Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Apologize For This

I don't care if it's Gagne or not. Swinging at a ball that bounces halfway between the mound and the plate is something I expect from a t-baller. Korey's worse. He swung at two like that.

Still think you can bat third, Korey? That's the situation - RIGHT THERE - to prove that you deserve the slot. Right now, you don't deserve to be in the box in any key position.

And batting DuBois back-2-back with Korey only guarantees that a pitcher will throw them at least 6 pitches.

Oh. I wrote this before Korey's at bat was over in the 9th.

Tops In The Book

Aardsma debuts for the Jaxx last night with a win. Matt Murton had two more RBIs. Felix Pie seems to have had a lousy weekend. Expect Aardsma in Wrigley when he gets his innings up to the 6 plus range.
PITCHER                  IP  H  R ER BB SO HR   ERA 
David Aardsma (W, 7-2) 5.0 3 1 1 5 5 0 2.82


If Korey won't play offense (his 2-4 last night came on a total of 6 pitches), his defense needs to be spectacular.

Not craptastic.

On The Plus

With last night's win over the Dodgers, the Cubs now stand at one game over .500. They've won 4 in a row and 7 of their last 11. Let's just have one collective "Wheeee!!!!"

No excitement here until they knock down 4 of these 7 games on this road trip. Come home from the road and still be over .500? You might make me interested. I still see this as being a 2-5 road trip.

And get your hopes up for the win streak to reach 5 6. Tonight's Tomorrow's starter is clearly the guy to go all in on. John Koronka had a 5+ ERA and a losing record at Iowa.


Mound Time

Kerry Wood's been throwing off a mound, reports the Sun Times. He's up to about 30 pitches. This means he's about 3 to 4 weeks away from returning. My guess is that he makes three minor league starts, the first of which will be right around June 15th.

With any luck, he'll be healthy enough to attract trade suitors.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


LaTroy Hawkins to the San Francisco Giants for two young guys, right-handeders Jerome Williams and David Aardsma.

Beyond the fact that the first player alphabetically in major league history is now a Cub, the real good news is that the Cubs save close to $5 million over the next two years. This is found money as the team expected to have LaTroy under contract through 2006.

The real question is: What are they gonna do with the money?

The Trib better not pocket it!

The Trib reports that the Giants only have to pay LaTroy $900,000 of his salary this year, but all of his salary for next year. The Trib also reports that LaTroy's 2006 salary is in excess of $4 million. This contradicts the numbers I was using to calculate the savings shown above (Hardball Dollars), but still yields the same savings. The Cubs now have reduced their payroll by $5 million in 2005 and 2006.

A Benefit, Not A Side Effect

The Food and Drug Administration is reporting a possible new side effect from Viagra. It seems that the drug can increase blood flow to the blood vessels in the optic nerve (full details here). The result has been loss of vision including blindness in some cases.

Pfizer has hailed this discovery as a great day for ugly women everywhere.

Friday, May 27, 2005

With Mark Prior headed to the DL (in case you just woke up -- yes, the x-ray was negative but the MRI showed a fracture), the season is over. There's no way that Jim Hendry, even were he inclined, can acquire the pieces needed to make a playoff run with this team.

Fiscal 2006 begins tomorrow.

Time to be a seller. Of anyone and anybody if the price is right.

Who should go? Anyone with a high salary who is a free agent.

Todd Walker
LaTroy Hawkins
Greg Maddux
Kerry Wood (get him healthy and move him)
Mike Remlinger
Korey Patterson (you thought I forgot him!)

Hell. Even Mike Barrett if the price is right.

Also to be considered should be Jason DuBois if he brings in pieces that can win in 2006. Don't let Billy Wagner go to a contender 'cause you'll need him next year.

Also, look at the pictures on the post below. That's the best things you'll be seeing on a Cubs blog for a long time.

Fresh Faces -- One Hopes

One of my favorite shows from this past TV season was "Boston Legal" and William Shatner's "Kirk in early stage Alzheimer's" work.

It seems that the show got bumped from its time slot by "Grey's Anatomy." My wife watches it and I saw the opening credits. It shows doctors and equipment juxtaposed against feet rolling on beds and martini glasses. The next time I go to the hospital, that just what I want to be thinking about: What to surgeons have solied the gurney I'm on and how drunk are they?

Well Boston Legal will be back in the fall, albeit with major cast changes. They've fired all the women. Well, the women worth looking at (Candace Bergen will be retained).

Gone since the show started is all this tasty eye candy:

Rhona Mitra and Monica Potter

Rebecca De Mornay

Lake Bell also left, but there's no good pictures of her. Guess that's why she was canned early.

Boston Legal better get some new fresh faces. Let's hope it's not Calista "Ally McBeal" Flockheart. She's more bony than Kiera Knightly.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Memory Lane

Last year, Dusty Baker gave an interview (excepted here from a column by the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles) in which he talked about walks. I light of today's disgusting performance of taking almost no pitches against the league leading walk-gifting pitcher, I thought it would be fun to revisit the conversation.

"I think walks are overrated unless you can run," Baker said. "If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps. But the guy who walks and can't run, most of the time they'’re clogging up the bases for somebody who can run."

That kind of talk is nothing short of heresy for those in the OBP-is-king camp. Baker, an old-school sort, doesn't seem to mind.

"Who's been the champions the last seven, eight years?" he asked "Have you ever heard the Yankees talk about on-base percentage and walks? Walks help. But you ain'’t going to walk across the plate. You're going to hit across the plate. That's the school I come from.

"It's called hitting, and it ain't called walking. Do you ever see the top 10 walking? You see top 10 batting average. A lot of those top 10 do walk. But the name of the game is to hit."

Now, last year I gave Dusty the benefit of the doubt here. Not that he was joking, rather that he was running interference from questions about Mark Prior. See, that was the same day that Baker also said this:

Baker said it's too soon to know when Prior will be ready but added there's no need to panic if Prior doesn't make his scheduled start April 8 in Cincinnati.

"I'm not saying that's the case, but we used to leave Bobby Welch behind every year in spring training," Baker said, referring to his old Dodgers teammate.

"It's an unfortunate situation. [Prior] hurt his Achilles' and it got him behind. If you're behind, you have to catch up at the normal pace. You can't catch up at the accelerated pace or something else may happen."

At the time, I suggested that Baker was saying something idiotic to keep discussion away from what was clearly a bigger story - Prior's injury. Given that Prior missed 2 months, that sure seemed like a decent guess on my part.

But after today's performance? I don't believe that Baker's ever revisited this topic. It would be fun to ask him now.

Especially if he gets his ass shipped out of town soon.

For Everyone, Especially Al:

One of the tenets of Judaism is that we begin mourning the dead as quickly as possible. This allows us to express our grief and move on with our lives. After all, we are still living and the dead are... well, dead. Notice that in the ritual, we Jews don't speak of the dead. Instead, we praise God. We view the passing of a loved one by praising the One who gave us the opportunity to enjoy the departed's presence during their life.

Do not mistake this praise as analogous to the person who provided the 2005 Cubs: Jim Hendry.

For the 2005 Cubs (first the Hebrew, then the English).
Mourner's Kaddish:
Yeetgadal v' yeetkadash sh'mey rabbah Amen.

B'almah dee v'rah kheer'utey v' yamleekh malkhutei,b'chahyeykhohn, uv' yohmeykhohn, uv'chahyei d'chohl beyt yisrael, ba'agalah u'veez'man kareev, v'eemru: Amen.

Y'hey sh'met rabbah m'varach l'alam u'l'almey almahyah.

Yeet'barakh, v' yeesh'tabach, v' yeetpa'ar, v' yeetrohmam, v' yeet'nasei, v' yeet'hadar, v' yeet'aleh, v' yeet'halal sh'mey d'kudshah b'reekh hoo.

