Friday, April 29, 2005
The Astros are a bad team. Sure, they've gotten some great pitching, especially from Roger Clemens, but that's about it. They've only scored 75 runs and are hitting .250 as a team. Compare this to the Cubs' 111 runs and .279 batting average. And they do this in a band box of a park.
Not only is this team ripe for the picking, but it's an opportunity to get Aramis Ramirez back on track.
With the Juice Box's short porch in left field, Aramis has a good chance to wake his sleepy bat. I'm not just talking homers here. A few doubles banged off the high wall would also be nice.
A Ram is just not right so far this year. He already has 12 K's on the season. That's a rate of 1 in every 5 at bats. Last year, he struck out 62 times in 547 ABs, or nearly once every 10 at bats.
A Ram needs the Juice.
Happy 22nd Anniversary
So, Lee? What's the change in the unemployment rate since 1983? Still funny today.
Thanks for the Memories
Today's Trib takes us for a quick trip through last August and how the 2004 Cubs fell apart after a week of games against the Astros. Last August 22nd, the Cubs beat the Astros 11-6 in a game where Roy Oswalt plunked Michael Barrett right after an Aramis Ramirez 3-run jack.
5 days later, it all fell to pieces. Barrett decided that he needed to get in Oswalt's face when Oswalt came to bat. After grounding out, Barrett barked at Oswalt on the way back to the dugout.
This was also the game when Kent Mercker called the press box to yell at Steve Stone for praising Oswalt and when Kyle Farnsworth hurt his knee kicking a fan.
While I am in the camp that says that Barrett's screaming at Oswalt was part of the reason for the Cubs' collapse as well as the Astros' resurgence, I didn't really need to be reminded of it via the Trib's handy timeline. Not exactly fun memories.
Perhaps tomorrow they can rerun a timeline showing my progress in my collegiate Animal Biology class?
Thursday, April 28, 2005
It's Good To Be The King
Dan McNeil's contract at WMVP expires at 7PM tomorrow evening. Good timing since his show just placed #1 in the Arbitron rating book in his targeted demographic (men 25-54). He beat out Steve Dahl and personal favorite Roe Conn.
McNeil pulls in about $275,000 per year. Expect that to double. Also, have no expectations as to where you will hear Dan on Monday. WSCR has been courting Dan for months to replace the Rick Telendar Yawnapalooza.
What makes Dan's show work is that it's not overly opinion heavy like the WSCR counterparts. It's a much more laid back approach. WSCR could use a dose of that. If he comes over, let's also hope he leaves Harry Teinowitz behind. Despite being a Cubs fan, he comes across as such a player sycophant, he's not worth listening to when it comes to one of the two topics he seems to know (the other is fantasy football).
Here's hoping that Dan gets the nice payday he's earned. Anyone who had to tote soft drinks for Chet Coppock and his fur coat deserves it.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
The Right Stats
Through 20 games, the Cubs are averaging 5.1 runs per game and are 10-10. Through 18 games, the Cardinals are averaging 4.9 runs per game, yet were 13-5. As we've told you before, the runs per game numbers are meaningless as they are skewed by high run totals. For example, the Cubs have scored over 10 runs twice and got shut out twice. Yet their average runs scored in those four games is 6.5.
The better measure is median runs scored. In that respect, the Cubs median is 4 runs while the Cardinals is 5. In other words, although the Cubs are averaging more runs per game they've scored 4 or fewer 50% of the time. The Cardinals have scored 5 or more runs half the time.
Where are the Cubs if they'd been more consistent their scoring output? How many one run games have they lost?
It's not the average, it's the consistency.
Right now, the Cubs have the consistency of wet cement.
Time For More Faith Healing
The Cubs continue to play coy with Kerry Wood and his balsa-based shoulder. The only news is that there is no news. Sure, he threw in the outfield yesterday but he has yet to take his turn throwing on the side. Therefore, the team remains "optimistic" Wood can make his next start (Saturday at Houston).
This sure reminds me of all the chatter this spring and last year about Mark Prior. No denials, no confirmations.
My guess will be that Wood makes his start if Zambrano gets suspended for getting tossed from the game last night. If Zamboni only gets a fine, I'd think they push Wood back a day or two. The off day tomorrow gives the Cubs options.
Death does not seem to be among them.
What Took So Long?
Rick Morrissey, a day late on the Chad Fox controversy, goes mildly coherent in today's column. Then, he reverts to form. He writes:
Why was Fox on the mound with the Cubs leading 10-3 in the ninth inning, especially after he had pitched the day before?
Well, Rick. We have the answer to that. Fox needed to prove that he could go on back-to-back days given that Jim Hendry didn't give Dusty many options out of the pen.
Then, Rick asks the better question:
Why was Fox, with his long history of arm problems, pitching at all for the Cubs this season?
Exactly. What was Jim Hendry thinking? So, is this where Rick explores in the rest of his column? Sadly, no. He goes back and rags on Baker for other mistakes he's made in handling his bullpen.
That's all fine and dandy. And even appropriate. But why drop the bogey of asking why Fox was even on the team and not follow through on the thought?
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Tell me why I am supposed to like this guy?
Take this to the bank: Bet on Carlos to be ejected with two outs in the fifth every time.
Now that it's official, I am now a seated school board member, it's time to send some people to detention.
To all of you screaming about Chad Fox being hurt and that it's Dusty Baker's fault: SHADDAP!!!!
Chad shouldn't have been pitching on consecutive days? Especially with a big lead? Utter crap. If Chad was going to be the closer, he was going to have to pitch back-to-back games sooner or later. A blowout is the perfect time to see if a guy with a questionable bionic arm can handle the closer role. If his arm can't handle it, you don't lose a game. What? Bring him into close game on consecutive days and take a chance on blowing the game because his arm can't move on its hinges? That's plain dumb.
