Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hill makes an early push for the Cy Young

Today's game went almost exactly as I had imagined. Rich Hill was nearly flawless, yet again, and Bronson Arroyo is still the only Reds pitcher the Cubs have beaten this year. I don't know whether the possibility of Lou exploding in his face had anything to do with Hill's gem, or if it was just this kid's awesome talent. With a combination of the two, he could be a contender for the Cy Young. I'm not even kidding, he's 2-0 this year with a 0.64 ERA. Obviously he won't keep up this blistering pace but do you remember how he looked at the end of last year? I think Hill may be the Mark Prior we've been waiting for ever since 2003.

Game Summary for April 14th, 2007
  • Score: Cubs defeat the Reds, 7-0.
  • Player of the Game: Rich Hill. Seven innings pitched, no runs, three hits given up, five strikeouts. Only two innings where two men got on base. Low drama, just how I like my pitchers. I think he might be our new ace.
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Nobody. All of the batters in the lineup, other than Hill, had either a run or an RBI. The offense produced, the pitching held up, nothing to be angry about here.
  • Comments: It figure that the day that I'm not paying any attention to the game at all is the day that everything seems to click. Hill was solid, as was Howry, and surprisingly, Dempster was too. the offense put together a big 5 run inning to put this one away, Lee capping it off with a three run double. Soriano finally got two hits in one game, one of them was based solely on his speed as he beat out the throw, getting an RBI in the process. Also of interest, Theriot was played 3rd base instead of Aramis and did very well. Keep it up boys. Still no home runs.
  • Magic Number: 155, pending the Milwaukee vs. St. Louis game tonight.

Tomorrow's game pits Ted Lilly against Kyle Lohse. Lilly wasn't too terrible in the home opener, Howry blew that game for him. Last time we faced Lohse he held us to two runs. But that was in the pre-Angry Lou era. I think we've got a solid chance at this game. All I ask is that we hit a home run or two. Come on DLee, I know you're hungry.

Friday, April 13, 2007

FINALLY! Volcano Lou Erupts!

I'm usually a big advocate of the Number 13. It happens to be my favorite number. I think part of the fact that everyone else thinks of it as unlucky attracted me to it. It was like, if it was my favorite number, then it wouldn't be unlucky for me, and that would make me different from everyone else. Yeah, maybe that was it.

Turns out that was a load of BS. Today was Friday the 13th, what should be one of my favorite days of the year, and it was on this day that the Cubs had the greatest collapse of the season thus far. So why, you may be wondering, does the title of this post have excited exclamation points in it?

Because Friday the 13th is the day that Papa Lou finally blew his top.

The Priors and Woods of the world are trembling in fear.

You may remember what Dusty Baker would say after Zambrano and Ohman made blowing a 5 run lead look easy. He would be apologetic and protective of the pitchers, saying these things happen sometime, and he'll get his stuff together. Not Lou Piniella, my friend. He's starting to sound like first base throwing, umpire face spitting, getting ejected from the game, 1990 World Series winning Lou.

"What the [heck] do you think isn't working? You see the [darn] game," he said.

"This guy's your ace," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of Zambrano. "You've got a 5-0 lead with the eighth and ninth hitters coming up. You feel pretty good about that inning. All of a sudden, it turns into a six-run inning. What do I do? I pitch [Zambrano] when it's his turn again. What else can I do?

"Then I bring in a reliever who's throwing 30-40-foot curveballs to boot," Piniella said of Ohman. "I can start to see some of the ways this team lost ballgames. I can see it. We've got to correct it, obviously."

"Look, when you've got a five-run lead, whether a guy misses a ball, makes an error, or what, you should be able to pitch through it," Piniella said.

Zambrano, however, seems to be channeling his inner Dusty Baker.

"When I came in [to the clubhouse] in the fifth inning, I told someone, 'Man, that happened so quick,'" Zambrano said. "I won't be frustrated. I feel good, I feel I'm throwing the ball the way I want to. I have to mix the pitches more and be more aggressive. That's it."

