Sunday, May 31, 2009

3B or Not 3B

Today in the Sun-Times, Chris DeLuca makes his case that Jake Fox should be the Cubs starting third baseman until Aramis Ramirez comes back, or that he proves that he really is the worst fielder ever.

The problem is that you can't hide a bad third baseman. It is why the Brewers moved Ryan Braun to left field. He was too much of a butcher at a key infield position despite being one of the best young hitters in baseball.

Lou and his coaches need to ask themselves how good this guy's bat is versus how awful his glove is. Will Fox have any lateral movement? If not, the whole left side of the infield is in trouble because the Cubs already feature a range-challenged shortstop who couldn't make the throw from the hole even if he managed to get to a ball hit there.

Will Fox be able to charge a dribbler or bunt to the left side and make the throw? That would be key in playing a team like the Dodgers with Pierre and Furcal at the top of the lineup.

How accurate is his arm? Is he going to throw the first half of a potential double-play ball into right field? Is he going to charge a ball and throw towards first while on the run and end up tossing it into the dugout?

Third base is nowhere to put someone who is so bad in the field that they have been hesitant to even put him in the outfield.

I would love to see what Fox could do with some regular at-bats. The Cubs' lineup could certainly use a consistent power bat to help ease the pain of losing our best hitter, but there is no guarantee that he is going to continue hitting .400 at this level. There is, however, an almost certain guarantee that he will have numerous chances in the field at third, and that he will absolutely give the opposing team extra outs.

The strength of this team is supposed to be the pitching staff; primarily the starters. You can't expect these guys to get four or more outs in an inning repeatedly without allowing runs to score. Just ask Carlos how that worked out in Game 2 of the playoffs last year.

The Cubs have held a very good Los Angeles offense to a grand total of three runs so far in three games. While we can not expect the pitching staff to maintain a 1.00 ERA for long, we can realistically hope that more times than not, they will allow fewer than four runs in a game.

Geovany Soto is starting to hit. Milton Bradley is starting to hit. Derrek Lee is starting to hit. Mike Fontenot is starting to hit. Really, only Soriano has gone on one of his obligatory cold-as-ice streaks that makes everyone hate him. I don't think asking this offense for four runs per game is asking for too much.

If I'm Lou, I don't mess around with a situation that seems to be reverting back to expected results from the current starters. Maybe I give Soriano a day off and stick Fox in left for a night just to get him a start where he can do the least amount of damage in the field, but Soriano is the starting left fielder and any breather would be of the one game variety.

Otherwise, when Lou says he is going to get him some at-bats off the bench and during games in the AL parks as DH, I think that's the best we can expect. Plus, if he is comfortable getting only one at-bat per game as a pinch hitter (as his 3 for 4 start would seem to suggest), the Cubs haven't had a decent right-handed power bat off the bench for quite some time. That is where he could be truly valuable.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cubs Managing to Elicit Every Possible Emotion Simultaneously

The losing streak of death has ended and the Cubs have managed to win three of four games since. It has been masked by the fact that they have scored a grand total of three runs in the last two days while leaving the bases loaded or hitting into an inning-ending double play in seemingly every damn inning.

The AAA kids have excited us with some flashes, and had a few shots at glory but they have not come through yet when the pressure was on. Bobby Scales supplied the only run in the 2-1 loss on Thursday night, but struck out with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth. He also committed an error to extend the ninth inning for the Dodgers on Friday afternoon, though that did not cost them.

Jake Fox, as his legend would suggest, has reached base every time he has come to the plate except for when he batted with two outs in the ninth on Thursday with the bases loaded and the game on the line.

Andres Blanco has a .111 batting average in his three games with the big club. Jason Waddell has yet to appear in a game.

Meanwhile, Carlos Zambrano mistaking the Gatorade machine for Michael Barrett has given plenty of fodder to the local media to wonder whether Lou has lost control of the team.

Then, if you follow the news of the Cubs sale (if you are, you should set as one of your favorites), you've seen that:
  • The two sides are getting closer together on the terms and the deal is closer to finalization.
  • No they aren't and its the Cubs fault for overvaluing the worth of the broadcasting deal with WGN.
  • The financing is almost completed.
  • No its not and that is why the Ricketts are dragging their feet and trying to get the sale price down.
  • The deal may fall apart and Zell is fine with that.
  • Right field sucks!
  • Left field sucks!
  • You suck!
  • Mark Cuban reiterates that he also doesn't want to buy our team anymore.
  • MLB makes it clear that they are not the ones at fault for this dragging out.
  • Jim Hendry just wants someone to give him some damn money to fix the roster.
  • Both sides are making concessions and starting to come together.
  • Repeat as needed.

So Cub fan's emotions are all over the place this week. We've got half the Iowa Cubs on our major league roster, but we actually like them better than Miles, Freel, and Cotts because they at least have the possibility of improving and if they suck, they'll suck for league minimum salary.

We don't know what to make of Zambrano, Lilly, and Dempster all losing their shit and making Milton Bradley look measured and reasoned. Half the fans seem to enjoy the spunk while half are embarassed that two-year olds who have missed their naptime seem to have more control over their tempers than our players.

And we all have started to smell the gloom and doom of what it would mean to have to open the bidding process back up for the Cubs and prolong the sale through the rest of this season and (if that were to happen) into next year and beyond.

Its not even June and I'm already exhausted.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Roster Roulette

Those pops you may be hearing are not the sounds of champagne corks from the ending of the Cubs' eight game losing streak nor fireworks accompanying the news of the roster moves made today.

It is the sounds of numerous heads of Cubs fans exploding with the conundrum of who is the best baseball player to ever wear a Cubs uniform: the departed Mark DeRosa, whose DNA has been used to create the ultimate performance enhancing substance, or newly arrived Jake Fox, who will need extra space in the Cubs' players parking lot for his pet, Babe the Blue Ox.

Either way, most Cub fans feel like they won the lottery as Neal Cotts has finally been removed from the roster and will head to Iowa if he clears waivers. Most people think he will, but I would not be surprised if someone claimed him. Left handed pitchers will always be held in high regard, no matter how unlikely it is that they actually ever get anyone out. One of the mysteries of baseball that I will never understand for as long as I live is the fact that a lefty pitcher with a 6.00 ERA is more valuable than a righty with a 4.00 ERA.

The Cubs also informed Aaron Miles that his shoulder hurts and that he would be spending some time on the disabled list. Hopefully Miles remembers which one is the one that is supposed to be sore.

The only sad part is the departure of Bobby Scales. I look forward to seeing him on the roster again in September if not before then.

As for the guys taking the bus in from Des Moines, the accomplishments of Jake Fox are well known. He has a batting average of .423, OBP of .503, and slugging .884. He has 17 HRs in 149 ABs. These are all numbers accomplished in the Pacific Coast League in AAA ball.

Jake has seen action with the Cubs before in 2007 when he hit .143 with no HRs and 1 RBI. Of course, this was before he was the Greatest Player in minor league history. Also, his middle name is Quirin. Seriously.

The Cubs filled two needs with the promotion of Andres Blanco. One, he can legitimately play shortstop, and two, he fills the Blanco shaped hole on the roster since the departure of the Greatest Backup Catcher in the history of the world. His middle name is Eloy, which is somehow stranger than Quirin.