It's very clear that Chad's arm was going to explode at some point. Waiting a day or two was not going to prevent that. What was saved by bringing him into yesterday's game was a victory.
What's hilarious is all the whining Cubs fans are doing. You'd think they were crying over a guy who'd been here years who was on his way to the Hall of Fame. Slap yourselves. You guys are making the Cardinal-DK57 crowd look good.
Monday, April 25, 2005
A Quick Shout...
Mike D over at 97 Years and Counting, was gracious enough to host Oleg, the Uncouth Sloth and your truly in section 204 over at the Frozen Confines yesterday. We saw everything one expects to see at a game: Neifi Perez hitting a homer into the wind, a Kerry Wood injury, no Korey in center to start, and a Cubs win.
In what may have been a Wrigley First, when Korey bunt singled, advanced to second, and scored on a Neifi RBI single, multiple chants of "FYC! FYC!" could be heard. Let's hope it's heard more often.
I wish I could show you a picture of the 4 of us sitting at the game, but you aren't interested in that. Instead, we offer Erica Durance of the WB's Smallville. She's better known as Lois Lane.
Sorry, Slothy. She's over 21 and hitched. Back to the drawing board.
Ben & Jerry's has a new ice cream out. They've partnered with the Dave Matthews Band on a concoction of raspberries and brownies. The name of the dessert? Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies.
Now, it's very clear where Ben & Jerry were going with the name of the ice cream. Google "magic brownies" and you'll get a sorts of recipes cooked in college dorm rooms nation wide.
But in Chicago, Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies might have a slightly different connotation.
My guess is that you won't find this served on the Wendella Boat Tours.
It only took seven years for the Chicago Bulls to get from this:
This page follows the NBA just slightly less than it follows Powder Puff football scores. That said, nice work, guys.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Where's the Blame?
With yet another blown opportunity today, it's time to face some facts. Unless this team is significantly upgraded on BOTH offense and bullpen, a sub-.500 season is in the offing. When they had Nomar, one would figure the the offense, the starting pitching and the 18 games each against the Brewers, and Pittsburgh should have gotten them to 85 wins.
There won't be enough games with big leads that you don't have to worry about the pen anymore.
So where's the blame go? Why can't this team weather the loss of one of their middle of the order guys?
Do you blame Dusty Baker? Sure, he has some culpability. But whom should he have trusted with the closer job? There's only been 5 save opportunities. He should give it to Wuertz from the get go? No way. With Wuertz's first blown save the pundits would be screaming, "Why didn't you have Hawkins out there?" And they'd be right.
Do you blame Hawkins? Doubtful. Clearly he's been doing a job that he's not capable of doing. You don't blame a guy for failing at a job he doesn't want and is not capable of doing.
So, who is the blame guy? Well, going into the season everyone knew this team was lacking in the pen. Everyone knew this team didn't have a bonafide closer. Everyone knew this team didn't have a legit leadoff hitter. Everyone knew this team was a strikeout heavy lineup.
So whose job is it to cover these holes? Who had to fill these holes last year and didn't?
Can anyone guess?
Friday, April 22, 2005
I Got Nuthin'
What can you say about the Cubs? A 4-3 road trip just won't cut it if this team thinks it's playoff worthy. Especially blowing 2 games the way they did. A 6-1 trip would make you stand up and take notice. But even if you are satisfied with 4-3, the realist says that without an upgrade to the offense, this team is cooked.
But we all already knew that.
I've got nothing to add to the volume of Cubs talk today. Given that, I thought I'd add my two cents to the NFL Draft hype that's been goosed up over the last few days. Here's my thought:
If the Bears take a WR with the #4 pick, they'll lose 10 games this year.
Taking a WR with a high pick after spending a few million on Mushin Muhammed in free agency would be dumb, dumb, dumb. The WR position in the NFL is the easiest position in the NFL to fill. The NFL is littered with decent wideouts. Getting one or two doesn't require a high pick.
Even the Bears know this. Marty Booker was a 5th rounder as were Bobby Wade and Justin Gage. Meanwhile, David Terrell and Dez White were first and third rounders, respectively.
Also. The Bears have blown so many picks on WRs the last few years they need to make picks somewhere else just to try to change their luck (kinda like betting the Don't in craps after a series of 7-outs playing the Pass line). Going back to 1993, the Bears have drafted 15 wide receivers. Only 2 were really any good: Marcus Robinson and Marty Booker. The rest were anywhere from overrated (Curtis Conway) to terrible (most of them). Here's the whole list:
Go another way. If they must take a WR, do it after round 1.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Nomar to the 15-day DL with a ruptured groin tendon. Surgery options are being discussed. It looks like he's done for the season. I wonder what this means for Nomar's career? I'll bet Nomar's tears last night were as much from the pain as knowing that he passed on $60 million for four years. Gone, gone, goneski.
Ronny Cedeno has been called up from Iowa. The Dusty plan is for him to clean towels off the locker room floor. His stats:
Games AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB AVG
Cedeno, Ronny 13 46 8 16 1 0 3 6 26 .348
Time for Hendry to pull the trigger on a big move. If you were counting on .290/20/100 from Nomar, you now have to get that somewhere else. Left field is a possibility.
Not getting Carlos Beltran hurts more and more and more...
Replacing Nomar Garciaparra: Barry Larkin.
Suggested by Kurt over at Goatriders. Thoughts?
Our Lady Of Blessed Underpass
Many of you have heard of this story. People are flocking to the Fullerton Avenue underpass of the Kennedy Expressway. They believe that a yellow and white smear on a wall is a divine image of the Virgin Mary.
"We believe it's a miracle," said Elbia Tello, 42. "We have faith, and we can see her face."
The stain is likely the result of salt run-off, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The people who believe this is Mary don't know the bible. If the image is on a highway suppor pillar and is made of salt, then isn't it more likely an image of Lot's Wife?
Chicago as Soddom and Gomorrah, indeed!
