Thursday, September 30, 2004
For the Presidential Debate aka Joint Press Conference, here is a drinking game we all can enjoy, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune:
- Every time President Bush says the word "safer," take a drink. If he uses the word "democracy" in the same sentence, make it a double.
- For every John Kerry reference to the UN, have a drink.
- If Bush uses the phrase "compassionate conservative," you must chug your entire beverage.
- Take one drink for every three times Kerry points with his left hand.
- Any previously recorded Bushism, like "misunderestimate" or "subliminable," used by the president during the debate requires one drink.
- If Kerry exceeds the time limit for any response, take a drink.
- Back-to-back offenses require a double shot and a NoDoz.
A reference by your candidate to any of the following requires one drink:
2) North Korea
3) Axis of evil
4) Saddam Hussein
5) The American people
- And for an exciting twist on the game, anytime anybody mentions the word "Vietnam," everybody has to take a drink.
Cub Version of the Drinking Game
With today the last probable game of importance for the Cubs, I thought I'd modify the above so that you can all be sloshed before the game ends.
- Every time Chip Caray says "rocket shot," take a drink. If he uses the word "hanger and a banger" in the same sentence, make it a double.
- For every Dusty Baker toothpick camera shot, have a drink.
- If Steve Stone mentions his 25 win season, you must chug your entire beverage.
- Take one drink for every ball Mark Prior throws after getting to two strikes on a hitter.
- Any time Ron Santo asks what base a player is on or asks how many outs there are, take one drink.
- Back-to-back jacks require a double shot.
A reference to any of the following requires one drink:
2) Craig Biggio
3) "Yesterday's collapse"
4) 1984, 1989, 1998
5) Next year
- And for an exciting twist on the game, anytime anybody mentions the word "Steve Bartman," everybody has to take a drink.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
The Bright Side
If the Cubs do choke one off and blow this season in the next 5 days, there may be a huge upside. No repeat of 1999.
Now, I don't think Jim Hendry is as stupid as Ed Lynch was. But a win might convince Hendry to bring some of these mopes back who don't deserve new contracts. And he might trade others whose shortcomings are better exposed in the harsh lights of failure rather than the soft glow of success.
Those names on the contract end include Moises Alou, Matt Clement, Mark Grudzielanek, Kent Mercker, and Paul Bako.
On the trade side, there's Mike Remlinger (makes more money than LaTroy Hawkins), Kyle Farnsworth, Sammy Sosa and Korey Patterson.
A loss and quite a few more of these guys won't be back in 2005 than will be back if they win.
Baseball Prospectus has updated their statistical odds of how likely a team is to make the playoffs. Yesterday, the Cubs had a 79.6% chance of making the playoffs. Today, 53.7%.
Must Watch TV
There is one show that is not to be missed each day. That is, The Daily Show with John Stewart on Comedy Central. And if you watch it, you are smart, regardless what Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly says.
Stewart may be the saavyiest political observer out there. His dismantling of Dan Rather, then juxtaposing this with the outrage from people wanting Rather's head because Rather used questionable evidence and refused to admit his mistake was just brilliant.
O'Reilly went after Stewart in an interview in which O'Reilly's said that the audience for The Daily Show was composed of "stoned slackers." Well, Comedy Central has research to show the exact opposite. Data from Nielsen Media Research indicates that Daily Show host Jon Stewart's viewers are more likely to have completed college than O'Reilly's.
Additionally, a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey suggested that Daily Show watchers are much more in tune with political news. Almost 20,000 young adults were surveyed and asked six questions about the presidential candidates' stands on various issues. Those who watched no late-night comedy shows answered 2.62 questions correctly. David Letterman's viewers answered 2.91; Jay Leno,'s 2.95; and Jon Stewart's 3.59. The poll noted that Stewart's viewers "have higher campaign knowledge than national news viewers and newspaper readers."
Not surprising at all. People who know the news are not going to O'Rielly. They already have an opinion. That they also want humor intended for an informed audience should not be surprising whatsoever.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Re: Maddux - No, it wasn't just me.
Re: The Cardinals - No, it wasn't just me.
Re: Maddux - No, it wasn't just me.
Re: Patterson - No, but it is still just me that realizes it.
Re: Return of the Jedi - Yes. It is that bad.
It's gonna be Houston. And Carlos Betran hit a triple tonight and scored the winning run.
The Cardinals are gonna regret blowing this series. Michael Barrett is gonna regret confronting Oswalt.
And Jim Hendry is gonna regret not getting Beltran. Told you back in June.
Is it me, or does anyone else think that Korey's homer last night was the last thing we wanted to see? How about a double down the left field line instead?
Is it me, or is 32 homers for Derrek Lee about 10 less than we expected?
Is it me, or does hearing that Greg Maddux is starting today not instill the same amount of confidence today as it did a month ago?
Is it me, or are the Cardinals the team you most want to play in the playoffs?
Is it me, or are the Cubs the team you least want to play in the playoffs?
Is it me, or does anyone really care about Ichiro's assault on George Sissler?
Is it me, or while Rex Grossman's injury hurts Rex's individual development, it may actually help the team by resulting in a higher draft pick next year?
Is it me, or is the Bears' biggest injury the one to Mike Brown and not to Rex Grossman?
Is it me, or is Return of the Jedi not as bad as everyone makes it out to be?
I'm Five Today
Monday, September 27, 2004
The Farce Is With Us
Last week, James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal's website referred to a rather funny blog that had a post about John Kerry and that he is rather analogous to Star Wars' C-3PO. The original post can be found here.
