Archive for March, 2006

Time to lay the smack down

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Today when it was time for the Washington Nationals to play ball only eight players took the field. Alfonso Soriano, with an arrogance unmatched in the history of Major League baseball refused to man his position. The Nats have advised Soriano that he must play his position on Wednesday or go on the restricted list; as a restricted player Soriano could be forced to sit out the entire season without pay.

It is my hope that Bowden and Robbie will stick to their guns on this one. No secondhand solutions or trades to other teams – Soriano should do what’s best for his team or sit out the entire season. If Alfonso can’t show respect for our game then perhaps he should take his lil’ dog and pony show elsewhere. Maybe a Cuban team will take him.

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7 Reasons I’m Rooting for Bradley

Monday, March 20th, 2006

You gotta love the NCAA Tournament, right? Well, maybe not if you’re a Big 10 fan, and not one team from the conference has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. What do you do then? Adopt a team, of course. I’m taking Bradley, and here are my reasons why:

Because they’re local
Hey, they’re from Illinois, right? WIth the rest of the local teams idle, who else could I root for? Plus it gives people in Peoria something else to do besides river boat gambling, and whatever else it is they do in Peoria.

Because I love upsets
Bradley is the lowest seed left in the tournament, every game they win will have to be an upset. And what’s more exciting than that?

Because their wins haven’t been flukes
Most low seed upsets follow the same formula: the underdog comes out on fire, plays their best half of basketball ever, goes into the locker room leading by 30, then spends the entire 2nd half fending off the superior team’s comeback. But Bradley’s wins haven’t followed that pattern. Each time they’ve gotten about a 10 point lead, and then matched their opponent the rest of the way. These guys are playing terrific basketball, and show no signs of being intimidated by the big name schools.

Because they destroyed my bracket
Normally this reason would prevent me from adopting a team, but this year I didn’t submit my bracket to any pools. So I wasn’t that disappointed when Bradley took out Pittsburgh, who I had losing to UConn in the championship game.

Because it makes Billy Packer look stupid
Face it, almost nobody likes Billy Packer, except for the coaches at big name programs. And that’s because Billy is so biased it’s silly. Shortly after the brackets were announced, there was Packer on CBS, announcing that the mid-major Conferences had gotten too many bids, taking seeds away from more deserving schools in the power conferences. Well, the mid-majors have held up their end of the bargain, sending 3 teams to the Sweet Sixteen (4 if you count Gonzaga). Incidentally, two of the teams that Packer wanted in at the expense of mid-major schools were Maryland and Wake Forest (his alma mater) neither of whom was able to win a game in the NIT.

Because they might help make the term “mid-major” obsolete
Both Bradley and Witchita State play in the Missouri Valley Conference. Which means that the MVC has sent as many teams to the Sweet Sixteen this year as the SEC, Pac-10, and ACC, and more than the Big 12 (1), Conference USA (1) and Big 10 (0).

Because it’s been more than 20 years since a true Cinderella danced at the ball
Isn’t about time it happened again?

Anybody else out there adopting a team?

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Who’s gonna pitch in April?

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

Perhaps it’s time for the Cubs brass to make some modifications in it’s plans for this year’s starting rotation. Glendon Rusch (he of the 9.82 ERA) got slam-dunked yet again, this time by the Chisox – it really makes you wonder whose idea it was to give Rusch that nice contract. After all, this guy gave up 175 hits and 53 walks in 145 1/3 innings last year, so what did Hendry do? Gave him a two year contract with a pay raise. If Ozzie Guillen is the Wizard of Oz then Jim Hendry is the Scarecrow.

Since Rusch obviously can no longer pitch effectively now is the time to go out and get a bonafide starter. And the Cubs management needs to quit being tolerant of poor performers, Cubs players should obtain results or be traded. Let’s make a deal now.

Update
Jerome Williams gave up four runs in the first today, his ERA stands at 9.00. There is still time to make a couple of moves.

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Conspiracy?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

I don’t believe that there is a conspiracy. I do not think that the Cubs are actively covering up injuries so that they aren’t revealed until after all the season tickets are renewed and the single game tickets are sold. A conspiracy indicates a concerted and well planned out effort between multiple parties to commit and cover up a subversive act. This line of thinking give the Cubs and Tribune Company far too much credit.

