Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Nice Hustle, Fool or You Can't Help the Team on the DL

I suppose nothing should surprise me about Sox fans. The LHPDW and I were in the bleachers last night and about ten Sox fans, most in some form of Aaron Rowand outfit, though one had his #13 Garcia jersey(?), were there so they could cheer on their team, the White Sox.

Well, not exactly. They were there to cheer on a single player who was traded by the White Sox to the Phillies, yes, Aaron Rowand. The guy who is this generation’s Jim Edmonds, you know, a guy who will dive for every ball, no matter if it means him getting hurt and costing his team by being out of the lineup. The type of guy who dives when he doesn’t have to, and gets the crowd excited, but the bottom line is he is a good, but not great, major leaguer.

So, I was very confused when I saw some (alleged) Sox fans in the right center bleachers, dipping and/or spitting sunflower seeds (because he would!) and cheering for their beloved Aaron. Me? If I were a Sox fan, I would be watching the White Sox, as they are playing a fairly big series against the team in first in its division. I would not be at Wrigley Field.

Last year, I bought tickets at Comiskey on the night Sammy Sosa was supposed to be back in town with his new team, the Orioles. But it was a night the Cubs were off, and they certainly were not in a pennant chase. I was not wearing any Sosa stuff, or even Cubs wear. Of course, Sammy failed to materialize.

So, last night, once the Rowand fans showed their allegiance, the other bleacher fans railed on them about the Sox score. Rowand walked and singled, but they were not memorable. He did pull up on a ball to center, which allowed us to hoot at the fans who came to see Mr. Exciting.

In the eighth inning, we got what we came to see. On a blooper just behind second base, Rowand came flying into short center, where he colliding with second baseman Chase Utley, and both went flying. Rowand lay motionless for a second, and eventually had to come out of the game, with at least a sprained ankle. The Rowand fans quickly and quietly left after the half inning.

Utley had the ball all the way, but no matter, Rowand will get there. He got there, but he didn’t get the ball.

Update: Rowand broke his ankle. He's out 4-6 weeks.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Good, Bad, and Ugly (Uniforms)

So, the Cubs only went 8-2 for the season at home against Saint Louis, but the best news yesterday is that Neifi Perez was traded. This could not have happened if Dusty were coming back next year, could it?

What is disconcerting for me are the quotes from the other infielders like Cedeno and Theriot about how much they learned from him and how sorry they are to see him leave.

Beyond the $2.5 million the Cubs saved off of next year’s payroll, it is good that Neifi won’t be there to share the insights that have made Ronnie Cedeno one of the most brain-dead young players I have seen in a long time.

Also interesting today is Paul Sullivan’s assertion “that the Cubs still believe Aramis Ramirez won't exercise his opt-out clause after this season and leave $22 million on the table to become a free agent.” Does he realize that he cannot hack it as the guy, or does he realize that scouts around baseball see through his all-of-a-sudden willingness to hustle? I hope they are right, but I don't see it.

Finally, the traditionalists lose: names are coming back to Cub home jerseys. I never liked the red trim on the blue numbers (on the 2006 jerseys, preferring the 1976 style below), but I guess the random fan “can’t tell the players without a scorecard.” Oh well. Better that than a Jumbotron.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ryan O'Malley?!?!?!?!

He was only called up because of last night's 18-inning game, and the undrafted free agent lefty who grew up a Cubs fan in Springfield, Illinois throws 8 (count 'em) shutout innings, showing that right now, he is better than Roger Clemens. I do believe he is Irish.

8 IP, 5 H, 6 BB, 2 K

Sure, the Astros might be a little groggy from last night, especially when they cannot take the amphetamines anymore.

Roger Clemens is Bad at Hitting Batters

Clemens is a gutless loser. He tried to hit Jacque Jones in the first and barely hit him. Then Jones hit a 3 run 450 foot homer against him. This all started when Big Z hit Aubrey Huff in the back rather than go through the traditional process of pitching around him the night before.

Mateo (7 career innings coming into the game) hits Clemens, not on purpose it seemed to me, and the next inning, Dusty (also gutless) pinch hits for Mateo with Ryan "The Riot" Theriot. Though Baker denied saving Mateo from a beanball, the fact is that Mateo pitched real well, two runs and four hits over five innings, and looked strong in the fifth.

So, in the 6th, Clemens misses Theriot on the first pitch, and the crowd roars. He drills Theriot on the next pitch and both benches are warned. Clemens leaves the game to a standing ovation, down 3 runs. He gives up 5 runs in 6 innings and gets a standing ovation. Pretty knowledgeable fans, eh?

Baker’s decision means that the woeful middle relief came in, with Will “Bad” Ohman and Michael "From Bad to" Wuertz giving up the lead, making Clemens in line for the victory.

Until Matt Murtha (sic) homered off the closer-formerly-known-as-Brad Lidge in the ninth. That satisfied me to no end, as Clemens would get his ND. I love that Clemens came back to pitch for this relentlessly mediocre team. I hope he bounces around like Steve Carlton, and people only remember the crappy Roger Clemens.

