Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Hear A Phone Ringing

From the comments a few days back:

Murton will be back on Sept. 1. THEN, if he doesn't play every day, I'll agree with you in complaint.

Till then, your "suckers" comment is uncalled for.
Al | 08.27.05 - 3:42 pm

Well, it's not yet September 1, but Murton is back. And he's not playing everyday.

Do I have to wait until tomorrow to call the ticket buyers "suckers"? Or, can we just say that Dusty's flipping the bird to everyone who pays his salary?

When In Rome...

Legend has it that Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

What does President Bush do while New Orleans floods?
If you hum a few bars I can fake it...
Whomever decided that this was a good photo-op for the President needs to be re-assigned.

Glenn Reynolds has compiled a list of links for charitable donations for Hurricane Katrina relief. If you have the dollars, do what you can.

Crossing the Future

I don't like to cross-post stuff from message boards, but Andy Dolan had a first hand account of Angel Guzman's rehab start from last night and this page obsesses over the future because the present isn't worth too much thought. Here's what Andy saw:

(Guzman) had good stuff. We sat in a spot where I couldn't get a good look at the guys with the radar guns, but I saw one reading on a fastball at 94. His curve was pretty good at times. The Chiefs made three errors behind him, but he proved his MLB readiness in the fourth when he forgot to cover first base on a ball between the first and second baseman. The second baseman made a nice play and would have had the runner by 10 feet if Angel had gotten over there. He arrived, late, and the runner was safe. He gave up three earned runs in four and a third, and hit his pitch count (I think it was 75) in the fourth and was immediately taken out.

Oneri Fleita was at the game and I had a nice "chat" with him from my seat about how nice it is to see the guys learn to not cover first way down in Class A. Oneri pretended to not hear, which was tough considering there were a couple hundred of us at the game.

Ryan Harvey struck out three times and looked bad every time.

Guzman should be considered prime trade bait now that he's "healthy."

You also gotta love the lack of fundamentals shown by a guy who's been in the Cubs minors seemingly since the Ford Administration. Yeah, that's not a theme we see with the Andy MacPhail / Jim Hendry era.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What To Watch

The only interesting thing about the next few weeks will be how much playing time the rookies get. According to Jim Hendry, that would be a lot.

On Saturday, Hendry told reporters that "if Cedeno and Murton are playing, that's a positive, and I think our fan base would appreciate that."

Ah, but there's Dusty Baker in the way of that.

"I just can't take the ball and glove out of Neifi's hands," Baker argued. "It's not fair to just sit him down for what he's done for us. So I've got to find a way, at least for a while, for both of them to play."

Murton will rejoin the club from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday, but Baker would not say how much playing time he'd get in left field.

"Depends on how [much time] I can get Corey [Patterson] and [Jerry] Hairston - he's playing pretty good," Baker said.

I think I've figured out Baker's angle on playing the Neifi's over the Cedeno's. There's two things going on here. First, Baker is clearly angling to get fired. With the trial balloons floated about other managing jobs, to the outright ignoring of fulfillingg the goals of his boss, there's no other conclusion possible. Self preservation is the bottom of Dr. Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs.

But, as the exodus of players from Wrigley begins, Dusty knows he may see these players again elsewhere. Maybe as their manager again. If Dusty gets the Macias' and the Neifi's playing time, they stand a better chance of doing something to attract the attention of another team's GM and earning a new contract when they leave the Cubs.

Matt Murton and Ronny Cedeno have jobs locked up for next year. Neifi doesn't.

Baker is sacrificing player development in exchange to get guys who won't be here new jobs elsewhere.

And when he does that, he's sacrificing OUR future, not his. Every at bat that Murton and Cedeno don't get is a slap in the face of every Cubs fan out there.

Anybody Need Two?

Just saw this on the Cubs web site under the heading, "TICKETS."

Field Box Infield  
Section Row/Box Seat Type Price

121 6 104 ADULT $50.00
121 6 105 ADULT $50.00

In case you don't know the seating diagram, those seats are directly behind home plate about 15 rows off the field.

Yes, very very very good seats remain available for tonight's game.

Good, mediocre and bad seats also remain as every class of seats in the park has seats available. Seats in at least pairs.

People aren't going to see this team try to finish in LAST PLACE. To be clear to anyone who doesn't get it, this is a good thing. The fewer people that go, the more pressure that will be placed on McPhail and his henchmen to make changes.

Maybe Cubs fans are finally learning from Sox fans. We, who want to see winning baseball more than just "baseball in Wrigley Field," can only hope.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Breaking News...

Todd Hollandsworth to the Braves for two minor leaguers, as yet unnamed.

I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Todd and the way he filled in for Sammy Sosa last year. That catch he made in Anaheim was tremendous.

That said, adios. He sucked this year. He has value only as a pinch hitter and a reserve.

Is There Something To This?

The attendance at tonight's game was 37,625. A qucik glance at the schedule says tat this was the lowest total tickets sold since May 9th. It's also the first time they've been under 38,000 at home since that date as well.

Then, I heard a commercial on WSCR tonight advertising that tickets were available for tomorrow's game. In haven't heard one of those in months.

Now, I know school started in the 'Burbs today (the Five Year Old started kindergarten today), so that may be the excuse.

With any luck, there's something else at work. And that force may force some change.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Role Reversal

Back in the late 80's and early 90's, I was more Bears fan than Cubs fan. The Bears were a model of excellence. Only Charles Martin prevented the Bears from multiple Superbowls back in the 80's. When Dave Wannstedt was hired, I knew the Bears were in for a downfall. I slowly lost my Bear-goggles and returned to my first love, baseball. That defaulted me to watching the Cubs.

Through the 90's, the Bears were the model of incompetence. They were probably the worst run franchise in all of football. Probably even worse than the Cardinals and the Bengals.

Well, with Lovie Smith's naming of Kyle Orton as the team's starting quarterback, the direction may be reversing.

How refreshing to see the Bears actually play the guy on the roster who has the best chance of leading to more victories later at the cost of some victories now. Do any of you have any doubt that a Dave Wannstedt 2005 Bear team starts Jeff Blake at QB? Of course he would. Blake would give the team the best chance to win on Sunday. He doesn't give the team the best chance to ever win a playoff game, even if that game isn't until the 2006 season.

Now, take a look at the Cubs. They are already playing for 2006. Jim Hendry even says so. He knows that the fans want to see if 2006 has any hope from the guys already here. He also wants to see how much work he needs to do. Ronny Cedeno and Matt Murton: Role players or starters? He needs to know. And we fans would like to judge for ourselves:

"I think [Murton] held his own admirably coming up from Double A," (Jim) Hendry said. "So it's not like we're going to have 12 guys without big-league experience up here by Sept. 1. I think if Cedeno and Murton are playing, that's a positive, and I think our fan base would appreciate that."

Right on, Jim.

But the rest of the article suggest that we may not see this:

But (Dusty) Baker may have a different opinion on what the fan base wants.

"We owe it to ourselves and to our fans to put the best team on the field and try to win," Baker said.

That suggests kids like Cedeno and Murton won't play on a regular basis.