L'eylah meen kohl beerkhatah v'sheeratah, toosh'b'chatah v'nechematah, da'ameeran b'al'mah, v'eemru: Amen.

Y'hei shlamah rabbah meen sh'mahyah,v'chahyeem aleynu v'al kohl yisrael, v'eemru: Amen.

Oseh shalom beem'roh'mahv, hoo ya'aseh shalom, aleynu v'al kohl yisrael v'eemru: Amen.
Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

Pants On Fire

In the Sun Times today, Korey Patterson enters into "Who You Crappin'" territory.

"I'm comfortable batting sixth. I've always felt that way the last year and a half. I've batted in a lot of positions, and by now, I should know where I like hitting. I don't make out the lineup. So if I'm batting first, I got to play. But if somebody asks me a question about it, I'm going to tell the truth." - Corey Patterson

Now, this is hilarious. Back on February 23rd, Korey gave Paul Sullivan an interview in which Paul said that Patterson still wants to bat third in the lineup. Additionally, Korey said, "I'm not going to sit and gripe because I'm batting first. That's not going to help me out, nor the team."

So, for 18 months he's felt that he should bat 6th. This, despite having some success last August from the leadoff spot and stating a desire to bat third as recently as three months ago? And now he's griping after saying he wouldn't gripe?

This guy can't go away fast enough.

Grand Pooh-Bah!

From Robert Feder's Sun-Times column:

An all-star lineup of kids' show hosts will help celebrate "The Golden Age of Children's Television in Chicago" on a special edition of "Nude Hippo: Your Chicago Show."

Airing at 7 tonight on Chicago Cable Channel 25, the offbeat magazine/talk show will feature Bill "B.J." Jackson, Joey "Bozo" D'Auria, Marshall "Wizzo" Brodien and Rich "Svengoolie" Koz.

There's a list of names from my childhood. I can't even imaging what Bill Jackson would look like today. Gigglesnort Hotel was one of my favorite shows (I always wanted to know what the coal Dirty Dragon at tasted like).

I don't think I get the channel. Anyone out there want to tape it?

Feder also reports that Mike Ditka and WSCR have parted ways. Can they do the same with Ed O'Bradovich, too?

Middling Problems

I know others like to think that the Astros were due for a win and that last night's loss is just fate. That's wrong. The Cubs are a bad baseball team, only being kept afloat by teams that are truly putrid. If infinite monkeys would have eventually yielded a Houston win, why do the Cardinals avoid the same problem when they face Pittsburgh? The answer is: The Cardinals are a better team.

If you want to know where the game was lost last night, it was in the 6th inning when the middle of the order, Jeromy Burnitz and Aramis Ramirez, couldn't drive in Neifi Perez from third. Offense has been the biggest problem for the Cubs this year and Aramis Ramirez deserves the bulk of the blame. He's lost 92 points on his batting average and 146 points off his slugging. Perhaps the knock on him that he earned in Pittsburgh, "Gimme the money and I chill out," was correct. This may also be why Jim Hendry waited so long to resign him – fear of just this type of performance.

If Jim Hednry wants to salvage the season, he only has about a week to do so. The Cubs have 4 games against the Rockies (of which monkeys will not be blamed if the Cubs produce less than the necessary sweep) and then brutality. The Dodgers, Padres, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Marlins, and Yankees are the next 19 games.

This roster, as currently constructed, doesn't do better than 7 and 12 in that stretch. Over the same stretch, the Cardinals get Colorado, Houston, Boston, Yankees, Toronto and Tampa. Then, for good measure, Pittsburgh, Cinci and more Colorado. I put the Cards at no worse than 11-8 over the same 19 games.

If this prediction holds, on June 19th the Cubs will be 11 games out as measure by the loss column.

And that would be a season, folks.

P.S. Nice 5-pitch, 5-swing strikeout at bat by Korey

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Know Your Trading Partners: Phillies

Ivy Chat presents the first in an irregular series. Here are the players on Philly that I see being available that I wouldn't mind the Cubs acquiring. Salaries listed are via ESPN.com and Hardball Dollars:

Name Salary Contract Expiration
P Jon Lieber $5.8mm 2007 (due $7.3mm; $7.5mm)
P Billy Wagner $9.0mm 2005
IF Placido Polanco $4.6mm 2005
LF Pat Burrell $7.3mm 2008 (due $9.5mm; $13.0mm; $14.0mm)
OF Kenny Lofton $2.9mm 2005

Possibly available, but doubtful due to contractual status:

RF Bobby Abreu $13.1mm 2008 (due $13.0mm; $15.0mm; $16.0mm)

Just Monty Halling

With the next 5 games against the two worst road baseball teams in the history of time, the Cubs look to go as much as 4 games over .500 (although 2 over is more likely). The pitching remains strong. The offense is still horrid. And Korey only injured himself on his kamikaze run into Burnitz in right field.

Jim Hendry needs to decide which season he's playing for: 2005 or 2006?

I still play for 2005.

Who knows how long Prior and Zamboni's arms will stay attached. Maddux is still good for quality starts 2 of every three times out.

Sergio Mitre's trade value just expanded exponentially. Jason DuBois keeps campaigning for a trade to the DH league.

There are options to trade that don't have to include the compete roster of the Diamond Jaxx.

Let's make some deals. Leadoff. Left Field. Short Stop. Closer.

I've added links to the MLB rosters and stats of the teams that are the clear sellers this season. Scan them. Whom should Hendry target?

Time for Restrictor Plates

Jeff Gordon not only got to sing the seventh inning stretch at "Wrigley Stadium" last night, but he butchered the song. He was roundly booed by the throng.

To make it worse, the tape was played on ESPN's nationally distributed Mike & Mike show this AM. The ridicule now spans the country.

How much longer are people gonna sign up for a publicity stunt that has the chance of making them look like an idiot in front of their core constituency?

You Know It's A Bad Week When...

Terry Adams was designated for assignment by the Phillies yesterday. Bad, if you're Terry, right? Well, they guy they replaced him with was Amaury Telemaco.

That's really bad.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

When 3-3 Isn't, and 1-4 Is

Once again, the truth is buried by the box score. Sure, Korey went 3-3 and hit a home run. But he also got picked off and nearly decapitated Jeromy Burnitz on a play that was Burnitz's all the way. As far as I'm concerned, pick offs (and caught stealings) should subtract from a player's OBP and slugging averages while steals should be additive to slugging (as an extra base).

Then, we look to the heir apparent. Felix Pie was suffering last night. Going into the ninth inning, he took an 0-3. To make it worse, his team was being shut out. He'd done nothing to help his team offensively. And going to waste was Diamond Jaxx left-hander Carmen Pignatiello's no hitter. Pignatiello took the no-no to two outs in the ninth before giving up a seeing eye single. He finished the inning and the night allowing 1 hit, 3 walks and 11 strikeouts.

The game went extra frames.

With one out in the bottom of the tenth, Pie stepped up to the plate. Here's a guy who's barely 20 years old. He has never hit more than 8 homers in a season in three minor league seasons, yet he already had 9 homers this year.

Well, Pie launched a ball 400 feet and won the game for the Jaxx 1-0. That was his tenth homer.

This kid can't develop fast enough for me.

Graves Humor

So, Mike Remlinger is probably headed to the DL with a bad arm (dunno if there's anything physically wrong other than it's just bad right now). The Trib reports that the Cubs are interested in Danny Graves.

His stats? 18.1 innings, 30 hits, 12 walks, 8 K's.

Oh, and the league is hitting .357 off of him.

This is a guy that would put Korey Patterson on base.

For anything over the waiver price, this would be a catastrophic mistake.

Pass. Like a kidney stone.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Dan Patrick reporting that Danny Graves has been designated for assignment by the Cinci Reds.

