut Butter Stout (Outlander Brewery) – 4
The Sister Imperial IPA (Fremont Brewing) – 4
Proletariat Porter (Fremont Brewing) – 3.75
Keys. Phone. Wallet. (Cloudburst Brewing) – 4.25
Trickster (Black Raven Brewing) – 3.75

I would have to say that the Tiramisu Brown was the winner of the day followed closely by Keys. Phone. Wallet. The Tiramisu was so smooth and easy to drink it was ridiculous. It had some great spice to it as well. I’ve never had real Tiramisu so I couldn’t tell you if it tasted similar, but if it did, I really need to try some.


Long Ball Ale (BridgePort Brewing Co.) – 3.5

After drinking so much the day before we decided to take the day off of drinking, and just had one at the Hillsboro Hops baseball game we went to. It was light and crisp, which was perfect to drink while sitting in the stands under the warm sun. It was my first MiLB game, and it was a blast (even though the Hops lost).


Pallet Jack IPA (Barley Brown’s Beer) – 4.5
3-way IPA (Fort George Brewery) – 3.5
Supplication (Russian River Brewing ) – 4
Reggie’s Red (Lucky Labrador Brewing) – 3.5
Chris’s Going Away IPA (Lucky Labrador Brewing) – 3.5

I’m going to go against my initial rankings, and have to say my favorite beer of the day was the Supplication. That beer has stuck with me all these weeks later. It’s a sour beer, with a serious bite to it, but it is delicious. It was also one of the more expensive beers I had, although I didn’t know that at the time. It was worth every penny.

I also couldn’t resist getting the “Chris’s Going Away IPA” when I saw it. It was the next to last day of vacation after all! It was a fairly standard IPA, that I’d have again if it I saw it.

And so, we’ve come to end of the drinking adventure. We were in Portland for another day, but took it off of drinking again, as the night before was pretty crazy. I was going to end this with picking my favorite beer overall, but there were so many good ones, that I think I’ll just stick with the daily rankings, and suggest if you like good beer you give those a try. We did a lot more than just drink, which you can read in Emily’s other posts, so it wasn’t just about the beer, but it definitely added to the fun. We had a great time in Portland and Seattle, and are very much looking forward to going back!

Achievement(s) Unlocked!

If I had to describe 2015 in one word it would be this: Change. For me, a lot has happened and it’s caused the entire year to go by in what feels like a blink of an eye. It’s all been positive change too, so I suppose I should count my blessings for that. I’m definitely happier than I was a year ago, and honestly can’t remember the last time things were going this well. I probably just jinxed it though. *knocks on wood*

(After I wrote this my basement flooded…WAY TO JINX IT PAST CHRIS!)

I wanted to do a quick run down of all the major events of this year, so that I can put into perspective how great this year was. Plus my memory is terrible and I’m sure I’ll need a reminder eventually.

Got a new job!

As most of my friends already knew, I was miserable in my old job. I couldn’t stand the people I worked with, and I had gotten stuck into doing the same things all the time. I understand why they wanted me to do those things – I was good at it – but it makes for a real boring day after a while. I wasn’t being given the opportunity to advance either, so when the new job offer came along, it made the decision fairly easy. The work I’m doing now is both enjoyable and challenging, and the people I work with are fairly great. They also know what they are doing, which is a nice change of pace. Not dreading going to work, and coming home in a good mood most days has made a huge difference for me.

Bought a new house!

After years of talking about doing it, I finally sold my house and moved into Springfield. A large part of the credit for this one goes to Emily and my parents because without them, I can guarantee you I would still be living in my old house. Emily kept me motivated and moving forward, and my parents helped me fix it up so I got a decent price. I’m really glad this one got done, as it was the house I had bought with my now ex-wife many years ago, and getting out of there has allowed me to finally put that chapter of my life in the past. Yet another reason why things are so great right now!

Got Engaged!

In what will end up being the biggest change, I asked Emily to marry me and she said “Yes”! This last year and a half with her has been absolutely fantastic, and I want to continue to have great adventures with her forever. It wasn’t as nerve wrecking as I thought, which probably had to do with the fact I knew I wasn’t going to get shot down, and it was actually a little fun. Emily is already in wedding planning mode, and next October should be a lot of fun!

Went to Disneyland!

