Monday, April 30, 2007


One of my colleagues over at Goatriders scribbled that the Cubs are doign well in everywhere but their record. Using a base Pythagorean estimation, Kurt suggests all will eventually be well:

So far, the Cubs have scored 110 runs this season, while allowing 88. There are no teams in the NL Central who have scored more or allowed fewer - in fact, every other team has allowed more runs than they've scored.

That's true. The problem with this statement is the small number of games this season played. Instead of looking at the gap between total runs scored and allowed, and instead of looking at average runs per game, one needs to look at the distribution of runs scored to see if the scoring pace is sustainable or is skewed.

Unfortunately, the answer is skewed.

In 24 games, the Cubs have scored 111 runs. This compares with 112 for the Brewers. But, the Cubs have scored 2 or fewer runs 7 times (29%) and 3 or fewer 10 times (42%). They've also been shut out once.

While the the Brewers have also scored 3 or fewer 10 times, they've only scored 2 or fewer 3 times with no shutouts. They score more runs more consistently. That's why the Brewers are in first and the Cubs are sub-.500.

Now, Kurt does have a point when he says that Alfonso Soriano and Matt Murton should get better and Felix Pie is a wild card. Unfortunately, only Soriano can truly be counted on. And, when he does start to click on offense, it's likely that Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez will cool down.

The evidence is that this team is too poor offensively to compete. That can be fixed via trades. Will Jim Hendry have the permission to trade players away that won't be his responsibility this year to better the team now? Or will the Trib kybosh that in the name of preserving decisions for the new owner?

If the kybosh is on, 2008 has already begun.

Good and Bad

Down on the farm:

LVL PITCHER                         IP   H  R  ER  BB  SO  ERA
AA Veal, Donald ............... 6.0 3 3 3 2 9 8.86
HiA Samardzija, Jeff .......... 5.1 10 3 2 2 3 2.45

Not a good WHIP for the eyechart guy.

Your 2007 Baby Bears

Hard to believe that a team with only 1 QB under contract for 2008 didn't draft one, especially with a guy like Troy Smith who was available when Payne was selected. Seems to be a decent crop. A lot of replacement types in time. Okwo for Lance Briggs, Payne for Mike Brown. Only Olsen seems to be a guy they are counting on for anything other than depth next year.

R1/31 Greg Olsen (TE) - Miami, FL
R2/62 Dan Bazuin (DE) - Central Michigan
R3/93 Garrett Wolfe (RB) - Northern Illinois
R3/94 Michael Okwo (LB) - Stanford
R4/130 Josh Beekman (OG) - Boston College
R5/167 Kevin Payne (FS) - Louisiana-Monroe
R5/168 Corey Graham (CB) - New Hampshire
R7/221 Trumaine McBride (CB) - Mississippi
R7/241 Aaron Brant (OT) - Iowa State

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Guess Who Wanted To Buy The Cubs?

Crains had some scoopage about the bidding process for Tribune Company. Check out the last few paragraphs:

Even while Tribune’s leaders said they favored a deal for the company as a whole, the special committee running the auction recommended looking at other options including selling television stations or the Los Angeles Times last fall, the filing says.

After the process was extended to late January, only three bids came in: one from the Chandlers, one paying a $27-a-share dividend, and one to buy the television business and the Chicago Cubs baseball team for $4.8 billion, the filing says.

The latter two proposals resemble bids reportedly submitted by Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, and for the TV business by the Carlyle Group.

The Carlyle Group is a major private equity firm with investors above and beyond "Who's Who." Louis Gerstner, ex of IBM, is its chairman. George H.W. Bush has history with the company, too.

I wonder what they would have done with the Cubs? It would have been fascinating.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The New #20

Felix Pie made the unfortunate choice of chosing a new jersey number. Felix really deserves a better number because the last guy to adorn his pinstripes with that number was really, really, bad.

This page had a rather heavy case of dispassion for one Corey Patterson. The lack of love was not because Corey didn’t pan out. It was because he seemed to show no understanding of how the game was played. Corey was a guy that got a Jim Hendry E-Ticket (in the old Disneyland sense) and played like a guy who didn’t have to learn or try, just show up.

