Friday, April 30, 2004
I'd like to know how Kor-E8 Patterson gets away without an error in the 4th inning? If the Cubs do end up losing Game 1 to the Cardinals (The Farns has just 4 pitched the winning run to first), the loss falls on Korey first and foremost. Runner up to A Gonz for getting erased on the bases ahead of a double and with a bunt worthy of Patterson.
OK, the pen gets credit too. Four walks in 6 batters?
This could be a killer loss. Character test comes tomorrow. A loss tomorrow and they could get swept.
Changes All Around
Not only has this writer switched employers this week (5 days in and no one's fired me yet), but the Cubs seem set to shake up the team a little.
Three adrticles in two papers all hinted that Mitre is headed for the bench or the minors and Glendon Rusch will take his slot in the rotations. Rusch will join the team today with either Mike Weurtz or Francis Beltran headin to Iowa. This gives the team two lefties in the pen (too bad they didn't have this option two days ago or Maddux might have gotten the win). But it also puts Mitre's start in question.
Given the well documented history of the Cubs leaking changes in advance through the press, my guess is that Mitre's got one start left in him. Mitre's line on Monday has to be a minimum of 6 innings with maximums of 4 runs, 3 earned or he's sent packing.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
On to the Arch
Maddux did his job last night. I guess LaTroy should make Maddux's mortgage payment for the month for sniping win 291 from Greg. A 1-2 series in Colangeloland is a reasonable outcome. But now the Cubs head to St. Louis where the Cards have been sucking like my 1 1/2 year old does on his thumb. This series huge in a number of ways.
First, it's the Cubs first big series against a quality (historically) division rival. This is a measuring stick that the Cubs will use, at least psychologically, to guage themselves.
But the bigger point can be made by looking at the standings. The Cards are already 3 back in the loss column. If the Cubs take the series, the Cards would be 5 back and solidly in last place. Should the Cubs sweep? The Cards are seven back and could be ready to fold before colleges let out for the summer.
I'll be happy with a split, but if this team is looking to make a statement, Wood, Clement and Zamboni all need big games. And Meat Tray should have a better matchup. Additionally, with the Cards pitching, the offense has a great chance to get well.
And on that note, can we continue to see "1 Pitch Out" Korey go back to the 6 hole?
From the "Duh" File
It seems the Cubs are back to doing more media leaks. Now they are wondering why Kerry Wood should get a 5 game suspension when Florida's Alex Gonzalez and Philadelphia's Todd Pratt only got 3 games for inciting bench clearing brawls.
Are the Cubs really comparing the suspension of everyday players to a starting pitcher to whom a 5 game suspension only adds an extra day of rest between starts?
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Is it Too Early to Say, "It's Still Early?"
Not to make a big deal about tonight's game, but isn't this what Maddux was signed for? To stop losing streaks. To provide a quality start when absolutely needed. To be the consummate professional. To be the guy working towards win 300.
A performance like last week and it should be a 1-2 series. But a performance like Maddux's first two starts and the hand wringing will commence.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Good and Bad
Good news. Corey Patterson is batting sixth. Halleluyah.
Bad news. Korey is back.
Monday, April 26, 2004
Johnny Comes Marching Home
Jon Lieber is gonna get a start this weekend for the Yanks against KC reports MLB.com. Lieber has not pitched in the Major Leagues since August 2002. Jon was one of the real good guys and my personal fave pitcher on the team for a few years. I only wish the guy success.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
That's how many game the Cubs have won out of the total number of games played. They have a winning record on the road. They have a 1 game lead in the standings.
In short, very good. Probably as good as could be hoped. With Prior or without.
Now for the hard part. The schedule starts to get a lot rougher in the coming weeks turning downright brutal. All but 2 of the season's games with St. Louis are before the All Star break. 12 against Houston. 3 with Anaheim. 3 more with Oakland. San Fran. LA. San Diego. And even the White Sox have a winning record.
