Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Perect Storm?

Is it just me, or is everyone taking the wrong tack on Tropical Storm Frances and the Cubs's trip to Miami this weekend. It's possible that 1 or two games could be rained out.

Fine by me. The less the Cubs see of the Marlins the better. And if the Cubs can have a big enough lead at the end of the year (doubtful), maybe they wouldn't have to make up the game.

Dennis the Mennace

I've heard lots of politicians say stupid things. But this is a cake-taker. Home state congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Denny Hastert insinuated that billionaire George is getting his big bucks from drug lords.

"You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where - if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from ... George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there."

Chris Wallace, the interviewer responded, "You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?"

Ex-high school wrestling coach Hastert replied, "I'm saying I don't know where groups - could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know."

Beyond the baselessness of the attack, it's also logically wrong. Were drugs to be legalized in the U.S., foreign drug lords would lose billions as domestic manufacturers replaced the foreign supply channel. The drug lords WANT drugs to stay a controlled substance.

Now, since the drug lords want the drugs controlled, and Denny Hastert wants drugs controlled, and the GOP has raised more money than ever before, using Hastertian logic, the GOP may be getting drug money. I'm saying we don't know.

Monday, August 30, 2004

New Stable Address

Renyel Pinto was promoted to Iowa. Matt Clement's replacements are lining up. And given Pinto's first start, it looks about an even exchange. Link to the right has been updated.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Parsing Through

Interesting stuff in the Tribune story on Kyle Farnsworth's injury that occurred when he "kicked a fan." Paul Sullivan writes:

"The Cubs contend Farnsworth kicked a fan, though an equipment trunk in the tunnel outside the Cubs' clubhouse also was destroyed partially, with cleat marks clearly visible on the outside of the trunk.

However he did it, Farnsworth is now on crutches and his future as a Cub may be in jeopardy. An MRI revealed no tear, but the severity of the kick was enough to cause severe inflammation."

Sounds like Kyle had a bigger temper tantrum than just a measly fan. Ain't this so 2004 Cubs? Talking out frustration on inanimate objects rather than making their opponents inanimate.

M-1 Abrams

What did I say? Barring a complete tanking?

Got to hand it to this team. I've never seen a team with the upper hand blow their cool and lose momentum as fast as this team does. And do so twice in a month!

This time, the bomb goes to Michael Barrett. Instead of letting his bat and his team do the talking, he decided to let his pie hole do it. And the Cubs followed him down the ailimentary and dropped like a big piece of diaper fodder all over Wrigley Field.

This team not only has too many talent holes, it has too many mental holes as well to be a true contender.

Add the Astros to the list of the Cardinals, Padres and Giants to team that they had a chance to bury and failed to do so. Fail to bury and enemy and they'll bite you. Fail to bury 4 enemies and expect to be defeated.

And Another Thing...

On June 24th I wrote, "the Cubs are going to regret this move (Beltran to Houston). In a huge way."

Just a reminder.

Friday, August 27, 2004


Astros 15, Cubs 6 in the ninth.

Rumor has it that Kyle Farnsworth now has 24 fingers and toes.

Just Keatoning

I've been Mr. Mom-ing this week as the kids' daycare is closed until Monday for a teacher's summer vacation. That, and some hot deals at work have kept posting to a minimum.

But I have to say that I'm just a little verclempt that people over at Desipio are concerned that Ivy Chat hasn't been updated in a few days. You like me! You really, really like me!

Finally Rolling?

We’ve all been waiting for the 2004 Cubs to get on a roll. One of those 13 in a row rolls like the Cubs had once under Don Baylor. Every time we thought we going to see one this year, the team backtracked. As recently as 3 weeks ago, the Cubs were flashing their shinny new Nomar toy and strolled into Pac Bell (or whatever it is now) on a nice win streak.

They proceeded to lose 6 of their next 9.

This team never seemed to be able to put anyone down for the count. They could have buried the Cardinals back in May. Didn’t do it. They could have put the Giants and Padres away earlier this month. Nope.

But all of the sudden, with Corey continuing his nova-hot streak (albeit with the strikeout rate starting to climb back to historical norms again), the Cubs have won 8 of 9. They needed to win about 9 of 13, I figured. Barring a complete tanking, they’ll exceed that. And that makes the 6 games with Florida coming up much less nerve wracking.

Deadening Birds

While I have no delusions that the Cardinals will fold, that they keep losing is huge for the Cubs. Their schedule has 12 of their next 15 against LA and San Diego. With the Cards magic number in the mid 20’s, and the Cubs needing several losses in San Diego, San Francisco and LA, having the Cards need to focus and win some games is a plus. Yes, we Cubs’ fans actually need to cheer for the Cards.

Unless they want to totally tank, that is.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Ooo, That Smell

It seems Israel's army has developed a new weapon for quelling Palestinian protesters -- the skunk bomb. The bomb contains a synthetic skunk musk and was developed for breaking up protests without causing casualties.

