Archive for June, 2005

Be Not Afraid

Monday, June 13th, 2005

At first blush this upcoming series with the Marlins seems somewhat intimidating especially tonight’s match-up between Dontrelle Willis and John Koronka. But before we fold up the tent consider these names. Clemens, Halladay, Mesa, Lidge, Benson and Kip Wells? The Cubs have defeated each of these quality pitchers this season. Willis could very well add his name to this list.

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Joe’s Favorite Video Games – Part I

Sunday, June 12th, 2005

This is a new idea I had the other day. I am going to talk about some of my favorite video games of all time. Most will be from back in the day before everyone was so concerned about graphics. Hopefully, these posts will remind you of all the fun you had when you were young. Enjoy, and feel free to discuss all the great memories from each title.

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out – NES


As I was cruising the internet today in search of the result of the Mike Tyson fight last night, I was reminded of when Mike Tyson was one of the baddest men on the planet. He was so bad, he had his own video game for Nintendo. This is by far one of my favorite games of all time. I used to play it over and over until I knew the opponents moves and idiosyncrasies by heart. It’s sad because as a kid, I used to watch Double Dare on TV and I remember how in awe I was at one kid who had beat Tyson 2 times in the game. That was like seeing the Babe Ruth of video games live. I made it my goal to beat Mike Tyson. I found out the code from a friend to get directly to Tyson (007-373-5963) and I set out to beat him down. Unfortunately, it was slow going in the beginning. Tyson looked like the Iron Mike of old as he continued to smoke me in the first round of every fight I fought him in. It was frustrating because if he hit you within something like the first 1:30 of the round, you automatically got knocked out. Finally, I was able to get past that and begin learning how to box him. After probably close to 100 fights, I finally BEAT Mike Tyson. I don’t know too many people who have accomplished this feat, but I still take great pride in it.

The game itself was cool because of the crazy characters that you had to fight along the way. Here are some of my favorites:

Glass Joe - This guy was terrible. He never really swung at you and when he did, he would be so predictable that it was impossible to lose to him. I did see one guy take him to a decision though. I was at my cousin’s house as a kid and the guy fighting him was completely retarded when it came to video games. He was so bad that he couldn’t knock out Glass Joe. We were laughing so hard because we thought he may be the only person in history to ever lose to Glass Joe. In the end, he miraculously pulled out a thrilling 3 round decision. Needless to say, he got smoked in fight number two against the always tough Von Kaiser =)

King Hippo - This guy was also terrible but gave me so much trouble for a long time. I just couldn’t ever seem to get my timing down with him and struggled for a couple of fights. Once I relaxed and waited for my time, I attacked and was able to beat him with relative ease. The trick was to wait until he raised his hand and shook violently like a seizure and then pop him in the mouth. When you did that, he’d take the pose in the picture and you would just pound him in the gut. Once you knocked him down, he was just too fat to get back up so the fight was over.

Bald Bull – The Trick to Bald Bull was to learn how to hit him when he did his famous Bull Rush. If you timed it right and pressed B right at the precise moment, you could make him back up slowly in a painful cringe and fall to the canvas. If you miss timed it, you were pounded by a powerful right uppercut and immediately fell down. It was a tough thing to time, but once you had it, it was so easy to do. It could to the point that I would wish he would Bull Rush me so I could get the fight over quicker. As a kid, my friend Andy and I never new the B secret so we would simply dodge his bull rush until the round ended and take our chances with the decision. It never worked.

Finally, you made it to the dream fight and, like me, probably got creamed many times. All in all though, the game was well worth the money and still gives me entertainment today as I play it on the computer on an NES emulator. Now it’s your turn. Tell me about some of your punchout experiences.

CLICK HERE – For an end of Post musical Treat

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Holly Slowly

Sunday, June 12th, 2005

With apologies to Neil DiamondÖ

Todd Hollandsworth

Holly slowly tries
Dream of only a few
Where Cub fans have been, what we are
What we believe in
Holly slowly
Holly slowly dream
Wanting only a slew
And he comes
And I pray that his bat willl
Holly slowly
Get a hit
Get three or four
Hit them out
Hit them strong
Give up on Todd in the dead of the night
And heís gonna rise in the sky
Rally round a man whose swing was light
And that tame man, he’s gonna fly
Watch him fly
Watch him fly
Holly slowly love
Take his fan club wild
And the seed
Let it be filled with tomorrow
Holly slowly

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A Few Observations from the Scene of the Massacre

Saturday, June 11th, 2005

Thanks to the generosity of my father-in-law, I was able to attend Friday’s Red Sox/Cubs game at Wrigley. Here’s what I noticed at the scene of the crime:

Red Sox fans were everywhere. All over the Loop, on the EL and in the park. I’ll say this for the Red Sox Nation, they travel well. They started several loud “let’s go Red Sox” chants (including one as the lineups were being exchanged) and after the game was out of reach a “Yankees Suck” chant also. Most Cubs fans reacted with annoyance, the chants were drowned out by boos (and several Cub rallies) each time.

