Keller is the hitting coordinator for the Cubs minor league program, he rotates among the different minor league teams and works with a number of different players. Lou decided to bring him up today to work with Felix Pie to try and figure out what he's doing wrong. Pie had a respectable .301 BA when he was in the minors and in his last year with AAA Iowa he was hitting .362, so Keller came up to try and help get him back in that groove. Instead of starting today Pie took extra batting practice with Keller present and watched video of his swing. Whatever Keller told him must have worked, as he came in to pinch-hit in the eighth inning and went yard for a three run homer, turning a tense Cubs-Mets game into a more relaxed affair. Whether Keller has already made a difference this soon or if Pie just got lucky remains to be seen, but at least it's nice to know that we can beat teams besides the Pirates. By the way, without those six games against Pittsburgh we'd only be 7-6 instead of 13-6. Scary, I know.
A few years back the Northside Baseball forums had a Q&A session with Keller, which you can find here. Some interesting stuff. I just hope he doesn't have to stick around for too long and Pie gets his groove back.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Also, because I was bored and thought it would be interesting, I've transcribed the conversation between these two old fogeys for easy dissection.
Some Old Guy: What is going on in right field? There's like 7 or 8 balls coming in here. Well I take that back, there's about 40 balls coming in here.
Your mastery of numbers here is astounding, old guy whose name I do not know. I'm sure from the booth 15 balls looks a lot like 40.
Marty Brennaman: Look at this. There are balls coming from all over the place. Left field, center field, right field.
Some Old Guy: Upper deck.
Brennaman: See this, this is the kind of thing quite honestly right now, that makes you want to see the Chicago Cubs team lose. Among all baseball fans, and I can't atte-attest to the Yankees or the Red Sox because we don't see them with any degree of regularity unless it's interleague play, but far and away the most obnoxious fans in baseball in this league are those who follow this team right here. Throwing 15 or 18 balls onto the field there's absolutely no excuse for that and that is so typical of Chicago Cub fans. It's unbelievable.
Yes, I'm sure beating your team 12-3 must get really obnoxious after a while. And I'm curious as to how this is typical of Cubs fans, as it has never happened before. You can't compare this to throwing trash on the field, which is just gross and takes 15 minutes to clean up. This took about 1 minute and was funny. Get over it.
Some Old Guy: You know, I can understand throwing a ball back that's a home run ball. But you don't throw 18 balls out on the field that's stupid.
Brennaman: Oh no, You know, throwing the ball back that's great, and that's a Chicago Cub tradition that other people have copied around baseball and I think that's fine.
Thank you so very much sir for approving of one of our time honored traditions that have been created over the past 130 years this team has been in existence. I was worried that you might disapprove and we would have to stop.
Some Old Guy: But I mean there are people throwing balls on the field from left field, that ball went in the streets in right field.
Brennaman: Exactly. It's ridiculous, it really is. Here's Encarnacion and the first pitch is taken outside a ball. You simply root against them. You know I've said all winter they talk about this team winning the division and my comment is they won't win it because at the end of the day they still are the Chicago Cubs and they will figure out a way to screw this whole thing up. Here's a foul ball back and the count is 1-1.
So...last year we weren't the Cubs at the end of the day? Cause I'm pretty sure last year there was no foot shooting going on, and we won the division. How did your team do last year? Only 72 wins you say? Did you guys shoot yourself in the pitching arm?
Some Old Guy: And then they'll no one to boo but themselves.
Brennaman: No they never blame themselves.
Ummm what? Where have you been over the past five years? We've been booing our own players ever since 2003 came and went and we realized that our $40 bleacher seats deserve to see some good baseball.
Some Old Guy: They blame that goat.
Brennaman: Blame that old billy goat.
Some Old Guy: I tell you what anybody blame a goat for that long of losing, that's silly.
Brennaman: Huh, you think so?
Some Old Guy: I know so.