Note: Look closely at the right side of the picture. I guess Lot's Wife is a Cubs' fan.
It certainly looks bad for Nomar Garciaparra. He's going to be out at least a month, possibly longer. Bruce Miles, in the Daily Herald, posits:
The Cubs are hoping for the best, but they're fearing a tear. Such an injury would end the season for the 31-year-old Garciaparra... With Garciaparra being a free agent in the fall, it's conceivable he has played his last game as a Cub.
The Cubs are right now, back where they were last April when Alex Gonzalez broke his wrist. There really is no long term backup plan at shortstop. While Neifi Perez is playing very well, planning on using him for 150 games is not a viable option.
(Aside: We could go off again whining about how this page's begging for Miguel Tejada was so correct, but then there's no use crying over the history of ignoring prime free agents.)
We Cubs' fans are back to looking to Jim Hendry for help. He clearly blew it last year by waiting so long to make a trade for a shortstop. Had he acquired Orlando Cabrerra last May, the team probably wins a few more games in June and July and doesn't end up three games in back of Houston.
The likely reason Hendry didn't make a trade last May was the cost in prospects was too high. He might have needed to give up a Bobby Brownlie or an Angel Guzman or an Andy Sisco (Uh... Ignore that last name) to get a quality player before the trade deadline.
The options in the minors are thin. While Ronny Cedeno is killing the ball at Iowa, he's very raw. Other than that, there's not much help down on the farm. That means a trade is in order.
Will Jim Hendry finally show the stones to make a risky deal? One of the Hall and Carter for Sutcliffe variety? Or will he sit on his hands again and wait for the summer Free Agent To Be Sales? Hendry does have the currency (read: prospects) to make nearly any team trade nearly any player at nearly any time.
If he waits, he needs to know that he's got two commodities that are in prime condition, but are slowly being used up.
Zamboni and Prior are the real deal. You can ride these horses a long way. The only question is will Hendry pay for a Gucci saddle.
Your suggestions for home to acquire in a trade a welcome. Why do I fear that Alex Gonzalez will be back in Wrigley thereby completing a viscous circle?
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Cubs Fun is one of the newer blogs. They are on the list at the right. Whomever is the Photoshop guru over there also as a fine sense of humor.
Be sure to check out their pic of Kerry Wood's neck injury.
An "FYC" Moment
Corey Patterson had the inning of his life last night. A homer in the top of the first followed by a spectacular catch in the bottom were the best answer Corey's ever given to the criticism that is this page.
Our pal, the Uncouth Sloth, expounds on this over at his site. Yes, despite my long history of frustration, nee hatred, for the game playing abilities demonstrated by Corey during his short career, nothing would please me more than to hear Len Kasper bark out an, "FYC!" during a broadcast.
And, if anyone is listening, can it happen against the Cardinals? Today? And tomorrow?
Only Need 8 Out Of 10
This page suggested that a 15-9 April was the kind of start the Cubs should have given their schedule. Clearly 7-7 is not the easiest path to 15-9. But looking at the schedule shows it is still attainable.
With no worse than a split in St. Louis and the Cubs could easily rattle off their next 6 in a row.
For that to happen all that is needed is for Nomar, Ramirez and Barrett to start hitting, Wood to start pitching, and Hawkins to stop pitching with one run leads.
Given the likelihood of all that happening, chalk up a projected April record of 12-12.
Wood Hits The Fan
It sure looks like Mark Prior is Mark Prior again. In 13 innings, the man... excuse me. The Man has given up one run, none earned. It's safe to say that he can be counted on again. Let's be clear. I don't mean that he's back from his preseason injury. This page knew all along that it was a minor injury (no matter what some people think I think). I mean that he's back from the inconsistency he showed at times last year. With Mark Prior back, Zamboni sure to calm down, and Greg Maddux looking like he's found his groove, the starting pitching seems to be taking care of itself.
Them, there's Kerry Wood. The Trib reports that Kerry went "Farnsworth" on some dugout equipment (no electric fans) after being pulled from Monday's game. Nice to see Kerry take some frustration out on pine tar rags instead of umpires.
What has me curious is the part of the report that says TV cameras recorded the incident, but that Comcast SportsNet chose not to show the footage.
Why would they choose not to show sensational footage like that? Could it be that Dusty Baker's media blaming/bashing is having a chilling effect? If Comcast shows the footage, does Dusty Baker make an issue of it on his post game interview? Does new Tribune partner Comcast not want to take the heat?
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
New Pope -- Where's He From?
We have a new pope. His name is Joseph Ratzinger. All the reports say that he is from Germany. I recognize his name. I thought he was from Boston.
Best wishes to Pope Benedict XVI.
The Important Stuff
We'll get to the Cubs a little later. With what they did last night, they can wait.
Today is April 19th. That means my daughter, Ashley, is now 6 months old. You can click on the archive for October if you want to see what a 20 minute old baby looks like. Here's what she looks like now:
It's amazing what 6 months does to a baby. Six months turns a helpless infant into a smiling, playing, laughing little kid. She's a real person now. She went to the doctor today for her check up. She's grown nearly 8 inches and added over 9 pounds. She received three vaccinations and went to sleep tonight with a fever. In other words, she's doing spectacularly.
I can't wait for her to get just a little bit older. Pretty soon, she will be able to sit up on her own. Right after that comes crawling. And then she'll start walking. And then comes, "Da da." And then toys. And then a tricycle. And everything else that comes when they grow up. She and her brothers are why I got into my local school board. I want to watch over them and protect them any way I can. I want to make sure they have the best possible future that I can help give them.
Today is also another anniversary. Ten years ago today, Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City killing 168 people. The Tribune ran an article on this yesterday. I read it over lunch. They profiled a former Oklahoma City fire fighter. They also ran this famous picture:
That's Captain Chris Fields. But what really got my eye was the little girl in the picture. Her name was Baylee Almon. She was 1.
