Archive for August, 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen, Todd Hollandsworth’s replacement is…

Tuesday, August 31st, 2004

Ben Grieve. That’s not too bad. He is the opposite of Tom Goodwin; he’s patient at the plate, has some power, can’t play defense, and couldn’t run if he were being chased by an alligator with a machete sticking out of its mouth and three scared skunks on its back.

Grieve’s numbers this year to date: .261 BA, .363 OBP, .415 SLG in 234 at-bats. He’s supposedly healed up from an injury which limited his playing time.

Getting a left-handed corner outfielder to come off the bench and give the First National Bank of the Dominican Republic and ol’ammonia-fingers some rest in exchange for some of the waxier dollars coming out of the Tribune company’s ears is okay with me. It doesn’t make me click my heels, but it dosen’t make me do a Macauley Culkin face either.


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George W. Bush Called Me

Tuesday, August 31st, 2004

Well, actually, a recorded message of George W. Bush was played by an automated calling system, but it counts. Since I just registered to vote one month ago I was still most recently registered as a Texan, even though I moved two years ago. “Mr. Bush” was reminding me to fill out my voter absentee ballot so that I could vote for him.

I don’t know what would give him the idea that he would receive my vote, since I never voted for one republican during my ten years as a Texan. But it was nice to get a call from America’s Silliest President.

The Cubs have a 3.83 ERA, 3rd in the majors and the league, this season (STL & ATL).

They’ve allowed 535 runs — behind only STL and LA in all of the majors.

They’re 10th in the majors in OPS (.790) and 4th in the NL.

They’re 15th in the majors in runs scored (640), but 6th in the NL.

They have a run differential of +105; better than the division-leading Yankees, Twins, A’s, and Dodgers, the same as the Braves, and behind only the Cardinals.

They have a guy that players, fans, other managers, and the blowhards in the media generally agree is one of the best managers in the game.

Over the past two months, Greg Maddux has been our most effective starter:


7-2 in 11 starts, 74.2 IP, 63 H, 22 ER, 9 HR, 11 BB, 50 K, 2.65 ERA.

Kerry Wood

4-3, 9 starts, 53.2 IP, 52 H, 17 ER, 9 HR, 25 BB, 50 K, 2.85 ERA.

Carlos Zambrano

4-5, 10 starts, 66.1 IP, 56 H, 26 ER, 4 HR, 30 BB, 60 K, 3.53 ERA.

Matt Clement

2-6, 11 starts, 55.2 IP, 59 H, 31 ER, 13 HR, 33 BB, 71 K, 5.01 ERA.

Mark Prior

2-2, 10 starts, 51.2 IP, 56 H, 30 ER, 10 HR, 27 BB, 60 K, 5.23 ERA.

Factoring that and the players’ season numbers, I’d go Zambrano – Wood – Maddux – Clement in the postseason (if it started tomorrow), with Prior coming in if any of them has a bad first couple of innings.

AAA Report:

Joe Borowski: 4 appearances, 0-2, 4 2/3 innings, 5 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 11.57 ERA. His first outing he got rocked, but he hasn’t exactly been Bruce Sutter since.

Richard Lewis is hittin’ .245 in 98 AB with Iowa, 7 2b, 2 HR after .329-10hr, 59rbi in AA. He’s 24 now, so it looks like he might be a better major league contributor off the bench than guys like Gookie Dawkins, Damian Jackson, and Neifi Perez. Oh, and Russ Johnson, Bill Selby, Benji Gil, Denny Hocking, and Ricky Gutierrez. All of whom are, you guessed it, proud Iowa Cubs.

Poor Jason Dubois. .314, 28-90 with 25 doubles and the Cubs can’t find room for him. At least they haven’t brought up Trenidad Hubbard or Calvin Murray. Geez, AAA is almost never used as a developmental level any more; that is not good company.

Michael Wuertz: 2.66 ERA, 17 sv, 29 H, 15 BB, 54 K. There’s hope for the kid yet.

UPDATE: Looks like the Cubs have bolstered Iowa’s catching crew for some reason. is reporting that Mike DeFelice was acquired from the Detroit Tigers for a player to be named later. Hopefully that player to be named is Mike DeFelice.


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Like Night and Day

Monday, August 30th, 2004

After completely embarrassing themselves this past weekend, the Cubs looked like a completely different team in Monday night’s game. Aside from a rocky 9th inning, everything went exactly as it was supposed to. The Cubs got the runs they needed, in the situations they need to get them in, and the pitching was great. Two particular people impressed me in the game.