In November, Emily, Alyssa, and I went on vacation to Disneyland for a few days. We decided to go over a year ago, when we heard about the Avengers Half Marathon they put on every year. We went out a few days early and enjoyed the main park, as well as the California Adventure one while we were there. Our favorite rides: Indiana Jones, Radiator Springs Racers, and Tower of Terror. We did all of those twice, and did all the other main ones one time each through out our stay. We got to meet some of the Avengers which was fun, and I’m pretty sure Emily was contemplating running away with Hawkeye. Alyssa took a selfie with Captain America and Thor that turned out to be one of my favorite pictures of the trip. I really enjoyed hanging out with Emily and Alyssa, and it was total blast for all of us. Emily and I even got some sweet looking medals for our run! The only downside? My legs were DESTROYED after spending three days walking around the parks and running a half marathon.

So overall 2015 was pretty great. It had some down times here and there, but I came out ahead in the end, and that’s all you can really hope for. There will definitely be some more changes coming this year and I’m looking forward to what 2016 brings!

Bad Habits

When I started running a few years ago, I didn’t read up on it or look into proper techniques. I mean, it’s just running, right? How much could really be involved? Turns out I was super wrong. While running short distances is no problem, when you get into longer runs, bad habits will really come back to bite you. I’m currently recovering from an IT Band strain and can’t run more than a few miles, as an example. I thought I’d share a few of the good habits I’ve started, so hopefully you can avoid the same mistakes I made.

1. Drink Water. I know this sounds simple, but up until a year ago, I used very little water on my runs. I didn’t even own a hand carried water bottle when I trained for my first half marathon. Granted I still don’t use one on short runs, but anything 8 miles or more? You bet I’m grabbing my water bottle (or belt!).

2. Use energy gel. Whether it’s in goo or chew form, use them. I thought it sounded ridiculous at first, but it made a huge difference. I don’t feel like I want to die when I finish a long run anymore, which is pretty great. Plus they give you that nice boost at the end to keep pushing for those last few miles.

3. Stretch! This is what led to my current injury. I never stretched or foam rolled my legs after a run, and apparently when you’re training for a marathon and running 15 miles or more every other weekend, this is really a bad idea. I’ve started foam rolling ever since, and it makes my legs feel a thousand times better. It literally takes 5 minutes, and should be done after any long run.

4. Find a training program. When I ran my first half marathon, I just winged it and ran whatever I felt like on my training runs. It wasn’t the end of the world and I did finish it, but once again, it could have been a whole lot easier. I discovered this during my second half marathon in which I used one. There are a whole bunch of training programs out there, so take your pick! I use (and enjoy!) the ones by Hal Higdon.

There you have it. Four simple things that will make your running life a lot better. If I could go back in time, I’d start doing these things from the beginning so I could avoid the current injury I’m dealing with.


Thanks to Emily for encouraging me to make these changes!

Phantom…of the hourglass!

After playing through Majora’s Mask on my 3DS, it got me thinking about the other Zelda games for the DS that I never beat, and I decided to give them another go. First up: The Phantom Hourglass.


I can’t remember why I stopped playing this game. The only thing I can think of is that some other game came out, and my attention was pulled away. I didn’t get very far on my first play through, so this was basically a completely new game to me. Phantom Hourglass takes place directly after Wind Waker, and has the same art style to it. You are once again sailing around the ocean from island to island, but this time are chasing after the elusive ‘Ghost Ship’ that has taken Tetra. You end up running into a traveler named Linebeck and it’s his ship that you travel around on as you adventure onward.

Phantom_Hourglass_ShipOne major difference from Wind Waker? You can change out the parts of your ship! As you complete side quests and salvage buried treasure from the bottom of the ocean, you will come across new parts which you can equip. There are certain combinations that will give your ship more hearts, which is a little more motivation outside of making your ship look cool. I enjoyed this way more than I probably should have.

The only real problem I had with the game is how gimmicky it is. This game was clearly designed to show off all the features of the DS and they felt forced at times. For instance, there are several times where you have to shout into the microphone to get a person’s attention or cause a monster to be attack-able, and I found it rather annoying (especially when I was playing late at night). That goes double for having to use the stylus to attack all the time. JUST LET ME PUSH A BUTTON, DAMN IT!

I wouldn’t say the story is fantastic, as it’s the standard Zelda style adventure, but I’m also not complaining. You kill monsters, you find things, then you kill more monsters, and you find more things. All while trying to save Zelda and restore order to the world. I suppose the ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ rule applies here. Again, no complaints.