"It's too early for me," Baker said. "I haven't been in this position in years. You still owe your best to the team and to the fans and to everybody, for now. Eventually you're going to have to start thinking about that, but right now we plan to end up the best we can. We owe it to ourselves, to the paying customers and out of respect for the game."

Screw you, Dusty. You owe it to the fans to win a World Series! If you can't do that in 2005, you need to get ready for 2006! The fans know this, Lovie Smith knows this, why don't you? Do the Neifi Perez's of the world have stat bonuses you need to help them achieve?

See, Dusty, what you are really doing is screwing the fans, not giving us a quality product. You don't like us. We're just an annoyance. Your players are all that matter to you.

Well, we pay your salary. Ticket sales, ad rates on TV and radio determined by viewer / listener ratings, memorabilia sales, etc.

Lovie Smith gets it. You don't.

Note to the Tribune. As of right now, I'm more willing to give Mike McCaskey my money than you guys. Any readers who know me know that what I am saying is huge for me. Right now, I wouldn't give you guys a quarter for a scorecard pencil so long as you have a staff that thinks my presence is necessary evil.

Think about that when you review the season.

Yesterday, I saw that the bleachers were about a third empty late in the game.

Maybe Cubs fans aren't suckers. It looks like they showed up for Ryne Sandberg's jersey retirement and took off. Good for the people that left. Keep doing that, Cubs fans. Maybe the suits in Trib Tower will get the message.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Not So Merry Go Round

Let me see if I get this. Jason DuBois became Jody Gerut who became Matt Lawton who now becomes Justin Berg a 21 year old Class A pitcher.

Not only that, but, in what is surely an effort to save on service time issues,Matt Murton was left to play in Iowa while Scott McClain was recalled. In case you don't know, not only is McClain 33, not only is McClain a Japan-Seibu Lions refugee, but he's an infielder. Yes, you get rid of an outfielder, and leave the .339 major league hitting outfielder in the minors to recall a has been. Check that. A never been.

*Sigh*. I have no regrets about spending no dollars on this team this year.

Those of you who have bought tickets, enjoy the Maddux retirement ceremony tomorrow.


And There Was Much Rejoicing...

Not only do MacNeil, Jurko, and Harry get competition from Boers and Burnstein in ten days, but ESPN is pulling one of Chris Berman's venues to annoy:

"PrimeTime" is going off the air on Sunday nights not because ESPN is choosing to take it out of that slot.

It's going off Sunday nights because the new television deal between the NFL and its broadcasting partners calls for it not to air on Sunday nights starting in 2006, so as not to compete with NBC's Sunday night NFL programming.

"It's a contractual issue," Rauscher said. "We are not taking 'PrimeTime' off the air because we don't want to do 'PrimeTime,' but based on a new contract terms, things have changed in what we are allowed to do."

The NFL lets its TV partners compete against one another with three Sunday morning studio shows up against each other starting at 11 a.m., but the league does not want NBC to face that kind of competition in its Sunday night part.

Well, I guess I'm stuck with the internet instead of NFL Primetime for my fantasy football results.

Oh, wait. I've been doing that for years! This is great news as it eliminates another 18 chances of accidentally seeing Berman rumble, stumble and bumble his way through a broadcast.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Egomaniacs Needed

Why do the Cubs continue to fail despite millions spent on payroll, managers, and ballpark renovations? "Well," people say, "It's because they are owned by a media conglomerate that looks only to the bottom line." That's true, to a point. But for years, the Braves had the same ownership. As did the Angels. They all did better than the Cubs.

So, what's the difference between the Cubs and the others?

Simple. Ted Turner and Michael Eisner.

Those two egomaniacs would not stand for the level of incompetence that the Cubs are. Turner once went so far as to actually manage the Braves for one game.

These two men want, not only to pummel their competition, but to have no part of their organization that appears to be slipshod.

Who is that person at Tribune Corp.?

No one. No one has that level of ego. They look at the Cubs as a tiny piece of their multi-billion dollar enterprise. Being so small relative to the whole pie, they really don't care what it does, so long as it provides profits. The Cubs losing hasn't hurt the stock price. The losing hasn't dragged down the reputation of the corporation. Why really, really try? Why fire MacPhail? He's doing a decent job keeping the small, sleepy piece in one piece.

If the Cubs are ever going to win under the Trib, it's going to take a monster ego on top to insist on a level of quality and competence not seen in nearly 100 years.

Were a Sam Zell or a Mark Cuban or a Patrick Ryan to buy the Cubs, I expect a winner in 3 to 5 years, tops.

But with the Trib's current C-level suite? They just don't care because the Cubs just aren't big enough to make them care.

Think about that the next time you buy a ticket.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Good Things

Blown no-no, shoutout, and a divison on just one pitch...I have no idea if the White Sox are going to blow their shot at the playoffs. If they do, not only will friends Jordan, Vic and Ross never be able to look me in the eye again and say anything bad about the Cubs, but it will be the worst collapse in major league history.

Blowing the division would be bad enough. But, if they fail to even win the Wild Card, that would basically be the same as blowing two divisions in one year.

On the plus side, some White Sox fans do have one thing right: They will not remember a bunch of losers fondly. Now, I'm too young to remember 1969, but I will tell you that I don't have good memories of 1984, 1989, 1998 and 2003. I remember two things: Fun watching a team win and having that fun be more than offset by the suckiness of losing.

If Cubs fans didn't exalt their losers, perhaps we wouldn't be saddled with excuses about how 2005 was blown because Sammy Sosa was a distraction. Because Korey couldn't hit.

Sox fans won't be talking about this team in 30 years if they blow it. Hell. They won't be talking about them on October 5th if they blow it.

They have that attitude right. We Cubs fans could learn from them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Everyone Under The Bus

Dusty Baker must be trying to get people pissed at him.

Last week, he was quoted as saying that he can't teach young players until they make a mistake. He assumes the yoots know everything until they make a mistake.

This is also known as "calling out your GM's Director of Player Development."

It's not Dusty's fault that Korey "Bobble Ball" Patterson can't bunt or slide. It's not Dusty's fault that Mark Prior doesn't know the squeeze sign from a Tastee Freeze sign. It's not Dusty's fault that pitchers can't cover first base.

Then, last night in the post-game comments, Dusty threw Korey under the bus. Despite playing as badly as a Harold Hill brass band, Korey continues to get penciled into the starting lineup. Instead of benching him, what does Dusty do? He tells the media that Korey sucks.

In the seventh inning, Michael Barrett tried to score from second on a Neifi Perez single. Chris Speier sent Barrett home where he was out by 30 feet. On the TV, Bob Brenley said that this was a good call given that Patterson was coming up next. That's strong stuff from Bob. And welcome.

Dusty, the consummate player's manager (he never says any of his players do anything wrong), agreed.

I guess that's what Korey gets for calling his manager a liar.

Then, to make matters worse, DUSTY CONTINUES TO PLAY HIM!!!! The only possible explanation is that Dusty is trying to embarass Hendry. Nothign else makes sense. What does the rest of the team think when they see Korey in the lineup? I recall the team played its best ball of the season when Korey went away!

