Archive for September, 2004

Interview with Christian Ruzich

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

Well, I figured that anyone who comes to the site on a day after the Cubs probably finished off their chances of reaching the postseason would want something other than negative to read. So, I present an interview with the Cub Reporter. Enjoy!!!!

TVFTB – I notice that you do not live in Chicago, how did you become a Cub fan?

CR – I grew up in the Chicago suburbs (Downers Grove), and was somewhat of a Cubs fan as a kid, but when I got out of college I lived within shouting distance of Wrigley Field for two years (literally — I could hear the crowd singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” from my stoop) and that’s what made me the Cub fan I am today.

TVFTB – With the season winding down and the Cubs in the running, what do you see this team doing the remainder of 2004?

CR – Winning the wildcard by taking 3 out of 4 from Cincinnati and 2 out of 3 from Atlanta. After that, who knows? They have the talent to beat any of the other playoff teams, but anything can happen in a short series.

TVFTB – About a week ago my writer, Anthony, posted an article about which game you will most remember if the Cubs were to miss the playoffs by one game. What loss would you most remember and why?

CR – Most of the losses from this year are already fading from my memory, but the two losses over the weekend in New York were pretty horrible.

TVFTB – If you could go back to the offseason and warn Jim Hendry, are there any moves that you would warn him not to make for this 2004 team, assuming you know what you know now?

CR – Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s not too hard to do, but $4.3 mil for two years to Joe Borowski isn’t looking too good right now.

TVFTB – I read some of your very ancient first posts on the Cub reporter. How did you come about the idea of starting the site?

CR – I just wanted to write about the Cubs! I had been teaching myself HTML and it seemed like building my own website was a good way to keep my skills sharp. At the beginning, I was just writing for myself, but eventually I discovered Only Baseball Matters and realized that there was a little community of baseball writers who were writing stuff that was a lot better, and more interesting, that what you could find in the paper or on the big commercial sites. I started writing more, and emailing other writers, and things started to take off from there.

TVFTB – I can’t seem to find an All Baseball history, so when did All Baseball.com come about and just how did the whole process evolve? (Where did you get writers, who owns it, etc)

CR – I owned the domain name for a while but didn’t do anything with it. After a few years of reading all the great baseball writing out there, I decided I wanted to aggregate some of it into one place, where you could go to read about all different teams, etc. I approached Alex Belth about moving Bronx Banter over, and he did last July. Not long after that, Will Carroll was looking for a place for his non-Prospectus writing, so I offered him space at A-B.com. Mike Carminati came over not long after, and pretty soon I had a media empire! We added the rest of the writers at the end of last year and in the off-season and hope to add a handful more this winter.

TVFTB – Where do you see the site in 5 yrs?

CR – Ruling the world! Actually, we have been having lots and lots of conversations about this very subject recently. We’re looking into a few different options — software packages with more features, and business models that might actually make the site profitable. Wherever we are in five years, the main goal will be the same: to provide excellent baseball writing from a wide variety of perspectives.

TVFTB – What are your favorite Cubs blogs to read?

CR – Big Red C, and another thing!, Cub Fan Nation, and your site are the three I check daily, but I make a point of looking at every link on Cub Reporter ever couple of days to make sure I’m not missing something important in Cubland.

TVFTB – Who are your favorite columnists to read?

CR – If I could only read five baseball columns every day besides the ones at A-B, I’d read:

Eric Neel (ESPN page 2)
Brian Gunn (Redbird Nation)
Bat Girl
Marty Cortinas (Across the Seams)
Ken Rosenthal (FoxSports.com)

The next five would be Chris Kahrl and Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus, John Perricone (Only Baseball Matters), Jay Jaffe (Futility Infielder), and Steve Treder at Hardball Times. The guy who writes Waiting For Boof would be on this list if he would just write more!

TVFTB – If you were to recommend three books that all baseball fans must read, what are they?

CR – 1. Jim Bouton, Ball Four
2. Michael Lewis, Moneyball
3. Lawrence Ritter, The Glory of Their Times

TVFTB – What are the changes you see need to be made for the 2005 season for the Cubs?

CR – A pitcher who can hold a one-run lead in the 9th would be nice. They need a shortstop (I don’t want them to sign Nomar because he’ll be too costly) and they’ll need a left fielder if they do the right thing and decline Moises’ option. They should let Clement go get big money on the open market and they should sign Barrett to a short-term (one or two year) deal.