Lastly, Cotts sucked so much the Cubs promoted a guy from AAA with a 5.51 ERA in the minors (without ever having to face Fox) to replace him. Jason Waddell comes into a pretty good situation for him since he will probably have to try to not be an improvement over how Cotts was pitching.

Jason, I'll give you one piece of advice. Don't walk the first guy you face. If you happen to walk the first man, please don't follow that up with a walk to the next guy. But if you do happen to walk both the first and second batters you face, whatever you do, please don't allow the next batter to smash an extra-base hit somewhere. That should at least put you in better graces with Cub fans than Cotts.

Jason's middle name is Robert. I guess they can't all be funny.


Andres Blanco doubled home a run in the 8th to drive in an insurance run. Jake Fox then piled on immediately after with a pinch-hit RBI double that almost left the yard. Cub fans everywhere peed themselves a little as a result.

Oh - and Zambrano showed the kind of measured restraint we have all grown to expect by throwing a hissy fit after a close play at the plate. He yelled, he whipped a ball into left field, he bumped the umpire, and will probably be getting suspended soon. Good job, Z. Way to show the new kids how to conduct themselves on a major league diamond.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Bad

So when I posted last, I was going to be heading to the game last night with my Secret Weapon Rally Hat. The problem, unfortunately, is that I was afflicted with whatever brain illness seems to have struck Lou Piniella when he sent a pitcher to the plate as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 7th inning with the tying run on base against a right handed reliever, while our normal number three hitter (who is also left-handed) was available on the bench.

I made the promise to bring the Ultimate Rally Hat before I actually had the rally hat in my hands prior to the game. I had brought it to work on another day so I wouldn't have to go home before heading out to the game. But that was one of our crappy rainy nights, so I left it at work rather than ruin it in the rain.

When I got to the office yesterday to get it, I couldn't find it and I ran out of time looking for it so I had to go armed only with my nine game winning streak intact, hoping that was enough.

Clearly it was not. I blame myself, and the author of the blog Five Outs to Go, who went to the game as well with a personal eleven game losing streak. There was too much negative mojo to overcome without some serious rally hat weaponry.

But, fear not. The rally hat is sitting beside me and I have a ticket to tonight's game as well. It shall make its debut and wreak havoc on the Pirates. I am confident that had the hat made it to the game last night, Aaron Miles would have been able to catch a soft pop fly, Ryan Theriot would have known to set himself before flinging a ball willy-nilly towards first on a grounder up the middle, Lou would have realized that Zambrano is not a hitter, and Dempster would have regained his knowledge of where the strike zone is.

Neal Cotts would have still sucked harder than a black hole though. Some things can't be helped.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Deploying the Secret Weapon

While the Cubs managed to score a whopping two runs against Chris Young, the offense and the team in general could use some help. No, I am not speaking of Mark DeRosa. Will everyone please stop fantasizing about that?

Even the mighty DeRosa, who pulls redwood trees from the ground by the roots to use as bats, can not possibly breathe life into an offense that could hardly do worse if Manny Alexander batted in all nine spots in the batting order.

Much more powerful forces are needed. It is time to break out The Secret Weapon.

I had hoped my mere presence in the ballpark would be enough to get the Cubs back to their winning ways since they are 9-0 so far when I am in attendance, but this was the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad road trip from hell. My showing up at Wrigley on Monday evening probably will not be enough to stem the tide of shitty baseball karma.

I did not wish to waste the potential power of The Secret Weapon willy-nilly on a game of little consequence. I saved it for a rainy day emergency. Well, the rain is coming down in torrents not seen since Noah was gathering animals by twos.

The Secret Weapon was given to me at Christmas by Kris' sister's father-in-law, Tom. He and his family live down in southern Illinois deep in the heart of Cardinal territory where Cubs fans are few and far between. His father, Pete, was one of those Cub fans.

Grandpa Pete owned a very special hat and kept it stored away for special occasions. Unfortunately, I never met Grandpa Pete since he passed away before I started dating Kris, so I never got a chance to discuss the pain and joys of being a Cubs fan. But, this Christmas, I received a gift, through Tom, from Grandpa Pete.

Tom had been cleaning and organizing some things and came across the hat and knew that most of his family, as Cardinals fans, would not have a desire to take ownership of the special Cubs hat. He decided that he would pass it from his family to me, knowing that I loved the Cubs as much or more than his Dad.

It was extremely touching that Tom would bestow an item with such sentimental value to someone who was not a part of his family. Kris thought I should wear it to Opening Day, but since I have my own tradition of purchasing a new Cubs hat for the year on Opening Day, I didn't want to mess with any good mojo that could come from the purchase of a fresh hat with untapped positive energy.

I decided that the gift hat would be perfect as a rally hat. I have had it with me on numerous occasions, but have never needed to use a rally hat because the Cubs have inexplicably never been losing late in the game when I am there. So while the rally hat has stayed dormant during game situations, I did break it out after the game on Opening Day for posterity.

Today, however, is the day where there are no holds barred. The Secret Weapon is coming with me to the game and it will be used if the Cubs insist on hitting like they are wearing blindfolds at the plate. We'll need all the supernatural power that Grandpa Pete can muster up, and if he could see if Harry and Jack are around, that would help too.

If anyone else has a rally hat or other item with good mojo, bring it to the game, set it on the television, or light candles around it with a picture of Lou Piniella. The Cubs need all of the help they can get right now.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Growing Cloud of Pessimism

Josh Geer. Nobody knows who Josh Geer is. Josh Geer's parents are probably hard pressed to pick him out of a crowd. But whoever the hell he is, he sure did know how to get the Cubs lineup out.

I'm pretty sure I could head to the mound and get through the Cubs order a couple of times without too much damage right now and my "fast"ball topped out at about 72 last time I was clocked.

I remember last year and how happy I was to be confident that the Cubs would score a baserunner from third with less than two outs. This year, I'm not sure I will ever see a Cub runner get as far as third base, and if he does get there, he'll just be picked off.

What is most bothersome about this hitting funk they are in is the consistency in which they manage to find their bats in the 9th inning of their games. Except for the first game in St. Louis, each game of the six game losing streak has involved Cubs runners on base, and usually the tying run at least coming to the plate.

I don't know what is more frustrating, the fact that they manage to tease us in the ninth inning every damn night without finishing the job, or that they can't manage to have any sort of threat offensively until 24 outs have been made in the ballgame already. I'm not a strategic expert by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems to me that more runs could theoretically be scored if a team started getting men on base in any of the earlier innings.

All I know for sure is that I should have held onto Chris Young on my fantasy baseball team for one start longer. At least then the Cubs getting shut out would benefit me a little bit instead of just pissing me off and ruining my holiday weekend.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Flash of Optimism

I've gotten away from Chicago for the holiday weekend, so I'm quite relaxed and not quite ready to jump off a cliff over the Cubs' recent inability to recognize balls and strikes or hit a ball out of the infield.

