Saturday, August 4, 2007

Neifi Perez Needs Serious Help

Looking for the banned Fukudome shirt? Click Here.

We all remember Neifi Perez. Mediocre utility infielder, terrible batter, and not exactly handsome. So when he was busted a month ago for stimulant use I thought he must have just been hanging out with the wrong crowd and had slipped up once, because there's no way that anything he was taking was enhancing his performance in any way. If you need drugs to put together a .172 batting average, you've got some issues.

As it turns out, you can add ridiculously dumb to that list of adjectives describing Neifi. Today Neifi became only the second player to be suspended for the use of stimulants, himself also being the first player to receive such a ban. This one is for 80 games, and picks up right where the last ban left off on Saturday.

I find it hard to believe that even Neifi would be dumb enough to keep taking stimulants after getting caught, so I came to the only logical conclusion: He was framed.

In order to right this terrible wrong I did what any self-respecting not-very-well-known sports blogger would do. I made a t-shirt. This shirt shows support for Neifi and his fight against injustice. By being suspended for the rest of the season the Tigers are able to avoid paying the last half of his $2.5 million contract, an enticing proposition considering his dismal stats. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that just maybe the manager slipped him a stimulant-infused smoothie. Three times. Also, I have a tendency to dislike anything Detroit related, so I simply want what's worst for them. In this case that would be having to pay Neifi the rest of his contract. Join me in this noble cause to clear Neifi's name and bring down the Tigers.

Back Spasms Anyone?

After today's game, I've come to the conclusion that Ryan Dempster needs to go the way of Wade Miller and come down with a sudden case of back spasms for the rest of the season. I know Ryan has his good moments, but it seems like every time I see him take the mound he puts two men on base and makes me shout angry things at my television. Put in Carlos Marmol, he could be twice the closer that Dempster ever was. With the addition of Kerry Wood to the 'pen we can use Marmol to close, Wood can be our setup guy with Howry helping out, and the rest of the relievers can fill in as needed. Either way, Dempster cannot be allowed to close games if I'm expecting to live past 50.

Cubs are a game back from the Brewers now. That was a lot shorter than I expected.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Uh Oh...

I think the Brewers have finally figured out the secret to the Cubs' success. They've begun fighting amongst themselves.

When the half-inning ended, Estrada and Yost got into a heated dispute in the tunnel leading from the dugout to the clubhouse. Infielder Tony Graffanino stepped between them while pitcher Ben Sheets and pitching coach Mike Maddux stood in front of Estrada.

The next inning, Yost motioned with his finger for Estrada to come talk with him, and they disappeared out of sight down the tunnel.

Now as far as I know it did not come to fisticuffs, but especially with the manager directly involved this could light a fire under them just like the Zambrano-Barrett incident did.

On the other hand...never fear, Wood is here!

No Love For Slogan Creator

As I mentioned last week, the slogan that has seemed to stick during the Cubs' exciting drive for the playoffs is "It's Gonna Happen". I mentioned at the time that the "It" was ambiguous, and the original Sports Illustrated article makes this very clear as it was originally trademarked with Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics in mind.

If you've been watching the Cubs all summer and you haven't really noticed this slogan, you're not alone. In an article today in the Tribune about our friend Brent Kowalowski, the writer mentions that the Cubs have kindly asked CSN and WGN to not show these signs during broadcasts of Cubs games. Are the Cubs just trying to keep the fans watching at home from getting their hopes up? Not exactly. This policy is due to the slogan creator's similar past to Kowalowski's.

In 1995, a Cubs fan named John Murray attacked reliever Randy Myers on the mound and was taken down by Myers. Murray was banned from Wrigley Field for one year, but now is trying to get publicity for his Cubs slogan, "It's Gonna Happen," which is printed on T-shirts, signs and wristbands.

The Cubs are aware of Murray's history and have asked Comcast SportsNet and WGN-Ch. 9 not to show Murray's signs during telecasts, according to team sources.

Now I know that incident happened 12 years ago and you're supposed to forgive and forget, but I don't really appreciate someone like that trying to profit off of the success of this team. So from this moment on I am shunning the use of the phrase "It's Gonna Happen" and I am calling upon you, the readers, to come up with something better. Leave any and all ideas in the comments, and maybe I can use my limited internet influence to make it stick.

UPDATE: The Sun-Times had a more in depth article on the topic about a week ago that I missed at the time. The article makes it seem like there's nothing wrong with the guy trying to make a quick buck, but I respectfully disagree. And here is a picture of what happened to Mr. Murray when he was dumb enough to charge a Major League baseball player 12 years ago.

Apparently umpiring has come a long way in the last 12 years. Back then you stopped a fight by sticking a baseball and a radio near the pitchers head.

Photo Courtesy of: Out of Right Field

Well That Was Short Lived

The Cubs grabbed the outright division lead for a solid 39 minutes before matching the Brewer's shoddy performance and earning a loss of their own. Tomorrow, the two teams switch opponents yet again as they've been doing for the past two months or so. If anyone knows why their schedules are set up like this, could you let me know? It's getting kind of weird and I'm not sure how much I like it.

Again, technically the Cubs still have a slight edge over the Brewers. But technically Carmen Electra has never told me she doesn't want to date me. A victory in both cases, yes, albeit a rather small one.

NL Pitcher of the Month Zambrano takes the mound against the Mighty Mets, one of the few teams in the NL that worries me. Zambrano had a 5-1 record in July with a 1.83 ERA, which is pretty incredible. Then you realize that Ted Lilly, who I until recently may or may not have hated, also pulled off a 5-1 record with a slightly worse 2.52 ERA in that same month. With pitchers like these, I'm kind of disappointed we're not actually ahead of the Brewers.

Cubs Take Division Lead

With today's exciting win, the Cubs have finally taken the NL Central Division lead for what I believe is the first time all season. So I might have been off with my prediction by 3 days, but I say that's close enough to be right. And I'm sure many of you out there are looking at the standings and thinking hold the phone, we're still tied with Milwaukee. NOT.

Yes, technically the Cubs and Brewers are both 8 games over .500 at this point, but we've played two less games. This gives us an all important .001 lead in winning percentage, which places us squarely at the top of the standings.

The team had a lot of help getting there tonight, with Thunder Matt's heads-up baserunning and Brett Myers control problems at the end helping secure the W and the Mets taking care of the Brewers for us. I don't need to spell it out for you though: this team is hot. I think I'm perfectly justified in getting overly excited about today considering this is the best position we've been in since 2004.

And in case you were wondering, Minnesota was hot and dry this past week, contrary to popular belief that there is always snow on the ground. It's nice to be back to a place where I can watch the Cubbies every day. Here's hoping Marshall can lock it up for tomorrow and we can start to increase this lead.