Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Headline News

I spend an inordinate amount of time parsing the texts offered by our baseball press corps. And although they deserve every minute, I must point out that sometimes the copy editors are more to blame than the writers.

The copy eds are the folks who write the headlines you see in the paper. Like the one I saw in my Saturday Tribune:

St. Louis article riles up Cubs
Apparently, the Post-Dispatch ran an allegedly wacky bit about how awful the Cubs are. Well, the last thing we want is for our heroes to get riled up. How bent out of shape are they, Sully?

“I actually brought the paper in,” starter Rich Hill said. “It's kind of like a slap in the face. It depends on how you want to take it. It's just something written on paper. It's just talk.

“What can you do? You have to change [the perception] on the field.”

Yow! Settle down, Rich – don’t go flying off the handle like that.

Well, Lou’s gotta be good for a real tantrum. I mean, he’s always throwing bases and screaming at the top of his lungs and stuff. What do you say, Lou?

“We just need to play good baseball,” Piniella replied. “I don't know anything about culture. If you play good baseball, you forget culture. If you play good baseball you're going to win games, and all we need to do is play good baseball.

“Culture? I saw that [article]. I think it's funny, but I don't buy into any of that junk.”

Oh, snap! Head for the storm cellar, ‘cause he’s gonna blow! What with all that talk about playing good ball…and how…funny…it was…and stuff…uuhhhhh…

So there you have it. Sully quotes two Cubs, both of whom say that if the team wins crap like that goes away.

From that, the eds at the Tower make the bold claim the Cubs are “riled up.” Just another triumph from a major metropolitan daily…

The guy who was most bent about it was the Super Genius. He said he wouldn’t talk to the Post-Dispatch reporters this weekend (ESPN has some video of him going off on a reporter), and leveled this classic blast:

That cheap shot against the Cubs, I don't want to be a part of it, and I want them, I want everybody to know that the St. Louis Cardinals and their manager have an absolute disregard for that.

Instead of ginning up pleasing headlines, the Trib eds should thank their lucky stars the Super Genius doesn’t boycott every paper that takes cheap shots against the Cubs. He’d never talk to Sully again. Or any other news org, for that matter…

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Mind Games

ESPN’s Jayson Stark poses this question:

What does it say about the strange saga of Alex Rodriguez that when he gets hot, our first inclination is to break down his psyche instead of his swing?

At first, I thought we would be treated to a look at the media’s “inclination” to play amateur psychiatrist with A-Rod. Alas, Stark then touches on Rodriguez’ swing. Better late than never, I guess.

Hilariously, Stark quotes an anonymous scout who talked about what Rodriguez was doing wrong last year. Why didn’t Stark and his cohort talk to this guy last year when Rodriguez wasn’t hitting home runs? Was it just too boring? Was it more fun to speculate about Rodriguez’ allegedly fragile psyche?

We are not mind readers, so we can’t say for sure. We will, however, go out on a limb and suggest that laziness contributed to the scripts that followed. We will also admit we could be wrong.

Right or wrong, it reminded us that we have seen more than the usual amount of stories in the last week or so that required more than the usual amount of mind reading and amateur psychiatrics from the press.

Like Ben McGrath’s profile of Manny Ramirez in the 23 April issue of The New Yorker. The whole piece is full of non-psychiatrists offering their diagnoses. But this might be my favorite line of all:

Popular diagnoses abound – “If we didn’t have Manny to talk about, who would we talk about?” Duquette says – and tend toward the faintly condescending, clichés about Ramirez as man-child (“He’s great with kids”) or idiot savant or holy fool.

Ironic, since the McGrath’s profile is also faintly condescending…

Manny being Manny is big out east, but here in America’s Heartland it’s a pitcher whose mind is most probed and dissected. And now that Mark Prior is out for the year after shoulder surgery, we’ve been hearing a lot about him.

Like this bit from ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski:

Royals backup catcher Paul Bako, who spent two seasons with the Cubs, motioned me over to his locker.

“What's going on with Prior?” he said.

“He's hurt – again,” I said. “And you know how it is in there. I think some guys on that team think he's a wuss.”

It’s a two-fer from Wojo – he subtly introduces the Prior Is a Wuss script (“He’s hurt – again.”), and then deftly reads the minds of Prior’s teammates to expunge himself of culpability.

The “I think…” construction is among the most useful in journalism. It ranks right up there with “Some say…” We used a variation earlier in this piece, when we offered laziness as an explanation of our press corps’ conduct.

Perhaps the most surprising take on Prior came from the Trib’s own Big Mouth. Here, he lays the smack on his brethren:

…the simple description is that there was enough dead tissue inside his shoulder that it should have sounded like car tires on gravel whenever he threw.

That doesn't sound like too much fun. It also doesn't sound like an easy thing for someone who makes a living with his shoulder. It might explain why his fastball had dropped from 93 m.p.h. when he was healthy to 82 m.p.h. in spring training.

Ah, but he's supposed to be worthless and weak, remember?

One whisper begets a windstorm. Along the way, someone decided Prior's problems were either in his head or in his gut. Now the theorists are saying he waited too long to get the surgery because he was afraid of it. On the mound, off the mound, the guy can't win…

Many pitchers experience arm problems. Some don't. Some can pitch through pain. Some can't. Prior is in the last category. It could just be that nobody is to blame for what happened. It could be the guy is injury prone.

But when you want blood, that's not a very satisfying answer, is it? It's why the theories have branched out to include Prior's mind-set. It's why we're talking about a squeezeably soft pitcher now.

Prior's prognosis should give pause to the people who recklessly referred to him in print as Mrs. Prior. An apology might be in order.

Wow. Big Mouth might be in danger of losing his BBWAA membership for that broadside blast. We can’t remember the last time we’ve heard someone in the media take his fellow journamalists to task for their amateur diagnoses and/or mind reading. Although, of course, Big Mouth does some mind reading of his own when he claims that Prior can’t pitch through pain. Oh, wondrous irony…

Despite Big Mouth’s brazen call for apologies, he still knows which side his bread is buttered on:

It's very possible the Cubs were the ones who whispered first about Prior's lack of toughness, and they should know.
This one sentence is utterly hilarious on two levels. Big Mouth excuses the press gaggle’s conduct by saying “it’s very possible” the Cubs started all those vicious rumors. Can’t blame the scribes for that, right?

And then he adds that beautiful flourish at the end – “and they should know.” What the hell does that mean?

Does it mean that if the Cubs perhaps maybe started the Prior Is a Wuss script, they’d be in the best position to know that what they’re whispering isn’t really a script? By our reckoning, that implies the Cubs were right, and Prior is, in fact, a wuss.

And that little bit of logic torpedoes the rest of Big Mouth’s argument that Prior isn’t a wuss, because the surgery proves it.

Thankfully, the NFL draft was this weekend, and the Bulls won their playoff series. Those events should give Big Mouth plenty of opportunities to mind-read and diagnose other sports figures. For a while, at least, baseball will be spared his ministries.

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Twenty-Seven Ways of Looking at a Cardinal

Was it just me, or was there a motif running through Friday and Saturday’s Cubs-Cards games?

A lot of the play-by-play I heard were variations along these lines:

‘Duncan won’t get to that one.’

‘Duncan turns the wrong way.’

‘Duncan took the wrong route to that fly ball.’

‘That’s over Duncan’s head and off the wall.’

Great googaly moogaly, Chris Duncan has to be one of the crappiest outfielders ever. But thanks to Lonnie Smith, he’s still not the Cardinal’s crappiest outfielder ever…

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Our Deepest Sympathies and Condolences

Josh Hancock, a Cardinals pitcher, was killed in an auto accident early this morning. We offer the Hancock family and the Cardinals our prayers...


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Just a Reminder...

...a tough out is still an out. Perhaps Ron Washington needs a reminder:

Washington made it clear that Sosa has earned himself a job as an everyday player for the Rangers. Sosa, going into Thursday's game, was hitting .224, and was second on the Rangers with four home runs and 16 RBIs.

"I certainly don't want to pull his bat out of the lineup," Washington said. "They may get him out, but it's a tough out."

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Tempest in a Teapot

I'd ask why in God's name this non-story is considered big news, but I already know the answer...

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Raley Report

I love having weekdays off. There is no line at the stores, I have a ready-made excuse for avoiding any weekend event I really don't want to go to, and I can enjoy weekday games at Raley Field. Why do I love these games? Because they are in the bright sunshine (as baseball was made to be played) and I can walk up to the ticket window 30 minutes before game time, plop down $17, and get a seat three rows off the field, one section over from the dugout. Try that at Wrigley Field (or Phone Company of the Month Park, or any other major league venue).

There seem to be a few changes around the yard this year, some good, some not so much. There is more food, with some new menu items and additional stands set up around the concourse. This is good. More ballpark food is always good. Arriving just at lunchtime and deciding that it's ok to eat like a pig at the park, I decided on the Dinger Dog. Because any time you can get a half-pound hot dog, you've gotta do it. Especially when it comes with grilled onions and sauerkraut. Mmmm, thems good eats. It's just so darned big though. If Harvey Fierstein went to the ballpark, this is what he'd eat.