While Joel Piniero is not the second coming of Cy Young, he's a young pitcher with some nice upside that is capable of dominating a lineup when his stuff and command is working right. Hell, if Frank Castillo could throw the occasional shutout, we can't be shocked and amazed by Piniero accomplishing the same feat.

Chris Carpenter is a tremendous pitcher who rivals Rich Harden in both nastiness of stuff and propensity to get injured on a fairly regular basis. It is not even a surprise that he was able to dominate the Cubs lineup. The fact that he managed to get healthy enough to pitch against the Cubs one night after Piniero's masterpiece can simply be chalked up to the baseball gods manipulating the calendar for their own amusement.

Adam Wainright is more frustrating because he is not a dominant pitcher, but he is not a crappy pitcher either and is certainly fantasy team ownable. The Cubs are hardly the first team he has managed to shut down in his life.

Being shut down by Jake Peavy was not only not surprising, it was expected. There is a reason that some Cub fans wet themselves with anticipation when talking about past (and future) trade rumors that involve Peavy joining the Cubs rotation. The man is flat out good.

So, is it shocking that the Cubs have managed only two runs in the last four games? Not even close. It is disappointing. It is frustrating to the point of madness. It is painful to watch and have Len & Bob struggle to feign enthusiasm when a singular runner accidentally gets on base. It is excruciating to listen to Ronny in the background muttering ever more defeatedly with every routine grounder and pop-up on the infield.

But there is hope still. Perhaps the birds chirping outside my window without the sound of police sirens has made me deliriously optimistic. Perhaps I don't fully realize the talent of Mr. Josh Geer and his 5.61 ERA heading to the mound tonight for the Padres. Perhaps I don't fully comprehend the level of ineptitude that the team has sunk to, but I think the Cubs will win tonight.

They f---ing better.

Friday, May 22, 2009

So Many Questions

When the Cubs get swept by the Cardinals as easily as one would cut warm butter with a lightsaber, one starts to dwell on all sorts of questions.
  • Is Lou serious when he starts talking about putting Soriano at second base?
  • When did Adam Wainright and Joel Piniero become the next Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson?
  • Who the hell is Brian Barden and how is he batting .533 against the Cubs and .176 against the rest of the league?
  • Shouldn't the cat attached to Ryan Franklin's chin be constituted as an illegal substance and animal cruelty?
  • Jake, are you sure you wouldn't like to accept that trade to the White Sox? Like right now? Before you throw a pefect game against the drones in Cubs uniforms tonight?
  • Who will make Cubs players come up with slogans for Viagra now that Kathy & Judy have been unceremoniously dumped by WGN radio?
  • Remember when the Cubs batters took balls and swung at strikes? Me neither.
  • How much longer until Aramis comes back?
  • How bad could Jake Fox really be if we stuck him at third base?
  • Is it inappropriate to yell "Son of a bitch!" after seeing the Cubs make their final out of the series while sitting in a Microeconomics class?

Meanwhile, Bad Kermit at Hire Jim Essian asks who we like more, this team or Dusty's 2004 whiny bitches. You really need to read the full post, but I'll provide a few highlighted descriptions of players that were, unfortunately, the best part of my day yesterday.

Corey Patterson

"Unless you’re at the four-letter site, Patterson was pretty much universally hated. Not only did he suck, but I vividly recall a conversation with him on the Score in I believe 2001 in which Corey said he, 'Didn’t know what a leadoff hitter was supposed to do.' You f---ing dumbass."

Aaron Miles

"He’s shaped like a potato and he hits like a carrot. I don’t even know what that means. I hate him so much, that I’m left with nothing but vegetable analogies."

Reed Johnson

"He can play all three positions well, he can handle a bat, he can pinch-run, he doesn’t bitch about playing time, and his beard grew three inches in the time it took you to read that sentence."

Koyie Hill

"Hill had both his arms chopped off while saving a bunch of puppies from a chainsaw-wielding maniac. Doctors sewed him back together, and he started hitting the crap out of the ball."

Matt Clement

"He was a bedwetter who apparently couldn’t even be bothered to bail the Cubs out of a jam in Game Six of the 2003 NLCS. Clement was basically the guy Lilly would be stalking through a cornfield with a scythe."

Kyle Farnsworth

"In his Cubs career, Farnsworth fell asleep in the clubhouse, broke his foot dropkicking a baseball, and probably tried to finger your little sister in the bathroom of Doc Ryan’s."

Thank God, the Blackhawks play tonight so I don't have to watch every swing and miss by the Cubs tonight.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cleveland Trying to Trade Chuck Norris of Baseball

Mark DeRosa can play first, second, third, and the corner outfield spots... at the same time.

Mark DeRosa can turn a triple play with no one on base.

A-Rod and Manny took performance enhancing drugs to keep up with Mark DeRosa.

Yes, a dark cloud settled over Chicago this off-season when Jim Hendry, possibly while under the influence of Lord Voldemort's Imperius Curse, traded Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians for three minor league pitchers.

But today, the clouds are parting and hope has returned to the North Side. Mark Strickler at View from the Bleachers has discovered a piece in SI about Mark DeRosa being shopped by the Cleveland Indians and has started to gauge interest Cub fans may have in starting up the "Bring DeRo back to Chicago" bus.

Now, I like Mark DeRosa. He is a good guy. He is useful to have on a roster. He is versatile in the field. He is capable of producing runs in the lineup. He is NOT the greatest baseball player that ever lived.

To listen to some people on BCB mourn the loss of DeRosa, you would think that trading DeRosa can be likened to trading Lou Brock, Bruce Sutter, and allowing Greg Maddux to leave combined into one uber-tragic event from which the Cubs shall never recover.

I looked up Mark DeRosa on and found the hitters in MLB history in which Mark DeRosa is most similar:
  • Mike Lamb
  • Gabe Kapler
  • Mark Ellis
  • Sean Berry
  • Andy Carey
  • Eric Soderholm
  • Ray Jablonski
  • Dave Nilsson
  • John Ellis
  • Marcus Giles

That is not even close to being an impressive list. The best thing you can say is that it does not include Neifi Perez.

I know Mark is cute and he hustles and he gives good quotes. We all remember that he was the only one who remembered to bring his talent with him to the playoffs last year. He may have invented the curveball and taught Jesus how to walk on water, but he is not a great baseball player.

He is just not worth losing this much sleep over. Mike Fontenot has 5 HRs, 17 RBIs and an OBP of .308. Substituting in Mark DeRosa gains one homerun, eight RBIs, and an OBP that is higher by .004. That is not a significant difference, and certainly not large enough to take on his salary.

Can we please just let it go already? We have other, more important things to focus our energy on. Like whether we can trade David Patton for Jake Peavy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oh $hit.....

When Sam Zell announced that he would be selling the Cubs off after purchasing the Tribune Company ten thousand years ago, it was hailed within the Cubs world as the approaching of a new era. Finally! We could have an owner that has a little personal pride and ego tied to the team instead of simply watching the revenue streams grow ever larger with little regard to the on-field product.

The sky got a little bluer. The ivy got a little greener. The beer tasted a little better. The girls in the bleachers got a little hotter. Life was good. We could see the end of the hundred-year long tunnel. We saw the days of letting Cy Young winning, Hall of Fame pitchers leaving via free-agency coming to an end.