"The new device, which is not yet operational, releases a cloud so pungent that according to initial tests it permeates clothes for five years, the officials said."

Sources refused to comment on the rumor that the source of the synthetic musk was from George Mitterwald's locker.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

This Week In Wild Card Watching

Here's the games of note with the probable starters:
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs - Capuano at Clement
San Francisco at Florida - Schmidt at Burnett
San Diego at NY Mets - Wells at Benson

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs - Davis at Maddux
San Francisco at Florida - Lowry at Willis
San Diego at NY Mets - Lawrence at Leiter

Thursday, August 26, 2004
San Diego at NY Mets - Eaton at Trachsel
Houston at Chicago Cubs - Backe at Rusch
San Francisco at Florida - Tomko at Beckett

Friday, August 27, 2004
Houston at Chicago Cubs - Oswalt at Prior
San Diego at Montreal - Hitchcock at Patterson
San Francisco at Atlanta - Rueter at Hampton
Colorado at Florida - Kennedy at Pavano

Los Angeles also bears watching. If they keep falling back to the pack (their lead is down to 4 games), it makes the 6 games each they have with San Fran and San Diego more and more important.

I don't want to see LA in the playoffs. I'd much rather face the Padres or the Balcos.

The Power of Six?

Taking a quick look at the ESPN Cubs schedule (link at the top-right of this page), I see the projected starters for the next few games. They are:

Tue. 24 Milwaukee 8:05 PM  Clement (8-11) Capuano (6-7) 

Wed. 25 Milwaukee 2:20 PM Maddux (12-8) Davis (10-10)
Thu. 26 Houston 2:20 PM Rusch (6-1) Backe (1-1)
Fri. 27 Houston 3:20 PM Prior (3-3) Oswalt (13-9)

Rusch?!?!?!? This has got to be a typo. Whomever updates this page must just have kept Rusch in the rotation dating back to last Friday.


Monday, August 23, 2004

Korey is Dead, Long Live Corey

It’s been said I rode Corey Patterson like a $2 whore. That was true. I’ve been off his case in disbelief for about two weeks now. Most people think the transition of this young man from Korey (the K for the strikeouts) to Corey happened with the move to leadoff.

Not so.

The transition happened on the 16th anniversary of the first night game in Wrigley. On August 8th, Corey was coming of a huge skid. He’s hit a dinger in Colorado on the 5th and then tail spun. He went 0 for 9 with 6 punchouts. Then he launched a ball into McCovey Cove.

Perhaps Dusty Baker got through to him that the home run swing doesn’t work for you. Perhaps he figured it out himself. Perhaps he got sick of flailing around like a US Mens Olympic Basketballer outside the three point line. I dunno. I do know this. All of a sudden, he figured it out.

Starting August 8th through Sunday, here’s Corey’s numbers:
AB   H   HR   RBI   BB   SO   SB   CS   OBP   SLG   OPS  

53 22 4 10 4 8 8 3 .456 .736 1.192

That’s just sick. But here’s one stat you won’t see. Before August 8th, Korey was on pace to strike out 142 times in a 600 at bat season. Since then? An 84 strikeout pace.

That’s tremendous.

Wanna know Lou Brock’s career strikeout rate per 600 at bats?


Now, this is only a 13 game stretch and it screams small sample size. But any real Cubs fan can only hope that this is a portent and not just another tease like May 2003 was.

Worth A Thousand Candidates

God, I wish we could have a real choice among candidates. Give me some people with ideas. Some people with practical experience. Some people who can lead with idealism.

Instead, we get George Bush and John Kerry.

These two men distinguished themselves as leaders by getting elected. That's it. George has no record with discussing whatsoever. He's squandered the 90's financial legacy. He's destroyed his party's credibility as one of fiscal sanity. He's blown the ability for this country ever to act proactively against an aggressor nation by relying on shoddy intelligence. But then, what do you expect of an oilman who drills where they guess there is oil? And Bush's record in that area is bankruptcy. He did make a ton of cash owning the Texas Rangers, but did so on corporate welfare ($135 million in taxpayer finance - 7% of the project). Nice payola if you can get it.

John Kerry? Twenty years in the Senate and his best work is that he's not Ted Kennedy. He can't talk. He has no new ideas. He has two things going for him. He's not Bush and he served in Vietnam. For four months. Big deal.

We've got real problems in this country and neither guy has come up with a single idea worth talking about. Hence, 20 lying sacks of feces are besmirching Kerry's #1 attribute. And these two guys are falling all over each other nto to talk about these problems.

To both of you: Shut up.

I'm gonna vote this fall. But, as always, I'm not gonna be happy about it.

And I'm gonna be even less happy when the winner is announced.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Good Taste

It seems that in Baker Lake in the state of Washington, a black bear passed out on the lawn of Baker Lake Resort. He was drunk.

The bear apparently got into some campers' coolers and drank thier cans of beer. And not just any cans.