Despite MacPhail's comments, I cannot see how Dusty / Hendry / MacPhail are all three back next year. With Dusty starting to blame the players AND management, it's pretty clear that Dusty wants out. Grant him his wish, guys.

If, by some stretch of the imagination, they all are back, you can be sure that losing baseball will ensue.

Mark it down.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Cold Draft

Our 13th season of Fantasy Football kicks off this Sunday with our annual draft. The Tender Gitles will pick 7th. The team gets to freeze two players from last year's roster. Our choices are Jake Plummer, Fred Taylor, Curtis Martin, and Donald Givens. The Tenders are leaning towards Plummer and Martin, but are open to suggestions.

The top seven draft picks will likely come from the following names:

Alexander, Shaun
Harrison, Marvin
Holmes, Priest
Holt, Torry
James, Edgerrin
Johnson, Rudi
Manning, Peyton
Portis, Clinton
Tomlinson, LaDainian

Now, Manning is expected to go #1 overall. LaDainian, Portis and Holmes project to go 2, 3, and 4. The Tenders have had Holt in the past and will likely ignore him. So, it looks to be one of James, Johnson, Alexander, or Harrison.

Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?

Some Perspective

On Friday, the best case for the Cubs weekend was to return home with 62 losses, have one team in front of them with 59 losses, and 4 with 60 losses. That would have given the Cubs a 2 game pickup on the lead and major headway against the other teams they trail.

Just in case you are still suffering from the delusion that 2006 hasn't started (check the clock above to see when the next pitch that matters is thrown), the result was the Cubs with 64 losses, one team with 59 losses, and only 1 team with 60 losses. The other three teams only have 58.

The issue wasn't if picking up 2 games was a bad thing. The issue was believing this was possible.

Up next, the Easter Bunny in a tag team wrestling match with the Cardiff Giant.

2006 Is Busting Out All Over

Andy MacPhail has been sited! Articles abound with Andy talking about next year. And why shouldn't he? With the Cubs DOA (and, if you were realistic about this team, they've been dead since May -- the three game sweep in Florida was just the death rattle), that's the only thing to talk about with this team.

Sure, there will be some distractions in the next few Days. Ryne Sandberg's number will be retired soon. That's sure to generate some insipid "Cub Love" as fans gleefully pay to see a "happy moment" despite being surrounded by the biggest waste of $100 million since Brian Bosworth.

What's Andy out to talk about? That "all is well" despite 11 years of failure here and the plans for 2006. So long as he knows that this year isn't worth talking about, neither will this site.

"I am very content with Jim, and I know he is very content with Dusty," MacPhail said. "I'm confident that we are going to put it together."

Please note that, back in 2002, Andy said the same things just before he canned Don Baylor.

"What I wanted to accomplish when I came here was to have an organization that could rely on a productive farm system and start to get a flow of talent. I keep a close eye on this, and we are among the top four teams in bringing talent to the big leagues over the last 11 years."

Notice that he doesn't qualify that talent in this statement. I'd venture he's counting guys like Todd Wellemeyer, Ronny Cedeno, and Rich Hill in these numbers.

"...we have had three rookies of the year and at least six All-Stars come up through our system."

Pretty gutsy to take credit for Jon Garland, Erik Hinske and Dontrelle Willis, eh? These guys never played an inning in a Cub uniform and Hinske couldn't replace Ron Coomer!

But, for all his spinning, check this final quote:

"I'm still confident we're going in the right direction."

"Still." That means he might not be confident soon.

Smart Cubs fans need to hope for a complete tanking to convince MacPhail to clean house.

The hope is that Dusty will go and that Hendry either pulls his head out and addresses the team's flaws or that Jim will also go.

There is also the ultimate dream.

Perhaps, the brass in Trib Tower will look at 11 years of escalating budgets, minimal additional return in terms of wins, and stagnant TV ratings and launch everyone.

There's your hope if you are a Cubs fan. It's not in Ricky Nolasco. It's in hiring, say, Mike Jorgenson as GM.

This team lucked into 2003. There are 4 guys left from that team and an extra $25 million has been spent. Now, Andy comes down from on high to do the Kevin Bacon "All Is Well!" scene.

Don't believe him.

Or let him get away with it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Job Security

A talkbacker noted that, perhaps, Korey is trying to get his release from the Cubs (being unable to catch flyballs to center because you can't unplug your feet from the turf is a good way to prove that). Well, one way to keep your job is to play for Dusty Baker:

Corey Patterson's poor baserunning in Friday's game drew the ire of Baker, who said he spoke to his center fielder about getting doubled off first base on a routine fly to left field. Baker still isn't sure what Patterson was thinking.

"He knew where the ball was," Baker said. "He's had a couple of things the last four to five days where he's got to be more alert."

Patterson even failed to return to touch second after passing the base on the fly, which would have resulted in an out if he hadn't been doubled up and the Rockies appealed the play. Baker agreed that Patterson, considered a five-tool player coming out of high school, needs an "overhaul of [his] total game," including hitting, baserunning and getting good jumps on balls in center field. - Dusty Baker

So, what do you do with a guy that is unfocused and needs a complete overhaul of his game?

You start him today.

Then again, I guess when the GM gives you a doofus like Matt Lawton, what choice do you have?

Simply The Best

From's game summary:

...the Cubs battled back in the eighth ... (with one out) the bases were jammed for Perez.

Perez skied a fly to short, giving Corey Patterson the chance to turn the game around, but Patterson grounded to second on the first pitch, capping a night of missed chances.

"I'll take those at-bats any day," said Patterson.

Two words: Go away.

Friday, August 19, 2005


What's that ball doing here?I just watched the video of his slide on MLB TV (Comcast gives everyone a free month of MLB TV in August).

It didn't look like Korey was even trying. He looked like he was stunned the throw was even coming home. "I've got skills. I've got speed. They ain't coming to get me. I'll take an easy slide."

What was even better, in the top of the ninth, the Rockies walked Neifi Perez INTENTIONALLY to let Korey bat. Here's the result:

God, I suck

If Korey Patterson isn't the most fundamentally unsound player in all of major league baseball, I don't know who is.

Jerry Hairston must start in center. Korey has played himself out of a uniform.


Because yesterday was an off day, and the Cubs are in a warm streak, the media is full of "The Cubs are alive with the sound of playoffs" talk.

Well, the Cubs sit 5 loss column games behind 4 teams. If all of the following were to happen...

The Cubs sweep the Rockies...
The Brewers sweep the Astros...
The Dodgers sweep the Marlins...
The Pirates sweep the Phillies...
The Mets take two of three from the Nationals...

...the Cubs would only pick up 2 loss column games.

This playoff talk is insane and only idiots are buying it. I'd love to believe, but buy? I'm not even going near this scenario with a deposit.

A Challenge

Bruce Miles, the Daily Heralds' Cubs beat writer, suggests that Jim Hendry put up or shut up. He states, correctly, that sending down Matt Murton and his .339 batting average would be the wrong message to send to this team.

If Hendry is serious about rewarding performance, no way does he send rookie outfielder Matt Murton to the minor leagues when the Cubs activate Jerry Hairston from the disabled list for today's game against the Colorado Rockies.