We dreamed of the day that Mark Cuban would raise the payroll to a billion dollars so that we could afford Johan Santana, Jake Peavy and the robotic technology to keep his arm from falling off. We could have Mark Teixiera and Derrek Lee platoon at first base, with Adam Dunn coming off the bench. We could develop a spacecraft that would bring back alien technology that would return Ernie Banks to his prime and play shortstop. There would be no stopping the Cubs!

Then time passed and the economy started to fall apart. Banks stopped lending money to anyone. People got laid off left and right. Super-premium revenue streams started drying up. The market value of the Cubs started to fall.

At one point, Mark Cuban figured he would have to agree to pay well over a billion dollars to get the Cubs to even consider him as a potential owner. As the health of the economy declined (and Mark Cuban removed himself as a bidder), the Cubs finally came to a selling price of $900 million for the Ricketts family, because they would be putting up half of it in cash and having to finance "only" the remaining $450 million through the banks.

Unfortunately, the banks don't seem to think that the Ricketts, with only TD Ameritrade as collateral, are a good enough credit risk, so it has been much more difficult to line up the financing than orginally thought. This is why you may have seen Tom Ricketts standing at one of the offramps of the Kennedy Expressway with a cardboard "Please Help Me Buy Cubs" sign.

He has been looking to sell $25 million non-voting investments in the team in exchange for a yearly dividend and some nice seats to the home games in order to raise the money he is having trouble prying away from the banks.

In recent days, he has actually gotten more proactive about finding folks who may be able to pony up that kind of dough. He's been in conversations with Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, and John Cusack to discuss the possibility of them handing over some cash. I'm guessing the next step will involve charging celebrities to sing the Seventh Inning Stretch.

Ricketts is also working to try to reduce the final sale price by about $50 million due to the WGN broadcasting contract that he feels was originally overvalued.

It seems like there is some new hang-up every day, to the point where one has to start wondering if the deal is even going to happen at all. If it does, will the Ricketts have screwed themselves by taking on so much debt for a team whose revenue generation may have plateaued or even begun to decline?

So where does this leave the Cub fans? Here we are with a team that is fighting through major injuries to contend for a THIRD STRAIGHT DIVISION TITLE. I know folks in Atlanta and New York and Boston think of three division titles as nice and cute, but in Chicago, it is unheard of.

This level of success on an annual basis is almost incomprehensible to Cubs fans. We're not quite sure what to do with ourselves as the baseball gods heap on obstacles that Bobby Scales proceeds to leap in a single bound. We don't know what to make of a rookie fill-in pitcher that pitches as well, if not better, than anyone in the rotation. We can't process having a guy in AAA batting .429/.513/1.482, with 17 HRs and 50 RBIs in 34 games and not have an obvious spot for him on the major league roster.

What can possibly stop the Cubs? Well, a bullpen that could charitably be described as "crappy" would be one obvious area to look.

It is hard to fix a bullpen in midseason. Remember 1998? The commenter known as Seat 106 was sitting around getting ready for bed on the eve of the 1998 trade deadline when the news broke on ESPN that the Cubs were about to announce a major deadline-beating deal.

Seat 106 promptly picked up his phone, called his buddy, and screamed (I'm paraphrasing), "Holy s---! We got Randy Johnson!" Five minutes later, the deals actually announced were that the Cubs had traded one first round draft choice pitcher for Matt Karchner, and another first-rounder for Felix Heredia. The Astros then sent what was (at the time) roughly the same amount of talent to Seattle for Mr. Johson and proceeded to blow the doors off the Cubs in the division race.

The fact that Seat 106 did not kill himself that night, is either a testament to his mental toughness, or proof that his wife managed to shoot him with a tranquilizer gun before he could do anything drastic.

My point is that the Cubs received two unbelievably crappy bullpen pitchers in return for about the same amount of minor league talent that was used to land one of the most dominant left-handed starting pitchers in the history of baseball. That is a pretty good indication of the market for relievers, because there simply aren't that many good ones that are expendable.

Think about it - what would a team have to offer the Cubs for them to part with Carlos Marmol? We'll start the bidding with David Price and go from there.

About the only way someone can build a bullpen in mid-season is to trade some talent and take payroll in return from a team that is dragging in the standings. But if the Cubs remain in this ownership limbo (or if the Ricketts do miraculously manage to take control before the trade deadline), how much money will they have to make adjustments? Will they have to live with guys like Neal Cotts and David Patton trotting out to the mound every couple of days to put on their own version of a pyrotechnics show?

What if the Ricketts can't afford to keep the payroll at its current levels? What if this team has to be stripped and sold for parts to get the payroll down? How many more years would it take to build anything back up into a legitimate contender again?

How appropriate would it be for the team to reach the edge of history for a third straight year, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by the invisible hand of market forces?

I think the ivy just faded a bit.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Where is This Weak Division I Keep Hearing About?

Yesterday's game aside, the Cubs have actually been playing better baseball and winning most of their games as a result. The bullpen is still toxic and capable of imploding at any moment (see Saturday's ninth inning), but overall I think we have to be pleased with how this team has responded to losing their best hitter for two months.

Derrek Lee is starting to hit the ball with more authority. Milton Bradley has come up with some clutch RBIs. Bobby Scales has been a ray of sunshine and Ryan Theriot just keeps hitting the ball a lot harder than anyone thought he could. Even Geovany Soto is looking more comfortable at the plate.

Alfonso Soriano has been doing everything he can do to silence those who claim he never comes through in the clutch. His game-winning single in the 9th on Saturday was only his latest example of how huge he has been for this team so far this year.

The starters have been doing very well in Zambrano's absence to the point where Lou and Jim have a very nice problem in trying to figure out who should get bumped out of the rotation when Carlos does return.

At the moment, it would appear to be Sean Marshall, through no fault of his own, drawing the short straw and heading to the bullpen and hopefully making Neal Cotts expendable.

The timing of the offensive resurgence and hopeful improvement to the bullpen are looking more and more necessary as the National League Central is proving to be much more difficult than most prognosticators gave it credit.

The conventional wisdom has been that the Cubs will be fine because they are loaded with too much talent to not win a weak NL Central. But what if the NL Central is not so weak?

As we approach the end of the first quarter of the season, the NL Central is in a virtual tie with the AL East for best overall winning percentage. The Al East is at .53645 to edge out the NL Central by .00009 (.53636).

The NL Central has a .578 winning percentage over the NL East and .610 over the NL West. Five of the six teams have a positive run differential on the season (only Houston is negative at -19).

This is not looking like a weak division so far. The Cardinals have lived through an injury to their ace, and now an injury to Ryan Ludwick, their second best hitter in their lineup. The Brewers are looking very strong despite losing their two aces in the off-season, and Manny Parra hasn't even pitched all that well yet. The Reds are hanging right in without Edinson Volquez being nearly as dominant as they had hoped, and losing Adam Dunn in free agency.

So the Cubs have work to do, and can't rest too much on the thoughts that they will get stronger once they get healthy. Almost all the teams in the division have had some sort of adversity that they expect to get better as well.