Upon further review, Star Wars also contains rather good analogies to George Bush and his henchmen… uh… fellow government officials.
Put Bush in the Governor Tarkin role.
He overseas an army made up of a single race despite the multitudes of possible species that could be allies.
His right hand man is a guy who skulks in the shadows, talks with a rather raspy voice, and is the real power in the outfit.
They attack a planet that never attacked them, in an attempt to get the rebel terrorists to reveal themselves.
He refuses to listen to solid intelligence that, by using small, individual attackers, rebel insurgents may be able to defeat the most powerful military force ever created.
He declares a "moment of triumph" after which the rebels succeed in battle, are are emboldened, and the intensity level of the war escalates beyond anything anticipated.
George Lucas was a later day Nostradamus.
Out and Loving It
It seems that Alan Keyes' daughter is an "out" lesbian. Now this wouldn't be such a big deal if Alan hadn't called the Vice President's daughter a "selfish hedonist." The Chillinois blogger has the details. It sure seems that this is not just rumor. Rather, Keyes' daughter is open about her preference and has a blog of her own.
Just more hypocrisy from the lunatic that the GOP decided to have as their standard bearer in Illinois. What were they thinking? The only chance Illinoisians have to get rid of Rod Blagoyevich now is for Lisa Madigan to beat him in a primary. The GOP won't be able to muster a challenge for at least 6 more years the way they have to rebuild here.
Requim for a Heavyweight
We’ll get to Sammy Sosa and Korey Patterson in a minute.
If you were the manager of the Cubs and you needed to send one guy out to start in a must win game would you choose Kerry Wood?
He is the fourth best option on this team behind Zambrano, Maddux and Prior. He is untrustworthy and he deserves to have just such a reputation nationally. He does not deserve the one he has with which the Peter Gammons’ of the world make pre-season picks him Wood to win Cy Young awards.
He is an above average talent who pitches at three levels. Unhitable (20% of the time), tough but touchable (60% of the time), and god-awful (20%). And that god awful times seems to happen once per game. Check this summary out, courtesy of Mike Issacs of the Cubbies/Eskimo listserve:
Yesterday, Wood in the first inning allowed 3 hits, 2 walks and 2 hit batters. That was against an awful team that started 5 rookies in a game that was very important.
In his last start against Pittsburgh, where he overall pitched well and the team won, he walked 2 batters in the first inning.
In the opening game of this road trip against the Reds, Wood walked two batters in the first inning.
On August 27 in the first inning, he let up a HR, a walk and hit a batter.
On August 14, he had a great day and was superb from beginning to end.
On August 8, he allowed 3 singles, a wild pitch and a walk in the first inning.
On August 3, he allowed a single, a HR, a walk and a triple in the first inning.
On July 28, he allowed a walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly in the first inning.
On July 23, he allowed a triple, a single and a walk in the first inning.
In other words, Wood had three games in the last 11 where his first inning performance didn't either put this team in a hole or threaten to do so.
Kerry Wood is a solid starting pitcher and a welcome addition to any staff. But the only reason he should ever be compared to Roger Clemens is that they are both from Texas. Wood can’t hold a candle to the big-time pitchers in the majors. He’s just not consistent enough.
And if there are #1A and a #1B pitchers on this team, it’s Zambrano and Prior.
Sammy’s average is now under .250. That’s the lowest it’s been since 1991. Korey gets his first hit in 5 games (yes, *5* games) and he promptly gets picked off. Right now, he’s as fundamentally unsound as any player in the league. That bunt attempt he made the other night was so poor as to make one think he’d never bunted in his life. While Sammy’s contract is an albatross, it’s gone in one more year. Patterson is more dangerous. If the Cubs think that this guy is actually the goods, they may pass up opportunities to improve at his position. Or, they may pass up trades involving Korey that would improve other areas of the team.
Korey should be vigorously shopped in a deal for a closer this off-season. Carlos Beltran should come and play center and be Sammy’s replacement in 2006. It’s very simple.
Friday, September 24, 2004
Lotsa discussion lately, both here and over at Desipio, about ESPN 1000 and WSCR. Many of us wondered about how Murph and Fred did vs. Mike & Mike and what Hot Dog Boy needs (ratings wise) to do to justify his bump in pay and new time slot. Well, I went to the source for my answer: The Suntimes' Bob Feder. Here's what he wrote me in an e-mail.
In the latest Arbitron quarterly survey (sic), WSCR was in 25th place in mornings
with a 1.4 share, while ESPN 1000 was tied for 26th with a 1.2 share.
Murph and Fred had an audience nearly 17% larger than ESPN did. I'd venture that unless North widens that margin, he won't last long. I'd also venture that he needs to do this by not just robbing ESPN's audience, but by adding new listeners. That's purpose of the format change to "All Things Considered" and not sports, only.
If Hot Dog Boy pulls a 1.5 or 1.6 while ESPN falls to 1.1, he's basically treaded water in terms of sports listeners, but not added new listeners. If he pulls a 1.6 while ESPN stays at 1.2, he's been a success.
Check back in about 120 days.
Wild Card Update
It would have been nice if San Fran could have won last night. The Cubs are now +3 on the Astros. The Stros finish with 3 at Milwaukee, then 6 at home hosting St. Louis and Colorado. Clemens and Oswalt start two of those, each. A 7-2 finish for them means the Cubs need to go 6-4 to eliminate them.