There is some new construction going on behind left field, where the Rivercats are apparently adding a small seating section behind the berm. Probably a good idea; I don't think that the left field berm ever got used all that much, quite a contrast from the right field berm which is usually pretty full (there are no bleachers at Raley Field, just grassy berm areas When it almost never rains during the season, sitting on the grass is a nice idea). Otherwise the park looks about the same.

Maybe this is a change, and maybe it was just something that happened this day only, but my scorecard insert listed only the Rivercats roster and not that of their opponent. If that's something new, it's a bad idea. I'd very much like to know which prospect, major league castoff, or AAA-journeyman I'm looking at, thank you very much.

The game was a good one. A kid named Luis Ramirez was called up from A-ball to make the start for the Rivercats, and he was all over the place, especially in the first inning. He wound up walking only one batter, but was often behind in the count. Las Vegas didn't take advantage, leaving two on in the first, the bases loaded in the second, and two on in the fourth.

Joe Mays started for Las Vegas. He wasn't really very impressive (what a surprise) but fooled the Rivercats until the fifth, when the rehabbing Dan Johnson hit one off of the back wall of the bullpen with two on to give the Rivercats a 3-2 lead. After that the game became a parade of relievers, three for the 51's, four for the Rivercats. Las Vegas grabbed the lead back with three in the eighth, but the 51's threw away a double play ball in the bottom of the inning to help Sacramento tie the game, and one batter after that J.J. (he's a) Furmaniak dropped a perfect squeeze bunt to bring home the run that held up as the game winner.

There were a few good prospects in the game, and I don't mean Joe Mays. Andy Laroche didn't play, so I missed the best prospect on either team, but James Loney and Tony Abreu both played. Abreu was very impressive, collecting four hits, but Loney's offensive highlight was being intentionally walked. Last year he homered the time I saw him. The Dodgers...err, I mean the 51's, I'm sure this is completely their decision, had him playing right field, trying to increase the number of spots he can fit into in LA.

Deric Barton is still the best prospect on the Rivercats; he has been moved at least temporarily to third base. He made a couple of routine plays just fine but dropped a foul pop and went 0-4 at the plate. Catcher Kurt Suzuki didn't hit much either, pulling three balls to the left side of the infield. He did draw a walk to start the winning rally, and made a terrific throw to catch a basestealer. Marcus McBeth closed out the win very impressively; for a converted outfielder he's got a very good idea what he's doing out there on the mound.

Great weather, great food, and a great game. And I didn't even get sunburned (this stuff is awesome). Every day should be this good.

Gone for Good

I suppose I need to ante in my two cents on Mark Prior. Although I'm afraid I haven't much to add to the gaggle that's already out there.

I won't pretend to be a doctor, so I won't opine on his chances of continuing his career. He will make it back, or he won't. And he'll either be with the Cubs, or not.

I feel bad for saying this, but I'm glad the doctors found something wrong in his shoulder. He looked so godawful this spring even I could tell something was amiss -- whether it was physical or mental, I hadn't the foggiest.

So at least now there's some evidence that Prior was physically unable to pitch, and hadn't gone all Steve Blass or Rick Ankiel on us. No matter for the press hordes -- Prior may not have been too soft to pitch through the pain (as was rumored last year), but Sully assures us he was a big jerk, regardless.

Despite the jerkiness, despite the clamor that the Cubs just ditch Prior and be done with it, Sully was hard at it today, pestering Jim Hendry about Prior's future. I gently suggest to Sully that he's putting the cart before the horse here.

I also gently chide Sully for worrying about this now. After all the gab he wrote about the dangers of relying on the injury-prone Prior, he's going to worry about Prior's chances with the '08 Cubs?

Ah, well. I expect no less from the sages at the Tower.

At any rate, I wish Prior best wishes for a speedy recovery. For the record, I hope he will be in the blue pinstripes next year...but I won't count on it...

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Sure, It's Bias...Just Not the Kind They'd Have You Believe

Shorter Tribune editors: Cubs Fans sure are stupid, aren't they?

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Yogi Berra, political pundit

Hey, he'd make more sense than Bill O'Lylie or Rush.

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I Am So There

Woo-hoo! I'm going to the ballgame tomorrow! Forecast: 79 and sunny. I'll be the guy in the second row off the field, with the glove and the scorecard.

The Stars Are Out Early

MLB.com has opened up balloting for the 2007 All-Star Game (you know, the one that counts). My first thought was, "isn't it a bit early for this?"

But after thinking about it, I decided that it's not. Any knowledgeable fan and most of the casual ones already know who the best players in the game are. If I had gone ahead and cast a vote today, chances are it would be little different from the one I would cast on June 20. The worst All-Star votes are not the ones for the star player who is experiencing a down year, or even the guy who is past his prime. It's the ones for the player who was lucky enough to have the hottest two months of his life in April and May.

Vote early and vote often!

Best Broadcaster Line of the Day (So Far)

Joe Magrane, Tampa Bay Devil Rays TV color man:

"Alex Rodriguez is playing at a level that only dogs can hear."

Magrane and his partner, Dewayne Staats, are among the best broadcast teams in MLB. With the talent on the field now catching up to the talent in the booth, D-Rays games are fun to watch.

Update: Staats just dropped a Rocky the Flying Squirrel reset. These guys are moving closer to the top spot on my ranking.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Oh, It’s On

Baseball World Cup in 2009. Get ready for more predictions of doom and gloom for the pitchers participating in the action…


That Didn’t Last Long

So now what will the Alfonso-Soriano-Can’t-Play-Center-Field crowd going to gripe about now? Lou Piniella came out and said that when he gets back to the lineup tomorrow he’ll be in left field.

Felix Pie has shown enough to get the everyday gig in center (and, no, anonymous Trib copy editor – his first game did not warrant the “Stellar Debut” tag you gave it in your headline the next day). So where does that leave the other outfielders?

Piniella reiterated the Cubs will go back to 12 pitchers "shortly," meaning someone has to go down to Triple-A Iowa, unless the Cubs come up with a mysterious injury.

Piniella wouldn't say how he will juggle Cliff Floyd, Jacque Jones and Matt Murton in right field. He also wouldn't commit to Mark DeRosa when asked if DeRosa would be his regular second baseman, suggesting DeRosa will have to compete for playing time with Ryan Theriot, who's hitting .326.

A couple thoughts on this:

I think Murton is the most likely to get shipped out. He’s not playing, and he’s not hitting because he’s not playing. And Lou’s not going to play him if he’s not hitting. So Orange Guy goes back to Des Moines to get some regular PT, and will get recalled when Jones gets traded, or Floyd gets hurt (whichever comes first).

Oh, and there will be the requisite wailing and gnashing of teeth about how the Cubs just hates them some young players. If only they gave the products of the farm system the benefit of the doubt over Proven Veterans™, like the guys on the other side of town do

The gab about the Cubs’ obsession with the Proven Veterans™ will be quickly disappeared, of course, if Theriot takes playing time away from DeRosa. I hope The Riot takes full advantage of this chance (if he gets it). I don’t think he’s going to be a superstar, but he’s young enough to get a little better and seems to understand the value of taking a walk. DeRosa is OK, but that’s all he’ll ever be. Giving him 500 PA’s overexposes him dreadfully.


There Are None So Blind…

I came across this in The Sporting News this week. An enterprising fan is selling foam asterisks (a la the #1 finger) as a protest.

The web site describes it thusly:

We make no attempt to single out Barry Bonds. Barry just happens to be carrying the steroid banner presently. McGwire, Sosa, Bud Selig, etc...all of them are guilty of drinking from the steroid trough. We do indeed protest the steroid era... and the efforts of Bud Selig. Like a good parent...we do not accept the "everybody does it" excuse... the integrity of the game is at stake. We know the asterisk will never be applied but at least we fans will have said to the future fans ...we knew what was going on and we did not stand by and ignore it.

Our asterisk is simply an acknowledgment that we the fans were not ignorant to the truth. Future baseball fans will certainly look back on this time... the steroid era... and they will wonder why no one took a stand and called foul. So this year, we stand up for the past, to show the future, that the now matters. And we will make our stand... in the stands... at the ballpark... for all to see. Our little piece of foam does not attempt to change the record book or right a wrong. That would certainly be beyond our ability and would only add to an already convoluted tangle of words and facts. This little foam asterisk simply allows the fans to demonstrate, in a peaceful simple way, that we were not blind. We were not fooled. And we did not stand by and look the other way while the integrity of the game was ground into the dirt.

The Fans

Perhaps the folks running this company “were not fooled.” But making this statement in the name of “The Fans?” Spare me.

Were “The Fans” really cognizant of the steroid use in MLB during the 1990s? If they were, they sure hid it well.

“The Fans” loved the McGwire-Sosa show. Those two “saved baseball,” you know.

“The Fans” expressed outrage at the hapless AP reporter who chanced upon the bottle of andro in McGwire’s locker. Real time reaction by “The Fans” scorned this reporter for “tainting” McGwire’s pursuit of the record. (Oh, irony! Terrible and wonderful to behold…)

“The Fans” showered admitted steroid user Ken Caminiti with adulation for taking an IV of fluid, chowing down a Snickers, and rising up off his sick bed to hit a game-winning home run. What a gamer! What a gladiator!