Pie Charting #4

PLAYERS             AB  R  H RBI W  K  AVG
Matt Murton, LF 5 0 2 1 0 1 .399
Felix Pie, CF 5 1 2 1 0 0 .344 - 2B, HR (9); 344/397/650
Brandon Sing, 1B 3 0 2 0 1 0 .325

Could Pie and/or Murton be a Miguel Cabrerra type for this club? The 2003 Marlins were 10 under .500, fired their manager, benched Todd Hollandsworth, played a high ceiling youth, and won.

Stat of the Day

Korey Patterson's 2005 on base percentage of .297 ranks him 151st in all of major league baseball for qualified (3.1 at bats per game) players.

For reference sake, only 179 players are ranked. That places Korey in the 16th percentile for getting on base.

Just Merckering

From Barry Rozner's column today. Could the rats being wanting to flee the S.S. Dusty?

Ivy colored glasses

When Jerry Hairston’s fifth-inning double hit just under the left-field basket, the Cubs’ bullpen was up in arms, thinking it was a home run and looking toward the Cubs’ dugout for a protest.

Mike Remlinger was waving his hands wildly and looking for a reaction. When no one emerged to ask about it, Remlinger waved with disgust at the dugout and sat back down.

People's Exhibit B and C

For those of you on the "Fire Dusty" bandwagon, of which I am on and off depending on my mood, look no farther than Saturday's and Sunday's game to understand why the problems with this team are mostly not his fault.

Zamboni pitches his butt off only to see the bullpen blow the game. Sure, the bullpen could have been helped if Korey Patterson keeps his glove open (if you aren't going to hit Korey, you better play plus defense -- and that was minus defense), but the pen decided that losing 2-1 wasn't enough.

So, Sunday comes and Mark Prior tosses 126 pitches for his first complete game in 2 years. He also tosses a big middle finger at the boys sitting on the left field foul line.

That finger was aimed somewhere else, too. At Jim Hendry. As in, "Get a live arm or two in the pen and we won't see our arms fall off!"

If you want to bash Baker, go right ahead. Want to do it for high pitch counts by his starters, that's just dumb. What's Baker's option? Keep losing because he has a lousy bullpen?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

My Gift To Carlos

Most readers know I think that Carlos Zambrano was, for a time last year, the best pitcher in all of baseball. And the way he pitched on Saturday, he looks like he may be returning to that form. All he needs to do is avoid arm problems.

Seems the Cubs think they know a way to reduce stress on his arm.

Zambrano said he had been logging about four hours a day communicating via e-mail with his brother.

"I have to spend one hour and take it easy," Zambrano said.

No one will ever hear from me that family is not important. Carlos, in order that you don't lose too much contact with your hermano, I suggest that we hook you up with oneof those family-to-family unlimited cell phone plans. Hell. T-Mobil has one for $49.99 per month,

Now, I know you make $3.8 million and I only make a fraction of that, but, hey. I'll pony up for your first month and activation.

Whadaya say?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bass Ackwards

Chiming in on the steroid debate, Barry Rozner has this gem in his column today:

"MLS commissioner Don Garber said he believes the right to eliminate contracts (after a positive steroid test) serves as a stronger deterrent than the right to impose a two-year suspension."

No it doesn't. Garber's statement implies that the teams don't want the players on steroids. That's wrong.

Everyone knows that the owners in all sports were very happy to turn their collective heads away and let juiced players in all sports excite the fans.

If Barry Bonds, two years ago, tested positive for an anabolic, you mean to tell me that the Giants would have voided his contract? The opposite would have occurred. The Giants would have hushed up everything and kept Bonds smashing homers.

It's mandatory suspensions or nothing.

And by nothing, I mean embrace the substances. I mean, where's the line anyway? Asprin? Sudaphed? Lasix? Tommy John Surgery? Cortisone shots? Steroids (legally perscribed)? All those enhance performance. If most of those are OK, why are steroids bad?

Window Cracking Open

The Cardinals did the Cubs a favor by blowing two games to the Phillies this week. Now only 5 down in the loss column, the Cubs can still be thinking that they have a chance to get back in the race. The problem coms over the next few weeks as the Cards go on tour of AA teams including Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Colorado and Houston. Anything worse than 8-4 for the Cards would be a good outcome from the Cubs perspective.

Meanwhile, the Cubs's schedule gets brutal. Sure, they have Houston and Colorado, but also on the docket are the Dodgers, Padres, Red Sox, Marlins, Yankees and the White Sox -- twice.

Anytime Jim Hendry wants to upgrade this team so that they are not burried by mid June would be fine by me. No upgrades soon = 10 games out within a few weeks.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Ideal Deal

The Cubs have some tough choices to make very soon. Todd Walker will be back from rehab shortly (well, as soon as he gets over his 0-15 start to his rehab). That will push Jerry Hairston out of the 2nd base slot and into a two or three headed platoon in left field.

That will deprive the Cubs of their only decent leadoff man.

So, how can we make some room for Jerry to keep some at bats?

Well, the best would be to play him somewhere in the outfield. Unless you can work a trade for DuBois (which would be fine), there is one place he can play.


Sure, he'll suck defensively. But the downgrade in defense compared to Korey will be more then offset by his high OBP in the leadoff spot. Then, with Walker in the two hole, and Lee three, you have a legit top of the order.

So, what to do with Korey? Where can he be most useful to the Cubs?

In Philadelphia.

And Billy Wagner comes in exchange.

And don't tell me that Philly is set in center with the triumverate of Endy Chavez, Jason Michaels and the 96 year old Kenny Lofton.

This is a no brainer for both teams. Cubs get pen help, upgrade their lineup, and rid themselves of a career underperformer.

Philly unloads a player who will walk at the end of the season and a net $2 million in salary. They get 4 months to make Korey learn to play before deciding if they are going to tender him for 2006. If they like him, they keep him for 2006.

Perfect sense.

The Circle Is Now Complete

So some friends of mine and I went out to take in "Revenge of the Sith" last night. It was fun to go see the "last" Star Wars movie with the same people whom I’d seen some of the old movies 20 some years ago.

I won't bore you with a full review. That’s available elsewhere. I will tell you that it was a good flick. Well worth the price of admission. Here's what I liked, didn't like, and what were nitpicks. Detailed spoilers follow, so be warned.
- Very nice opening sequence. Kind of a space version of the long shots in Goodfellas and Boogie Nights.

- Ian McDiarmid owns every scene he's in.

- Yoda still rocks. Love how he takes out the Imperial Guard.

- Not for kids. I'd venture that those under 10 will ask too many questions, questions that I wouldn’t want to answer, about what Anakin did to the Jedi Kids.

- John Williams does a tremendous job with the score.

- I didn't buy into the scene where Anakin becomes Darth. I didn't think Sidious closed the deal. Sure, it fit the plot and made sense, but it was very weak. Couldn't Padme have been coughing or something to make Anakin think her danger was greater than just his dream? Hell, Grevious coughed enough.

- George Lucas just had to work in midichlorians again to stick it to us, right?

- So, it takes 20 years to build the first Death Star, but only a few to build the second?

- Was there any reason to have the Wookies in there other than to placate the fans? They did nothing to advance the story.

- I got chills hearing Vader breathe for the first time.

- So, how does Leia have memories of her mother?

- Why no more detail on how Yoda and Qui-Gon are now able to communicate? And I guess that this is the immortality that Sidious spoke of, not realizing that it was of the non-corporeal type.

- And, finally. I called the closing shot 6 years ago, albeit with the wrong people in the scene. I guessed it would have been Obi-Wan walking off into the twin suns, not Owen, Beru and Luke. A great tie-in to the similar shot with Luke shot from "Star Wars: A New Hope."

My guess is that the fans embrace this one and it does $500 million domestically. Nice work, George.

Pie Charting #3

PLAYERS              AB  R  H RBI W  K  AVG
Matt Murton, LF 4 2 2 1 0 0 .406 - HR (5), SB
Felix Pie, CF 4 1 2 1 1 0 .359 - HR (8), E; 4 HR in last 8 G

I threw Murton in for good measure.