... Hendry may have to cut ties with veteran outfielder Todd Hollandsworth, who is batting .253 with 5 home runs and 32 RBI.

A better idea would be to send Todd Wellemeyer down given that Jerome Williams is available in the bullpen as Jerome's turn in the rotation was skipped.

Miles also cites a Will Carroll article (channeling frequent talkbacker Carlos Zambrano's Dad) suggesting that Kerry Wood become an 80's style closer. You know, pitch more than one inning and possibly, take a deep breath, bat.

We all were reminded of the way this worked a few weeks back when we saw Bruce Sutter pitch in the "Sandberg Game."

Can you see Dusty Baker or Jim Hendry doing something evolutionary?

Me neither.

Matt Murton goes down. So does Jim Hendry's credibility.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

For Entertainment Purposes, Only

There's lots of speculation on who gets sent down to the minors when Jerry Hairston, Jr. is reactivated on Friday. It sure seems like it's going to be Matt Murton, who would be recalled on September 1st after rosters expand.

But the bigger question is, "Who plays center when Jerry returns?"

Will Jerry ride the pine? He did early in the season.

Will Korey Patterson get benched? He's done nothing since returning to show he deserves to start.

Will Jerry play left and see Matt Lawton get benched?

Will there be some weird, three-headed platoon?

I have no idea. Curious as to what everyone else thinks.

Clearer Heads

Adam Greenberg gets profiled by Carrie Muskat over at today. In short, he's mostly better, but is still somewhat screwed up.

Here's hoping we see him back in Wrigley in about 2 weeks.

Not So Fresh Thinking

After commenting on Kerry Wood, Bullpen Ace, Dusty chimed in with this beauty:

"...who would be a better closer than Big Z (Carlos Zambrano)? How would you like to face Zambrano for one inning throwing that gas and those moving balls?" - Dusty Baker

Why didn't he think this way back in October 2003? When Prior was tiring?


She's Fine

Thanks to all of you for your kind thoughts. Ashley went into the OR at about 12:50 PM yesteday. By 1:30 she was out and awake. And VERY unhappy.

By 2:45 she was chowing down Salerno Butter Cookies over at Potbellys. She slept 12 hours last night.

In other words, she's fine.

I'll have some thoughts on the Cubs a little later today. In the mean time, if you still hold out any hope for 2005, better be cheering for a doubleheader split between the Nats and Phills today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hitting the Big Time

Don't expect to see anything in this space tomorrow. The Little Girl, age 10 months, is headed to Children's Memorial Hospital for ear tubes. She's been fairly heatlhy except for the reoccuring ear infections. She's suffered through them, and the associated antibiotics, for the last 5 months. The Wife and I will be at CMH the bulk of the day sans 'Net access.

Before signing off for 36 hours, I do want to acknowledge and thank the person unknown who credited this site at the Wikipedia entry for Corey Patterson (although my guess is that said unknown person voted in the District 30 municpal elections).

With any luck, the next update to the entry will involve a trade.

Also, I truly hope this site is intended as joke.

Look Who's Alive!

From the rookie level Arizona League:
PITCHER           IP  H  R ER BB SO HR   ERA
Angel Guzman 3.0 3 0 0 0 3 0 0.00

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Begin your third rehab? Start calling him Rex.

Do I hear, "5"?

The Trib ran a summary of the top 5 NFL draft picks showing their contract value, guaranteed money, and length of deal. Only the Bears' Cedric Benson is unsigned. The sticking point seems to be the number of years. The Bears want a 6 year deal, Benson wants 5 years (that makes Benson eligible for free agency while he's a year younger - age being a key factor for free agent running backs).

Well, of the top 5 picks, only the #1 pick, Alex Smith, got 6 years. Everyone else got 5.

Suck it up, Jerry Angelo. Give the kid 5 years, $17 million guaranteed, and get started with your 7-9 season.

The Cure

Remember in the old days, when the Cubs had good pitching? You know. Like, 2003 after the All Star Break? How fast things can change.

Right now, the way for a team in a funk to get healthy is to play the Cubs and their semblance of a pitching staff. I mean, look at the Reds last week. Then, Houston, who hadn't scored a run since Friday, sends four balls into orbit.

What happened in 22 months? Well, only Carlos Zambrano is close to being as good now compared to 2003. He may actually be improved since then (but less consistent than in 2004). Mark Prior is clearly not the "lights out" guy he was at the end of 2003. While he remains very good, he's not in the class of the top pitchers in the game. Kerry Wood? It's up to him, but he's showing dominating closer material now. He probably will never again be as effective a starter as he was in the final months of 2003.

Matt Clement has been replaced by Greg Maddux. That's probably an upgrade, but not terribly significantly. Shawn Estes was exchanged for Rich Hill / Glendon Rusch / Jerome Williams. That's actually a downgrade, as terrible as that is to realize.

This staff is no longer one to fear. When you give up a 12 spot to a team that can't score against Pittsburgh, you have bigger issues than worrying about Wild Card standings. Jim Hendry made the choices about who gets to pitch for this team. If he doesn't improve his decision making soon, 2006 won't be one to worry about, either.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Refresher Course

Those of you who think Dusty Baker is a lock to return for 2006, let me re-post the bulk of Barry Rozner's column from May 19th.

In mid-May 2002, as talk centered around Baylor, Cubs president Andy MacPhail denied the manager was in trouble.

In mid-May 2005, as talk centers around Baker, Cubs president Andy MacPhail denies the manager is in trouble.

Said MacPhail of Baylor on May 15, 2002: “We remain supportive. We know better days are coming.”

That was after 37 games.

Said MacPhail of Baker on May 18, 2005: "He’s got my complete confidence."

That was after 37 games.

The Cubs in early 2002 were decimated by injuries.

The Cubs in early 2005 have been decimated by injuries.

By the end, Baylor clearly was hoping to get whacked because it wasn’t worth the risk to his health.

Already, Baker sounds like he could do without the headache, and many of his friends — though not Baker himself — have suggested he wouldn’t mind a vacation.

In mid-May 2002, Baylor had one year, 4 months left on a very expensive four-year deal, and everyone said there was no way the Tribune Co. would eat that contract.

In mid-May 2005, Baker has one year, 4 months left on a very expensive four-year deal, and everyone says there’s no way the Tribune Co. will eat that contract.

MacPhail on Baylor in May 2002: "One thing that distinguishes Don … is that we were the most improved team in the National League last year."

MacPhail on Baker in May 2005: "(People) forget that we won more games in ’04 than we won in '03."

MacPhail on Baylor in May 2002: "We had 88 wins (in 2001) with a team that, fairly evaluated, was about the most you could have hoped for."

MacPhail on Baker in May 2005: "People forget that in '04, despite a series of significant injuries early on, we hung around and went 13-3 in the first part of September."

MacPhail on Baylor in May 2002: "He did a good job the last two years."

MacPhail on Baker in May 2005: "You have to go back to World War II before you can find a manager who strung together two seasons with as many wins as we enjoyed the last two years."

In May 2002, MacPhail gave Baylor a vote of confidence.

