Friday, December 31, 2004
Year End Thoughts
David Pinto chimes in with some observations on the Randy Johnson trade. Pinto suggests that trading young lefty starters for 40+ year old pitchers is usually not the best way to go. That’s not true for these Yankees:
...the Yankees are no longer in the mode of the early 1990's where they are willing to sit back and let their prospects develop. They want to win today.
In this page’s opinion, the same holds true for the Cubs, albeit for a different reason. The Yankees want to win today because they have effectively an unlimited budget. Why wait for prospects to develop when you can buy All Stars today?
The Cubs need to win today, not because they have unlimited funds (they could, but Trib Corp. won’t approve that), but because they have a window of talent right now that won’t be here forever. Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano and Kerry Wood are three talents that come together once a generation. You can win multiple titles with these three men. These are talents that cannot be acquired via free agency unless you are the Yankees. The Cubs have them and have to win with them. They won’t be able to replace them.
Then you look at this probability. The likelihood is that all three will not stay healthy for the duration of their careers. Reasonably, you have about a 4 to 5-year window in which you can rely on these three talents.
The Cubs have used two of those years up.
This team is missing an outfield and a bullpen. They have a fading right fielder, a proto-typical centerfield/leadoff hitter who is abusing his talent by trying to be what the fading right fielder was (and earn that level of contract), and no left fielder. They have a setup man who can’t close and not much else that is reliable in the relief corps.
They have reams of talent in the minors, much of it they will never be able to use because of the presence of Prior, Zambrano and Wood.
The Cubs must use these young players as chips to go acquire players like the Yankees are doing with Randy Johnson. This is what kills about Carlos Beltran being traded to the Astros last year. The Cubs could have outbid and won the deal from the Royals, but the Cubs were too stingy with their prospects. The Astros got a playoff slot and the Cubs lost a year of their window.
They must win now. It’s gonna get much harder to win when the Big Three are gone. And without unlimited budgets, these three will never be replaced. If that means giving up too much to get a Juan Pierre or a Billy Wagner, so be it. It would be worse to miss an opportunity.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
It’s clear that Scott Boras is an Ivy Chat reader. He’s trying very hard to play down the conventional wisdom of December 28th that said the Cubs are no longer pursuing Carlos Beltran. In an article in today’s Trib, Boras talks about how the Cubs "fly below the radar". This is another way of suggesting that option #2 (the Cubs are sitting by the side trying to keep Beltran's price down) is the real game that Jim Hendry is playing.
What’s scary is that Boras is the voice of reason.
"I don't know why people are writing the Cubs aren't in it because they have to trade Sammy Sosa first," Scott Boras said. "We're only talking about one more year [on Sosa's contract]. Who in their right mind would think you could not accommodate signing Carlos Beltran because of that?"Exactly.
I still don’t believe that Beltran is coming here because the Cubs aren’t talking about him. However, a ray of hope is buried in the article. Hendry is quoted as saying the Cubs remain "interested" in Beltran. I don’t count this as a typical leak yet, but it does allow a tiny bit if light in through a door that seemed to be shut tight just two days ago.
Also in the Trib today is some info on Jay Mariotti’s departure from WMVP. I won’t venture into the politics between Jay and station management because it’s just not very interesting. What is interesting is that part of WMVP’s problem with the show was that the last 40 minutes of the show (11:20 AM to 12:00 PM) was not live. Rather, it was taped earlier. Why? Mariotti had to tape Between the Lines at 11:30. Here’s my question. If the station didn’t like that, why did they extend Jay’s show from 11 to 12? The Between the Lines contract preceded his WMVP contract?
Other nuggets from the article include a display of Mariotti’s ego with the anecdote of Jay once telling his co-host to stifle it, that WMVP will keep the Nine to Noon slot for local programming, that Jay had posted better ratings than Jim Rome did in the same time slot (my faith in humanity is restored), and that those ratings were still way behind WSCR’s Boers and Bernstein.
Lastly, it’s interesting that the Trib has all this and the Sun Times does not.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Blog Army Promotions
Joe Aiello, Squad Leader over at The View from the Bleachers, is running his "Best of the Cubs Blog Army" competition once again. Last year, Ivy Chat managed to rate as a finalist. That’s pretty impressive as the only votes I got were mine and my mother’s. This year, Joe has decided to only rank 8 members of the Army. Ivy Chat was chosen as one of the few, one of the proud. The others are:
And Another Thing
Cub Fan Nation
The Northside Lounge
The Rooftop Report
Regular visits to all of those are made from me, although I am ashamed to admit I’ve never made a link on this page to The Cubdom (soon to be rectified).
Al Yellon’s "And Another Thing" is probably the best written blog. It’s a true diary of his experiences. I admit to skimming a lot of the personal stuff on his page (I still have no idea what the tomato thing was all about) and getting right to his opinions on the state of the team.
Mike Comar’s Cubs’ Pundit page is now vastly improved without that annoying pop-up box. We’ve just got to get this poor little GOPer to understand finances a little better and he’ll be fine. Yes, a Republican who doesn’t understand how finance works. I guess we now know why he’s a Bush supporter – common ground.