Fish and Wildlife enforcement Sgt. Bill Heinck said the bear did try one can of Busch Beer, but ignored the rest. The beast then consumed about 36 cans of Rainier Beer.

Any bear that refuses to drink Busch beer is clearly a Cub.

Justifiable Suspension

Oh my god! The whining over White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's suspension is just unbelievable. Everyone is saying that he was suspended for two games for calling umpire Hunter Wendelstedt a liar.

That's not why he was suspended.

Ozzie also said this:

"I hope (Wendelstedt) does hold a grudge, because I will hold a grudge. If we have trouble every time I see him, good, I'll take the chance."

What Ozzie just did is to put in question the integrity of any future game in which he and Wendelstedt are a part. And when you make the integrity of the game questionable, you get your ass benched for a few days to think about what you said.

Good move to MLB and Sandy Alderson. You cannot place into question the integrity of the game.

Unless, of course, you are Bud Selig and have 29 teams owning the 30th team. That lack of integrity is AOK.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Matt Clement just invites this on himself. I can't explain it. He can't explain it. No one can. Great job, Matt. Terrible job, Remlinger.

And Corey is such a tease. Raise your hand if you saw the ninth inning strike out coming. And then raise your hand if you saw the 11th inning redemption coming. Well, other than Stoney.

Almost There

The lineup tonight was oh-so close to what it needs to be. Instead of:

Dusty needs to swap Lee and Nomar and also swap Ramirez and Alou. But the change was made. And the offense responded.

Bought the Flushy

It seems our esteemed Governor has a new pet. At the Illinois State Fair, Rod Blagojevich bought a 1,300-pound steer named Flushy. Now, the Good Guv doesn't live downstate, he stays right here in Chicago. What will happen to Flushy?

"I think the neighbors would be upset if we moved him into Chicago," Rod said. "We could move him into the (Executive)Mansion, particularly since we don't live there."

Maybe Flushy could room with Pepe?

Change of Thought

I planned on writing something about how the Cubs’ umpire problems stem from their early season bitching and moaning. But two other bloggers already hit that topic, so I figured that I shouldn’t be redundant.

What I will say is that a loss tonight and I’m calling the season over. This team seems to be hell bent on not one, but two death spirals. They were a few outs from tying the Cardinals for first place back on June 23rd. In the ensuing 47 games, the Cubs lost 15 games on first place. That’s almost impossible. But, hey, these are the Cubs.

What I will also say is that the Cubs are suffering from mini-Houston syndrome: A team that gets old overnight. While Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou are not showing the drop offs that Jeff Kent and Craig Biggio showed (who seemed to fall into retirement mode on April 3rd), Sosa and Alou both seem to be fading slowly into oblivion.

We who thought the Cubs would be a great team never saw this coming. We also seriously over-evaluated the talent. Only two players have played above expectations: Aramis Ramirez and Michael Barrett. Everyone else has played at or below expectations. And some of those players have played so poorly at times (Corey Patterson, Kyle Farnsworth, short stop as a whole -- or is it hole?) that they have dragged the rest of the team down with them by either killing rallies or by starting rallies for opponents.

When that many players play below expectations, you are lucky to have even an average team. Average teams get swept by Milwaukee like the Cubs did just before the All-Star break.

Ben Sheets goes tonight and I expect another loss. Should this happen, the Cubs will likely be swept again. And that would pound one of the last nails into the Cubs 2005 coffin.

Which can now be purchased at Costco.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

As I Was Saying...

What remains for 2004

Yeah, the playoffs are in reach. But the big picture is how can this team become the current version of the Atlanta Braves and win division titles from now until the day Mark Prior retires. There are a few things that have to happen:

1) Nomar Garciaparra must be resigned. The Cubs have no shortstop at any level ready for 2005. The three most likely options are Nomar, Edgar Renteria, and Orlando Cabrerra. While Renteria would be nice, and is almost certainly available with the Cards’ acquisition of Larry Walker, Nomar remains the best choice. He’s here. He’s good. Keep him. No matter what else happens in 2004, Nomar must be resigned.

2) Kyle Farnsworth must go. I don’t care how “lively” his arm is, he needs to lave this team. He’s going to be closer to 30 than 25, he’s going to be closer to free agency than his first arbitration year. He’s got to leave.

3) Moises Alou must go. I just read he got tossed yesterday on a ground ball out. Nice. The team needed you and you get your ass benched because you were mad about a check swing strikeout call two innings earlier.

4) A direction needs to be decided at second base. The three options for 2005 are Mark Grudzielanek, Todd Walker and Richard Lewis. Clearly, one of Grudz / Walker will not be back. Personally, I choose Grudz for the walking papers and keep the lefty and better hitter. But if I’m Jim Hendry, I tell Dusty that the job is Richard Lewis’ to lose in spring training. I tell Dusty that Lewis is penciled in for 450 at bats.