I looked at Baylee and her little legs and her little socks. I had to put down the paper. I turned around at my desk and looked at the picture I have of our family. I had a tough time then and I'm having a tough time writing this now.
What got me was wondering how much of what I am looking forward to, Baylee's parents got to see. I wonder if she ever walked? Did she say "Mama" or "Da da"? Did she have a favorite toy?
What got me was knowing that Baylee's parents tried to protect her just like I want to protect my kids. What got me was knowing that you can't always do that.
Baylee would have been 11 yesterday. Ashley is 6 months today. If you have kids, when you see them after you read this, give them a big hug. Don't tell them why, just do it. Protect them with your arms.
And don't ever let go.
Monday, April 18, 2005
So far, so so
While you can't expect to sweep a team on the road, the Pittsburgh series was a lost opportunity for the Cubs. They blew their most winnable game.
Now, looking at the Cinci series, the Cubs really do need to win both games. Not just because they need the wins in advance of their first matchup with St. Louis, but because of whom the Cubs have taking the mound.
These are huge starts for Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. Mark just needs to show that he's healthy and consistent. Kerry faces what may be one of the biggest starts of his career tonight. Clearly, very little is riding on the outcome of this game in terms of standings, playoff advancement, or any other major events. But a poor performance will bring the fans ire smashing down on him.
It started last week with public airings of discontent with Wood from multiple media sources. Another poor outing tonight and the volume will go up to 10. Or 11 if you are Nigel Tufnel.
Kerry Wood needs to take the pill tonight and say to every doubter what the Desipio Gamecasts are so fond of saying to me when Korey gets a hit.
Considering Kerry's already been outpitched this season by Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior, Greg Maddux, Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland, he better.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Comedy Final Four
MSNBC has an interactive bracket that allows you to pick the best comedy movies of all time, NCAA Tourney style. Click here to try it yourself. The regions were: Broad, SNL Alumni, Smart and Classic. Here were my picks:
Broad Regional – First Round
Dumb & Dumber vs. Shaun of the Dead
Shaun wins. I haven’t seen it, but Dumb & Dumber stunk.
Spaceballs vs. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Spaceballs wins by default as I haven’t seen Scoundrels.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut vs. Friday
South Park in a rout. Don’t agree? Shut your f#@&%* face, Uncle f#@&%!
American Pie vs. Top Secret
Pie was soooo overrated. Top Secret was soooo underrated. Winner to the cow in galoshes.
Ferris Bueller vs. Raising Arizona
Ferris may be a GBN Alumnus, but Arizona was so bizarre. And very funny.
Something About Mary vs. Ace Ventura
Mary by a mile. Anything that makes Brett Favre look even more stupid than he really is wins in my book.
Big Lebowski vs. Meet the Parents
A toss up. Edge to Lebowski
Naked Gun vs. Strange Brew
Baseball against Beer. Baseball wins.
Shaun of the Dead vs. Spaceballs
Again, Spaceballs wins by default. The UW-Milwaukee of the tourney.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut vs. Top Secret
Top Secret loses. Don’t like it? Blame Canada.
Raising Arizona vs. Something About Mary
The Coen Brothers advance to the Sweet Sixteen
Big Lebowski vs. Naked Gun
Naked Gun advances. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Spaceballs vs. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
What is Spaceballs doing here? No place for a Druish Princes, even with Brian Boitano.
Raising Arizona vs. Naked Gun
Drebin gets dumped by Hy and a septuplet.
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut vs. Raising Arizona
Many people hate Raising Arizona. Not me. Still the best Nic Cage movie around. But it locks the win based upon the whole Saddam-Satan sex scene.
SNL Alumni Regional
Caddyshack vs. Blues Brothers
Blues Brothers holds up well for the music. Caddyshack holds up for the comedy.
Groundhog Day vs. Beverly Hills Cop
BHC isn’t that great a movie, but it doesn’t have Andie McDowell in it. Axel moves on.
Tommy Boy vs. Old School
Eww. Do I hafta pick a winner? Ok. Give it to Farley. At least he’s funny. Will Farrell is not. Not ever.
Ghostbusters vs. Happy Gilmore
Happy is Venckman’s bitch, too.
Fletch vs. Wayne’s World
“It’s all ball bearings” beats in Tia Carrere a bikini. Had she only had half the bikini... Alas.
Vacation vs. Bowfinger
The Griswolds live in Chicago. I guess they win.
Austin Powers vs. Stripes
Austin and his car vs. a heavily armed recreational vehicle? The RV wins.
Animal House vs. Rushmore
Rushmore should have gone against Raising Arizona. Faber advances.
Caddyshack vs. Beverly Hills Cop
Sorry, Foley. The world needs ditch diggers, too.
Tommy Boy vs. Ghostbusters
I can’t even imagine the amount of slime needed to cover Farley.
Fletch vs. Vacation
Are you kidding? Fletch is 6’ 5” with the afro.
Stripes vs. Animal House
Best matchup of he Tourney so far. Stripes in overtime.
Caddyshack vs. Ghostbusters
The Cinderella Story…
Fletch vs. Stripes
Stripes rolls on. A lean, mean, killing machine!
Caddyshack vs. Stripes
Illinois-Arizona? Nope. Duke-Kentucky? Pshaw. This should-could be a championship match. Stripes advances in triple overtime as Sgt. Hulka puts a beat down on Judge Smails.
Dazed and Confused vs. Diner
If you are dazed and confused, there’s no way you pass the Colts’ test.
Bull Durham vs. Lost in America
Bull Durham ends up in the wrong regional. The “nest egg” rolls on.
Swingers vs. Best in Show
I never got the appeal of Best in Show, beyond Fred Willard’s part.
Broadcast News vs. When Harry Met Sally
Albert Brooks sweat vs. Meg Ryan’s fake. Give me the sweat.