Northside Lounge is run by guys with whom I participate on the Eskimo.com listserve. Also a well written page.
I used to be a Rooftop Regular, but his updates are few and far between. I’m not there as often. Were he to publish, I’d be back. Often.
Cub Fan Nation – Defunct now, isn’t it? I think this is a permanent Goat Rider.
Brian Hipp’s Cubs Now is also a GOP site. But we agree on just about everything else. Well, other than what to do with 3 pitching prospects you will never be able to use.
Regardless, here’s the voting link. Voting starts Saturday, if you aren't too hungover.
Oh, and show some man love for the Sloth. He’s dirty, he’s vile, he like’s ‘em young and waify. He’s also a friend and he’s a great read.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
New Network Coming Soon
It seems that some entrepreneurs have come up with a new idea for a TV station. They will start with webcasts and then try to get the channel on to the traditional cable outlets.
$10 says the Sloth is already watching.
Beltran Chase Over
Three articles today that lead you to believe that Carlos Beltran will not be a Cub. The Trib, SunTimes (lovely headline - what is the right time? When he's NOT available?) and Daily Herald all pretty much douse the idea. Two of the three place the signing of Todd Hollandsworth in the Beltran context. The Herald and SunTimes continue to portray the fiction that Sammy Sosa must be traded for the Cubs to afford Beltran.
What’s interesting is what the Trib says about Beltran.
Now, this can only have 2 possible meanings. 1) The Cubs are truly out of the Beltran derby. 2) The Cubs are sitting by the side trying to keep the price down.
Given Jim Hendry’s history of signing free agents (no Jim Thome, Maddux kicking and screaming), I’m going with #1.
Oh, by the way. An outfield of Sosa, Korey Patterson and Hollandsworth/Jason DuBois is a recipe for another third place finish.
Friday, December 24, 2004
The past few weeks have seen a full frontal assault by the Religious Right on the term, "Happy Holidays." These Christian zealots hate that term. They want everyone to say, "Merry Christmas." Well, guess what. Not everyone celebrates Christmas and there is more than one holiday celebrated during this narrow span of weeks. While I’m not insulted that someone might say "Merry Christmas" to me (and I have no right not to be insulted), I do find it presumptuous, even downright arrogant, for people to be insisting that a term applicable to everyone be replaced by a term that is only applicable to a segment (ok, a majority segment) of our society.
That off my chest, let me regale all of you with my favorite interfaith story of all time. June 21, 1996. Huntington, Indiana. The wedding of two of my closest friends. The ceremony took place at St. Mary Catholic Church under the direction of Fr. Gary Sigler. I was one of the ushers. After the mass was over, I stood outside the church and Fr. Gary walked over. I introduced myself and told him that the mass was only the third one I’d ever attended. "I don’t attend church very often. I’m Jewish," I told him.
"Really?" said Fr. Gary. "So am I."
Now, that left me speechless. Was he suggesting that all Jews are Christians because Jesus was a Jew? Was it something else?
Fr. Gary told me that he grew up catholic. As a young man, he traveled to Europe to do some research on his family history. He learned that his maternal grandmother fled Central Europe around the time Hitler came to power. They fled as Christians and settled in England. Once there, they maintained the faith. He also learned that, by the laws of Judaism, regardless of what faith you practice, you are what your mother was. Since his maternal grandmother was Jewish, so was his mother. And so was he.
He then proceeded to show me a ring on his right hand. It was a gold ring with a black band. All around the black band were Stars of David. “I wear this to remind me of my ancestry.”
At the end of the wedding reception, Fr. Gary came back up to me. I said to him that I really appreciated his sharing of his story with me. He knew that I was to be married the following march. "God be with you next March," he said to me.
I will never forget that. This man spoke to me as a member of the clergy, the Catholic Church, but not in a condescending way. He could have said, "Christ be with you," or something along that line, but he didn’t. Instead, he gave me a blessing in a way I would appreciate. He understood that giving me a blessing in the name of Jesus would be both presumptuous and inappropriate. This is a man who understood how to deal with and appeal to people of different faiths.
Why don’t the people bitching about, "Happy Holidays" get that?
Happy Holidays to everyone. And Merry Christmas to all of you celebrating this weekend.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Where can you get Anna Benson, Karl Malone, Joe Horn, Willie Roaf, Dennis Eckersley and sex all in one place? The parking lot at Shea, you say. No, Kris hasn't cheated on her, yet. Try Slate instead.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Here’s the crux of this goofy lawsuit. In case you missed it, ex-Cub Assistant Trainer Sandy Krum is suing the Cubs for wrongful termination. Krum was fired from his position after the end of the 2004 season.
Let’s piece together information from two sources: Sandy Krum's interview today on WSCR and the lawsuit itself. The lawsuit can be seen in part on The Cub Reporter (excellent job by Ruz, Chief General of the Cubs Blog Army).