That dispassion is starting to find a new home in Michael Barrett.

This page has long held that Michael hurts you with his play in the field more than he helps you with his bat. The fact that Greg Maddux used Paul Bako and Henry Blanco as his personal backstops should be a red flag. That Lou Piniella sent Blanco out to catch Carlos Zambrano a few days ago is another tip off. He’s just not that good a catcher.

But last night, Michael showed us all, once again, why he is not a money player. After leading off the fourth inning with a double to right, Michael made back to back boneheaded plays. First, Jacque Jones hit a deep shot to center that Bill Hall caught running with his back to the infield. Barrett, who must have forgot that the wind was blowing in and would hold a fly ball up, failed ti tag up. Barrett was standing near the short stop position and had to retreat to second. Had Barrett been on second and tagged, there is no way Hall can throw Barrett out at third.

Now, instead of Barrett on 3rd with 1 out, Barrett is still on second. Mark DeRosa then hits a screaming liner that Rickie Weeks snags after taking three steps to his right. Barrett, who must have either forgotten the outs or was busy talking to Mike Quade, was, again, by the short stop position. He was doubled off easily.

Michael Barrett may be one of the best hitting catchers in the league. But he is so fundamentally unsound in all other areas of the game that it offsets his offense more than Al Gore’s carbon credits.

For this team to get better, Michael Barrett needs to leave.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ask And Ye Shall Receive

Who am I? Why am I here?
Vida Guerra doing the Ivy Chat equivalent of Vice Admiral James Stockdale.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pie Dog Pondering

It was pretty obvious why Alfonso Soriano hit with two outs and did not pinch hit for Ronny Cedeno. Lou Piniella did not want Soriano running the bases. Soriano was up there to hit the ball into the wind and tie the game.

As to why Soriano can't run today, but can run tomorrow, that's also pretty obvious. There is some level of healing which happens every day and the Cubs brain trust thinks Soriano needs that modicum of healing. Try following the bass ackward logic of those questioning the move in reverse. If Soriano is good tomorrow, then he was good enough today. And if he was good today, the he was good enough yesterday, too. Follow that back and you discover that Soriano was never hurt enough to miss any time at all!

With Soriano set to return tomorrow, the question of the roster all turns on Felix Pie. Lou seems to be ready to let the kid play in center and learn on the job. That's a good think because, this team cannot win this year with two of Matt Murton, Cliff Floyd and Jacque Jones starting every day. While they MAY not win with Pie in center, if they do win, it will be with Pie getting 400+ ABs. Start that process now.

The real mind twister is the desire to go back to twelve pitchers. That's a waste of time. So, Will Ohman is the garbage time pitcher? How often do you need that guy? Every fifth day when Miller pitches would be the guess.

The feeling here is that Matt Murton gets sent down, a take is found for Jacque Jones, or Daryle Ward relaxes in Kerry Woo'd hot tub.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

David Haugh, Who Are You....

Have you heard? David Haugh comments on Brian Urlacher's fine of $100,000 by the NFL for wearing the hat and carrying the bottle of ############. What brand you ask? No idea because Haugh won't tell us. See, Haugh correctly recognizes what Urlacher and his sponsor did as a shot at massive free publicity:

(R)epresentatives from the company said they expected Urlacher to pay it, an excessive amount for a minuscule offense but easily worth every penny for the exposure it generated for his product.

The unprecedented nature of the punishment and Urlacher's status as a premier NFL pitchman guaranteed national media attention and widespread mention of the drink's brand in most media outlets.

But, sorry, not this one.

Haugh gets up on his high perch just dripping with moral authority for not falling for the stunt.

The problem is, Haugh fell from that perch five paragraphs earlier.

(A) Bears public relations spokesman approached Urlacher and quietly reminded him of the NFL's policy against wearing gear that advertises any product except designated league sponsors at league events. Gatorade pays the NFL about $45 million per year to be its exclusive drink of choice.