As to the Giants, I hope they tank out. I'd much rather see LA in the playoffs than the Roid Monsters By The Bay. LA would also be an easier opponent should the Cubs get to face them. Only good can come from the LA/San Fran series this weekend, regardless who wins however many games.
So long as the Cubs continue to win.
The Cubs should slog out 5 wins in their next 7 games. They better. Anything less would be a colossal tanking. This playoff spot is theirs if they want it. It's not a given, they do have to earn it. Play like you are earning it.
Now, a few words on Shawn Green and Yom Kippur. I think Shawn is making a mistake. He should either play both games or take both games off. Yom Kippur, like all Jewish holidays, is a sundown to sundown observance. Yom Kippur also instructs observing Jews not to wear clothing made from animal skins during the day. That means, Jews shouldn’t wear a baseball glove! Moreover, many Jews believe that Yom Kippur is the second holiest day of the year to the Sabbath. The logic there goes that the Sabbath is the only day that God rested and that it’s mentioned in the Ten Commandments. How could any day be holier? If you follow that angle, taking Yom Kippur off, but playing games on Friday nights and Saturday days is the height of hypocrisy. Lastly, like Barry Rozner wrote today, I think he’s setting himself a dangerous precedent by playing Friday, but not Saturday.
That said, one of the more amazing things about Judaism is that there really is no one to tell you the proper way to practice. There is no head rabbi a la the Pope to decree what is the way to observe. One of the reasons Jews attend services much less often the Christians is the focus the religion places on family and home observance. All that combines to make decisions Jews make about how to observe so much more different than most other religions.
Shawn says playing Friday but not playing Saturday fits best with what he and his family does for the holiday. I can see that. While attending services tonight is one of the highlights of the year in terms of spiritualness, I haven’t attended Kol Nidre services in years for a combination of reasons including getting to the synagogue on time after work to care of my young kids. In my family, we usually don’t go until the following morning. Using that example, I would be in a similar situation to Shawn.
I respect Shawn’s decisiona and his situation. If nothing else, he’s brought attention to the plight of American Jews and the decisions faced regarding work and family. Jews represent only about 3% of the nation’s population. Making Joe Sports Fan aware of one of the aspects of Judaism for a few hours cannot be a bad thing.
I wish Shawn would be consistent in his actions and play both or sit out both. But I am not criticizing his decision. In fact, I applaud him for allowing the media to question him and be part of his personal debate. L’shana Tovah (or Ceasar Tovar, if you like), Shawn. Have a fast fast.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Magic Number Redux
The math tells you its 12. It’s not. It’s really 10. And, get this: the Cubs actually have a 2 game loss column lead in the Wild Card hunt.
No, I’m not on crack.
See, with the Dodgers in free fall and the Giants closing to within 1 game of the Dodgers in the loss column, the Dodgers must now be factored into any Wild Card scenario. Well, guess what? Starting tomorrow, the Giants and the Dodgers face each other 6 times in 10 days. Someone has to lose those games. Guaranteed. And one of them will lose at least 3 games. If you give three losses to the Giants, the Cubs are up 3 in the loss column on them. If you give three losses to the Dodgers, the Cubs are up 2 games in the loss column. There’s no way it’s any worse. If the Dodgers win more than 3 games, the Giants lose more than three. And vice versa.
Here’s a complete reversal of opinion in just a few days for me: I think the Cubs can all but clinch a playoff spot with a win today and a Dodger loss. All this is possible because the Padres have spanked the crap out of the Dodgers. What the Giants do today doesn’t really matter, but a win for them would be nice because it buries the Astros.
Go David Wells!
Dumb and Dumberer: When Lloyd Talked About Sammy
On ESPN Radio this morning, Mike & Mike brought up the topic of Sammy’s lack of hustle and effort on his hop-and-watch single that ended with him being thrown out at second. Sosa was quoted by Mike & Mike (and in the Suntimes) as saying afterwards, "I have been doing that a lot of years and I'm not changing now," he said. "Why should I change, because of this happening one time? The ball just missed being a homer and it came off the wall just right for the outfielder. It shouldn't have been that big a deal because we won the game."
Sosa is dead wrong here. It’s a big deal because you probably cost your team at least one run.
What’s better is the call that Mike & Mike took at about 6:50 AM Chicago time. Some dope named Lloyd called up to DEFEND SOSA! Lloyd told me, via the radio, that every Cubs fan loves the hop. Every Cubs fan loves Sammy. Lloyd told me that Sammy does what he always does and that because we love him, we should cut him some slack.
Here’s a news flash for you, Lloyd. First, I don’t love Sammy. I never really did love him or his showboating act. And, while I don’t mind the hop, I don’t love that either. But mostly, I don’t give slack to a player who screws up and then sloughs it off as no big deal. That’s what asswipe politicians do. I spent some time last summer using Sammy’s cheating incident to teach my oldest boy that cheating means you get punished. You take responsibility for your actions. Sammy doesn’t do that. And therefore, he’s a loathsome individual who is not deserving of my respect. That also goes for idiotic Cubs fans who have the gall to tell the rest of the world how I feel, Lloyd.