Starting with the text of the lawsuit. Krum believes that he:
...was terminated because he informed (Jim) Hendry that the Head Athletic Trainer of the Cubs (Dave Groeschner), their person responsible for making certain that the athletes of the Cubs were able to perform at the best of their ability and to quickly and adequately rehabilitate themselves after injury, was not licensed to so act in the State of Illinois.
On or about October 13, 2004, Krum was terminated from his employment with the Cubs. The Cubs continued to pay his salary until December 17, 2004.
From August 15, 2004 until his termination, Krum was not told of any deficiencies in his work, was not disciplined, suspended or reprimanded in any manner whatsoever.
But for his informing Hendry that the Head Athletic Trainer of the Cubs was not licensed to perform his duties for the Cubs, Krum would have been retained as an employee of the Cubs.
Basically, Krum says that he’s being fired because he blew the whistle that Groeschner was not a certified trainer. That’s pretty weak.
It gets more interesting when you look at the date that Krum’s pay ran out (December 17th) and the date the lawsuit was filed (just after the 17th). Clearly, Krum is worried about his paycheck. If he was really being vindictive, he might have filed his suit earlier and put his remaining pay at risk. Then, check out the amount of the lawsuit. Krum is only seeking $100,000 in damages. That’s pretty skimpy damages considering he feels he was wrongly terminated by a multi-billion dollar corporation. This doesn’t seem to be about money. At least not big, punitive damages.
Ok. Then what is it about?
Krum was on WSCR today to discuss the suit. He stated quite clearly that he felt that the injuries the Cubs sustained in 2004 were not all his fault, that a qualified trainer could have minimized the effect of some of the injuries, and that his reputation has been irreparably harmed as a result. Were this true, then why only sue for $100,000? If this truly harms his ability to get another job, why not sue for presumptive lost wages over the rest of his lifetime?
It's now perfectly clear lost wages is not what this is about. This is about Krum passing the buck onto Groeschner for the injuries done to the Cubs in 2004. This is about Krum being able to interview for another job and not having to shoulder (ahem!) the blame for Todd Hollandsworth’s leg, Mark Prior’s leg and shoulder, and all the other injuries incurred by the Cubs this past year. Going public with a lawsuit makes it much easier for him as he pursues jobs with other sports team. "It wasn't my fault!" he can say and have a public lawsuit to back him up.
Were Krum really trying to defend himself from wrongful termination he’d be suing for more money and he wouldn't be bemoaning his damaged reputation. This is all about getting his next gig.
The Next Movie to Ignore
It's too bad. This movie has a great cast. It looks like it has a few laughs. It's based on one of the all time great sports movies. But this version of the Longest Yard looks just like a long two hours.
Click here to be disappointed.
With the events out of LA, the opportunities for the Cubs have expanded tremendously.
With Shawn Green P.O.ed about the lack of a trade, the Dodgers are now in the same place Boston was with Nomar last spring: Stuck with a high-priced, disgruntled player. The opportunity here is the unload Sosa on the Dodgers and have the Dodgers pick up Sosa’s exit fees. The salaries of Sosa and Green are only $1 million apart. Give the Dodgers Sosa and a medium minor leaguer in exchange for taking the entire contract.
Carlos Beltran just lost a potential home, but the Cubs lost a potential replacement for Sosa. That raises Beltran’s price. In case you missed CT’s notes, J.D. Drew is now a Dodger. Good. I didn’t really want him for what he would cost. That makes Beltran even more of a must-have for the Cubs as there are really no other options (maybe Juan Pierre). Smart man, that Scott Boras. He shrank the market and drove up the demand for Beltran.
George Steinbrenner met with Beltran yesterday and musta schmoozed him something fierce. The Cubs are not getting in this game. High stakes chicken for Jim Hendry. If he loses Beltran again (like he did last year), he better have a big trade in his back pocket.
It seems Governor Blagoyevich wants to ban offensive video games. Raise your hands if you believe he really wants to get this accomplished? Hmm…. No hands. Now, raise your hands if you believe he is just trying to find an issue that will appeal to social conservatives in an effort to boost his chances to become President in 2008? Whoa! Too many hands to count!
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Sloth's New Lust
Soon to be seen as the object of the Phantom of the Opera's desire. Supposedly recently frozen in New York in "The Day After Tomorrow." I didn't see that flick so take IMDB's word for it.
What are the Cubs going to do with all their minor league talent? There is not room for most of them at the major league level, even should they all develop -- which they won't. Look at the prospects for the starting rotation. There’s Sergio Mitre, Bobby Brownlie, Ricky Nolasco, Jae-Kuk Ryu and Angel Guzman to name five. But looking at the rotation, one sees that there are only 2 spots available over the next 3 years. Greg Maddux will be out after 2005 or 2006 and Glendon Rusch is probably only good for one year. Wood, Prior and Zamboni are locks until 2007 at the earliest. So, Jim Hendry has 5 guys and only needs two of them. What to do with the other three?
My advice: Trade them.
