Monday, September 29, 2008

The Office Of Financial Stability

Henry Blodget on the Bail Out Bill.

George Orwell is laughing uncontrollably.

Baseball Capital of the World

Despite my disinterest in most things White Sox, they do serve a purpose her in Chicago. They remind the rest of the US of A that Chicago can host multiple sort franchises. If New York and Los Angeles can do it, so can Chicago.

Usually, the East Coast Media Filter forgets about that. Flyover country extends from the Hudson River to the Inland Empire in their minds.

But, for the next three days at least, Chicago is at the center.

Today, the White Sox play the Tigers in a effort to tie the Twins for the AL Central title and force a one game playoff. Given that the Tigers are probably not interested in playing and that they suck, the Sox will likely win. That forces game 163 tomorrow night, also in Chicago. Regardless of the outcome of that game, Wednesday sees Game 1 of the NLDS start in Wrigley Field.

It would be nice if Chicago would become the nation's focus more often. The Midwest is a far better place to live than either coast. Now, let's have our sports teams boost our ego a little bit.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Think Ya' Used Enough Chemotherapy There, Butch?

Sorry I'm late. I was taking a crap.
Paul Newman 1925-2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Dempster, Soto, Theriot, DeRosa, not very funny.

Fontenot, funny.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Someone Else Will Be Here"

At last Friday's Cubs game, Ryne Sandberg was seen throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. This triggered a memory that there seemed to be a path from Peoria to Wrigley laid out for Ryno.

This triggered a second memory that there was speculation on this blog's part that Lou would call it quits after this year.

Today, Lou is hinting that his retirement could come rather soon:

It has been a tough year," Piniella told the New York Daily News. "And sometimes it can really take a toll on you. I don't know how much longer I want to do this."

It seems pretty obvious that if the Cubs do win the title this year, Lou is gone. What better way to go out than winning with the unwinnables?

It would be a shame to see Lou go. He's done more for this franchise and their fans in the last 18 months than anyone in the last 50 years (save, maybe, Dallas Green). But, if he goes out a winner, the shame would be just slightly mittigated, no?

Let's all be cheering Lou into retirement this year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Closing Time

So, Yankee Stadium is closed. I was only their once. Yeah, they call it a cathedral, but that’s not the right name. It should be called a museum. See, cathedrals are beautiful places filled with art and light and kept clean. Most museums are dark and dank and filled with interesting memories, but also filled with old dirty artifacts that you really wouldn’t want to touch even if you could.

That’s Yankee Stadium all over.

And, don’t look now, but Wrigley Field is getting pretty close to that. It’s only a matter of time.


The Cubs will likely open the playoffs a week from Wednesday against New York or Philadelphia. They can have a big say in who they play in the next four days. They can lay down and get the Mets next week, or they can work their assess off and eliminate the Mets right now.

Put this page down as being in favor of seeing New York close both their shitty stadiums in September, not October.

Expectations Filled - Level 1

What was so refreshing about the Cubs clincher on Saturday was the calmness of it. There was a whole, “Been here, done this,” feel about it. The fans, while cheering at the end of the game, were very reserved. There was no standing on every two-strike pitch in the early and middle innings.

That’s the way it should be. This franchise has now won 3 division titles in 6 years. That’s actually too few for the amount of money invested, but it does exceed the total number of division titles won prior to 2003.

This team should have expectations to make the playoffs every year. The fans should have those expectations as well. And with those expectations, there seems to be a new and welcome attitude rising. Just being in the playoffs isn’t enough.

The players knew this. Lou Piniella knew this. And, for the first time, even the fans knew this.

The Magic Number is now reset to 11. While not getting that to 0 doesn’t make the whole season a waste, it does mean the season was not a success. Despite what Lou has said publicly, he knows this. His 116 win Mariner team is remembered for its playoff failure. The only thing that matters is ending your season in late October with your last game a win. And then the car salesman from Milwaukee gives you a wood trophy with 30 gold flags on it.

Anything less is a disappointment. Finally, everyone seems to know this.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cubs Win!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


In the 12th inning with Brewers on second and third and no one out, Lou Piniella went to the mound to talk to Kerry Wood. Geovany Soto, who had certified his Rookie of the Year plaque with a 9th inning, 3 run, game tying bomb, recorded the conversation for posterity:

Out of the dugout popped Cubs manager Lou Piniella for a quick chat.

"Lou went out there and asked Kerry what he wanted to do," Soto said.

Their conversation went something like this:

"I'll get three strikeouts," Wood told his skipper.

"No, just get three groundballs," Piniella said.

You hear stuff like this and wonder if the Cubs would have been so bad for so long if they'd brought in a guy as smart as Lou 25 years ago.

The Cubs will likely clinch a second consecutive division title today or tomorrow. One hopes they do it tomorrow in front of the fans instead of a win today and a Brewer loss tonight.

But even if that happens, while the division should be celebrated, it's by no means fulfilling of the real goals fo this team. Back in March, I said this team had high expectations to live up to. So far, they've done so. They aren't even close to being finished.

