Friday, February 25, 2005
Must Watch TV
Those of you who get Turner Classic Movies, there is a film on tonight at 7 Central that is a "Must See" for me each time it is on.
Hard to believe that this movie is already 32 years old, but "The Sting" still holds up as one of the best movies ever made. The acting is terrific. The plot is air tight. And, if you pay attention, they tip off every single surprise. Right down to the identity of Salino (listen to the footsteps in the scene where Hooker goes down the sewer).
I always get a little sad when this flick ends. I want to know what happens next to Hooker and Gondorf. This can't be their last story.
And, no. The god-awful Jackie Gleason-Mac Davis-Teri Garr follow up doesn't count.
Just Shut Up... Again!
It's usually painful to agree with Jay Mariotti. Fortunately, today I only agree with half of what he says. He's dead on when he says that Dusty Baker, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior would be better served ignoring Sammy "Chickens" Sosa.
The guy is gone, fellas. Let it go. Let him go. Instead of trying to get in the last word and clarify a clarification and trying to point out who's lying, the Cubs players should have just given in.
When Sammy said, "They lie. I understand they want to move forward and they feel they have a competitive team, but I don't think nobody can replace me. They can say whatever they want to say, but it is going to be hard, my friend, to duplicate me," Kerry Wood should have smiled and said, "He's right."
When Sammy said that Lee Mazzilli is the first manager ever to be honest with Sammy, Dusty should have said, "That dude is so right!" and winked and moved away.
Instead, these Cubs are still trying to get the upper hand in the media with Sammy. What they miss is that they already have it. We know that Sosa lied. He said he left the last game of the season in the 7th inning. The truth was he left in the first inning. Sosa is a boldfaced liar. With videotape proof.
The Yankees haven't engaged the A-Rod baiting that the Red Sox have initiated. Smart move.
When are the Cubs going to get smart?
Thursday, February 24, 2005
I should have finished my comments on Sammy Sosa long ago, but I can’t let this pass. At his Baltimore Orioles "Welcome to my New House" press conference yesterday, Sammy dropped this bomb:
"If I had known that leaving early last year would have caused such controversy, I would have never done it."
So, the problem wasn’t leaving early, the problem wasn’t running out on his teammates, the problem wasn’t sticking it to the fans who bought tickets to see him play. No. The problem was that he shouldn’t have done it to avoid the controversy. Had Sammy known leaving early was going to cause HIM such a problem, he wouldn’t have left. He didn't do anything wrong, he just caused himself a lot of stress.
Anyone out there still think this isn’t one of the most selfish members of the human species?
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Mr. Patterson has several quotes in today’s Tribune. First, Paul Sullivan commentates that Patterson still considers himself a number 3 hitter. But he’s willing to suffer the humiliation of to the leadoff spot that Dusty seems ready to hand to him.
"Dusty and I talked, and the best way for me to help this team out is to bat first," Patterson said. "I'm all for that. I'm not going to sit and gripe because I'm batting first. That's not going to help me out, nor the team."
When is this kid going to learn to shut up? What he’s really saying is, “I really want to gripe because third is where it’s at! That’s the place for the best players and I’m one of those.” Well, Korey, you’re not. You never have been at any level above low A ball. You’ve always been a medium average, high strikeout guy. And those aren’t the guys that hit third. Hell, you’re lucky to be batting leadoff. You should be batting 7th or 8th, not first. You strikeout way too much to be a legitimate leadoff hitter.
But Korey recognizes that shortcoming in his game.
"To me, an out is an out, regardless of how you get it, a strikeout, groundout or whatever," Patterson said.
"Now there are certain times, I will admit, you have to put the ball in play, you have to make contact. I'll be the first one to admit it. I don't make any excuses or blame anybody else. It's something I need to work on, and I'm going to do that.
"I'm not saying I'm going to cut those down in half. But I think you will see improvement. I've always struck out a little bit, but that's just part of who I am."
"A little"? Here’s your career stats (They can be found here).
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS OBP SLG AVG
2004 Chicago NL 157 631 91 168 33 6 24 72 45 168 32 9 .320 .452 .266
2003 Chicago NL 83 329 49 98 17 7 13 55 15 77 16 5 .329 .511 .298
2002 Chicago NL 153 592 71 150 30 5 14 54 19 142 18 3 .284 .392 .253
2001 Chicago NL 59 131 26 29 3 0 4 14 6 33 4 0 .266 .336 .221
2001 Iowa AAA 89 367 63 93 22 3 7 32 29 65 19 8 .308 .387 .253
2000 Chicago NL 11 42 9 7 1 0 2 2 3 14 1 1 .239 .333 .167
2000 West Tenn AA 118 444 73 116 26 5 22 82 45 115 27 15 .338 .491 .261
1999 Lansing A 112 475 94 152 35 17 20 79 25 85 33 9 .358 .592 .320
Total NL 463 1725 246 452 84 18 57 197 88 434 71 18 .303 .431 .262
Total AAA 89 367 63 93 22 3 7 32 29 65 19 8 .308 .387 .253
Total AA 118 444 73 116 26 5 22 82 45 115 27 15 .338 .491 .261
Total A 112 475 94 152 35 17 20 79 25 85 33 9 .358 .592 .320
Korey's had one season in his career worthy of a #3 hitter. That was 1999 in Lansing. Since then, he's struck out 614 times in 670 games. If strikeouts were a batting average, he'd be hitting .242 above A ball and .252 in the majors.