MadduxAs always, Greg Maddux does nothing but impress me when he pitches. Sometimes I think we take for granted just how good he really is. They were talking about some of the things he did in the 90’s and it’s just mind boggling the names that are on the list for various things he has accomplished. Not only does he pitch well, but his fielding is unbelievable, how else can you explain the fact that he has 13 gold gloves on his mantle? On top of all that, is his unbelievable baseball smarts. This is a guy that knows everything about everyone in the game. At times, hitters feel as if Maddux is reading their mind at the plate. In a lot of ways, he is. His scouting knowledge is that intense. He is always trying to learn more about the players in the league. I think it’s important to just step back at times and really take in the greatness of this guy before he’s done forever.

What amuses me the most about Maddux is his humility. He is always so quick to deflect the attention away from himself, and put it directly where it should be, the team. So many players in today’s game do the exact opposite. They try to act as a magnet for attention. Everything has to be about them. Nothing epitomizes this philosophy more than the Budweiser commercials running these days about “Leon”. He’s all about Leon. While the commercials are funny, they are also very true. Greg Maddux, however, is a far cry from Leon.

Hooray, I got some hits!!!!Yes, Paul Bako actually impressed me tonight, and not even for what he did with the bat. His play in the field and on the bases were what caught my eye. On a play at home, he blocked the plate well, preventing the runner from being able to touch it. Then, he simply walked to him and tagged him out. For all the mistakes he has made, it is always nice to be able to give him some props when he does something right.

On the bases, he was a great distraction to the Expos third baseman, which allowed a ball to get through the infield. He had the presence of mind to get back to the bag standing up and let the ball hit him and shoot through the infield. If it were me, I would have probably gone in sliding to prevent getting him. Good game tonight Pauly. Get a shower and we’ll see you in 5 days.


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Get out and stay out

Sunday, August 29th, 2004

Houston has worn out it’s welcome in Chicago. I am extremely glad to see them go. To put it mildly, the Cubs stunk up the joint. However, they are still in first for the wild card. How can that be? It makes me mad because that means we could have really put some space between us and the pack, but instead we just maintained the close race. Because of the crappy play this weekend, I have decided to focus my thoughts on something other than baseball, complaining about life.

Complaint # 1

Over the past week, I have lost my cable and internet connection 3 times. That wouldn’t be so bad if it came right back on. However, it has been off as long as 10 hours at a time, it peak TV watching time. Ok, once I could understand, but 3 TIMES!?!?!?!?! To make matters worse, when I call the cable company for a refund, they simply say that it has to be off for 24 hrs for them to issue a refund. So, if my cable went off for 23 hrs each day, for the whole month, I would pay full price. I think if it goes out, you should get some kind of refund for the time you lost.

Complaint # 2

Also, dealing with the cable company. Each time I call their customer service number, I am greeted with the friendly message that says the following:

“We are currently experiencing a higher call volume than usual, please stay on the line and we’ll get to your call as soon as possible.”

I get this message each time I call them, whether it is for a problem or not. I know you’re probably thinking, “who calls the cable company when they don’t have a problem?” Well, sometimes I do to make a channel suggestion or to inquire about new services. Nonetheless, each time I am greeted with the same dang annoying message. It seems to me that if every time I call, I receive that message, maybe this call volume is not unusually high, but NORMAL!!!! Don’t say it’s high when it’s always high. Hire more people so it won’t be high. Stupid Mediacomm!!!!!

Complaint # 3

Why is it that if you are wearing a Cubs hat, two things happen. First, people feel the need to come up to you and not only ask you if you’re a fan, but ask you how they are doing. If you don’t know enough about baseball to know how teams are doing, odds are you really don’t care that much. So, don’t waste my frickin time with a dumb question. It’s different if maybe you care, but just haven’t had a chance to follow. Then, ask away. Also, inevitably, when I am wearing my hat out, and a game is on that I am taping so I can watch it when I get home, someone tells me something. This happened Saturday night. I was at a car dealership with my wife, buying a new car. I had set the game to record on TiVo, which is a great thing to get if you don’t own one, and some idiot came up to me and said “Cubs are losing in the 5th, 5-2 and it’s raining.” I smiled, said thank you, and walked away so angry. It’s funny too, because just a few days before this incident, I was talking to Andy Rutledge, my new Webmaster, and we talked about why people always seem to feel the need to convey this info to you just because they know you’re a fan. He is currently working on a hearing aid type device that automatically filters out all Cubs talk when turned on. Let me tell you, I will be the first customer.