Oh, but Jim doesn’t have a history of doing that. He could have traded some of these guys in a package last year and perhaps received Carlos Beltran (yeah, KC wanted a catcher – the Cubs could have traded for someone else’s catcher and sent that guy to KC). But, no. Let’s not do that. Instead of using Andrew Sisco as a trading chip, just let him go as a Rule 5 free agent. I realize that Sisco could, and probably will come back. But who cares? Trade him last year and Houston doesn’t get Beltran and doesn’t win the Wild Card and probably doesn’t even stand a chance of signing him for 2005.
The Cubs need a two outfielders and a closer. "But none are available!" I’m told. Who knew that Mark Mulder was on available? I guess the general public doesn’t know everyone who is available for trade. I guess a guy like a Billy Wagner or a Juan Pierre just can't be traded for because we haven't heard Jayson Stark mention their names in potential trades.
The Cubs have plenty of ways of getting their missing positions filled. If they don’t fill them, there will be a lot of fruit left to rot on the vines. Jim Hendry needs to use these minor leaguers for something. I wish I had confidence he would. The point of a team's minor league system is to yield solid pros. I don’t care if that happens via development (Zambrano) or trade (Ramirez, Lee). What I do know is this: Sergio Mitre, Bobby Brownlie, Ricky Nolasco, Jae-Kuk Ryu and Angel Guzman will not all be members of the Cubs’ rotation. Fine. Get something for them.
Monday, December 20, 2004
The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself
Why? Why do teams in the Cubs division always add players at their peak while the Cubs add players who are good, but not dominant at their position before the Cubs get them?
Scott Rolen, Carlos Beltran, and now Mark Mulder. All three of these guys were All-Stars when acquired by their new teams. All three were on the verge of big money. And there are more. The Cubs didn’t offer enough for Mike Lowell in 2003 and it cost them a pennant. The Cubs didn’t go after Ugueth Urbina hard enough and it cost them a pennant. Jim Hendry is so stingy with his trading you have to wonder if he thinks prospects can accrue interest like a savings account.
Sure, the Cubs added Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Nomar Garciaparra. Only Nomar was an All-Star before the Cubs got him, and he was hurt, significantly lowering his price. Ramirez may become a mini-Rolen one day, but the cost for Ramirez was just about the same for Rolen. And Rolen was better then than Ramirez is now.
I’m tired of hearing about moving Sammy Sosa and freeing dollars to get Beltran and J.D. Drew and Jacque Jones. You know what? The Cubs found over $10 million in new revenues from new seats to rooftop revenue shares to rotating behind-home-plate signs. Go make some moves, now. We fans deserve it. The Cubs can afford it.
And if takes throwing in some prospects to get deals done, do it. About 75% of those names under Future Watch probably will never make the Majors. Jim Hendry ahs always appeared to fear making a risky move for fear of looking stupid – like Kenny Williams. Jim, if you fail to win with Prior, Zambrano, Wood and Maddux, you will be called stupid. Even if Ricky Nolasco goes to the Hall of Fame.
Make some moves. The other guys have less to trade yet seem fearless. What the hell is Hendry afraid of?
Thursday, December 16, 2004
"When he was hurt, when he was gone, people would say, 'It'd be nice to have him on the bench pulling for us,' It'd be nice, maybe, if he could pinch-hit, or be available for that, which is something everybody else would have to do." - Todd Walker
"When you do something like that (leave early) , you lose a lot of respect in the clubhouse real fast. There were some things during the year he quietly lost respect for. But I think that was just the final straw. That 'C' that he wears on his jersey (for captain)—he doesn't deserve it when you do something like that." - Ryan Dempster
"Sammy is Sammy, and everybody loved him on the team, regardless. Everybody in Chicago loved him, obviously. Now that probably has changed a little bit." - Todd Walker
"If you create Frankenstein, you can't be real surprised if he eats the village," Stone said. "It's not his fault. You created him. ... The Cubs as an organization had a very permissive attitude toward Sammy Sosa. ... For 12 years, they allowed him to get away with exactly what he wanted to get away with, to do what he wanted to do. If Sammy wanted to have a guy sitting next to him on the bench, they let him do that. If he wanted to have a guy in uniform to work out with him, they let him do that. And if Sammy wanted to come to spring training late, they allowed him to do that." - Steve Stone
"We did probably take a public relations hit as far as people thinking we were whiners or we were looking for excuses. To be honest, we weren't looking for excuses. We know we didn't win it, we didn't get the job done. I don't know if 'choke' would be the right word, because you would have to have the thing almost clinched to be considered choking." - Mark Prior
Major League Baseball has, somehow, avoided the embarrassment of the Montreal Expos over the past few years. No other major sports league could get away with owning one of its teams for as long as MLB has owned the Expos. The conflict of interest alone, should have launched a thousand columns about how this was one step short of the WWF. How can you trust trades when both trading partners have the same ownership? Even better, how can you trust trades when one of the partners could have the trade rejected by a third, supposedly unrelated party? How can the players trust that team to seriously bid for free agents? This is a conflict that must end.
Well, MLB was on the way to clearing this conflict with a move of the Expos to Washington D.C. Fine. Go right ahead. Oh, but the city suggests that the team pay for 50% of its stadium. That’s right, come and you will build half of it.
Sorry, says MLB. We don’t want to pay that much. Hell, we don’t want to pay for any of it.
