View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



August 2017



Cubs Manage a Sweep!

Written by , Posted in General

Now that’s something we haven’t seen in a little while–a Cubs sweep.  Not that Sunday’s game was a drama-free experience for those watching.  The first nine innings were pretty standard fare, for the most part; the Cubs got a few runs in early on a nice Almora double (compounded by the Jays’ inability to get Kyle Hendricks out on a horrible bunt), and the Jays pecked away through the middle innings, ultimately becoming a battle of relievers down the stretch.

Only, in the 10th, it seemed to be a battle to be the worst reliever.  Enter our friend, Koji Uehara, newly activated off the DL.  That ended up going about as well as we expected: hit by Josh Donaldson before getting an out.  That little voice in your head may have been tempted to pipe up with the prospect of a double play to get out of it, move to the bottom of the inning, get the offense back out there.  If so, your little voice forgot that Koji was on the mound.  After possibly the strangest throwing error charged to a catcher I’ve seen–Alex Avila, trying to get the ball back to Uehara, ended up throwing it somewhere around 60 degrees off target–Joe Maddon decided it would be better to just go ahead and but Jose Bautista on base (not a bad decision, actually).  After inducing a flyout, we finally get the Full Koji–a run scoring ball to right.

Now, normally when the manager calls for a new reliever, it’s to get a better guy out there.  Instead, we get:  JUSTIIIIIIN WILLLLSONNN!

How bad was he?  First batter:  walked on 5 pitches.  Next batter: walked on 6 pitches without a swing. To force in a run.  Seriously.  Nori Aoki seemed to know that the easiest way to get some insurance was to just freaking stand there, even with a full count.  Wilson will probably be headed to the DL soon just to put him somewhere else.  The MLB trade market doesn’t have a real easy returns policy, so sending him back to Detroit for an exchange isn’t going to happen.

Not to be outdone, Jays closer Roberto Osuna promptly asked someone to hold his Molson.  I have a hard time imagining a worse inning pitched by a closer (and I remember the Carlos Marmol days).  A brief summary:

  • 2 runners reached on strikeouts
  • 1 run allowed on a wild pitch
  • 1 hit by pitch after a steal

The game ended with 1 out.  If those strikeouts don’t end up rattling around somewhere other than the mitt, the Cubs don’t win.  You can argue that part of that rests on the catcher, but, honestly, Osuna wasn’t pitching well anyway.

End of the day, it’s a W, and I’ll take it.

Umpires in Protest of Mean Words

After the game on Saturday, I saw a statement issued by the World Umpires Association (the Umps’ union) wharbargling about being treated badly by the players, and the league not doing anything about it.  They announced that they would be wearing white wristbands in protest (Joe West’s looked more like a cut-off tube sock in a picture tweeted by the union), though since Rob Manfred is going to give them an audience, they’ve decided to cut it out for now–not that it seemed all too many of them were on board.

The impetus of the whole thing seems to have been Ian Kinsler’s tirade about veteran nincompoop umpire Angel Hernandez, and how leniently he was punished for it (a fine, which Brad Ausmus said was the largest he’d seen a player get), and this somehow gave the impression of ‘open season’ on umpires.  Except, not really.  Players and managers don’t get in umps’ faces for giggles, it’s usually because they’re doing their job badly.  Which Hernandez and West (and CB Bucknor) are well known to do.  If there’s any accountability for that, like the union’s statement refers to, I’ve yet to see it with any meaningful force–sorry, keeping these guys off of postseason crews isn’t a punishment, it’s common sense, and something that doesn’t get exercised enough anyway.

And it’s not as though there’s physical violence coming at these guys, either; if you’re barking at an umpire, and the bills of your caps graze each other–that’s a suspension.  Even if the umpire is the one bobbing his head forward.  The solution is simple: if you don’t want to get yelled at for being bad at your job, be less bad at your job.  Don’t expect your employer to discipline others for pointing out that you’re bad at your job, no matter how vocal they get with it.  While you’re at it, lets get back to having umpires we as fans don’t know by name because of how bad they are.

Ok, enough about umpires.  That’s two posts in a row I’ve gotten on about ’em.

Eclipse Day Cometh

Non-baseball wise, it’s eclipse day!  Out of curiosity, I checked to see whether or not MLB were smart enough to NOT schedule day games for today, and sure enough, they did alright–the earliest start time is 4:10 Central for the first game of a Sox-Twins doubleheader, that will probably be the ‘Game 2 starts 20 minutes after the end of Game 1’ variety.  I didn’t honestly think they would have been foolish enough to schedule day games–you’d end up with a guaranteed delay anyway, unless it was a dome–but it was worth checking.

In any case, if you’re planning on giving it a watch in person, be safe and make sure you have yourself an indirect viewer or the proper eye protection.  And if you’re travelling to get a better view, drive safe–around here, a combination of construction and Carbondale-bound traffic has caused a nightmare already.

  • Bryzzo1744

    If Trump told his supporters to look at the eclipse, they would.

    • Adam Peters

      Truth. LOL!

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      If Bernie told his supporters to look, they also would.

  • Doug S.

