Archive for July, 2004

It’s About Time

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

This is a title that applies to a numerous amount of things, the first of which is an end to the World Series of Blogs. I would like to congratulate Blue Jay Way for claiming the title this year. I hope that the contest generated new readers to all the blogs involved, as that was the purpose. There are numerous writers out there that don’t get the credit that they deserve. Hopefully this helps a little.

It’s been a long time since the last time I have written. You may have noticed that the site in general has not been updated as much lately. I would like to shed some light on why that is. First, I was on vacation for 10 days and was unable to even dream about getting online. I was in the middle of no where. So, no updates from me. Second, Dave and his wife were in the process of moving and as we all know, that can sap all time and energy you have. As a result, the writing here has suffered. It didn’t really help that the Cubs were stinking up the joint. Hopefully that is beginning to change.

It was nice to listen to the game last night and see my boy Matt Clement get a much deserved win. I feel bad for the guy. He’s in a contract year, pitching his butt off, and has no record to show for it. He will probably not get as much as a free agent this offseason as he would have if the Cubs would have given him so additional run support. Even last night, the offense only managed 3 runs, and they didn’t come until the 7th. This is not what I expected for the offense this year. I really expected this team to put up at least 5 runs a game. We’re not out of it yet, but if things don’t change soon, we could be by September.
Anyways, on a happier note, I am in the process of writing some quick reference posts on the financial side of baseball and some confusing things. Look for them soon.


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The Phillies’ New Park

Monday, July 26th, 2004

I have been living in Allentown, PA for the last two years. During this time I have not been able to go to see my beloved Cubs. So when a co-worker told me he had two tickets as part of a Sunday season ticket plan that he couldn’t use for today’s game, I took him up on it. For fifty bucks I got seats and parking to the new Phillies Park. As a feeble, but complicated, protest I have taken it upon myself to refer to any park who has sold its name to a coporate sponsor by the team that calls it home. Therefore, the Astros play in Astros Park, the White Sox play at White Sox Stadium, and the Phillies play at Phillies Park. That way, we fans can keep the same monikor for a stadium no matter who has a ten year contract for the stadium to bear its name. It is complicated because the only result is that other sports fans who do not know me invariably arrive at the conclusion that I am a slobbering moron because I don’t know the parks’ names, then I have to explain it and they think I’m trying to cover for being an idiot. Meanwhile, my point about the economic injustices brought about by the first year players’ draft (and its exclusion of foreign-born youngsters) is totally lost on them! Imagine.

As I was saying, I was there. During the eighth inning I turned to my wife and told her there’s no worse nightmare than having to endure my own team getting no-hit on tickets bought from a Phillie fan who would love to see Milton no-hit somebody, so that as I was explaining how awful it was to sit thorugh it he would be telling me how lucky I was for getting to see it and how he’s pissed that I got to see the game when he should have rightfully been there.

Here are my observations:


  • For 3 of the 6 innings he pitched, Prior looked like he was barely escaping. For two innings he looked dominant, and for the other inning he looked average.
  • Just as Rick Ankiel and Mark Wohlers had psychological blocks which prevented them from being successful, I believe Mr. LaTroy Hawkins has such a block about closing. I normally don’t buy into the myth of the closer, but Hawkins is a person who appears to be affected by the role.
  • The Cubs deserved to get zero runs that game.
  • Barrett really didn’t look like a major league catcher behind the plate.
  • The first eight innings were the least enjoyable innings I’ve ever experienced at a game. Between worrying about Prior blowing his arm out and watching the Cubs get no-hit (and Milton REALLY looked dominating; the Cubs hit only 2 or 3 balls hard the first 8 innings). Usually there’s something positive to draw on and enjoy, but my wife had gotten in a fight on the drive to Philly, the Cubs were sucking, Prior shook his arm as if his elbow hurt after giving up the homer in the sixth, and even the hits the Cubs got were mostly due to luck and Doug Glanville.


The park is absolutely beautiful. Nice statues outside, nicely laid out with wide concourses with which you can see the field, one of the two hot dogs I got was pretty good (I got a green dog in the Astrodome once!), good seats all over, 4 decks of seating around the infield and two decks in the outfield, and the playing surface gave true hops, but seemed a little shorter than the numbers indicated at the power alleys. All in all, Philadelphia has been blessed with a lovely stadium.