This guy has all the talent in the world. He's just to in love with his press clippings. This is put up or shut up year for Korey. If he has a good year, he's in line for about $15 million over the next three years. If he has a bad year, he's likely to be traded to free space for Felix Pie or a trade for a Juan Pierre.
Stop talking to the press, Korey, and look at your performance. You need work.
Spring Training Dollars
Aramis Ramirez wants his contract negotiations wrapped up be the end of spring training. He wants between $10 million and $12.5 million per year for four years to bypass free agency. Now, I’d be reluctant to give this much money to Aramis after only 1 huge year. But with Adrian Beltre, Corey Koskey and Mike Lowell all locked into their current teams, the Cubs don’t have much choice. If they don't have Ramirez next year, then who can they get to come close to Aramis' level of production?
Get this deal done.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
The Final Flop
Steve Treader over at Hardball Times posts his final piece on the Williams-Santo Cubs. These were the first teams that I hazily remember.
Steve concludes on the Cubs teams from the late 60's to early 70's:
The question of whether this particular core was the most talented to never win a flag remains one of the most hotly debated topics among all fans, Cub and otherwise. My own feeling is that they probably weren’t quite as good a complete ball club as we thought they were at the time, and certainly not as good as wistful Cub fans might like to remember them. But there's no question the late 1960s/early 1970s Cubs were a highly talented bunch, and if they weren’t the very best team that never won a thing, they were close.
With full squads in camp today, real stories from spring training should be starting. What’s been interesting has been the stories that have come out of camp so far. They seemed to focus on a single player each day. Last weekend was Corey Patterson, then Kerry Wood. Todd Walker day was Monday and today is Nomar Garciaparra.
Clearly the first two articles were designed to build up the public image of two players who could easily become scapegoats if the 2005 season does not go as planned. Corey has started to take some heat on the radio lately from multiple sources (welcome to the club, boys). Wood appears to be at a juncture in his career where a sub-fifteen win season would be seen as failure. The Nomar story tells the reader that superstar egos are gone. And Hamm’s beer is still available.
Keep watching the player profile stories as they come out. Let’s see who gets pumped up and who gets simply biographical stories.
A U.S. Senator from Washington State has come up with the latest stupidest idea of all time. He wants to split Washington State in two and create a new state. The reason? The rural western area of the state is overwhelmingly Republican while the eastern side is heavily Democratic.
Sen. Bob Morton said, "It's common sense. People who think alike should be united."
Congrats, Bob. You've just endorsed legislative groupthink.
What the hell is wrong with this country in that we can no longer have honest, intellectual debate? It's now all smear and conquer. Where has the idea gone that people of differing ideas can work together to create a consensus and build something? Out the window, I guess.
One more thing, Bob. Let’s extrapolate your idea out and gerrymander the whole country. How about, starting in 2008, one President for all the Blue states and another for all the red states? I mean, it's common sense. People who think alike should be united.
Oh, and the Blue states’ tax payments will stay in Blue states, right?
Monday, February 21, 2005
Here's the current 40 man roster with jersey numbers.
Discuss at will.
NO. PITCHERS B T HT WT BORN
== ======== = = == == ===
48 Joe Borowski R R 6-2 225 5/4/71
58 Dave Crouthers R R 6-3 203 12/18/79
46 Ryan Dempster R R 6-3 215 5/3/77
67 Angel Guzman R R 6-3 190 12/14/81
32 Latroy Hawkins R R 6-5 215 12/21/72
64 John Koronka L L 6-1 180 7/3/80
51 Jon Leicester R R 6-3 230 2/7/79
31 Greg Maddux R R 6-0 185 4/14/66
52 Sergio Mitre R R 6-4 210 2/16/81
-- Roberto Novoa R R 6-5 200 8/15/79
50 Will Ohman L L 6-2 190 8/13/77
54 Renyel Pinto L L 6-4 195 7/8/82
22 Mark Prior R R 6-5 230 9/7/80
45 Steve Randolph L L 6-3 200 5/1/74
37 Mike Remlinger L L 6-1 215 3/23/66
71 Russ Rohlicek R L 6-6 245 12/26/79
33 Glendon Rusch L L 6-1 220 11/7/74
60 Carlos Vasquez L L 6-2 220 12/6/82
40 Todd Wellemeyer R R 6-3 205 8/30/78
34 Kerry Wood R R 6-5 225 6/16/77
43 Mike Wuertz R R 6-3 205 12/15/78
38 Carlos Zambrano S R 6-5 255 6/1/81
NO. CATCHERS B T HT WT BORN
== ====== = = == == ===
8 Michael Barrett R R 6-3 210 10/22/76
9 Henry Blanco R R 5-11 220 8/29/71
53 Geovany Soto R R 6-1 230 1/20/83
NO. INFIELDERS B T HT WT BORN
== ====== = = == == ===
-- Ronny Cedeno R R 6-0 180 2/2/83
63 Mike Fontenot L R 5-8 160 6/9/80
5 Nomar Garciaparra R R 6-0 190 7/23/73
25 Derrek Lee R R 6-5 245 9/6/75
-- Richard Lewis R R 6-1 198 6/29/80
1 Jose Macias S R 5-8 190 1/25/72
13 Neifi Perez S R 6-0 195 6/2/75
16 Aramis Ramirez R R 6-1 215 6/25/78
7 Todd Walker L R 6-0 185 5/25/73
NO. OUTFIELDERS B T HT WT BORN
== ====== = = == == ===
3 Jeromy Burnitz L R 6-0 215 4/15/69
4 Jason Dubois R R 6-5 220 3/26/79
15 Jerry Hairston Jr R R 5-10 185 5/29/76
28 Todd Hollandsworth L L 6-2 215 4/20/73
27 Dave Kelton R R 6-3 195 12/17/79
20 Corey Patterson L R 5-9 180 8/13/79
I can't believe that Derrek Lee is only 10 pounds less than Zamboni.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Swinging and Missing
I’m not one to rip on a columnist unless they are either CubsTalk or they really deserve it.
