Thursday, July 31, 2003

Da Coach is getting a new sponsorship deal. Seems Mike Ditka is gonna peddle a Viagra rival.

As a professional football player and coach, "Iron" Mike Ditka was known for his toughness. Now he's being paid to show his sensitive side.

Bayer AG and GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the pharmaceutical companies, have hired Ditka to promote Levitra, their new impotence drug, in a campaign to encourage men to confront touchy health problems.


"We really think we've scored a touchdown with Ditka. We were looking for a real guy who could relate to men," said Nancy Bryan, vice president of marketing for men's health at Bayer.

As the Levitra pitchman, Ditka has two enormous tasks ahead of him: to make men feel comfortable enough to go to the doctor for erectile dysfunction and to convince them to ask for a drug other than Viagra.

Ditka, who coached the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl title in 1986 and was the first tight end elected to the Football Hall of Fame, is known to fans for his gruff manner, unyielding perfectionism and abrasive attitude.

Are Bayer and Glaxo worried he will be too off-putting to convince men to address erectile dysfunction?

"In spite of that image, the interesting thing is that he comes across as being very personable and very interested in men's health," said David Pernock, a vice president at Glaxo.


Let's all give Ditka a big "Thumb's Up" on his new gig.

Or another part of the anatomy.

Why is it at the trading deadline, othre teams get All-Stars and the Cubs get Also-Rans? The Yankees got Aaron Boone for Brandon Claussen. The Red Sox got Jeff Suppan and Brandon Lyon from Pittsburgh. What about the Cubs?

Wood complained that his first pitch to Alfonzo, a slider, was called a ball by plate umpire Randy Marsh. "That was a strike, and I didn't get the benefit of the doubt,'' he said. "It turned [the grand-slam pitch] into a 2-1 pitch instead of a 1-2 pitch. That makes a big difference to a pitcher in that situation.''

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Breaking News:

Cubs get Doug Glanville for a minor leaguer and cash. I'm betting this means Big Choi goes to Iowa (dunno if Jimmy Stewart gets to play Choi in the movie).

Good move. Not that Glanville is any good, he actually sucks (OBP below .300, OPS a .653.). But Choi needs to play every day. And he won't with Karros here and hitting (at least with no one on base). Might as well do that at Iowa. I just hope the kid doesn't take a demotion the wrong way.

Glanville can sub for all 3 outfield positions, provides a right hander off the bench, and can back up Karros at first.

The knid of move that a team that thinks it is in contention makes.


Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I've said this blog would have "other rants." From the "I Hate America" files, Dateline - Seoul, Korea:

(Residents of the Itaewon area were asked what change they'd make in their neighborhood)

Everybody we asked gave the same answer--Burger King would have to go. It's sad, they said, that Itaewon's most central landmark should be a symbol of America and its corporate hegemony. The King should be dethroned, they insisted, and the building that houses it destroyed.

So then, we asked, what beautiful thing should replace it?

Brad, an English teacher from Vancouver, said the space should be made into a park with ample trees and shade. His friend Jun-sik, a hair stylist from Seoul, said it should become a Starbucks.

I guess Jun-sik doesn't know where Starbucks HQ is.


Just found out I'm having lunch with Ron Santo (and a few dozen other people) on Friday in the Cubs' Stadium Club. Santo was my favorite player when I was a yoot. He's also the worst broadcaster working in Chicago today. When the analysis of a bad play comes down to "Jeez!" and "Gosh!" it's time to find a different outlet for information on a game.

Top to bottom in Chicago for play by play or color are:

Steve Stone
Pat Foley (how many people even know who he is?)
Dale Tallon
Tom Thayer
John Rooney
Chip Carey
Neil Funk
Ed Farmer
Hub Arkush
Ron Santo

Clement tonight is the toughest matchup of the series. Which Clement shows up? We'll see at 7:05.


Monday, July 28, 2003

So they win two of three in Houston. Are they still in it? I still say, "No." Not enough Mark Prior. Too many strikeuots. Not enough key hits (more to follow). Too much Wendell Kim. Speaking of the Windmill, how much longer will Dusty put up with this moop? Tommy LaSorda used to coach third at times while he was the manager, Dusty may have even been a Dodger back then. TIme to step out and put Wendell to rest.

Key hitting stats from the Trib this weekend - Cubs hitters with runners in scoring position:
Sammy Sosa             .330

Moises Alou .321
Mark Grudzielanek .240
Alex Gonzalez .221
Damian Miller .212
Eric Karros .216

Yeah, Eric Karros. Can't wait to dump this dude's $9mm salary. He's hitting well, except when you need him to. But Big Choi ain't doing much better with a .179 RISP.

Next comes Arizona and San Fran. Gotta win 4 of 6 to stay in it. Not just because the Cubs are 4 out, rather because they need to start winning at home. 3 under breakeven doesn't cut it. The road record is fine. Gotta get to about 10 to 15 over at home to be legit. That means they need to go about 23-7 the rest of the way. Uhhhh..... Can't see it.

Random jottings....

.... how I hate when fans use "we." I work for a bank, not the Chicago National League Ball Club.
.... six man rotation talk makes me sick. These guys should pitch more, not less, it adds another dead roster spot, days off could mean 7 days between starts, etc.
.... a lawsuit by the Cubs against rooftop owners threatens to force the Cubs to open their books as part of discovery. We (used here, correctly) could once and for all find out how much the Cubs make.


