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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It’s about time

Friday, September 24th, 2004

For the last few days, I had been wondering what what wrong with the Houston Astros. I was counting on them to come into the series with San Francisco strong and win 2 out of 3. Instead, up until last night they simply rolled over and died. One fan, Michael Hurta, has even given up on them completely in his blog. When I came home yesterday afternoon I had planned on watching a Cubs loss. I just had a feeling. This team never seems to put teams away so why start now? Instead, I was treated to a sweep of the lowly buccos. It didn’t really impress me though because of how hot the Giants had been. Before bed, I checked the score and saw the Giants were winning 2-0. So much for making up ground today. Instead, I wake up to see that the Astros had decided enough is enough and brought out the bats for the rest of the game. So now here we are. The magic number is 11. We control our own destiny. A sweep of the Mets could all but clinch this Wild Card for us. With the Dodgers and Giants set to tear into each other this weekend, a sweep in unlikely by either team. It should be a great weekend for Cub fans.

Jay Mariotti Says

I usually cannot stand Jay Mariotti’s opinions but for once I agree with his article in the Sun Times. I didn’t mention this topic after it happened, but now that he wrote about it, I may as well take the chance to say I agree. The other day, when Sosa hit a double that according to his hippity hop routine was thought to be a homerun, he was thrown out at second base. Mariotti points out that “The new angle on our aging future Hall of Famer is that He’s dissolving into a bitter man” I agree. This guy has gone from fan favorite to the source of most Cub fan’s anger in a season and a half. Look at some of the things that have happened.

  • Sosa misses 25 games in 2003 due to injuries and cork bat

  • Accusations of steroids
  • Angry at Rick Reilly ~ Read the Article Here
  • Horrible injuries this year due to violent sneezes
  • Very low statistics prompting a drop in the batting order

I can’t blame him for being bitter, except for the fact that all of these things were brought on by himself. Nothing was brought on unfairly. It’s hard for me to feel sorry for someone who wants the world handed to him on a platter and then cries when it’s not given to him. If Sosa wants our praise, he needs to show us something these last 2 weeks and into the playoffs. Be a leader and lead this team. If not, get out of the way and let A-Ram lead us.

Survivor Update

Last night was the second week of Survivor Vanuatu. Last week I had made a fearless prediction of Scout being the next to be voted off the island. I was wrong, as I usually am with my predictions. Want proof? Look back and see how bad my MLB picks were for this season. I was disappointed last night because my pick to win it all, mainly because she was a cutie, was voted off. Dolly simply talked to too many people when discussing who to vote off and made people angry. Poor little farm girl just doesn’t understand how the game is played. You can’t tell two different groups that you’re voting with them this early in the game. Friendships have not been made yet. Until you know who’s with who, you just can’t do that. We’ll see who gets voted off next week. It will be one from each tribe.

Fearless Prediction for Week 3 Vote Offs

Guys Tribe – Rory
Girls Tribe – Eliza

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Who’s at Short?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

There’s an old comedy routine by Abbott and Costello called Who’s on First. If you’ve never heard it, I would first ask where you have lived the past 50 yrs, and then tell you to follow that think and at least read the transcript. In the routine, the ballclub has, no pun intended, a bunch of nobodies in their starting lineup. It’s so bad that the reporter asking the manager can’t even get the players names in the right spot on the field. Growing up a Cubs fan in the late 80′s and early 90′s, I was naive. I was content with coming into each spring training asking the question “Who’s on first?” It never seemed to bother me that we had scrubs like Steve Buchele, Ozzie Timmons, and Anthony Young on our 25 man roster. I simply waited to see what the team looked like on opening day and got to know the players from there. As I have matured, so has my knowledge and expectations of Chicago Cubs. I am no longer content with simply waiting till opening day to find out who our starters are. Instead, like other serious baseball fans, I spend my winter roaming from website to website looking for any rumor or nugget of information concerning who the team is actively pursuing for the next year. In the past, names uttered in those rumors were great names such as Jaime Navarro, Mickey Morandini, and the great Todd Hundley. We never heard names like Griffey, Clemens and McGwire, and for some reason I was fine with that.

(Enter 2003 Season)

Now as Cubs fans we’re hungry. We have felt the joy of being so close, the pain of being thrown back to a cruel reality, and we want more of the former. This past off-season, Cub fans expected a lot of activity. We’ve set the expectations high and the Tribune company heard our cries. Names like Maddux, Lee, Nomar, and Hawkins all have been uttered in Cub rumors this year. The Tribune has gotten the job done but the players have not delivered to this point. So, before it sounds as if I am giving up and looking to 2005, let me clarify. While I think we still have a shot at this year if we can put it all together, it’s always smart to look to the future as well. The Cubs have a decision to make for this coming season. Nomar came here in the final year of his contract. The Cubs have to make the choice of whether or not they want to offer him a long term deal. Let me give you my reasoning for the move I would make.