Well, now that all that complaining is done, lets get some wins over the Expos. Kurt, from Cub Fan Nation is gonna be at one of the games, so hopefully they won’t let him and us down.


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Just Because They’re Funny

Friday, August 27th, 2004


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Giving Corey his Due

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

Earlier in the season, Corey earned a one week reprieve from my acrimony for a nice bunt. In late July, he earned a full month’s reprieve for good play. With tonight’s big homer and his recent performance he has earned a reprieve for the entire season.

Furthermore, I take back all the bad stuff I said about the guy all year. He has officially converted me. I am a grumpy, bitter man whose personal scars do not heal cleanly; I have, since his overhyped entry into the major leagues, vented my pain on this undeserving player. I’m sorry, Mr. Patterson. I hope you can forgive me.

There. That was hard to do, but I feel good having done it. Mr. Patterson has forced me to re-evaluate where I stand on all the Cubs’ key players. Here are the results, using the Out of the Park Baseball five-star rating system. The dislike/like line is just to the left of 3 stars.

Michael Barrett, C:

I’m still not sold on this guy. I have too many images of his hamfisted defense in my head and there’s too much statistical evidence to think this year’s offensive output is not a fluke. I hope I’m wrong.

Derrek Lee, 1B:

Lee is my favorite current Cub, if only because his nickname is Rodan. Also because his head looks too small for his body.

Mark Grudzielanek, 2B:

Ol’ Double Dinger’s been knockin’ the ball around recently, but as far as I’m concerned, his only role on the Cubs team is keeping Todd Walker out of the lineup. And that’s bad.

Todd Walker, rotting on the bench:

A long time ago some jerk in Louisiana heard I was a big baseball fan and he said, “oh yeah, who’s the best second baseman right now?” I, of course, said the great Ryne Sandberg, but he, an LSU fan, picked his nose and said, “Nope! It’s Todd Walker!” Walker was still in college at the time; the idea of some aluminum-bat-wielding jerk being better than Ryno torqued my wrench, so I didn’t give Walker a chance — not until Boston did I consider him a major league hitter. But since he’s been a Cub I’ve been in his corner; a lefty who gets on base is EXACTLY what the Cubs’ lineup lacks. Put him in, Dusty!

Nomar Garciaparra, SS:

The anti-Grudz. All this guy has to do is play; his value in not letting the Cubs put feeble weiners like Ordonez and Neifi and A-Gone and their ilk in the lineup is enough. Statistically, he’s pretty brutal defensively, but with a strikeout-heavy pitching staff he’s in the right place. He only gets 3 stars because he’s not healthy, and I’m not convinced he will be through the rest of the season. Should he start eatin’ spinach and shake off the injuries, he’ll go to a 5 star Cubbie.

Aramis Ramirez, 3B:

I’ve got nothing but praise for the Musketeer. If he keeps it up he might pass up Rodan as my favorite Cub.

Moises Alou, LF:

I’ll give the guy props for hittin’ 32 bombs this year. But he looks older than Paul Newman when he’s playing LF and the guy’s OBP is below the league average. I expect more from Moisty.

Mr. Corey Patterson, CF:

3 stars and rising. Two months ago he’d be one star. Now he’s my little buddy.

Sammy Sosa, RF:

He’s trying very hard to forge an Ernie Banks legacy for himself. There’s no doubt that he has had a fabulous career as a home run hitter and in through maybe ’97 to ’01 he was magnificent. Now he’s starting to put up Kingmanesque numbers. He still smiles and makes like Chico Escuela, but I’m just not buying it anymore. Especially at that price.

Mark Prior, SP:

So what if he’s been inconsistent this season. I have no doubt that he’ll be a star for the Cubs for a long time. I can’t have faith in guys like Barrett because I’m using it all up on Prior.

Carlos Zambrano, SP:

Zambrano is the go-to guy on the staff this year. When he takes the mound, I’m relaxed, the same way I was during Maddux’s turn on the hill when he won his first Cy Young with the Cubs or Prior last year. “Zambrano” is Spanish for ACE! And Carlos is Spanish for “I am the…!”

Kerry Wood, SP:

I like watching him take the mound, but he’s the biggest question mark on our staff. As Yogi Berra might say, “he’s not as good as he oughta be, but he’s good enough to be really good.”

Matt Clement, SP:

Clement’s been just fabulous this year. If the Cubs do take the Wild Card (as they should), I’ll put good money that we’ll be seeing Clement coming out of the pen. Which is a NASTY thought. But at any point in the season Clement’s been one of the top 3 on the Cubs’ starting staff. It’s a shame that the offense usually takes a siesta on his turn to pitch.