I heard a rumor that the Cubs think they’ll have a good shot at Carlos Beltran, which would be great. Other than that, the only big-name FA they should look at is Renteria.

There you go. I hope I helped a little to ease your bad day. Who knows, maybe something crazy will happen this weekend. If not, in typical Cubs fashion, there’s always next year.

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Remember Bartman?

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

I don’t know why, but yesterday’s loss feels a lot like that. After that game last year, I has so despondent that I did not even want to watch game 7. I knew in my heart that the Cubs would not win. When you have that big of a letdown, it’s just too hard to get up for the next game. I am deathly afraid that is what is going to happen now for these last four games.

Really, when you look at the standings, the Cubs still control whether or not they have a shot at postseason play. Despite being down a half game in the race, both SF and the Cubs are tied with the Astros in the loss column. So, if we win today and SF wins today, we go into the final series of the year with a three way tie for the last playoff spot in the National League.

In my opinion, today’s game in critical for the Cubs. Win today and we still have a nice shot at postseason. Lose today, and I will seriously consider putting my playoff tickets on E-Bay. Not much else to say. There really isn’t a need to over analyze it. Just Win Baby!!!!

Update (10:45am) – Word out of the Arlington Daily Herald says that Dusty is sticking with a certain reliever from the Hoosier state as his closer.

Cubs manager Dusty Baker is sticking with LaTroy Hawkins as his closer – at least for now.

“Right now, that’s who we’ve got,” Baker said Wednesday after Hawkins blew his ninth save of the season in 33 chances during a 4-3 loss to the Reds.

“We’ll address that when he gets here next time.”

If there was any bright spot to the loss, it came with Kyle Farnsworth pitching 2 scoreless innings in relief after Hawkins left. Farnsworth, who has developed a nice slider, struck out the side in the 10th and recovered with a double play and a strikeout after a leadoff single by Juan Castro in the 11th.

Baker said any decision on changing closers would come only after talking with pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

“Farnsy’s been throwing the ball well,” Baker said. “But I can’t tell you before I discuss it with Larry and the people involved.”

When will Dusty learn that Hawkins is a setup man? That’s what he does well.

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Enough is Enough

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

Moises Alou is a cancer to this Chicago Cubs ball club. I truly believe he is the main reason, why this team seems to feel they have the right to complain about every call that goes against them. After all, if Alou is complaining, and he is a seasoned veteran who has seen it all, then by golly the call must be going against the Cubs. I really believe that is the reasoning some of the younger players on this team are using when complaining about calls. They see one of their leaders do it so it means they have the right to do it too.

I am sick of Moises Alou and his no good, bat slamming, pee on hands attitude. Act like a professional because now is not the time to bring this team down. Word out of the Tribune today has Moises contemplating retirement after this year.

“Whoever is going to sign me is pretty much going to take me out of retirement,” he said. “I love playing the game and I do want to play some more, but it has to be the right situation.”….Returning to Chicago is “my No. 1 priority,”

Maybe it’s just me, but if Alou wants to be offered the “right situation”, he may want to watch his attitude. There aren’t too many teams that are considered contending teams that are in the market to acquire an aging, complaining, can’t run the bases, clubhouse cancer. Shape up Moises or have fun with your horses next year.

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Down the Stretch They Come

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

Six games left. It all comes down to this. How bad do you want it? The Cubs have this week to make up for a whole season of disappointment. One week to overcome all the injuries suffered and rise to the place many expected them to be at the beginning of the season. One week to make our city and their fans proud. It’s a great amount of pressure on a team that hasn’t won a World Series in going on 100 years. Mike Downy seems to think the Cubs appear ready. I hope he’s right.

I watched the game last night while talking to Andy. It was good to see Todd Walker do well last night. I am disappointed at the lack of praise he has received this season. This is a guy that came here from an equally “World Series Ready” team to play for less money. He has stepped up when asked and has not complained about sitting behind an aging Mark Grudzielanek all year. Now, with Mark hurting, it’s time for Todd to step out and solidify his spot in the starting lineup for the playoffs. It will take a lot of great play, due to Dusty’s loyalty to Grudz, but it can be done.

It’s time to start thinking about the playoff roster. So, I will give you my playoff roster if I was at the helm of this ball club.