    Was in a Jays bar watching. Most of the guys know I’m a Cubs fan and were genuinely happy for me last year. Some good natured back and forth during the game yesterday, they simply wanted to take one game in the series. They haven’t had much to cheer about this year, but during the top of the 10th there were plenty of cheers. Going into the bottom I asked the owner if Osuna was lights out. He said – not always. No shit. What a horror story between him and the catcher. I sat very quietly watching this go down and felt truly sorry for these guys that had a few moments of happiness sucked away from them.

    Yep we got the W, but what a crazy inning. The Toronto announcers said very flattering things about the city, the goings on, the Cubs, the fans and the Wrigley experience during the series.

  • Sherm

    I wanted to jump in before CAPS posted something stupid, but am probably too late.

    Agree with the umpire commentary – the games are NOT ABOUT the umpires, and no play should be suspended for his words about them. People PAY money to see players play – not to see umpires ump. The fact that we know any umpires name highlights the fact that said umpire is not any good. The only ump whose name we SHOULD know is John Tumpane, who saved a woman on a bridge.

    Yesterday’s game was insane. Again, should have won it far more easily, but glad they won it at all, because it should have been lost. Maddon had the bullpen warming in the first when Hendricks threw a ball.

    Does he just dislike Hendricks? Here, Kyle, I couldn’t think of a lesser defense for you. And let’s through in a new catcher that none of us know.

    Avila’s throwing error was odd, but it happens. He more than made up for it.

    KB had one of the worst at-bats in the history of the sport. What was THAT?

    Pillar is exceptional.

    Justin Wilson. Remember that name when Jeimar is playing in the All-Star game for the AL in a couple of years. Even Avila’s mom feels better about the deal now.

    Verlander was great yesterday – will he be dealt before the end of the month?

    Jessica Mendoza is equally as bad at broadcasting the LLWS, but my question has nothing to do with her. I get the big ESPN diversity thing…but Julie Foudy? Excuse me, ESPN – WRONG SPORT, MORONS. They couldn’t find a minority human from at least a similar sport?

    I’m gonna go stare at the sun.

    • Doug S.

      Umpires names – Jay fans and myself had that exact conversation yesterday. I don’t want to know Joe West’s name. Why do I?

    • Not too late since I moderated it out.

  • Adam Peters

    The ball Baez struck out on bounced about 4 feet in front of home plate. You can’t blame that one on the catcher.

    Do you think Baez decides to swing before the pitch is thrown? Honestly, whenever anyone gets two strikes on him with less than 3 ball the next pitch is a slider that always lands 3 feet outside and HE ALWAYS SWINGS!

    • There is no need to ever throw him a strike. Ever. (I know I’m not the first one to mention it, here or elsewhere, which is no surprise since it’s obvious to everyone.)

      • Bob Ubriaco

        Agree completely! While I love the Home Runs, and he has hit some clutch ones, I am always wondering, “why didn’t they just throw a slider two feet off the plate?

    • Bryzzo1744

      I listened to the Toronto feed Saturday and this is exactly what the broadcasters said. There’s no question he’s going to swing at this 1-2 offering.

  • StartAlmora

    Glad they got the win — I don’t discredit a win by any means just because it’s weird, take it and get on a roll.
    Can we talk about Maddon’s inexplicable decision to pinch hit Happ for Almora who was 2-4 (with ALL the RBIs to that point in the game? Almora is arguably the most reliable hitter on the team (he’s hitting .292 and should be the every day CF), plus he is your best defensive option in case you don’t score and need him in extras.
    In any case, lack of patience paid off in a most unusual way and the W is always nice

  • Len and JD were talking about how filthy good Osuna’s stuff must have been in order to strike out our offensive powerhouses.

    • Sherm

      JD did make a funny comment – he said something like “way to use the strikeout as an offensive weapon!”

      • That WAS funny. We acknowledged it as such in our house because it is such a rarity with those two.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        You did not have to mention it came from JD, as he is the only one in the TV booth watching the game. Len was probably enjoying the cool breeze, and wondering where it came from, and what song it reminded him of.

  • cap’n realist

    The Blue Jays had to play some serious canadian baseball for the Cubs to get that win. The catcher took 2 foul tips in addition to the beatings from Osuna’s 57 footers. Poor bastard is probably still in the trainers room.

  • Randy17

    So hesitant to comment on this but it is pretty straight forward. Umpires have a right to not be harassed, verbally or physically in their place of work. I fully understand getting upset at a blown call or a loose strike zone, but there is a line between a loud, “Com’on man!” and “Go @#$# yourself you @#$# @#$@#!”

    In almost any other profession if you cross that line, then you are likely going to get fired. The fact that players are protected by a union and their contracts should not give them carte blanche to spew vileness on the umpires. It is a two way street though, and I think the umpires should be pretty lenient and accepting of frustrated utterances. They should also accept more responsibility for their jobs, if an umpire realizes his strike zone is off that day he should willingly swap with another crew member.

    So in short I don’t care if it’s Joe West (aka worst umpire in the modern age) or Crusty the Clown, don’t verbally abuse the people you work with.

    • cap’n realist

      pretty sure that “go coitus yourself you rooster muncher” is what caps yelled at Len in San Diego.