(Wrigley PA announcer on opening day 2005)- “Now playing SS for the Chicago Cubs, number 3, Edgar Renteria”

If I were at the helm, I would let Nomar walk this off season. Let him sign with a west coast team. We can’t afford to invest past this year in a player that may not play 50% of the games he is being paid for. Not with this team as close as it is. We need a guy in the prime of his career to man that post. What better that Edgar Renteria?

  • He will be 29 yrs old at opening day 200
  • He hits for average.
  • Has a little speed (34 sb in 2003 & 16 so far in 2004)
  • Plays for the Cards, so we could steal from the enemy

Those are just a few reasons. If you wanna take a look at the stats, click here
He’s my pick for 2005. What’s yours?

Radio Show Appearance Tonight

For those interested in listening to my insights live via the world wide web, go to Sports Talk Cleveland at 7:20pm est tonight and click listen now. I will be on from 7:30 – 8:00 pm talking Cubs and whatever else they ask me. If you get a chance and listen, drop me an e-mail or a comment on the site and let me know what you thought. If you can’t be online to listen, the appearance will be archived on our site.

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Cy Young 2004

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

I don’t really follow the American League enough to make any sort of judgement as to who deserves the Cy Young there, but in the National League, to me, it’s a no brainer: Randy Johnson. Remember him?

MLB.com just posted an article about how Johnson has been overlooked for the Cy Young, and it highlighted some of the points that have been floating around in my head the past few days. He leads baseball in ERA, strikeouts, and opponent’s batting average. He owns the single best pitching performance of the year, his perfect game against the Atlanta Braves, which he earned earlier in the year. Put Randy on the Cardinals or the Giants or any other team with some decent run production, and he’s a 20-plus game winner this year. He leads the majors in so-called “tough losses” — games in which he’s pitched a quality start and got tacked with the loss — in fact, he’s been stuck with ten of them. Turn just half of his tough losses into wins, and he leads the league in wins.

All the broadcasters I’ve heard over the past several weeks have tossed around names like Clemens, Schmidt, and Pavano with reckless abandon, but not one of them has mentioned Randy; I think that’s just a shame. Wins are such an overrated statistic, and the fact that Johnson can have such a phenomenal season but come up short in the win column just highlights that fact.

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Crazy Ramblings

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

Sometimes you find yourself in the situation where you have a lot to say and not a lot of time to say it. However, the problem I often am faced with is having a lot of little things to say and TOO MUCH time or space with which to say them. As a result, it comes across as an insane man rambling on incoherently about too many different topics to follow. So, I will try to just break it down into sections and ramble about a couple of things on my mind.

The Cubs

Again, I was unable to watch the Cubs on WGN. I long for the days when I was growing up and the games were all on WGN. I’m sure my wife doesn’t long for those days though. She already feels like I watch way too much baseball. I was able to catch the last inning or so on the Internet. When the Cubs were in the early stages of them game, Anthony told me it was 4-1. I was relieved, because I had a horrible feeling that the Cubs were going to come into this series and collapse. Somehow, we always have a habit of playing down to our competition. Instead, they take a nice lead with Wood on the mound. The only problem was that Hawkins is still the man in the 9th, which leads to fears and uncertainty. I just knew he was going to blow that game for us. When he blew the save, everything in me wanted to just shut the game off. If it weren’t for the fact that we had the top of the order up in the 10th, I would have gave up. Even the 10th was disappointing though. Yes, we scored and won the game, but we almost didn’t score. When Patterson hits a leadoff double, I see no point in wasting an out trying to get him to third. He has enough speed that he could score from 2nd on a single. Why waste an out? Let Neifi swing away and try for a single. If nothing else, have him show bunt a few times to draw the infield in and then try to slap one past them. If it weren’t for a wild pitch, the Cubs do not score in that inning, and that is pathetic.

Playoff Tickets

I got my playoff tickets on Monday. No, not to Wrigley, but to Turner field for game 2. Here’s hoping the Cubs will be in Atlanta for me to watch. If not, I may have to just sell the tickets to Scott Lange over at the Northside Lounge. If you would like to see what my view is going to be from the bleachers (catch the pun?), then Click here and click section 135 in the RF bleachers.

Life’s a Pitch

For those of you have never listened, there is a link in the best of section of this site from an appearance I made on a sports talk radio show from Cleveland, Ohio near the beginning of the season. They have been kind enough to welcome me back for an encore appearance this Thursday night. So, if you would like to listen live, and god only knows why you would, then I will be posting a link to click tomorrow morning. The show will be on at 7:30pm est on Thursday night. Here’s hoping I don’t get asked any crazy questions that catch me off guard.

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