Pie now has matched his career season high in homers. Is this power a trend that comes with his physical maturation or a fluke?

Frankly, keep that average that high and I don't care.

Hot Seat Getting Warm

In his column today, Barry Rozner reminds everyone of the parallels between Don Baylor in 2002 and Dusty Baker in 2005. Don't believe for a minute that Baker's job is safe. And that means you can expect to see Baker continue to burn his starters so long as he fears using the Fuel Air Explosive better known as the Cub Bullpen.

Dusty's job is on the line. That's fine. It's also the reason why this weekend's series with the White Sox is a no-lose scenario for the Cubs and their fans.

If the Cubs manage to take 2 or 3 games in the series, then it might be argued that they are back in the hunt. They'd be as high as a game over .500 and winners of 5 or 6 out of their last 8.

If they lose 2 or 3 games, then the Dusty Death Watch starts ticking. There's no way that Andy McPhail and Jim Hendry are going to waste $100 million in payroll and a year on the arms and free agency clocks of Carlos Zambrano and Mark Prior.

So, if a Sox fan and his three teeth try to get in your face this weekend, remember a few things: There is only upside to come from this series, and you don't have the end of Chinatown playing out nightly in your living room.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Always Leave 'Em Laughing

Frank Gorshin (1934-2005)

Next Time, Hire A DJ

Justin Timberlake is denying that he is going to lip-sync his way through a performance at the bar mitzvah of British billionaire Philip Green's son. It's been reported that Justin would be forced to mime his performance after undergoing throat surgery.

A spokesman for Cameron Diaz's boy-toy has declared the story is wrong. "Justin wouldn't lip synch because of surgery. He lip synchs all the time! You don't want to hear him sing for real. It's worse than strangling a cat."

Next in Queue

Sure, "Slap Shot" is nowhere as good as it's reputation. But to spend a few hours listening to the Hansen Brothers talk their way through the flick is bound to suffice on a rainy Saturday night.

Worth a slot on my Netflix queue.


When Dusty Baker does leave Chicago, one hopes that Lloyd McClendon will not interview for the job. The picture below was only possible because of McClendon's stupidity. There is no way that Derrek Lee should have been allowed to even wave his bat at a pitch.

As we watched the game, I said to my five-year old, "Watch this. Bunt. Then Derrek will be walked. Then Burnitz will either ground into a double play or strike out. Then Ramirez will strike out."

McClendon may not have his job for long because Pittsburgh ownership is unwilling to spend dollars on payroll (despite fleecing the taxpayers for a new stadium). That lack of payroll translates into losses.

But payroll can't cover brain cramps.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Chicago Cubs' Derrek Lee (25) rounds third to greetings from coach Chris Speier after hitting a two-run homer in the top of the nineth off Pittsburgh Pirates closer Jose Mesa Tuesday, May 17, 2005 in Pittsburgh. It was Lee's second homer of the game and proved to be the game winner, with the Cubs beating the Pirates 4-3. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Spartan Becomes Blue Devil

Soon to be a fellow Glenbrook North Alumnus, Jon Scheyer is headed for Duke according to several reports.

With the University of Illinois losing players to the NBA quicker than the Cubs suffer arm injuries, Scheyer was their best hope of staying an elite team for the next several years. Fat chance now.

Best of luck, Jon. Didja find out if the Hillel there at Duke is very active?

And So It Begins...

The Phillies, who are only one game worse than the Cubs relative to .500, are getting ready to unload their whole team. The key name that anyone in their right mind would want to acquire from the Phillies remains the 2005 Must Have Guy - Billy Wagner.

Jim Hendry cannot afford to allow this man to be traded to the NL Central division. Too many times has Jim screwed the pooch by letting good teams get great players while the Cubs get potential (Ramirez) or reclamation projects (Nomar).

First, there was Scott Rolen. He was acquired by the Cards for a song. That is, if you can call Placido Polanco, Mike Timlin, and Bud Smith a song.

Then, came Carlos Beltran. We all recall what the Astros did last year. And whom they beat for the Wild Card.

Finally, the Cards got Larry Walker. How would he look instead of Todd Hollandsworth right now?

If Billy Wagner becomes a Cardinal, the Cubs won't just regret it for this year. They'll regret it for 5 years.

And, if Billy Wagner becomes a Cardinal, Jim Hendry should be fired for negligence. No two ways about it. Timidity is not a virtue.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Riffing Through a Lost Weekend

Some points from the weekend:

The "Neifi for All Star" crowd must immediately disband.

Whenever Dusty Baker wants to move Korey out of leadoff would be fine by me.

That said, considering that Jim Hendry has only given Dusty a leadoff hitter for the final 10 weeks of 2003 (Kenny Lofton), Dusty should keep putting Korey out there to embarrass Hendry even further.

With Carlos Zambrano's arm now down for the count, how long until even Al Yellon realizes that 2006 starts very soon?

Deep Sixing

This may be the final chance to salvage the 2005 season. The Cubs are now in fourth place. Yes, those of you who don’t look at the standings need to take a fresh look. They are 8 in the loss column in back of the Cards and 5 in back of the Marlins for the Wild Card. They won't catch the Fish. That means, they need to win the division.

Well, the Cards next 9 games are three at Philly, three at KC and three hosting Pittsburgh. Then, after a 3 gamer at home against the Nationals, the Cards move on to the Rockies for 4 and the Astros for 3. Look for the Cards to go no worse than 13-6 in this stretch.

That means, for the Cubs to avoid passing that magical "10 games out" mark that generally signifies the death of a season, they need to go 12-7 over their next 19 games. Ignoring that the Cubs haven’t been 5 over .500 for any portion of this season, the schedule makes you think that they are cooked.

Two at Pitt, three against the White Sox, three with Houston, four with Colorado, three at the Dodgers and 4 at San Diego. The best I can possibly see from that is a sweep of Pitt, take two from both the Sox and Astros, take three from Colorado, and win 3 of the seven West Cost games.

That's 12-7.

But, you know they won't do that well. They'll blow a game to the Sox or Houston. And if they blow other games to Pittsburgh and Colorado, it'll all be over by the Indy 500.

Expect the Cubs to be 12 out by June 5.

On the bright side, if that plays out, Dusty Baker will probably be gone by then as well.

Friday, May 13, 2005

A Very Old Blog, Written A Great Distance Away...

Darth Vader is now blogging. Hilarious stuff.

"You will return the fleet to the outer rim tomorrow," enunciated Emperor Palpatine crisply, leaning into his cane and watching me from beneath the hem of his black mantle. "You will soon have the clues you need to close in on our quarry."

"You believe the new probe droids will be effective, then, my master?"

"I am not concerned with droids," he replied. "Rather, I have foreseen these events. The strings of the Force grow taut, and soon we shall play a tune upon them, Lord Vader. It will be a dirge for the rebellion that will initiate the second age of this New Order."

Man, that guy loves the sound of his own voice! Luckily no one can see me roll my eyes behind this masque.

The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster

And Back to Baseball

Check this line from the Iowa Cubs' game yesterday:

                     Inn  H  R ER BB SO ERA 
Raul Valdez (W,1-0) 7.0 3 1 1 3 4 1.29

This was his AAA debut. Valdez is a 27 year old Cuban defector who was Pitcher of the Year in the Dominican Winter League. His first start was delayed due to a spring injury.

Could be a possible spot starter / reliever as the season progresses. I love the idea of bring in a guy that is essentially a veteran.

Follow him on the Future Watch.

When the Cat's Away...

Since the Sloth seems to be on hiatus, I figure that and an off day for the Cubs requires me to fill the lustful readers in on the happenings in the under 21 set.

Lindsay Lohan is about to take a career dive that will rank right up there with Maclean Stevenson leaving M*A*S*H and David Caruso leaving NYPD Blue. Lindsay's next project is a new Herbie film in which Herbie the Love Bug starts to race on the Nascar Circuit. The name of the film? "Herbie: Reloaded."