They should pass a city ordinance; if the National Anthem needs to be sung in Chicago, and Wayne Messmer is within the city limits, he should have to do it.

In Thursday’s Chicago Tribune, Cubs beat writer Paul Sullivan speculated that the Cubs might have an interest in Boston centerfielder Johnny Damon when he becomes a free agent this winter. Well, they may be having second thoughts about it after today, as Damon showed a bad case of brickwallaphobia on a couple of doubles to center today.

Derrek Lee is absolutely oozing confidence (at least I hope that’s what it is) right now. When Derrek goes to the plate it’s like he knows he’s going to get a hit. Oh, and unfortunately, Aramis Ramirez looked like he was possessed by Sammy Sosa today, admiring a long fly ball that hit the left field wall, ultimately being thrown out at second on what should have been an easy double.

The Cub offense as a whole was very good. They didn’t draw a ton of walks, but they were extremely patient today, working the count, and waiting on Bronson Arroyo to inevitably leave one of his breaking pitches up in the zone.

Watching Greg Maddux pitch with a big lead is something. After the Cubs went up by 6, Mad Dog just seemed to throw the ball in the strike zone to every hitter, as if to say “go ahead, hit it, these guys will catch it” and for the most part he was right. Todd Hollandsworth made a great catch in left ( I actually thought that Patterson should have made the catch on that ball) and the defense was solid.

So, all in all, a good day. The Cubs are 2-0 with me in attendance this year, and I’ll be there Monday night to try and extend the streak. Until then, let’s sweep these Red Sox.

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A Classic Indeed!

Friday, June 10th, 2005

20 hits and 14 runs later, maybe now the hypemasters will focus on baseball.

This team should get a day off more often. OK, A lot of love to go around today. Maddux did it with his bat as well as on the mound. Chicks dig the long ball, right Greg?

Todd Hollandsworth is heating up and putting big smiles on the faces of his loyal if not misunderstood Fan Club. Since June 1st Todd is 9 for 22. (Note to self. Buy calculator for office). Oh, and I will be looking for his Web Gem tonight on Baseball Tonight. That diving catch in the 4th was nothing short of fabulous.

Dusty Baker can read. He knew Bronson Arroyoís numbers were lacking with lefties so he stacked the deck as well as he could. Nice job, Dusty.

Burnitz

This could be Weekend at Burnieís before itís all through. Two home runs, a nice start to the series, Jeromy. How often will FOX and ESPN remind us this weekend that you are in Sammyís old spot in RF? Hopefully, not even once. Sorry I did.

And we could go on and on speaking of Barrett, Neifi and others. great job all the way around.

And last but not least, David Ortiz. Sure he hot dogged his first of two homeruns but what do I care? He nabbed me major fantasy points this afternoon and the Cubs still won. Everybody wins!

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Thru Cub Eyes: Bill Madlock

Friday, June 10th, 2005

This weekís Friday Feature shines on one of the forgotten Cub greats, Bill Madlock. He was one of my heroes back in the 70ís as he won two batting titles in his short tenure in Cubby Blue. This excerpt is from Carrie Muskatís fine compilation Banks to Sandberg to Grace. Find it, buy it, read along!

madlock

It was the last game of the season in í76 and I had been out because I got mugged in New York the week before. I was out three or four days but I came back to play the last three games. Going into the last game of the season it was something like a three point difference between Griffey and myself. What I wanted to do ñ I figured I had no chance of winning ñ but I wanted to hit over .340.

They were at home and we were at Chicago, and a friend of mine called and said ìYouíve got a chance!î

And I said ìNo, I donít have a chance.î

And she said ìOK, go 4 for 4.î

The first time up, I think I got a base hit. The next time up, the infield was in and I hit a little blooper over the first basemanís head. And at that time, Griffey and I were tied, so they were going back and forth, calling Cincinnati and they were announcing it in Chicago. The next time up, I bunted for a base hit and then I took the lead, and all this time Griffey wasnít playing. So, they found out I had taken the lead and they put Griffey in the game and I guess he struck out. My next time up I got a double off the wall. So I was three or four points ahead of him.

I think Cincinnati batted around so it was over if he didnít get that at bat. I think they sent nine men to the plate, because he made the last out and he struck out. I was at home when I heard that I won it.

I found out Pete Rose and Joe Morgan told Griffey to sit down. He shouldíve sat down the day before. I think whoever was the Cy Young pitcher that year pitched the next-to-last day of the season, and Griffey played that day and went 0 for 4.

I was never satisfied. I talked to Pete Rose and some other hitters and they were never satisfied. I see some of these guys now, if they get one hit, theyíre satisfied. If they go 1 for 10 every game and they got their one ñ hell, if I got one, I wanted two. If I got two, I wanted three. All of the good hitters are like that. Theyíre never satisfied. And youíve got to work to get them out.