With apologies to the hundreds of thousands of Phillies fans whom I did not encounter tonight, I have to say that the ones I did meet were people of deplorable character. I haven’t been to Wrigley Field recently (since ’96, in fact!!!) and I don’t like what I’ve been hearing, but today alone I experienced or observed the following:

  • Harrassment of FAMILIES of opposing teams before the game in the parking lot, along the concourse, in the seats, and after the game in the parking lot,. Not friendly “haha your team sucks” harrassment, but red-faced, vein-protruding shouts of “YOU’RE NOT WELCOME HERE!” and “CUBS ARE LOSERS! LOSERS!!”
  • FOUR “boo the home team” instances.
  • A guy right behind me leaning forward to shout discouraging heckle-style comments ostensibly aimed at Cubs players but intended for me.
  • Unrequited anger. It wasn’t a park filled with anger, but it was like a mountain range with a few active volcanoes; taken in whole it was awfully scary. I tried my best to smile or make self-deprecating jokes, but merely because my shirt and hat bore the Cubs logo I attracted a lot of unwanted attention.

I have NEVER felt more unwelcome in any place on EARTH as I did at the game today. And the Cub-Phillie rivalry isn’t even a noteworthy one; I can’t imagine if the Mets or Braves were in town.

I realize that not all Phils fans behave in this way, but from my personal experience, the fans of the Philadelphia area live up to their goonish reputation.


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Chilling insight

Saturday, July 24th, 2004

From the Tribune:

“We depend, it seems, on hitting the ball out of the ballpark,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

That says it all. And a team which doesn’t get on base a lot that relies so much on the longball is a team that will go hot and cold offensively. Which is exactly what the Cubs do. It bodes ill for the season and the postseason, which I still believe we’ll see. Since the only foreseeable upgrade would be at shortstop (and that doesn’t mean Alex Gonzalez clone Orlando Cabrera), I think we’re stuck with them this year. But letting Walker play, finding a new left fielder and possibly center fielder, getting a shortstop who can get on base, and finding a partner for Barrett so he can play about 100 games a year to keep him from getting tired are the moves I recommend. Who? I’ll theorize about that in the coming days.


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Last Night’s game was still only one loss.

Wednesday, July 21st, 2004

Does yesterday’s game break the Cubs’ backs? NO! Here’s why:

1) They still have a good pythagorean spread.

2) The Cards are not as good as they have appeared over the last two months. No one is. This is a run…a good streak. Nothing more. Come September they’ll be sputtering.

3) In a short series, the difference between winning the division and taking the wild card becomes nearly irrelevant. IF the Cubs can make the playoffs it doesn’t matter if they finish ahead of the Cards or not.

4) Up until a few days ago they led the wild card hunt WITHOUT Prior. Even if he never starts another game this year, and I think we should start preparing for that, they’re still an above average team. With a bevy of prospects to trade in order to shore up the bullpen and maybe the shortstop position the Cubs could still make the playoffs.

5) If his reputation is deserved, we have just the right manager to guide the Cubs through this rough spot.

Don’t give up hope. There’s a lot that could still go right this year. I realize the potential psychological hit the Cubs took yesterday, but if they play .600 ball the rest of they, there’s a real chance for a playoff bid. And I like Wood, Zambrano, Clement and occasionally Maddux in ANY short series.

Hang in there. We might have thought we were getting on a learjet to Winnersville, so it’s a jolt to discover we’re sputtering along in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But hey, the thing still flies.


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House for Rent

Monday, July 19th, 2004

Being a Cubs fan is like being a guy who’s renting a house with some really likeable features, but it’s not the greatest house. It has vaulted ceilings, a nice yard, it’s in a good part of town, and he’s been there so long that it feels like a part of him. But there’s always something wrong with it. Sometimes he doesn’t know exactly what it is — one year it’s the plumbing, another year it’s roof leaks. There have been lots of plumbers and roofers and HVAC guys and landscapers and whatnot coming out and messing with the house the whole time he’s lived there, and it always looks nice enough, but there’s always something going wrong. He knows he can’t afford a house on his own, so he’s at the mercy of his landlord. There have been a couple of landlords in his time, but it seems sometimes like this last one doesn’t care about the place as long as it keeps making him money. So the guy keeps living in the house, ignoring the really bad drafts in the upstairs and the creaky steps and the running toilets, because no matter who owns it, he lives in it, and that makes it his. No matter how crappy it is at times, he has grown into the house. They fit. Maybe his attitude changes over time to make the bad stuff more bearable, and maybe he adapts to the house’s limitations and into its strengths. But either way, the guy can’t imagine being without the damn house. As much as it drives him nuts sometimes.

Right now I’m noticing that Moises Alou is leaking (don’t say it) water all over the basement, and the grass out back is as ugly as Ordonez’s batting average, and there’s a big hole in the wall where a shortstop ought to be, and the whole foundation’s been messed up and getting worse all year. But if a couple of things go his way and the landlord fixes a couple of things, he’ll have the coolest house on the block.


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