In today’s Tribune, Phil Rogers comes up with one of the biggest pieces of crap I’ve seen since the four month old ate her first prunes.
Phil starts with a reasonable thesis. Many people believe that Bud Selig and baseball owners ignored steroid abuse in baseball because they needed the explosive offense to help the sport recover from the 1994 strike. Phil responds, "Not only are the accusations that Major League Baseball was complicit in the steroid scandal untrue, they also are incredibly unfair."
That’s a great basis for a column and is an angle that should be explored. Unfortunately, Phil does the exploring. He brings up several points that would tend to support his thesis:
"MLB has done a good job in recent years to reduce, and hopefully eventually eliminate, steroid usage among players."
"Barely more than a year ago, union lawyer Gene Orza told a seminar that steroids are no more dangerous than cigarettes. That's the mindset that Selig and his top labor lawyer, Rob Manfred, have faced in trying to get cooperation from the Players Association."
Let’s start here. First, Orza is quoted out of context and not quoted, for that matter. Also, we know cigarettes are some of the most dangerous, addictive consumer goods ever produced. To say that steroids are not as bad as cancer sticks is very faint praise. For all the reporting Phil does, it’s possible Orza said that only cigarettes are more dangerous to a ball player than steroids.
Phil’s next point:
"Selig signed off on steroids testing for minor-league players before the 2001 season. He would have loved to have put it in for the big leagues at the same time but needed union approval."
Uh, wasn’t steroid abuse a problem when Selig got the job back in 1992?!?! What took 9 years?
"MLB closed its eyes to the situation because the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run race in 1998 "saved" baseball. It was an exciting time, sure, and baseball was still getting out from under the adverse effects of canceling the 1994 World Series. But fans had come back in big numbers after the strike. The sport did not need saving."
Attendance isn’t the only measure of a sport’s popularity. TV ratings, athlete Q ratings, size of network TV contracts, radio contracts. These are all better measures, especially given the level of corporate purchasing of tickets. Phil presents none of this supporting info, likely because doing so would undermine the column.
"The other is that MLB still is just paying lip service to testing because a first violation gets a player only a 10-day suspension. Even Mike Wallace on "60 Minutes" contrasted that to the two-year suspension a juiced athlete can get in track and field. But there is no union to protect cheating sprinters. Track and field and many other Olympic sports essentially are run by dictatorships. You are comparing apples to oranges here."
Crap. The NFL only imposes a 4 game suspension for steroids. Now, the MLB equivalent would be 40 games. Given MLB’s history on general suspension length, 10 games is a standard penalty. Steroids are just slightly worse than corking your bat. That’s lip service.
It pains me to read stuff as amateurish as this. You get better info on most Cubs’ blogs. At some point, the teams should provide more access and media packs to the most popular "non-credentialed" writers.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Mike Greenwell is now outraged that Jose Canseco beat him out for an MVP in 1988.
"I would have never said a word, but now that Jose's admitted he was using steroids during the time he beat me [for] the MVP, then I have a problem with that because, obviously, I wasn't playing on an even playing field," Greenwell said.
"He reaped a lot of rewards and a lot of benefits for being on an illegal drug and probably took something away from me that I never got to feel. So does it bother me? Absolutely."
He said he doesn't care about having the MVP award given to him, but "I just want it acknowledged that as far as I'm concerned, he cheated while he won it."
Whatever, Mike. Please return to being irrelevant. What's funny is that the outrage level was turned up to a higher level by Tom Shaer on WMVP this morning. Tom is outraged that Jason Giambi beat out Frank Thomas for an MVP in 2000. Tom pounded and pounded on the microphone how unfair it was for a cheater like Giambi to beat a clean guy like Thomas.
Now hold on, Tom. How the hell do we know that Thomas was clean? Because he said so?
We know he's likely had access to steroids since he was 18. Thomas was a football player at Auburn his freshman year. Do you want to tell me that there were no steroids in the Auburn program in 1986? Puh-lease. He had plenty of access. The access probably grew once he started playing professional baseball.
Now, I'm not saying that Frank took steroids. I'm also not saying he didn't. I simply mean that the only thing we have to go on is Frank's word. And I wouldn't touch that with a 10 foot pole.