      Odd coincidence.

      • Randy17

        I highly recommend using it as an insult towards clueless millennials.

      • Maybe I’ll try it at work.

      • Eddie Von White

        That’s not nice.

    • Sherm

      While I agree with you wholeheartedly, I can only imagine what some players must think about these horrible umpires. At what point does someone else’s ineptitude screwing up your ability to do your job to its fullest become incredibly tiresome? For Kinsler it was a week ago. I can’t believe it doesn’t happen MORE often. And he didn’t say anything disparaging or call names, he merely suggested, very tongue in cheek, that the guy consider other career choices.

      For the fans? I’m fine with the old standards (C’mon, Blue, you’re missing a good game!) but not name calling.

      Unfortunately, today’s umps have such rabbit ears and are so thin skinned that they think they are bigger than the game at hand. God forbid anyone “one up” them. How many times have you seen a player “show up the ump” (and that’s in quotes because it’s NEVER the intention of the player) by heading to first after a bad pitch, only to have it called a strike? That’s nothing but ego, and there’s no place for that in the game. The umpires are NOT the game. They are tools for playing the game. Like bats and bases, but rarely as intelligent. When you have to have a rule that says NO ONE CAN ARGUE BALLS AND STRIKES? That means you know you’re bad at it. And they have a union, too. Kinsler got fined – and from what I gather? Big. Joe West missing a few games doesn’t change the outcome. Kinsler missing games certainly could.

      Different sport, but greatest line to an official ever was Jim Valvano. Ref said to him “One more word and I’m tossing you.” Valvano says “Can I think something?” Ref says “you can think whatever you want.” Valvano says “I think you stink” and voila’…he’s tossed. Classic.

  • Karen Hirsh

    I love the Cubs but they have the worse bullpen. I like Edwards and Davis but no one else knows how to pitch. Maybe someone can explain to me why they had to get another catcher instead of improving the bullpen.

    • Sherm

      Because the only thing better than Alex Avila is an Alex Avila lookalike?

      The funny thing to me, and not funny “ha-ha” is that when Contreras went on his tear, it was immediately after Montero was let go. When asked, Contreras, a no BS guy, said (I’m paraphrasing) that he felt the flood of confidence in himself when the let Montero go. That they believed in HIM and that they didn’t need someone with tons of “experience” because they felt he could handle the job. And now, he comes back to (basically) TWO Monteros.

      And, for the record? I thought Caratini was getting better by the day – offensively. Defensively he was already very good.

      And, for the other record? They have talent in the bullpen, but it’s been so brutally mismanaged this year and last that it’s the most inconsistent pen in the league. Not the worst, just the most inconsistent.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        If you believe the catcher framing experts they believe the bullpen will get better because the new guy is better defensively. I guess Toronto is kicking themselves for not putting in a waiver claim before the Cubs did.

      • Sherm

        I can’t believe we live in a world with “catcher framing experts.”

        From what I saw of Caratini, he was a very good receiver.

        I have trouble believing that the bullpen’s “problem” is framing.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I liked Caratini too. It looks like this is a way for Maddon to have 3 and a half catchers on the playoff roster. You can never have too many catchers!

      • Bryzzo1744

        I like Caratini also, but this was to get him more time in AAA. He’ll be back with the MLB team once the AAA season is over.

    • Doc Raker

      Caratini was doing just fine, and we actually traded for Justin Wilson, I haven’t seen him have a clean inning yet.

  • Bryzzo1744

    RE: Errant throw to pitcher. I always wondered what the rules are if the umpire throws the ball back to the pitcher. Is that a live ball or a dead ball?

  • Doug S.

    Eclipse schmeclipse. We had a clear day and 86% of the deal. About as exciting as news of Carlos Marmol returning to shore up the pen.

  • Doc Raker

    Buck Martinez is a great broadcaster for the Jays. He thinks along with the pitcher and the manager. Rizzo was late and fouled one off and he said, “Late on it, foul ball, I would stay firm here.” This is much more insightful than just a simple ‘foul ball’ that you get from Len. I can see it was a foul ball. Martinez told people why it was fouled off and since he is behind on the pitcher to keep throwing fastballs in order to get him out. Martinez is great. Simple, insightful and accurate.

    Cubs win on 2 dropped third strikes, a mental error from the catcher, a wild pitch and 1 hit.

    Baez, down 1-2, I would of bet he was swinging at the next pitch which woule be a 55 foot slider. He so reptile in RBI situations- “Gotta hit, gotta hit, gotta hit”, that is the only thing his reptile brain tells him. Maddon should give him the take sign on 0-2 and 1-2 some times. Who would throw this guy a strike EVER let alone when he has 2 strikes on him

  • Dork

    Came out of the woods to a sweep this time – that’s better – who knew that the key to winning was striking out on really bad pitches

    • Eddie Von White

      Yeah no kidding? – I had to laugh at the headline “Cubs Manage A Sweep.” I don’t believe management had anything to do with it.

  • Doc Raker

    Love these Sudden Death games

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      Wait Doc, it is supposed to go 12 first, thus we still have 2 more left