“The Fans” (and the press) shared a manly laugh with Lenny Dykstra when good ol’ Nails explained away his new muscular physique by quipping, “I took some real good vitamins.” What larks, as Virginia Woolf used to say!

Were these the actions of a group of people who “were not blind,” “were not fooled,” and who “did not stand by and look the other way?”

Holding a foam asterisk in the stand may help some people believe that they’re taking a bold stand against the evils of steroids. But the time to take the stand was 1993, not 2007. All the foam rubber in the world can’t disappear the actions of MLB, the press, and “The Fans” for the last fifteen years.

One more thing: This web site also lists the “sacred numbers of the game we love.” Ironically, two of the numbers listed are 61 and 755. If you take a cursory look back at the game’s history when those two records were set, you’d see that there were quite a few people who weren’t down with the new sacredness they were watching.

Even more hilarious, another “sacred number” is 190. Come on, guys – that should be 191. The record keepers found an error in the official records years ago. Guess they don’t make “sacred numbers” the way they used to…

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Not Exactly a Honus Wagner

So I rip open a pack of Topps Opening Day 2007 this afternoon, hoping for a Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, or Rich Hill. Hell, I’d settle for a Hank White. (Already scored my ’07 Carlos Zambrano, so no worries there...)

Actually, I’d settle for any player. I just like baseball cards. Nothing wrong with that.

But I like baseball cards that are actually related to players. Alas, Gentle Reader, my pack of six cards contained the Phillies Phanatic, the Swinging Friar, and Lou Seal (for some bizarre reason, the Giants’ mascot is a seal).

I’m not a mascot fan. Not in real life, and certainly not on my three-and-a-half by two-and-a-half inch nuggets of joy. I never thought that I’d see a group of cards that I’d want even less Topps’ insert set of the signers of the Constitution, but I was wrong…

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

Can anyone explain to me why the Red Sox (that's this color) were wearing green (this color) uniforms on Friday night?

The first player I saw when I brought up the game on Mosaic was Manny Ramirez, and I just figured that Manny was confused and thought it was St. Patrick's Day again. Then I noticed that all of the Red Sox were wearing them.

I'm guessing it was a charity thing. That would be a positive explanation. Anything else would be stupid beyond belief.

Blinded By The Light

With this, the Mets officially take over from the White Sox in the "most cretinous fan" competition.

Please, if you ever see anyone this stupid, call security immediately.

Apples and Lemons

The Trib’s Mike Downey offers his unfettered support for Sammy Sosa’s Hall of Fame campaign:

Sosa has more hits than Joe DiMaggio, Willie Stargell, Kirby Puckett, Hack Wilson, Ralph Kiner or Duke Snider.

Sosa has more runs batted in than DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Paul Waner, Tris Speaker, Lou Brock, Billy Williams or Tony Gwynn.

Sosa has more home runs than DiMaggio, Mantle, Ted Williams, Reggie Jackson, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson and all but four men in the 131-year history of the game.

To put it simply, this kind of reasoning is daft.

I don’t care if Downey thinks Sosa is a HOFer. Maybe he is. I don’t know – I usually wait the requisite five years before I make my call.

But the logic that My Guy has more fill in the blanks than Arbitrary Hall of Famer is spurious. Have we learned nothing from statistical analysis? Does Downey not understand the concept that different eras have different statistical standards?

Just taking a couple examples from Downey’s list above…Sosa has more RBIs than Billy Williams and Roberto Clemente. Williams and Clemente played a big chunk of their careers in the 1960s. You may recall that the Lords of Baseball decided to lower the mound in 1969 because of the distinct lack of offense during the proceeding nine years or so.

So maybe Billy and Roberto had a slightly harder time finding runs to drive in. Just a theory.

[As an aside, Sosa is a HOFer because he’s got more RBIs than Lou Brock? Mike, you do realize that Brock was a leadoff hitter, right? Why not just say he had more RBIs than Carl Hubbell? Sheesh…]

But it’s not just the statistical oversimplification that gets to me. Part of Downey’s case is that Sosa has more hits, homers, and RBIs than Joe DiMaggio.

Think about that for a moment. Would you consider Sosa better than Joe Freaking DiMaggio? Or even equal to the Yankee Clipper?

I wouldn’t, either.

Unfortunately, that’s not the most embarrassing thing that Downey writes. This is:

He is not exactly Jackie Robinson when it comes to being a gentleman to admire. But he has 800 more hits than Robinson did and twice as many RBIs. Sosa is a genuine Hall of Famer as far as I'm concerned.

Yes, Downey did go to the Jackie comparison. More proof that we need to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day every year.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

From the ESPN Wire

Jerry Crasnick offers 1,300 words explaining why Adam Everett is a swell fielder.

No argument from me on his fielding -- Everett certainly can flash the leather.

But how many runs do you have to save on defense in order to balance out the runs you cost your team beacause your career numbers are .250/.303/.363? Baseball Reference.com lists the third-most similar player to Everett as Brad Ausmus...that ain't good...

In other news, Dr. Phil types a remarkably snark-free column about how the Cubs might not suck after all.

If a guy from Chicago writes something positive about the Cubs while moonlighting with a Connecticut outfit, is he still guilty of having the mythical Chicago media bias?

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This Guy’s Giving Etiquette Lessons?

Big news in Chicago today – Maddux pitching at Wrigley, and Sosa swinging at the Cell.

And whenever the press gaggle needs a sound bite at the Cell, they know they can count on Ozzie Guillen. Here’s what he says about Sammy Sosa:

Sammy represented our city very well. All the stuff he did … corked bat? He's not the first one to use it. The things they accuse him of? We don't know. I have a lot of respect for him to miss one year, come back, make the team and help these guys do what they want to do.

Sammy did more good stuff in baseball than bad stuff, and we have to respect that. The Cubs should be proud of him. I'm not going to say they treated him bad, but I think a lot of people turned their back on him when he needed it. Maybe that's his own fault…

This kid is going to make the Hall of Fame and be wearing a Cubs hat. People forget. Between him and Mark [McGwire], they saved this game [in 1998] and made people watch this game again. I respect that.

So Ozzie’s down with Slammin’ Sammy because he hit a lot of homers, wasn’t the first person to cork, and has no definite proof of juicing.

Oh, but the Cubs (and, reading somewhat between the lines) treated him badly. We “turned our back on him when he needed it.”

So it’s come to this: Ozzie Guillen is lecturing me for voicing my displeasure with a guy on my team. That’s rich.

I recall some not-very-pleasant things Guillen said about Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas when they left the Sox. And he has the gall to tell me I can’t boo a guy who walked out on his team? Hey, at least Big Frank stuck around for the games.

Guillen giving Cub Fan etiquette lessons. That’s like going to the Super Genius for sobriety tips…

UPDATE: I found it darkly amusing listening to the Gameday Audio of the Sox/Rangers game tonight. White Sox Fan was booing Sosa! Don't they have any respect for what he's done for the game? The booing qwas abruptly silenced after Sosa hit a dinger in the eighth. Maybe they suddenly remembered all he's done for the game at that moment...

Speaking of the Gameday Audio, what's the deal with the White Sox feed? Every other team's feed I've listened in on this week has come through fine. But the feed from White Sox flagship WSCR is full of static and tends to drop out an annoying number of times. I thought it might be my connection, but the Texas station comes in OK. WSCR is a crappy little station whose transmitter seems to be powered by several elderly guinea pigs, so perhaps that's the problem...

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So the moment Cub Fan has been clamoring for is here: Felix Pie is in The Show.

How long he stays in The Show is TBD. That will depend on two factors: how well he does over the next week or so, and whether or not we find someone to take Jacque Jones off our hands. Good luck with that, Hendry.

It’s a good thing Pie got a hit today. If he took the collar today, the nay-sayers would be out in full force, decrying him as another failed Cubs prospect and breaking out comparisons with Corey Patterson (speaking of whom, it’s been a while since Dr. Phil wrote about what a great player he is…must be something to do with his .701 OPS…).

I have no qualms about recalling Pie to take Soriano’s spot on the roster. Looking at the Iowa team, who else was there?

However, I am less sanguine about playing “wait and see” with Soriano’s hamstring. Reports say that he’ll miss about a week, and then hopes to get back at it.

Why keep him active and play a man short for a week? I’m OK with an eleven man pitching staff, but there’s no reason to handcuff Lou unnecessarily.

More importantly, why run the risk of turning this into something chronic? We’ve all seen plenty of examples where players aggravate a seemingly minor strain by coming back too soon (look at Aramis Ramirez the last few years). Put Soriano on the DL, let him rest and rehab for two or three weeks, and make sure he’s good to go before he plays.

We’ve got a lot invested in Soriano this year. We should be willing to sit him a few weeks in April so he’s able to play in August – when, hopefully, we’ll have a reason to keep our best lineup on the field…


Monday, April 16, 2007

Hero In The Outfield

Remember, major league baseball players are all a bunch of greedy bastards who are just in it for the money.

I'm guessing that you have, or at least have had, a job, at which you had co-workers. And I'm guessing that some of them were grade-A assholes, and some of them were good, caring people who did selfless, giving work in their community. That's the MLBPA, folks.