Tootsie vs. Princess Bride
My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
Office Space vs. Election
The only watchable Reese Witherspoon movie ever made. Whatever happened to her?
Christmas Story vs. High Fidelity
High Fidelity won the play-in game to get here. John Cusack can’t ever get past this same role. Ralphie heads to the second round.
Spinal Tap vs. Fast Times
Sorry, Nigel. Going to 11 on your amp can’t get you past Mr. Hand.
Diner vs. Lost in America
It’s easy to advance when you are driving an RV.
Swingers vs. Broadcast News
Broadcast News is more drama than comedy. No chance. Swingers is so money.
Princess Bride vs. Election
It seems that Matthew Broderick failed to build up a resistance to Iocanie poison.
Christmas Story vs. Fast Times
Ralphie shoots Spicoli’s eye out.
Lost in America vs. Swingers
It’s on. Swingers almost blows it with that scene in the Diner.
Princess Bride vs. Christmas Story
We lost? Inconceivable! I do not think that word means what you think it does.
Swingers vs. Christmas Story
Christmas Story takes it by the nose of Chinese Turkey. A major award! I’ve won, I’ve won, I’ve won!
Airplane vs. Arsenic and Old Lace
Otto pilots his way to a Round 1 win.
Blazing Saddles vs. The Graduate
Ben Brodock lands in the wrong regional (should be in Smart) and get’s a #6 laid on him.
Young Frankenstein vs. Holy Grail
How’d a #1 seed play a #2 seed in the first round? Froedwick prevails based upon the silly end of Grail where Arthur et al get arrested.
The Producers vs. 9 to 5.
Are you kidding? 9 to 5? Weakest team in the field.
Annie Hall vs. His Girl Friday
Woody gets a round 1 win as I’ve never seen His Girl.
Philadelphia Story vs. The Jerk
Who scheduled this? Kate Hepburn should win on class. But this is comedy. Navin Johnson and his Opti-Grab advance.
Dr. Strangelove vs. The Thin Man
Strangelove also belongs in the Smart regional. It defeats an Ivy League gritty-type competitor.
Slapshot vs. Some Like It Hot
Both are overrated. Would Marilyn Monroe play Hanrahan’s wife? Pauly Newman wins on a late three pointer in a poorly played game.
Airplane vs. Blazing Saddles
Airplane wins one for the Zipper.
Young Frankenstein vs. The Producers
Springtime For Hitler closes after two performances.
Annie Hall vs. The Jerk
Navin uses his Special Purpose to advance.
Dr. Strangelove vs. Slapshot
The three Hanson Brothers are no match for the front line of the three Sellers: Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley andDr. Strangelove.
Airplane vs. Young Frankenstein
Inga rolls in the hay as Eye-gor dunks on Dr. Rumack at the buzzer.
The Jerk vs. Dr. Strangelove
While Strangelove is clearly the better film, in terms of pure comedy, the Jerk carries the day. We’ll meet again...
Young Frankenstein vs. The Jerk
Mel Brooks’ best film takes out the gas pumper.
Young Frankenstein vs. Christmas Story
Frau Blucher shoots the lights, and Ralphie’s eye, out.
Raising Arizona vs. Stripes
Hy says it ain’t Ozzie and Harriet. Well, it ain’t Capt. Stillman wishing he was a loofah, either.
Young Frankenstein vs. Stripes
Stripes has the memorable lines. It has naked mud wrestling. It has PJ Soles. It doesn’t have what Frankenstein has: Love for the source of the spoof. Stripes may be summarized by Winger’s “retched refuse” speech. That fit the 80’s so well.
But Frankenstein uses the Shelley Frankenstein story and actually pays homage to it, not simply spoofs it. It’s also smart and funny.
It’s the best comedy movie ever made.
Two outs, ninth inning. LaTroy Hawkins on the mound.
It just doesn't feel like two outs, ever. Does it?
Friday, April 15, 2005
Happy Tax Day
From the late, great Jeff MacNelly.
Time to Get Well
On to Pittsburgh and three games against the current cellar dwellars of the NL-Central. This is followed by 3 in Cinci, 2 in St. Loser and then 6 at home against Pitt and Cinci. This is the part of the schedule the Cubs need to use to make up some ground. A sweep of Pittsburgh gets them back on track, while losing two would make the grumbling of the fans and media loud and vociferous. Beyond this weekend, there are only four games left on the schedule for the month against teams that will likley have winning records at the end of the year.
Given the blown opportunities at Arizona and against San Diego, the Cubs need to do better and 4-3 on the road trip. A 4-3 trip is what one would expect of a contending team. Be clear, a contending team doesn't mean it will make the playoffs. A 5-2 trip is what one expects of a team that will win a division.
It's time for this team to perform beyond expectations. They haven't done that since September 2003.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Agony and Ecstacy
From last night's games:
PLAYERS AB R H RBI W K AVG
Murton, Matthew, LF 5 1 2 2 0 1 .400 - 3B
F.Pie, CF 4 3 2 1 1 1 .400 - HR (2), SB (5)
Sing, Brandon, 1B 5 1 2 2 0 1 .381
PITCHER IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
R.Pinto (L, 0-2) 1.2 3 7 7 7 2 0 16.88
A Tale Of Two Pitchers
Look at these two images and you can just tell what kind of day each had:
This page is of the opinion that, if the Cubs get off to a poor start (of which they are on their way), the fans will be looking for new whipping boys given the departures of Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Kent Mercker and Matt Clement. This page is also of the opinion that fans will start to aim their ire at Kerry Wood and Corey Patterson.
The Kerry Wood chirping is already beginning. Yesterday evening, WMVP spent at least one segment on the topic. Harry Teinowitz defended Kerry Wood from his co-host (the likely WSCR bound Dan McMeil) and callers who said that Wood doesn't deserve the street cred he has.