Stadium finance is welfare, plain and simple. And it’s welfare for millionaires. It is the subsidization of a medium sized business at taxpayer expense. Sports teams don’t generate as much revenue as many other businesses in the areas in which they operate. They don’t employ that many people relative to the revenues they generate. The highest paid employees, the ones who would create a "trickle down" effect generally don’t live where the team is located. This deprives an area of their personal spending and the municipality of taxes. Sports teams also compete for a finite amount of entertainment dollars with movie theaters, bowling alleys, restaurants, plays, museums, and other forms of entertainment. A new stadium for a team can even have a net negative effect on a city if the stadium is financed with taxes on other entertainments (like the way Solider Field was financed).
I hope MLB gets hosed on this. They deserve it. The taxpayers in Washington don't deserve it. And how ironic would it be that baseball blows it in D.C. over stadium finance when the man down the street living in 1600 Pennsylvania made all his money from a taxpayer-welfare financed ballpark in Texas?
For more on stadium finance, see:
Field of Schemes
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums
Jim Caple at ESPN.com writes the same basic thing today, although much better than I did. And his conclusion also features George Bush and the taxpayer supported return on his investment - 1667%. Yes, nearly 17 times his original investment. Must be nice to make money off the backs of the public.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Chris De Luca has a mostly well written article on the Sammy Exit Plan. Chris even steps out and suggests that the trade will occur in the next 7 to 10 days. Not many people outside of the Trib Corporation would be happier than me to see that come true. I'm tired of this story (and, since I continue to write about it, I have no one to blame but myself).
Chris' logic falls apart in one place. He says that Dusty Baker is partially at fault for not making nice-nice with Sosa.
Sosa looks like the villain, but Baker deserves plenty of the blame. Not once since that final game has Baker -- the purported players' manager -- spoken with Sosa. When Sosa spouted off to a Dominican newspaper in October over his unhappiness about being dropped in the lineup, why didn't someone from the Cubs -- Baker, namely -- fly down and speak with Sosa in person?
But then, catch De Luca's next line:
The answer is clear: The Cubs are done playing games with Sosa.
So, if the Cubs are done with Sammy, why is Dusty at fault for not kissing and making up to him? The logic fails.
The other big part of Chris' article says that the Cubs are also at the end of their rope with Kyle Farnsworth. Rehashed is the "hitting the fan" incident and Kyle spending the 2004 season finale in street clothes in the locker room (they must have security camera tape on that like they do on Sosa leaving early).
Unloading Kyle would be a great move. I don't care if he makes the Hall of Fame. I'm tired of seeing his tight ass screw up here. He can go be Dennis Eckersley for all I care. I expect he'll be more like Shawn Boskie.
The Braves are projected as potential suitors.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Line of the Day
The last candle of Hanukkah is lit tonight at sundown. It's been a week of mind-bending overindulgence. The boys have received a haul of gifts that makes me feel like the gifts I received as a youth were those of a pauper. I hope the boys don't learn to take the holiday for granted each year and learn the significance behind the festival.
Our president, George Bush, also seems to miss the historical significance of the holiday. It seems he was in Boca Raton, Florida at a local synogogue celebrating the holiday. Wonkette had an observation over Bush's observation of the holiday that was downright observant:
You wouldn't necessarily think a holiday that celebrates the victory of a small band of religious insurgents over an occupying foreign power would be one of Bush's favorites.
Ain't that the truth.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Clap! Clap! ClapClapClap!
It seems that The Sporting News will release its All Overrated NFL Team today (link to follow when available). They name Brian Urlacher as the most overrated player in the league. Now, that's wrong. Everyone knows that Jeremy Shockey is the most overrated player in the Niffle.
Whis is true about Urlacher is that his career has never lived up to what he accomplished as a rookie. And the last few seasons were rather mediocre. That said, 2004 has been a good year for him. He's made some big plays for the first time in a while. Because of that, he gets to shed his "overrated" tag. At least for a while.
However, anyone calling Urlacher a future hall of famer deserves to be beaten into a raspberry smoothie. His reputation still exceeds his actual resume.
Getting It Done
Sammy Sosa trade rumors are all over the place. Teams being named include the Orioles, National, Braves, and Mets. Look around and you’ll also see the Yankees mentioned in some articles. And, if you listen close enough, the Dodgers are still in the mix.
There is a recurring theme in all these articles: No one wants to pay out a large portion of Sammy’s salary. That narrows the list down considerably as the team that acquires Sosa will want to give the Cubs some of its bad player contracts.
There is a way to get the Sosa trade done. It would be very unpopular with the fans who pay attention. But it could make the trade happen and free up plenty of cash for the Cubs to get Carlos Beltran AND maybe even a J.D. Drew.
Trading in today’s MLB is all a matter of salaries. If you are willing to acquire salaries, the cost to trade is minimal. Look at the Aramis Ramirez trade. The Cubs gave up marginal prospects for two All-Stars. Why? The Cubs took on all of those players’ salaries. If your team can’t afford players, you can have the original team pay the salaries so long as you give up high ceiling prospects. This is how Kenny Williams is able to make trades even though the White Sox can’t afford to pay salaries. Well, it’s how Kenny used to make trades. The Sox have no more good prospects!