Here's where the pennant will be lost if it is to be lost. If the Cubs can pick up at least 6 more games on .500 by the break, I'd venture that a return to the post season is a solid shot. To do that, several things have to happen.
1) Prior pitches in the Houston series in Wrigley May 31-June 2.
2) Kerry Wood pitches like he has the last two starts.
3) Kerry Wood goes after no more umprires.
4) Corey Patterson keeps taking pitches. And walks.
5) Todd Walker gets the bulk of playing time at second.
6) Derek Lee decides to hit like he has in June (304/412/1.005) during May instead of how he has hit in May (246/315/747).
7) No major injuries.
That's a decent list. I miss any? Let me know.
Friday, April 23, 2004
Death of a Patriot
Reuters is reporting that former NFL player Pat Tillman has been killed in a firefight in Afghanistan. Tillman gave up $3.6 million to join the military. You can find the full story here.
Tillman may have played for the Cardinals, but he was a patriot in every sense of the word.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Yeah, with Prior on this team, Wood's clearly no better than the 3rd best pitcher on this team. Anyone out there take him over Big Zamboni?
Paddling & Hazing
Glenbrook North, my alma mater, was the subject of the infamous Power Puff football game hazing incident last year. Now, Glenbrook South (the high school that my kids will attend) and part of the same district as North, had a hazing incident. In this case, members of the school's lacrosse team had a party at a private home in which the youngest members of the team were paddled as part of an initiation ritual. Alcohol was "served" at the party while the parents were not home.
Al Yellon talks about this incident on his page. And draws the absolutely wrong conclusion from the quote that amazes him.
"What you are establishing here is a dangerous precedent," said Art Wolf, a former school board member. "You have already intruded into people's homes and basements -- what's next, the bedroom?"
No, Art, that isn't the point. At the risk of sounding like a conservative old fart, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that clearly, adults in this community think it's OK for high school students to have a party where they drink alcohol. This is illegal. If parents won't teach morality, who will?
The issue is not that the kids shouldn't be punished. The issue is does the school board have the right to do so. Al correctly notes that serving alcohol to minors is illegal. Since when is enforcement of underage drinking laws on non-school property during non-school hours a case for a school board? This is a case for the cops. If the cops and the DA want to arrest, fine, jail, hang, whatever to the kids and parents, so be it. But schools are not the place for meting out punishments for off campus events, unless they are explicitly school related.
In recent years schools have been looked at more and more as defacto parents. That is something this country must get away from. If a kid is an idiot away from school and does something illegal, law enforcement should come from law enforcement, not from the school.
The conclusion? The school board elected not to expel the kids involved. Good choice. Right choice. Next? The coach should kick all the instigators off the team for conduct unbecoming a teammate.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Who was that bearded man? And why is he hurling a baseball so well? This is huge if Matty can keep throwing humdingers. It makes waiting for Prior to heal and Maddux to right himself possible to do without falling to far behind.
It also makes Matty good trade bait.
While I see the Cubs adding a player or two before July 31, I don't see them adding a ton of salary. That means you have to lose one of three players: Alou, A Gonz or Clement. Now, A Gonz is highest on the wish list to go away, but the least likely as he... well... sucks. Alou is the highest paid and plays the least valuable position. And is the oldest and more likely to tail off at the end of the year.
Clement is also the easiest to replace. You've got to figure that one of the top minor league pitchers will be ready by mid-year.
How about Clement and Jae Kuk for a shortstop?
And while I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony.
Saturday, April 17, 2004
I'm sure some of you think this will be a political post.
Nope. Instead, here's my harangue against Kerry Wood. Sure, Dusty should have pulled Wood a better or two earlier, but Dusty gave the man, now with big bux in his wallet, a chance to be Pedro. Or Shilling. Or Rocket. And what we saw was Texas Oil Can Boyd. What a moron (or moran) the dope from Texas is.
No thoughts of what might happen next half inning when his team needs a walk. No thoughts of what happens the next time Wood faces this umpiring crew. Just a self absorbed asswipe upset that a close ball was called a ball.