Rotation
1. Kerry Wood
2. Carlos Zambrano
3. Greg Maddux
4. Mark Prior

I put Wood as my Ace for 2 reasons. First, he is still the vocal leader of this staff. The team looks at it as his staff and so he should get that respect. Also, he was cash money in Atlanta last year in the NLDS, so why not give him that opportunity again. Last year, on the road in the NLDS, Kerry was 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA. Because of that, he gets the nod in game one. Additionally, that allows Maddux to pitch at home, where his stats are far better over the past three years (Click Here for the Stats). Prior gets the fourth spot for the simple fact that he’s Mark Prior and his stuff is far better than Matt Clement’s. He is our franchise, Clement isn’t so give the spot to Prior.

Bullpen
Glendon Rusch – L
Kent Merker – L
Mike Remlinger – L
Matt Clement – R
Ryan Dempster – R
La troy Hawkins – R
Kyle Farnsworthless – R

This has got to be a strength for this team if we are going to go anywhere. Our pitching has been far from what was expected this year, so if the pen can be lights out, it would take tremendous pressure off of the rotation and allow Dusty more flexibility with when to pull a pitcher. I did add Farnsworth to my playoff roster for the simple fact that his pure stuff is too good to ignore. He is worth the gamble if he can payoff. If not, we have some other guys who could step up.

Starters
CF – Corey Patterson
2b – Todd Walker
1b – Derrek Lee
3b – Aramis Ramirez
SS – Nomar Garciaparra
LF – Moises Alou
RF – Sammy Sosa
C – Michael Barrett
P – pitcher spot

Bench – N. Perez, B. Grieve, P. Bako, T. Goodwin, M. Grudzielanek, J. Macias

That’s how I would do it. We’ll just have to wait and see what Dusty decides. Regardless, it’s time to get down to business. 6 days left, make them count. To quote the Black Eyed Peas, “Let’s get it started”

Update (8:45am) –Wrigley Ravings agree’s with me about Todd Walker

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Fan Mail

Saturday, September 25th, 2004

Not really sure what to make of this one. I recieved it late Thursday or Friday night, I can’t remember which. Anyways, take a look and tell me what you think.

A Wild Card Manifesto

I see it clean and simple. The cubs have global warming
on our side, we’re getting hot at the right time and we can
thank mother nature.

All the player-hater reporters are causing the ice in
greenland to melt. Their hot air disrupted the penguin
migration. The resulting Zambrano-Edmonds shakespearean
tempest has screwed up the trade winds and hope blows
afresh.

Prior and Wood are the young knights recently healed,
Sammy is flourishing in 6th, Rush, Grudz, Nefi,
Hollandswroth, and Walker are all doing their part,
Farnsworth and the deer, Latroy coming into his own, Maddux
the old mage, the beauty of Patterson and the sacrifice,
Aramis and his musketeers… the ingredients are there.

We also have the gods, we have Neoga, the iriquois wind
goddess. The timing is immaculate.

Like the winter of 78-79 that dropped 89.7 inches of snow
and the series of hurricanes of that preceded. The summer
of 78 produced hurricanes Amelia * Bess * Cora * Ella *
Flossie* Greta * Hope * Irma * Juliet * Kendra.
Hurricanes are like opponents. Opponents are like Walter
Payton’s garbage hills. All hills can be climbed if the
mind is focused.

The Gints have lasagna lovin large hills. Those lasorda
lovin kirk gibson waving blue and white and the feisty
Padres. Luckily the midwest has small hills. the
pirates, the reds and the mets. Yes the hills are alive
with the sound of Harey Carey…

Ahhh but what is this song? This song is the bleacher bums
singing true, the sound of a goat squealing, the crescendo
of Evers to Tinkers to Chance. Its the high hat of a guy
named Three Finger Mordecai Brown,

The song has been played every spring and a few lucky
Septembers. It duets like Bowery and Greenburg. The song
has been played in the the billy goat tavern and at
weddings founded at the Cubby Bear. It’s the song of the
Big Red’s hook, of Ron Cey’s waddle, of Dawson’s arm
ripping a runner out at home. Its the theme tune to Bill
Murray breaking out of jail. The eerie polka of Ryno’s
perseverance and of Santo’s courage. Its a waltz that
weeps in San Diego.

But this year, the sounds of an Iriquois flute play on the
shores of lake Michigan. This year hurricanes and the fans
are a giant oboe, lifting the cubs’ big bats, bats
cushioned by an Iriqious wind goddess. This is no carefree
bud man. This is what should be.

This is Neoga whistiling a song of destiny.

you can feel it,

a cubs fan

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