Why I stayed up until 1230a to watch the end is beyond me. Maybe to see the Cubs run through their entire 25 man roster? Maybe to see Murton claim the everyday spot in left field?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Too Bad He's Dead - Bruno Kirby

Bruno Kirby was always one of my favorites…he always had small roles, but was great in them.

He died of cancer.

In This Is Spinal Tap, Kirby has a quick cameo as the limo driver for the band, but his rant about the perceived lack of respect for Frank Sinatra’s genius is one of the classic scenes. After Nigel raises the divider, he calls the band, "Fuckin' limeys" and concludes, "But it's...it's a passing thing...it's uh.... I mean I would never tell them this but this is uh...this is a fad."

Or, in When Harry Met Sally, doing the wave at Giants Stadium with Harry.

So I asked the movers, "When did this woman book you for this gig?" And they're just standing there. Three huge guys, one of them was wearing a T-shirt that says, "Don't fuck with Mr. Zero." So I said, "Helen, when did you make this arrangement?" She says, "A week ago." I said, "You've known for a week and you didn't tell me?" And she says, "I didn't want to ruin your birthday."

You're say Mr. Zero knew you were getting a divorce a week before you did?

Mr. Zero knew.

I own a t-shirt that says "Don't Fuck with Mr. Zero."

Bruno was also great in The Freshman, The Godfather, Part II, and Good Morning Vietnam. He was also Bill Murray's (as Hunter Thompson) boss in Where the Buffalo Roam.

Cancer Sucks.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Me? I Like Dodger Dogs

Some great, light writing by a guy around my age about his love of going to Dodger games in L.A., which contain certain parallels with my own experience at Wrigley.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What Will You Give Me for a .300+ hitting Catcher?

Michael Barrett is a bad catcher. I have been saying this since last August, and following his sucker punch and earlier this season. He must go, or the Cubs will never do anything close to sniffing the postseason and World Series. He is not currently or certainly the only reason, but he is a key guy for the Cubs to move.

Tonight, Big Z was pitching and was eight-up and eight-down before Zambrano struck out Brewer pitcher Dave Bush, but Bush reached on Barrett's NL-leading ninth passed ball. Brady Clark followed with his first homer since June 7.

Carlos Zambrano (12-5) lost his second consecutive start after going 9-0 with two no-decisions in June and July. He gave up six runs -- four earned -- five hits and four walks in 4 2-3 innings.Zambrano had been 10-0 in 15 road starts since losing to the New York Mets on Aug. 7, 2005.

Agreed, Big Z should not have lost his composure, and should have sucked it up, but this is not a team that can afford these defensive lapses, and as the stats indicate, Barrett is a butcher.

Rick Morrissey can blather on all he wants about what a great hitter he is, but all the batting titles in the world cannot make up for his bad defense, and bad catching, whether it is handling pitchers or throwing out stealers.

I would bet his trade value is at an all-time high. Certainly, another catcher can be found that is not such a liability. What about Hank White?

Just as Zambrano got killed by Barrett today, Greg Maddux was often the victim of shoddy infield defense. A pity that he never had Cesar Izturis playing behind him. After ten days, you can already tell he is a great defender. He made an over-the-shoulder catch in short center look routine, and his range is sensational. Very fluid. Even if he doesn’t hit a lick, he is worth watching him play shortstop.

Also: Dusty Baker says something hilarious.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bad News for Dusty?

The Cubs haven’t signed a manager for next year. Everybody loves Joe Girardi. Thing is, he is the manager of the Marlins, and after what he has done so far with them, they wouldn’t want to let him go…

Unless Girardi and the Marlins' owner, Jeffery Loria had a “heated conversation” Saturday after their game, which no one now wants to discuss…

The pic is Joe telling the crowd about Darryl Kile's drug overdose.

IU Police Blotter

He is no longer an IU guy, so this officially does not reflect poorly on the university, but Marco Killingsworth was arrested for physical harassment, which, the cops say, is different than assault. So, as I see it, he is a jerk, but the cops got there before he could hit the female complaintant.

Meanwhile, IU receiver James Hardy

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Apocalypse Now

They just did the wave at Wrigley.

Right after Ronnie Cedeno hits a 3 run homer, and Rich Hill is pitching real well.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Say Goodnight, Gracey

Mark Grace cannot help himself. As quoted by Barry Rozner in today’s paper: “I think the fans thought of me as one of them. I didn’t have a posse and didn’t travel with ‘security guards,’ or have private booths around town. I tried to always be available to the fans.’’

Yes, he famously (to my group of pals) bought a round of beers in Cincinnati, while trolling for skank in Covington, Kentucky with Luis Gonzalez and Brian McRae, all the while smoking, the record reflects that as great as individual player he may have been, his teams did not win with him as their best player, and he did not make the players around him better.

His reputation with the fans and media is solidified by his beer-buying and agility with a juicy quote, but he was not a winner. 2000-plus hits, but no 100 RBI seasons.

He burned his bridge with me when, seconds after winning the 2001 World Series, took the occasion to rip the Cubs and their management, saying “I'm not good enough to play for the Chicago Cubs, but I'm good enough for the World Champion Diamondbacks." Congratulations on winning the Series, Gracey, celebrate that, don’t take shots at the team and its fans who provided you with all the strange you could handle.

And, of course, let's not forget his dalliance with B-actress, Janine Turner.