Why does Tom Shaer? Perhaps he's still clouded in his PowderPuff Task Force thinking.
And how soon does the Steroid Spotlight move over to the NFL? The Tedy Bruschi stroke incident had people questioning his possible usage over at the Mike & Mike show on ESPN Radio this morning.
This story is just starting. It's going to reach all the way to President Bush before it's over. It's now clear why he made steroids prominent in the State of the Union speech last year in 2004. He knew it was coming and that he would be implicated. At least he would be out in front of the issue and in favor of reform when it came. Very smart.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Just some cross-links today. Got a few deals that need to get done in the real world. The Hardball Times (linked at right) has a trilogy of articles on the Cubs of the 1960's. Two of the three articles have been published. Check the two articles out.
The Williams-Santo Cubs: 1961-1965
The Williams-Santo Cubs: 1966-1969
I'm sure the third article is forthcoming.
H-E Double Hockey Sticks
A quick note on the NHL. I can't believe that the press seems to be so anti-player. All they wanted was a free market. The owners wanted profit protection and a disincentive to field competitive (read: expensive) teams.
How can a bunch of men, so successful in a capitalistic economy that they are able to afford purchasing multi-million dollar sports franchises, shut down an industry over the failure to impose socialistic rules?
Screw the owners. I'm pro union here all the way.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Spring Busts Out
Courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
Whinny Cry Baby Cubs' Fan
Rick Morrissey today posts one of the worst columns I've ever read. In the column, he proceeds to profile a fan who was moved to tears, nay, 45 minutes of tears, by the Sammy Sosa trade.
The fan profiled is a 28 year old college graduate, an unmarried father, and a bartender. And he sobs uncontrollably at the trade of a declining, oft injured, aging prima dona entertainer who did a lousy job of entertaining in 2004. I won't waste time cutting this small man up as Andy Dolan does a much better job than I could.
Yet it must be said that Morrissey does a disservice by writing his column with an almost reverence. "I wish I had Chesson's zeal," pens Rick.
Rick, a person with "zeal" like that needs to be seeing a whole team of psychiatrists (hat tip to Terence Mann). Don't exalt this person. Make fun of him. God, I miss Mike Royko on days like this. He'd have shreded this man like bad cheese.
Slats Grobnik, please come back. Cubs Nation turns their lonely eyes to you.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Swallowing Cursed Horsehide. What's next?
So, Grant DePorter, GM of Harry Caray's Restaurants, has cooked up a saucy scheme. He's going to have the Bartman Ball served to guests as food. The restaurant said that it intends to soak the ball's remnants in Budweiser and combine them with other ingredients into a "curse-ending sauce." The sauce will be poured over spaghetti and served to willing Cubs fans next week at its locations in Chicago and Rosemont.
100% of proceeds ($11.99 per plate) will be donated to Juvenile Diabetes Research in the name of Ron Santo.
I can't think of a single Cubs fan that would be willing to ingest that ball. To infuse themselves with the curse? To make it a part of your very being? Insulting. Now, feed it to the Cardinals team, and you're talking.
Besides. Given that it was Moises Alou that tried to catch the ball, diners will probably develop an urge to urinate on their hands.
Mike D.'s blog, 96 years and Counting, has been unavailable due to problems with his host. He has something he'd like to say to all of us Cubs' blog readers and Ivy Chat is pleased to provide a venue for him to express his thoughts.
My only regret in posting his ditty is that, given the readership levels here, no one will probably ever read it...
NOT THAT I REALLY GIVE A DAMN ABOUT STEROIDS...
Because I don’t.
They cheated. But they’ve always cheated. And, besides, if a schmoe like me sitting in his living room can tell that the ballplayers aren’t just beefing up on supplements purchased at GNC, then the entities closest to the situation—MLB and the Players Union namely—obviously had to have known something was up. And yet they chose to ignore it, banking (correctly) on the fact that so many drooling ungulates go to games so that they can clap at home runs.
Luckily for me, I’ve never been a big fan of the home run. I hit one my entire little league career. I’ve hit two legitimate homeruns in the past 10 seasons of playing 16" softball. So perhaps that has something to do it with why I don’t go long for the homer. Whatever, but in 1998, the Sammy/Maguire lovefest annoyed me to no end. Consider that at the moment Sammy had hit his 61st home run (and I was there—more on that in a minute), that meant that MORE ballplayers had hit 61 home runs in the preceding 53 seasons (3), than Cubs teams had made the playoffs (2), and yet Chip Caray, supposed "hometown" announcer that he was, was nearly swept away like every other non-Cubs fan in the country about how a once-in-a-lifetime moment it was.
Earlier in the week, when McGwire hit his 62nd, I cringed while I watched Sosa, in the middle of a pennant race, leave his position in right field to still manage to make it about him (obviously not the first or last time), and hug McGwire, who of course rarely seemed comfortable with Sammy’s presence, despite what the writers would call Sammy’s “softening” of Big Mac.