So, Haugh won't mention vitaminwater (oops! I'm a sucker I guess) but does mention Gatorade.


And Haugh gets in a Reebok mention, too, right near the end of the article.

David Haugh. Moral. Ethical. Principled.

Full of crap.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What's My Flat Line?

To tell the truth, 96 years is pretty damn good.
Kitty Carlisle

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dessert Time

There is some concern that, if Felix Pie does come to Wrigley Field today or tomorrow, he's being rushed to the majors. That being rushed to the majors killed Corey Patterson and we don't want to see that with Felix.


Let's look at the numbers. Korey had 1,004 plate appearances in the minors before make his major league debut (at age 21) and 1,401 before joining the Cubs full time. In that time, his numbers worsened as he was promoted.
1999 – Lansing OPS:   .950
2000 – West Tenn OPS: .829
2001 – Iowa OPS: .695

What you see with Korey, is that he wasn’t ready to be promoted because he wasn’t very good at the level Jim Hendry assigned him.

Now, let’s look at Felix:
2002 – Arizona Cubs OPS: .954
2003 – Lansing OPS: .734
2004 – Daytona OPS: .812
2005 – West Tenn OPS: .903
2006 – Iowa OPS: .792

Felix did not show the kind of drop off Corey did. Additionally, Felix has had 2,131 plate appearances prior to the start of 2007. He has over twice as much experience as Korey.

Bring him up and relax. Felix Pie is not Korey. Pie may never be an All-Star, but he's a far better player now than Korey was. And Pie is also 21 years of age.

If Alfonso Soriano has to go on the DL, it's fine to let Pie make his debit. In the immortal words of William Devane, "Let him play!"

Pie has been served.

Happy Tax Day

What took down Al Capone

Monday, April 16, 2007

It's Time To Change

With four freebies to section 429 today, I took the Little Murton boys back to Wrigley. The outcome was the same as the last time they attended.

In the 6th, I announced, "Here comes the human rally killer!" as Jacque Jones approached the plate. Sure enough, Jones swung morosely at three pitches. Derrek Lee followed by taking strike three on a pitch outside, but that had been called for a strike all day. For both the Cubs and the Reds. Michael Barrett closed out the opportunity, and the game essentially, with a lazy fly ball to right (aside: Barrett is nicely filling the vacancy for most unsound Cub since Korey Patterson departed).

After the game, Lou sounded the alarm bell once again.

"We'll make some changes if we have to. Put some different people in there and let them play." - Cubs Manager Lou Piniella

Jacque Jones' new uniformSounds like someone is going to be auditioning for the Brady Six.

It seems pretty clear that Lou has figured out that Jacque doesn't belong anywhere near the top of the order. He should never bat north of 7th and, ideally, bat for Tampa or Kansas City. Is he the coming change? One can only hope. Who woudl replace him?

Well, with Felix Pie batting .438 with an OPS of 1.110, three multi-hit games, an 8 game hitting streak by the boards and hits in 9 of his first 10 games, and 9 walks to four strikeouts, Pie certainly looks to be ready.

Get him up here. Go with this lineup:

2B - Ryan "Hi Ho" Theriot
LF - Alfonso Soriano
1B - Derrek Lee
3B - Aramis Ramirez
C - Michael Barrett
RF - Mark DeRosa
CF - Felix Pie
SS - Ceasar Izturis

The biggest problem with this lineup is DeRosa in right. Well, Jim Hendry really planned well.

Make the change, Lou. It is time to panic. It's only been 98 years and the team isn't getting any better.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

About Damn Time

This page has held the attitude of Cub fans that losing is acceptable so long as fun is still had at the ballpark as contemptible. Finally, this team has a manager that agrees (2:30 or so in):

Already chafing about his pitching during Friday's 6-5 loss, Piniella lost his patience briefly when asked what's not working after an 0-3 start at Wrigley Field.

"What the hell do you think isn't working?" he roared, his eyes flashing. "You see the damn game."

Skeptics would say, "Welcome to Wrigley, Lou."

But Piniella isn't about to accept what has happened here before.

