Archive for March, 2007

It’s Almost Time for Fireworks

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Lou Piniella has begun to drop the happy go lucky just happy to be here mentality and it’s only four games into the spring training season. Coming into the win on Monday, Uncle Lou and his staff gave the players the business in a meeting. The message seems to be received as the Cubs responded with a win.

“I talked to the players about some things today, based on what I’ve seen in games and what I expect in the rest of these exhibition games. What would you expect? To play better baseball, execute better on the field, go out there and throw the ball the way you’re capable of, those sort of things. We’ve got some work to do. This isn’t a push-button operation. We’ll get it done.”

~ Cubs.com

I loved the idea of bringing in a guy to light a fire under the butts of some of these underachievers. Lou appears poised to be ready to do just that. He has a great ability to begin to turn teams around.

In 1986, he took on the task of managing the Yankees for his first managerial assignment. He led them to 2nd in the first year, but then went downhill. After taking a year off, he came back to manage the Reds all the way to a World Series win. With Seattle, he took the team to 4th in his first year, but then proceeded to help them reach 1st place in the division three times.

I believe we’ve got a good guy that knows how to motivate a team at the helm of our ballclub. Call me a homer or a kool aid drinker, but I am 100% convinced that the Cubs will win the NL Central this year. I am also very excited because I believe in my heart that this could be a very special year for Cub fans. I truly believe we’re going to reap good things from this team.

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Why I Love AND Hate Spring Training

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Yesterday I watched my first Cub’s game in its entirety since sometime last June. Last season was tough one for me and it drove me to starting a Devil Rays blog in response. The Cubs did their part in keeping with the norm, getting smoked by the White Sox. However, I want to remind myself that it’s spring training, which I love and hate. Here’s why.

I hate spring training because so many people put too much stock in how people do. They get all up in arms about good performances and poor performances and forget all about the fact that the games do not count. Remember when you watch games this year that the veteran players are all but assured of a spot on the team. They could care less about how they do on the field when the games don’t count. Pitchers especially are always working on new pitches and motions and things like that. People need to quit making these things into something bigger than they are. If I knew that when I watched a game, that people wouldn’t be all about it, I would probably enjoy it a lot more. That’s one of the major reasons why I don’t even bother writing recaps for spring training. I hate it.

I love spring training because it gives me a chance to get to know some of the kids on the farm as well as to see some of the new faces from the off-season. It helps me get adjusted to what the guys look like when they play, how they hold the bat, how they wind up, etc. It’s fun to be able to adjust to the new faces and be prepared once the games finally do count. I love it.

So that is my two minute rant for the day. What are some reasons you love / hate spring training?

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Clever

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

Lou’s a clever guy, putting Wood & Prior on the hill for the first time on the same day. That happens on Monday. What is the advantage? If all goes according to plan, the attention on everyone is diverted. Prior fields half-to-75% the usual questions, Wood does too, Piniella gets to answer in general statements about his injury-prone pitchers, and the reporters get their quotes.

The only thing that could go wrong is that BOTH of them have their arms fall off in mid-outing, in which case the manure hits the fan so hard that the motor blows up, sending pooh all over every fan who’s paying attention. But what are the odds of that, right?

The Cubs WILL make the playoffs if Prior makes 30 starts and Wood gives us 60 innings out of the pen.

The Cubs WILL NOT make the playoffs if Prior makes less than 20 starts and Wood gives us 50 or less innings.

The middle ground can only be decided by the ineptitude or eptitude of our NL Central foes.

Monday is not the beginning of the road to one of those destinations — it is way too early in the preseason — but if either of these guys pulls up lame now it’ll be like when you’ve got to get out of the house but you can’t find your glasses and/or your wallet. You could certainly get through the day without them, but you’re taking your chances in doing so and the whole time you’re crapping your pants hoping you can get away with it instead of being in the moment.

So let’s hope Monday goes well! It means nothing and it means a lot at the same time. I’ll be paying attention to this meaningless game.

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Developing Story

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Good Friday morning to you VFTB fans.

Who wants to have a little fun today? First, a little required reading?. Then we debate. Go!

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It was only yesterday

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

In 1968 my family got transferred from Shaker Heights, OH to the Chicagoland area. I remember riding my bicycle for the first time to Walker Elementary School on Walker Avenue in Clarendon HIlls, IL. It was fifth grade and my mother had given me money so I could eat at the drugstore for lunch. All of my new classmates told me about the Cubs – Ernie Banks, Ronnie Santo, Billy Williams, Glenn Beckert, Don Kessinger, Randy Hundley, etc. I wasn’t about to become a White Sox fan so I started watching the Cubs.

Nearly 40 years later it’s still good to see Billy and Ernie and Ronnie. They’re older as we all are, I feel the same way about them as I do about my father, Jay Strickler. I’m so lucky to learn from them nearly forty years later, we’re so lucky to still have them all.

Update: The Cubs have announced that Cliff Floyd will miss the first seven spring games, as he is still recovering from his Achille’s injury. FWIW it took me three months of rehab on my torn Achille’s before I could even walk without a limp.

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