When Sosa went past Maris on the following Sunday, I was sitting in the fifth row in the left-field bleachers (it was actually weird because it was Beanie Baby Day and so we were surrounded by kids. Also, while we were surrounded by kids, one of my buddies was riding Bill Pulsipher—the goat from the previous day-- to the point where Pulsipher dropped a "fuck you" on us - Nice, Bill). Both #61 and #62 soared over my head. And it was exciting—because #62 pulled the Cubs within a run in the 9th. But, of course, I was more excited when Grace hit the walkoff in extra innings because the Cubs had actually won the game, and were very much alive in their quest for a playoff spot that they would eventually back into by losing 6 of their last 8 games. Ugh.
Quick digression--I’m just remembering—again—what a crappy playoff the ’98 Cubs were.
But still. The Cubs were IN IT. And yet all anybody wanted to talk about were home runs.
So I don’t dig the long ball so much as others. Which is probably why I’ve failed to get up in arms about this open secret of steroids. I was already annoyed.
But if I can indulge in one, quick, foray on the topic, I did find it interesting what four-time 20-game winner and one time tranny hooker solicitation loser Dave Stewart had to say on the topic of Jose Canseco’s tell-all book:
"I could never say 'Josie' is a liar," Stewart told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't like his work ethic, and I don't like him as a teammate. But one thing I can't say about him is he's a liar.
"As far as what Josie's saying, I can't deny it or verify it. I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen because I don't know. We weren't in the same circles, but I'd have to say he definitely knows what's going on in his circle. Nobody I associated with on the team was a steroid user [among the players Stewart mentioned: Carney Lansford, Rickey Henderson, Dave Henderson and Dennis Eckersley].
ESPN tried to portray Stewart as being unsure in his answer, but he actually provides a rare thoughtful—and telling—answer. He’s not going to out anybody if he doesn’t want to. He’s Dave Stewart. He won three pennants in a row. But it’s not hard to read between the lines and see what he’s saying. While he makes it clear that he thinks Canseco’s a tool, he won’t in clear conscience dismiss what he says. And he’s probably right.
This book release is just the kicker. Watch the slugs scurry when the rocks start really getting turned over.
Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. Not a day too soon.
By Mike D.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Will Carroll does his Cubs "Team Health Report" today on Baseball Prospectus (premium access only). In the report he gives grades of Green, Yellow, and Red for player health. I found this part of the report interesting:
Red light - Kerry Wood: I hate myself for writing this, but Wood shows as a major injury risk. The vague diagnosis on his triceps problem, his workload, and his relative youth all work against him.
But then, you read this:
Yellow light - Ryan Dempster: Tommy John surgery is an operation with a 90% success rate, according to Dr. Jim Andrews and other leading orthopods. ... There's a five-year "honeymoon" period after TJ where the arm is nearly indestructible outside of two exceptions. ... shoulder and nerve problems...
That triceps injury that DL’ed wood last year was two months long in healing. And, as Will notes, the Cubs were very vague about it. Let’s do some rampant speculation here. It wasn’t the triceps, it was a nerve injury. Wood had his TJ surgery in 1999.
When did that five year "indestructible" window end?
How confident are you in Kerry Wood to last all of 2005 now?
Good or Bad?
I have no idea what to make of this article (hat tip Cubs4breakfast). Clearly, it's good thing to read that Korey Patterson and Jason Dubois are already in camp and working on their skills. Dubois is trying to make a case for more playing time, while Korey is trying to... I dunno.
Patterson, 25, was practicing two weeks earlier than required to improve as a leadoff hitter. In 2004, he slammed 24 home runs and hit .266, but he also struck out 166 times.
"No matter who you are, you can improve," Patterson said. "Nobody is better than the game."
Patterson, who stole 32 bases last year, hopes to get on base more this year and score more runs for the Cubs, who will likely hit fewer homers after the departure of Alou and the trade of longtime slugger Sammy Sosa.
"To me, there aren't a lot of good leadoff men in the game. I'm looking to be one of the best," Patterson said.
If he's truly working on leadoff skills (working the count, bunting, shortening his wing), then this is great news. If he's just trying to curry favor so that he doesn't get buried in the order in favor of Hairston, then I hope it doesn't work.
One of my problems with Korey has been the underlying theme with him that he wants to be a third place hitter. Why does he want that? Because those are the guys that get $15 million X 5 years. This guy is, I believe, motivated by trying to score the big contract. I see this quote about being one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, and I hear, "I'm looking to be one of the best leadoff hitters and earn a commensurate contract."
Why can't this guy say, "I finished poorly last year and that hurt the team. I'm here early to try to be consistent all year. I want this team to win."
Nah, you'll never hear this from Patterson.
The Trib had an article on Sammy Sosa again over the weekend. This time, it was to show that Sammy isn't popular back in the Domincan anymore. Once again, Dave Pinto nails what this page has said for months.
Folks, you've made your point. Sammy has nothing to do with the Cubs anymore. You traded him for nothing, and no amount of negative publicity is going to change that or make the Cubs any better. Cubs fans aren't going to be loyal because the scourge of Sosa has been removed. They'll be loyal because you win. And if they see Sosa having a great year in Baltimore and the Cubs struggling to stay above .500, they're going to start wondering if the wrong person was run out of town.
The Trib successfully smeared Sammy (this ignores whether or not he deserved it - he did) to make trading him palatable. The scheme worked.
Now shut up and move on, or you could actually undermine the good work you did in unloading the schmoe.