We'll see what Captain Lou has to say about that, Big Z.

Game Summary for April 13th, 2007
  • Score: Cubs lose to the Reds, again, 6-5.
  • Player of the Game: Michael Wuertz. Came in during the 5th inning to strike out three straight batters and clean up Zambrano's mess. We should call him The Janitor.
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Carlos Zambrano / Will Ohman. Zambrano loaded the bases with no outs and gave up 4 runs, Ohman then walked two batters to seal the loss. Lou finally made it obvious that he's sick and tired of managing a crappy team.
  • Comments: We had this game made until the 5th inning. I actually quit listening after the Reds scored their first run, thinking even Zambrano can't blow this thing. Wasn't too surprised when he did though. On the bright side, the Cubs were decent on offense for a change. Zambrano began his push for the Silver Slugger award early this year with a solo home run. He now has as many homers as Soriano, Lee, and Aramis combined. Sometimes I wish the NL used a DH.
  • Magic Number: Still 156. Reds are first in the division, this number is going nowhere if we keep losing to them.

Tomorrow's game features the only Cubs pitcher that hasn't had a bad game, Rich Hill, against the only Reds pitcher we've beaten all season, Bronson Arroyo. If we can't win this one, I'm fully expecting Lou to start sacrificing young players, Old Testament style. I nominate Angel Guzman and Ronny Cedeno for the first round.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Even On Scheduled Off-Days, We Lose

My prior prediction about...Prior seems to be in jeopardy.

Turns out he's likely to go on the shelf for a while longer.

I guess I haven't been praying hard enough for him. My bad.

The good news:

We're still winning the annual DeRosa-Bonds Home Run Challenge.

Go Cubs.


Lazy Thursday

Having two days off in a row from baseball is not good for you. So I figure we might as well take this time to look at what's coming up next on the radar. Tomorrow's game is against the Reds, a team that we just can't seem to get a handle on this year. Adam Dunn scares me the most, but this crack head kid Hamilton has been heating up too, he just hit his second home run of the year last night. Zambrano is pitching tomorrow, and I'm sure you remember what Adam Dunn did to him in his first game. He already got his first win out of the way though, and that's usually tough for him to do in April so I have high hopes. Rich Hill pitches on Saturday, which I'm very excited for, this kid has some great stuff. Ted Lilly pitches in the game on Sunday, and the jury is still out on him. Those are probably our three best pitchers at the moment, so if we don't take at least 2 out of 3, we have some serious issues. With the days off, Wade Miller has been pushed back as far as humanly possibly. I think we're gonna try and see if we can make it the whole rest of the month without him pitching.

Since I was at the home opener on Monday, I couldn't really hear Devin Hester sing the national anthem. The crowd was too loud, like always. However, I did just watch a video of it that I found at Len and Bob's Baseball Blog. Holy freaking God. Either he was having way too much to drink in Skybox Number 7, or he should never be allowed to touch a microphone again. Unless he's gonna return it for a touchdown.

The fun is just beginning with the football singers. On April 14th we have Bernard Berrian, the 15th is Brady Quinn, and the 22nd will feature Robbie Gould. The entire list through April 24th can be found here. There's also a high school boys football team and a girls basketball team, so those should be entertaining too.

So enjoy your day off. Go outside, run around, have fun. Oh wait, you can't, it feel like Alaska out there. Then I guess you can sit in your cubicle and work all day. Sounds like fun.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

STB: Yo no hablo inglés.