5) Sammy Sosa must accept a new role on this team. Be it batting order and/or outfield position, Sammy must know that 3rd/Right is no longer his permanent domain. Spring 2005 could bring 5th/Left and Sammy must accept that. Anything less, trade him for a soiled jock strap and use his salary to get a replacement.

Olympic Cold

It seems the Iranian judo champion refused his scheduled match in the Olympics. What was Arash Miresmaeili's problem?

He had to fight an Israeli.

Yes, Arash Miresmaeili was disqualified after he reportedly failed to make the weight for his match against Ehud Vaks.

"Although I have trained for months and was in good shape, I refused to fight my Israeli opponent to sympathize with the suffering of the people of Palestine, and I do not feel upset at all," he said.

This is what the Arab world has come to. They refuse to fight their sworn mortal enemy! Losing to Israel would be worse than just fighting one, no? Then again, the Arab world should be used to losing to by now having gone 0 for Everything Since 1947.

I guess the Iranians need a Track & Field event where you dress up as a pregnant woman, hide in an ambulance and try to be the first to sneak C4 over the finish line.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Celebrate Good Times

A weekend without Cubs baseball turned into a close encounter with Cubs baseball. My oldest, who will be five in a few weeks, had 3 birthday parties to go to over the weekend. And I was on Chauffer Patrol. At the end of the 3rd party, he and I scooped up his mother and brother and took them back to Lincoln Park for a 4th birthday party. Yes, today I transition from a perfect square to a prime. The math majors out there can figure out how old I am.

We headed to one of our favorite restaurants that was walking distance from our old compound: John’s Place. It’s a great family restaurant, especially if you have kids under the age of 6. A man with a chin-beard walked towards our table with a menu in his hand. I joked to my oldest, “Hey look at the waiter! Here comes Matt Clement!”

Then he got close.

Sho nuff. T’was Matty.

He was with his son (I’ll guess just under 2) and his wife who is rather pregnant. They ended up taking a table outside.

We ate and headed to the park across the street for some monkey bar time, and ran into Matt and his family again. I ended up spotting my five year old on a piece of equipment right next to Matt’s wife while she was spotting her child. I asked he when she was due. She smiled and told me late October. I told her that my wife and I were expecting at the same time, a girl this time (chill out, Sloth!). She said she was having a boy.

As I walked away and we headed to Margie’s Candies for ice cream (must MUST visit place if you have never been there) it occurred to me what was wrong with what Mrs. Clement said.

Late October?

I’m sorry, Matt. But weren’t you planning on being busy in late October? So busy that a hospital trip might not have fit your schedule? Jeez! Way to make the rest of us feel confident!

For those of you out there who don’t get it, the last paragraph was a joke.


Speaking of jokes, the Cubs are a bad one. This is a team that has won 4 out of their last 12 series. This is a team that has the talent to put teams away and instead plays like the playoffs are on layaway for them.

This is a team that doesn’t face an opponent with a winning record between now and October 1st. Six wins out of the next nine is a must. As is eleven out of the next sixteen.

More than a game or two less than that and it’s 2005 time.

Friday, August 13, 2004

The Real Truth

"My truth is that I am a gay American." - Jim McGreevey, Governor of New Jersey, at his resignation yesterday.

Total crap. The truth is that McGreevey put the state of New Jersey in jeopardy because he hired a person with whom he had an intimate relationship. The truth is he opened himself and the state (and the taxpayers) to potential liability because of a potential sexual harassment lawsuit.

What this man has done is tried to hide behind his homosexuality. He’s using this, and the doubtless politically correct support that coming out brings, to deflect the topic from his potential crime.

Even worse, he’s making the case that he’s resigning because he’s gay. Essentially his sexual orientation disqualifies him from office.

Total crap. Ideas and character are what qualifies a person for office. When you dodge an issue by impugning others, as Jack Ryan did with his son, you destroy your own character. By impugning the gay community to save himself, he throws his character in the toilet.

This man is a disservice to his party, to his constituents, and the gay community. He should not resign in November. He should leave today.


Just in case you haven't been following:

  • Some color updates to the side bar.

  • Direct links to the stats for some of the Cubs' minor league up-and-comers.

  • The additon of Geoff Jenkins to the Wish List. I really am not a big fan of the guy, but he could come cheap and be a replacement for Todd Hollandsworth (can he play first?).

  • New link for the Gooseneck blog - Cubs fan and fellow Hawkeye (class of 1989 for this author and member of the Burge 2000's Molemen).

  • Coming soon - Fantasy Football links.


    You just know Julia Child is in for cryonics. I guess that would make her a casserole.


    I'm starting to hate this Cubs team. I think I'm starting to hate them because I know what will happen if I start to love them. They are a cock tease of the highest level. They start playing like a team on Wednesday and play like crap on a Thursday. The Big Hole batting 4th goes from team player to a Golden Sombrero.