Today, Jay Mariotti uses the insight of a turkey in late November and sees this trend. He hops right on board (Jay NEVER does this...) and suggests that the boos Wood heard might be aleviated by a trade.
Barry Rozner goes the "celebrity endorsement" route on Wood getting quotes from Rick Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe doesn't deny that Wood is overrated. In fact, he essentially confirms it. When you say, "There are just too many guys who didn't figure it out until they were 27 or 28," you are saying that Wood hasn't figured it out yet.
This page agrees with Sutcliffe. Kerry Wood cannot be counted on as much more than a .500 pitcher. Until further notice, Kerry Wood is as reliable as ex-Cub farmhand John Garland. Sure, Wood has better stuff than Garland. The problem is that stuff only shows up every so often. Fans are starting to figure this out. You can only live on two playoff performances and being 7 years removed from a 20 strikeout game for so long.
With the solid return of Mark Prior and the presence of ace Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs may be able to survive with Wood as their #3 starter. They clearly can with Wood as the #4 starter, although that will require Greg Maddux to do what Derrick Lee is doing and pretend the calendar says "June."
Let's hope the fans don't turn on Wood. He seems to be a good guy. Maybe the fans would be placated by just giving Wood some pitching tips. Wood suggested that if fans have tips for him, "Write me letters. Teach me how to pitch." Great idea. Maybe Kerry will learn something and it might be a good way for the fans to vent some frustration. If you have a tip for Wood, here's where to send them:
c/o Chicago National League Ball Club
1060 West Addison
Chicago, IL 60657
Attn: K. Wood
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Conflict in the Ranks
Jerry Hairston was peeved yesterday that he didn't play and that Neifi Perez did. Welcome to the club, Jerry. And by that, I mean the club of people who don't like Dusty Baker's logic. Hairston decided to mouth off to the press about how he didn't like the decision. Well, that's worse logic than Dusty's. Dusty is a my-guy, not-my-guy guy. He's plays his guys and benches everyone else. A sure way to stay on the not-my-guy list is to mouth off to the press.
But on the bigger issue to Cubs' fans, the Trib said one thing, the Daily Herald another, while the Sun Times was silent.
Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald wrote:
"(Jerry) Hairston likely will be the Cubs' starting second baseman more times than not in the near future..."
Paul Sullivan of the Trib penned:
"... the Cubs have a capable defensive replacement for Walker in Neifi Perez, who will receive the bulk of the playing time at second..."
So, which is it? Clearly Sullivan comes off as more confident while Sassone sounds speculative. Does Sullivan have a quote to back it up?
If Neifi Perez gets more than 50% of the at bats at second base while Todd Walker is on the mend, the Cubs will be no better than a .500 ballclub when Walker returns. If Neifi gets 50%+ batting first or second, the Cubs will be below .500.
Mark it down.
With Mark Prior set to start today, I'm in line to lose a bet to Al "Faith Healer" Yellon. That's OK. Let's also be clear about one other thing: Starting Mark Prior today is a drastic mistake. The guy has had essentially one spring training start (the Albuquerque Disaster). The weather today is cold. Perfect conditions to start a guy who has an elbow problem. The weather today is wet. If Prior has to field a bunt, I'm sure that old Achilles problem won't be affected by some slippery grass.
This is the guy who was, two years ago, set to be "The Franchise" and lead this team for the next ten years. Let's take a chance with him on a day like today and not give him one more rehab start in the minors.
Just f'n brilliant.
Here's hoping for a rain out. Either that, or Al better hope that the beer I buy him doesn't subsidize and MRI for number 22.
It looks like Hairston will start and leadoff today. Oh, but Neifi Perez is still in the lineup -- playing 3rd. Yes, it's too cold and wet for Aramis Ramirez to play, say the Cubs. But not cold and wet enough to keep Mark Prior out.
Just f'n brilliant.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Last year, it happened about 10% of the time. Year to date, it's happened 14% of the time. If the Cubs can't defend their own ball yard against a team projected to be over .500 -- not a playoff team, mind you, the Padres are just expected to have a winning record -- they won't be able to do so against the truly good teams that they will face.
And Korey now has a 7 game hitting streak. That tells the story soooooo well.
Clean or dirty? You decide.
My vote: Clean. Carlos Lee is on the bag. That doesn't make it any less of a schmuck thing to do.
First Reports From The Farm
Love it, love it, love it!
TM PLAYERS AB R H RBI W K AVG
F.Pie, CF 5 1 2 0 0 2 .294 - 2 2B
Sing, Brandon, 1B 4 2 3 3 0 0 .385 - 2 HR (3)
Assume The Position
Let's take the worst possible case: Todd Walker is done for the year. Well, we fans can look forward to seeing a lot of Jerry Hairston. I can deal with that, especially if it means that Korey Patterson is out of the leadoff spot. There are two remaining issues:
1) Who takes Todd's spot on the roster; and
2) Who takes Jerry's spot when he inevitably gets hurt.
The options at AAA Iowa seem to be a choice between Richard Lewis and Ronny Cedeno. Lewis is off to a 2 for 15 start. Cedeno is out of the gate rolling, but may be too young to move up to the big club. Both may be the options for the Cubs middle infield for 2006. Getting a little seasoning with the big club now may be a decent idea.
The free agent pool is pretty thin. It's going to be a re-tread player if that's the route the Cubs go. That's only a viable solution if Walker is out less than two months.
The final option is trade. It's too early to start thinking "big trade." Besides, when has Jim Hendry ever made a big trade early? We're not talking a guy with the track record to do what Dallas Green did and unload top minor league talent for proven veterans.
What you worry about with Hendry is that he will sit and wait to make a move until late July. How many more games could the Cubs have won last year if he makes a trade to replace Alex Gonzalez in May instead of riding the dreck that was Ramon Martinez and Rey Ordonez until July?
Walker is set to go on the DL for at least 4 to 6 weeks with an MCL sprain (no ACL or meniscus injuries). Mike Fontenot will be called up from Iowa.