I'm sure you do old man. Of course, I'm also sure that all of the 3 million plus fans that came to Cubs games last year blame us not winning the World Series on a story about a goat that came to be long before many of them were born. And I'm sure all of your 2 million or so fans who live in that hellhole we call Cincinnati have more sense than that. Yeah I went there. Step off this.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
At the time I thought "wow, that's a little racist", but I kept walking and soon forgot about it. Apparently many Cubs fans are not as forgetful as I am, as the tefam was "inundated with e-mails from offended fans" concerning the shirt. Once the team noticed that the shirt was using a trademarked Cubs logo, they contacted the vendor and he quickly complied with their demands by ceasing production of the shirt.
So I'm sure there's many of you out there right now wondering what you're going to wear to the Cubs game to show your support for Fukudome now that the Cubs won't let you laugh at asian stereotypes. I would suggest, completely without shame, one of our FU FIGHTERS shirts.
Get it? Like the band? Come on, you know that puns are the most intelligent form of humor. And by most intelligent I mean that they take little or no effort to think of, which is smart in a twisted, backwards kind of way. Also, we have Kosuke's number on the back, in case you're too drunk to remember what that is (Hint: It's 1). If that color isn't your style though, we've also got them in Cubby Blue with both red or white lettering. Or in red with white lettering. If you want even more colors, heck just e-mail me and I'll make those too. Whatever suits your fancy. Just click on either of the images above to go to our store and pick out what you like. It's that simple. You'll be supporting Fukudome and fighting racism at the same time, and who can say no to that?
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The weather was phenomenal, the atmosphere was great, and the insults were flowing. As I was sitting in the left field bleachers, Adam Dunn was our target of choice. As is often the case, most of the things we shouted consisted of us making sure he was aware of his level of suckiness. We were also somewhat within shouting distance of Corey Patterson, which got interesting when his younger brother Eric came up to bat. We proceeded with a chant of Corey's name, and then when Eric struck out looking someone yelled to Corey that it must run in the family. That someone might have been me. I got some laughs out of it, which is really the whole point of the heckling experience.
The best moment by far though was when Adam Dunn came up to bat in the 8th inning. He hit a solo home run, which you're probably thinking makes for a crappy best moment. The ball cleared the right field bleachers and landed on Sheffield, and the fans began the obligatory shouts to throw it back. And then something interesting happened. Not only did a ball come flying back onto the field, but two other balls came with it. Some people in the right field bleachers decided that looked like fun, so they joined in by throwing more balls onto the field. All in all, 15 baseballs found their way onto the field and play had to be stopped to remove them. I only wish my fellow left field occupants had joined in the fun, but no one seemed to have any baseballs. Probably the funniest thing I have ever seen at Wrigley, and I stood and cheered along with everyone else in the bleachers. I think our message was clear, screw you Adam Dunn. You suck. Your home runs are not welcome here.
That experience basically defined the game for me, it was fun, exciting, and a bit silly at times. Everything a good baseball game should be. If I can find any pictures or video of the baseball throwing in action I'll be sure to post them.
You can read a full recap of the game and the player's reactions to the ball throwing here.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Ok so maybe my prediction isn't very bold, but I'm sticking to it. Hopefully I'll find time tomorrow to recap my experience at the game, but I can't promise too much. See you then.
Monday, April 14, 2008
None of that matters anymore, because today I am rising from the ashes like a phoenix. See that bird made of fire right there? You don't mess with that. If that bird wants to not write anything for a few weeks and then expect people to read his blog anyways, you better damn well be reading. Cause his feathers could burn your face off.
Also, my tears can heal anything. Take that Chuck Norris.
Anyways, back to baseball. I've decided, in the interest of forcing myself to post more often, to run a weekly review on how the Cubs fared during the previous week. This time I'm doing the previous two weeks, because conveniently that is exactly how long it has been since I last posted. Here goes.