Let's hope they celebrate and do so at Wrigley tomorrow. But the real celebration requires 11 more wins. Everything before that is just window dressing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Keep on Truckin'

Some of you know that I have a relationship with a company that provides mobile television services, mostly for sporting events. Their clients include all of the broadcast networks and several of the cable channels. Through them, I've had the chance to get to meet the company that does the broadcasts for the Cubs, Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks. I found out today that Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter was nearly not broadcast.

The company that broadcasts the games has three trucks that can handle a high definition broadcast. On Sunday, one was at US Cellular Park doing the White Sox game. One was heading to Yankee Stadium to do the Sox-Yankees series that started yesterday. And the third truck? In Houston.

The company scrambled and found a standard definition truck to do the game. You may have noticed Len Kasper commenting that the game was without may of their regular "bells and whistles."

They nearly had no bells or whistles at all. The game would have been blacked out with the only record of it in the memories of the fans in attendance and on a few camcorders and cell phones.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Proper Perspective

Not one hit to left field.  How selfish.As of this morning, the Chicago National League Ball Club holds a unique place in major league baseball no-hitter history. They have gone the most consecutive games without being no-hit and they have gone the fewest games since throwing a no-hitter.

The last time the Cubs were no hit was September 9, 1965 when Sandy Koufax tossed a perfect game at them. Milt Pappas threw the Cubs last no hitter on September 2, 1972.

Prior to Carlos Zambrano last night, of course.

While last night was truly a thing of beauty to watch, the bigger news was that Z sure looks to be completely healthy. With Carlos good to go, Rich Harden on track and the rest of the pitching staff well rested, the playoff path is all set.

But the thing that was subtle that was quite refreshing to hear was when Len Kasper asked Carlos if he knew who was the last Cub to throw a no-hitter.

"Milt Pappas," was the nearly instant replay.

One guesses that Carlos Zambrano grew up pretty isolated in Venezuela. It would be hard to believe that he knew who Milt Pappas was growing up. How refreshing to think that Z has some perspective about his career. You have to think that most athletes today only have the perspective of their contract. And when they can next renegotiate. Carlos did not display such narrowness last night.

For a guy who often loses perspective between pitches, this was unexpected. And a genuine pleasure.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Random Jottings

Pre-Game Coin Toss Makes Jacksonville Jaguars Realize Randomness Of Life

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm Six Today

Can I have a soccer uniform?
The little Contrarian says he's a Sox fan (to annoy Dad and his brother), but gets pissed when he doesn't get to go to Cubs' games.

Random Jottings

The Cubs magic number for a playoff spot is 8. Did anyone realize that the team the Cubs need to eliminate is no longer St. Louis or Philadelphia?

It's Houston. Yes, Houston, with 67 losses, is now tied with Philadelphia for second place in the wild card race. And that means, despite having the next two days off, the playoff magic number cannot go down. The divisional number could be as low as 9 by the time the Cubs play again, but the playoff number will be stationary.
As the Cubs offense continues to flounder, the biggest wet fish in the lineup continues to be Derrek Lee. A third place hitter who goes 0-5 with one RBI but 6 left on base is not something a playoff team with hopes of a long run can afford. Maybe the two days off will do Derrek some good. Maybe once this team clinches a playoff spot, Lou will use the opportunity of meaningless games to revise the batting order. Hell, if you can bench Kosuke Fukudome, you can move Derrek Lee in the batter order.

How would this lineup work?

Ryan Theriot
Derrek Lee (he's still walking - OBP of .390 since August 1 but slugging .371 over the same period)
Aramis Ramirez
Alfonso Soriano
Geovany Soto
Mark DeRosa

Fill out 7tha nd 8th with some combination of Fukudome, Reed Johnson, Jim Edmonds, Felix Pie and Mike Fontenot depending on where DeRosa is playing.

And, just maybe Soriano would realize that hitting fourth would be better for his team and that there's really no difference in how pitchers are going to pitch him. Especially now that Soriano is willing to work the count (how refreshing!).
The Cubs still need two wins to exceed their highest regular season win total since Andy MacPhail was hired. Yes, they were that bad for that long.
John McCain, obviously afraid of the questions he would be asked about his recent campaign lies, is no longer going to have press conferences.

Have they renamed his bus and plane the "No Talk Express"?

I used to love this guy. As recently as February. I wanted him as president in 2000. What the hell has happened to him?
Goat Rider Leader Kurt Evans is profiled by ESPN as a Cub fan representative of fans from the 1980's. Given that he was born in 1979, shouldn't he be disqualified on that basis?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

He's Tired

Morning, noon, and night, it's dwink and dancing / Some quick womancing / And then a shower."We're playing like we're waiting to get beat," (Cubs manager Lou) Piniella said as he stood behind his office desk, his voice rising. "You don't have enough big of a lead in September to play ball like that. Teams that play baseball like that invariably get caught no matter how big their lead. You've got to stay aggressive. You've got to do the things that you've done all year.

"We're not executing. We're making mistakes, and we're getting beat. And I'm getting tired of watching it, to be quite honest with you. That's not the way we played all year to get to where we are now. And I know we're trying. But truthfully, trying isn't good enough."