In order to help hype the movie, one can only surmise that Lindsay is taking a personal approach to the title.
Lindsay Lohan au natural Lindsay Lohan with grapefruit implants
The picture on the left was taken a few days ago. The picture on the right was taken on the set of "Herbie" (notice the "53" medallion around her neck).

Clearly, Herbie was not the only star of the picture that was reloaded for the film.

Gotta love the graduates from the Mickey Mouse Club. Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera. From the House of Mouse to the Ranks of Skanks.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Cost Accounting

When you discuss acquiring a guy like Billy Wagner, a guy with an 8 figure price tag, you have to look at budgets. Clearly, the Cubs don't have to have a budget -- the Trib could afford anything they wanted. But stockholders have a tendancy to whine if you drop $44 million on a 3rd baseman with a balky back while circulation fraud is happening at your newspapers.

Looking to 2006, the Cubs are going to be freeing a ton of money. Here's the key list of expenses that they are incurring in 2005 that will likely be eliminated for 2006:

Moises Alou$2,000,000
Joe Borowski$2,300,000
Jeremy Burnitz$5,000,000
Nomar Garciaparra$8,250,000
Mark Grudzielanek$250,000
Jerry Hairston$1,800,000
Mike Remlinger$3,800,000
Sammy Sosa$16,150,000
Todd Walker$2,500,000

Now, you have to account for certain increases in salary for guys who are already signed. They include:

Derrek Lee$1,000,000
Aramis Ramirez$1,500,000
Kerry Wood$2,500,000

In short, the Cubs will have a net clearing of $37,050,000 in salaries. Now, that's before increases to players like Carlos Zambrano and doesn't include incentive bonuses for players like Mark Prior.

But don't take any crap from any source that tries to suggest that the Cubs budget could not handle a Billy Wagner.

Oh, and they clear another $9 million if Maddux doesn't get to 191 innings this year. Currently, Maddux is on pace to vest his $9 million option for 2006.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Must Get Guy - 2005

Now that Derrek Lee has cemented his name in MVP talk at least through the All Star break, the time has come to talk about the one player that is/will be available that the Cubs must acquire. Acquiring this person is paramount. If the Cubs miss this guy, they'll regret it. Just like the regret passing on Jim Thome, Scott Rolen, Carlos Beltran, Mike Lowell, and Miguel Tejada. It doesn't matter if the Cubs can't win this year. They must get this guy or else someone else the Cubs will eventually need to beat will get him. Either this year, or next.

The Cubs biggest flaw is clearly bullpen. No one on the team is ready to take the reigns of the closer position, Ryan Dempster being the latest pretender. So, where can they get a closer? There is a man on a last place team who is a pending free agent who is a premier closer. His team is about ready to unload a lot of their big players and re-tool. Who is this man?

Billy Wagner.

Wager is 33 years old. That's about his only flaw. His K/BB ratio is as good as ever. He’s only given up one run this year (Lee's dinger last week). He's coming off a year of light use. Sure, he'll be expensive to keep, but the Cubs will free over $35 million in salary in the off-season, so keeping him isn't an issue. The Phillies are going nowhere and will want to get something for Wagner. The Cubs have the currency (read: minor league talent) to win any biding war.

My biggest fear is that Jason Isringhausen will be out longer than we all think. The Cardinals will then go get Wagner and have not only a solid closer for this year, but a left-right closer situation for the next three years. With their new stadium opening, they will be able to afford both Izzy and Wagner. And if that happens, the division will be in the Cards favor for the foreseeable future.

The Cubs have to get Wagner, even if it's for setting up 2006. If they don't they'll regret it. Just like letting the Astros get Beltran. Just like letting the Cards get Rolen.

Nice Night to be a Jaxx Fan

This could also be called Pie Charting II.

PLAYERS          AB  R  H RBI W  K  AVG
M.Murton, LF 5 2 2 2 0 0 .407 - 3B, HR (4)
F.Pie, CF 5 2 4 1 0 0 .365 - HR (5), 2 SB (11)
B.Sing, 1B 4 2 2 1 0 1 .337 - HR (7)

PITCHER              IP  H  R ER BB SO HR   ERA 
R.Nolasco (W, 6-0) 7.0 5 2 2 2 5 1 1.29

That Was Not #2

Many people will suggest (some already have) that Korey Patterson's two dingers against the Mets last night were the latest FYC moment. I'd argue that they really weren't as the Cubs were leading when he hit each of the homers. Neither was particularly key to winning the game.

Besides. Here's Korey's projected stats for the year as extrapolated from his first 32 games:
 AB   R    H  2B 3B  HR  RBI  BB   SO  SB  CS    BA    OBP    SLG    OPS
658 106 172 5 0 41 66 30 142 10 0 0.262 0.302 0.454 0.748

At first blush, that looks like a decent stat line. The 40 homer pace is nice, but the OBP, OPS and lack of non-homer extra base hits is terrible.

Then, you compare his stat line to this "great" Cub of old. Here's the career averages of one of the most loatthsome players in Cub history:

 AB   R    H  2B 3B  HR  RBI  BB   SO  SB  CS    BA    OBP    SLG    OPS
557 75 131 20 2 37 101 51 152 7 4 0.236 0.302 0.478 0.780

Yes. Those are the career average numbers of Dave Kingman. Nice company you're keeping, Korey.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Why does Stone Still Believe?

Three times a week, Steve Stone goes on the radio to spout his wisdom about baseball to various hosts on WSCR. Yesterday, he refused to agree with Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers when they said to Steve that he had to be changing his thinking on the Cubs still being a good team.

Steve said that the Cubs are not as bad as they've looked and that Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and even Houston (once they unload in July) are truly awful. The Cubs will garner a lot of wins when they play these teams.

While there is some logic to this (those four teams are, indeed, bad), it fails to look at the Cubs themselves. With only three decent starters and no bullpen, no leadoff hitter, a weak middle infield, and an outfield that should be humanely destroyed, this Cubs team is going to be lucky to even get back to .500.

Stone knows this. He's not stupid. So, why does Stone keep saying that the Cubs can turn it around? It's almost like he's lobbying for something.

It's no secret that Stone's wanted a front office job for years. He was also active in a group that tried to buy the Expos and move them to Las Vegas. Could he be trying to make a move on Jim Hendry or Andy McPhail's job?

Stone might be using his pulpit to make a 50,000 watt case that this season is salvageable. If he keeps saying that and the team continues to tank, then it's almost as if he's accusing Hendry and Baker of negligence. And that Stone knows how to fix it.

The Tribune is a media company. They are concerned with public perception above and beyond everything. They saw the standing ovation that the fans gave Steve at the final game last year. They just might be willing to turn to Steve to save them from seeing the club's profits fall.

But the Cubs will never eat Dusty Baker's salary, right? Don't kid yourself. Baker's $4 million is chump change if TV ratings fall, especially considering that the Trib is a part owner of Comcast Sports Net and lends the Tribune name to a daily show on the network. A bad team means lower ratings for all the shows. Lower ratings equals lower revenue. If the Trib thinks they can make more money by firing Baker, Hendry or anyone else, they'll do it.

Could this be why Stone is so blind to the 2005 Cubs?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Just When You Start to Wonder

Elish Cuthbert - puting Nicollete Sheridan's white bikini to shame
I thought she was gone. Elisha Cuthbert, no longer being chased by cougars and survivalists on 24, seemed to have gone the way of so many other blondes that do wonders for the two small pieces of textile known as a bikini, yet have no acting ability whatsoever.

Then, up comes "House of Wax," this week's #2 grossing movie.

Sure, Paris Hilton gets her skull split open (producer Joel Silver knows crowd pleasing), and that may explain a huge part of the appeal. But Elisha gets top billing.