MVP: Derrek Lee
This was a close one between Lee and Kosuke, as both have done outstanding jobs so far. Kosuke is tearing it up with a .434 OBP, courtesy of his ability to draw walks seemingly at will. Lee on the other hand has wowed us with an impressive display of power, something that was sorely missed early on last season. He not only has a team leading .346 batting average, his slugging percentage is at an awe inspiring .692. And his defense has been solid as usual, at least what I've seen of it so far. To be honest, I haven't been very diligent about watching the games, but I saw him make a great play the other day running backwards and to his left to snag a bouncing ground ball. I haven't seen any plays Fukudome has made so far but I'm sure they were just as astounding.
Cy Young Award: Ryan Dempster
Remember last year, when you hated Ryan Dempster? When you taped a picture of his face to your dartboard and suddenly hit your target every time? Well you can forget all those things, because it turns out he's not the worst pitcher in the world, he's just terrible under pressure. Admittedly, he's only played two games so far, but only giving up one run in 13 innings of work is impressive. If only the second coming of the second coming of Christ, Kerry Wood, was faring as well. He blew his first save 8 games into the season, and it took Dempster 30 games last year. I guess you don't know what you've got til' it's gone. I think that's a song, but I can't remember if that's true. Someone inform me please.
I am content with where the Cubs are at right now. Twelve games into the season we're 7-5, compared to last year when we were 5-7. We're only a game and a half behind the Cards, and the Cards are supposed to suck this year. They're supposed to suck every year in my mind, but my mind tends to be heavily biased and usually wrong. This year however I have been told that the Brewers are the ones we're going to have to watch out for, and we're only a half-game behind them. With how last year went, I won't even begin to worry until we're somewhere around 10 games back.
This week we've got Dusty Baker's second attempt at destroying an NL Central team, the Cincinnati Reds, and then we get to have another go at Pittsburgh. That should be exciting. I'll be in the right field bleachers at the game Wednesday night (thank you college discount) trying to teach Kosuke some new english words. Suggestions are welcome.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Anyway, here are my predictions for this coming season -- along with some notable predictions from last year:
Mark Prior Wins:
Last year: 15 (not even close)
This year: F*ck Mark Prior; put me down for 2.
Kerry Wood Pitches:
Last year: 15 (I actually wasn't too far off on this one)
This Year: However many it takes to get 40 saves, that seems like a good goal.
Barrett Punches Thrown:
Last Year: 2 (Does his fight with Zambrano count? Nailed it.)
This Year: F*ck Barrett too. Look for Zambrano to get his revenge in this category.
Lou Pinella Ejections:
Last Year: 7 (What did he get? 2? Maybe 3? Weak.)
This Year: 10 (Double digits guarantees us the pennant.)
Wins by the White Sox:
Last Year: 62 (73 is not that far off...)
This Year: 62 (still gunning for 100 losses in this category)
Monday, March 31, 2008
This is the most excited I've been since last September.
Personally I hope the game gets rained out so I can quickly buy tickets to Wednesday's game and that will be the true season opener. I have a friend at today's game who is rubbing it in my face via text message so that would be some sweet sweet revenge.
Really all that's important is that Cubs baseball starts in an hour. Or maybe two, as it's raining here in Chicago at the moment. Dan Roan is talking to the Cubs chairman and seems to think there will be a dry window from 2-6 PM so we'll see if it can happen.
Pretty much everyone's focus is gonna be on Kosuke Fukudome and how he handles the big leagues. First, let's get the pronunciation correct. Say it with me everybody: Kos-kay Foo-Koo-Doh-May. Good. Now that you know how to pronounce it, you should check out the shirts we have in the shop on the right. If you're sitting in the right field bleachers this year you're going to want a FU FIGHTERS shirt, because who doesn't enjoy ripping off a popular band's name? They also have a number 1 on the back, so just in case you forget Kosuke's number you can ask the guy behind you to read your shirt.
Also, today marks the triumphant return of Kerry Wood as the closer who can't possibly be worse than our last one. Maybe. I guess the only way he'll be in the game is if we have a one or two run lead in the ninth, but I'm pretty confident that will happen.
I would be liveblogging this thing, but I have certain obligations I must attend to. I'll be checking in periodically though, so stick around, leave some comments, send me harassing emails, whatever floats your boat. I've got a good feeling about this season. Go Cubbies.