Saturday, July 26, 2003

I guess one of the benefits of having two kids under age 4 is that you can't watch every game. Brilliant game today. No earned runs scored. 2 hits, both by Ramirez.

The season rides on Shawn Estes. Too bad he's not facing Roger Clemens again.


Friday, July 25, 2003

Great stuff from the Newark Star-Ledger . Seems that on the Mets flight from Philly to Montreal Tuesday night, an "excited ruckus" broke out in the back of the plane:
One of the flight attendants came down and asked why they were so happy.

"We got Qusay and Uday," Al Leiter exclaimed.

"I'm sorry," the flight attendant responded, "I don't know baseball. Are they any good?"
Saddam is rummored to be the Player To Be Killed Later.


To say that the next three games require the winning of at least two is beyond obvious. The discussion is what to do if they lose two or get swept. The answer is to clear the decks and play the kids. The following names should become available to the highest bidder and sold by Thursday:

                         2003 Salary

Antonio Alfonseca $4,000,000
Shawn Estes $3,000,000
Mike Remlinger $2,630,000
Alex Gonzalez $5,750,000
Mark Grudzielanek $5,500,000
Kenny Lofton $379,630
Eric Karros $8,375,000
Moises Alou $9,500,000

All of the above are either free agents at the end of this year or next year (A Gonz and Alou). The key is to free Salary for 2004 and be able to trade for / sign as many of: Jose Vidro, Miguel Tejada, Vlad the Impaler, Luis Castillo, and Javier Vasquez as the Trib will allow.

Now, no one is taking Al-Enfuega. Release him. The rest? See what you can get. Maybe you back into a Willis or a Sandberg as a throw in. Maybe not, but it can't hurt to try. And why keep them? They won't be back next year, regardless! In the mean time, you play Hill, Kelton, Choi, and Cruz full time. Maybe Hill pans out and Vidro / Castillo are unneccesary.

Time to find out.


Thursday, July 24, 2003

So all the talk is about the BIG TRADE. Might as well add my meanless opinion to the blogosphere. Do Lofton and Ramirez make this team better? Yes. Can the team win this year? No. Since they can't win this year let's look at how it affects next year. Lofton will be gone so that's irrelevant. Ramirez is 25. Probably the third best option at 3B who is/will be available behind Koskie (my guy) and Lowell. Ramirez is signed for 1 more year at $6.0mm. Affordable as the Cubs will free nearly $20mm in salary next year. Good pickup.

But it all depends on who we give up. Hernandez? Good riddance. Bruback ? Cubs have a load of younger pitchers with higher ceilings. Good move.

The PTBNL the Pirates will have to chose from is rumored to Bobby Hill, Francis Beltran or Steve Smyth.

Smyth? Take him. Please.

Beltran? Ok. As mentioned above, the Cubs have an overload of pitchers younger than this guy. Fine.

Hill? No problem, but they better go get Vidro or Castillo. Grudz isn't in the same class as these guys and both will be available after the season is over. And Vidro and Castillo are affordable as the cubs will free up nearly $20mm in salary after the season ends. So, if they get a sold 2nd scaker in January? Fine with bye-bye to Hill.

So it looks like a good deal, right?


There are two reasons to dislike the trade.

Brian Giles and Carlos Beltran.

They are affordable due to the salaries being cleared. They fill a need (both are miles better than Patterson). And both could play left after Alou is gone after 2004. And both are available. One of these guys should be a Cub.

So what do I think?

Typical Cubs gutlessness / cheapness. They got good guys, but not guys that were the best and not guys taht make you a contender for a World Series. Alas, more of the same. Chase a division, fill the park, and don't spend what it really takes to win.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Through 94 games, the Cubs are an even .500, three games back in the loss column and in 3rd place. They rank 2nd to last in the division in runs scored. The rank as the ninth of 16 in terms of NL record. They've won one series in their last 9. They're on a 11-20 streak since reaching a high water mark of 9 over .500 against Baltimore. 12 of their next 13 series are against teams with winning records. 6 of the next thirteen are against teams eligible for the playoffs if the season ended today.

There's more.

- They count on a lot of garbage players for significant playing time.
- They have a lot of free agents at the end of the year.
- They have three stud pitchers for starters, one of which has declared that he must be signed to a multi year deal by February or he's a free agent in 230 games.
- They have an overrated CF who is young.
- They have a 1B who looks to be an up and commer in flashes, but is not a solid star yet who can force a FA-to-be vet to the bench full time.

The trade deadline approaches in 17 days.

Karros should be gone. He's holding back Choi. Grudz should be gone. He's holding up Hill who's average is up to .285. Alou should be gone. He's holding back Kelton and his $9.5mm for next year could be used on a free agent. Remlinger should be used as trade bait. As should Veres. As should Estes. Wellmeyer should be called up. Cruz should start the rest of the way. Let's see if he is a 4-A player or not.

Get trades lined up for Vidro, Koskie, Lowell, Vazquez. Be ready to sign free agents in the off season like Vlad and Tejada and Castillo.

2004 starts Friday.

I hope. 'Cause 2003 is over.

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