View From The Bleachers

February 9, 2006

Well it’s news to me

Filed under: General — @ 12:58 pm

I vaguely recall Milo Hamilton’s time as a broadcaster for the Cubs – in my timeline he was somewhere before Stoney and after Lloyd Petit. Apparently this time period is still very vivid in Milo’s mind as he takes Cubs icon Harry Carey to task in his new book entitled “Making Airwaves: 60 years at Milo’s Microphone.” Milo depicts Harry as a pompous arse topped with a liberal dose of arrogance. ”He rode managers. He rode players,” wrote Hamilton. “It didn’t matter. He treated everyone the same way. In short, he was a miserable human being.”

It’s curious that Milo waited all this time to speak his mind. I’ve never regarded Harry as a saint but it’s surely the first time I’ve seen him depicted as the devil. Hamilton went on further to indicate that there were problems with other members of the Cubs family as well. In fact the only person in the entire organization he had anything good to say about was longtime Cubs producer Arne Harris. Well, who couldn’t get along with Arne?

I’m sure that Harry gave Milo some reason to be hurt – he portrays Harry to be a vindictive man. But the vituperative manner in which Hamilton trashes Harry’s memory makes it clearly evident who the real vindictive character was. I didn’t think much when Milo left town, he never really had any emotion or excitement in his voice when he called his games. But now that I look at it parenthetically I’m glad the Cubs clipped this guy before he bored generations of Cubs fans the way he has done Astros fans. Sorry that Harry wasn’t the best pal to you Milo, as an announcer you couldn’t hold Harry’s jockstrap.

This isn’t newsworthy enough to be a post, but it does involve a former Cub. Fresh off the wire from is speculation that Sammy is perhaps less than likely to sign with the Nats (thanks to Rotoworld for the heads up.) Is this Sammy’s Swan Song or is he playing chicken just before he swerves away and takes the offer? Methinks the latter – Sammy is addicted to the headlines, perhaps he’ll swallow his pride and do what coaches have been telling him for three years now…either that or he gets cut by Washington and leaves baseball as a shadow of His Samminess.

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February 8, 2006

Girardi Unavailable for Comment

Filed under: General — Tommy Marker @ 8:54 am

On the heels of Joe Aiello’s post of yesterday….


Artist Marco Figgen poses with his 1.10-metre-long (3.6-foot-long) beard, which he uses to paint, at his studio in Pattaya City, in Thailand’s Chonburi province, nearly 110 km (69 miles) east of Bangkok, February 3, 2006. The 51-year-old German citizen, who first came to Thailand nine years ago, describes his unique paint brush as an extension of his soul, and has been growing his beard for 13 years.

Figgen, no relation to rising superstar Chone Figgens, said he would bypass Marlins spring training camp to concentrate on his art.

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February 7, 2006


Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 8:04 am

Sometimes I wonder why people make the rules they do. As educators, we often wonder why some of the rules are in place, when they seem counter productive. As Joe Girardi gets ready to begin his tenure as the Marlins new skipper, he has instituted a no facial hair policy a la George Steinbrenner’s Yankees. I never really understood what the big deal about having facial hair was. It seems to me that as the Marlins get ready to endure one of their most difficult years in a long time, due to an ungodly amount of youngsters taking the field that they would want to promote as much harmony as possible.

You’ve got to believe that guys like Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera are upset about showcasing their talents for crowds of thousands this season. To make that worse, now they may have griping and complaining in the clubhouse to deal with. To me, the smart thing to do would be to focus on letting the players gain an identity with the fans and be themselves. That’s one of the best ways to market your product.

Think about so many of the players you remember over the year. So many of them have some sort of idiosyncrasy that set them apart from other players. For example, Dontrelle Willis has the high leg kick when he’s on the mound. Hideo Nomo has the tornado windup. Rod Beck had the crazy goatee. Think about Jim Abott. Was he a great pitcher? Not really, but you remember him because he had 1 arm. Curtis Pride, a player that never really made much of a splash in the bigs will always stick out to me because he’s deaf. The point is that sometimes a rule for the sake of having a rule, like in this case, is simply a way of instituting discipline, and I think that’s the wrong way of going about it.