Finally,probably the first person here since Dallas Green who won't allow crap to happen under his watch.

For those of you saying, "It's Still Early..." Lou just responded with a big middle finger to that. You can tell a lot about a team after 10 games. Lou had seen enough after 9.

Let's hope this attitude rubs off on the players, the organization, and the fans who settle for anything less than exceptional on-field performance.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Time Lapse

Buried in Teddy Greenstein's column today was this tidbit:

WGN-AM 720 has instituted a 6.4-second profanity delay for its Cubs broadcasts. So if you want to listen to the game while at Wrigley Field or prefer the radio team of Pat Hughes and Ron Santo while watching at home, you're out of luck. A WGN spokesman said not instituting the profanity delay would have posed a liability risk.

So, the fear of having the field mikes pickup the sounds of some fans yelling, "BULLSHIT!!! BULLSHIT!!! BULLSHIT!!!" after a terrible call by Angel Hernandez, and the fine that could result because of the overly starched morality police at the current FCC, fans will get the shaft.

If you sit in Wrigley in the bleachers or 100 level seats and you bring a radio to find out details about a close play, sorry. You have to wait to hear what happened because Kevin J. Martin (Chairman), Michael J. Copps, Jonathan S. Adelstein, Deborah Taylor Tate, and Robert M. McDowell are worried about your ears.

Fascinating that our government has overreacted to Janet Jackson's boob by turning into a bunch of boobs themselves.

We Come To Bury Prior, Not To Praise Him

Bruce Miles' srticle in the Daily Herald reads more like an obituary than like a story about another Mark Prior injury:

Prior, whom the Cubs optioned to their Class AAA Iowa farm club during the last week of spring training, exited Thursday morning’s extended-spring start in Arizona after only 2 innings, complaining of discomfort in his right shoulder.

The 26-year-old right-hander is scheduled to see orthopedic specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum in California “for further evaluation over the next several days,” according to a statement released by the Cubs.
The Cubs drafted Prior out of the University of Southern California with the third overall pick in 2001. He made his major-league debut in 2002, and in 2003 he went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in helping lead the Cubs to the National League championship series.

Beginning in 2004, Prior has opened every season on the disabled list, with ailments that included elbow inflammation, Achilles’ tendinitis and a subscapularis strain in his right shoulder.

Prior suffered a broken right elbow after being hit by a line drive in May 2005. In addition to the shoulder problems, a strained left oblique muscle put him on the DL last year.

When the Cubs sent Prior to the minor leagues March 29, he struck a somewhat defiant tone and said he felt he was ready to pitch in the big leagues.

“When you’re an employee, you don’t really have a whole lot of say, so there wasn’t much for me to say,” he said at the time. “I’m not a guy who’s going to get all bothered and start yelling. The decision’s made. You accept it. You move on.”

Prior has a lifetime record of 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA.

The next time this page talks about Mark Prior will be when the Cubs activate him, trade him, or release him.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Center of Attention

With today’s game almost certainly to be called off, it’s time again to look at the Cubs biggest weakness.

While he is a problem, this biggest is not Michael Barrett. As inconsistent as he is with the bat and as poor as he is with the glove, you’d figure that Jim Hendry would have given up on him by now. Instead, you get hints dropped in the news and notes section of the game day articles about how Barrett may be looking at a contract extension. Cub fans can only hope that the sale of the team is concluded and Jim is released from his contract before he can doom Cub pitchers to three more years of inadequate backstopping.

No, the biggest problem remains the outfield. The collection of Alfonso Soriano, Matt Murton, Jacque Jones and Cliff Floyd are not getting the job done, offensively or defensively. Now, one thinks that, sooner or later, Alfonso will turn it on. But the other three? No guarantee there. So, with the outfield potentially putrid (yesterday’s game ended with Alfonso misplaying the first ball hit his way into a run scoring double) with the glove and substandard with the bat, there seems to be an obvious improvement to be made.

Make the defense better and help the pitchers.

How can the Cubs do that? Promote Felix Pie and let him roam center.