The way to make the Sosa trade happen is to include a high ceiling prospect in the deal. I think this is why no deal has been concluded yet. The Mets will give up Floyd for Sosa, but the Mets want, say, Bobby Brownlie included.
I don’t know if this is how the trade will actually occur. I’m starting to think that it will actually happen. But if the Cubs really want it to happen, they can do it. Just include one of the names under “Futures Watch” on the right side of the page. That will get the deal done and free up plenty of money for Beltran / Drew.
I’d do it in a heartbeat.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
As some of you may be aware, there is a lawsuit brewing over trade name infringement between this site and another. After consulting with an attorney, it seems I may have a case for actual cash damages. Damages for both infringement and defamation. I may just go for it. I figure, hey, if others can squeeze cash out some poor corporate saps, then why not me?
What would be even more fun is exposing this other site for doing things that I’ve been accused of doing: Posting copies of copywritten material. And while my copies were copies of commercial advertisements, thiers were copies of pay-per-access articles and chats from competing sports web sites -- clearly copywright infringment. Attorneys love to be able to present a pattern of abuse. Even if I were to fail in winning any damages, just getting a cease and desist order against these hypocrisy laden, humorless individuals might be worth the time.
And as the lawyers are working on a contingency basis, there’s no cost to me.
Once again, stay tuned.
Friday, December 10, 2004
Steve Finley will sign a two year deal with the Angels today. Why is that news? Well, an outfield that includes Finley, Vlad "The Impaler" Guerrero, Garrett Anderson, and Chone Figgins does not figure to have room for Carlos Beltran.
That leaves the Yanks, Cubs, and Astros as the primary bidders for Chuckie B’s services. And I think the Astros are not a real player.
Tons of articles speculating on the moves percolating at the baseball Winter Meetings. The Trib starts off with a piece on Maglio Ordonez and his desire to be a Cub. I'd sign you, Mags (so long as we don't have to hear that dumb Wizard of Oz chant each at bat) to a Nomar-like 1 year deal. I have no idea if his knee is sound, but I'd take the risk. The upside is huge.
Phil Rogers has a take that this page has had for two years: Carlos Beltran is a must have for the Cubs. He even suggests that his bosses at the Trib spend extra in 2005 to get Beltran even if they can't dump Sammy Sosa (and look close for where Phil thinks Sammy should bat in the lineup). Perhaps something can be done by going after both Mags and Beltran. They both are represented by Scott Boras.
The Sun Times' Mike Kiley scoops Phil by saying that the Trib has already approved such a salary structure. He then goes on to note that:
The Cubs already have committed about $72 million to 14 signed players. That doesn't count salaries for arbitration-eligible players Aramis Ramirez, Corey Patterson, Michael Barrett, Carlos Zambrano and Kyle Farnsworth.
Ramirez almost certainly will sign a multiyear deal with free agency pending after 2005. He could ask for as much as $9 million to $10 million a year. Any fans hoping to see Sosa and free-agent center fielder Carlos Beltran in the same outfield are likely to be disappointed.
I'm not sure of what to think when the outside reporter has better information than the inside guy. Okay, I do know what to think. But saying what I think about Phil's work might get me slapped with another libel charge.
This page has stated, repeatedly, that not getting Beltran would be a tragic mistake. It already cost the Cubs a playoff spot in 2004. How many more will not signing him cost?
I took my oldest to his first basketball game last week. Glenbrook North versus New Trier. The #4 ranked Spartans overcame an early deficit to win by a comfortable 12 points. They've got a junior named Jon Scheyer who already passes like a college players. Too bad his teammates aren't ready to receive them.
But a better point is this. My five year old and I got seats, a box of popcorn, a can of Coke and a bottle of Grape Gatorade and had a hell of a good time. And we spent $6. Go support your local high school teams. Take your kids. Young kids will enjoy Wrigley, but they get more enjoyment out of being able to see and hear what's going on. My son was clapping and cheering during the game. He was talking about the game for 4 days. That's the same reaction I got from taking him to a Cubs skybox game two years ago. This time I didn't need to drop over $100 to get that reaction.
I'd never have gone had I not traded some thoughts on GBN with a frequent reader. I owe you one, T.J.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Well, whaddaya know? I finally got a legitimate response to my repeated inquiries to CubsTalk / InsideTheIvy. I'll skip most of the letter, suffice to I was accused of having the motivation of libeling their product. I guess when one enterprise starts a free service in competition with a pay-for-access service and the pay-for-access company responds asking if the individuals who make decisions are, "a little nervous," is consider libel by some. I report, you decide.
But here's the bottom line. I did violate, in a strict interpretation of their rules, the terms of service by posting their e-mail on another site. While this would never hold up in court, I can hardly claim that I have been "harmed" by being denied access. As I wrote to their staff, I’m sure my cross-posting would be considered "fair use," like when a comedy show uses a commercial message as part of a parody. However, I agree that I violated the terms of service in the strictest interpretation. If that is the reason my access was banned, I am forced to agree. I thanked them for their delayed response.