And... wait for it... Neifi Perez will start at second. Yes, Dusty Baker playing loyalty over talent. At some point, this will backfire as the players will want to win more than they want their manager's support.
YTD: 10 innings
Innings needed to lock 2006 contract: 177.1
Be clear: I'm not suggesting that the Cubs don't need Greg Maddux this year or that he won't be a decent to very good pitcher this year. I am suggesting that the Cubs would be better off without him in 2006. Well, maybe with him but at far less than the $9 million he makes if he gets to 187.1 innings this year.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
If the Cubs are supposed to make hay of the lousy teams in baseball, they just did a lousy job. Sure, they are probably only 1 game behind what was reasonably expected. But when was the last time a Cubs' team did better than expected? When is this team going to come out and surprise us with outstanding play?
The schedule now turns to the first team that one would project to have a winning record at the end of the year. If the Brewers were gut check, the Padres may be measuring stick.
And it looks like Prior will skip Tuesday and the brass will blame it on the weather. Who knew? Oh, wait....
Friday, April 08, 2005
The Gray Lady Is Open
Year 90 of baseball without a championship begins at Wrigley Field today. Kerry Wood returns to test his arm for the first time this season. A new right fielder takes the field for the first time in a decade. All that and what are people talking about?
Steve Stone and his mouth.
Steve had the audacity to suggest that guys who aren't living up to expectations try to adjust.
"...if you keep saying you can't change your mechanics, and if in fact your mechanics are partially responsible for you getting hurt every year, you've got a couple of choices: You can take all the money you've made -- which is a bundle -- and you can go sell cars. Or you can make some adjustments and try to stay around this league for 10 years."
Thank god someone is saying this. What stinks is that it's not the manager of the Cubs.
The benefit of having Stone in the media klieg lights is that he can act as a shadow manager. If Dusty is unwilling/scared to suggest that Wood change, then having Stone say so with full public awareness might have the same effect as if Dusty said it. Hell, it might get Dusty to say to confrong issues in the privacy of the locker room that he wouldn't have touched otherwise.
Keep it up, Stoney. I've always said you'd be a better field manager than a GM. Keep needling these guys.
Milwaukee is a team this Cubs' team needs to pound. The 10-7 record the Cubs posted against the Brewers in 2004 won't cut it. If this team wants to blow games against the Arizonas of the league, then they need to make it up by beating ther other weaklings into a pulp. The Brewers need to give the Cubs about 13 wins this season.
This series is an early gut check for this team.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
If you follow the Future Watch on the right side of the screen, you might notice that there is no link for Angel Guzman. That's because there's no link for him on the Iowa Cubs web site. He's not even listed on the roster.
I sent an e-mail to email@example.com asking why Guzman was not listed on the roster. A reply came from Jeff Lantz. He wrote:
He's in double-A. Suffered a strained forearm late in spring training. Should be with us sooner or later....
I have no recollection of Guzman being hurt. All the press reports said that he was sent down to Iowa. Then, you go look at the DiamondJaxx web page, and Guzman isn't listed there, either.
And look at the "sooner or later..." part (paging Faith Healer Al).
This has some Copenhagen-esque odor to it.
New Look Approved
the Mayor Daley Rubber Stamp Club (aka the Chicago City Council) unanimously approved the Cubs' plan to expand the bleachers and build a parking garage / museum / restaurant complex adjacent to the park.
It's about time they got around to this. Wrigley needs expanding. More seats equals a better chance for me to get in to see a game.
What Wrigley also needs is total renovation. Pretty soon, it's going to need to be shut down and have the concrete in the grandstand re-poured before it cracks some poor Iowan's head open.
When does the Rubber Stamp Club start thinking about citizen safety and not about Trib Corp. profits?
Tonight at 8:05 PM, Mark Prior takes the mound in Albuquerque. He's expected to toss 80 or 90 pitches in a tune up for a start next week. In classic Cubs' leak fashion, the hedge "barring a setback" is printed in the Tribune. I still fully expect that he'll be held back another week and they'll blame the delay on not wanting to pitch Mark in cold weather.
So, let me see. In the Cubs' last two games, they've scored 1 run that didn't come on a homer. Yeah, this is so much different than last year.
Look! LaTroy Hawkins giving up a home run!
Yes, it's too early to bash Corey Patterson. But it's not to early to start wondering if/when we're going to see Jerry Hairston get a crack at leadoff.
So, Dusty Baker would prefer to ignore Steve Stone and Stone's spot on analysis. This ignoring takes the form of an interview addressing how Dusty would like to ignore Stone. Here's a tip, Dusty. Media relations speak for "ignore" is "no comment."
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Eyes In Focus
Sure, the Cubs are on their way to blowing two of three games to a team that lost 100+ a year ago. But there are pressing questions.
Who are those girls in the fenced in area behind home plate!?!?!
One of the secrets of parenting is distraction. For example, when a child screams that he wants a cookie, one thing you can do is ask him where his blanket is. All of a sudden, the child forgets about the cookie, stops crying, and starts a seek-at-all-costs mission for his blanket.
Bud Selig seems to think we are all children. With the release of 38 names of minor league no-names who violated the controlled substance policy, along with the single major leaguer (house name Alex Sanchez), Bud seems to think that this will convince the media that the policy works and that they, now sufficiently distracted, can move on to other topics.
I don't care if steroids are in the game or not. Bud says he doesn't. If that's what you want, then get the drugs out. Don't give me Alex Sanchez and tell me he's a security blanket.
Now we learn that Carlos Zambrano did more than just suggest that the umpire get glasses. He also "made an odd hand wiggle" at the ump from the dugout.
Not to fear, control freak Dusty Baker is on the case.
"He made an indication with his hand, and Larry talked to him about it. He's not proud of it. Any time you get ejected, you're out of line. It was just frustration."