As had been announced, Steve Stone signed a deal with WSCR to be their lead baseball analyst. This is a sharp move for the station, a station badly in need of a kick start. They are down to one compelling show, Boers & Bernstein, and that show has lost a lot of its edge.
Stone could actually draw listeners, but it depends on how they use him. If he takes Jimmy Piersal's spot and just phones in a few times a week, and also does a Ditka and joins one of the shows on remote once a week, it may not work.
Stone and Hot Dog Boy would be a waste of airtime. Hot Dog Boy doesn't know how to run an interview and ask questions other than play celebrity and restaurant name dropping.
Getting Stone on with Telander could be called the Tryptophan Show. The show would get you good information, but put you to sleep.
Mike Murphy seems to be the best bet. Stone could be positioned to do analysis just ahead of Cubs' night games. The problem would be hearing Stoney waste time talking about Murph's conspiracy theory of the night.
The station needs new hosts.
Friday, February 11, 2005
Welcome to Fantasy Hell
MLB is back to being its shortsighted self. It seems that Major League Baseball Advanced Media, a division of Major League Baseball, is trying to reign in the use of statistics for fantasy baseball. Last month, MLBAM acquired exclusive rights from the MLB Players Association "to fantasy games using Major League Baseball players for the next five years." Now, MLBAM has notified certain fantasy host sites that their license fees are now as follows: $50,000 if you have 5,000 or fewer subscribers; $500,000 for more than 5,000 subscribers.
This seems like an attempt to drive the large players out of business, but stay within the anti-trust letter of the law by not eliminating all competitors.
Of course, a lawsuit has been filed. The gist is, while MLBAM may control licenses for the MLBPA logos, they do not control the actual statistics. Dave Pinto does an excellent run down of the case law behind such a suit. In short, courts have ruled that, "(while) video and audio broadcasts of sports events are protected under copyright law, the facts (the statistics) contained in them are not."
Given that all that matters in playing fantasy games is access to the statistics, it would seem that the MLBAM cannot control these games above and beyond MLBPA materials under copywrite.
What’s really galling about this is that MLB, again, doesn’t seem to get it.
With the Bears a crappy team and me, a non-gambling type, the only thing that gets me watching the NFL at all is fantasy football. It keeps me part of their fan base.
Why would MLB, with 50% of their teams functionally irrelevant each year to the pennant chases, try to limit the ways in which fans can make themselves closer to the sport? Is it worth the extra revenue to limit the creativity that multiple companies can bring to fantasy games? Not to mention that by the very fact of ESPN and Sportsline et al having fantasy baseball games, they are providing free advertising to the sport.
More stupidity from the Bud Selig regime.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
...if Donovan McNabb didn’t have a concussion (the Eagles claim he was uninjured), then the only possible explanation for the reports of his getting sick in the huddle before the end of the Super Bowl is a panic attack. If this is so, how does this guy move forward? He will probably be fine, but would you venture that it’s a decent possibility that this guy goes Donnie Moore? Not suicide, mind you, but that his career is never the same.
...and now that Pierre Pierce is on his way to a stretch in Anamosa, can the University of Iowa finally get rid of the real problem with its basketball program? I’m speaking of Steve “The Hair Doesn’t Move” Alford. This man is an enabler and an apologist for some bad kids. He gives the rest of the university a bad image (I can’t believe that Kirk Ferentz is too thrilled to have to share the occasional banquet dais with Alford). It should be easy to lose Alford after this season. Even though the Pierce situation should be enough cause for firing, there’s the easier reason – the team isn’t winning.
...now Jim Caple chimes in on the Sammy Sosa trade. He chides Cubs fans for being too quick to want Sosa out of town. What’s funny about this hack job is the sheer number of “to be sure” paragraphs (I count three out of a sixteen paragraph essay). You know, when an author acknowledges and dismisses the evidence that makes their point wrong. Go ahead and read it, but be sure you understand that Caple has already acknowledged that we who wanted Sammy gone are in the right.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Buh Bye, Kyle
The Cubs have traded Kyle Farnsworth to the Tigers for three minor leaguers, none of whom have done much in their careers. I guess they all have something in common with Kyle.
Scott Moore, one of the players acquired, was a top draft pick out of high school (eighth overall pick). He's hit rather poorly since. He supposedly plays short stop. I don't see him being Nomar's replacement for 2006.
The bottom line is that Sleepy Kyle is now gone. No more Alou, Sosa, Kyle, and Mercker. Nice! Very nice! I don't care what any of these guys do in other locations. They were loathsome here, at least recently. I'm glad I won't feel bad about booing the asses of all these guys when I see them play.
No More! Not That I Need It...
The ongoing Hired Truck Scandal that continues to fester at Chicago's City Hall has finally cause Mayor Daley to make some big pronouncements.
"I would sooner give up this office or lose the allegiance of other politicians than protect contractors or employees who would defraud the city of Chicago and cloud all the good we've accomplished over these 15 years" as mayor, Daley said.
"While it is impossible to guarantee the integrity of every single employee or contractor, when abuses show up repeatedly within a program or agency, it's a failure of the system and of my administration.
"For one who takes pride in his record as a manager, this is a painful and embarrassing failure to acknowledge. But I'm determined to ensure that, with all our successes, these failures are not my legacy as mayor."