In May 2005, MacPhail has given Baker a vote of confidence.

In April 2002, when it was suggested that Baylor might not make it through the season, MacPhail denied it, saying it's "not worth the ink that’s needed to print this sentence."

Baylor was fired July 5, 2002.

Random Jottings

Corey Patterson's FYC #3 last night was all but offset by his brutal bunt attempt. Korey may be crouching a little and holding his hands up higher now during his at bats, but he remains one of the most fundamentally unsound players in all of baseball.

Kerry Wood for closer. Don't like the idea Kerry? Well, Dennis Eckersley made the Hall of Fame, and a load of cash, learning to like that idea.

What to make of this?

Despite their recent struggles, general manager Jim Hendry doesn't anticipate an
extreme makeover of his roster this winter.

"Some of it is still up for grabs," he said. "But collectively we like our core group. That's why we tried to tie some guys up, and that's why some of our better players are still in their 20s. Even if we don't do well the rest of the year, it's not like it's a massive overhaul that's needed.

"Obviously we have to make the right four or five decisions, and hopefully make a trade or two. Hopefully get involved in some free-agent work and really just kind of stay on top of what areas we were weaker in than we thought we were going to be."

No massive overhaul, but four of five players need to leave, add a few players by trade, and add some free agents.

Someone send Jim the entry for "massive."

Paul Sullivan starts a "Maddux Retirement Watch." This sure seems puzzling. Dusty opened his yapper last week and Greg quelled any speculation. Why is Paul dredging this up again? Sure makes it seem like the Cubs want Greg's retirement a regular topic of discussion. Are they trying to coax a $9 million payroll savings for 2006? If so, this is pretty low.

Not So Excited

So, being 6 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, where are these Cubs should they sweep Wild Car leader Houston? It's possible they could win all three, take a leisurely flight to Colorado on Thursday and wake up...

6 1/2 games out.

See, Washington and Philadelphia play each other four times over the next four days. If Philly sweeps, the Cubs cannot gain any ground. The best possible outcome would be a Cubs sweep and a Nats/Phillies split. And even that would only allow the Cubs to pick up a game and a half.

If this past weekend's series gave you any hope, wait until a week from today. If the Cubs sweep Houston and Colorado and the Phillies/Nats win two each, AND the Phils and Nats decide to keep losing next weekend when they play Pittsburgh and the Mets, then you can talk playoffs.

Until then, just be pissed that this team played well once it no longer mattered. And think how beatable St. Loser is without Scott Rolen, Reggie Sanders and Larry Walker.

Oh, and when you do that, don't ever think again how injuries "killed" the Cubs in 2005.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Only Three Weeks Ago...

"So, Chicago Bears fans have their hopes up this year because Rex Grossman is ready to be the QB? Color me skeptical when someone tells me the season rests on the arm of an oft-injured QB who has 6 career starts in his 2 years in the league." - Chuck

"Chuck, does twice-injured equal 'oft-injured?'" - T.J. Brown

Dear T.J.:

Dunno about twice, but three times? I'd say that's a big yes.

Why Bother?

I was gonna make a long diatribe about the insane comments that Dusty Baker made regarding Greg Maddux yesterday. Dusty suggested that Greg might retire in the offseason.

This was news to Greg.

"I really want to play out this year and I want to finish out strong. And I want to come back and play next year, as long as I feel like I can play this game. As long as I'm one of the best five guys we can put in the rotation, I'm looking forward to coming back." - Greg Maddux

Well, instead of writing on and on and questioning Dusty's motives, I'll just link to Barry Rozner. Rozner beat me to it.

Read the whole thing. The only part I disagree with is that part where it's likely Dusty's back for next year. I'm not as certain.

If Hendry has any smarts, he'll fire Dusty by not firing him. They'll find a position in the organization for him. Say, Special Assistant to the General Manager overseeing Long Range Scouting.

That will prevent Dusty from getting another job and double dipping his salary. If Dusty wants another job right away, he can resign.

Dusty wants out. Fine. Let him out. Give Hendry his $4 million back, first.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Scratched From My Hannukah List

It looks like high definition DVD won't be here in the next few months. Home Media Retailing is reporting that Warner Home Video and Paramount Home Entertainment are delaying the release of videos in the HD format until 2006.

The reason: Format costs.

...key decision makers at consumer electronics firms and studios contend with both fears of a format war and hopes of a last-minute compromise between Toshiba's HD DVD and its Sony-backed rival, Blu-ray Disc.

Toshiba is going to be late to market and studios don't want to produce media in both formats. They want one format so they avoid the Beta/VHS issues of 25 years ago. I don't blame them.

Looks like my 55" wide screen HDTV is gonna be delayed to at least the middle of next year.

Bad Dancing

Greg Couch has an off day in his column today. He, correctly, identifies the flaws in Dusty Baker and says that, "(i)f Rich Hill is on the mound next season, find a new manager. If Matt Murton is leading off, new manager. If Felix Pie and Ronny Cedeno are starting, then the Cubs are building for the future, and clap-clap, clap-clap-clap, Baker should go."

What he fails to do is connect his own dots.

In the old days, the Cubs didn't put money into the team, didn't try. This time, they tried, spending $100 million to build a pennant winner. And this is what they built?

So, why no talk if it's time for the architect to go? Why isn't Jim Hendry's name mentioned once in the column? Try again, Greg.

Not Too Subtle

Barry Rozner quotes ex-Cub coach and minor league manager Oscar Acosta at length today on the topic of, "What happened to Corey Patterson?"

"That surprises me about Corey because I didn't see any of that in the majors or minors ... But kids grow up and they push the boundaries to see how far they can go, and if there's no discipline, then they keep going and pushing.

These young players today, it's mind-boggling the things they say and do. Everything's about the money, and morals and ethics and integrity go out the window. Baseball hasn't changed at all, but the people have.


Some clubhouses are filled with bad influences and it can ruin young guys because they’re taught that there are no rules once you make the big leagues and get the big money. ... But on teams where there's no fear, there's no motivation. As long as the players are protected, there's nothing anyone can do to stop it."

Now, Acosta may have been a pud and not known what to do with a raw Carlos Zambrano when he had him, but Acosta is clearly calling out one person and maybe two.

Dusty Baker is certainly one. The other sounds a lot like Sammy Sosa.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Logic Problems

Our good friend Al scribbled this yesterday:

The fact is, this team just doesn't have what it takes. It does have talent. There's no doubt about it. But there's no leader -- it's rudderless. Nomar could be a leader, but he's hardly been healthy enough to do so. Derrek Lee is too quiet, and so is Aramis Ramirez. You'd think Michael Barrett, a catcher, a guy who's in on every play, could do so, but he doesn't seem interested.


And I'll say it again -- firing Dusty Baker now, or even at the end of the season, is not the answer to this ballclub's problems.

The answer is for Jim Hendry to sit down at the end of the season, with checkbook in hand, with $40 million off the payroll, and with no Sosa Circus to distract him, and to construct a ballclub that can win. This one wasn't built that way.

So, a rudderless team, doesn't need a new manager? Isn't that EXACTLY WHAT A MANAGER IS FOR?!?!?!?! To BE A RUDDER?!?!?!?!