To this day, a lot of people don't realize that we had a major American city wiped off the map, and that the federal government did jack squat to help the situation. Go here to see what the MLBPA has done to help New Orleans, and to help other organizations in need. What have you done lately yourself?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

If It's Up for Grabs, He'd Probably Drop It

Jim has expressed his love for MLB Mosaic. But I'm a man who takes pleasure in simpler things, and am here to express my love for MLB Gameday Audio. Baseball on the radio is one of God's gifts to the human race (it ranks right up there with the Beatles, peanut butter, Jane Austen, and, of course, baseball itself).

Anyway...I'm listening to the Yankee's/A's game on the Oakland station, and one of the announcers mentioned that Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter had four errors on the season already, and thus this year's Gold Glove award is "up for grabs."

Intrigued, I went to ESPN this morning to check the field stats. Derek must have made a boo-boo last night, because it lists him with five errors (most among the 12 AL shortstops ESPN has listed as "qualified").

Jeter also ranks eleventh in fielding percentage, tenth in zone rating, and eighth in range factor.

I seem to recall that last year, Yankee Fan and Baseball Pundit were all over Alex Rodriguez for his allegedly poor fielding. I'm sure that these folks wouldn't want to hold a double standard, and will shower Jeter with boos as soon as possible.

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Stand by for Pain

Everything was sunshine and lollipops at Wrigley yesterday. But the Tribune's Dave van Dyck is still abuzz over Lou Piniella's "rant:"

"He gets over it fast," said Hall of Fame reporter Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, a Lou-watcher since Piniella's days as the Reds' manager in 1990-92.

In fact, early Saturday morning Piniella was calm and collected as he met with reporters in his office, 15 hours removed from his first show of impatience after an imperfect loss and impertinent question.

"That was nothing," McCoy said. "When Lou was in Cincinnati, that wouldn't have made a paragraph in the paper.

"Remember, we saw him throw bases, kick dirt on umpires, wrestle with Rob Dibble. So raising his voice was a non-event for us. He did that after nearly every loss.

"It's mostly dumb questions that will get him started. It doesn't take much, and his trigger is a little shorter after a bad game."

If dumb questions is all it takes, Lou's in for a rough season. If there's anything van Dyck and the rest of the Chicago press gaggle are good at, it's asking dumb questions.

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Today, This Is The Answer To Everything


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Deal Him Out

The Cubs have been on the market for about a fortnight. To go with the speculation over who’s going to buy the team, we’re treated to speculation about who won’t buy the team.

Here’s Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

I've got a better chance of winning a Nobel Prize than Mark Cuban does of owning the Cubs.

The fix is in, and the Cubs aren't even on the market yet. The fix is in, just as it always is under commissioner Bud Selig when a club is sold.

The Cubs' next ownership group will feature an MLB insider, or someone connected to an MLB insider, or someone who used to be an MLB insider and wants back in.

It sure as heck won't be the maverick Cuban, who would be about as welcome at an MLB owners' meeting as Brad Pitt would be at an Aniston family reunion.

How do we know?

Because Jerry Reinsdorf, the White Sox's influential owner, tells us so.

Reinsdorf, who also owns the Chicago Bulls, hinted to the Chicago Tribune that he would work against Cuban, his fellow NBA owner.

"It is a matter of public record that when Cuban was approved to buy the Dallas Mavericks, the vote was 29-1," Reinsdorf said.

Is it too much to hope that MLB owners wait for people to actually express interest in buying a team before they start bad-mouthing them? I guess it is…

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Taking Things for Ranted

The media had a predictable feeding frenzy after Lou Piniella vented his displeasure after yesterday’s game. The Trib even posted it last night as Lou’s “rant” (although they have changed the description for this morning’s readership). Listen carefully – it might be the shortest rant on record.

Here’s how Dave van Dyck described it:

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."

“His eyes flashing?” I don’t know if that’s what they teach in you in j-school nowadays. But it did put me in mind of my undergrad years studying Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Anyway…Piniella’s show of emotion makes for a good sound bite, but that’s about it. We can only hope it inspires the players to actually, you know, play good baseball.

We didn’t play too bad in Cincinnati or Milwaukee. But the last three games at Wrigley have been brutal – not as brutal as last year, but still poor enough to feel comfortable enough to not make any concrete plans for big games in September.

But after years of Dusty, who was laid back to the point of somnambulism in the face of crappy play, it’s nice to have a manager who acts like he expects players on the Major League roster to actually play like Major Leaguers. If Lou can pull that off, it certainly would be (to borrow a phrase from Coleridge) a miracle of rare device.

One more thing…I’ve been saying for the last six or seven years now that the biggest problem we have isn’t lack of power hitting or too much power hitting – it’s the fact that we don’t have a leadoff hitter.

Heading into today’s game, leadoff guy Alfonso Soriano has a .595 OPS. Our number two hitters (mostly Jacque Jones and Ryan “The Riot” Theriot) are marginally better at .649. The technical term for that kind of production is “terrible.” Until those guys can step it up, we’re going to have issues scoring runs…


They Write Letters

It seems I wasn’t the only one moved to dark, mordant chuckling over Dave van Dyck’s wailing and gnashing of teeth over the relocated press box at U.S. Cellular Field. The eds at the Tower saw fit to print two letters from readers taking our wayward press to task for their whining.

The first, from T. Bron in Tinley Park IL, says:

Those complaining writers would do well to remember that many of their readers can’t afford to attend more than a couple of White Sox games a year. They also ought to realize that some of their colleagues cover things in the real world, like the war in Iraq, and I doubt they’re doing it on wall-to-wall flat-screen TVs.

Suck it up, guys, and count your blessings.

In fairness, T, the press corps have already done the first part of your directive – they do, in fact, suck.

And Brian Hughes of Chicago checks in with this:

So the White Sox’s decision to move the press box to a less desirable location isn’t going over too big with the press. Who cares? Why don’t they buy a pair of binoculars like I have to when I sit in the seat that I paid for, along with parking, food, and beer?

What are these guys going to complain about next – the shrimp cocktail wasn’t cold enough at the free pregame luncheon?

Bwa-ha-ha! Kudos to you Brian – although I have often referenced the free spread available for our hungry journamalists, the shrimp cocktail is the perfect detail to illustrate this particular folly. Wish I had thought of that.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Glenview’s Chip Marshall gets in what I’m sure will be the first of many takes on this subject:

For the life of me, and as a long-suffering Cubs fan, I still can’t fathom the logic behind Cubs general manager Jim Hendry’s decision to trade [Greg] Maddux for [Cesar] Izturis during the 2006 season, perhaps the worst in memory. Bad enough the Cubs organization let the future Hall of Famer get away at the onset of his prime, via free agency, for nothing in return. Worse yet might be allowing Maddux to escape a second time with very little if anything to show for it.

I agree with Chip that Izturis does qualify as “very little if anything.”

However, he must have a very short memory. Or perhaps he is very young. There are several years that immediately spring to mind as being worse for my heroes than 2006. Like this one. Or perhaps this one. And this one. And for fans of a certain age, these three seasons will bring back cringe-worthy memories.

Chip, if you’re a Cubs Fan, you should know one absolute truth: it can always get worse.

But Chip’s more egregious statement is his assertion that the Cubs “let” Maddux depart as a free agent after the 1992 season. Perhaps this is also a function of his lack of long-term memory.

In the fifteen years that have passed between then and now, the predominant media script of the Maddux negotiations is that Cubs GM Larry Himes was a jerk who hardly made an effort to keep the Cy Young Award winner. While Himes was indeed a jerk, to say he “let” Maddux go is a gross misrepresentation of what happened.

If you look at the real-time reporting, you will see that Himes tried to get Maddux signed throughout the ’92 season, at one point offering the largest contract the team had ever given a pitcher. And if you look at what Maddux was saying in real-time, you don’t need to be a mind-reader to get the feeling that he didn’t want to come back.

I’ve threatened to do this before, but now I think I’ll go back through the archives and examine this subject in more detail. Like all scripts, if offers a pleasing tale. And like all scripts, it plays the fans for rubes. Himes did plenty to find fault with; we shouldn’t have to make stuff up in order to prove what a weasel he was…

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Is This Baseball or Iron Chef?

Offering what is to date the season's most awesome sound bite, Ichiro described his frame of mind before facing Red Sox uber-import Daisuke Matsuzaka:

I hope he arouses the fire that's dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger.

I'm pretty sure I heard Masayo Waki say the same thing before the classic Strawberry Dessert Battle. The only way Ichiro's comment can get any more awesome is if Chairman Kaga threw out the first pitch.

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You'll Get Nothing and Like It

Dr. Phil reports that the Devil Rays are harsh task-masters:

The Devil Rays are taking a hard line on nutrition, if not the ability to bunt (Dioner Navarro's effort Thursday in Minnesota was disgraceful). They have banned ice cream and candy from team flights.

Perhaps they're planning on trading for David Wells...

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Mets Baseball...Come For The Game, Stay For The Flying Fat Guys

Nothing beats fun at the old ball park!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Solid Gold

Bob and I were talking today about the Rawlings Gold Glove anniversary voting that he mentioned here yesterday. That reminded me that I had already cast my vote, even though it wasn't my idea first. If you're really curious, here's how I voted.

