Archive for August, 2006

Playing the race card – again

Monday, August 28th, 2006

I remember growing up in suburban Chicago, as a kid we read short stories by Flannery O’Connor, we were exposed to writings from James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I distinctly recall seeing newsclips of southern protests being broken up with fierce dogs and water cannons. I vividly remember my father making a wrong turn and driving into the Hough section of Cleveland after Dr. King’s death and I can still smell the pall of smoke as I did on that cool April night in 1968. My recollections include transferring to New Orleans in 1974 and seeing police wearing riot gear in the halls of my new high school, after a standout black running back was refused an honorable mention despite scoring 24 touchdowns. These images are vividly etched in my memory and are not to be taken for granted.

In today’s Chicago Sun-Times Jay Mariotti questions Dusty’s use of the “race card;” at first I was a bit reticent as I began to read the article but, the more I read the more Mariotti seemed to make sense. The continued references to racist letters paint a picture of the city of Chicago as being somewhat intolerant – while Chicago as a whole is not as diverse as a city such as New Orleans or even Nashville I would certainly not refer to it as a “white city.”

So I have to agree with Jay and question Dusty’s continued use of the race card. What is he trying to accomplish? Will Dusty use racism as an excuse for being fired if Hendry doesn’t bring him back? Will Baker use racist attitudes for his decision not to come back if he’s offered a contract that’s not to his liking?

I cannot and will not condone the unacceptable bigoted behavior of a few crank fans, nor will I say that they dishonor Cubs Nation, because they do not speak for Cubs Nation. But I will suggest that it’s time for Dusty to start turning the other cheek and begin to file the offending letters in the circular file. Given his performance as a Cubs manager it’s fair to say that Dusty would be receiving hateful mail regardless of his skin color. It’s time to move on, in more ways than one.

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Good teams find a way to win

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

And bad teams find a way to lose. This Cubs loss and series sweep was a team effort. Despite winning the season series, our Cubs were again outclassed by the Cardinals as they lost in climactic fashion 10-6. From an organizational standpoint the Cubs aren’t in the same league as St. Louis. Year in and year out, despite injuries and even deaths, the Cards find a way to compete. But our Cubs are hapless, they surely are losers but they are no longer loveable.

Fortunately the season is almost over and the Cubs will transition into the part of the season they are best at. The offseason, when hope springs eternal, when fans can truly be optimistic because they don’t have to be reminded on a daily basis how bad their team really is.

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Just following instructions, boss

Friday, August 25th, 2006

I have to assume that Chicago ballplayers read the newspapers like we do, so they probably saw today where Dusty said that he doesn’t like his ballplayers “clogging up the basepaths” with runners. Well tonight they responded by doing an excellent job of staying off the bases; in nine innings the Cubs had ten baserunners and stranded them all.

Juan Mateo wasn’t dominating but he didn’t pitch a bad game either. He lost because the Cubs didn’t score enough runs. Why? Because they didn’t have enough guys on base to be driven in when the hits *did* happen. Farmers know a simple rule – if your hens lay enough eggs, pretty soon you’re gonna have more chickens. Not enough walks + not enough hits = not enough runs.

Johnny B helps the Cubs’ opposition by handcuffing the players with bad decisions and poor direction. We need a manager that understands and teaches the fundamentals of the game, not one that focuses on trying to look smart during press conferences.

Update: The Cubs again did a great job of not “clogging up the basepaths” as they were limited to one walk, three hits and one run in their second low-scoring loss in as many days. You have to feel sorry for the two young starters. The Cubs’ batters were free-swinging as usual, hacking away at pitcher’s pitches and Cubs’ hitters only let the St. Louis pitchers throw 107 pitches in nine innings. This is Dusty Ball.

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Still crazy…

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Yes, yes, I know it’s been a while since I posted, and I apologize. To tell the truth, the Cubs haven’t provided much inspiration (at least to say anything good) lately, so I’ve been holding my tongue (and boy is it dry). So first, I will react to the Neifi trade. Well, it was nice that we traded him and don’t have to pay his salary and even got a decent prospect, but I’m more bothered by the fact that there are still 3 guys on the team who are WORSE(Bynum, Cedeno and Izturis) than Neifi!

mp3 andru donalds all out of love
That out of the way, I will now provide you with the real reason I jumped into action and posted today: Dusty Baker said something stupid. Yes, not usually news, but it got me so aggravated that I needed to get it off my chest. Actually, before the main event, here’s something to get me warmed up:

“I’ve always said since I started managing that I’d like to have a team full of young guys and young players who you can teach to play the game the right way,” Baker said.

