Archive for March, 2008

The Price of Fame

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Sammy Sosa is CoolLast week, Jeff Pearlman wrote an article on about how Nomar Garciaparra showed no love towards Dodgers fans during autograph day, the last ever at Vero Beach, Florida.

Pearlman said, “In one of the least fan-friendly displays I’ve ever witnessed as a baseball writer, Garciaparra spent the absolute minimum amount of time signing.” He never looked up. He never said a word. When fans offered a hearty “Good luck!” or said “You’ve always been my favorite!” he either grunted or pretended the sentiment was never expressed.

I don’t think that Garciaparra’s less than friendly attitude warrants him the stigma of “rapidly fading has-been” by Pearlman, but it did get me thinking. In the limited time I witnessed Garciaparra in public, he always seemed like a nice guy to me. Feelings about Garciaparra aside, Pearlman did say something that I agreed with. He said, “I wanted to tell him (Garciaparra) that fame is fleeting, and the ability to make someone’s day — to make a memory — is a gift few of us possess.”

Good point indeed.

I can remember sitting with my uncle at Wrigley watching the Cubs during batting practice. Sitting with my uncle at Wrigley Field meant pretty darn good seats, so I always had the opportunity to weasel my way up to the front row and try to get an autograph. The day I got Mark Grace’s autograph while he was jogging by the bullpen still ranks in the top ten of my favorite Cub moments.

Or how about waiting for the players after the game outside the parking lot (before it turned into the zoo it is today). We would wait forever for Maddux or Sutcliffe to come over and sign. I remember my mom telling Gary Scott (remember him) he played a great game and he didn’t even play that day. He still signed my scorecard after he chuckled heartily at my mom. One time, Hector Villenuava signed a ball for my best and friend and I while he was getting into his car, and then proceeded to give us free cologne samples. On the way home from the games we would replay those type of moments, each time making them bigger and bigger in our heads.

Situations like that did make my day and were and are monumental to my memories of Wrigley Field and more importantly the Chicago Cubs. My family and friends and I still talk about those times, although now it is to mostly make fun of me. So, is it an athlete’s responsibility to sign autographs? Do baseball players owe fans something because we “pay their salaries?”

I don’t think someone not signing an autograph means they are a bad guy. I get the idea that everyone has a bad day. If a player decides to sign autograph after autograph after autograph, great. If not that is ok too. I am more interested in the way they carry themselves in general and their work off the field; names like Kerry Wood and Derrek Lee come to mind.

The game of baseball is not like it once was. We (and I use the term we loosely here) turn baseball players and athletes in general, into heroes when they really should not be. They are over-hyped and most of them have egos to match. They are overpaid to play what at the end of the day is a game, a game that at its best is played for hours during those long days of summer with a group of friends.

What do you think? Is it a baseball player’s responsibility to make memories for the fans? What baseball player or athlete in general made your day…made you a memory?

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Steve Lavin Thinks I’m Retarded

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

I’m a huge Illinois basketball fan and usually enjoy the duo of Steve Lavin and Brent Musberger on the mic. Today, though, Lavin insulted my intelligence with commentary he passed off as insightful but was actually a retarded excuse for analysis. His comment about Illinois this season was paraphrased as follows:

After yet another made free throw, Lavin remarked that it was the story of the Illini season. If they could just make more free throws, shoot the ball better, and turn it over less, they would have had a lot different season this year.

Wow Steve, that’s insightful. So basically, if I understand you correctly, if the Illini would have just had a better team, they would have had a…wait for it…better season. Brilliant. Steve, go away and quit assuming I’m a moron that buys the crap you’re selling.

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Pitch Use & Velocity From the Big Three

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

If you didn’t already know it, Fan Graphs has taken some cool data on pitch usage as well as velocity over the past three seasons. I decided to take a look at some of the members of our staff to see if we notice anything. What will we pull from the data? Who knows, maybe nothing. Let’s take a look.

Carlos Zambrano
A lot have said that big Z has lost some velocity on his fastball, yet he maintains that he hasn’t. Let’s let the data do the talking here. The following are the average velocities of his fastball over the past three seasons.

2005 – 92.8 mph
2006 – 92.2 mph
2007 – 91.6 mph

On the whole it doesn’t look drastic, but there is no doubt that the fastball has, in fact, declined in velocity. Whether or not that indicates any type of dead arm or concealed injury is up to you to speculate. One thing I know is that it bears watching this year to see if the decline continues. If he averages in the range slightly below 91 this year, I’m going to be a little concerned.

As for pitch usage, I noticed something interesting about his pitch selection. In 2005, his usage of the slider was roughly 16% of the time and he used his cutter just 1%. Fast forward to last year and you see roughly the same fastball usage, but the slider use has declined to 13% with the cutter use increasing to 9%. That’s a significant change and I wonder if it’s the result of his feeling less confident in the slider or more confident in the cutter.

Ted Lilly
Lilly appears to provide absolutely nothing to discuss other than his consistency in approach. His pitch usage breaks down to 56% fastball, 15% slider, 17% curveball, and 12% changeup. His fastball averaged a velocity of 88.4 mph.

The only other thing worth noting about Lilly’s pitch usage is his increase in curveball usage from 2005 – 2007 as he’s gone from 13.6% to 16.9%.

Rich Hill
I was very excited to look up Hill’s numbers because I wanted to see if he had changed anything over the past two years as he begins the process of being a legit Major League starting pitcher. What I found was exactly that. Hill did make a change last year.