If the Cubs do that, then who do they bench? Do you send Soriano to left and trade Matt Murton or do you send Soriano to right and trade Jacque Jones? The answer seems to be Murton. Trading Murton would be easier do to his age and salary. Because of that, the Cubs would receive more in return than for Jacque. And Soriano would be better in left than right having played left last year and knowing how difficult right in Wrigley field can be.

It’s time for some moves. Pie up, Soriano over, Murton out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Back To Business

Crain's Chicago Business, your best source for really important Cubs news this year, has a gallery of pics from yesterday's Opening Day loss.

Feel free to ignore the picure of the second most annoying person in the bleachers.

What is also mildly interesting is that the bulk of the pictures were taken in establisbments around Wrigley Field. Only the last few are from inside the ballpark itself.

They seem to be saying that the event is more important than the game. Gee. How novel.
If the umps piss me off, I may need that rifle, Sarge.

Monday, April 09, 2007

So Far, So So

As Wrigley Field opens for the final time under current management... Well, at least ownership management and likely front office management. As the ball park opens, the Cubs arrive with a 3-3 record in 6 games against divisional opponents. This is probably a reasonable result and well within expectations.

Then again, anytime this team wants to exceed expectations would be fin with the majority of its fans.

Wade MillerThe biggest surprise does have to be the starting pitching. Other than Carlos Zambrano's typical opening day fiasco and Wade Miller's impersonation of a pitching machine set a batting practice speeds, the rotation has looked solid. And, if the staff is indeed this solid, the upside for the win total for this edition of the Chicago Cubs needs to be increased to the mid-80's.

Although Scott Eyre is doing his best impression of Mike Remlinger against lefties, the rest of the pen has been acceptable.

As noted by our good friends over at, the real upside for this team fall on the shoulder of Mark Prior. Notwithstanding a trade for a Dontrelle Willis, there is no arm that could potentially turn this Cubs starting staff from above average to exceptional. A 2003 Mark Prior could be the difference between 2nd place and no playoffs and October success.

This would seem to be the iron pyrite of hope. All evidence points to Mark Prior's shoulder now having the consistency of plots on Lost. Why must people assume that Mark Prior is a wimp? Isn't it far more likely that a guy who always threw in the mid-90's and is one year short of big money that comes with free agency wouln't do anything to reduce his market value?

No, the probability is that the greatest college pitcher ever is wrecked beyond repair. That means, an October Surprise will only result from some Trader Jim Hendry success.

Given that Hendry is probably gone after this year, he will be heavily incented to trade all the wonderful budding talent he has amassed to finally win. That's a great scenario for a team ready to sell - a team with little on the horizon for cheap, young talent and a boss ready to deal what little he has for a fleeting chance at saving his own skin.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

It's On

Some will tell you the story from last night's game is Ted Lilly making Jim Hendry look smart. In his first start of the season, Lilly was Maddux-esque. Let's see him do that two or three more times before getting giddy.

But that wasn't the real story.

The real story was the 9th inning. With a three run lead, an no Kerry Wood to turn to, Lou Piniella was forced to give the ball to Ryan Dempster.

Ryan Dempster pitched the ninth for his first save (since August 14, 2006), completing a three-hitter. After he threw a first-pitch ball to Ken Griffey Jr., Piniella went out to the mound with some advice.

"I said it was 30 degrees and it was snowing, get the ball over the plate and you'll win a ballgame," Piniella said.

That's not the whole story. After walking Edwin Encarnación and throwing ball 1 to the left handed Griffey in a spot that would have been behind right handed Derrek Lee's head were he batting, Piniella laced his language a bit more colorfully than what he said to the papers. Dempster settled down and ended the game on a 340 foot pop out.

Dempster has an annoying habit of throwing a lot of balls. It sure seems like Lou knows this and has Dempster on a short leash.

The first returns on the dismissal of Dusty Baker have been realized.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


A quick thought on Game 1:

If you have another team's starting pitcher at the 98 pitch mark at the end of 5 innings, you CANNOT allow him to finish the 7th inning. Yesterday's game was last as much by the impatience of the hitters in the middle innings as it was by Carlos Zambrano's wildness.