Daley then took the unusual, and welcome, step of saying that he will no longer accept contributions to his campaign fund by companies with city contracts, their owners and the owners' spouses.
This is praised by the Trib as a gutsy move.
His decision to reject campaign contributions from those who make money off the city is a bold move. This page usually opposes laws that put broad restrictions on campaign contributions. That is, fundamentally, a free speech issue. But a unilateral declaration by the mayor--he won't take the money--is different, and welcome.
I'm not sure it's that bold. I mean, isn't all the speculation that this is going to be Daley's last term as mayor? If so, what would he need campaign contributions for?
I'm glad Daley realized that these scandals have a good chance to drag his legacy down. Daley has been, for the most part, an excellent mayor. That he allowed these scandals in the first place is a huge black mark against him. But no longer accepting campaign contributions is no big deal if you aren't running again.
Pitchers and catchers report next week. All the free agents are signed. The NFL is over. The NBA continues to meander through their meaningless regular season. College Hoops is starting to wind down their exhibition season as the Regular Season (aka March Madness) approaches. And hockey is dead.
What's a sports fan to do? There's nothing to watch / read / talk about!
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Tony Almeda - Cubs Fan
So if you are a fan of the Jack Bauer Power Hour (aka "24"), then you know who Carlos Bernard is. Carlos is better known as the terminated, jailed, then most likely pardoned former leader of the Los Angeles Counter Terrorism Unit, Tony Almeda.
Carlos is an Evanston native who is also a huge Cubs fan. I heard an interview he gave on WGN radio a while back in which he admitted that he agreed to take the part if he could have the Cubs mug on his "work desk" on the show.
Now that Tony is no longer at CTU, but back on the show, many wondered if Carlos could work the Cubs back into the show somehow.
Last night, the mug showed up in Tony's house. The Five Year Old started screaming "CUBS!!! CUBS!!!"
Ok, so I did, too.
Good work, Carlos.
Denny's Not-So-Grand Slam
Denny Neagle signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. If he makes the major league team, he will be paid $316,000 in 2005. While this is a multiple of what I make in a given year, it is a 98.3% paycut for Denny.
See, Denny was scheduled to make $19 million from the Rockies over the next two years until he solicited a prostitute for sex. His 2004 employer, the Colorado Rockies, were upset with this image, so they terminated his contract. This will cost Denny $19 million in lost wages in 2005 and 2006. I'll bet if the prostitute knew that Denny was willing to spend that much for her services she would have charged more than the alleged $40 she did charge.
Talk about an expensive hummer.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Count me as glad that the Super Bowl week is over. I spend a lot of time in the car listening to radio. And last week is always the worst week. All the sports gab fests go down to the Syper Bowl site so that they can do live interviews. Here’s how each segment always goes:
Host: Hey! Please welcome Hasbeen Athlete to the show! Hey, buddy-ole-buddy-ole-buddy-ole pal! How are ya?
Guest Hasbeen: Doin’ great! How are ya'?
Host: Great! So, who’s gonna win and why?
Guest: Well, the Pretty Mediocres stand a great shot because their coach is an up-and-coming genious and he can outthink the defending Overrated Champs Coach Overlyhypedgenious. And, don’t forget about reserve player Joe Inconsequential. He’s gonna step up huge this week because that’s what champions do.
Host: You don’t think the Overrated Champs have a chance?
Guest: I never said they didn’t! Their quarterback is one of the best I’ve ever seen since that guy I can’t remember from 3 years ago that quit because of acute halitosis. He’s gonna step up huge this week because that’s what champions do.
Host: Outstanding! Great to see ya! Need to plug anything?
Guest: Yeah, strangely, I do! Go to Maledysfunction.com and sign up to win a free drawing to enter our drawing. And click on my butt on the picture of me on the page to get a free bonus drawing entry.
Host: Fabulous! Thanks for stopping by, uh…. Whatever your name was. Up next, the sideline drive marker holder from the 1971 Punt Pass and Kick competition drops by with his prediction.
Thank god that’s over. Nine days until pitchers and catchers report.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Let Me Be The First...
...to say two things:
1) Congrats to the New England Patriots. Three 3-point wins in the Super Bowl in four years is a dynasty, I guess.
Then again the only reason they won this game is because...
2) ...the Philadelphia Eagles may be the worst team to appear in the Super Bowl in my memory. What they were doing with less then 5 minutes left is beyond any rational explanation. My 5 year old got his first lesson in clock management tonight as I was yelling at the screen, "Let's go!" Andy Reid for Doofus of the Year. Easy.
Friday, February 04, 2005
Whadaya Want? A Monument?
I heard this story last year from a credible source. It’s, at best, third party, so take it with a grain of salt. But it holds a ring of truth to this ear. Given the events of this week, now seems to be the time to write it up.
It seems Sammy Sosa’s representatives requested a meeting with Andy McPhail. They wanted to discuss Sammy’s legacy and how he would be canonized in Wrigley Field after Sammy was gone. What the representatives suggested was this: The ivy from a portion of the right field wall would be removed. In its place would be a bronze bas-relief statue of Sammy in a pose of him running and blowing kisses to the crowd.
The story ends with Sammy’s representatives being laughed out of the Cubs’ executive offices.