Greg Maddux, SP:

No complaints here. Go get ’em, Greg. He gets “only” three stars because he’s buried so deep in this talented pitching staff that I’m not as excited as I thought I’d be to see him pitching for us.

LaTroy Hawkins, RP:

At the beginning of the year I was really excited about getting him. Now that he’s shown that he’s as shaky as a maraca in closing situations, I just don’t care about him. He’s no Bruce Sutter (he’s barely Dick Tidrow), but neither is he El Pulpo.

The rest of the bullpen guys are just too dicey to comment on. I have high hopes for John Liecester and Wellemeyer. These two dudes should help us save some money on the bullpen next year.

All in all, I feel darn good about the Cubs’ chances of hanging on to the ugly stepsister spot for the playoffs. It’s amazing what a tonic a three-game home series sweep of a second division team is for an ailing soul.


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I’ve got this feeling

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

One of the things I have never done this season is give up. I have had my share of frustrations and heartbreaks with this team, but I am proud to say that I have believed all year that this team capable of good things. All year, Dusty has been saying that this team has not hit it’s stride, and that we need to be patient. So, I was patient. Now, I am seeing this team play some pretty good baseball. Granted, most of these wins are against teams we should be beating, but a win is a win, no matter who you beat. We went on a run like this last year and ran down to the wire with the Astros. I have this feeling that this year we are going to go on a similar run to the playoffs, but this time it will include running away with the wild card.

This team is clicking on all cylinders for once. We are scoring runs early with Corey at the top of the lineup. Steve Stone had this to say during the game last night after Corey ran the bases like a stud and slid into 2nd base ahead of a throw.

“We are seeing a player develop right before our eye” ~ Steve Stone

I am excited to see what is going to happen down the stretch. Everything just seems to be going right. I mean, my god, Matt Clement even got a win last night. If that’s not a strange sign from above, I don’t know what is.


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No More?

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

As we await news of Nomar Garciaparra’s MRI (which the Cubs get at 25 % off because of their inclusion in the “Frequent Scanner” club) a little move was made that at the time seemed kind of funny but, in that Rey Ordonez kind of way, now comes to the forefront and portends great sorrow. The Cubs signed Neifi Perez a few days ago. Right about the time Nomar started ridin’ the pines.

Feast on these stats and tell me that, if they could, the Cubs would not joyfully clone Rey Ordonez 24 times and fill the whole roster with him.

Now, IF this MRI turns out bad, and IF Neifi Perez ends up Ordonezing for the Cubs, THEN I will make lots of hating sounds.

They say that when you shoot yourself and die, that you lose control of your bowels. If the ivy at Wrigley Field turns brown early, you will know why.


1) Okay, I admit it. Maybe Barrett’s not turning into a pumpkin.

2) It turns out, a la Prior, that it’s Nomar’s wrist, not his achilles tendon, that is the real problem. And since he played today, maybe he won’t go on the DL after all. Cross your fingers and hang on to those valuable Neifi Perez rookie cards.


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Victory for the testosterone boys

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

After Aramis Ramirez hit a big homer, Barrett got plunked by Oswalt. Barrett walked toward the mound, and both benches cleared. Later, a wild Kerry Wood hit his third batter of the game and got ejected.

Had Barrett kept his cool at the plate, Wood woulda gotten an easy victory. He hasn’t had many of them this year. Thirty years ago the batter would have shrugged his shoulders at getting hit and trotted to first. Now it’s a challenge to a guy’s manhood. It didn’t cost the Cubs any games in the standings, but it costs the game in a larger context. The idea that 1) a pitcher can feel it’s his right to plunk a batter after after a homer, and 2) that the hitter can act like the pitcher just raped his dear old grandmother after getting hit by a pitch, is symptomatic of a disease that runs through MLB: guys think they’re bigger than the team. Even an MVP only nets a team five to ten games in the standings, but every Jose Macias thinks he can strut around like Simba after an inside pitch.

The agents that fill Barrett’s head with the idea that he’s so precious a commodity that he oughta think about charging the mound, and the union that supports that representation, serve both to emancipate major league players and alienate them from their fans. The burden is upon the players’ union, and EACH INDIVIDUAL PLAYER, to improve their image, thus raising the game and hiking their salaries, because the MLB owners ain’t gonna help; they don’t seem to realize that tearing down said players HURTS them long-term.

Regardless, Cubs win. Take all the squabbles and hoo-hah away and that’s all that matters.

I might have set a record for the least focused rant in blog history, and for that I apologize.


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