I've spent most of the past week solely writing game summaries for RTWF. While I think these are important and useful, especially for people who didn't have time to watch the game or don't feel like reading the boring game wrap-ups by the MLB reporters, they're becoming repetitive for me. I try to spice things up by adding in something before the summary, but that only does so much. So as a result of this I'm going to try and write more about whatever I feel like, the more posts the better right? For now I'm just going to throw together some stories I've found. I call this STB. (Shenanigans, Tomfoolery, and Ballyhoo).
  • The Cubs have a new Spanish version of their website. Maybe we should have had that when Sammy was around, so he could understand why everyone ended up hating him.
  • SportsBiz has a list of the top eight candidates to buy the Cubs. I'm pulling for Colangelo or Levin. Colangelo has led the D-Backs to a World Series and the Suns are due for a championship soon. The man knows how to win. Levin has built an AHL team that's more successful and exciting than the Blackhawks. And of course it would be great if Bill Murray got in on this action. It won't be Mark Cuban though, he's too radical for the tradition of this team. We don't need his circus antics to win.
  • The Knicks are complaining that the Bulls were running up the score the other night. The Bulls say they were just trying to do something nice for the fans. I won a Big N' Tasty at a game a couple of years ago when the Bulls won 100-98. Was an extremely exciting game. Never underestimate the power of free McDonald's. Eddy Curry, I'm ashamed that you don't realize this.
  • Apparently some people think that the crack-addict story is actually a feel-good kind of thing. Some are actually calling it a good comeback story. I don't know if I agree, but everyone's entitled to their own opinion. And Hamilton does look pretty BA with all those tattoos. Still a crack head though.
  • In case you've been living under a rock for the past week or so, a new word has been added to the blogger's dictionary. Schrutebag. I think it's safe to say that most of the bloggers out there do not like this man.
  • ESPN fails at fantasy baseball. If you're using ESPN instead of Yahoo, and paying for it, you fail at life. Period.
  • One last thing. The NHL Playoffs have started. I'm cheering for the Nashville Predators, based solely on the name of the stadium that they play in. There is still hope for hockey in my mind.
Well that was interesting. This was all haphazardly thrown together, we'll see what it evolves into in the future.

And the Snow Completes the Sweep

That's right, the Cubs got swept today by the Astros. But how is that possible, you're thinking, if the Cubs didn't play today? Well, the series ended up being two games, and the Cubs went 0-for-2. That my friends, is a sweep. We were torn apart by a team that came into the series with a 1-5 record. Saddening.

On another note, it is snowing in Chicago. Or it was earlier today, now it has changed to freezing cold rain. I just have one thing to say to this. What the heck happened to global warming? Scientists are talking about the earth's temperature increasing by a whole degree. Well I would like about 40 of those right now. Today the high was about 35 degrees. Now I'm no meteorologist, but I find it hard to believe that 35 degrees is actually a degree warmer than last year. I would look it up, but I have better things to do. Essentially the Cubs game being snowed out today proves that global warming is bunk. Maybe if it was warm enough for me to be at the beach I would agree with all you scientist types.

Even though we didn't have a game today, I'm still doing a game summary today. Just wouldn't feel right not doing one.

Game Summary for April 11th, 2007
  • Score: Cubs lose to the Snow, Infinity-0.
  • Player of the Game: Rich Hill. Gave up no runs, no hits, and no walks. I believe that's what we call a perfect game.
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: This ridiculous weather. Lou is used to managing is nice toasty places such as Tampa Bay, so this snow in April infuriates him. Expect him to rip off an umpires head during the next game just to let out this pent up rage.
  • Comments: The game was called on account of snow. In April. Global Warming opponents of the world unite!
  • Magic Number: 156. Reds and Pirates both lost yesterday. And there was much rejoicing.

The Way Things Should Be

It's only been a week, and I don't mean to jump the gun on this one, but after three straight losses (and poor offensive performances) I think shaking up the lineup a bit might be worth it. If I was in charge, batting order would look something like this:

1) Pie (CF) : Yes thats right, Pie. I know this might sound absurd to some people, but maybe Soriano will wake up a bit when he sees a rookie take is position and spot in the order.