Now, on to the wrap up of yesterday's news of the impending sale of the Cubs.

The Cubs are being sold because:

(Sam Zell) has an interest in baseball. For years, he has owned a minority interest in the White Sox. But the Cubs emerged as a part of the company that easily could be sold to raise cash.

"It made sense to sell what is a really valuable asset, and use the proceeds to pay down debt," FitzSimons said in an interview.

Paul Sullivan asks and answers a lot of questions, some of them fairly accurately, including:

Zell has not indicated he will sell the ballpark, which sits on a piece of real estate that has gone up substantially in value since Tribune Co. bought the team in 1981. The ballpark has landmark status and cannot be torn down, but Zell could keep it and lease it to new owners or allow them to build a new ballpark, which obviously would take several years to complete.

Derrek Lee only thought about the sale briefly:

"(Talk of the sale) had no bearing on the game," first baseman Derrek Lee said. "It was a news flash before the game that we probably thought about for 30 seconds."

But that 30 seconds lasted 30 minutesfor reporters:
The Cubs violated Major League Baseball's clubhouse access rules before the first game, letting the media in almost 30 minutes late while holding a team meeting on the prospective sale of Tribune Co.

I guess Lou Piniella has a player sleeping in meetings. Paging Kyle Farnsworth...

Adn the Trib ran a graphic a showing the team history under Trib management:
Suckitude on display!
It's amazing the payroll jump in 1991. It's almost as if the team spent money that year to make up for a drop in attendance the year before. Boycotts don't work, eh?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Opening Day / Closing Season

On Monday, October 24, 2005, this page informed you that, "the Chicago Cubs could go on the block."

The "could" is now gone. Read it now, hear me now: >The Chicago Cubs are up for sale.

Tribune to Sell Chicago Cubs Following 2007 Baseball Season
25% Interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago Also to be Sold

CHICAGO, April 2, 2007 -- Tribune Company (NYSE:TRB) announced today that it plans to sell the Chicago Cubs and the company’s 25 percent interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago after the conclusion of the 2007 baseball season. The sale is expected to be completed in this year’s fourth quarter.

"The Cubs have been an important part of Tribune for more than 25 years and are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports," said Dennis FitzSimons, Tribune chairman, president and chief executive officer. "In our last season of ownership, the team has one mission, and that is to win for our great fans."

Tribune has long-term contracts in place for Cubs programming on WGN-TV, Superstation WGN, WGN-AM Radio and Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The company was a founding partner when Comcast SportsNet Chicago was launched in 2004 and holds a 25 percent stake the network, which will broadcast 72 regular season Cubs games in 2007.

"This transition will not impact our on-field performance," said John McDonough, Cubs president and chief executive officer. "We expect to compete and win -- our goal of bringing a World Series championship to Cubs fans everywhere hasn’t changed."

Tribune purchased the Chicago Cubs and historic Wrigley Field in 1981. Attendance has soared in recent years, setting a record of 3,170,184 fans in 2004. Total attendance again surpassed 3 million in 2005 and 2006.

The sale of the team is subject to the approval of Major League Baseball.

This is a result of Sam Zell's winning bid to take the Tribune Corporation private. It certainly seems like Sam has no interest in being the face of the Cubs. If not, he'd continue to own the team through the Trib.

Take a good look at that Wish List of possible buyers for the Cubs. There's a strong possibility that one of those names will get very familiar to all of us over the next nine months. I can guaranty you one thing: All those people are very busy this morning.

What this means for the fan watching baseball is pretty plain. The Cubs will be unshackled from an ownership beholder to stockholders. That is a good thing. And for those of you concerned that this spells the death of Wrigley Field and your way of watching games, the chance of that is remote. And, if Wrigley does face the wrecking ball, it will only be to increase revenues to increase payroll to increase the chance of winnning.

This is a great day, Cub fans. Hope lives.