If anyone knows Lloyd, please direct him to this site so that he may know what a dumbass he is.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Corey Patterson is having a good season at the plate, right? Before tonight’s Golden Sombrero, Corey was hitting .279 with 23 dingers (.800 OPS) and 32 steals. That’s good, right? It’s strange to see that because there’s been times that he’s been brutal at the plate and times that he’s been superb. He's obviously a streaky player. Well, I took some time to break down how streaky he is. Stocks are analyzed on a trailing period of days basis. This allows an investor to see how volatile a stick is. Let's apply that analysis to offensive stats. I used pools of 100 and 200 trailing plate appearences to try to find some volatility.
Looking at Corey’s stats in just such pools, it’s becomes clear just how streaky he is.
Over 200 plate appearances, his numbers are fairly stable. His batting average fluctuates between .239 and .306, OBP from .305 to .368 and his slugging from .361 to .533.
At 100 plate appearances, his numbers swing drastically. His batting average fluctuates between .210 and .376, OBP from .255 to .422 and his slugging from .310 to .670. But the key here is to look at the swings. And the number of swings. Corey has tanked three times and peaked twice. That means, despite his good overall stats, he’s more often an offensive liability than a force.
Now, let’s compare Corey to a player also supposedly streaky: Sloth’s favorite roto first baseman, Derrek Lee.
Now Derrek has similar gaps in his 100 PA trend. His batting average fluctuates between .216 and .430, OBP from .271 to .490 and his slugging from .371 to .806. Larger gaps. But look at the line. Much smoother. No super hot streaks and brutally bad streaks. He's more consistent.
That's what kills about Corey. When he’s on, he’s really on. When he’s off, he’s Arctic. And he swings so often as to make him unreliable.
I’ll never trust Corey until he gets consistent. And I don’t think he’ll ever get there.
Maybe a Cookie Instead
The George Halas monument is up at Soldier Field. It's bascially a timeline showing many of the Bears Hall of Fame players. Included are Bronko Nagurski, Red Grange, Sid Luckman, Bill George, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Walter Payton and Mike Singletary.
No Mike Ditka.
Why? Plenty of bad blood between the McCaskey Clan and Ditka and McCaskey doesn't want any part of Ditka in his publicly funded stadium. Why, just last year on Monday Night Football, Ditka said of Mike McCaskey, "I was fired by a guy who told me that I had the job for 20 years if I wanted it. So when people lie to you..." When people say stuff like this, why should Mike and his family use some of their $450 million in taxpayer money to showcase such a person?
How can this personal spite be rectified? Here’s a suggestion. Someone should make a bunch of removable decals with Ditka’s face on them and pass them out to fans at Bears’ games. Everyone who goes to Soldier Field should apply the non-permanent decal to the statue in a spot where it doesn’t cover the face of any of the other players that are immortalized there.
Ditka gets on the statue. McCaskey et al are embarrassed and there is no permanent damage done to the monument.
Will Anyone Ever Fill His… Ah… Shoes?
Russ Meyer (1922-2004)
Filmmaker best known, according to the IMDB for casting, "women with abnormally large breasts."
Magic NumbersGiants - 12
Cubs - 13
Astros - 14
Padres - 16
Marlins - 18
A Cubs win and a Marlins loss and the Fish will be served with chips (hat tip to CZD).
And Then It Was Two
Yes, the Giants and Padres did their jobs last night. And Baseball Tonight's crew echoed Ivy Chat yesterday when Peter Gammons said, in nearly so many words, the Dodgers won't make it to the playoffs because their starting pitching stinks.
And all this can only help the Cubs.
The Cubs, with their win last night, now climb to within two games of the Dodgers. And the Dodgers try to throw Brad Penny tonight against Jake (12-6) Peavy. Oswalt takes the bump for the Astros against 23-year-old Noah Lowry. Lowry happens to have a +4 ERA, but is also 5-0. Wins by the Cubs and Giants tonight, coupled with a Padre win, and it’s bell-tolling time for the Astros.
But the Cubs have to win. How wonderful was it to see Sammy Sosa loaf to first and then try to make it to second only to get thrown out? It's even more wonderful when you realize he was thrown out by a perfect throw to the cutoff man. Were you watching Sammy?
Then, there’s this page’s favorite: Corey Patterson. Check Paul Sullivan’s lead in today’s Trib.
Corey Patterson made no apologies Tuesday night at PNC Park after misplaying Bobby Hill's line drive into a triple with an ill-advised diving attempt in the seventh inning.
"That's the way I play," Patterson said. "That's who I am."
You play badly.
Look for Ryan Dempster to get more save opportunities and for LaTroy to go back to a setup role. Great stat last night - Hawkins is 2-7 in converting 1 run save situations.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
The Next Six
Projected starters and uneducated handicaps at outcomes:
Astros at San Francisco
L Hernandez vs. Tomko
W Oswalt vs. Lowry
L Backe vs. Schmidt
Astros at Milwaukee
L Munro vs. Davis
W Clemens vs. De LaRosa
W Hernandez vs. Santos
San Francisco hosts Houston
W Hernandez vs. Tomko
L Oswalt vs. Lowry
W Backe vs. Schmidt
San Francisco hosts Los Angeles
W Rueter vs. Perez
W Hennessey vs. Jackson
L Tomko vs. Weaver
That would leave the Astros with 70 losses and the Giants with 68. The Cubs, today, have 66 losses.
What the Cubs need to do:
Cubs at Pittsburgh:
W Wood vs. Fogg
W Zambrano vs. Perez
W Maddux vs. Van Benschoten
Cubs at Mets:
L Rusch vs. Benson
W Prior vs. Heilman
W Wood vs. Leiter
That would put the Cubs at 67 losses with 7 to play. And one up in the loss column.