    The brightness was Donald Corey Patterson. The guy has gone 2 straight games without a strikeout. Stat of the day: That ties for his longest such streak of the year. I was afraid after his dinger yesterday he'd revert to swings that generate more wind than Charlie. Nope. He played within himself. I liked the move to leadoff because it was a message to Corey to forget about hitting third. About a week into the experiment he reverted to his norm. And failed. Now he's back to what he was on August 1. Here it is, Donald: KEEP DOING EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

    And what about Matt Clement. While he is a solid pitcher, I'm more than willing to let him go to play a rookie and keep Nomar and possibly get a Carlos Beltran. He just seems to have a negative aura about him. He's like Schleprock from the Bam-Bam/Pebbles-as-teens cartoon from the late 70's. He attracts losing.

    Bottom line. Losing 4 of 6 to the teams chasing you for the last playoff spot isn't the way to get it done. Cubs vs. Dodgers, San Diego vs. Cinci. Cubs will be lucky to have the Wild Card lead come Monday.

    Thursday, August 12, 2004

    All Right

    Was yesterday a harbinger of things to come? Sammy Sosa goes to right field on a hit and takes an extra base. Then moves up on a medium deep fly ball. Then scores on another fly ball. Carlos Zambrano gets squeezed... And shrugs it off. Corey Patterson hits a key dinger, then keeps his head on and gets another hit. And a walk. And doesn't strike out!

    This may all have been triggered by Dusty Baker's "accidental" leak to the press that he had a closed door meeting with Sammy where they discussed moving Sammy down in the lineup. Sosa was clearly embarrassed by that report. What did he do about it? He silenced the critics for a night with a strong game. Perhaps Corey heard all this and thought that he, too, should be an all around player. And then went out and did just that.

    And Big Zamboni. What do you think he picked up from Greg Maddux in watching Greg win #300? That you can win 300 games without 300 shutouts. That being up 5-1 isn't much worse than 5-0, but keeping your cool and throwing 8 innings is even bigger.

    A few more games like this out of those three guys and maybe the Cubs can go on an 8 game win streak.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2004

    Red October

    A few days ago I suggested that the Cubs should "Kruschev" their Wild Card competition. The allusion was to the famous statement by Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev's statement of, "We will bury you." At that time, the Cubs looked poised to run off about 8 wins in 9 games. Since then, the Cubs have lost 3 of 4. And the analogy may have been dead on.

    Kruschev and the command economy did not bury the US. In fact, the central planning model simply faded into the ether. Outside of North Korea, anyway. Russian/Soviet economics simply could not compete with the economics of capitalism and maintain a military superpower. A certain baseball team, who also happens to have a bear as a logo, may be having a similar problem.

    It may be time to admit that the 2004 Chicago Cubs are just not able to compete and play "We will bury you" baseball over 162 games.

    The holes on this team may just be too much to overcome to ever expect an 8 game win streak and winning 12 out of 15. Inconsistent play from all three outfield positions, several of its starting pitchers and tis bullpen is enough to prevent such a high level of performance.

    This does not mean that the 2004 Cubs are dead and hopeless. They still have a great shot at a playoff spot. And, should the pitching come October 2004 resemble that of October 2003, anything is possible.

    But, like last year, this team may be incapable of burying anyone. And the playoff chase will go down to the final week.

    The Possibilities

    There is something wrong with Mark Prior and I think it’s one of these three things/

    1) He’s still hurt. I don’t think he is. The speed guns show his fastball still in the low to mid 90’s and his breaking stuff is still breaking sharply. That doesn’t smell like an injury.

    2) He’s lost it. It is possible, but I don’t think so. His location is clearly off. Now, it is possible, that, for whatever reason, his control is gone. That doesn’t make a lot of sense. One Rick Ankiel per generation seems to be about the right percentage.

    3) He’s afraid of 1 and 2 above. Now this seems the most likely to me. I think he’s afraid that he’s still hurt and, as such, is nibbling at the edges. He’s afraid to bring his tough stuff and challenge the hitters because he thinks it’s not so tough.

    What’s the cure? Probably an off-season and time. Hopefully, he can right the ship in the next 10 days, because a Mark Prior who gives you a quality start only every other outing, doesn’t help this team win a playoff spot this year.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2004

    Defining Quotes

    Definition: Ad Hominem
    ad ho·mi·nem
    Pronunciation: (')ad-'hä-m&-"nem, -n&m
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: New Latin, literally, to the person
    1: appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
    2: marked by an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

    Quoting: Alan Keyes
    "I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton's willingness to go into a state she doesn't even live in and pretend to represent people there. So I certainly wouldn't imitate it."

    Technically, Alan is correct. He's not imitating. He's duplicating.

    Technicalities aside, calling Alan Keyes a "carpetbagger who decries carpetbagging" is calling him to the mat on the facts.

    Overrated! (Clap! Clap! Clap!-Clap!-Clap!)