Starting from 1957:

C Johnny Bench
1B Wes Parker
2B Frank White
3B Brooks Robinson
SS Ozzie Smith
LF Barry Bonds
CF Willie Mays
RF Roberto Clemente
P Jim Kaat

I'm one of those who believes that each OF position should have a representative, instead of three centerfielders. If you really want two more centerfielders, add Garry Maddox and Andrew Jones, or Curt Flood.

The Rawlings voting starts at 1957 because that was the first year in which they awarded Gold Gloves. Prior to 1957:

C Ray Schalk
1B Frank McCormick
2B Bid McPhee
3B Willie Kamm
SS Phil Rizzuto
LF Al Simmons
CF Tris Speaker
RF Kiki Cuyler
P Bobby Schantz

As before, replace Simmons and Cuyler with Joe and Vince DiMaggio, if you wish. Or Dom, for that matter. Any DiMaggio, really. Except maybe John. Although I think Bender might have a 30% gold glove.

If You're Not Whitey Ford, Ted Lyons, Or Hal Newhouser, You're Stealing His Act

Garrett Anderson wants to be his own man, indebted to no one. He doesn't want to wear number 42 in this weekend's Jackie Robinson tribute, because, well, because Ken Griffey Jr. thought of it first.

"It wasn't my idea, and I'm not the type of person to jump on the bandwagon because someone else is doing something," Anderson said. "If I did it just because someone else was doing it, it would seem kind of empty to me."

Garrett's .280 batting average last year is what seems empty to me. Also, his head, based on this comment.

I think that this is one of the greatest ideas I've heard in a long time. If I were a major league player, I'd want to wear number 42 on Sunday, too. Jackie Robinson isn't just a hero to one group of people, he's a hero to the entire human race. Even those who choose not to jump on bandwagons.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Someone Noticed!

Good to see Jim’s pleas did not go unheeded. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan noticed that Zack Grienke pitched as well as the more-heralded Dice K…

Soon to Be Under New Management

I’ve hesitated writing anything about the pending sale of the Cubs because…well, let’s face it – there just isn’t a lot of news out there yet.

Oh, there’s been plenty of speculation, but so what? As the old saying goes, you can speculate in one hand and poop in the other, and then see which fills up first.

The Tribune Company officially put the team on the block a little over a week ago. That’s nowhere near enough time for anyone interested in the team to do due diligence, or for the Trib Co. to do the same from its end. So until there’s something a little more concrete, I don’t really care.

The powers that be at the Tower say they will sell the team by the end of the year. I don’t know if that’s a viable time table, given the need for the rest of MLB’s owners to approve the sale.

With no movement on the ownership front, the rumor mill has turned its attention to another topic – Wrigley Field.

There’s been gab that the Trib Co. might not sell the ballpark with the team. Because of this speculation, Cub Fans have expressed worry that the new owners might *gasp* build a new stadium that *double gasp* isn’t Wrigley Field!

To that, I say, “Terrific!”

Moving to a new yard has definite benefits, not the least of which is not having to deal with whiny neighbors or Mayor’s Offices. My only requests would be (a) put the new park on the el line and (b) layout the playing field just like the current Wrigley. Other than that, go wild, fellas!


Bravo for Life’s Little Ironies, Part Seventy-Eight

A few years ago, Steve Stone’s departure from WGN TV’s Cubs telecasts was hastened by a childish, unprofessional hissy fit he threw on the air in an attempt to make Dusty Baker look bad.

After turning down the Cubs’ request to return (not fired, as many Cub Fans seem to believe), he latched on with ESPN as one of their second- or third-string broadcast teams.

But MLB’s new TV deal means that ESPN will not show as many games as it used to. Long story short, Stoney got cut loose this year.

Even though the broadcast teams were scaled back, ESPN was still on the lookout for new analysts for Baseball Tonight and select games. I mean, if John Kruk can do it, anybody can, right?

One of the new hires: Dusty Baker.

I, for one, find that darkly amusing…

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Come On, Lou – We’re Burning Daylight Here!

How pampered is our baseball punditocracy? Well, we’ve already heard them complain about having to wait thirty minutes while a team digests the news that it’s on the selling block. And we’ve heard them whine that they’ve been moved from cushy digs behind home plate to allegedly less cushy digs down the first base line.

Both these examples pale to this nugget of joy from Dave van Dyck (the guy who sent Baron Budhausen a letter protesting his new seat on the first base line):

4:19 p.m. Piniella enters the interview room again for questions, a full 11 minutes after the game. Baker usually appeared about a minute afterward.

Unbelievable, in two respects. First, it might be the only time Lou has been unfavorably compared to Dusty this year.

Second is the sense of entitlement this sentence conveys. I’m no mind-reader, so I can’t be absolutely sure how bent out of shape van Dyck and his cohort were at Lou’s tardiness.

But if it wasn’t a big deal, why bring it up? Why record it so precisely as a “full eleven minutes?” And why bring up Dusty at all? What’s he got to do with anything, other than make Lou look bad for not hustling right to the interview room?

I’m old enough to remember when you could read the morning newspaper and get a sense about what happened during the previous day’s game. Sadly, that style of reporting must no longer be part of the curriculum at the j-schools Sully claims are so important.

We used to get play-by-play coverage of what actually happened on the field. Nowadays, we get minute-by-minute accounts of how the press gaggle is made to wait. No wonder newspapers are dying.

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He’s in Good Hands

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rawlings’ Gold Glove Award, the company is sponsoring a fan ballot to determine the All-Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team.

You can cast your vote here. For some reason, Derek Jeter is a nominee at shortstop…

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Life Can Be Cruel

The Brewers and Marlins were interrupted by a rain delay tonight with Bill Hall batting for the Brewers.

On the first pitch after waiting 49 minutes to bat, Hall was hit by the pitch.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Will Charlie Sheen Be On The Mound?

Ah, how life imitates art.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I'm Dreaming Of A White Opener

Well, if you can't play tomorrow, guys, I don't know either how you're going to make these games up. But maybe, just maybe, if you weren't spending two weeks playing the Florida Marlins and the Cincinnati Reds, there might be more room to schedule games with teams that are actually in your own league.

Bud Selig's infatuation with interleague play will keep creating messes like this again and again. Sure, the season starts when there is still a good chance of bad weather, but even when the season started in mid-April there were still weather issues. Cramming in eighteen games per year with teams not even competing for the same pennant makes it harder than ever to make up games lost early on. The Mariners only make one scheduled trip into Cleveland this year; this was it, folks. The Offensive Stereotypes and the Mariners will play again this year...in Seattle, on September 25, 26, and 27. Want to make them up then, in the wrong city and at the end of a pennant race?

Mondays forecast for Cleveland is here. Looks like the snow may stop by game time, leaving the teams to play a doubleheader on a wet field in 35 degree weather. What fun.

This just in. What a mess. It just gets better and better for Cleveland fan.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Is There Really Such a Thing As a Bad Free Seat?

Here's another glimpse into the minds of our baseball media. I think it speaks for itself, so I shan't add any comments...

The job just got more difficult for those who cover the White Sox. The team opened its new press box Monday at U.S. Cellular Field, moving the location from the second level behind home plate to Level 4 down the right-field line.

“It has gone from one of the best press boxes to one of the worst,” said the Tribune’s Dave van Dyck, a member of the board of directors of the Baseball Writers Association of America. (Full disclosure: I’m also a BBWAA member.)

Van Dyck has discussed the issue with Commissioner Bud Selig and will write a formal letter of protest to the league office. He noted that Sox broadcasters and the official scorers retained their prized spots.

“I would hope Selig, a strong baseball writers’ guy, would put an end to this,” van Dyck said.

But the trend is likely to continue. The Sox replaced the old press box with 200 club seats at $250 a pop. That could generate more than $4 million a year for the club, which has baseball’s fourth-highest payroll at $109.7 million.

“It’s difficult to say no to that type of revenue,” Sox spokesman Scott Reifert said.

Considering the Sox are the first team to move their press box from behind home plate, baseball is actually behind the curve in casting media members to the side to add revenue.

The Bears’ 200-seat press box at Soldier Field is in the southeast corner of the stadium, giving writers an angled view, if any at all. Views from the second and third row are obstructed.

“You have to remember,” sports talk-radio pioneer Chet Coppock said, “in the pecking order we’re somewhere between cotton-candy salesmen and parking attendants.

“The White Sox made a big statement that says, ‘We can make enough money to pay a backup shortstop at the expense of the guys who cover our ballclub every day.’ It’s patently wrong, and I think it shows contempt that owners have for the press.

“And there’s no question in my mind that in 10 years, we’ll be in the outfield.”

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Report from Wrigley North

I made Good Friday a Better Friday by making the road trip to Milwaukee for the first Cubs/Brewhas match-up of the year. And for once in my life, I was glad that Baron Budhausen had cajoled his way into getting the government to pay for a dome.

To put it simply, it was bloody cold out. I arrived fashionably early, as usual, and planned to wile away the hours before the gates opened by taking in the pre-game festivities while taking a leisurely stroll around the park. After a few minutes fighting the wind (the flags in front of the stadium weren't flying in the breeze as much as they were hanging on for dear life) made me realize that, unlike the burgeoning throngs of tail-gaters, I was not drunk or stupid enough to sit outside for two hours.