Then again, the talent is so strong that the general manager needs to spend $40 million in payroll to improve the talent?

It's pretty simple. If the team has talent, then Dusty needs to go as he's not doing his job. If the team doesn't have talent, them Jim Hendry needs to go as he vastly overspent on poor players.

It's impossible for this to be a talented team without direction, yet needs $40 million in new talent and does not need a new manager.

Whining Instead of Winning

Two articles effectively call out two of the biggest babies in the Cubs' clubhouse. First, the Daily Herald adds fuel to the rumors that Carlos Zambrano asked out of his last start in the third inning.

"Tell the fans I never quit. I never, ever quit. They have to kill me on the field. That's not me. The four years I have in the big leagues, you see how I play the game. You see that I like this game. You see that I love this game. That word is never in my mind. Never, ever. I consider myself a warrior. A warrior never quits." - Carlos Zambrano

That Carlos even addresses these rumors suggests a strong amount of truth backing the speculation. Carlos has always had maturity issues. This is just more of the same with him.

But the bigger baby is clearly Korey Patterson. While the Daily Herald article linked above references these quotes, the Trib goes one step further to the point of embarrassing Korey. It seems Korey just doesn't like the media anymore. He used to talk all the time about how he really was a #3 hitter and all he had to do was cut down on his strikeouts.

But a trip to Iowa to try to become just that has resulted in closing the hole in has face.

"I'm really not going into detail," Patterson said of changes in his swing.

Asked if it was a positive experience, he replied: "I really have no comment on that. I just went down there and focused on getting myself into a routine and taking it down there back up here."

Does Patterson have added confidence now?

"I'm not going to comment on that," he said. "I'm just here to do what I've been doing down there, and that's it."

I guess being passed up for a promotion when Jerry Hairston hurt his arm was rather sobering.

If you've only disliked Korey for his on the field performance, it's now time to start disliking him just for being him.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Modern Age

What a trip.  See you next fall!
If you haven't heard/seen about this yet, I'm sure you will. A fan fell out of the second deck at Yankee Stadium and was saved by landing on the backstop net that covers the box seats behind home plate.

What were my first thoughts after the police pulled him to safety? How soon does he get on the David Letterman Show? What endorsements can he arrange?

How sick am I for thinking this? This is what today's media has done, at least, to me.


To the moon, Alice!

Time for predictions on when it happens. Ruz over at the Cub Reporter is already on board for this week. I may go with tomorrow if they get swept by the Reds. With Rich Hill on the mound, it's very possible.

Anytime before I turn 38 would be good. That gives them a week.

Lineup Ruminations

Last night, Dusty used this lineup:

Matt Lawton RF
Todd Walker 2B
Derrek Lee 1B
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Nomar Garciaparra
Michael Barrett C
Jeromy Burnitz CF
Matt Murton LF
Jerome Williams P

Beautiful. Wouldn't change a thing. Well, I would, but if I'm limited to using only players from the current roster, the only switch might be to use Lawton in center and Burnitz in left.

Given that this lineup got shutout for 8+ innings last night, what are the chances that we'll ever see this again? And now, with Korey back, who the hell knows what we will see.

At least Korey is batting seventh today. Here's hoping he goes 4 for 4 and boosts his trade value.

Positive Negativity

Readers may have followed the good-natured back and forth between Al Yellon over at Bleed Cubbie Blue and this site. Al has been a frequent critic of my criticism. Case in point:

"If you don't keep the faith, then why are you here?" - Al Yellon, Aug 04, 2005

The running theme is that criticism does no good. A fan is supposed to be supportive at all times. How can you bash and bash and bash? What good can come from that?

Here is what's funny. I agree, to a point. What Al misses, as he does from time to time, is that bashing IS keeping the faith. Let me try to explain.

When people simply rant, there is no purpose or intent to the rant beyond a release of emotion. The only positive to that is to one's self. However, if one has pointed criticism, there is a positive intention and there can be a positive result. In what situation does this occur? When a organization takes its fans for granted. This is the Cubs, ALL OVER!

For years the Cubs, and the Tribune, were satisfied to take our money and put a sub-par product on the field. Jim Dowdle, ex top dog at the Trib, once slipped and said that Cubs' fans were happy if you "gave them a sniff" of contention every few years. We fans let them get away with that. I was guilty, too as I had season tickets from 1990 to 1995. Why did we finally dump the seats? The team didn't get better and they kept raising prices.

In short, I told the Trib, you don't get any more of my money until you improve the product. I've paid for exactly three games since that date out of my own pocket. I voiced my displeasure with my lack of dollars. And that is a very proper response.

The problem with that is that my dollars were easily replaced. The Trib missed my dollars for about seventeen seconds. Well, if I'm not voting with my dollars, there needs to be a way to get the team's attention. There is a way.

Public embarrassment.

Now, you may say, what can a little blog do that is read more by people looking for pictures of Lake Bell and Spring Break - Shark Attack than by Cubs' fans, and by probably even fewer Cubs players/staffers/Tribune execs? The answer clearly is, "Not much."

But the alternative is silence. Or, even worse, acceptance. I can think of nothing more distasteful than telling fellow fans to be patient and to keep believing in a team that doesn't deserve such short term loyalty.

The message THAT says is, "I'm OK with what you are giving me. In fact, I'm willing to wait and pay while I wait."

If enough of us do that, there's no incentive for the team to get better. Ever.

Two years ago, the Cubs gave us a sniff. The Trib, trusting Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker, gave them money like they've never given money before. Hell. They ate $15 million to make Sammy Sosa go away! Fantastic. More, more, more! What's the result?


We need to keep on these guys and let them know we aren't satisfied anymore with just the effort. The Red Sox did it for their fans. The White Sox are sure going to try for their fans.

Don't let up on these guys. Tell them you aren't satisfied. Bash them in letters to the Trib. Calls to WGN and WSCR and WMVP. Start a blog. Hell, go even farther. Refuse to buy single game tickets. Cancel your season tickets.

But don't accept this crap and then be upset when obvious flaws result in the inevtiable failure. We Cubs fans deserve better.

And I don't want to hear any crap that you can't bash and love at the same time. If your intention is to point out flaws and improve the team, OF COURSE you can bash.

When you have a problem child and you give him "tough love", you don't stop loving it. You give them tough love BECAUSE you love him. You want him to get better. To improve.

That's what we fans need to give the Cubs until they get better. That's our job.

I'll end this diatribe with this: The opposite of love is not hate. Hate still requires passion about something (a note for Sox fans who pay attention to the Cubs -- you actually are passionate about the Cubs). The opposite of love is indifference.

I don't think anyone reading this is indifferent to the goals of the Chicago Cubs.

Unless you only are here for Shannon Lucio.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Breaking News

WSCR reporting that Korey Patterson has been recalled and will be in uniform tomorrow.

No word on who has been released / sent down.

Pie Charting #8

Burried in the Tribune was this piece of hope:

Double-A West Tenn center fielder Felix Pie is slated to return from his ankle injury Tuesday. Pie, who would have been called up to the Cubs when Patterson was demoted July 7 if not for the injury, will need some at-bats before he's ready to get the call. He's certain to be brought up Sept. 1, when rosters expand.