    On ESPN Radio this AM, Mike & Mike were going over 10 "Questions" about the NFL. Greenie asked Golic who is the best LB in the NFL. "Ray Lewis," Golic responded. "Who is the most overrated LB in the NFL?" was the next querry.

    Golic said that it is Brian Urlacher, but that the new defense of Lovie Smith might free up Urlacher to make sidelind to sideline plays that he hasn't made. Greenie concluded that Urlacher deserved the accolades he received early in his career, but the lack of "800 pounds of tackle in front of him" had hurt his career.

    I agree with all that.

    What I know for sure is that Urlacher isn't the most overrated player in the city of Chicago. He's passed by a wide margin by Kerry Wood. Sammy Sosa would be above Urlacher, but people are coming around to the realization that this isn't 2001 anymore and Sosa is on the downside of his career. Hence, he's no longer overrated.

    Fly Softly

    Courtesy Barry Rozner:

    Cubs infielder Todd Walker, when asked by Sporting News Radio about the report that some players wanted Steve Stone and Chip Caray kicked off the team charter:

    "The broadcasters that I've seen that are truly, truly pro-team are the White Sox announcers. They use nicknames for their guys. They really seem to pull for their team.

    "Just about everywhere else (in) the big leagues, they feel like they have to be ... fair and cordial to both teams. I believe that those announcers (Stone and Caray) are part of our team, just like the players.

    "And a player would never, ever talk negative about another player."

    So, the Sox guys are homers and the Cubs guys aren't. OK. Everywhere else announcers are even handed. So Stoney and Caray are not homers and are not even handed. Furthermore, Stone and Caray are "part of our team" and teammates don't criticize?

    These guys should do what Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersal did and get off the charter plane and fly commercial.

    Oh, and Todd? Worry about being 12 games in the loss column out of first place.

    Monday, August 09, 2004


    Some how, you just knew the French would be involved in something like this.

    Maybe Chirac will say something about allowing these idiots to come home? Nah!

    Punting with Keyes

    A moment of silence, please, for the Illinois Republican party. In nominating Alan Keyes to run, they have not only signaled that they have no ready talent, no message, and no structure, but that they have no future as well. The GOP had an opportunity to nominate some young up-and-comer who would lose to Barack Obama, but could use the experience of a statewide campaign to prepare for a run against Democratic Governor Rod Blagoyevich in 2006. Blago is vulnerable given how poorly he’s governed and how much he’s pissed off his fellow Dem leaders in Springfield (Lisa Madigan is taking note).

    Instead of building for the future, the IL-GOP decided that they needed someone, anyone. What they got was the worst possible thing: A carpetbagger who decries carpetbagging and whose ultimate purpose here is is here to rape the party. Sure, Alan Keyes will make some whacko speeches about religion and gay bashing that are sure to please the reactionary right. And sure, Alan will generate some publicity for himself that will lead to either more TV time or a book.

    But that’s not the real reason he’s running. He’s got over 500,000 other reasons.

    See, Alan, ran for president in 1996 and 2000. According to Federal Election Commission documents, Alan still has $524,000 for his failed presidential bids. Guess what? Any money he fundraises while he runs for Senate can be used to help retire this debt.

    It’s one thing if you vote for Keyes. But if you donate money to this guy, be sure you know where it is going. One place where it's not going is to help the GOP in Illinois.

    Love Gone

    Korey and Sammy Sosa had brutal weekends. Korey has had only 2 hits since his Thursday home run in Colorado. His non-splash down hit was an infield single after which he was picked off on the Noah Lowrey’s first throw to first base. Can’t this guy even be patient enough to draw a throw to see his move? How stupid is he? And don’t get me started on his bunt attempts.

    Sammy looks like he’s lost, and I think I know what’s got his goat. Sammy sees Nomar and the “love” the fans are giving to him and Sammy realizes that he’s not #1 anymore. Sammy thinks a few bombs will get him back on top.

    Well, bad news for you, Sammy. You are done being #1. You want to get our love back? Start playing for the team. Go the other way. Shorten the swing. Move a runner up. Help win some games and stop playing like a selfish dope.

    Watching Nomar the last week has been amazing. This guy is so damn good. I had no idea. I saw him play a few years ago out in Fenway, but I was being a tourist and not watching the game. This guy is in the Sandberg / Dawson mold. A pure player. He makes contact. He’s plays excellent defense. He takes the ball the other way. He takes a spike on the double play.

    See Sammy? That’s where the love went. To a guy who knows how to play and help us fans see wins.

    Chicks dig the long ball, but 40,000 fans dig a win.

    Sunday, August 08, 2004

    Back in Heaven...

    The future had a nice night last night. From the branch office in Des Moines:

    Hitters ab r h 2b 3b hr rbi w k avg.
    Dubois, Jason lf 4 2 2 0 0 1 1 1 1 .309 - HR (24)
    Lewis, Richard 2b 5 1 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 .462

    Pitchers IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
    Mitre, Sergio (W 4-3) 7 6 0 0 2 5 0 2.44 - also homered

    Looks like Moises Alou's and Mark Grudzielanek's 2005 spots are ready to be filled.