Didn't this team learn anything from Alou's blow up after Bartman? It's clear Wood didn't.
It's no big deal. Once Maddux returns to form and Prior is back, Wood will be the #4 pitcher on the team.
Kerry Wood is #2 on the most overrated Chicago sports guy after Brian Urlacher.
Kerry didn't deserve to lose for his pitching. He deserves to lose for his outburst akin to a 3 year old.
Half Full or Half Empty?
Now I'm as glad as the next person that the Cubs won the game yesterday (you shoulda heard me and the 4 year old in the car). But there were some very disturbing things yesterday that give me pause about the rest of the season.
1) Dusty's colossal screw up. I always see the manager walk over to the ump with his lineup card out when double switching. If Dusty ever fails to do this going forward, he should be placed in the lockup at the police house at Halsted and Addision.
2) Wendell Kim cost the team another run when Barrett tried to hold up at third on a deep fly to Griffey. Kim started Barrett up again. It's too bad with Dusty's screw up and the home runs this gross incompetence gets ignored. Maybe it's just old news now and no one cares. Well, I do!
3) The Farns. He's pitching more like The Pico.
4) Another non-quality start. This team is gonna need bullpen help if they don't start getting starters into the seventh.
5) Patterson showing again that he's as comfortable with bunting as Pam Anderson is with with natural breasts.
I read the article about Dusty commenting on Prior being out for the year. If you read it carefully, Dusty was asked how the team would do if Prior were lost for the year. Unlike with the first reports of Prior's injury, this doesn't look to be a case of the Cubs hinting at something. If this was just a reporter asking a question based upon that moronic New Jersey reporter's article, it's a non-story.
But id this question was pre-empted by a leak, then there's trouble here, Sherri!
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
T-Minus 6 Weeks
The Franchise threw 10 pitches off the mound today and long tossed in the outfield. I'm guessing he heads to The Jaxx on April 30th for 3 starts and hits Iowa for 2. That means an ML debut on May 30.
Mark it down.
Although it's a well known fact that I yearn to have Vidro as a Northside Second Sacker, there are other options. With Grudz down, Todd Walker fills in nicely for him. And that might just due. So where else can one find a guy who can hit at or near the top of the order? Perhaps also in Montreal.
Yeah, he's mostly a middle of the order guy, but he has hit leadoff before. He could also hit second and let Walker leadoff. More importantly, his aquisition would move A Gonz to the bench to be the middle infielder backup (I'm sure he could play a few spot starts at second).
Cabrera is solid defensively, stings the ball, and is a free agent at the end of the year. That makes him a possible trade target mid-year for Montreal.
Vidro is the primary. But Cabrera would work.
He's on the wish list.
I spoke yesterday of a venue change. What I was hinting at is that, I expect by the end of today that this individual will be gainfully employed at a new location. Yes, as soon as my boss gets in today, I'm quitting. I have a new job and expect to start there in about 2 weeks. That assumes my current employer kicks me out on my keister today -- as they should. Why let me have access to all the company's internal files when I'm committed to a competitor?
I hope to have a week to do nothing but hit the gym and ride the bike exploring the trails near my house.
Oh, and hit Wrigley at least once.
The only downside to this is that my current employer shares a skybox above the Cubs dugout. I probably lose 3 or 4 trips to the box. I haven't even asked my new employer about their client entertainment options. I'm sure I'll find out soon. What's certain is no more lunches with Ron Santo. That's a true loss.
I had a good 3 years here. Time to move on.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
One of my favorite hobbies is movies and DVDs. Now, I haven't made the huge investment in a high definition 16:9 format TV and my surround sound is only 3 channels. Why am I being so cheap? Well, two kids, a bun in the oven, and a mortgage have something to do with it. The other thing, the quality of this stuff isn't there yet.
Now, some of you are screaming, "Huh!?!?!?" Here's what I mean.