This is what they have to do for blowing off a game against David Weathers. Did I just type that? David Weathers. Yeah, I did.
We Won't Get Fooled Again
Don't let anyone fool you. The Cubs lost ground yesterday. A full game. They are now tied in the loss column with the Giants and are only 1 up on the Michael Barrett inspired Astros. As such, the Cubs no longer control their own destiny. While they still maintain an advantage in schedule, all one need do is look at 2003 when the Astros just needed two wins against the Brewers.
How did that work out?
What the Cubs have going for them is the Pirates and the Mets while Houston and San Francisco play each other. While the first glance says that the best outcome for the Cubs is a series split with Houston winning two games, I go the other way. Houston plays no one after they finish with the Giants (Brewers, clinched-Cards, Rockies). They need to be buried. Now.
But that gives the Giants a three game winning streak, right? That hurts the Cubs’ Wild Card chances, right? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
The Giants are three games behind the Dodgers right now, and the Dodgers head to San Diego for three. The Pads have Eaton, Peavy and Wells queued up. Then the Dodgers go to San Fran for some head-2-head. Now, how cool would it be for the Dodgers to drop 2 to San Diego, the Giants sweep Houston, and then San Fran dumps the Dodgers? San Fran buries Houston for the Cubs, then takes the division from the Dodgers. That's just too dreamy to think about.
The Cubs would only need to win about 4 of 6 against New York and Pittsburgh. That's some room for error that they currently don't have.
And I still think the Cubs need that margin.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Marry Me One More Time
Britney Spears reportedly wed her dancer/serial impregnator Kevin Federline in a secret Los Angeles ceremony on Saturday.
The ceremony was so secret that the media knew that the wedding was held at a private home in the Studio City area with 20 to 30 people attending. Spears wore a strapless white gown. Federline was bedecked in a plain tuxedo. Guests reportedly dined on chicken fingers and ribs in a barbecue-style reception.
Good thing it was secret.
No More Praise
Every time you bash #20's play, Corey shows you up. Everytime you start to praise the Cubs wearing #20, Corey goes away and his evil twin Korey takes over. How else to explain it? On August 23rd, this page wrote its "Korey is Dead, Long Live Corey" post praising the guy. Three days later, his average peaked. It's been a tailspin ever since.
From August 27th on, a span of 92 plate appearances, Korey has hit .186 with a .239 OBP, and slugged .395 (.634 OPS if you want to skip the addition).
Sorry, Sloth. This kid is not going to be a player. He'll keep tricking you and tricking you into thinking he's good. While that happens, Carlos Beltran will be an Angel or a Yankee. And Cubs' fans will be stuck with a fast Rob Deer.
And just in case, I'm going to stay negative on him. Maybe it'll be motivating.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Can They Still Blow It? Yasser!
That game from Saturday sure makes you wonder about this team. They seem to have things in hand and it falls apart. 4-1 with Maddux on the mound should be Nicolette Sheridan sure. Yet they continue to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, to use a common phrase.
Regardless, the biggest September test comes Monday. A sweep of the Marlins, and even I may see saw back to thinking the Cubs make the playoffs. The reverse? That should put Houston and San Fran in the driver’s seat. The Cubs still maintain a loss column advantage. They can’t blow that advantage.
A huge win for the Bears today. Beyond loving to see the Fudgies to the North get smacked, this win may actually stimulate conversation about the team. Dunno about where everyone else is, but in my office of 10 or so workers, NFL talk is limited to contracts the league has with some of our customers. Baseball talk is heard rather often. I expect that to change in the AM.
My boss' first words to me this morning were, "Good morning.... Da' Bears!"
Friday, September 17, 2004
Over at the Sloth’s site, we’ve been having a mutual drooling society over HJP’s. That brought up Joyce Hyser, star of 1985’s “Just One of the Guys” (aka Tootsie for High School Kids). Joyce is pushing 50 now and appears to have aged decently. Certainly her cohorts in crime are aged, but decent (that would be Annabella Sciorra and Rosanna Arquette along side).
The conversation digressed into a run down of "Where Are They Now" from that flick. What most people forget is that the best looking babe in that movie was Sandy, the girl who was hitting on Joyce while Joyce was all "Karate Kidded" up.
Now, back then Sherilyn Fenn was just 20 years old. Two Moon Junction and Twin Peaks were in her future. So was her time as a Playboy bunny and as a featured layout in the magazine. She was boxed in Boxing Helena after Kim Bassinger pulled out. And I’m sure there was some biographical mix in Rude Awakening, her Showtime series. Today, she’s still working and has a new film coming out that pairs her with that star-of-stars Casper Van Dien.
Well, her career may have gone off the deep end, but this Michigan girl still does some cockle warming for this Chicago guy.
I’m sorry, but if Kerry Wood continues to pitch like he did last night, not only won’t the Cubs win anything, but his contract will turn into an albatross. This guy gets #1 money and has a reputation as a #1. In reality, he’s so prone to Ankiel Innings that he can take a team right out of a game.
Anybody other than the Reds and that game is a loss.
That said, the double play he started is a "Play of the Year" were George Michael’s Sports Machine still operating.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Happy New Year
It's Rosh Hashana and that means the new year is 5765 on your lunar calendar. Beyond wishing everyone a L'shana tovah, I just want to note how much I hate this time of year.
I'll be writing 5764 on my checks for weeks.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
The Giants and Padres lock up for three this weekend. One of them should be eliminated, for all intensive purposes, by Sunday afternoon.