Overall it was a good, but gimmicky, game. I’m sure had I played it 7 years ago when it came out, I wouldn’t have minded all the ‘features’ it was showing off, but it feels really dated now. If you’re a huge Zelda fan like myself, I’d definitely say give this game a play through, but if you’re not, I’d say skip it as it’s nothing to write home about.

5 Reasons to be a Cubs fan

  1. They are not the White Sox

If you want to root for a baseball team from Illinois, you have two options, but really only one if you have any kind of sense. Yeah, they won a World Series in 2005, but they’re still the worst. Plus they play in that prison of a baseball field called U.S. Cellular.

  1. Catchy Songs

Want to listen to multiple songs about your favorite team? Be a Cubs fan. They may not all be winners, but they’ll still get stuck in your head after a few seconds whether you like it or not. Evidence here and here.

  1. The Cubs/Cardinals Rivalry

Is there anything better than watching the Cubs beat the Cardinals? Answer: No, there is not. Count the rings all you want, there is no washing away the shame of losing 7 games to the 2012 Cubs.

  1. Young Talent

Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Jorge Soler, just to name a few. The Cubs are going to have to pay for all the damage these guys are going to cause with the long ball. ALL YOUR OFFENSE ARE BELONG TO CUBS.

  1. Wrigley Field

Clearly the best stadium in the league, and with the renovations, it will get only better. Suck it, other teams.

That’s No Moon

Marvel announced last year that they were going to be releasing not just one, BUT THREE new Star Wars comics, and being a huge Star Wars fan myself, I was fairly intrigued by the idea even though I hadn’t been into comics for the last several years. Over the last few months each of Star Wars, Darth Vader, and Princess Leia has come out and I’ve managed to snag a copy of each one so far. The only bump in the road I’ve hit was having to pick up a copy of Star Wars #1 off eBay as my local comic book shops sold out in a few hours. Apparently there was a lot more demand for that one than I anticipated. Or at least more jerks buying multiple copies to re-sell at a higher price.

STAR WARS #1 & #2

As expected, this comic follows the entire group as they attempt to keep the momentum of their biggest strike against the empire (blowing up the Death Star) going. I love the fact that the reader is immediately thrown back into the thick of things with the crew on another action packed mission to weaken the already loosened grip of the empire. To no one’s surprise, things don’t go quite as planned and they have to improvise to keep the mission alive. I’m not going to spoil anything, but it’s been pretty fantastic so far. I also really enjoy the art style as it has a lot of detail to it which makes it feel realistic, and really helps draw you into the world. They definitely spent some time on it and I can really appreciate the effort. Of the three comics, this is the one I’m enjoying the most, but that’s because it reminds me of the movies, which I love.

DARTH VADER #1 & #2Darth1

These comics follow Darth Vader after his greatest failure yet, the destruction of the Death Star. Due to his failure Darth Vader has been pushed out of the emperor’s inner circle and now has to report to General Tagge instead. The interactions between the two are excellent, as Vader is still intimidating and acts inconvenienced more than anything. The story is focused on him trying to secretly figure out what the emperor is up to, as well as attempting to track down the young rebel pilot responsible for blowing up the Death Star. It has been less action packed and more dialogue driven, but the writing is superb and it easily keeps my attention. Plus it does have exciting moments from time to time. The art style once again has that realistic detail, but with a slightly darker feel. I’ve got no complaints with it at all. The Darth Vader comics have been a great ride so far.


I know there have been other Leia focused stories in the past, but this is the first one I’ve picked up, and was really looking forward to it. I was not disappointed to say the least. This story starts exactly where Episode IV left off, so you get to see what happened directly after everyone left the award ceremony for Luke and Han (still waiting for Chewbacca’s medal, damn it!). As would be expected, the leaders of the rebellion are all busy with getting the base on Yavin evacuated and finding a new planet suitable for their needs. Nobody wants Leia to go anywhere or do anything as she is wanted by the empire, but she isn’t having any of it. With the help of a rebel pilot named Evaan (also a female!), she sets out to find and protect the remaining citizens of Alderaan. Both Leia and Evaan come across as strong, bad ass characters which should make for a great adventure and story. The only problem I have with this comic is the art style. It’s not as sharp and has more of a cartoon-ish look than the other two, and I just wasn’t super impressed. It’s not bad by any means, and it’s certainly not going to stop me from buying the next issue.