In unrelated news, i’d like to tell you a story that happened to me yesterday and get your opinion. I left school and on the way home realized that I needed to stop for fuel. I stopped and this hole in the wall gas station next to school. The pump took over 10 min to fill my tiny 10 gallon tank. I walk in to pay for the purchase, because they do not have pay at the pump. When he runs my card, he hands me the slip to sign and tells me to put my phone number as well. I asked him why and he said it was policy. I told him I would not put my phone number because there was no reason for it. He then proceeds to tell me that it is the law and refused to give me my copy of the receipt. Needless to say, I walked out without putting my phone number on the slip of paper. As I’m walking to my car, he proceeds to come out after me yelling and writing down my license plate number.

What I want to know is why do all these companies feel that a) they NEED this information & b) that they have any right to expect it. From now on, when a store asks for my information, I am going to simply refuse.

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February 6, 2006

Joe isn’t the only one talking to broadcasters!

Filed under: General — Tommy Marker @ 3:21 pm

Len Kasper gave all of us readers a chance to lob a question or two his way and your humble correspondent chimed in.

Do you and Bob feel any pressure to rebound this year after the WGN ratings took a freefall last year? (You didn’t think all your questions would be softballs, did you?)

Posted by Tommy at February 2, 2006 07:31 AM

LEN: Hi Tommy, no, I expected them to be all “baseballs.” OK, it’s been a long off-season I know…I need to work on my corny humor. On your main question, ratings aside, I felt really good about our first year in the booth. Bob is such a pro and is as knowledgeable and witty as anyone I’ve been around and just made my first year so enjoyable. We have an awesome crew who brought us in with open arms. I just really felt like things were comfortable from the get-
go. And I’m so pumped about year 2 coming up, we’re going to have a lot of fun. I should note that it was very important to me that we established that we knew what we were doing last year. I wanted to ease into the job and not try to do too much early on. A transition like the one in the TV booth is a big deal for fans and I have so much respect for the position and the fans that I wanted to be cautious in my approach. I think if you watched all season you
probably noticed we opened the throttle a little bit more in the second half and “let our hair down” so to speak. My hope is that by the end of the year you felt like you you kind of knew Bob and me a little better and what we’re all about.

On the ratings, I can’t answer that one. My hope is that we didn’t turn people away last year, but who really knows. I do know that if the Cubs win 95 games this year, more people will watch. And no, I will not take any credit for that (I’m serious about that). Tommy, my guess is that baseball ratings are driven by and large by the club’s performance. Bob and I and our crew will do EVERYTHING we can to make the games informative and entertaining and we’ll work as hard
as we can to do our best. Beyond that, the rest is out of our hands. More directly to your question, no, I don’t feel pressure to rebound from anything because I’m proud of our work. Thanks for your question. Feel free to post a reply.

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February 5, 2006

Congrats to the champs and other musings

Filed under: General — @ 8:47 pm

Congratulations are in order for the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve always liked Cowher, he seems like a real genuine guy and the Pittsburgh faithful have stuck with him through thick and thin. It’s nice to see one of the nice guys get his just reward…

In the world of ice hockey the Blackhawks came to Nashville and were shut out 6-0; Scott Hartnell had the hat trick and Tomas Vokoun stopped 40 shots on goal. But the real story of the game came from some Blackhawk fans who almost stole the show. From John Glennon of the Nashville Tennessean:

Sign of the times: Three fans dressed in Chicago Blackhawks jerseys and bags over their heads were shown on the Gaylord Entertainment Center Jumbotron during last night’s game. In the third period, the trio easily won the applause-based fan of the game award.

For those of you that enjoy motorsports, the Daytona 500 signals the opening of the 2006 Nascar season and that race is scheduled for two weeks from today. I’m hoping that Mark Martin will lead the #6 team to it’s first Cup championship, but the racing gods seem to all favor Tony Stewart.

And for Cubs fans, pitchers and catchers report in ten days.

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February 3, 2006

Another member of the walking wounded

Filed under: General — @ 5:37 pm

Today the Cubs inked former Cards P Jason Simontacchi to a minor league deal. In case you were wondering why you haven’t heard much out of Jason recently he is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder.

Okay, so we like to take chances on players recovering from injuries do we? Not counting Cubs who are hurt, we have in the past two years signed the following players despite rather serious injuries: Ryan Dempster, Chad Fox, Jody Gerut, Jerry Hairston Jr., Scott Williamson, Wade Miller, Marquis Grissom and now Jason Simontacchi. And a partridge in a pear tree…

Now I’m not against taking an occasional gamble on a guy that’s trying to resurrect his career and I know these guys are cheap. But wouldn’t it be much better if we were developing young talent and trying them instead? My sense is that the Cubs are becoming an older ballclub faster than the aging process is taking it’s toll on my 49 year old body. In fact, it’s highly likely that we will begin the season with one of the oldest rosters in baseball.