This story is now over. Going forward, all we have to do is laugh when they suggest that campaigning for open jobs is smear politics.
And know the best information is free.
For A Few Dollars Less...
Taking a quick look at InsideTheIvy this AM, I am struck by something. No mention of the signing of Henry Blanco. Sure, they have the obligatory article on the signings of Nomar and Todd Walker (good moves – they get the two of them plus Neifi Perez for just a hair more in salary than last year’s opening day combination of Alex Gonzalez, Mark Grudzielanek and Walker). But the signing of Henry Blanco is the kind of news you expect from a pay-for-access service.
I’d expect some commentary on Blanco’s history vs. Paul Bako’s. Things like, “Bako is on base more often, and Blanco has some more power. Gabor also seems to whiff at a higher rate than Blanco, so having less punchouts at any position helps.” Maybe some history showing that Blanco caught Maddux for two years. Alas, you get none of that.
Oh, if you ARE interested in that type of information, click here or here. It don’t cost nuthin’ either!
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Répondez S'il Vous Plaît
I got a response from someone at InsideTheIvy. It's signed, "Steve," so I think it's from Steve Holley who runs the site for Scout.com. Here's his response (my original message is below):
To stop receiving e-mails regarding promotional events and advertisements, visit your Member Profile by going here:
(Secure link deleted)
Uncheck the boxes marked "Please email me with breaking news from 'Chicago - InsideTheIvy.com'" and "I am willing to receive select offers endorsed by Scout.com"
And my response to his response:
That doesn't answer my question. I know how to stop the solicitations. I want to know why I was banned. And I want to know why, if I am banned, I am still a decent prospect for your solicitations.
Sure, this is a petty thing. Why am I pursuing this? Well, I make decisions about investing in businesses each day. A lot of what I learn about a company before I make a decision is how they handle their customers.
This company doesn't understand how to handle customers.
This is now becoming a case study in terrible customer service. And it's really, really fun exposing stupidity. Especially in corporations that think they are hollier-than-thou.
Last week, after I was banned from CubsTalk.com / Insidetheivy.com, I wrote a very polite, one line e-mail to the operators of the site asking, "Why have I been banned from accessing the message boards?" Their response?
Well, yesterday I got an e-mail from CubsTalk / ITI soliciting me for their pay-for-access side of the service. Can you imaging the gall? They want me to PAY for a service that they ban me from and won't even have the courtesy to tell me why?
I wrote back to them the following letter today.
I am still waiting for a response as to why I was banned from the message boards. I have been unable to determine that I violated any terms of service.
Considering your company is still soliciting me for the "paid" side of your service, I'd like a timely response.
Included was my e-mail address and my cell phone number. I highly doubt I'll get a response.
Now, the owners of this little outfit is a larger firm called Scout.com. I have been able to find the names of their executives, but unable to find a phone number for their offices. They seem to be a serious group of professionals. Let's see if I get a response from the minions. If not, I may go to the masters.
Oh, and if anyone knows the switchboard phone number for Scout.com (seems to be Seattle based), please leave it in the comments section for me. Thanks.
No response as of yet. But here's a funny. I'm getting hits on this blog from the InsideTheIvy.com board! Yes, people are able to see what I am writing via links created there, yet I can't reciprocate. Well, to all my new readers from CubsTalk, welcome! Please know that this is a free site that does not spam you for money. Uh, and we don't ban people from posting unless there is a really good reason. I can't think of one right now, but we'll get back to you.
Oh, and please click here for more up-to-date Cubs' info. Come back soon!
Today's the day that the Cubs must make decisions on several of their free agent players. Free agents must be offered arbitration by their clubs or the players are unable to resign with their original clubs until May 1st of the following year (check me on that date).
Supposedly, the Cubs will NOT offer arbitration to Todd Walker and Nomar Garciaparra. That means that if you don't see something in tomorrow's paper that these two have signed with the Cubs, they won'e be coming back.
Supposedly, the Cubs WILL offer arbitration to Todd Hollandsworth. Now this strikes me as a little unusual. Maybe the new trainer that came over from the Cardinals finally knows if Todd is healthy or not!
Go Right Ahead
Kate Beckinsale is threatening to quit the movie industry. Why? She doesn't like reading false stories about herself. "Recently, for instance, I keep reading stories about myself that are totally untrue. I find myself wondering, 'Do I love my job enough to put up with that?' And I'm not sure that I do."
Well, Kate, you've made a lot of money making crap like Van Helsing, Underworld, Laurel Canyon, Serendipity and Pearl Harbor. Go ahead. Give that up. I'm sure someone with your qualifications would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries.
When a Linday Lohan can not only out act you, but pick better scripts, your career ain't too hot.
Monday, December 06, 2004
Hanukkah Comes Early!
Back at his home address, posting again, The Uncouth Sloth!
And back on the roll on the right!