A Welcome New Site

Frequent Ivy Chat visitor and fellow charity volunteer T.J. Brown has a new blog up. Joe Morgan Watch is up and running. I'm sure T.J. will accept tips and opinions on how bad Joe really is.

Let's get this site some publicity.

All Aboard!

As the Cubs continue to lose steam, the "Dusty Express" heading out of town continues to gain steam. Think Jim Hendry's vote of confidence puts the matter to rest? Think again. The Sun Times has an article today that contains this nugget:

"What I would like to happen to quiet some people is sign my coaches and let us know we are going to have continuity of leadership going into next year." - Dusty Baker

This is know as "throwing a lifeline." Baker, the ultimate loyalty guy, seems to know his gig is up. He's trying to get his staff locked in salaries for next year.

Additionally, he's setting up the excuse he needs to walk away. Imagine what happens after, say, Larry Rothchild is not retained.

"Well, dude. Last year they got rid of Wendell Kim on my. Now they make me lose Larry. That's uncool. I need to have the staff I want. I'm not working in a place that doesn't let me have my guys."

Can't you just see that?

He's going. Too bad it costs another year of losing.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Time To Speak Out

This needs play in the blogospehere. On his most recent chat, Joe Morgan was asked this:

Travis (Indy): What did you think of Ryan Sandberg's induction speech? I thought there was a good message for players of this era.

Joe's response? Typical:

Joe Morgan: (10:06 AM ET ) I actually didn't get to see the speech but I saw all the reaction to it. Sometimes we have to be careful, myself included, in how we approach today's player and how we deliver a message to them. Sometimes they take it the wrong way and take it as pure criticism as opposed to constructive criticsm. We'll have to wait and see how they take it.

So, Sandberg did a lousy job delivering a message to today's players.

Joe Morgan isn't just a bad broadcaster. He's not just a poor baseball analyst. He's a bitter old man that younger, better players are breaking his records.

He's turning into Milo Hamilton.

Time to start exposing this man for what he is. The blogs did it to Dan Rather. Why not Morgan?

Time for some pure criticism.

Dusty Talk Heats Up

Sometimes you wonder if columnists from competing papers write their columns sitting next to each other. Today's entries by Phil Rogers and Bruce Miles certainly make one think that way.

Rogers tells us what most of us have already known: The return of Nomar Garciaparra, Kerry Wood and Scott Williamson are not very likely to boost a team that has played .500 ball for just about every month of the last three years, September 2003 excluded.

He goes on to write that failure will be the beginning of the end for Dusty Baker. Rogers also notes that the leak of Baker's interest in the Dodgers' job fits with how Dusty came to the Cubs.

No matter how strongly Baker denied the Los Angeles Times' story that said he is eyeing a shot at the Dodgers' job, currently Jim Tracy's, you can't help but wonder. The same kind of whispers began in 2002 when he was angry with San Francisco Giants owner Peter Magowan.

In fact, I wrote that September that at least two of his close friends were telling associates he was headed to the Cubs. Baker and Hendry denied it, and where did he wind up after the Giants let the World Series slip away from them?

Bruce counters by disputing Rogers' potential destinations for Dusty, specifically Los Angeles.

Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta is a disciple of Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane and his "Moneyball" approach to baseball. That philosophy, originally espoused to help small-market teams compete, stresses the importance of on-base percentage as the key offensive statistic. ... Baker is more of an old-school guy, one who prefers his hitters to be aggressive at the plate. So Baker and the Dodgers don't appear to be a good fit.

Both columns have merrits. What Miles leaves out is that DePodesta is in hot water in Los Angeles. He may not survive the calendar year in the Dodgers' employ.

If DePosdesta goes, Dusty becomes a strong possibility for that managerial position.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

All Done

The Cubs concluded their season series with the Phillies today. They end up with a losing record against them at 2-4.

Looking at other teams the Cubs are done with is also discouraging:

Arizona: 2-5
San Diego: 4-3
Washington: 1-5
White Sox: 3-3
Yankees: 0-3
Red Sox: 2-1

Thank god for Pittsburgh and the Dodgers. The Cubs are 8-3 and 3-0, respectively.

Eight games under against all other competition. Yuck.

Return of the K?

Rumor on the street is that Jerry Hairston is headed for the DL. This makes for some interesting choices.

With Nomar, Wood and Williamson due back, 3 moves had to be made. Now, it could only be two. The Wood and Williamson moves will replace other pitchers. The Nomar move now gets interesting.

Do they simply activate Nomar to replace Hairston? Or, do they activate Nomar and find another outfielder to replace Hairston? That would mean this: Activate Nomar, send Cedeno down and call up Corey Patterson and his sub-.220 AAA average.

Bet on Corey in New York tomorrow.

And bet on him to start.

Strict Liability

Perhaps some of the lawyers out there can answer this. The House Government Reform Committee is investigating possible perjury charges against Raphael Palmeiro. Given MLB's leak of what steroid was found in Palmeiro's system, Raffy may find it hard to stand behind his "never knowingly" took a steroid stance.

If the MLB drug program promised confidentiality (my understanding is that it does), and Raffy is found guilty of perjury charges based partially on the leak, wouldn't Palmeiro have a case against MLB?

Just wondering.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Everyone else has piled on Michael Barrett already. Let's remind everyone that this is not an isolated incident.

There was the game earlier this year when Barrett threw a ball away trying to get a runner out at third base who was ALREADY OUT.

Last year, many people, including this page, bought into the idea that Barrett's going after Roy Oswalt was a spark given to the Astros right when they were ready to fold.

And don't get me started on how Mark Prior and Greg Maddux don't want to pitch to Barrett.

But the real bottom line is this: Barrett was a guy targeted by the Cubs to acquire for a long time. And by "the Cubs" I mean Jim Hendry. Supposedly, Hendry knew of/about Barrett from Hendry's days coaching at Creighton. Then, Hendry tried to trade for him in 2002 and failed. He succeeded after Barrett hit .208 for the Expos in 2003.

"We've always liked him. Dick Pole was the pitching coach in Montreal in 2002, and Dick has spoken very highly of him." - Cubs general manager Jim Hendry

If you are pissed that the Cubs lost last night, and I am, you can look at the backstop as the reason why. And know that this below average catcher isn't going anywhere as the bossman wanted him, got him, and signed him through 2007.

Hendry seems to be a little obsessed, eh?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Pattern Continues

Those of you worried that Matt Murton, Felix Pie, Rich Hill and Ronny Cedeno won't ever get a fair shake need to check out this article in today's Trib. Back in 2003, this page noticed that the Cubs would tip their future moves via the articles that the papers wrote about the team. It was clear then that Hee Seop Choi was not in the club's long term plans.

Well, Matt Lawton isn't in the long term plans now, and Murton et al are.

Murton, Corey Patterson and Ronny Cedeno could be part of the regular lineup in '06, depending in which direction the Cubs ultimately go. Murton and Hill were both in Class A last year but made quick ascensions because of impressive stats and unforeseen openings on the Cubs' roster.