I can see why.

Does Elisha now have a future as a scream queen? A glance at IMDB says that she's trying drama next. My guess is that this would prove to be a stretch for her. She should stick to things that won't tax her abilities.

And no jokes about stretching, please.

Speaking of Mark Shapiro...

Ted Cox has a funny in his Friday column. Discussing the NFL moves that are coming (Monday Night Football to ESPN, Sunday Night to NBC), Cox informs:

...ESPN has already announced that Chris "Boomer" Berman will be the studio host. That gives NFL fans about 15 months to pool the money to take out a contract on his life, otherwise "MNF" is infected with the same cancer that has afflicted ESPN's NFL draft coverage.

Maybe Ted could do some research and let us know when Berman's contract is up? Maybe ESPN is stuck with him and this is the only spot they can justify his enormous weight... ah... paycheck.

I haven't watched NFL Countdown in years simply to avoid Berman. I can't be the only one who does this.

The Gloves are Off

Many of you saw the article in the Tribune on Friday where Jim Hendry gave Dusty Baker the dreaded vote of confidence. Hendry then compared the Cubs to two team from recent history.

"(The Astros) were one step from being buried and then the last few months they were probably the best team in baseball. The year the Marlins won the World Series (in 2003), they fired the manager (Jeff Torborg) and then Jack (McKeon) takes over, they go 2-8, and all of a sudden, boom, you get turned around and you go off."

What to think of Hendry comparing the Cubs to teams that succeeded after their managers were canned? Is Hendry being coy and tipping his intentions or was he just making a poor choice for a comparison?

The answer was given yesterday when Dusty Baker allowed Carlos Zambrano to throw 136 pitches in a complete game win over the pathetic Phillies.

Anyone who wants to blame Dusty for overusing Big Zamboni is an idiot. Using Zamboni to finish the game was Baker’s response to Hendry. Essentially, Baker said, “You want to fire me for losing games? Many of the losses are your fault for giving me a bullpen less reliable than a Tom Arnold punchline.”

Clearly, the gloves are off. The big boys are already trying to tone down some of the speculation. Why else would Paul Sullivan’s write this line (“Baker isn't in any danger of losing his job”) in today’s game notes?

Pay close attention to whom and how Baker uses which players in the coming weeks (example: Jason DuBois and his 10 thumbs get a chance to earn the left field job). This will probably work out badly for either Hendry or Baker, if not both of them.

That might not be such a bad thing for all the fans.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Pie Charting I

From this Saturday's game:

                 AB  R  H RBI W  K  AVG
F.Pie, CF 5 1 3 0 0 1 .346 - SB, 2 OF assists

No one I know saw the game, but the stats make his defense sure seem sharp.

Friday, May 06, 2005

More Comedy

You probably think this is about what the Cubs are doing on the field. That's not worth much time, short of saying that, Wednesday, I would not have walked Lyle Overbay to load the bases. I still have bad memories of Jeff Pico in a similar situation in the Astrodome back in 1989. The force was already on at second and there were two outs. Why out your pitcher in the case of not being able to throw balls outside of the strike zone?

But the comedy I wanted to talk about was the Comedy Final Four from a few weeks back. There were many movies included that had no business being there. And any movie comedy list that ignores the Marx Brothers is just plain wrong.

Here are my nominations for a new Best Comedy Movie bracket. I've broken the flicks down into four regionals. Some movies are clearly locks while some are on the bubble. I will take comments and e-mails for suggestions for additions, deletions, or giving bubble flicks At Large bids. New brackets will be available next week.

The nominees are:

Farce Regional
Animal House
Austin Powers
Blazing Saddles
Ferris Bueller
Naked Gun
The Jerk
Bachelor Party
Trading Places
Ruthless People

On the Bubble
Strange Brew
Groundhog Day
Something About Mary
The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Revenge of the Nerds

Classic Regional
A Night at the Opera
Duck Soup
Christmas Story
Stalag 17
The Graduate
The In-Laws
The Odd Couple
The Producers
The Thin Man
Young Frankenstein
Some Like It Hot

On the Bubble
The Freshman
City Slickers
The Nutty Professor (original)
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Broad Regional
Annie Hall
Defending your Life
A Fish Called Wanda
Dr. Strangelove
The Sting
Bull Durham
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
When Harry Met Sally
Frisco Kid

On the Bubble
Beverly Hills Cop
Four Weddings and a Funeral

Cult Regional
Princess Bride
Raising Arizona
Big Lebowski
Lost in America
Office Space
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Silver Streak
Spinal Tap

On the Bubble
My Cousin Vinny
Time Bandits
Down and Out in Beverly Hills
Shaun of the Dead
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Flirting With Disaster
The Mask

Minor League Update

All the talent is at AA or lower. Brownlie seems to be lost right now. Guzman is non-existant.

Pitcher Age Lev G IP H BB SO WHIP K/IP ERA W L Sv
Gallagher, Sean 19 A- 5 29.0 10 6 37 0.55 1.28 0.31 2 1 0 A+
Nolasco, Ricky 22 AA 6 35.0 26 10 38 1.03 1.09 1.03 5 0 0 B+
*Hill, Rich 25 AA 5 28.2 20 11 43 1.10 1.52 4.40 1 1 0 B-
*Mathes, J.R. 23 A+ 3 17.0 10 4 17 0.82 1.00 0.00 1 0 0 B-
Marmol, Carlos 22 A+ 5 29.1 20 11 31 1.07 1.07 3.07 3 0 0 C+
Weber, Matthew 20 A- 6 33.0 40 3 23 1.30 0.70 3.55 0 4 0 C+
Ryu, Jae-Kuk 22 AA 5 28.0 29 9 22 1.36 0.79 3.86 3 1 0 C
*Pignatiello, Carm 22 AA 6 25.1 21 10 24 1.24 0.96 3.91 3 0 0 C
Petrick, Billy 21 A+ 5 25.0 20 7 16 1.08 0.64 3.96 1 2 0 C
*Marshall, Sean 22 A+ 4 22.0 17 8 17 1.14 0.77 2.45 2 1 0 C
*Pinto, Renyel 22 AAA 5 20.2 25 21 22 2.28 1.09 8.27 1 2 0 C-
Mitre, Sergio 24 AAA 6 32.0 37 12 27 1.53 0.84 5.34 2 3 0 C-
Tavares, Anderson 23 A+ 5 29.2 36 7 26 1.47 0.89 5.76 0 4 0 C-
*Shaver, Christoph 23 A- 5 28.1 21 9 28 1.07 1.00 2.86 1 2 0 D+
Brownlie, Bobby 24 AAA 5 28.1 28 12 15 1.42 0.53 6.35 1 1 0 D

1 PIE, FELIX, OF A+ 4.42 20 AA 93 0.344 8 0.396 0.634
2 Murton, Matt, OF A 3.48 23 AA 101 0.426 6 0.500 0.584
3 Patterson, Eric, 2B B+ 2.95 22 A- 60 0.417 10 0.521 0.600
4 McGehee, Casey, 3B B 2.63 22 AA 91 0.341 0 0.388 0.527
5 Sing, Brandon, 1B B 2.60 24 AA 75 0.347 0 0.443 0.667
6 Moore, Scott, 3B B- 2.22 21 A+ 81 0.272 3 0.385 0.568
7 Reyes, Jose, C C+ 1.83 21 AA 62 0.258 1 0.343 0.323
8 Coats, Buck, SS C 1.54 22 AA 84 0.286 5 0.368 0.369
9 Flowers, Bo, OF C 1.52 21 A- 68 0.309 2 0.373 0.500
10 HARVEY, RYAN, OF C 1.47 20 A- 82 0.280 4 0.322 0.500
11 Garcia, Alberto, 1B C- 1.10 21 A- 74 0.324 0 0.390 0.419
12 Kelton, Dave, OF C- 1.08 25 AAA 94 0.319 2 0.360 0.521
13 DOPIRAK, BRIAN, 1B C- 1.05 21 A+ 91 0.264 0 0.302 0.462

Looking Back, Looking Forward

As noted in one of the comments, the Cubs really didn't finish their first month too far off from what was expected. This page suggested that a 15-9 April was in order for a team with this level of talent and post season aspirations. They finished the month at 12-11 with one game rained out.