All I’ll say is that if somebody can go back through various newspaper archives and find any quote from the beginning, middle or end of Dusty’s managerial career in which he expressed the idea that he wanted to teach and manage young players, e-mail it to me, and I will send you one of my cats as a prize.

On to the main event, asked about the club’s need to improve it’s NL low .318 on-base percentage, Dusty said this:

On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage,” Baker said. “Clogging up the bases isn’t that great to me. The problem we have to address more than anything is the home run problem.”

While Baker is right about the team’s power outage, he has once again brought up the insane idea that there is something wrong with walks, that they “clog” the bases. I do not understand this concept. Not at all. Here’s the way I see it. If a slow guy(say Aramis Ramirez) gets on base via a walk he is clogging the bases, because if a fast guy(say Juan Pierre) comes up after him and hits a ball that could be triple, Juan will only get a double, because Aramis will be too slow to score. But isn’t it still better to have men on 2nd and 3rd than just a man on 3rd? What am I missing here? Please, if you think you can adequately explain to me what is wrong with clogging the bases with walks, e-mail me said explanation along with your name and home address, so that I can tell your local mental health professionals where to find you.

Okay enough of Dusty. Hopefully he’s not going to be around next year anyway. September is approaching, and with the season over since July, what do you hope to see from the Cubs in the final month? Do you want to see a big winning streak? Maybe you want the team to be overtaken by the Pirates so they get the top draft pick? Here’s what I’d like to see in September:

1. Felix Pie: I know he’s probably not ready for the show yet, but remember, in September, a lot of teams are playing AAA players, and there are no great teams in the NL anyway, so I’d like to see what Pie can do in the bigs. Frankly, I’m curious to see the kid play, and after sitting through this crapfest, it’d be nice to see somebody with some promise on the field.

2. Ryan Theriot: I think I’ve made it known that I don’t particularly care for Ronny Cedeno. He seems like a nice kid who plays hard, but he lacks in two areas: hitting and fielding. The Cubs said earlier that they planned on playing Cedeno and Izturis at SS and 2nd next year, perhaps in some twisted quest to field the worst hitting middle infield since the deadball era. No, I want to see Ryan Theriot at 2nd, for the rest of the year. He shows patience at the plate, and actually has a track record of hitting in the minors and also seems to be able to catch the ball. And if he can stick in the majors, that’s one less spot to fill for 2007.

3. Carlos Zambrano rested: He’s one of my favorite pitchers, but the guy is being ridden too hard during a season that means nothing. I’m not saying bench Zambrano (who’d want to tell him that?), but maybe he doesn’t need to throw 120 pitches every outing. The once promising Cubs staff now lies in a twisted wreckage of broken arms and shoulders, and while we all want to believe that Carlos is some sort of freak of nature, the truth is that if you put enough weight on anything, it eventually breaks.

Those are the top 3 things I’d like to see in September of 2006. What are yours?

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Hey ya gotta like that!

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Carlos Zambrano improved his record to 14-5 today and the erstwhile hapless Cubs took out their frustrations on Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies, besting them 11-2 in a game that was never close. For those of us that have watched the Cubs find a plethora of ways to lose in the past few days it was like a cold beer on a hot summer day. Aramis Ramirez led the onslaught, going 3-5 with 3 RBIs, 2 runs scored and a homerun. Nevin hit a real moonshot in his 3 for 4 effort – somewhere out there a Cubs fan has a lopsided baseball for a souvenir. Angel Pagan and Michael Barrett also contributed round-trippers and Matt Murton had a timely hit and a spectacular grab to contribute as well.

Z Man was in control right from the gitgo – he scattered 6 hits in his seven innings’ work and had one walk to go along with seven strikeouts. Historically Cy Young and MVP candidates tend to come from contending teams but there have been exceptions (notably Greg Maddux and Andre Dawson.) Let’s hope that Z gets his due consideration. Recent callup Jae-kuk Ryu closed out the game with two effective innings of relief. Jal hat da, Jae-kuk! Michael Barrett is now batting .324 with power stats to boot and Juan Pierre has quietly raised his average to .285. Matt Murton is hitting .290 after catching fire about three weeks ago and “The Riot” is now hitting an even .300.

The Cubs now travel to St. Louis to face their favorite whipping boys; they look to avenge a less than spectacular series in Wrigley that saw them lose two out of three. Albert Pujols is now on fire and the Redbirds hold on to a slim lead over the Reds. The Cubs have yet to make a decision on who will start in Sunday’s game, but I’m gonna guess that Dusty will go with Glendon Rusch.

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