Florida gets a double header today against Montreal, then gets ready for Atlanta this weekend. The Fish appear to have jumbled their rotation and are scheduled to throw Burnett, Beckett and Pavano at Atlanta. Very Smart. (makes you wonder why Dusty Baker wasted Prior against Montreal's Class A pitcher instead of throwing Rusch or Mitre in that game and saving Prior for Saturday and Zambrano for Sunday). Atlanta only has a five game loss-column lead for the division and needs to take the series.
Houston finishes with St. Loser, then hosts Milwaukee, last year's spoilers. The Stros get Morris and Marquis, then Sheets but miss Santos. The Stros also throw Oswalt on Saturday.
It sums up like this: The Giants and Padres will share three losses. Houston looks to lose at least one at St. Loser and another to Sheets. Outside of a Giants sweep of the Padres, I see this boiling down to the Cubs and Marlins again. The playoff chase may come down to Monday, September 20. The Doubleheader in Miami. And if the Marlins can't throw any of their big 3, advantage Cubs.
So long as the Cubs don't choke it away against Pittsburgh and Cinci.
So Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes plans to draw attention to his campaign by making "inflammatory" comments "every day, every week" until the election. I guess if making stupid, moronic statements won't get him elected to the US Senate, it certainly qualifies him as the morning host on WSCR.
Everytime you think you have this guy figured out, he screws you right back up. Corey Patterson is having another one of his brutal months. He usually does this following an outstanding month. Before last night, Korey had an OBP of .275 in September with a .722 OPS. That compares to .388/.993 in August. His strikeouts were up dramatically and his walk rate dropped to that of a bank savings account.
Then, Corey shows up and saves the Cubs' collective asses last night. He got the first ball up and over the roof of the stadium and let the wind do the rest. The second ball, he crushed.
I don't think this team makes the playoffs, in part, because guys like Corey (Sammy, Alou, Nomar of late) play so poorly at times the teams looks like it will crash like a NASA experiment.
But if they are going to make it, Corey's gonna have to step it back up to numbers close to August. Last night was a step in the right direction.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
From Bob Feder's column today:
While he considers a contract renewal offer (and a raise) from WGN-Channel 9, Cubs play-by-play announcer Chip Caray is free to entertain offers elsewhere. This week marks the end of Caray's exclusive negotiating period with the Tribune Co.-owned flagship station.
This is news that Chip actually has an offer, and for more money at that. I wonder what it means that he hasn't accepted? Does he want out? Part of me thinks Chip would like to come back just to stick it to Moises Alou who won't be back.
Also, a quick TYVM to Phil for the seats and dinner in the Wrigley Field Stadium Club last night. Love that rack of lamb. Love the win even more.
Monday, September 13, 2004
It just figures, doesn’t it? Chicago is finally home to the World Series champions and not only does the team play in US Cellular, but they beat the Cubs to get that championship.
Kudos to Rex Grossman for saying that he screwed up. How refreshing to see someone actually accept blame for something they did wrong. Can this guy run for President?
While I missed most of the Cubs’ and Bears’ games yesterday hosting 35 kids for a combined 5th and 2nd birthday party, I was kept up to date by one of the party site’s employees with her walkman on. At one point, I asked her if it was still 4-0 Marlins. She said that it was now 7-0. I retorted, "At least Alou only cost them one run." She smiled and said that it was two and that he did another "Over the Rainbow” throw. "I can’t wait to get rid of this bum," I replied. She gave me a dirty look. "I love Alou! See? He autographed my hat!" Sure enough, he had. She then went on for a minute telling me how she wants to keep Alou for next year because he’s "great." And this woman is responsible for the care of little children.
Stat of the Week: Over the last 5 days, the Cubs have scored 2 runs against starting pitchers who have minor league experience above Class A.
So the Cubs got a split. Not what they needed to do. Especially when the Marlins gave you game 2 of the double header by starting a high schooler. The two Sans (Fran and Diego) did as expected (2-1). Houston did worse (1-2). Basically, they got little help from the rest of the league. Well, when you control your own destiny, you needn’t worry about help from the rest of the league. Unless you are the 2004 Cubs.
Looking forward, the Cubs get Pittsburgh whom just beat the Astros. Florida gets the Expos who just beat the Cubs. San Fran goes to Milwaukee who started the Cubs on their post-All Star Break slide. Houston goes to St. Louis who dismantled the Cubs. St. Louis can also clinch the division if the Cubs cooperate. San Diego gets the Dodgers. It’s starting to get to sweep time for the Cubs to be anything more than just a playoff pipedream. If it wasn’t clear before, I’m officially on record as saying they won’t make it.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
I'm Two Today
Geoff, I hope you live a thousand more.
Friday, September 10, 2004
All in all, not a terrible day in terms of standings. I'm gonna go off on Dusty later (it has to do with Todd Walker), but as of right now, the Cubs remain 1 game up in the loss column on Florida and two on Houston and San Fran. To say that winning one of the next two is must would be an understatement. And winning both is so close to a must as 10 points is for a knockdown.
Plus 5 to Minus 3
The loss column is all that matters. In that respect, the Cubs are up one an the Marlins, two on the Astros and Giants, and three on the Padres. At the end of this weekend, the Cubs will be anywhere from 5 ahead of the Fish to 3 behind. I'll say that anything less than 3 wins and the Cubs will be finished. The margin of error shrunk to eye-of-the-needle sized with the choke job against the Expos. And look who the others are playing: Houston is at Pittsburgh, San Diego goes to Colorado and San Fran gets the Western Expos aka the Diamondbacks.