Henry V, Act 3, Scene I

The line from that soliloquy pretty much sums up what this year feels like. But, as opposed to the past two years, one feels that this team is, at least, prepared for battle. Sure, they may be armed with munitions better served for use at Bastogne, but at least they are fully equipped. They also seem to have the correct attitude from top to bottom. It’s amazing what the removal of one person from the mix can have on a team.

And the dismissal of Andy MacPhail is due, in no small part, to the Chicago Cub fans who failed to show up last August and September. If you were one of those empty seats, kudos to you. Each time you hear "$300 million," know that was due in response to you.

Where will this team go this year? Anywhere between 75 and 85 wins based on the roster right now would be the educated guess. Where will they finish? Anywhere from first to fifth with the smart money on third or fourth. Something makes me think that, if this team is in the hunt this year, Jim Hendry will do the one thing he seems to do very well – make a trade to add veteran talent.

And I do think that the Cubs will be in the hunt. The NL Central division is so lousy, even the Pirates could end up close. This season will turn on Jim Hendry’s ability to improve the team along the way.

The other plus to this season will be Lou Piniella. Lou is not going to allow the kind of crap that’s been going on in Chicago since 2004. There will be no excuses made about not being able to teach players in the majors. There will be no yelling at broadcasters. There will be no whining about not having "horses."

In short, this should be a more likable team. They should be fun to watch.

So, at least we have that going for us.

And, as has become the equivalent of the Ivy Chat Opening Day Blessing, may Steve Goodman's line from "A Dying Cub’s Fans Last Request" be made incorrect in 2007:

"You know the law of averages says:
Anything will happen that can"
That's what it says
"But the last time the Cubs won a National League pennant
Was the year we dropped the bomb on Japan."

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Happenings At The World's Greatest Newspaper

As of late today, the Trib has not yet been sold.

Published April 1, 2007, 3:11 PM CDT

CHICAGO -- Tribune Co. remained silent Sunday as its board of directors reportedly met to vote on competing buyout offers for the media company.

Tribune's 11-member board appeared to favor a $7.9 billion buyout offer by real estate mogul Sam Zell, the Chicago Tribune, which is owned by the media conglomerate, reported in its Sunday editions.

Chicago-based Tribune had set a March 31 self-imposed deadline to announce a spin-off, buyout or reorganization.

The paper, citing an anonymous source, said Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle had all but conceded a Zell victory.

It certainly sounds like this will be wrapped up by the WGN Morning News. My bet on the first action for Zell? Turning the Tribune Tower into condos. This is NOT a new idea.

The Chicago Tribune publishes their annual baseball preview section tomorrow. If you got the paper at the newsstand today, you received a 3-foot long Cubs/Sox schedule. The Trib was kind enough to send a few my way for The Seven Year Old and The Four Year Old to enjoy. I’m uncertain, but they may include the schedule in tomorrow’s editions as well.

Paul Sullivan had a column today in which he suggested that Cub fans are actually hurting the team:

Although the fans still are coming out in droves to watch the Cubs, the booing and harassment of players such as Corey Patterson and Jacque Jones have contributed to the "tough" atmosphere to which Pierre was referring, which raises the question:

Has the fans' impatience begun to hurt the team as they vent their frustration on struggling players?

This idea is such a load of crap that it does not deserve to be debated on the merits. I would suggest that if booing is a problem here, what must it be like in the Bronx? I also have to take personal umbrage over this line:

The booing of Patterson became so vicious that the Cubs decided he would be better off in new surroundings, so they sent him to Baltimore after the '05 season for low-level prospects despite his youth and untapped potential.

Utter garbage. By 2005, Patterson was 25 years old. That's not that young by MLB standards. He was arbitration eligible. That's not cheap in salary by MLB standards. And his 2005 season, where Korey posted an OBP of .254(!) on 451 ABs, was among the worst in the history of the Major League Baseball.

Now, I have no idea if this is in response to his comments and the rebuttal over at Goatriders, but to state that the fan reaction to Patterson was the reason for the trade is downright ingenuous. Paul is showing disdain for the fan.

Oh, and Paul, if you read this, I saw you on with Len and Bob last night from the Las Vegas exhibition game. For the first time I understand your Desipio nickname.

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