I dunno if Sammy will have his #21 retired or not. I know for sure that statue in the above anecdote will never happen. That said, I do feel confident that Sammy’s ego is large enough to ask for that.
Not Fat Dumb Or Stupid
John Vernon (1932-2005) is no longer going through life.
His doppleganger is still wandering around the NBA, I guess.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Have Your Pencils and Scorecards Ready
I'm going out on a limb and assume that the Cubs won't acquire another front line position player until June when half that person's salary is paid and the Cubs can get said person on the cheap. Given that, here's my take on what would be a good lineup with the personnel they have.
1. Jerry Hairston LF
2. Todd Walker 2B
3. Nomar Garciaparra SS
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. Jeromy Burnitz RF
6. Derrek Lee 1B
7. Corey Patterson CF
8. Michael Barrett C
I'm not thrilled wil four straight right handers and I only have Burnitz 5th because I want to use Lee to break up lefties Burnitz and Korey. If Lee was less of a strikeout artist, I'd bat him second.
If A-Ram continues to improve, he could move up to #3 with Lee sliding into #4 and Nomar sliding down to 5th. In that case, I'd move Korey to 8th and have Barrett be the righty between Korey and Jeromy.
Contrary to the source I used and in agreement with my memory, Todd Walker does hit lefty. Now the lineup looks nice with left-right balance at both ends of the order.
Mirror Mirror in the Paper
At the end of the 2003 season, Eric Karros took out a full page ad in the Chicago Tribune to thank the fans for a great season. Today, Sammy Sosa's handlers... uh... Sammy ran the same play.
"It's been an honor to play for the best fans in baseball. I was proud to be a Cub. My heartfelt thanks to the Cubs organization, my teammates and the fans of Chicago. Thank you for 13 wonderful years. Thank you Chicago - I love you. - Sammy Sosa #21."
I wonder what the cost is for a full page ad? I'm going to guess around $85,000? Isn't that the same amount that Sammy owes the Cubs in fines for his day off last October?
Now Dusty Baker wants to know why Sosa is angry with him. Nothing like waiting until it no longer matters to get the bottom of the issue. Musta tried to take a page from the president's 9/11 Commission Delay Handbook.
But the best was Baker's non-denial denial of the reports that Baker wanted Jim Hendry to get Sosa the "rhymes with Chuck" off the team.
"Hey, man, there's always speculation," he said. "Speculation is usually wrong."
Well, Dusty, this pressure is all on you now. You want a contract extension, right? You're going to have to win. Sosa and Alou are gone. You've been given more speed, a better infield and a healthy pitching staff. And there will be no more criticism from the broadcast booth (but plenty from WSCR it seems).
Win or go home is your story for 2005, dude.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
While The Cat's Away...
Today was spent in the Shadow of the Rockford Clock Tower learning how my employer made its money last year and intends to do so again in 2005. While I was zoning out, Chris "CT" Troha finally started a little blog of his own called Death Taxes and 5th Place. Give it a read. Guaranteed it'll be better written that this space.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Multiple sources are reporting the final money details from the Sammy Sosa trade. We'll use the Daily Herald's:
...it looks like the Orioles will pay Sosa $5 million of the $17 million (salary) he's owed for this year, with the Cubs paying $12 million. The Orioles are on the hook for the $18 million option for 2006 or the $4.5 million buyout. The Cubs would cover the $3.5 million severance pay owed to Sosa, according to reports.
It all means the Cubs probably will end up paying $61.5 million of the $72 million due Sosa as part of the four-year contract extension that took effect in 2002. Baltimore would pay a guaranteed $9.5 million.
The Cubs' expense in 2005 drops from $25 million down to $15.5 million. Not only did Jim Hendry save the Cubs $9.5 million, but he rid them of a declining player who was more of a distraction than a benefit to the team. And, he added a high-OBP guy who can actually leadoff.
Carol Slezak goes right to media gadfly Mark Grace for his reaction. Now, Grace was no fan of Sosa. And many speculate that Grace was let go by the Cubs because they didn't want the infighting between free-agent Grace and a still-under-contract Sosa ton continue. Grace seemed to agree:
"Now that I think about it, it was pretty obvious he was not a big fan of mine," Grace said. "He didn't like me being on the Cubs. Once Andy MacPhail decided to build the Cubs around Sosa, my days were numbered."
What rankles Grace is what happened after he signed with the Diamondbacks.
"Sammy said I was a cancer in the clubhouse and a bad guy," Grace said. "That was unfair, and because he was so adored in Chicago, people believed him. If you ask anyone else, any of my other teammates, they would have a different view."
Well, I don't know if Grace was a good or bad guy in the clubhouse. I do know that this was a player, in his years here, who would not speak out negatively in any way against team management. If Grace had used the power of the pulpit the media gave him to cajole the team to improve the talent pool, perhaps the team would have won while Grace was here.
Instead, Grace was all happy in his assumed comfy role as Steve Stone's heir apparent. Why screw up that future gig by publicly stating the Cubs weren't good enough? Alas, that got screwed up. Grace left town and won a World Series, yet still chose to bash the Cubs during the post Game 7 on-field celebration. Must be all Sammy's fault.
Grace was a fan favorite here. I will never get why.
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