By the way, why do some many people enjoy the tail-gating? What is the attraction of cooking and eating a meal while sitting in a dirty car park while carbon monoxide fumes waft over you?

At any rate, a brisk walk down the left-field side of the stadium led me to the entrance to the restaurant entrance gate. I wasn't planning on eating there, but they were only letting in people who would be patronizing the place. Any port in a storm, as they say.

And I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the place. I got to see an hour or so of Brewer BP. And watching batting practice is a must, no matter what the game. After a pint of Guinness and a hot bowl of broccoli cheese soup, I was ready to face the elements again.

A quick turn around the lower concourse made me glad to hasten up to the fourth deck. As science has taught us, heat rises. I heard today that the temperature on the field was 60 degrees. Still a little chilly, but infinitely preferable to what was going on outside.

This outing was organized by my valued co-worker Dean, a fine, upstanding young man, Cub Fan and winner of the office fantasy league last year. He was already at our seats in Section 405 when I arrived. We were later joined by friend of the blog Mark the Burrito Eater, Jason the Tuba Player (both members of the office fantasy league), Jessi (Mrs. Burrito Eater), and many others too numerous to mention. We were a merry band, bantering and trading bon mots that would have made the Algonquin Round Table seethe with jealousy (if they were into baseball, that is).

I'm pleased to report that the game itself matched the pleasantness of my company. My heroes teed off on David Bush for six earned in the first, aided by Bill Hall turning three times on a Cliff "Count" Floyd fly ball to center, none of which were the right way. Lee scored easily from second, and Hall's lousy throw to the infield allowed A-Ram to score and let the Count take third.

Michael Barrett followed that with his first hit of the year, scoring Floyd. And the Mark DeRosa hit a two-run tater to put us up 6-0.

Other than the unexpected explosion of the Cubs lineup in the first, the big story of the game was young Rich Hill. Hill, you may have heard, was perfect through five innings. Even sitting in the far right field corner, I could tell he had his A game. He looked even better when I reviewed the game film this morning (of course I taped the game...doesn't everybody?).

Corey "Sunglasses at Night" Hart's lead off homer in the sixth broke up both the perfect game and the shutout. And then came the only moment of the game I was worried.

A-Ram booted a ground ball by Graffanino. The umpire ruled his throw pulled Lee off the bag (although replays showed the ump was wrong). E-5.

Jenkins came up to pinch hit for Bush, and hit an easer grounder right back to Hill. Hill had all the time in the world to get the force at second, but threw wide of the bag. E-1, all runners safe.

Last year, this turn of events would have led to a Vortex of Armageddon™ from which there could be no escape. But in a small sign that 2007 will be better, Hill got out of the jam with no further damage -- infield fly pop ups by Weeks and Hardy, and then he made Prince Fielder look sick with a whiff to end the inning.

That was pretty much it for the game. Bush got his act together after that rough start, and shut us down after that. We tacked on a few runs against the Milwaukee pen, and they got a couple back against Angel Guzman in the ninth.

I was pretty good during the game. I traded some good-natured smack with my Brewer Fan companions. But I did indulge in a loud, long laugh when Ronnie Cedeno hit a home run in the ninth inning. Someday, I'll be able to tell my grandkids that I was there when Ronnie hit his home run for 2007.

Just to top the evening off, I won $5 on the Sausage Race. Good ol' Italian broke from the gate and led going away. I mention this in the interest of full disclosure, just in case I should ever be up for election in the Baseball Bloggers Hall of Fame. I only bet on the Italian to win, so it's all good, right?

[Note to the children in the reading audience: Kids, don't gamble. Remember, you can't win happiness.]

Overall, it was a splendid evening. Great game, great company, and not too many drunken idiots marring the festivities. That was probably helped by the mass exodus of Brewer Fan after the Sausage Race.

Overall, I'm 3-0 at Wrigley North for Cubs games. Don't know if I'll get back there for a game this year, but I will be at Wrigley Field proper for a July game against the Giants. I won't cheer Barry Bonds, because I don't want to send the wrong message to the rest of the players on the field.

My next Major League game will be a Father's Day tilt between the Blue Jays and Expos at SkyDome. I think it will be the first time I've taken in a game between two franchises that are younger than I am...

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Who Will Think Of The Children?

I always thought that Canadians were sensible people, but the do-gooders who are behind this silly controversy might make me reconsider that opinion. Does any rational person really think that this nonsense is in some way promoting child endangerment? Get a grip, eh?

Not Only The Ball Was White

I know that in a way, this is kind of funny, but it's actually fairly disgraceful to try to play a baseball game in these conditions. I know it was Opening Day for the Indians at home, but there has to be a point where you give in to the obvious.

Mankind's Greatest Hits

Fire, the wheel, and now this.

Six games at once, with alerts whenever a player I'm interested in is coming to the plate? Life is good!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Put Up Your Dukes

Just an observation from a couple of early season games I've seen...I know that this kid has had some bad breaks in life, and he hasn't helped matters by behaving like a thug a times, but I hope he's moving past that. Because Elijah Dukes has got some serious game.

While Your Attention Was Focused Elsewhere

Daisuke Matsuzka made his major league debut today, and was pretty much everything that he was advertised to be. Sure, it was the Royals, but the Royals aren't a pushover any more, especially offensively.

But you can (and probably have) read and hear about that anywhere. There was another outstanding pitching performance in Kansas City today, a great story that went virtually unnoticed.

In 2004, Baseball Prospectus listed Zach Greinke as the number seven prospect in baseball, comparing him favorably to Bret Saberhagen and Greg Maddux. Prospect expert John Sickles agreed, making Greinke his number one pitching prospect in the land. Pitching for a miserable (58-104) Royals team in 2004 (as if there has been any other kind of Royals team the past decade), Greinke, age 20, posted an 8-11 record and a 3.97 ERA. The team ERA was 5.15.

The Royals were terrible again in 2005, but Greinke started well. However, he almost completely collapsed in the second half and finished 5-17, 5.80. Still, he was just 21, and certainly could be thought of as having a bright future.

His future took a detour. In the spring of 2006, the Royals placed Greinke on the disabled list and sent him home. Few details were forthcoming, but it is now known that Greinke was suffering from a social anxiety disorder. He missed most of the season, pitching decently in AA during the second half of the season and making a late season cameo with the Royals.

Zach Greinke pitched against Matsuzuka today, and pitched one hell of a game. Facing the Red Sox, one of the best offensive teams in the majors, Greinke pitched seven innings, allowing eight hits and two runs, one earned. He struck out seven and walked just one.

The game story today on Yahoo! sports ran 949 words long. This is the entire mention of Greinke:

Zack Greinke (0-1), who missed almost all of last season due to social anxiety disorder, struck out seven in seven innings, allowing two runs and eight hits.

Thanks for noticing. Greinke got in the way of the big story, you see. No one was there to see him today, and he's only a Royal, so who cares?

I'm pretty sure that the Red Sox noticed. Probably a few scouts did, too. A few more starts like this one, and maybe the rest of the country will catch on, too.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Time to Honor the Original Rocket

Friend of the blog Jeff Pearlman has an outstanding piece over at ESPN.com beseeching the Astros to get off their hinders at retire J.R. Richard's number.

As a young lad in the 1970s, I didn't think it was possible for a right-handed pitcher to be more dominating than Richard. Watching him pitch against the Cubs in the Astrodome was a dreadful, wonderful thing -- dreadful because he's make my heroes look like a bunch of Little Leaguers, wonderful because watching pitchers who are really good and know what they're doing is a treasure.

Sign the petition. Let the Astros know you want to see the Original Rocket get the honor he deserves.

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Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

High fives all around -- but especially to John Kerry.


Ground Rule Single

I got this e-mail alert from my work buddy Mark the Burrito Eater. It is the awesome-est thing I've heard all day:

Dmitri Young just had a ground-rule single.

It was the bottom of the ninth, one out, game tied. He hit the ball deep and almost foul with a runner on third. The Marlins fielder knew if he caught it he could never throw out the runner so he let it drop in hopes it would go foul. It landed just inside the line and bounced up and into the stands. Once Dmitri rounded first the team started celebrating and he didn’t make it to second. The announcer came back later and said it was a ground-rule single.

Please ignore the fact that I was listening to a Nationals/Marlins game on the radio. Only because the Blue Jays/Tigers game is a blowout.

I love goofy oddball plays like this. Perhaps someday it will make Retrosheet's list of strange plays. Thanks for the tip, Mark!

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Breaking Ranks

This will come as a surprise to some White Sox Fans:

Tribune Co. purchased the Cubs for $20.5 million in 1981, months after Reinsdorf's group acquired the White Sox from the late Bill Veeck. That the Cubs were owned by a media company in control of the city's largest newspaper and major TV and radio stations created the perception of a conflict of interest, but Reinsdorf said he never had a problem with how Tribune Co. operated.

"I think the Tribune Company handled owning the Cubs very well," Reinsdorf said. "We were never mistreated at all. And the Cubs certainly weren't given a pass [by the newspaper]. I think the Tribune Company did a fine job with the Cubs."

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Uh, Uh, Uh, That's War Between The States Rights

Last week, to close out the exhibition season, MLB inaugurated the annual Civil Rights Game. The game, held in Memphis, was the conclusion of a week-long celebration of the civil rights movement.