Hard to argue with a single.

The problem is, it's a little late to replace the guys that aren't producing. Back in April when the team got off to a hot start, Derrek Lee, Kosuke Fukudome and Kerry Wood were a big reason why. Today, Wood's doing nothing, Kosuke's been Jacque Jones-esque with the bat and the number three hitter in the lineup, Derrek Lee, has had 5 homers and 44 RBIs since June 1st (380 plate appearences / OPS of .789).

The saving grace for locking a playoff appearence is that Milwaukee is also in the tank. With them facing the Phillies this weekend for four games, one of those two teams will be just about finished.

But this team went into the season not just looking to back into the playoffs and be happy to be there. They had the expectations to storm their way through the season and have a long playoff run.

The long playoff run is still possible. But it's hard to like the odds given how poor the offense has been the last month plus. This is where average runs per game is tricky. Since August 1st, they've averaged nearly 5.5 runs per game. But they've scored 3 runs or fewer 50% of the time getting shut out four times.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Throw It In The Right Direction

I'm looking at you Ron...  Uh... Jolbert!Kerry Wood got mad yesterday. He got mad that Jolbert Cabrera lined a game winning hit to the left field corner and flipped his bat half way to Kentucky while ambling down to first base. Wood let Cabrera have it:

Wood screamed at a celebrating Cabrera afterward before leaving the field.

"I was just upset to lose that game," Wood said. "He enjoyed it a lot. It'll be all right."

Maybe Wood should be were upset at himself for not throwing strikes. Or, maybe he felt the need to yell at someone other than a teammate.

Maybe the bile was really directed at Ronny Cedeno (or "Cede No" as the Blogger spell checker so appropriately suggests).

Why this guy is still on a major league roster is an open question. Yes, the Cubs really have no one else on the team who can play backup short stop. But, this isn't exactly a new problem. It's been this way for this team since the season started.

Maybe when the team is finally sold, the club will be able to afford to hire an executive who has the job responsibility of reviewing the stable of talent within the organization, finding gaps in talent, and acquiring players to fill that gap.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Some Old Luck

Let's see if some of the magic from 1989 can break the streak:

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Getting Ugly

Tim Sassone, filling in for Bruce Miles in the Daily Herald, uses a very scary word in the opening line of his piece on Carlos Zambrano:

With Carlos Zambrano out indefinitely while the Cubs try to figure out what's wrong with his sore right arm, Sean Marshall will take over that spot in the rotation beginning Sunday in Cincinnati.

Indefinitely? Uh oh.

And Rich Harden has just returned from his trip to the Cubs doctors. His initially reported "rest to keep him fresh" has turned into missing two starts. Any month other than September and that means he's on the disabled list.

Why do the Cubs think the Baghdad Bob style of disinformation is a good way to inform the public? Just last year:

Mark Prior reported no problems and said he’ll be ready for the start of the Cactus League season.

Kerry Wood's minor shoulder problem in February that was no big deal kept him out until July.

Cut the crap, guys.

And find someone who can bat third while you're at it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Premature Panic

Yes, the Cubs have lost three in a row at home for the first time this season. Yes, the Cubs haven't had an extra base hit since Friday. Yes, the lead is only 4.5 games. And, yes, the starting pitchers are missing games.

So what?

First, slumps happen with this team. Hell, it happened to Soriano in for April. They'll dig their way out.

But the screaming about the pitchers missing time is hilarious. What Lou Piniella is doing is using the lead he has to make sure that the pitchers are well rested for a long playoff run. Look at Carlos Zambrano. In June, he was 1-2 with a 5.68 ERA with a 1.78 WHIP. He went on the DL for a stint. When he came back in July, 4-1 with a 1.78 ERA and 0.91 WHIP.

Rest did the Z some good, no?

By resting Z and having Rich Harden skip a start, Lou is just trying to get September and October setup with a well prepared, well rested pitching staff.

Other notes:

- The Brewers called up 10 players yesterday. Until they send down Eric Gagne, it makes no difference.

- I see that in the wake of Jay Mariotti leaving the Sun Times, Chris DeLuca called Mariotti out:

Not once in the last eight years can I recall seeing Mariotti in the Cubs' or Sox' clubhouse. With a press credential that allowed him access to every major sporting event and every major figure, he hasn't broken a single story in that time. He says Chicago is a weak market, the competitive edge gone. He has only himself to blame.

When Lou Piniella was hired by the Cubs, the Sun-Times reported it first. Mariotti had no role in that major story. He says the market has gone soft. If that's true, he played as big a role in the softening as anyone else.

He called his colleagues soft, forgetting we're the ones who had to face his targets on a daily basis. We were the ones who had to deal with the anger that he was too cowardly to face himself. We got the quotes that made up the bulk of his columns.

So, Mariotti went after people but don't have the guts to face them after doing so? Yeah, coward is the word I'd use, too.

Sheffield Avenue rooftops have a serious disadvantage over Waveland Avenue rooftops for day games. The afternoon sun just kills your eyes. Maybe that explains why the food and service were so much better.

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