2) Soriano (LF): This guy needs to start hitting, end of discussion. Save for a few bright moments, Alfonso's first week left us with over 17 million reasons to be disappointed. I'd love for him to lead off, but right now I'm still wondering why we didn't make a push to keep Juan Pierre.

3) Lee (1b): One of two Cubs that it doing his job.

4) Ramirez (3B): The other one.

5) Jones (RF): His .231 average is way up from this time last year, but still...

6) DeRosa (2B): Started off hot, then I guess the law of averages kicked in. I've got faith though, he is leading the team in home runs.

7) Cedeneo (SS): Why isn't he starting? He's the future shortstop of this team as far as I know, why not give him a chance to develop down at the bottom of the order? I know Izzy is supposed to have the golden glove (3 errors in one day?!), but in all honesty, who would you rather see coming to the plate late in the game?

8) Blanco (C): If this blog had readers, I'm sure I'd be hearing it for this one, but I've got some good reasons. Barrett is an offensive catcher; right now he has no offense. What good is he doing us then? Why not give Mike a few days off and let him think about it (and hit the batting cages). Henry definitely deserves a few more games after all the balls that Barrett's been passing.

9) Pitcher / Cliff Floyd (PH): I do not want to see Matt Murton taking cuts at the plate when the game is on the line. Cliff is more experienced and powerful and has better groomed facial hair.

You might think I'm crazy, but staying above .500 is something that we should be striving for from day one. Lets not dig a hole we can't climb out of.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This can only end in tears

Didn't watch the game today, I had other things going on. Which I'm actually happy about, because from the looks of things the entire 9 innings would have been frustrating. Marquis gave up three runs early on and we never recovered. I'm not even going to completely blame the pitching here, our hitting has been lackluster and we just can't produce any runs. I'm about to start lobbying for Felix Pie to get called up just to shake things up a bit.

On a side note, Soriano will not get exactly one hit every game this year. He was 0-for-3 today. Marvelous.

Game Summary for April 10th, 2007
  • Score: Cubs lose to the Astros, 4-2
  • Player of the Game: Derrek Lee. Went 2-4 with an RBI. Not much else to get excited about in this game
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Cesar Izturis. The Gold Glove winning shortstop committed three errors in one game today, the first Cubs shortstop to do so since Shawon Dunston back in 1997. Not even Alex Gonzalez or Ronny Cedeno could pull off such an incredible feat in their terms of service with the team. And do you remember Cedeno's problems with throwing the ball early on last year? Everytime he got it to Lee in time was a miracle.
  • Comments: The Astros went up early in the first inning and we never came back. That's what it all comes down to. We got something going in the 9th inning, but after scoring two runs Murton popped up to end the inning. He would have been the subject of Lou's wrath today except that Cesar's errors were very uncharacteristic of his reputation as a fielder. Plus I like Murton better, plain and simple. As for pitching, Marquis didn't do that badly, just made some mistakes in the first and that was enough.
  • Magic Number: Still 157, pending the results of the Pirates and Reds games today. Kind of sad that those are the teams we are chasing at the moment.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Home Opener: We Suck Again!

So I'm at Wrigley Field today for the Home Opener. Everyone's excited and the festivities are in full swing. Lou presents Lovie Smith with a nice little plaque of appreciation for fielding a Chicago sports team that doesn't suck, Devin Hester throws out the first pitch, Navy personnel parachute on the field and one lands in another one's parachute, little children lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the ever classy Wayne Messmer sings the National Anthem. Life is good. Then the game started and it all went down the toilet.