"The Clear" Talk Express
John McCain is one of my favorite politicians. He understands that his job is governing a nation, not creating personal power. Had he not been slandered by Karl Rove back in the winter of 2000, he’s be sitting in the Oval Office right now. I wish he was.
Well, he’s decided to chime in on the steroid issue in baseball. McCain, who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said he would introduce legislation calling for stricter drug-testing unless the sport's players and owners act first. McCain also says that baseball's anti-trust exemption and interstate commerce laws give Congress a key "role to play" in overseeing the sport.
Well, that’s crap. The only reason baseball has an anti-trust exemption is that the Supreme Court created one for them out of whole cloth.
In 1922, the Supreme Court held in Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore v. National League that (in the opinion of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes for the majority), "personal effort, not related to production, is not a subject of commerce" and that baseball therefore wasn't subject to federal regulation via the commerce clause of the constitution.
In 1953, the Supreme Court revisited the case and decided that, "that if there are evils in this field which now warrant application of it to the antitrust laws, it should be by legislation." That means that Congress should create legislation codifying baseball as a commercial enterprise. That would revoke the anti-trust exemption.
Besides. This country is in dire need of oversight, allright. Of its own government! Oversight that is sorely lacking from congress. They want to deal with issues? Fine. Deal with a deficit, a war, jobs. A million things. But baseball? Come on, Senator. We Americans need you to do some work. Not save us from a bunch of millionaire entertainers who have decided that death at age 50 is a decent exchange for incomes above the GDP of Miyanmar.
What’s next? Ban Zoloft because people are too happy?
Friday, December 03, 2004
If you've been over to the "old-new" message board at Desipio.com, you've no doubt come across the events of the last 24 hours. It seems Andy Dolan and the guys who run a rival pay-to-use site called Inside The Ivy have had a bit of a pissing match. Andy posted a response to an opinion posted on Inside the Ivy's message board. That response got Andy banned from accessing the board.
I've been known to frequent the Inside The Ivy board. I don't hide behind a fake name (ivychat1 was my ID). I also don't post. I don't think I have ever. If I have, it's been less than 10 times, no more recently than August. Well, I went over to the board to see what offended the Inside The Ivy so much. I posted Andy's own writing over on Desipio's boards (free access, all the time!).
Everything then escalated.
Some yokels came over to Andy's site and started carpetbombing his boards with silly posts and pictures. It was a barrel of laughs, I tell 'ya.
Well, about 30 minutes ago, I decided to check out Inside The Ivy and see if they were reacting to the Desipio hullabaloo. Guess what happened.
You have been banned from this Community
The administrator of this community has banned you from viewing and posting here. If you feel this is a mistake, please contact the administrator of the community you were trying to access. DO NOT contact ezboard support. This is between you and the community administrator(s).
Fun guys. Banning people who don't even post. That's fine.
Oh, they recently solicited me to subscribe to their pay-per-access service.
Yeah, their getting my Visa number.
Go from here to Desipio. And click on some ad banners when you get there.
It’s soon to be official that Barry Bonds used steroids and/or other performance enhancing substances. His records will be forever tainted. MLB will downplay his approach to 714 and 755. Hell, Barry may not even get the chance to go for 714 if his involvement in the scandal blossoms. The BALCO trial should start sometime in March. This could pull players away from the game to testify in court. And should it turn out that any of the players were steering other players to BALCO, a good attorney might be able to get said “steerer” charged with aiding and abetting.
But the real bottom line is, "Who cares?" Not me. Sure, juicing messes with the record books, and a huge part of baseball’s charm is the tie in with its statistical history. But juicing does not make the game on the field any more or less real. Inflated players don’t change the believability of the outcome. This is not Pete Rose impugning the integrity of the game itself; this merely impugns the records of the last 10 years.
Allow steroids or ban them, I don’t care. But let’s be very clear. This is not a scandal like Twenty-One was for NBC, or Pete Rose’s gambling was, or Ben Johnson’s 9.79 in the 100 meters was. All those get at the integrity of the result. With steroids and baseball, no one is trying to fix the outcome of games and create a scripted show. No one was trying to chemically enhance human performance for a venue in which we try to see what the limits of human physical accomplishments are (what the Olympics are about).
In baseball, a chemical creation may have hit 703 home runs, but he did it in a game that had an uncertain, unpredictable outcome.
And that’s what we fans are paying to see.
20/20 tonight should be must watch to see who gets outed. Curious. I wonder if any of the names will be people who played for the Rangers when Geroge W. Bush owned them. That might explain why he inexplicably chose the State of the Union to highlight steroid abuse.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
The husband and wife team that create the major league baseball schedule have been fired, ESPN reports. After 24 years, Henry and Holly Stephenson were told that they've been replaced.
I hate the current MLB schedule. It needs to be more balanced in terms of matchups being divided equally before and after the All Star Break. Gaps of time between series are need to prevent teams from facing an opponent multiple times while one of the teams may have a devastating injury. Oh, and FOX can't have input on "sweeps" series like the ones that prevented the Cubs from playing St. Louis after, what? April 4th?
Let's see if these guys at Pittsburgh-based Sports Scheduling Group do anything better. I doubt they can do worse.
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