They also are going to have to do the dirty work within the division themselves because it is looking less likely that the other divisions are going to be very helpful in knocking our opponents back down if the Cubs can't take care of their own business.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Bigger They Are the Harder They Fall

In reading other Cubs blogs, I have begun to get the feeling that I may very well be the only Cubs blogger that hasn’t been banned from Bleed Cubbie Blue at some point or another.

This does not necessarily make me someone who agrees with everything that Al Yellon thinks, or more willing to back down to whatever opinions Mr. Yellon is professing on any particular day. It simply makes me someone who doesn’t post on Bleed Cubbie Blue very often.

Frankly, I’m not that entertained by Bleed Cubbie Blue. BCB has the biggest audience through their new partnership with Yahoo!, and you can always see what someone has to say about just about anything that has to do with the Cubs. The content by Al is fine but usually pretty bland and not terribly thought-provoking, while the content in the Fan Posts and Fan Shots sections contain many correctly spelled words. There really isn’t anything edgy, and the in-game post comments usually degrade into a bunch of bad comedians trading one-liners that they saw on “The Office.”

There also seems to be a fair amount of users who have a borderline unhealthy obsession with ESPN/ABC reporter, Erin Andrews, to the point where I think they may be typing their comments with one hand, but I digress.

For all of its flaws, BCB is a staple of the Cubs blog world. You can’t have an ice cream shop without vanilla and you really can’t have an online community of bloggers without something like BCB.

What interests me far more than the actual content of BCB, is the hatred of the site by so many other Cubs bloggers. One site, Fire Al Yellon, is dedicated entirely to everything anti-Al and anti-BCB. Hire Jim Essian,, and Wrigleyville 23 have all recently taken shots at BCB and those who post there, and the general tone when discussing BCB in the Cub blogosphere can be described best by using Al’s favorite adjective, “snarky.”

While Al thinks he is shutting up users whom he bans, they seem to pop up their own blogs that cut into his own audience. The depth of content available to those looking for all things Cubs is staggering, and quite often far more entertaining or insightful than the omnipresent BCB.

Since he is gathering fans from the aptly named Yahoo at a large rate, Al may not care so much about irritating users and banning those who post on the site that don’t follow his strict rules and regulations. But those same users that find their way in may also wish to find sites that provide more thoughtful content, actual debate, and good humorous material, so they may leave just as quickly as they stumbled upon the site.

BCB has grown into a monster in the sports blog world and may seem unstoppable, but we also once thought the same about network television, Starbucks, and IBM in their respective markets. Eventually, folks want something different than the current conventional wisdom.

While the attitude and arrogance of Al and BCB in general pisses a lot of people off, I just find it amusing. By the way, my username over there is “Tim M” if anyone wants to ban me so I can be part of the cool kids.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Close... But No Banana

This is my eleventh season sitting in Aisle 424 with my now defunct Combo Plan package of Night and Weekend games. The package involves between 40 and 50 games per year, plus I'll hit another couple day games over the course of a season.

Prior to 1998, I probably got to ten to twenty games per year because the tickets were easier to come by, and they were actually affordable to someone working their first crappy job out of college. So, I've estimated that I have attended roughly 600 baseball games in my life.

Do you know how many foul balls I've caught? None. Zero. Bagel. I have caught as many foul balls in my life as Geovany Soto has homeruns hit this year.

In college, my friend Todd was visiting from back home and we got tickets to see the Cubs play the Padres. The Cubs were getting beat something like 11-0 by the fifth inning, so after Harry sang, the crowd cleared out like rats fleeing the Titanic. Todd and I took the opportunity to move down into the Field Box section behind the visitors dugout on the first base side. (They didn't have the Seat Nazis back then because they were just happy anyone was paying any kind of money to see such a lousy team.)

At some point, Shawon Dunston hit a liner foul behind us and I whipped my head around to see if I could catch a bounce and the following interchange took place:

Me: Where did it go?
Todd: I got it! Holy s---! I got it!
Me: Shut up! I'm trying to see where the ball went!
Todd: I got a foul ball! Whooo! Dunston!!!
Me: Where the hell did it... wait... you got it?

And sure enough, there was Todd showing anyone and everyone the ball that he had just scored off the bat of one of his favorite Cubs. I think he probably still sleeps with it between himself and his wife. He goes to one game and gets a ball. I will never have that kind of luck.

I bring all this up because, while I love Aisle 424 and would never move from it (even if the Cubs ever let me), it isn't a great foul ball zone. We're just to the first base side behind home plate, so the balls that are fouled straight back usually go into Aisle 423. A righty fouling off a ball that skews away from him will usually end up in 425 or 426. So the foul ball chances, while they would seem like they should be plenty, are actually not so great.

Last night, I had my best chance since I've been sitting there. I don't know who was at-bat because he was a Padre who is not named Adrian Gonzalez. The ball came arching back and was coming in at just the right height to clear the folks in front of me and give me a legitimate shot.

I reached up and the ball hit squarely on my hand, just as someone from behind reached in and moved my hand ever so slightly. I couldn't wrap my fingers on it before the backspin shot it straight down where two kids a couple rows down pounced on it.

So I remain on the shnide with foul balls. I initially blamed Kris for costing me my first foul ball, which I'll admit was fairly douchy, but I'm on an 0 for 600+ streak here. It's getting personal. The guy in the seats behind me owned up to it and apologized for costing me, so its all good. Kris may not have yet forgiven me for initially blaming her though.

Someone asked me if Iwould have given the ball to the kid anyway if I had caught it. Of course not. Those kids have their whole lives to catch a foul ball. Plus, its not the same to have it handed to you.

I've had a ball handed to me. The experience is over-rated. There is no sense of accomplishment. There is no sense of earning it with a bruised hand or other bodypart. If I ever catch a foul ball, I'll be doing any kids that are near me a favor by not giving them the ball. They'll learn to appreciate it as much as I will when it finally happens. That's how I'm justifying it, anyway.

But I'm left wondering what will happen first - a Cubs World Series or a foul ball being caught by me.


Also, I have to share one other quote from the game last night. I noted that Cotts was warming up in the bullpen to one of my pals, to which he replied, "I wonder who Lou wants him to come in and walk."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Good Stuff Not Written By Me

Well, I let loose my rant on Saturday, but I know when I'm beat for foaming-at-the-mouth, maniacal ranting. It begins and ends with Hitler, who, it turns out, is a Cubs fan. was the first to unearth footage of Adolf's feelings of displeasure with Jim Hendry's off-season moves. Today, we found out how Hitler reacted to the news of Aramis Ramirez getting hurt.

Meanwhile, provides some information about just how bad the bullpen has been (including Carlos Marmol).

If that is too depressing, The Cub Reporter reveals that there may be some help on the way from Iowa.

If you are a Wrigley Field worshipper, you will not like Kurt's views at Goat Riders of the Apocalypse, but if someone could guarantee me a World Series if Wrigley was destroyed, I'd be pushing Kurt out of the way to set the dynamite off.

Enjoy the links.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'm Feeling Much Better Now

I've had a couple of days of sitting in a corner in a fetal position while repeating, "Whatever doesn't kill us, makes us stronger...", and I'm feeling a bit better after my last rant. A sweep-saving victory over the Brewers also helped lessen the vitriol that coursed through my body all weekend long.