Some highlights of the Opening Day experience:
  • It was Wrigley Field on Opening Day. That's a highlight in and of itself.
  • The parachuters (parachutists?) were cool, though none of them came close to hitting the pink X that was on the field. And one of them went flying into another one's parachute as he landed. Awesome.
  • The Bears personnel. Lovie and Hester were watching the game in Skybox #7 (at least I think it's called a skybox). How do I know this? Because I was sitting about 30 feet away from said skybox:
  • The Bears people walking by constantly meant that every time Lovie or Devin left the box, everyone in the Terrace Reserved section quit paying any attention to the game and just started screaming. I'm pretty sure I got Lovie to turn his head towards me once. Didn't get a picture of that, but I did get a nice hand wave shot from Devin:
  • It was cold as [insert cold object with expletive here]. And there were flurries for a bit. And it's April. Something is wrong with this picture.
  • Saw Ronnie Woo-Woo at the McDonalds after the game. He gave me a pat on the shoulder as he walked by. I touched a celebrity. This shirt is never getting washed.
  • Did I mention it was cold?
Overall it was an interesting game, and if it wasn't for the team falling apart it would have been a great day. However in the end this is a baseball game I was at, so we can't just avoid the subject entirely, no matter how much I want to. That being said, here is the required game summary.

Game Summary for April 9th, 2007
  • Score: Cubs lose to the Astros, 5-3
  • Player of the Game: Alfonso Soriano. Tied the game with some very good baserunning and tallied another hit. I don't know if anyone's mentioned this yet, but Soriano is on a 7 game hit streak. He has exactly one hit every game so far this season. The man is on pace to break DiMaggio's record with a .219 average. It would really be nice to see a multi-hit game from him though. Please?
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Bob Howry. Blew the game tonight, didn't even give Dempster a chance to do it himself. Maybe if he spent more time practicing and less time philandering with women of questionable character this wouldn't have happened.
  • Comments: Today was a roller coaster of emotions. Most of the game was flat-out depressing, as although Lilly was fairly solid, the Cubs couldn't put together any offense that amounted to anything. When we got those two runs in the sixth inning though, that reminded me why I love this sport so much. And when Soriano scored in the seventh I was confident that we had this. But then Everett got a hold of one of Howry's pitches, and well that was that. Heart of the order came up in the 8th inning and couldn't get anything going. Extremely disappointing game.
  • Magic Number: 157. Reds did play today. They lost to the Diamondbacks. I am an idiot.
Tomorrow's game has my hopes up. Marquis gets a chance to prove that his first game wasn't a fluke, and maybe Lou will actually leave him in long enough to seal the deal and earn that win. Or maybe the bullpen won't implode again. Either case would be good.

Feel Good Moment of the Day (part 2)

I know. Today flat out sucked. There really wasn't much in the way of a "feel good moment" at Wrigley this afternoon.

Which is why (after some feverish searching) I'm posting this up here:

If Matt Murton ruining a crack-head's first major league at bat doesn't lift your spirits, I don't know what will.

Bookmark this for day's like today.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

I Would Like to Apologize...

to Cubs Nation for picking up Marky Mark last night in my fantasy league. I had no idea doing such a thing would cause him to go 0 for 4 today (with 4 strikeouts). This is completely my fault and I will shoulder the blame on this one. As I type, I'm trying to dump him off on someone in return for Albert Pujols.

That being said, I did not pick up Wade Miller and thus am completely innocent to having any part in his miserable showing today.

I hope you'll all join me in praying for Prior's arm tonight.


And on the third day, the Cubs died. Wait, that's not how it's supposed to happen.

Apparently Wade Miller doesn't believe in Jesus. Completely fell apart in today's game and the Cubs never recovered. I'll be at the home opener tomorrow, so I'll recap that experience sometime tomorrow night. Hopefully it's not in the 30's.