So, they were 2 1/2 games back of where they should have been. That doesn't sound bad until you look at their opponents, the games they blew, and that 15-9 was a base. They were free to exceed expectations.

What does a contending Cubs team do with May? Well, given their schedule, 16-9 would work. Considering that they got off to an 0-4 start, they have a lot of work to do.

And also considering that they were 2 1/2 games off their expected pace coming into the month, their workload is pushing insurmountable.

With the one April rain out, this team should be 30-18 by the end of May. That means 18-3 for the rest of the month. That's as likely as my being named Mark Shapiro's replacement at ESPN.

Then again, I'd bet I could come up with better programming than "Tilt."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Familiar...

The Dead Cubbies Sketch

The cast:


The sketch:

A customer enters a pet shop.

Mr. Shlabotnik: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(Broadcaster Ron does not respond.)

Mr. Shlabotnik: 'Ello, Miss?

Broadcaster Ron: What do you mean "miss"?

Mr. Shlabotnik: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

Broadcaster Ron: We're closin' for lunch.

Mr. Shlabotnik: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this baseball team what I watched not half an hour ago from this very stadium.

Broadcaster Ron: Oh yes, the, uh, the Cubbie Blue...What's, uh...What's wrong with it?

Mr. Shlabotnik: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'Ere dead, that's what's wrong with it!

Broadcaster Ron: No, no, 'Ere uh,...ere resting.

Mr. Shlabotnik: Look, matey, I know a dead team when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

Broadcaster Ron: No no ere not dead, ere, ere restin'! Remarkable team, the Cubbie Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

Mr. Shlabotnik: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.

Broadcaster Ron: Nononono, no, no! 'Ere resting!

Mr. Shlabotnik: All right then, if ere's restin', I'll wake him up! (shouting at the batting cage) 'Ello, Mister Patterson! I've got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show...

(Broadcaster Ron hits the cage)

Broadcaster Ron: There, he moved!

Mr. Shlabotnik: No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!

Broadcaster Ron: I never!!

Mr. Shlabotnik: Yes, you did!

Broadcaster Ron: I never, never did anything...

Mr. Shlabotnik: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) 'ELLO HENDRY!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o'clock alarm call!

(Takes team out of the cage and thumps it on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

Mr. Shlabotnik: Now that's what I call a dead team.

Broadcaster Ron: No, no.....No, ere stunned!

Mr. Shlabotnik: STUNNED?!?

Broadcaster Ron: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Cubbie Blues stun easily, major.

Mr. Shlabotnik: Um...now look...now look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That team is definitely deceased, and when I watched it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged at bat.

Broadcaster Ron: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.

Mr. Shlabotnik: PININ' for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did they fall flat on their back the moment I got 'em home?

Broadcaster Ron: The Cubbie Blue prefers keepin' on it's back! Remarkable team, id'nit, squire? Lovely plumage!

Mr. Shlabotnik: Look, I took the liberty of examining that team when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in First Place was that it had been NAILED there.


Broadcaster Ron: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If I hadn't nailed that team down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent 'em apart with its bat, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

Mr. Shlabotnik: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this team wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! 'Ere bleedin' demised!

Broadcaster Ron: No no! 'Ere pining!

Mr. Shlabotnik: Ere not pinin'! Ere passed on! This team is no more! He has ceased to be! Ere expired and gone to meet 'is maker! Ere's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'Ere rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'em to the perch 'ere'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! Ere off the twig! Ere kicked the bucket, Ere shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-TEAM!!


Broadcaster Ron: Well, I'd better replace it, then. (He takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I've had a look 'round the back of the shop, and uh, we're right out of teams.

Mr. Shlabotnik: I see. I see, I get the picture.

Broadcaster Ron: I got a Cardinal.


Mr. Shlabotnik: Pray, does it play left field?

Broadcaster Ron: Nnnnot really.


Broadcaster Ron: N-no, I guess not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet)

Mr. Shlabotnik: Well.


Broadcaster Ron: (quietly) D'you.... d'you want to come back to my place?

Mr. Shlabotnik: (looks around) Yeah, all right, sure.
Thanks to Monty Python, John Cleese and Michael Palin for the source material.

The Goof Keeps Rolling

You just knew the Cubs were in trouble when Korey Patterson was doubled off second base in the first inning. Sure, only 7 people saw it because of Comcast's lack of access to an extra cable channel, but if you heard it on the radio you knew this was a harbinger.

Korey seems to do this every few months. He hits a big homer and then goes into a funk. Just last year he launched a ball in Colorado on August 5th, then went 0-9 with 6Ks. He recovered and heated up for a few weeks. Then, he tailspun for the last 5 weeks of the year.

Well, we fans can deal with streaky players. What this page can't stand is streaky players with streakier mouths. Korey had a chance to change some opinions about his pre-meditated assault on umpire Bob Davidson. Instead, he solidified them. Korey was quoted in today's Trib about the incident:

"I know how people can take that, but I know what was going on in my head, what I'm thinking. At some point, you have to say 'Enough is enough.' I'm not a hothead. You probably won't see that again for who knows how long?

Do I regret it now? Yeah, obviously. But at the time, no.

No matter who you are in this world, you have to stick up for yourself. Whether it's baseball or everyday life or whatever. By me throwing that helmet, I felt better for myself.

A lot of people know the type of person I am. I don't say a lot, and I go about my own business. But a lot of people take it as 'Corey doesn't care. You can do whatever you want to Corey. Just tell him you'll do this, or do that.'

No! Sometimes you have to voice your opinion and let them know or else people will walk all over you."

So, what Korey's saying is that the umpires are out to get him. The way to reverse this is to throw a helmet in disgust. That'll get the umps to give Korey the respect he's due.

But the best part is the regretting but really not regretting it part. Korey says that doing the selfish thing and making himself feel better was the right move. No matter what the consequences for the team.

I sure hope his teammates don't adopt this attitude.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

What A Guy!

Here's Korey's stats year to date:

102 18 28 1 0 5 10 2 20 1 0 .288 .431 .719 .275

To be clear, this is bad.

"Small sample size!" you scream? Ok. Here's his last 162 games:

 AB   R   H  2B  3B HR RBI  BB  SO  SB CS  OBP  SLG   OPS  AVG
650 93 173 27 5 26 72 42 168 30 8 .315 .443 .758 .266

This is REALLY bad.

This is a guy that our team bats #2 or #3. A good team bats him 7th or 8th.

How do Felix Pie's number look to all of you?

.406 .648 1.054 .352

Get here soon, Felix.

"...it's not going to help me or the team."

"Everyone knows I'm pretty easy-going and rarely do I argue. I knew when I threw my helmet that I was going to get ejected. Sometimes you have to stick up for yourself, even though it's not going to help me or the team. It wasn't one of those plays where it could go either way. I was definitely safe." - Corey Patterson on why he threw his helmet on May 3, 2005 versus the Brewers.

This page has long argued that Korey Patterson is a bust. He's a bad ball player who doesn't understand the game of baseball. He doesn't understand a strike zone. He doesn't understand how to hustle. He doesn't understand that the goal is to win, regardless of your personal stats and rank in the batting order.

This page has, at times, taken a lot of heat for this view.

How anyone can continue to defend this whinny little boy any longer goes beyond rational thought.

He is as selfish as they come. It's always been assumed that Korey makes statements like, "I'm a number 3 hitter," because he wants a contract that's commensurate with a number three hitter. Now, it's clear that it's more than just dollars that drive Korey. It's ego.

