Archive for August, 2006

Updated: Cubs win 18 inning marathon, a gutsy victory

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

Juan Mateo pitched a great game tonight and he also earned the respect of his teammates in the process. Roger Clemens paid the Cubs back for last night’s hit batsman (Aubrey Huff) when he plunked Jacque Jones. Jones took it like a man and went down to first with his head down – in his next at bat Jones slammed Clemens’ pitch to straightaway center and gave the Cubs a 5-2 lead. In your face Roger!

But it wasn’t over then – When Clemens came up to bat Mateo wasted no time and threw a mid-90s fastball right into Clemens’ left bicep. The message was very clear – “you hit my guy I hit you.” Mateo then finished off the fifth and went to the dugout with a 5-2 advantage.

So what did Dusty do? He pulled Mateo despite the fact that he’d only thrown 78 pitches through five. Ryan Theriot was chosen to be the sacrificial lamb and Clemens promptly plunked him. I seriously wonder if he would have done the same thing to Mateo. Ohman came in and did what Ohman often does, he blew it.

I’m sure that Johnny B will say in retrospect that he was “protecting his young pitcher” and keeping things from escalating, he’s probably thinking his way through pat answers as I write. Fortunately Matt Murton came in to save the Dusty’s skin in the ninth, but the point remains that the Cubs manager has got to stop blowing critical decisions if he’s to have any chance of returning in 2007.

Update: It is now 12:37 AM Central time, those of us who have stayed up for this one have just been treated to another clutch hit by Murton, who scored both Ramirez and Jones to give the Cubs an 8-6 victory. The entire bullpen was used so the Cubs had to go to tomorrow’s starter Rich Hill to nail down the game. Look for the Cubs to bring up a pitcher to start tomorrow’s game, it will probably be Wade Miller or perhaps Sean Marshall. It is fortuitious that the Iowa Cubs are playing the Astros’ AAA Round Rock Express just 3 1/2 hours away. Tonight’s 18 inning win assures that the Cubs will win this road series in Houston.

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How about some humor?

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

Every now and then, i’ll watch Pimp My Ride on MTV. It’s not often, but just once in a while. A friend of mine from church has a ministry of comedy and they have come up with a very funny spoof on the show called Pimp my Stroller. It’s very funny and should brighten your Tuesday.

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Lee hangs with Prime Time

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

Here is a video that is sponsored by AT&T that takes you inside D-Lee’s house as he gives Prime Time a tour. It’s not bad.

http://seehowtheylive.com/dLee.php

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Once in a blue moon…

Monday, August 14th, 2006

You get a guy like this fella. I’ve seen the Cubs get some pretty good pitchers such has Bill Hands, Ken Holtzman, Burt Hooton, Rick Sutcliffe, Rick Reuschel, Jon Leiber, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior…they come and go, some with varying degrees of success (notice how I didn’t mention Jenkins or Maddux.) But this guy is really special. He throws a very heavy sinker, a lot of guys can make contact but they can’t do anything with it. Here are some interesting stats about Z Man: Going into tonight he had a 12-5 record for a team that is 19 games below .500. He has held opponents to a .209 batting average and has struck out a batter per inning. It’s not unfair to compare Zambrano’s performance this year to the years that Sammy and Andre Dawson had for comparable losing teams.

Much will be said about the direction that the Cubs will take in the upcoming months. It’s fairly certain that we’ll see a couple of guys like Sean Marshall or Carlos Marmol in the starting rotation next year. No one knows for certain about the status of wounded wing/walking zombie starters like Wood, Prior and Miller. But one thing’s almost a sure bet, fans will get to see one of the best pitchers in Cubs history leading the staff again in 2007. And for that we have a lot to be thankful for.

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Feel Good Monday

Monday, August 14th, 2006

TheriotRyan Theriot stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded for the first time in his major league career yesterday and promptly smacked a 3-run double which was the difference in the victory over Colorado and avoiding a sweep going into a tough series with Houston.

Congratulations, Ryan. May this be a harbinger for things to come.

And how good is it to see The Professor thrive once again, returning to April form on a pennant contending team? Three starts, 20 innings, 2 earned runs.

Go Dodgers!

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Live action update

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

It’s probably fair to say that the staff hasn’t been writing much about live action because the Cubs are in the midst of yet another losing streak. In the past five days the Cubs have gone to the bullpen no less than twenty-one times – I honestly don’t know who’s more tired, the bullpen pitchers or the official scorer. At the beginning of the series I opined that Johnny B. should ‘go long’ with a couple of his starters, even if that meant having somebody get beat up.

So here we are, four losses in a row, two games into the Rockies series and the bullpen is exhausted. There is still one more game to play in Colorado and then three more in another launching pad (Houston) before a day off on Thursday. I sincerely hope that the next two Cubs starters go late into the game – the guys in the pen need some rest.