Game Summary for April 8th, 2007
  • Score: Cubs lose to the Brewers, 9-4
  • Player of the Game: Derrek Lee. Was 2-4 today with 2 RBI's, the only bright spot in the lineup today.
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Wade Miller. Mr. Miller, I'm sorry to be so blunt, but you suck. A couple more starts like that and Prior is gonna be back in the rotation. I'm not sure how I feel about that, I've gotten my hopes up so many times for Prior that even mentioning his name brings thoughts of impending doom.
  • Comments: The Cubs had one good inning today, but unlike Friday that wasn't enough. Wade Miller was horrible, and the Cubs again failed to hit any home runs. DeRosa was moved to the fifth spot today as he's been playing well, and he proceeded to go 0-4 with 4 strikeouts. Awesome. Would have been the Subject of Lou's Wrath if Miller wasn't so terrible. Also, Soriano is incapable of getting more than one hit per game. He's actually had a hit every single game this year, but only one. That's an issue.
  • Magic Number: 158. Pirates beat the Reds. Awesome.

Jesus loves the Cubs. You should too.

Happy Easter everyone! And to those Cubs fans that are Jewish (I'm looking at you North Shore), hope you had a good Passover yesterday, eating kosher food, talking about Elijah and doing.....whatever it is you guys do. I know absolutely nothing about that holiday, sorry. Anyways, I was thinking today. About Jesus of course, he did die for your sins and all (mine too). If Jesus were alive today, he would be a baseball fan. Obviously, because baseball is America's pastime, and Jesus would have to be an American. But I have good reason to believe he would be a Cubs fan, and here's why:

  • Jesus is all about forgiveness. The Cubs have not won a championship in 98 complete seasons. But all it takes is one spending spree by the Tribune Co., and it is all forgiven.
  • Jesus is patient. The Cubs, as previously mentioned, haven't won in 98 years. Jesus hasn't come back to earth for 2000+. He obviously doesn't mind waiting for something that millions of people have been praying for for their entire lives.
  • The colors on the Cubs jerseys are red, white, and blue. Jesus loves America, this is an established fact. Coincidence? You be the judge.
  • Jesus thought it was important to love one another. You ever been in the bleachers past the seventh inning? Nothing but love out there man. It's hard not to love when you're so drunk you can't remember your gender.
  • On that note, Jesus had nothing against alcohol. In fact he condoned it. He turned water into wine at a wedding. I'm sure he would have turned the water into beer, but that wasn't invented yet. And I don't think the people of that time would have survived if it was.
  • When he was still walking the earth, Jesus was unappreciated by many of the people he came in contact with. Ron Santo is still unappreciated by over 25% of the Veteran's Committee. Both instances are a shame.
  • Jesus understood that sacrifices must be made to atone for your transgressions. In Old Testament times, that sacrifice was a cow. Or a goat. In the New Testament, that was Jesus himself. In the Cubs era it's usually the current manager, be it Dusty Baker, Don Baylor, or Jim Riggleman. We've tried sacrificing goats too, but PETA always complains for some reason.
  • And on a final note: Jesus took the time to break bread with the lepers, prostitutes, and sinners of this world. Three million Cubs fans paid an arm and a leg to watch a baseball team lose 96 games last year. I think that's something that Jesus would understand.
So just remember Cubbies, today you're not just playing for the team and the fans. You're playing for Jesus himself. And he died for your sins, so you better play like your life depends on it. Your eternal life.

Any more examples of why Jesus would be a Cubs fan are welcome in the comments.

Game summary sometime after the festivities have subsided.

A True Team Player

While the casual fan might consider going 0 for 3 at the plate a bad day at the ballpark, any baseball analyst would agree with me when I say that Henry Blanco's offensive performance today was utterly spectacular.

But how can that be possible?

It's called a sacrifice fly, the key word being sacrifice. Lets take a deeper look at this often overlooked phenomenon in a game that glorifies the individual athlete.

Webster's dictionary defines sacrifice as:
the destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.

In baseball terminology, this translates into surrendering personal statistics and destroying your batting average for the sake of the team. And that is exactly what Henry did today against the Brewers.

Blanco showed total selflessness and pushed obvious accolades aside while disregarding his own stats to help the Cubs bring home the W.

Can Americans ask for a better role model? I think not.

These guys seem to agree.