    Saturday, August 07, 2004

    Stepping off.

    Korey Patterson is back, and in full force. O for his last 9 with 6 strike outs, no balls out of the infield.

    That 10th previous at bat? The homer against Colorado.

    Get this through your skull, Korey: YOU WILL FAIL AS A MAJOR LEAGUER IF YOU TRY TO BE A POWER HITTER!!!!!

    Maybe I should bash Korey before each at bat. Dunno if even he ever thought he'd splash land in McCovey Cove.

    Friday, August 06, 2004

    Thinking Retro

    Well, the Sloth has, ahem, encouraged me to try to change the focus, shall we say?

    Here’s 5 classic videogames that can be played on your PC via M.A.M.E. that still hold up as fun today:

    Missile Command

    This is still my all-time favorite video game. It’s fast paced and never lets up. Nailing smart bombs still gets a little adrenaline flowing.


    The whole game is so absurd. I love the Lava Troll that holds enemies in place, but also tries to pull you under if you get too close..

    Pole Position

    The first, great driving game. Monaco GT wasn’t bad, but this was the first “3-D” game. And the stereo sound when you used to sit in the cockpit was amazing for way back then.


    I never really liked the Light Cycles. But the spiders and the tanks were parts that I could play over and over. The sequel, Discs of Tron, wasn’t bad ether, but it doesn’t work too well in M.A.M.E.


    A Tron theme? This one is as fast and any game I ever played. The two sticks made it different as did the goal of collecting objects while blasting others.

    Runners up:
    Spy Hunter – Great game, but almost impossible to play on a PC
    Star Wars – The first chance to do what every 10 year old wanted to do after they saw the movie: Fly an X-Wing and blow up the Death Star.
    Zaxxon – I just love blowing up the Robot at the end. And shooting all 20 planes is a bitch.
    Donkey Kong – Elevators and Pies were the good levels. The other two were just OK.

    Batting Second...

    Second baseman and comedian namesake Richard Lewis made his debut for AAA Iowa yesterday. He batted second and had one hit in 4 ABs. Grudzielanek's replacement is on his way. Look for him to arrive next April as Todd Walker's backup.

    Thunderous Applause

    Dave Duncan, Cardinals pitching coach, has called out the travesty that is Barry Bonds' elbow armor. From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

    Pitching coach Dave Duncan was even more blunt. He believes body armor worn by Bonds emboldens the Giants slugger, allowing him to crowd the plate. Friday he took a pitch from Ray King off a protective plastic guard that covers his right elbow without flinching.

    "If he didn't have all that armor on, there would be no time we wouldn't approach him as if we can get him out," Duncan said. "But the fact he wears all that stuff lets him get right on top of home plate and makes it very difficult to pitch to him in a tough situation."

    Duncan said the protective armor "absolutely" gives Bonds an advantage. "You don't see anybody else wearing it," Duncan said. "What reason he wears it, I don't know. But it lets him do something he would not do if he didn't have it on - and that's get right on top of home plate."

    Barry Bonds should be ashamed. So should Jeff Bagwell and the "sponge glove" he wears on his left hand. The commissioner needs to step in and declare that any pitch that hits body armor is a ball and not a free trip to first. Too bad Selig won't do anything about it. Even worse, we fans have to watch pitchers pitch to only the outside of the plate.

    Bob Gibson must roll his eyes every time he sees this crap.

    Thursday, August 05, 2004

    I Can Name That Batter In 5 Notes

    ESPN has an interesting bit on Cubs players and the music played when they walk up to the plate. Already, the site is out of date. Maybe the Beatles for Barrett from now on?

    Where'd He Go?

    Who is this guy bunting, walking, disrupting, and causing general offensive positive events? He looks like Korey Patterson, but he sure doesn't play like Korey. Is this just a fluke? A statistical anomaly due to small sample size? I worry that it is because of that huge strike out while the Cubs were still trailing. But this looks to be a very nice development.

    And if it is, kudos to Dusty for goading Korey into changing his game.

    The Key Hit

    You just know that in the pre-Nomar days, the Cubs lose last night. The Cubs take the lead in the 7th, but leave the bases loaded. Kyle Farnsworth promptly gives the lead right back. Who leads off the 8th? Nomar. With a double.

    A week ago, that's Korey striking out and the Cubs go on to lose. Jim Hendry won the game last night. And the team might just be on the verge of a long win streak because of Mr. Hendry.

    The Next Nine

    The wins against the Rockies are nice. But the next nine games are against the top three dogs in the West. San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Earlier in the year, the Cubs could have put away the Cardinals with some wins in May. They didn't and the division is now all but lost.