It had to be í74 or í75. Al Hrabosky used to do that patting the glove and walking around the mound, you know. Heíd do that [stuff] and when he gets up there on the mound, I walked out. And then when I got up in the box, he went back. This went on ñ well, it was probably only a couple of minutes but it seemed like forever ñ and all of a sudden, the umpire said ìThrow!î and I was out of the box getting pine tar, which I never used anyway, and he started throwing and the umpire started calling strikes.

Jim Marshall jumped in the batterís box. Jose Cardenal jumped in the batterís box. I jumped in the batterís box. And all of a sudden, Hrabosky let one go and it almost hit Jim Marshall in the head. Ted Simmons and I start yelling at each other and all of a sudden I smoked him and then all hell broke loose.

This was a fight. This wasnít a grabbing or anything, this was a fight. I think thatís the only thing we had going for us. We had good fighters on the team. It seems like we fought for half an hour. It was just a rivalry between the Cubs and Cardinals.

I didnít want a $1 million contract. That was the year that the multiyear started. They didnít do it for Ernie, they didnít do it for Billy, and thatís what it came down to. I did a lot for the Cubs for the three years I was there. I think they wanted every black player to be like Ernie and Billy. And thatís unfair.

I was 20 something years old and I thought Iíd be with Chicago forever, you know, and it didnít work out that way. One thing you find out early in baseball is that sometimes itís not the stats you put up. You see some strange things happen in this game. Thatís just a part of the game. It happens now, itíll happen forever.

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A Gem

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005

You know, I actually agreed whole heartedly with Tommy’s assessment of this series when I read it. I guess that should have been my first warning, eh?

The Cubs had reverted to their early season form in the first 2 games of this series. The clutch hits that came so readily on the west coast were nowhere to be found, as the team hit into numerous double plays, and played outfield defense that would have embarrassed George Bell. So a sweep seemed like a stone cold lock, with AL Cy Young candidate Roy Halladay going against Sergio Mitre and his 6.88 ERA. But somebody forgot to tell Sergio just how overmatched he was. Mitre pitched 7 innings of 2 hit ball, giving up no runs, lowering his ERA by a full 2 points, driving in the Cubs first run and scoring the second in a 2-0 victory.

Baseball, we’re often told, is a marathon, not a sprint. One win or loss is worth exactly that in the next day’s standings, and then we’re supposed to move on. But fans know that there’s more to one game than that. June 8th, 2005 could be remembered as the day that Sergio put it all together, launching himself into the public eye at the beginning of a Hall of Fame career. Or it could simply be the game that plants his name deep in the consciousness of every Cub fan, before he fades back into obscurity like Jeff Pico before him. Maybe the Cubs will go on another tremendous tear, or win the division by 1 game and years from now we’ll all talk about (and claim to have attended) The Mitre Game.

Will we remember that it took place on a getaway day, against a team that was resting several regulars because it had already won the series? Probably not. I think what I’ll remember is that with two of the team’s best pitchers on the shelf, the Cubs hovering just above .500 and one of the best pitchers in the American League on the mound, Sergio Mitre stepped into the breach, and held off the June Swoon, at least for one day. I’ll remember Toronto’s hitters haplessly pounding hard sinkers into the ground; Sergio hitting a frozen rope down the left field line for an RBI double; and that, for one day at least, Sergio Mitre was a great pitcher.

That’ll do Sergio, that’ll do.

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Have A Soda, Mitre!

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005

Not to steal Tommy’s thunder, but I saw Scott’s article at the Northside Lounge and determined that this just had to be done:

Also, depending on your dialect, please replace the word “Soda” in this title with “Pop” or “Coke” as necessary.

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Is Baseball Ready for Openly Gay Players?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005

Last nightís edition of Bravoís ìQueer Eye For The Straight Guyî featured makeovers on several players from the World Champion Boston Red Sox, including Johnny Damon and Jason Varitek. This has prompted a flurry of discussion on ESPN, from Around the Horn to PTI to Baseball Tonight.

Apart from Woody Paige, who advocated this as the right time, everyone else cautioned that Baseball is not yet ready for a player who is gay to come out of the closet. And to a man, each seemed to admit that with a degree of regret. Whether sports reporters are more tolerant than baseball players is questionable. They might just be worried about being lumped in with the ilk of John Rocker. But they seem to think most players are more like him than they are like them.

Bill Plaschke is exceedingly sympathetic and when the day arrives, he wants the story so the person gets treated with respect but even he doesnít believe the time is right.

When that day arrives, it will be a similar situation as Jackie Robinson, I believe. It will have to be someone with the physical talent and emotional fortitude to take all the abuse from players and fans alike.

So, when is the right time? Now? Never? And if the player was a Cub, would you be supportive? All comments welcome but no homophobic slurs, please.

queer eye

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