Overall, I’ve been really pleased with Marvel’s latest foray into the Star Wars universe. I’m going to be picking up each of these from now on and I couldn’t be happier about that fact (although my wallet might be a tad bit sad). I highly recommend checking them out if you have the chance!

Lets talk about baseball!

Since the Cubs have made some significant moves, I’ve been following the off-season fairly close and decided typing up a short post on my thoughts on the NL Central teams as they currently stand would be fun. Obviously, I picked that division since it’s the one the Cubs are in, which is all that matters. I’m doing it in a worst to best order as that seemed the most logical (plus we all know who is at top, and let’s avoid that for a bit shall we). Let’s do it!


Reds (76-86)

Honestly, I’m not sure what Cincinnati is doing. When they traded Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, it looked like they might be starting a rebuild, but then traded for Marlon Byrd with one year left on his contract. That seems like a ‘Go for it now’ kind of move, but the other trade doesn’t make much sense in that regard. This will be an interesting year for Reds fans. Still with Cueto, Phillips, and Votto they could be surprisingly average and I would put them slightly ahead of the Brewers.

Brewers (77-85)

When I started writing this, I couldn’t think of much the Brewers had done this off-season, and it turns out there was a reason for that: They really didn’t do much. The only trade of significance was sending Gallardo to Texas, but there was no major league players in return so the help for this year is questionable. Ryan Braun might return to his previous form after dealing with injuries last season, but it’s not something I would count on. Not to mention Lucroy just went down with an injury, and if he is out a large amount of time the losses could really pile up. I fall into the camp that believes the insane start they had last season was more of a fluke than reality, so 77 wins seems about right. Assuming everyone stays healthy that is.

Cubs (84-78)

I never thought I’d be excited over a middle of the pack predicted finish for the Cubs, but after the last couple of years, it looks nice. Theo and company have added Joe Maddon as the manager, signed Jon Lester, re-vamped the catching situation with Miguel Montero and David Ross, and traded for Dexter Fowler to help patrol the outfield. It’s been an active offseason for the Cubs to say the least. Where they actually finish in the division will depend hugely on how well the young players such as Baez, Soler, Bryant, and others preform, which is why everyone should keep their expectations under control. If all the things break right for them (highly unlikely) they could finish well above this, but they could also finish slightly below this if the young players struggle. A middle of the pack finish is a good prediction, as they stand to do better than last year and this isn’t far above it. No matter what though, it’s going to be an interesting season.

Pirates (85-77)

The Pirates didn’t do a ton this off-season either, but have made the post season the last two seasons in a row, and I suspect a third trip is in order short of some disastrous outcome (Or the Cubs sneaking past them!). They lost Russell Martin to free agency, and didn’t add a catcher, so that could weaken them a bit. They added Corey Hart and Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang which will help offset some of that production loss, but it’s no guarantee. They also brought back A.J. Burnett, and while he is a bit of an unknown variable, if he returns to his previous form he’ll be more than adequate to take the mound every 5th game. Plus they have McCutchen, and good lord is that guy impressive. I’d look for Buctober to come again this fall.

Cardinals (86-76)

What can I say about the Cardinals? They’re good. They have average or better players at almost every position, and the depth to overcome injuries. The only weak spot might be their rotation, but that’s only if they start to show their age and regress, and that’s a long shot. Even if that happens they’ll probably just pick up a pitcher who has been struggling or isn’t that great, and he’ll become a Cy Young candidate. The Cardinals know how to work that voodoo magic. They picked up Jason Heyward to offset the loss of Oscar Taveras (both a really tragic and avoidable accident) and made a few other minor moves that I can’t remember. They were first last year and will more than likely be first again this year. I really hate that they are this good.

So what is the takeaway from all of this? The Reds and Brewers are going to be mediocre at best, the Cubs are a huge wild card with serious upside, the Pirates will hold their own, and the Cardinals will be good as usual. As a Cubs a fan I want to believe they will win the division as Rizzo has predicted, but it’s more likely that the young guys will have their ups and downs, and the Cubs will hopefully be competing for a Wild Card spot come September. I don’t mean that as a bad thing either, it’s FANTASTIC.

No matter what the season holds though, I can’t wait for baseball to be back and the 70° weather it brings with it. Let’s go Cubs!

P.S. I just remembered the Cardinals signed Carlos Villanueva who was a good long man reliever for the Cubs. Damn it, Cardinals.