In other news, there have been some pontifications in the Tribune regarding the 2007 managerial situation. Dusty hopes that he will be judged on his thirteen-year track record instead of 2006; I hope the first ten years will be virtually ignored and that he will be judged on the last four. What have you done for us lately pal? When asked about the possibility of being fired Dusty was quoted as saying: “I’m not getting fired Ö my contract just expires.” Call it what you will, Dusty. Jim Hendry also threw in his two cents: “My stance hasn’t changed…when you’re in the situation we’re in, a lot of things go into play when you’re evaluating field personnel. [I will move] forward in early October.”

STOP THE PRINTING PRESSES! After “evaluating at his own pace,” Jim Hendry is now considering a “move forward!”

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There he goes again!

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

Thinking about using Mark Prior as a starter next year? Well think again, the Cubs announced today that number 22 will make his eighth trip to the DL in five years, this time due to “shoulder tendonitis.” Heard it before? I recall the same thing was said about Kerry Wood before his latest mea culpa. Why doesn’t the medical staff just say they don’t know what’s wrong? My sense is that the Cubs beat writers should be allowed to question the Cubs medical staff as hostile witnesses, it seems that one always has to drag the truth out of them. Where do we get these guys from anyway, are they interns? Every time players are ready to come off the DL they’re not really “ready.”

What GM in their right mind would pencil Prior into the starting rotation for next year? Only a fool would do so given Prior’s injury record. We’ll probably have to use him out of the pen as a long reliever on the rare occasions when he’s healthy enough to pitch. But the Cubs have got to make other plans insofar as the rotation, it’s unfair to the fans and it’s unfair to the players to replay this soap opera over and over. Jim Hendry needs to get off his fat 4$$ and get two starters in the offseason to replace Wood, Miller and Prior. Period. No more lame excuses. Do it or be gone!

Mark Prior should rehab until he’s 100% effective in the minors, assuming he’s coming back this year. But if I were GM my attitude would be to “stick a fork in him, he’s done.” Let’s go in a different direction, the guy’s more trouble than he’s worth.

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Hall of Fame

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

On my way up to Canada for a kayaking trip I stopped at the Hall of Fame. It was my first time there and I was thoroughly enthralled by the display of memorabilia. There was plenty of acknowledgment of the segregated era of baseball and a whole section dedicated to women in baseball. Buck O’Neill might not have a plaque, but he has a prominent place in the Hall’s coverage of the Negro Leagues.

I had expectations of a chill going down my spine when I laid eyes on Sandberg’s plaque. Although it was nice (and not far from the inaugural ’37 class’ section), it was underwhelming. I suppose that was because of my expectations. I confess to being a hero worshipper. Reality seldom lives up to the ideal version of the hero one’s mind devises, and his plaque of the greatest honor in baseball should have been enough.

But I found myself wanting more. My wife expressed it perfectly; she thought there’d be uniforms, hats, relics of each player. Instead there’s the plaque. There might be more of the player in the exhibits, but the plaque alone hangs in an appropriately cathedral-like hallway. One row of plaques is below eye level, one at or above eye level throughout the room. It seemed crowded.

The exhibits themselves were striking, informative, and thorough. They seemed to be endless; I could have spent eight hours there. I learned some things about players on the fringe of my personal mythology and, admittedly, passed over the heroes of many, many teams without even slowing down. There was more to see.

They treated the myths and stories of baseball with reverence and did not attempt to debunk any of the controversial ones: Ruth’s ’32 series homer, for example, was practically treated as a certain “called shot.” This did not surprise me; the very location of the hall was chosen on the merits of the popular story and not the fact.

If I were charged with revamping the Hall with infinite money and space, here’s what I’d do:
*Make a locker-sized display for each member of the Hall. There was a Babe Ruth locker with his relics; I’d like to see the same for each hall of famer.
*There should be a full sized replica of a baseball field, complete with dugouts, fences, seats, and so on. You should be able to walk the field, read signs and see relics, look at statues, and so on about famous events in baseball history. There should be a Willie Mays statue making the catch in the ’54 series and the fence should look like the Polo Grounds there. Along the first base side should be a dugout from Yankee Stadium circa 1927, and on the third base side a 2005 Citizens Bank Park. It should be filled with scale statues of great major leaguers. Fans could stand on the mound and stare in at a statue of Ted Williams, with Josh Gibson behind the plate. They’d stand next to Sandy Koufax in mid-windup on the rubber. Markers for Buckner’s error, Freddy Lidstrom’s booted ball, markers for famous hits and where they landed from home plate all over the field. Markers for where the shortstop stood in 1884. You could compare the sizes of players sitting next to each other on the bench and marvel at how small Wee Willie Keeler is next to Big Frank Howard.
*Put in a batting cage or something so that fans can experience a 100 MPH fastball. Standing behind a mesh screen, they could step in as a pitching machine delivers heaters. Do the same for curveballs and sinkers and such. Put video displays up showing a fastball delivered, then stopped when the player has to make the decision to swing. Let people try on gloves and equipment of different eras. Line up baseballs from each era and examine their differences.

What else would you do? What would you like to see in the Hall (apart from Tom Veryzer)? What were your impressions? I’d like to hear them.

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Goodness, what a play!!!!

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

If only B.J. Upton was actually known for his defense.

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