    If this team wants to win the Wild Card, taking each series could just about wrap it up. And sweeps of San Diego and San Francisco would bury these teams. Time to turn it up and pull a Kruschev.

    Wednesday, August 04, 2004

    Injury Shminjury

    I see the Trib has already started to question new Chicago Bear head coach Lovie Smith's hard practices with player after player going down with muscle pulls.

    Anyone ever think that the reason these players keep pulling their hamstrings now is because they didn't use them for years under Dick Jauron?

    Money Well Spent

    You know the bean counters at Trib Tower have to love this: WGN garnered a 14.8 rating and a 33 share for the Cubs-Phillies / Maddux-300-Nomar-Debut game. That means beaucoup bux in terms of advertising dollars for the Trib. And with the Trib's net income down sharply and expenses up at the Cubs, the pencil-necked geeks needed to see this. Moreover, ratings for WGN Cubs games are up 78% from last year. Double beaucoup bux.

    If these ratings are maintained, this bodes well for the Cubs not only retaining Nomar, but possibly Clement or signing someone like Maglio Ordonez. If the Cubs money spent is more than out earned in TV ad revenues, the Trib will spend.

    A 33 share? 33% of the TVs on in Chicago were watching the Cubs? No one gets 30 shares anymore. Amazing.

    Not Good Enough

    Yes, they won last night. Yes, Nomar Garciaparra had another clutch hit and an RBI. Yes, Kerry Wood looked Ginsu sharp. Yes, the Cubs regained a tie for a playoff spot. And, yes, the Cards blew a ninth inning lead to one of the worst teams in baseball.

    But the Cubs may have hurt themselves last night for today.

    They had Jeff Fassero on the ropes. One more hit by Derrek Lee and Fassero's out of the game and the Cubs get to chew away at bullpen pitchers. Instead, the Cubs shell up and get one stinkin' hit after the second inning.

    When you get a starting pitcher on the ropes, you have to put him down and out, especially in game one of a series. Eating up a pen in game one can make game two much easier if the opposing team has a short bullpen.

    The Cubs could have burned 6 innings off 3 or 4 pitchers last night. Instead, they burned two innings off one reliever. That better not come back to haunt them today.

    This team still needs to get better before I'll be a born-again believer.

    Tuesday, August 03, 2004

    Happy Birthday, Old Fart

    The Sloth, a semi-frequent lunch buddy, turns the big four-oh today. Here's what I'd like to get him for a present:

    I forsee a Pavlovian response to the plain brown wrapper from our Corn Holed friend.

    Monday, August 02, 2004

    The Candidate Speaks

    We'll help American families keep more of something they never enough of:
    time -- time to play with their children; time to go Little League games, or
    Girl Scout meetings; time to care for elderly parents; time to go to class to
    improve their lives. I believe that Congress should enact comp-time and flex-
    time rules to allow American families to better juggle the demands of work and
    home. I think government ought to be on the side of the American
    family. - George W. Bush, today

    Ain't this guy a Republican? You know, smaller government etc.? Washington -- the Federal Government -- is gonna help me get to Little League games?

    Ronald Reagan is flipping in his grave.

    Illegal Trade?

    'Splain this one, Lucy.

    The Cubs traded Alex Gonzalez at or before 3:00 PM CDT on Saturday. The Cubs game ended at 3:04 PM Saturday with Alex Gonzalez on the field to end the game.

    Is that kosher? Doesn't A Gonz have to be off the field as soon as the trade is closed? Or is it that A Gonz has to be off the field ASAP? Are their repercussions? Anyone have any ideas on this?



    ...so who's team is this now? There are more studs in here than at Claiborne Farms. Is it Moises Alou who tried to chill Big Zamboni after his last Cardinal outing? Is it Mark Prior who was the Man last year, but now looks to be losing his cool with the umps? Is it Kerry Wood who has the reputation, the demeanor, and the interviewing skills for the job, but only lacks the actual resume? Is it Nomar Garciaparra and his batting titles but only 1 hit as a Cub? Is it Aramis Ramirez and his budding superstardom?

    One thing for sure, it's not Sammy any more. Is it?

    ...and it might surprise you that I actually like Korey leading off. I had The Wife lock the drawer with the cutlery when I saw yesterday's lineup. But then I heard Dusty Baker essentially throw down the gauntlet at Korey and say, "YOU ARE NOT A #3 HITTER!" Dusty, in his brilliant way, told Korey through the media that Korey had the talent to make the Hall of Fame by comparing him to Lou Brock. Then he added, that, "it's about time" Korey leads off. Praising and slamming him at the same time. Here's the news flash, Korey. You can be Ricky Henderson. You can't be Billy Williams. Either way, you'll get a huge contract.

    I give him 13 more games to learn the strike zone. An OBP of less than .350 and you move him down to 8th.

    Sunday, August 01, 2004

    Half Good, Half Bad

    Today's Lineup:


    We're getting there. But Patterson leadoff? Well, his August caan't be worse than his July, can it?

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