DVDs are still in NTSC format. That means that they only have 480 lines of resolution on them. Plug a DVD player into your plasma TV and you get 480 lines on a screen capable of handling 1080. It's like AM radio on stereo speakers. What has to happen to take advantage of the higher resolution on the TVs is for DVDs to be made in a high definition format. Once that comes out, you'll have a true high-def experience off DVDs. At present, the only way to get high def movies in your home is to subscribe to Showtime HD or HBO HD.
That's about to change.
Several articles are out saying that new players and DVDs should hit the US shores in late 2005 with discs from the studios in an HD format. In the words of our presidential candidates, "Bring it on!" I, for one, can't wait to get a 55 inch screen with 6 speaker surround sound and blast Master and Commander in HD DVD in my family room.
Here's some of the articles if you are interested.
Blu-Ray vs. DVD HD
Blu-Ray as a winning format?
Blu-Ray coming to U.S. in 2005
What should be painfully obvious to anyone who has watched the first seven games is that the offense is in sharp need of an upgrade. WHile the starting pitching has ranged between god-awful and outstanding, the offense has been Home Run Or Nuthin'. I only have confidence in the middle 4 in the order, and three of those are batting in the wrong spots. The lineup should be: New Leadoff, New #2, Lee, Sosa, Alou, A-Ram. And you can take Patterson, Gonzalez, Walker, and Grudz and trade them for the jock straps of Vidro (.930 OPS in 2004) and Beltran.
At 3-4, the team is probably 2 games behind where we all expected to see them. That said, this was supposed to be the easy part of the schedule. They better pound Pittsburgh tomorrow and Thursday or else it may be time to analyze the Bears' draft.
This blog may be published from a new location very soon. No, the URL will be the same, rather the typist may be relocating. Stay tuned!
Sunday, April 11, 2004
Walking on Easter Eggs
So Kerry's at 54 pitches through 3 innings and 3 walks. That's not a $12 million combo.
But at least he's not taking baserunning lessons from Patterson like Alou is.
My logs show a referral from someone at mlb.com via an Atlanta based server about 10 minutes after I wrote this. At that same time, KW decided to pitch like a stud.
Nice! Do that about 3 more times in a row, please.
Friday, April 09, 2004
I know this is gonna seem like piling on, but after watching Patterson attempt to bunt in the 10th (which was a nice surprise), I'm starting to wonder if there is a more fundamentally unsound player on this team?
Maybe A Gonz, but at least he's not brutal defensively. Patterson has been erased twice on base, pop-bunted to the first base bag, and screwed up a play in center.
Not bad for a season. Not good for 4 games.
All You Need To Know
Prior's health status is a gray box in the Trib every day. The key's here are not what he's doing (long tossing / easy pitches from the stretch on flat ground), rather who is saying anything. What are Prior, Dusty, Hendry, or Rothschild giving the media for quotes?
That means this story is pretty much all in the open. Any news about a setback is a new and not something the team is currently aware of. That means Prior is on track for a start the week of May 24th, plus or minus 4 days.
Updated a few links to the CBA. Added "Just North or Wrigley" or, "Corner of Grace and Kenmore" in Slothese. And dumped Forklift.
Yes, I dumped Forklift.
Why? Seems Fork is a non-entity these days.
I'm also getting contacts from "enemy" bloggers about getting listed. I guess I'll add an enemies list over the weekend if I get a chance.
And a personal request. If anyone can help me getting this sucker RSS enabled, I will gladly pay you for a hamburger on Tuesday. I followed the instructions that C&A Chronicle listed a few months back, but I can't seem to get it finalized.
I feel like Alex Gonzalez with two strikes on him!
Thursday, April 08, 2004
On Second Thought...
I reviewed the 1st and 2nd spots for the first three games and I see that the players are, indeed, getting on base. That said, this team does need a disciplined leadoff hitter who knows how to run the bases. That's not Gruz, Walker or Patterson (who has run himself off the bases 2 times in 2 games). Check out Alex's Cub Reporter post for a scary list of pitches seen per at bat.