That's a great idea, and MLB gets credit for it. Of course, being MLB, they couldn't do something so simple without a screwing up once or twice.

Which two teams did MLB pick for this game? To represent the AL, they chose the team with the most offensive name and logo in all of MLB. To represent the NL, they selected the franchise which threatened to boycott Jackie Robinson in his rookie season.

Being dead, Al Campanis was not invited to comment.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Opening Day Card Table Discussion

Back at our old site, Jim and I engaged in several Card Table Discussions via instant messaging. We just didn’t have the budget for a proper Round Table, you see…

Anyway, it had been a while since we had gotten together on line, so we thought we’d enjoy Opening Day while sitting in front of the computer and TV. Here’s a slightly edited transcript (for grammar and spelling) of our gab during the exciting Orioles-Twins match up from Monday night:

Bob: Anything interesting happen today? Besides both our teams getting smoked?

Jim: A few good games...Jays/Tigers. Phillies/Braves…Yankees/Rays was good for a while.

Bob: How about that Carl Pavano?

Jim: Still a bum. Not that a lot of guys looked better. Hell, the best pitching performance of the day was Gil Meche

Bob: 7.1 IP, 6 K, 1 earned...that doesn't stink. Makes me even more annoyed your girlfriend grabbed her in the fantasy draft...

Jim: Contreras, Kazmir, Webb, Zambrano, Patterson...some not-so-pretty starts. Bonderman pitched well, after the 1st inning, so did Halladay, and Harang. And Ben Sheets

Bob: I'm sure I'll hear it from Brewers Fan tomorrow morning.

Jim: Is that how you slide in Canada? (watching Justin Morneau)

Bob: It's a metric slide.

Jim: last year, baseball prospectus used the World Baseball Championship as a whipping boy for slow starts by Johan and other pitchers...so, with so many guys not sharp today, where will the blame go?

Bob: There was also the newly-implemented greenie ban, which many predicted would result in runners falling asleep on the bases. I don't suppose they can use that again. Sane people will chalk it up to just a random bad outing, as everyone is entitled to every once in a while. Unfortunately, the baseball punditocracy is anything but sane, and they'll need something to rag about.

Jim: Did you see that catch? What I love about it is that White looked like he was moving in slow motion the whole way. Including the dive.

Bob: Nice catch by Rondell. Good to see the old legs still have some life in 'em. I think we can add Felix Hernandez to the list of guys who had good starts today.

Jim: Yeah, I would say that was pretty good, for a 20-year old. Scott Williamson is warming up in the O's bullpen? Scott Williamson? Who's next, Eddie Watt?

Bob: Any port in a storm, I guess. Better hope that Mazzone magic rubs off quick. Perhaps Tippy Martinez is next?

Jim: Tim Stoddard.

Bob: Hoyt Wilhelm. Speaking of knuckleballs, I broke a few off today pitching BP to my sons and their friends. Nothing like fooling a couple nine-year-olds to boost my middle-aged confidence.

Jim: You were probably more effective than Jose Contreras.

Bob: It helped that we were using an older ball that the boys had scuffed up pretty good. I learned a lot from Rick Honeycutt...

Jim: ok, Whitey Ford.

Bob: Note to Paul Bako: let the umpire call the foul balls.

Jim: Exactly...don't just assume the call, finish the play. I thought that veteran catchers were supposed to know that.

Bob: Nice shot by Morneau. Looks like he's telling the second base ump, "I was safe, eh?!"

Jim: "I beg your pardon, eh? Would you consider that I was safe, if it's not too much trouble?"

Bob: Here comes Sam to bring in Williamson. Guess we can add Bedard to the list of guys who didn't have good days.

Jim: Done.

Bob: Great llamas of the Bahamas -- what's gotten into Hargrove? I see on Game Channel that he brought Putz to pitch the ninth. But the M's are up 4-0! It's not a save situation! You can't use your closer in a non-save situation! It's an unwritten rule!

Jim: That's right! That's why John Gibbons used Casey Jannsen, Scott Downs, and Justin Fraser in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game in Detroit today.

Bob: And he had B.J. Ryan all lined up for the tenth to nail down the victory. He knew what he was doing...

Jim: Because why use your best reliever to hold a tie, when by using your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best you can eliminate the need for a save situation.

Bob: Why else have 12 pitchers if you can't use your fourth best reliever in a game situation?

Jim: You need that 12th pitcher so that you can carry a guy to pitch 60 games, 38 innings.

Bob: I think it's great the way ESPN uses a little graphic underneath the line score graphic to tell us which guy hit the home run we just saw leave the yard. Thanks, guys.

Jim: Well, in case you weren't paying attention

Bob: It's the end of an era -- I see on the transaction wire that both Ben Davis and Ron Villone were canned by the Yankees today. Hard to believe they still had jobs...

Jim: I thought that they were in camp as coaches. Or doing the catering.

Bob: There was a bit on Baseball Tonight last night about guys who had good years getting sent out to AAA. One thing the panel didn't mention was that these guys haven't been all that good recently. Cantu, Prior, Ordonez, Davies, McClung...

Jim: McClung has never had a good year. Davies? like he's exactly Tom Glavine?

Bob: But McClung was the Closer(TM). That means something, don't it? Davies was a Braves pitching prospect, which automatically meant that he was a hot property. You know, like Steve Avery and Horacio Ramirez.

Jim: And so many others...Bruce Chen...

Bob: Odalis Perez...John Rocker...Micah Bowie...

Jim: The list goes on. Kind of like it used to be with the Dodgers.

Bob: The ESPN guys are talking about Jackie Robinson's legacy. I'll leave to your imagination the mind-numbing inanity of Sutcliffe and Baker discussing the sociological implications of Robinson's career.

Jim: Did Mark Grace play any part in it?

Bob: No. But I'm sure Grace would have some hollow platitudes to mouth if he were in the booth. The play-by-play guy on ESPN just said that while John Parrish is 29, he's really 27 in "baseball terms" because he's missed most of the last two years with injuries. Does life really work like that?

Jim: Is he counting in dog years or something?

Bob: Maybe his arm has a little less wear and tear...but still...

Jim: But he's still 29!

Bob: Does that mean Kerry Wood is only 25?

Jim: Hell, at his rate, pretty soon he'll be 17.

Bob: Hey, it's Dennys "Sampler" Reyes. Good to see he's still got a gig. It's 2-2 in Houston, thanks to Lidge.

Jim: When I saw that the Pirates had tied the game, I knew without looking that Lidge was pitching. Oswalt is waiting for him in the clubhouse, with a bat

Bob: Closers are a superstitious and cowardly lot...And now I see Jason Bay has hit the go-ahead dinger in the top of the tenth. Oops.

Jim: Lidge must still be pitching.

Bob: No, it was Qualls. But it's a good thing Lidge doesn't pitch in New York, Boston, or Chicago. Fans and the media would be fixing to tar and feather him...

Jim: My mistake...I just automatically assume that any time the Astro bullpen screws up, it was Lidge.

Bob: Here's the kind of insight that you can only get from a former player...Sutcliffe just told a wacky story of how all the guys on Canada's WBC team last year enjoyed hockey. Who'd've thought it?

Jim: Canadians enjoying hockey? What's next, Brazilians enjoying soccer?

Bob: That led to a discussion of all the Canadians who had good careers in the Show. Fergie, Larry Walker...uhhhh....

Jim: Jeff Heath. Jason Bay is working on one

Bob: He's added to his legend tonight.

Jim: Matt Stairs!

Bob: Good ol' Matt Stairs. Former second baseman, you know.

Jim: Can you imagine Stairs playing second base today? I can imagine Stairs BEING second base, but not playing it.

Bob: I don't think I can imagine that much. Astros wrapped up their first loss of the year. I guess it's down to the Reds, Brewhas, and Pirates in the Central this year. Everyone else is on pace to lose 162 games.

Jim: oh, here's another surprise. The Twins broadcast crew is talking about how the plate ump is calling the outside corner strike some times, and not other times. The plate ump? Country Joe West

Bob: Why haven't they fired him yet? So what was your biggest surprise today? For me, I think it was all those good pitchers getting lit up.

Jim: It was a surprise to see so many of them struggle...cripes, it took Brandon Webb 40 pitches to get out of the first inning today. The Blue Jays stole two bases in the first today, against Pudge Rodriguez, no less...that's not usually their style. Otherwise, not really too much surprising...it's just a one day sample, so I can't draw any conclusions. Not that this will stop Dr. Phil, Sully, etc

Bob: I agree. There's no need to push the panic button yet, although there will be fans and media ready to start dumping players today.

Jim: 161 left, you know.

Bob: I think the important take-away from today is that baseball is back, and all is right with the world. No matter how lousy our teams looked this afternoon.

Jim: And on that note, we should bring this to an end.

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Note to George Mitchell

Let me know how that works out for you.


Another Reason to Drink

As if the Super Genius didn’t have enough problems: Chris Carpenter will miss a start because of a sore elbow.

Sounding like a character from the beloved old SCTV, Carpenter said, “I could tell there was something going on because it felt funny. When I woke up the next morning it had swelled up pretty good.”