Carlos seems to be regressing. He's got to get this crap under control. If he gets a rep as showing up umpires, he's in for a long, long year.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Early Results Are In...
With 39% of precincts reporting, the vote tallies are heading in my favor. 250 votes supporting my candidacy have been recorded. This ties me with one of my co-running mates and three votes ahead of my other co-running mate.
In case you are curious, three people win seats.
Confidence is running very high at Campaign HQ.
It's Election Day. Well, I know I got at lest one vote. Click here to see the slate of candidates. After 7 PM, you can check the results here.
I've been told, "it all comes down to Ohio."
So Far, So Good
If you are new to this page, you won't get much backwards looking analysis. You can get that elsewhere. Ivy Chat tries to only look forward and project how what happens today will affect tomorrow.
So, now that I've said that, here's yesterday's wrap up. Everything went right yesterday. From the pregame signing of a properly incentive laden contract for Aramis Ramires, to the leadoff hit (and later walk) by Corey Patterson, to everyone in the lineup getting into the hit parade.
Did I say everything? Almost. Carlos Zambrano decided that 2004's whining at umpires was something that needed to be carried over into 2005. Now, I love Zamboni as much as the next heterosexual male. I think he's the best pitcher in the NL so long as Prior can't be counted on. But if he starts baiting the umps now, his strike zone is gonna be tighter that James Bond's midsection did after his encounter with Xenia Onatop (Famke Janssen). Just shut up and save that crap for Barry Bonds. Go after your opponents, Z, not the umps.
Looking at the April schedule, I figure a good month for the Cubs would be 15-9. Only 14 more wins to go.
Where to Watch
Yesterday, WGN. Today, Comcast Sports Net Plus. Note: This may actually be CLTV on your system. Tomorrow, plain old Comcast Sports Net.
Can't the Cubs pick one single channel and stick with it?
Monday, April 04, 2005
Once More Into The Breach, Dear Friends
The traditional first day of spring gets rolling today at 4:10 PM (Chicago time). May this season end with the Cubs winning the final game that MLB hosts.
I don't see it happening. I see the Cubs' chances as much more precarious than they were a year ago. My faith in Mark Prior and Kerry Wood to stay healthy has been swept away. The lineup has a man batting lead-off who is better suited for 6th, 7th or 8th. The bullpen remains a problem for the 3rd consecutive year. And Jim Hendry still sits on a stockpile of prospects while other teams add All Stars.
But, some of the pieces are in much better shape. Carlos Zambrano will challenge for the Cy Young award this year. Shortstop is a position of strength instead of a place to hide weakness. The number of check swing strikeouts will decline dramtically, as will the arguing with the umps. And I doubt we'll see some shmoe hop, thinking he's hit a home run, only to embarrass himself.
While this team may not win, they should at least be easy to cheer for. It seems to be a bunch of guys who want to play and not whine.
What's that? Kerry Wood is pissed at Steve Stone again? Hmmm.....
Sunday, April 03, 2005
It is Done
In a final cleanup of the Cubs' roster, Mark Prior was placed on the 15 day disabled list. This marks the third consecutive season that Prior will spend time on the list and the second consecutive in which he will begin the season on the list.
Those of you who have learned how to read the signals that the Cubs release to the media knew that this is not a surprise. Others, who refer to a Darth Ivy Chat, can now remove your heads from the sand and see what everyone else already knew to be the truth.
The earliest Prior can pitch in the majors is April 12th. Speculation by this page is that it will be soon after that. Given Prior's history of injury and weather factors, the best guess is that Prior will pitch April 20 or 21 against the Cardinals.
Perhaps it's time for a little faith healing.
Al, the wager is engaged. If Mark prior makes his first major league start on any date after April 12th, you will buy me (and my 5 year old who would attend the game with me) a frosty beverage from the concession stand behind the center field camera. If Mr. Prior takes the mound at Wrigley on April 12th, the cost for lubricants is mine. And any single kin of yours.
Friday, April 01, 2005
Bang the Gavel
It’s been a long time since I talked about this topic. And for good reason. Now, after signing our agreement, I can finally go public with the results. Long time readers may remember that there was once a pissing match between this site and a site that prided itself on being the 15th most popular sports site on the internet. That site, after a name change, had a similar name to this one. As I’d launched this site almost a full year earlier, and with nothing better to do with my time, I started legal action to have them change their name.
Well, the case has come to a close. While I’m prevented from sharing full details, I can pass on this info. There will be no name change of either site, the legal action cost me nothing, and yes, I still have to work to feed my family.
All that said, my measure of satisfaction could not be higher. God bless America!
With the start of the season next week, we here at Korey Chat are so excited to see Korey finally get his due at the top of the batting order. This site has always been a big propopent of this phenom-on-the-rise. In 2004, he proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he is ready to become a premier offensive producer in the Cubs lineup. 2005 will be the year the baseball world comes to recognize the talent that is Korey.
From the minute he took the field in 2004, with a home run in his first at bat coming off major knee surgery, Korey stepped up his game. He set career highs in homers, RBI, and steals. His batting average was the second best of his career. He carried the team in August. There is no reason that he can't build on this in 2005.
Dusty Baker is committed to batting him leadoff. We agree that this is the proper place for him to bat in the order. He compares quite favorably to Lou Brock (and look what he did)! The lack of taking pitches and refusal to walk (0 spring training walks in 2005) will not harm the rest of the team. The other batters are good enough without Korey giving them a chance to see the opposing pitcher’s full compliment of pitches.
All those naysayers out there who think 170 strikeouts are too many? That he's never had better stats than he had in single-A ball? Shaddap! This guy has the talent and the skills to go 40-40 this year. There's a reason he was drafted so high by the Cubs' brass. He's been "can't miss" from the day he put on a Lugnut uniform.
Here's looking forward to a great year from Korey Patterson in 2005.
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