Hendry's Job #1 is to find a leadoff guy.
This team's starting staff has logged 15 innings in 3 games. The bullpen has logged 12.
Yeah, that's what this team was all about and that's what will get them to the post season.
This team does not like to take pitches. I'll venture that it's a factor of not liking to hit with two strikes. The poster child for this is my least favorite Cub, Corey Patterson.
Over the last two days and 8 plate appearences, this guy has seen 25 pitches. He's taken 15 swings. Sure, he's hitting .350 right now. He's not helping the team by taking more pitches. Last night, his first two ABs were 1 pitch ABs. Nice way to let Wilson off the hook. This guy takes a few more pitches early, maybe the Cubs don't get shut out for 8.
What's becoming more and more clear after watching the first three games of this season, two of them losses, is how badly the Cubs need a leadoff hitter. No one seems to be getting on base consistently infront of Sosa et al.
This team really misses Kenny Lofton.
Sosa seems to have broken out of his early funk. Get a few guys on base and the offensive thumpers will have a chance. A good lineup would have a new leadoff hitter and GrudzeWalker should probably bat second. Patterson should be moved all the way down to 7th.
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
While Opening Day is close to a religious event, the day after usually sucks. Why? No game. Yeah, I know it's there in case the game gets rained out, but, come on.
Let's play two in a row!
The Good and the Bad
Lots of people are praising Corey Patterson for a good day yesterday, and I'm forced to agree. For the most part. A home run in his first at bat in 9 months? Very nice.
But there's the little problem of baserunning. Corey has struck me as a rather un-smart player. He doesn't seem to think a lot. I know he's "just trying to make things happen," but he had a problem last year of oversliding bags and such. And yesterday's ninth inning out at 3rd was more of the same.
Until he proves differently, he's still Shawon Duntson in my book.
Your AL MVP
Top of the list to the right. Carlos baby sunk the Sox with a bomb to left center.
What I wouldn't give to get this guy in Wrigley is a short list.
Monday, April 05, 2004
The early returns are in on KW. He looks just like he did last year. A lotta pitches, a short outing. This guy is gonna get the bullpen killed. I was hoping that KW would keep firing like he had in spring training. Well, $12 million per year only buys 5 innings, I guess.
Looks Like Ivy Chat Nailed It
Last week I speculated that the White House was behind getting Tyler Crotty, the boy who yawned at the President's speech, to go on the Letterman show. Well, published reports seem to confirm said speculation.
The Washington Post reported Friday that the boy was booked to appear on Letterman's show, apparently at the urging of the White House. "He's a young person who strongly supports the president and is excited about getting a chance to talk about it," White House assistant press secretary Reed Dickens told the Post.
Score one for this sheet!
When I had my season tickets, Opening Day was a day off of work. I'd start by sleeping in, then cranking up the VCR for a while with 2 videos before heading for my first beer at around noon. What were those videos? Cubs Win - The Story of the 1984 Chicago Cubs, and The Boys of Zimmer (1989 highlight film). I guess I cranked those out because they showed the Cubs winning. And they were the only higlight films ever produced of the Cubs that were made in my lifetime.
It got me thinking. Were I to do a film fest of the best baseball movies and highlight videos, what would I watch? Here's a list. Feel free to add others if you think of them.
Field of Dreams - If your dad coached you to a little league title like mine did, how can this film not get to you? I just wish he'd seen it. And I can't wait to show it to my oldest. He'll probably not get it for another 15 years or so and just think I'm his sappy dad.
Pride of the Yankees - Sure, Coop was better in High Noon, but can you beat a film that has real 1930's Yankees eating Babe Ruth's hat?
The Bad News Bears - This movie has Cubs all over it:
Coach Morris Buttermaker: Come on, fellas. Rome wasn't built in a day.
Ogilvie: Yeah, it took several hundred years.