“The first indication is there's a chance it'll be something that is not real serious,” the Super Genius said. “We're going to be real careful with it.”

He’d better be. It’s not a good sign when a guy with a history of arm issues can’t bend his elbow enough to fix his shirt.

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Make My Gray Jerseys True Blue

Some good news from yesterday – the Cubs have decided to scrap the dopey alternate blue jerseys they’ve used the last few years.

Apparently, new President John McDonough decided that traditional togs are best. We’ll be white with blue pinstripes at Wrigley, and all gray on the road.

I thought McDonough was the marketing guy who cared more about moving merchandise than winning. Doesn’t he realize he’s cutting into licensed apparel sales with this move?


Journamalism, Opening Day Style!

Opening Day is a wonder in many, many ways. And yet, it can also be a terrible, terrible thing, especially when you pick up your local paper the next day.

The last few years, the editors of the Chicago Tribune have used Opening Day as an excuse for some of the weakest reporting imaginable, resulting in the waste of precious, precious newsprint. This year was no different.

First was this fluff piece by Sully. It was one of those “season’s first…” columns that eds love because they take up column inches and writers love because they’re just so damned easy to write.

This is how Sully leads off his filler:

First access violation: 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.

This is an intriguing glimpse into the mind of our press gaggle. The first thing that leaps into Sully’s mind is that those meanies let him and his cohort wait for thirty minutes! Horrors!

And so it goes in Sully’s world. The game, the players, the general state of the team? Fans don’t give a rat’s kiester about that stuff. Better to let them know the trials and tribulations of their favorite beat reporters. Letting them cool their heels for half an hour. Why, that left them with precious little time to file their early space-fillers before hitting the press box spread!

Those of you interested in a little compare-and-contrast might want to check the companion piece by White Sox beat reporter Mark Gonzales. See if you can spot which “season’s first” provides factual (if inconsequential) information, and which plays its readers for rubes by overpowering the few facts involved with its overall sneering, snarky tone. Here’s a hint: Gonzales is a reporter who actually puts his four-year j-school degree to use in his work.

Big Mouth strikes again with this take on the day’s biggest off-the-field news:

This is a good day for those of us at the newspaper who have been uncomfortable with Tribune Co.'s ownership of an entity we writers have to cover. I never once questioned the professionalism of the people in our sports department, but the perception around Chicago was that the Chicago Tribune sports section somehow
was in bed with the Cubs or that it favored the Cubs over the White Sox. I'll go to my grave knowing that wasn't the case, but perceptions are as resilient and poison-resistant as cockroaches.

I don't know of anybody in the Chicago Tribune sports department who felt good about the ethical dilemma of the company's ownership of the team. We didn't get a vote.

I'm not sure what the Sun-Times is going to do with itself now that its reason for living — criticizing Tribune Co. for its ownership of the Cubs — has been taken away.

While I agree with Big Mouth on his Sun-Times blast (that thing’s been a rag ever since Murdoch got his hands into it back in the day), I indulged in dark laughter at the rest of it.

The idea that the Trib sports section (or any other paper’s sports section, for that matter) is fair and balanced is absurd. They’re all biased! They all have a vested interest in the home team, for good or ill.

When the home team is doing great, the paper is full of sunshine and lollipops. When the team is doing lousy, it’s full of gloom, doom, and throw the bums out.

Was the Tribune pro-Cubs in 2003? Hell yeah! At least until Game Six. Then we missed the playoffs in ’04, the War on Baker started, and here we are.

Was the Tribune pro-Sox in 2005? Hell yeah! World Series Championships tend to give a team a warm, fuzzy glow. The luster faded a bit last year, but the eds at the Trib reserved their venom for the last-place team across town.

As for the “professionalism” of the Trib staffers, just remember that this comes from a guy who openly referred to Cubs Fans as rubes, suckers, and bumpkins. And these are the same guys who are wailing and gnashing their teeth over one loss. Opening Day is the best day on the calendar. But it’s still just one day…

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Congratulations Again, Baron Budhausen

Well done, Baron! All those years, of lying, deceiving, bullying, shakedowns, and looking the other way have finally paid off!

I have no doubt that Montreal fan is very happy for you.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Is it just me, or is the strike zone very narrow today? And if so, is this a sign of something new, or just a one-day thing?


It's been about three hours since the Cubs and White Sox finished their openers.

Time enough for the folks at Chicago Sports.com to put this poll question on the site:

Who stunk more today?
18.7% Cubs (261 responses)
81.3% Sox (1133 responses)

Classy works, guys. Do they teach that kind of stuff at j-school?

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Damn, MLB Really Hates This Team

Both of them, actually. I'm watching Mosaic; three games are in progress right now, as I type this. The only one having transmission problems? Nationals-Marlins.

Just a part of the continuing effort to burn the Expos franchise to the ground and salt the earth it grew on.

Now I Know That The Season Has Started, For Real

B.J. Upton just grounded an RBI single past a diving Derek Jeter. How many times will I see that this year? And it only took until the top of the second inning.

Yes. that's three time Gold Glove award winner Derek Jeter.

These Are The Days Of Miracle And Wonder

It's my day off. What are the first two things I do when I wake up today?

First, I check on my Simnasium teams. I've sung the praises of Simnasium before, but for those of you who don't want to click the links, Simnasium is a baseball simulation in which you draft a team from players throughout baseball history, keeping to a budget, usually $100,000,000. You draft the team, set the lineups, establish a rotation and bullpen, and every day the sim runs three games against one of the other 12 teams in your league.

If you ever thought you could have been a hot shot general manager if only you'd gotten the chance, this game is for you. If you ever thought it would be great to have Sandy Koufax pitch to Babe Ruth, or how would Josh Gibson or Oscar Charleston have fared against Lefty Grove, or for that matter to have Frank Bertaina pitch to Sammy Strang, this game is for you.

Second, I download MLB.com Mosaic. Six live games on my computer monitor at once? Check. Updates when a favorite player comes to the plate? Check. Am I a total baseball geek? Check. I'm ready for Opening Day now.

I said it before, and I'll say it again. This is the true Golden Age of baseball.

Great Googaly Moogaly Part 2

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."

I'll go out on a limb right now and predict that whoever buys the team will be denounced as a moron within forty-eight hours of the sale...

UPDATE: The message board at Chicago Sports.com is open on this subject. Unsurprisingly, White Sox Fans are the first to post. And here I'd been told for years that it was Cub Fans who were rude and unemployed...

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And Not a Moment Too Soon

Opening Day.

Are there two happier words in the English language?

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Great Googaly Moogaly

As if we need further proof, five of the six Trib baseball journamalists prove that they're either clueless or dopey by offering these predictions for the AL Cy Young winner:

Mike Downey -- Josh Beckett
Mark Gonzales -- Rich Harden
Rick Morrissey -- Roy Halladay
Phil Rogers -- Mariano Rivera
Paul Sullivan -- Jered Weaver

Dave van Dyck was the only writer to provide the correct answer to the question: Johan Santana. After the last two years, how do you not give Bat-Girl's fave the benefit of the doubt?

Those four-year J-school degrees serve only marginally better when the panel presented their picks for NL MVP:

Mike Downey -- Carlos Beltran
Mark Gonzales -- Carlos Beltran
Rick Morrissey -- Albert Pujols
Phil Rogers -- Prince Fielder
Paul Sullivan -- Albert Pujols
Dave van Dyck -- Andruw Jones

Sully and Big Mouth acquit themselves by making the correct choice. But what the heck is up with the rest of that lot?

Beltran's a superb player, but now he should be playing the role Albert's played the last few years -- the guy who finishes second in the MVP balloting.

Andruw Jones? Let me put it like this -- you're putting together a team, and can stock your roster with anyone you please. Do you take Jones or Pujols first? I thought so.

And c'mon, Dr. Phil. Fielder???? Someday, perhaps. But we're not talking about the 2014 MVP now...

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Big Mouth Strikes Again

Shorter Rick Morrissey: Hey, rubes!

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Opening Cheap Shot

First sign that Tony LaRussa hasn't sobered up yet:

Yadier Molina is batting fifth in the Opening Day lineup.

That's this Yadier Molina.

Bravo for Life's Little Ironies

The Cubs finished their exhibition schedule with two games in Las Vegas against Seattle. I can only wonder if the various distractions provided by Vegas led Sully to phone this nearly worthless column into the Tower today:

"Chicago might be a good place to play, but it is a tough place to lose, one of the toughest," Pierre told the Tribune last month.

"They love their Cubbies in that town, and they sell out almost every game at Wrigley. We lost almost 100 games and the fans voiced their opinion.

"It was unpleasant and sometimes it got nasty, but you knew they were yelling because they love their team. That's what made it so disappointing."

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?

It wasn't even a week ago that another Trib columnists ridiculed Cubs Fans as suckers, hayseeds, rubes, and bumpkins for cheering their team and believing it might win something this year.

Today, Cubs Fans are too nasty, and can hurt their team because they booed the guys who finished dead last and lost almost one hundred games.

That's the great thing about sticking to scripts. If you want to print a column about how stupid Cubs Fans are, you can. If you want to print a column about how mean Cubs Fans were to Jacque and Juan, you can. Any sense of logic (or irony) get checked at the door.

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