Here's the weekend schedule and the pitching matchups:
Florida at Chicago Cubs
Pavano at Prior
Kensing at Wood
Willis at Zambrano
Burnett at Rusch
Houston at Pittsburgh
Munro at Van Benschoten
Backe at Vogelsong
Oswalt at Williams
San Diego at Colorado
Lawrence at Estes
Eaton at Francis
Peavy at Wright
San Francisco at Arizona
Hennessey at Johnson
Lowry at Randolph
Schmidt at Webb
Houston looks like a lock for 2 wins. Same with San Diego. San Fran at least gets to face Johnson or it would look like a sweep.
That means, the Cubs can expect each of their opponents to only add one to their loss column totals by Sunday.
A sweep of the Marlins? Sighs of relief. 3 of 4? Marlins are dying and the Cubs likely hold serve against the rest of the field. A split and the Cubs will be on life support. Worse than that? Well, the Bears season won't be over for a few weeks.
Now, looking at the Cubs starters, it sure seems like the Fish are handing game 2 today to the Cubs. A Class A rookie against Wood? Sunday looks to be in the Marlins' favor.
That leaves Prior and Zamboni. They must hold up their end or the finger pointing starts to spread more than it already has.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
While we all could use a good drink right about now, I'll let others comment on last night. What I want to talk about is this article.
So Sammy thinks he's above the team and can leave early? That's cool. I mean, according to MapQuest, it's 5.0 miles from 1060 West Addision to 505 North Lake Shore Drive (Lake Point Towers). Traffic on Lake Shore Drive can be brutal at 9:00 in the evening. And the entrance to LSD at Irving Park? You can get tied up in that for 8 whole minutes! I know, Belmont has an entrance, too. But the lights over there are crazy and the southbound ramp is confusing.
I really only have one question. If Sosa can leave his team early in the heat of a playoff drive, can the Cubs release him early from his contract?
Loathsome, I tell, ya. Loathsome.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Two At And As Home
Major League Baseball has announced the makeup games for the Marlins series. Double header in Chicago on Friday and double header in Florida on 9/20. Why the big news? Quoting MLB.com:
"The Marlins will be the visiting team in both games."
Good for Bud Selig. He stood by the precedent he set last month.
Now, the Cubs can all but lock the Wild Card with 3 wins this weekend. Including winning the next two.
Starters for the Friday twin bill are Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Let's just hope they do better this time than they did in their last starts against the Marlins.
Who's Paying Attention?
You-know-who is 0 for 21 with 7 strikeouts.
Or, 2 for 34 with 10 strikeouts and 1 walk, if you like a larger sample.
Will anyone else comment on this or will others just bash the messenger?
Monday, September 06, 2004
Peter Gammons chimes in with his list of 2005 free agents. Pete's opinions on who has done what to their market value based upon their 2004 perfornance can be found here. The full list inlcudes:
Right-hand starting pitchers: Pedro Martinez, Carl Pavano, Kevin Millwood, Jaret Wright, Russ Ortiz, Derek Lowe, Esteban Loaiza, Aaron Sele, Brad Radke, Matt Morris, Paul Wilson, Roger Clemens, Hideo Nomo, Matt Clement, Kris Benson, Jon Lieber (option).
Left-hand starting pitchers: Eric Milton, David Wells, Odalis Perez, Al Leiter (club option), Shawn Estes.
Relievers: Trevor Hoffman, Troy Percival, Armando Benitez, Ugueth Urbina.
Catchers: Jason Varitek, Damian Miller, Mike Matheny, Henry Blanco.
First base: Carlos Delgado, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Tino Martinez, Brad Fullmer, Rafael Palmeiro (option).
Second base: Placido Polanco, Jeff Kent, Todd Walker, Pokey Reese, Mark Grudzielanek.
Third base: Troy Glaus, Mike Lowell (option), Corey Koskie, Adrian Belte, Joe Randa, Vinny Castilla.
Shortstop: Edgar Renteria, Nomar Garciaparra, Orlando Cabrera, Pokey Reese, Omar Vizquel, Alex Gonzalez, Cristian Guzman, Jose Valentin, Craig Counsell.
Outfielders: Carlos Beltran, J.D. Drew, Magglio Ordonez, Richard Hidalgo, Moises Alou, Jermaine Dye, Danny Bautista, Frank Catalanotto, Jeromy Burnitz, Carl Everett (option).
Of these guys, so help me, but I like Percival the best. Could he help in locating the grail, or what?
Sunday, September 05, 2004
Nip This, Bud
So the Cubs will make up the stormed out series with Florida by playing four games in Chicago this week and 2 in Miami in late September. Fine. What I want to know is: Why does Florida get to be the "home" team for one of the games in Chicago?
I know the game was scheduled to be in Florida and they deserve another home game. But there is precedent for the Marlins to lose the last at bat advantage. And the precedent was set this year. Back in May, the Expos-Giants game was rained out in San Juan. The game was made up as part of a double header on August 18th at Pac Bell (whatever). And the Expos batted first in both games.
Now why would the Expos be unable to get a home game in San Fran, yet the Marlins can in Chicago?
Easy. The Expos are owned by MLB. They have no one to complain. And the league doesn't want them to win. The Marlins are the defending champs, have a viable ownership, and have players that would make for a draw come playoff time.