So again I must question the direction our decision-makers have chosen for the franchise. I know Dusty Baker likes veteran ballclubs but we’re starting to look like the Cubs Cripple Club fer cryin’ out loud!

Rotoworld had an interesting post regarding Juan Pierre:

The Cubs will let Juan Pierre decide whether there will be any discussions about a multiyear deal this spring.

Pierre, who signed a one-year deal yesterday, is eligible for free agency at the end of the year. “Both sides feel this will be a place where Juan is happy,” general manager Jim Hendry said. “We’ll leave it up to Juan’s side if they want to sit down in the spring.” Feb. 3 – 2:08 pm et
Source: Chicago Tribune

I’m not getting this – will someone please clarify the Cubs’ strategy and explain to me what is wrong with the concept of Hendry calling Pierre’s agent and saying that it would be nice to discuss a contract?

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Friday Morning Musings

Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 6:24 am

As you know, the offseason in baseball is one of the hardest times to maintain a website. Even the Cubs homepage struggles to get meaningful content up on a consistent basis. With that being said, i’d like to muse on a few other stories from around the sports world.

Tiger Woods shoots 66 – Normally, this would not be a big story to me, even though I like golf. What makes me laugh about the tournament that Woods is playing in though is the fact that his payment for appearing is more than the entire purse for the tournament. That’s when you know you’re bigtime. When you make more than all the other golfers playing combined and all you had to do was show up. In my mind, Tiger deserves every bit of the money. He’s the most dominating playing on the tour today.

As I watched the final day of the tournament last week, you could see the reaction of Olazabal change when he saw that Tiger would be a part of the playoff. It’s as if guys feel they have a shot when Tiger isn’t a part of the mix. Once he’s in, the whole dynamic changes. Suddenly, their chances of winning go way down. In addition, the TV ratings soar when Tiger is making a run on day 4. For that, pay him and let the world see him in action.

Maryland gets stomped by North Carolina’s Heels – What has happened to Maryland lately? At one point, they were probably the 3rd best team in a tough ACC. Now, with two straight losses, this latest one at home against an inexperienced Tar Heel team, you have to wonder if they are a legit team in the ACC or if they were merely pretending. Things don’t get much easier for them as they head to Raleigh to play NC State and then Duke not more than a week later. It’s put up or shut up time for the Terps.

Owners 1 – Players 0 – The Colorado Rockies defeated Sunny Kim in the first case of the year. What makes me laugh is the two figures. Kim was asking for $800K and the Rockies were offering $600K. Kim had an alright year, when you factor in the fact that he pitched in Coors. He went 6-3 with a 4.90 ERA in 10 starts and 14 appearences out of the pen. It just seems silly to let it go all the way to arbitration over that.

Gotta learn your metrics – If you’re not a sabermetrician, but you’d like to learn, then check out the article in the Hardball Times today. In it, they discuss five defensive sabermetric stats and what their value is. It’s definitely worth the read. The writer has his own stats blog which is called Statistically Speaking

That’s all I’ve got. Enjoy your day. Just a little more time till Spring Training!!

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February 2, 2006


Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 12:40 pm

I often peruse the Hardball Times for good, in depth articles on baseball. They never disappoint. I ran across one the other day that I thought you might like. It deals with the idea of pitching with runners on base. It looks and what effect they have on the game.

Here is a link to the article. Discuss amoung yourselves.


Juan Pierre has signed a one year deal worth $5.75 million and Will Ohman has signed for one year at $610,000.00. This leaves Carlos Zambrano as the only arbitration eligible player unsigned.

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My Top 3 Hated Baseball Players

Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 9:07 am

Yesterday I asked you to chime in on who you could not stand in the Majors these days. This was a response to GQ article that listed the 10 most hated athletes in sports. Here are my top 3 and a brief reason why.

1. Barry Bonds – This is an obvious one. He’s arrogant and believes the world revolves around him. He has used the cream and that alone, in my mind, makes him someone I cannot stand.

2. Robert Fick – When he went in hard to first base and nearly took off the arm of Karros, that sealed his fate with me. He is a tool.

3. Pedro Martinez – I can’t stand his arrogance and obnoxiousness. When he took on Don Zimmer and threw him down, that was what did it for me.

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