Bull Durham - The end goes on a little too long, but the rest is brilliant. And Max Patkin, too!
1975 World Series highlight video - I used to hope for rain delays just for this video. Joe Gargiola narates over Fisk, Carbo, Tiant, Rose, Griffey and Bench.
A League of their Own - Sappy, but a great scene where Hanks has to tell one of the players that their husband was killed in the war.
Major League - Most overrated baseball movie, ever! I put it at the end because I'll be so sleepy from the others I don't have to watch Berringer and Russo try to act.
And They're Off....
With the start of the baseball season today, which is also the un-official first day of spring, a lot of writers are finishing up their predictions, reviewing rosters, and talking about what their hopes and fears are for the season.
Well, I hope for the same thing I hope for every year. That a line in one of the coolest songs ever written will become wrong.
This will be the 38th season of baseball for me. Granted, many of the early ones are the ones impossible to remember. It's also true that many of those seasons are the ones where the team my dad tought me to follow were the ones when the team had a winning record. In all of those 38 seasons, the team that I follow was not a participant in the season's final game. That's what to hope for. That your team is the last team standing.
Last year, on the vening of Game 6 of the NLCS, I remember driving my kids home from daycare and listening to the song. And I remember thinikng that, after tonight, this line will now forever be wrong. The only thing that was wrong was me.
The line goes:
He told his friends "You know the law of averages says:
Anything will happen that can"
That's what it says
"But the last time the Cubs won a National League pennant
Was the year we dropped the bomb on Japan"
Let's all hope that after October 2004, we can all hear that song and smile when we hear that line. And smile because we remember 2004.
Do they still play the blues in Chicago
When baseball season rolls around
When the snow melts away,
Do the Cubbies still play
In their ivy-covered burial ground
When I was a boy they were my pride and joy
But now they only bring fatigue
To the home of the brave
The land of the free
And the doormat of the National League
Friday, April 02, 2004
It's Quiet. Too Quiet...
Back to the Prior / Media obsession.
There's been no news on Prior and his achillies for a few days now, just more Black Jerk McDowell talk. That leads to the reverse of the Ivy Chat Rule. No leaks means that everything is fine. I'm starting to think that they've leaked all that they know. He's staying for extended spring training and that he'll miss 6 weeks of games. That's exactly what started this whole train -- Dusty mentioning Bob Welch and Prior in the same breath.
If Prior resume throwing Saturday, as scheduled, then I think this story is about over.
Well, talk about what has become a national news story, albeit comical, and get branded a "rabid partisan." I didn't even mention WHO was the lying politician in question until the comments section, yet I'm still no longer a must-read for some Cubs fans. Fine.
The story is, indeed, national now. Local 6 has more on the yawning kid. He's going to be on Letterman tonight. Letterman still claims that the White House (now I'll talk about who the subject is directly, okay?) did call CNN. I don't even know what to think anymore. My inclination is that some middle management in the West Wing saw this and got worried that a major donor might get pissed and called CNN. Then, some higher up caught on and said to the middle guys, "Stop micromanaging," and called CNN and tried to do a little bud nipping. Well, the cover-up is always worse than the crime.
Now that the story has gone national, and Letterman has had the kid front and center each of the last four nights, the White House is doing the right thing. The kids gets his 15 minutes on Dave's chair. With any luck, the cover-up part of this story will die over the weekend.
I just wanna know who the idiot is that thinks the President needs his image controlled so tightly. What are they worried about? They're running against a guy who looks like Frankenstein and talks like Joshua, the computer from War Games!
Thursday, April 01, 2004
The 5th Minute
Didja watch the Letterman clips below (links should be working again)? Guess what. Still more on last night's show. It seems that CNN called Letterman to say that the White House never called CNN to say the boy was edited in.
Letterman, once again, called this an out-and-out lie. He says that hsi sources say the White House did indeed place calls to CNN.
How stupid are people in the administration? People are being dismembered and dragged through the streets and their worried about Letterman showing a boy yawning behind the President?
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