This is crap. If the Expos get a road game in San Fran, the Marlins get a road game in Chicago. If the Marlins want to avoid this in the future? Move to Portland and get a dome.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Bet one race today: The 7th at Arlington. I dropped $4 and exacta boxed #4 Awesome Deduction and #1 Relicon.
Relicon won, followed by Awesome Deduction. It paid $30.60.
Then again, Paul Sullivan has a box in the Trib today (not available on-line) where he talks about how the Cubs could win 100 games this season. He says the Cubs blew 100 with their August under-performance. But he sees 20-10 for September.
The man is a GENIUS!!!
Self Promoting Pompous Arrogant Son-of-a...
Ya' gotta love when a little on-line diary gets more attention than it deserves. And when it gets personal? Whee!!!!
First, a few points to the defense. I don't imagine this is an, "under-read gem of a site." In fact, I'm shocked I get read at all by anyone. For my ego to consider it under read, I'd first have to think it was... uh... good. This site lacks decent writing, witty use of metaphors, and decent spelling, to say the least. I'd say there are a dozen better written, funnier, more insightful places to read Cubs' stuff than here.
And do I post elsewhere to raise my profile? No. In fact, the only reason I use my real name and links to this site when I post elsewhere is so that others can see all my opinions, should they care to (or to assist in the fight against insomnia). I don't hide behind false IDs and say multiple things to cover my ass. Call me stupid, call me wrong. But if you want to call me a hypocrite, at least you can use my own words against me.
Second, asking someone to back up a statement they made with their reasoning behind said statement is not "rhetorical."
Third, leave my family out of this. Especially when you don't know my wife's story.
Now, the response to the answer received to the "rhetorical" question posed: The Cubs can go 20-10, well, 19-10 now, the rest of the way because they went 19-8 last year against a similarly weak schedule with a "less talented team."
That's just so wrong it defies the usual logic espoused by that author (which is why he's a regular read). This team is better in areas than last year, yes. But worse in others. The better is Maddux, Zambrano, Lee, Barrett. On the worse: Sosa, Patterson, Alou, Prior, the whole bullpen. Then add in that Nomar and Ramirez are playing hurt. Wood has pitched sporadically, ranging from Zeus-from-Texas good to Nuke LaLoosh's first start wildly bad.
Then, you see all the self-created distractions this team has. Calling the press box during a game? Four pitchers suspended? Mark Prior, Mr. Cool, praying to an ump after a bad call?
Lastly. The writer posed this question: Why does everybody expect this to be easy? We don't. But the writer did.
June 1: The National League had two full months to bury the Cubs and leave them for dead. They didn't do it. The Cubs wouldn't let them. So guess what? They get to deal with the Cubs for the next four months.
But the better line was higher up, same day:
The Cubs did nothing wrong in the offseason, and this team is loaded. The projected opening day roster for the Cubs is the best team in the National League. We have yet to actually see it on the field, and it's frustrating.
Well, guess what. We see it on the field now. And it's more talented now than on June 1.
And it's more frustrating now because it's not playing up to specs.
It's still running into outs. And striking out 4 times at leadoff. And fading into oblivion in right field. And not pitching like it should. And has seen the bullpen go from mediocre to bad.
This team may win, they may not. But to jump down my throat, on my FAMILY, and have illogic back the statement you make? From a person usually witty, smart and even logical?
Let's just chalk it up to a bad day. I won't make any guesses about what may be bothering others at their home.
The report of my death was an exaggeration
Yes, Korey is alive and well. Four more whiffs last night and an oh-fer streak going back to his second at bat against Houston. For those of you unwilling to look up the stats, it's 0 for 17 with 6 strikeouts and no walks.
When this happens to your leadoff hitter, you don't score a lot of runs. When you add in a hurting Nomar Garciapara, a hurting Aramis Ramirez, a cratering Sammy Sosa, and a Moises Alou who disappears from the basepaths so often that David Copperfield was seen asking Alou for tips, you end up with a team in a huge mess-o-trouble.
That said, they won 2 of 3 in Montreal. Which is the minimum they needed to do. Doesn't this team always seem to be doing the minimum? I guess it's too late in the year to expect them to start hurting people.
Ah well. Off to Arlington today. Any pony advice? Send in your tips. If they win, I'll share the good fortune!
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Won or Done
I'll come out and say it: A loss tonight and the playoff chase is over. This team cannot afford to drop games to the dregs of the dregs after allowing the hangers-on to come back to life. And they cannot do it without Mark Prior stepping up and becoming a semblance of what he was last year (note to Jim Hendry - get Tom House on a plane to Chicago, stat!). Last year this team smacks down the Cardinals with a 4 wins in a 5 game series. In 2004, the team goes 3 and 7 against their three closest challengers and lays a goose egg in French Canadia.
After tonight, the Cubs head to Florida. The way the Cubs are playing and the way Florida is playing, any reasonable person expects the Cubs to lose the series. And if that happens, the likelihood is that the Giants will have the Wild Card lead.
Oh, and when did the Cubs go into their funk? As soon as their leadoff hitter went into a 2 for 18 with four strikeouts and one walk funk. ***CORRECTION: 2 for 21 with five K's and one walk*** Regular readers will have seen this coming a mile off.
Top and Bottom
Back in April, I would have ranked the Cubs starters from best to worst as:
Talk about topsy turvey! Look at how they've pitched this year:
Maddux as your #1 playoff starter? I don't think so!
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