Over the weekend, I learned a few things about myself:
  1. In my heart, I prefer Micah Hoffpauir over Derrek Lee. I don't dislike Lee. I don't want to get on the hate train that wants him banished from the team. He is a veteran with a lot of talent that can and should be very helpful to this team this year, even if he never gets back to 2005 form. However, my need for the farm system to yield position players that can hit something besides scrappy singles with occasional gap power overwhelms my need for Derrek to be cemented into the lineup at first base.

  2. I still believe in Geovany Soto. This may be irrationality on my part again, but I don't have a feeling of dread when he walks to the plate. I should. The man is batting .169. He has as many homeruns as I do. His OPS (.492) is not only worse than Aaron Miles' (.540), it is worse than Rich Harden's (.558). Nevertheless, I still think that Soto will come around and want him at the plate with runners on base. For the time being, it leaves me utterly disappointed three or four times per game, but again, I am inexplicably optimistic that he will start hitting again. I just hope it is sometime soon.

  3. While I feel bad for Chad Fox, there was no way he should have been on the roster to begin with, so my feelings, though admittedly cold and unfeeling, are that I'm glad his elbow blew out now instead of after ten, fifteen, or twenty crappy outings. Because, let's face it, this is a guy who makes Rich Harden look durable and he was never a great pitcher to begin with. He has a career WHIP of 1.45 which actually makes his 3.79 career ERA fairly impressive given the number of baserunners he was allowing on a regular basis. I don't know whether Jose Ascanio will be any good or not, but he has the potential to be good, and even if he isn't, the potential is there for him to get better over time. Chad Fox, was never going to be good this year or ever. I do, however, wish him well with however he chooses to go forward with whatever is left of his career.

  4. I don't understand fans booing players. Granted, booing a player is better than assaulting them with deadly weapons as we all have been tempted to do with Neal Cotts, but I just don't understand the purpose. Maybe if we were more consistent in our booing patterns so that the players got a clear message about our displeasure through the use of booing, I could get behind it, but the consistency isn't there. Geovany Soto gets a pass on the booing despite aspiring to reach the Mendoza Line so far this year. Alfonso Soriano, who has a longer history of all-star level performance, and who has hit some HUGE homeruns this year, will get booed mercilessly for misplaying a ball in the field when we KNOW he is a lousy fielder. What do we expect? Yet, Soto underperforms horribly and gets hardly any booing, and Soriano meets expectations in the field and exceeds them at the plate, and we can't jump on him fast enough. I don't understand it at all.

  5. The Blackhawks winning on Saturday was huge in lifting my spirits. I'm glad the Cubs have the day off so I can fully concentrate on the Hawks' attempt to advance to the Western Conference Finals tonight. Go Hawks!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I See How It's Going to Be

So after Aramis Ramirez recovered from his minor injury that held him out of the lineup and he started hitting the ball with authority again, the baseball gods decided that he needed something really serious to take him down. Boom. Separated left shoulder, he's gone for at least four weeks, more likely six, and I wouldn't be surprised by eight weeks.

Well, thank God that Jim Hendry unloaded the virtually useless Joey Gathright and got a player in Ryan Freel who can legitimately play third base and provide at least a decent on-base percentage to the offense. Way to stay a step ahead of the baseball gods, Jim! Boom. Tight hamstring, and Freel is out of the lineup.

Well, f--- you, baseball gods! F--- you and your sister. Keep on coming after us, tough guys, we're still here. Do you think that a couple of injuries will keep us from catching the St. Louis Pujolses? Do you think that cursing every pitcher in our bullpen to always walk the first batter they face is going to keep us from staying ahead of Ned Yost and the Fat Man?

Keep bringing it, motherf---ers! We still have a suspension for Bradley and a Rookie of the Year catcher who seems to have left his bat in 2008. Are we concerned? Check out how scrappy this team is!

Bobby Scales will climb out of whatever backwater towns in which he has been playing baseball for the last thirty-something years and shove a cleat so far up your asses you'll taste the infield mud stuck on them.

Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot will bite at your knees until you fall and then they'll rip your eyes out of your sockets and hit them softly into short right field.

Aaron Miles will tear your heads off and throw them almost all the way to first base on a fly.

Ryan Freel will get a hamstring transplant from his imaginary friend, Farney, if he has to. This team will not be stopped by a couple of piddling injuries and loss of discernable baseball talent.

The baseball gods think that a few injuries will collapse this team like so many other Cubs teams in the past. They think that we'll just say, "Here we go again," and just accept it. They want us to say, "Wait 'til next year" before Memorial Day.

Well, f--- that and f--- you, you malicious, malevolent, assclowns. I have no reverence or respect for you any longer. There is no logic. There is no justice. There is no benevolence in any form. You are pure evil and should be given papercuts on your eyes while being forced to listen to Nancy Kerrigan, Kelly Pickler, and Denise Richards sing "Take me Out to the Ballgame" as a trio, and having your genitals slowly dipped into a pool of hydrocholric acid.

You can pile on all the bulls--- injuries you can muster. You can make Bradley's head literally implode. You can take Derrek Lee's neck and turn it around all the way around like Linda Blair. You can continue turning Geovany Soto into the second coming of Scott Servais.

We shall overcome and dance on your f---ing graves. Suck it, screw off, bite me, and go to f---ing hell from whence you came.

You got a problem with that? You know where to find me in Aisle 424, bitch.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cubs Trade Car Jumper for Potential Mental Patient

I can't say I called it because I didn't document my thought anywhere - not even on Twitter - but when I saw Lou coming out to the mound to get Chad Fox last night, I couldn't tell if he was more pissed at Fox or Joey Gathright. I also knew that if Lou had his way, neither would be on the roster for very long.

The trip to the mound came after a deep fly ball that should have been caught bounced on the warning track for a triple because Gathright didn't call it, and then got scared of a collision with Soriano. This came after Fox had walked the leadoff man, and then given up a triple that should have been a double, but nearly became an inside-the-park homerun when Gathright misplayed the ball off the wall.

Lou pulled Fox and brought in Kevin Gregg to close a game where the score going into the ninth inning was 8-2. You could tell he probably would have preferred pulling the still-beating heart out of Fox's chest and showing it to him as he died, or pulling Gathright's head and spine out with one swift motion, but he just took the ball from Fox and handed it to Gregg.

The death stare he gave both Gathright and Fox on his way to the mound was the moment I knew in my heart that Joey Gathright was not long for this roster. I also knew that Chad Fox is not far behind if Lou can find anyone (Mr. Randy Wells, in case you don't recognize it, this is a H-U-G-E opportunity for you to show you belong in the major leagues) who can throw a damn strike.

Today, the Cubs have traded Gathright to the Orioles for Ryan Freel. This trade helps both teams as it furthers Andy MacPhail's goal of obtaining every speedy, no-hit, ex-Cub centerfielder available (I'm kind of surprised that Damon Buford hasn't shown up in an Oriole uniform somehow), and Hendry's goal of fielding a team composed entirely of scrappy second basemen.