The Cubs may or may not make a waiver deal this year. If they do, I'd be stunned if any of the "high ceiling" guys were included.

The Cubs are going to free $40 million is salary this off-season. With only 2 locks for the rotation next year (Prior and Zamboni), I expect Jim Hendry to use his dollars to bring in some starters. With cheap players in Murton, Hill and Cedeno, Hendry will have plenty of cash to spend.

Who Stays, Who Goes

With Kerry Wood, Nomar Garciaparra and Scott Williamson set to be activated on Friday, the Cubs will need shed three players from the current roster. Sergio Mitre is the number one obvious choice. Hell. They should have traded him right after his one great start. Alas...

The next option seems to be a tossup between Michael Wuertz and Roberto Novoa. However, when Ryan Dempster decided to go all "Aerosmith" last night, Novoa was seen warming up in the bullpen. That suggests that Novoa will stay put.

The last guy to go sure seems to be Ronny Cedeno. That makes sense because the team doesn't need three shortstops and Cedeno needs to play every day.

It's too bad that it won't be the 12th pitcher. Mike Remlinger needs to be given a gold watch and told to go away. And this team needs more offensive options off the bench.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Not Exactly In The Clear

I did not have sexual relations... uh... knowingly take steroids.
Let's be very clear about steroids and baseball.

1) Up until this year, the use of steroids were not banned my Major League Baseball. Any player who took steroids or HGH prior to 2005 2002 did not violate Major League Rules.

2) Steroids are not illegal. They are not manufactured in underground labs beneath coca fields. They can be legally prescribed by a doctor. Possession or purchase of steroids is illegal without a prescription. This is the same as applies to all other prescription drugs.

3) Any player still taking steroids at this time is a complete moron.

Frankly, I don't care if players juice or not. I just want to be entertained. For perspective, the Wife just got one of those weekly celebrity gossip magazines. They did a profile on Jessica Simpson wondering if she had plastic surgery. Look at the following picture and let me ask you a question:
Yes.  I stole Brittney's career.

I really don't care if Palmeiro gets into the Hall of Fame. I don't care if he gets held out. I do know that these "athletes" are really professional entertainers. So long as the game's outcome isn't rigged like wrestling, why do I care what the players use to enhance the level of entertainment?

I certainly don't care if Jessica's been enhanced by bags of saline. In fact, if she has boosted her assets, let me just say, "Bravo!"

One last thing. Does any reporter have the guts to ask President Bush this?

"Mr. President. Two years ago, you used the State of the Union speech to demand the elimination of steroids from professional sports. Given that Jose Canseco and Raphael Palmeiro were teammates on the Texas Rangers while you owned the team and are now both known to be steroid users, was your speech an attempt to be in front of this story? Did you have any knowledge that players on your team were steroid users?"

Better, far more paranoid writers than I have the same questions.

Monday, August 01, 2005

"I never saw a game like this in my life!"

That was how Harry Caray finished the broadcast of the "Sandberg Game." WGN just finished re-playing the radiocast of that game.

You know what happened while I listened? I realized how much I missed Haray Caray. Not the Harry from the end. The pre-stroke Harry. He was phenomenal. You could picture exactly what you were missing.

But many broadcasters do that. Why was Harry so good? What set him apart? I figured it out earlier tonight. When his team made a bad play, he let you know it. How? You could hear the disgust in his voice. Disgust.

How refreshing to hear that.

Pat Hughes does a decent game, but when the Cubs screw up he lets the sound of disappointment ring through. That's OK sometimes, but there are many times when the Cubs screw up badly -- like this year just about every game -- where disappointment isn't the proper emotion real fans feel. We feel disgusted when players play like idiots.

Harry was our voice. Fans need that voice to embarrass a bad team into being better. Steve Stone was as close as we had left. The Cubs ran him out of town because he interfered with the message that the Tribune wants to portray - that of a cuddly team. We need that voice of disgust back.

Harry, you are missed.

Shut Up And Watch

Chris Troha does a nice job summarizing the "Sandberg Game" that Comcast Sports Net rebroadcast last weekend. What also needs to be added was Bob Costas' call to end the game.

In the 11th, Leon Durham lead off with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. The bases were then loaded with intentional walks bringing Dave Owen, the 20th man the Cubs used in that game, to the plate.

Costas, who had earlier described the game as a "telephone game" (you call your buddy and say, "You have to turn on this game. It's unbelievable!"), made as simple a call as you could ask.

Owens lined a 1-1 pitch into short right. As the ball left the bat, and before it cleared Tommy Herr's head at second, Costas yelled, "That's it!"

And he didn't talk again for another minute.

The pictures told the story. Nothing else was needed.

Today's broadcasters could learn a lot from that game. And Costas should have a job doing baseball every day.

And In The SunTimes...

Greg Couch continues his lucidity:

It's always about hope with the Cubs, who somehow manage to make us believe, and then jerk away hope the way Lucy did to Charlie Brown with the football.

Couch wraps up this lackluster trade, Jim Hendry's failure in 2005, and Dusty wanting out of town all in one column.

Then, Ron Rapoport comes up with this one liner out of left field:

I would pay money to see Tom DeLay look Nancy Reagan in the eye and tell her she is advocating murder.


Sometime yesterday afternoon.

Non-Denial Denials

The "Dusty to the Dodgers" story was picked up by all the local papers. Dusty did little to quell any speculation that he wants out of Chicago.

"I mean, LA, that's kind of out there, and these sources, there's always a source someplace saying something. It seems like I'm in more rumors than somebody in Hollywood or something. Know what I mean?" Baker said.

Nothing in there says the rumors are untrue.

"I've got a year and some change (left) on my contract. I've never not honored a contract in my entire life." far

"I don't renegotiate contracts. I've never done that."

Read: I don't want an extension.

"...this is the first time, well, since I was a player, that I had a contract over two years, and most of that was my choice."


Dusty wants out. Jim Hendry should grant him his wish.

New Old Man

Up yours, Sammy.Ryne Sandberg made a transition yesterday, one I didn't think was possible. He moved from quiet, ex-player to elder statesman of the game. And he did it in 23 minutes.

By bashing today's breed of "STATS Inc." obsessed ballplayers in his induction speech, Sandberg clearly became a voice for the "right way" of playing baseball for the next 40 years. Check this part of the speech:

But Harry, who was a huge supporter of mine, used to say how nice it is that a guy who can hit 40 homers or steal 50 bases drive in a hundred runs is the best bunter on the team. Nice? That was my job. When did it become okay for someone to hit home runs and forget how to play the rest of the game?

Many people will take note of which teammates and managers and execs he thanked. Many more will note who he snubbed. Clearly, Sammy Sosa was a target.

But so were Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey and the way they watch their homers sail out of parks.

The bottom line can be summed up by Roland Hemond, a special assistant to White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. "What a great message," he said. "We've got to take that tape and show it to minor-leaguers every spring. It's the best thing I've heard about having respect for the game, for your teammates, in a long time."

Ryno was the second favorite player I ever had (Ron Santo was my first). I always wished he was more outspoken off the field. I guess I only needed to be patient.

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