For this little boy to throw his helmet and face suspension on a play that he admits "could go either way" is the height of arrogance.

If you are one who wants to blame Dusty Baker for this (yes you, Mike Murphy) rewatch the incident. Korey was already on his way back to the dugout when he threw his helmet. Dusty did his job. He got his player away from the umpire and kept him in the game. Korey decided that he needed to make a statement to protect himself despite the detrimental effect it might have on the team.

That's a capital offense as far as this page goes.

Ivy Chat always hoped that Korey would one day figure it out and that he would become a player that could be admired.

No longer.

The Felix Pie countdown begins today.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

It's Coming....

Time to rip Korey a new one. Stay tuned....

McNeil Re-signs -- Dumb Interview Follows

A hearty mazel tov goes out to Dan McNeil. The WMVP host just scored a reported $600,000 per year contract for leading the #1 radio show in afternoon drive. Dan does run a decent show and I'm have nothing but jealousy over the siize of his new W-2.

To celebrate the renewal, Dan had a chat with Hawk Harrelson this evening. The discussed an article on SI.com that declared the White Sox the worst team to root for in all of SPORTS. The article, written by Mark Bechtel, can be found here.

Mark spends a few lines ripping Hawk's style.

Put it on the boarrrrrrddddd ... YESSSSSSS! Grab some bench! Come on. Every White Sox out is a screamer, every opponent's hit is a bleeder with eyes. Ken, it's not radio. We can see it.

Hawk said he read the article and decided to rationalize why Mark doesn't like his call. It seems Hawk thinks that Mark must be a Cubs' fan. Hawk said it twice for good measure.

Well, I dunno Mark personally, but I read his bio. In it, Mark "admits to being 'an avid Indians and Browns fan, almost to a fanatical extreme.' He also follows English football side Sunderland."

Wake up, Hawk. Cubs' fans don't hate you. We ignore you. By making the statement that Mark dislikes you do to his (erroneous) pro-Cubs bent, you actually confirm the South Side Inferiority Complex.

Just shut up and broadcast. Don't worry about the Cubs other than the 3 times you have to broadcast their games each year.

Mad Dog Brilliance

A must read piece from beltway pundit and Emil Verban club member George Will in Newsweek. He profiles Greg Maddux. If you want to understand how smarter than smart Maddux is, read the article. At least check out these two key graphs:

...the key to his success has been less the speed of his arm than that of his mind.

One year in spring training, facing a Met who had hit him hard the previous season, Maddux told teammates he would throw dinky sliders to encourage the Met to hit a home run. Maddux figured that hitters remember, and subsequently look for, what they crush. The Met homered then, always looking for the same pitch, went hitless against Maddux in the regular season.

Leading 8-0 in a regular-season game against the Astros, Maddux threw what he had said he would never throw to Jeff Bagwell a fastball in. Bagwell did what Maddux wanted him to do: he homered. So two weeks later, when Maddux was facing Bagwell in a close game, Bagwell was looking for a fastball in, and Maddux fanned him on a change-up away.

The only reason this guy isn't my favorite Cub of all time is that he spent far too many years in Atlanta.

That said, he may be my favorite pitcher I've ever had he pleasure to watch. He's one of a handful of athletes that when I teach my grandkids about sports, I can say, "I saw him play."

Dumb Dusty Quote Of The Day

He does this so often, it's almost not worth writing about. But this one is SOOOOO dumb...

"You’ve got to consider what Holly showed us last year. ... You mean to tell me what Holly did last year doesn’t have any bearing on the situation at all?" - Dusty Baker on playing Todd Hollandsworth over Jason DuBois.

To answer that, Dusty: YES!

Last year is over. It has no bearing on what happens this year. It's an "indicator" of how things "might" go, but it has no bearing.

Up next, Dusty bets all his roulette chips on "red" because the wheel came up "black" that last three spins.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Updated Links

Welcome to Peter Handrinos of the UnitedStatesOfBaseball.com.

I listed him under Baseball Blogs. Maybe he should have been politics? Hey, Pete! Where do you stand on Social Security for baseball players?

Down On The Farm

Possible replacement for Kerry Wood (now on the DL and shut down for no less than 21 days)? Aw, hell. A baby can throw a fit better than Wood can throw a baseball.

TM  PITCHER                IP  H  R ER BB SO HR   ERA
CHC Sean Gallagher 6.0 0 0 0 2 10 0 0.00

Last 3 games for Sean: 18.1 IP, 2 H, 5 BB, 28 K

Grand Opening!


As in, "What Will Jim (Hendry) Do?"

Let's leave Mark Prior's performance alone for a minute (after all, Dusty left him alone to stew like a prune -- once again). It's clear that this team is not talented enough to compete for a playoff spot. They are lacking both offensively and in the pitching department.

Perhaps you've finally come around to realizing that Kerry Wood is not, nor ever will be the pitcher who takes the mantle of Clemems, Ryan and Johnson. That doesn't matter. Now, you need to realize that Wood can't even take the ball 200 innings a year. And that means he's a bullpen arsonist. Given how weak the Cubs' pen already is and knowing that you only have 2 starters whom you can ever hope pitches 7 complete innings (Zamboni and Prior) and with Wood probably headed for the DL, the team must be significantly upgraded to compensate.

And that brings us to Jim Hendry.

We all think he's wonderful because he's roasted several teams for talent by giving up dreck. Grudz and Karros for Hundley. Murton and Nomar for A Gonz. While those are great deals, they were all salary driven. Very little scouting was involved.

There's one other trade that Hendry made that may be affecting him now: Alfonseca and Clement for Tavarez and Willis.

Could it be that Hendry is afraid to trade a Bobby Brownlie now because he blew it on Willis?

Somehow, I hope Hendry reads this: Jim, you made a good trade in giving up Willis. You traded a bad egg and an A-level prospect for two major leaguers, one of whom won a NLCS road game for you. Yes, you gave up a good player. But you improved the team as a result.

Don't let that scare you. Dallas Green, the second best GM in post World War II Chicago history traded away Joe Carter. It was a great move. It may have even saved Wrigley Field from the wrecking ball.

Don't fear giving up a guy that could be good in 3 to 5 years. You need to win now.

Dallas Green is the Best Cub GM in the post WWII history of the team. He's not the Best GM in the post WWII history of Chicago. Anyone want to venture on to whom I bestow that honor?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Lost Horizon

So they beat Clemens and choke games against Backe and Oswalt? We'll get to the pile of waste that is Kerry Wood later. I wanted to get a look at the upcoming free agent class. Here's the key names that can choose their 2006 address. Anyone for the Wish List?

A.J. Burnett, Fla
Matt Morris, StL
Brad Penny, LA
Jeff Weaver, LA
Tim Wakefield, Bos
Brett Tomko, SF
Tony Armas Jr., Wash
Jarrod Washburn, LAA

B.J. Ryan, Balt
Billy Wagner, Phi
Octavio Dotel, Oak
Trevor Hoffman, SD

Ramon Hernandez, SD
Mike Piazza, NYM
Bengie Molina, LAA
Brad Ausmus, Hou

Paul Konerko, 1B, CHW
Kevin Millar, 1B, Bos
Erubiel Durazo, 1B, Oak
Scott Hatteberg, 1B, Oak
Bret Boone, 2B, Sea
Craig Biggio, 2B, Hou
Placido Polanco, 2B, Phi
Rafael Furcal, SS, Atl
Alex Gonzalez, SS, Fla
Nomar Garciaparra, SS, CHC
Bill Mueller, 3B, Bos

Hideki Matsui, NYY
Johnny Damon, Bos
Preston Wilson, Col
Bernie Williams, NYY
Milton Bradley, LAD
Jacque Jones, Min
Brian Giles, SD
Larry Walker, StL
Sammy Sosa, Balt
Juan Encarnacion, Fla

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