Seriously, Freel is not useless, though I don't think he can jump over a car. He has a decent enough career OBP of .357, though his career slugging percentage is .374, so unless he suddenly pulls a Theriot, there won't be much in the way of extra-base hits. He is also unquestionably scrappy, and very possibly certifiably insane (excellent find by The Cub Reporter), so he and Farney should fit in well in Wrigleyville.

Freel can also play third, and all of the outfield spots, so he will be more tempting to actually use in game situations than Gathright was, which means he'll play more than Gathright did. So the question is, what damages the team more? Gathright hardly playing, but when he does, sucking beyond all that is possible to suck, or more playing time for another one of our cloned diminutive second basemen.

All I know for sure is that Chad Fox better watch his back, because Lou may still very well kill him if he keeps pitching like he did in Houston last night.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A-Rod Has Got to be Psyched

Alex Rodriguez suddenly isn't the story in baseball anymore. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Manny Ramirez has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and will serve the mandatory 50 game suspension.

"The test result and suspension is expected to be announced later today. The Dodgers informed triple-A outfielder Xavier Paul this morning that he was being promoted to Los Angeles."

This is going to be talked about and dissected every which way from Sunday. Which was more damaging to baseball, A-Rod or Manny being caught? Will baseball survive? Can fans be comfortable with any player putting up great numbers without suspicion?

My question is why the Dodgers are allowed to promote someone from the minors to replace Manny. The Cubs won't be able to bring up anyone to take Bradley's spot when he has to serve his suspension. Players aren't replaced on rosters when booted for charging the mound or beaning batters. Why can the Dodgers replace Manny with someone from their farm system?

Sure, the punishment to the Dodgers is fair in this case because the Dodgers lineup will take about as big a step backwards as it possibly can:

"Juan Pierre, the likely replacement for Ramirez in left field, has batted ninth in two of his five starts this season."

Of course, the presence of Xavier Paul on the roster could possibly make the drop not quite as precipitous if he ends up with more playing time. Joe Torre liked him at the end of Spring Training, and he has decent minor league numbers at each level.

So the question remains, why is that even an option for the Dodgers? Manny misbehaved as an employee of their organization, so how are they able to use it as an opportunity to call up a minor leaguer they'd like to try out?

I just don't understand how the league thinks they are going to be able to "clean up" Major League Baseball when the teams have no incentive at all to police their own players.

All that is going to happen is that Bud Selig is going to sacrifice a couple of big name stars and later stand up in front of a large group of cameras and indignantly tell the world that he is determined to rid baseball of PEDs. He will point at Manny and claim that no superstar is safe from scrutiny or punishment.

Then, when the heat dies down he can go back to not caring in the least what the players are doing as long as revenues keep going up.


Things get worse in the world of Manny as it is now being reported by Yahoo! Sports (and brought to my (and almost 40,000 other Twitter followers') attention via Alyssa Milano, actress, Dodger fan, and baseball blogger:

The substance he was allegedly taking was not designed to boost performance in baseball, though, in a sense it would help him "score."

"It is not Viagra, but a substance that treats the cause rather providing a temporary boost in sexual performance, the source said.

Ramirez tested positive for the substance during spring training, then was administered a second test more recently, and it also was positive."

Manny reportedly has admitted taking the substance, is not appealing the suspension, and will begin losing almost $8 million in salary starting immediately. Though Manny may be pursuing some litigation in which to claim back some of that lost salary, according to the Yahoo! story:

"Ramirez, the source said, acquired the substance through a prescription from a doctor in Miami for his medical condition. The source intimated that Ramirez might bring legal action against the physician.

Ramirez released the following statement Thursday morning: “Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons."

Alex Rodriguez could do naked cartwheels down the middle of the street now and nobody would notice.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When Racism and Fashion Collide

Apparently some entrepreneurs in St. Louis have come up with a new t-shirt design to enhance the smartest fans in the world's wardrobes. I first saw it posted at Wrigleyville23, and have seen numerous references to it on Twitter, so they are getting all kinds of free publicity. The joke revolves around Carlos Zambrano having a second career in lawn maintenance.

I feel a little dirty actually adding to the free media about this shirt, but since only a few people outside my immediate family ever actually find this site, I think my impact will be minor on the overall sales of the shirt.

While it is easy to pass this off as simply an example of St. Louis folks being uneducated hicks, Cub fans are hardly innocent when it comes to making a buck off of the cheapest, easiest jokes that can fit on a t-shirt.

I like to think I can take a joke, and I like to think I can bring the funny from time to time. I also try my best to avoid the easy joke as much as possible since easy jokes are rarely funny because almost anyone can make them. Easy jokes are there for tension breakers, fillers in a boring blog post, and the scripts for Two and a Half Men.

When the jokes cross over into the malicious and offensive categories, they certainly shouldn't be captured for posterity on an item of clothing to be worn in public.

It is why I don't understand the market for t-shirts like this:

or this

or this
or this

Seriously, why would you ever wear a shirt that says to the world that you are a racist or a homophobe?

Believe what you want, say what you want, and wear whatever hate-laced bumper sticker humor you want. It's a free country and you have every right, but do you really want to be painted in such a negative light by a dumb joke on a t-shirt?

For every rube that thinks attacks on Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans, poor people and gay people are funny, there are many, many more that come to the immediate conclusion that you are wearing the t-shirt because your Nazi uniform is at the cleaners, or that your parents met at a family reunion.

People - there are cameras EVERYWHERE now. There are cameras all over the bleachers at Wrigley for security, in the hands of tourists, and on just about everyone's phones. Do you really want to get tagged in a Facebook picture wearing any of these shirts where your family, co-workers, potential employers, and God knows who else can see it?

You would prefer to turn-off the hot girl who has a gay brother, get punched by the black guy whose mother lives near Comiskey, or get fired by your boss with the Hispanic wife? You want to pay money to someone who has a third-grader's sense of humor for that kind of risk?

By the way, the depiction of Zambrano on the t-shirt is way off. He's not scratching his nuts enough.

Wacka wacka wacka.

Monday, May 4, 2009

31 Random Thoughts

In honor of the number 31 worn by Greg Maddux and Fergie Jenkins, below are 31 random thoughts on the Cubs 2009 season so far:

  1. Derrek Lee, Geovany Soto, Aramis Ramirez, Milton Bradley, Carlos Marmol, and now (probably) Carlos Zambrano will all have missed playing time due to injuries already and the Cubs are still 13-11 on the season.
  2. It's great that Ryan Theriot has hit a couple of homeruns recently, but it looked like he was trying to kill the ball on Sunday with no one on base. That's not his game. Then he laid down a bunt single later and I felt better.
  3. I still can't stand Aaron Miles.
  4. I don't miss Michael Wuertz or Chad Gaudin even a little bit.
  5. I'd prefer having Ronny Cedeno on the team instead of Joey Gathright.
  6. There just isn't anywhere on the roster for Jake Fox as long as The Hoff keeps hitting.
  7. Keeping Angel Guzman and David Patton was absolutely the right decision at the time.
  8. Barring a miracle, neither Guzman or Patton will be on the roster for the whole year.
  9. I still can't get used to seeing an ad for Horseshoe Casinos instead of Budweiser on the building across Waveland.
  10. I can't think of a situation where I would be OK with Neal Cotts coming into a game.
  11. If Carlos Zambrano continues to be the best pinch-hitting option for this team, its going to be a long, long year.
  12. Wishing I would see firsthand why Milton Bradley is worth $30 million.
  13. I'm nearing the point where I will say I was wrong to worry about Fukudome - but I don't want to for fear of jinxing it.
  14. I'm not worried about Geovany Soto.
  15. I like Ted Lilly more and more every day.
  16. Sean Marshall is becoming what I had hoped Rich Hill would be last year.
  17. Now that Aramis has finally answered the question, "Who will be the next Ron Santo?" can we get to work on who will be the next Bruce Sutter?
  18. I don't have a problem with Denise Richards singing horribly during the Seventh Inning Stretch, I have a problem with filling the slot with celebrities who are trying to market their new book, movie, hair product, or reality show that have no actual interest in, or knowledge of, the Cubs or baseball in general.
  19. Joey Gathright and Ryan Theriot both graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Dwight Smith School of Baserunning.
  20. How come nobody is saying we shouldn't have let Paul Bako go? Oh, right, he sucks.
  21. How is Neal Cotts' ERA not in double digits?
  22. Remember when Reed Johnson robbed Prince Fielder of a game-tying grand slam? That was awesome.
  23. Is it just me, or are there fewer kids and more drunken fools in the stands this year?
  24. You know what would make life so much easier in the concession lines? Condiment packets instead of having to unwrap every hot dog and brat in order to get a squirt of mustard from a dispenser.
  25. Mark DeRosa is the new Chuck Norris.
  26. I'll go on record right here and now and say I'm in favor of whatever signage, jingles, or other marketing nonsense they want to sell if it means keeping my ticket prices from tripling again in the next 10 years.
  27. Soriano can not and should not hit anywhere in the order except leadoff, unless we want another .200 guy in the middle of the order AND no lead-off hitter.
  28. When you're thrilled if you get 25 starts out of Rich Harden, it's hard to fathom Fergie Jenkins once had 30 complete games in a season.
  29. I still can't believe that Greg Maddux and Andre Dawson were replaced by Jose Guzman and Candy Maldonado.
  30. Say what you want about Hendry's moves, but he has added payroll left and right to try to win a championship, and would probably kill himself with his cell phone if he had to let a Cy Young winner walk because of money.
  31. The no Cubs on the disabled list streak ends today with Carlos Zambrano being lost and Hendry loses the bet and his soul to the devil.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Theriot Found Some of Sammy's Leftover Flintstones Vitamins

I just returned from the Ryan Theriot Power Hour at Wrigley. I don't know what Theriot has been eating, drinking, or getting injected into his body by Alex Rodriguez's cousin, but he probably hit his first inning homerun as hard as he has ever hit a ball in his entire life.

He hit the ball into a fairly steady wind that was blowing across Wrigley from left to right, so it was not a cheap homerun at all, and completely shocked the hell out of us up in Aisle 424.

As he was rounding the bases, the general mood of Aisle 424 was summed up by one of the guys sitting to my left who said, "Was that f---ing Theriot? Holy s---! What the f---?!"

Slappy's recent homerun prowess is making my nickname seem silly in light of the fact that he has as many homeruns on the season as Derek Lee (who later hit a ball into Kingman territory across Waveland) and two more than Geovany Soto. Nevertheless, I will still refer to him as Slappy until we stop being shocked by his power.

As for the rest of the game, we were in store for some more unlikely thrills from the Bizarro Cubs when Ted Lilly hammered a two-run double over the right-fielder's head, Micah Hoffpauir made a diving catch on a Hanley Ramirez linedrive, and the Cubs bullpen in the form of Aaron Heilman struck out the side in the 9th inning.

All in all, it was a very nice, relaxing day to be at the ballpark, which is good since I'm going to need every bit of heart muscle at full strength for the Bulls/Celtics Game 7 later tonight.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Now Batting for the Pitcher... Carlos Zambrano?

What an unbelievably riveting game! Those in Aisle 424 were clinging to every aspect of the game and cheering madly all the way through to the end.

I'm, of course, speaking of the Bulls' triple overtime Game 6 victory over the Celtics that could be seen on the press box TV from Aisle 424. The game being played in front of them on the field was pure horse manure.

Actually, calling the ending to the Cubs game horse manure implies that something positive could possibly grow from it.

I was not in Aisle 424 last night. Kris drew the short straw to attend the game when I got to go to one of the area's local establishments to watch all three games being played last night, the Bulls, the Blackhawks' first game of their second playoff series versus Vancouver, and the Cubs return home to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.

I was sending Kris periodic updates about the Bulls to her phone, but soon stopped when she informed me that everyone in the section was watching the game on the pressbox TV.

Frankly, I didn't see much of the Cubs game because the Bulls game was just too good. But every now and then, I would sneak a glance over to see what was happening in Wrigley. This is what I remember witnessing:
  • Ryan Theriot dropping a fly ball into short left-field in the first.
  • Milton Bradley rounding the bases after a homerun.
  • Mike Fontenot following him with his own to go back-to-back.
  • Sean Marshall looking pretty darn good for most of his seven innings.
  • Carlos Marmol throwing lots more pitches that were nowhere near strikes.
  • Carlos Zambrano pinch-hitting in the 8th inning of a tie game and the crowd cheering about it.
  • Ryan Theriot dropping a throw from Derrek Lee on a force out attempt.
  • Koyie Hill playing third base.
  • Aaron Heilman joining the Ballooning ERA Brigade by not being able to get anyone out in the 10th inning.

I've never been so thankful to be distracted by the Bulls. I hope they can somewhow manage to win Game Seven in Boston just so I can be guaranteed having four more Bulls games to cloud the fact the Cubs just plain suck right now.

They are playing like they did in the playoffs the last two years, which as we all know is not even close to being a good thing.

What I don't understand, is the joy the crowd expressed when Lou felt his best option for a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning of a tied game was a pitcher. Yes, we all joke about Zambrano being a better hitter than some of the guys on the bench, BUT THIS WAS LOU PRACTICALLY ADMITTING IT! How is that worth cheering?

Micah Hoffpauir is that useless against a left-handed reliever? A left handed reliever, mind you, that has a 6.75 ERA, and has allowed opposing left-handed hitters to hit .345/.545/.942? Is Hoffpauir hurt too?

Will someone please remind Jim Hendry that the disabled list can be a useful tool to use so that you don't have a team playing with its back-up catcher at third base? Is our organizational depth so bad that we just have to sit and hope and pray for a miracle recovery? How is playing Bobby Scales at 3rd possibly worse than what is happening on the field right now?

If the organization is that bad, why isn't Jim Hendry being given his walking papers? Wouldn't this be the second time in his tenure he has run the "all eggs in one basket" strategy and it has blown up on him?

Injuries happen. Teams have to deal with them, not close their eyes and wish the injured players back to health while pitchers are sent in to pinch-hit.

Serenity now... serenity now... that's not working.

Daaa Bulls, da Bulls, da Bulls, da Bulls.... yep, that'll do for now.