First, let’s look at this management team’s record with injuries:

2004:
Mark Prior comes up sore in spring camp. The Cubs say it’s an Achilles problem, and he’ll be ready in mid-April. Turns out he also has an elbow problem, and he doesn’t pitch until June.

Kerry Wood comes out of a game with a sore triceps. Cubs announce it’s precautionary, and he’ll miss one start. He doesn’t pitch for 2 months.

Todd Hollandsworth fouls a ball off his shin in June. The Cubs insist he is day-to-day. He doesn’t play another game in 2004, yet remains on the roster for several weeks, forcing the Cubs to play short handed during that time.

2005:
Larry Rothschild says that Prior isn’t pitching against hitters in spring training, because he can better evaluate him in simulated games. There’s nothing to worry about. Prior begins the season on the DL and misses one start.

Kerry Wood goes on the disabled list with a shoulder problem in May. He returns at the end of June and makes 5 more starts. The Cubs then announce that he will need offseason surgery on his shoulder labrum,but continue to use him out of the bullpen despite being out of the Wild Card race in August. The Cubs say that moving the surgery back will not keep Wood from being ready for the start of the 2006 season.

2006
Despite reassurances from the team that Wood would be ready for opening day, Kerry is behind schedule in rehabbing from shoulder surgery and is set back further when he is forced to have knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

Mark Prior reports to camp and is brought along much more slowly than the other pitchers, which the Cubs claim is due to his past spring training problems. Rumors about Prior’s health begin to circulate after his Cactus League debut is pushed back, but the Cubs insist everything is fine, right up until March 14th, when it is announced that Mark will be seeing Doctor Yocum, to have his shoulder examined after he reported pain following a long toss session.

Now let’s take a closer look at the way the Prior’s latest injury situation has been handled. After his slow start, rumors began appearing in late January that Prior had a shoulder problem. As the talk became louder, the Cubs answer was to site a late December respiratory infection as the reason for Prior’s lack of progress. Evidently, this was the type of respiratory infection that only prevents one from pitching off a mound, as Prior was:

“…doing all the other drills — fielding, sliding, hitting. He can play catch. He just hasn’t thrown off a mound”.

When Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus reported that Prior was having shoulder problems a few days later, the Tribune acknowledged the rumor by having Paul Sullivan deny it, while simultaneously taking a veiled shot (10th paragraph)at Carroll in the paper.

This isn’t a well formulated conspiracy, it’s the sort of dog-ate-my homework crap we’ve been getting from the Cubs for the last several years. The question here isn’t “how can we trust the word of Cubs management on injuries?”. What we as fans should be asking is:

“How can a front office that routinely botches injury situations like this be trusted to run a baseball team?”

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Just tell us the truth

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

Most of the regular posters here have been Cubs fans for many o’ twenty-four hours – I personally have been watching Cubs baseball since 1968 when I was a fifth grader growing up in suburban Clarendon Hills, IL. We’ve been through thick and thin as Cubs fans but I think most of us would agree that the past few years have been somewhat more frustrating than even the terrible decade of the 70s.

To have had the possibility of greatness dangled in front of our eyes only to be snatched away by fate has not been easy. So it was with a great deal of alacrity today that most of us found out that Mark Prior is indeed injured after all. Many of us have commented about how unusual it seemed that Prior was still doing towel drills in mid-March; the reassuring words of the management did little to assuage our growing apprehension as we watched one of our cornerstone players do little to nothing to get ready for the upcoming season.

And so it was today that the cat got out of the bag. It appears that all of a sudden Prior has developed some soreness in his pitching shoulder and because of this sudden soreness will visit one of the most preeminent orthopaedic specialists in the country. Said Chicago GM Jim Hendry: “It’s unfortunate…the first time he’s ever complained of discomfort since we got here [in spring camp] is today. It will be perceived any way people want to perceive it…”

Well here’s how I perceive it Mr. Hendry – it’s more of the same. The same line that we’ve been getting about our pitchers for over two years. If you have apprehensions, why not be candid? We are grownups for the most part, we can handle it. Perhaps it is true this time – perhaps the Cubs were indeed handling Prior with kid gloves for no logical reason. But I would be seriously remiss if I were to say that I trusted you Mr. Hendry, I feel like you’ve let us all down once more. You could have gotten more pitching in the offseason, there were plenty of guys available.

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