2006 Pitch Usage – Fastball (70%), Curveball (23.4%), Changeup (5.0%)
2007 Pitch Usage – Fastball (60.6%), Curveball (27.3%), Changeup (8.3%)

He threw some sliders in there as well, but not really worth mentioning. What I see is a pitcher who is beginning to trust his off speed and breaking stuff a little more and rely less on his fastball. It’s no secret that his curve is one of the best in the Majors and it’s good to see him begin to trust it more.

All stats and information provided by Fan Graphs. Go check them out. In addition, have you gotten your entry done for the 2008 Home Run Derby Contest? The prize this year is a copy of MLB 08: the show for PS3. Click Here to enter

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Favorite Time of Year

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

As a guy that writes about college hoops in the off-season, this is my favorite time of the year.  In fact for the last 5 years at least, I’ve taken the Thursday and Friday of the ACC Tournament off as well as the Thursday and Friday of the NCAA Tournament.  Throw in the fact that the Cubbies are starting to play a little baseball in Arizona, the weather in NC is perfect, and my son’s baseball is starting up and I wouldn’t change a thing.

So, I’m curious what others think, what’s your favorite time of the year?

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Disappointment Haunts My Dreams

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

The other night Joe and I had a little pow wow on the state of the Cubs, Bulls, Illini and Bears. We both agreed that the Bulls and Bears are a total mess, and while things looked like they were headed in the right direction, something got all messed up along the way. Two teams that were on the brink of something great didn’t take one small step back, but tripped over their own feet and fell flat on their face. What’s left is one messy pile of poop, that I’m not in the least bit interested in watching, following, or reading about. Why would anyone support a team where the players don’t even want to be there? Paging Mr. Duhon. Paging Mr. Thomas. Anyone? Anyone?

I’ve been trying mightily to gather up the emotional attachment to this years Cubbies, but I’ve been unsuccessful thus far. I sat through four innings of the first televised Spring Training game, I think I watched Jason Marquis look like he was throwing wiffle balls, then turn around and tell the media he shouldn’t be in the bullpen. You got that right, Jason. You should find your way out of town. The following day, I took in three innings of Ted Lilly and decided I could find more interesting program on DIY Network.

Joe equates it to our Spring Training too. We have to get ourselves into baseball watching shape. You just can’t go in and watch a full nine innings. You might just pull something, and land on the DL. Perhaps Joe’s right. Spring Training is hard to watch. Especially this year. Most of the roster is decided, there’s no prime free agent in camp (my apologies to Fukudome, but he’s a B movie celeb in my eyes). I can’t get excited about Pie vs. Fuld, Marquis vs. Dempster vs. Marshall, Theriot vs. Cedeno. That’s a regular snooze fest. Then there’s that nasty little tickle in the back of my head.

What if? What if this year the wheels fall off? It’s a trend for Chicago sports teams lately. On paper we look to be much improved. What if we aren’t? Are we one Zambrano melt down away from the pitching staff being so-so? Will Aramis ever play with a little ouchie? Or is he the new Mark Prior? Good lord, if Theriot goes down and Cedeno has been traded, who are we left with? Alex Cintron?

Maybe I’m having trouble diving head first into this pool of Cubs Kool-Aid, because I’m fearful of what may lie ahead. I don’t think my heart can take another 2003 letdown. So, while it’s great that baseball is just around the corner. I’m just testing the water for now. Call me fair weather, but this old heart of mine, been broke a thousand times, each time the Cubs lose.

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Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Can’t we just get this right for once? Here is the latest for today’s game:

Alfonso Soriano will bat second starting Friday, flip-flopping with Ryan Theriot.

And Kosuke Fukudome will bat fifth.

“We want to keep Soriano nice and healthy and strong all year,” Piniella said. “It seems to me, out of the leadoff spot, he’ll want to do too much, run too soon. We’ll see, just take a look at it. (Source)

Can’t we just try the Soriano in the 5th spot with Fukudome hitting 2nd, once? Please? Am I being unreasonable here?Also, what are your thoughts on the new spruced up logo?

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You Make the Case – Matt Murton

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Since this went so well yesterday, minus the creepy judge icon, I thought I would run it again with a player that brings much heat to debates. As a treat, I even found a creepier logo for your enjoyment as well.

Today it’s time to make the case for Matt Murton to be our starting RF with Kosuke Fukudome moving to CF. I don’t know that I need to start you off on this one, so instead I wanted to remind you to sign up for our Home Run Derby Contest.

If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, it’s a contest where you choose players from various lists for a chance to win a prize. If you’re interested, it’s free to enter, just Click Here to enter

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More Roster Cuts

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Mesa, ARIZ. – The Chicago Cubs today announced their second round of roster cuts, reducing the roster from 49 to 42 players.

Right-handed pitcher Juan Mateo and outfielder Jake Fox have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa while right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija has been optioned to Double-A Tennessee.

Three non-roster invitees have been reassigned to minor league camp: left-handed pitcher Ed Campusano, infielder Luis Figueroa and catcher JD Closser. In addition, right-handed pitcher Shingo Takatsu has been granted his unconditional release.

Chicago’s spring roster of 42 players consists of 21 pitchers (two non-roster invitees), three catchers (one non-roster invitee), 11 infielders (four non-roster invitees) and seven outfielders (one non-roster invitee).


No real surprises here. Right?


Non Roster Invitee List Remaining:

  1. Les Walrond
  2. Tim Lahey
  3. Koyie Hill
  4. Andres Blanco
  5. Alex Cintron
  6. Micah Hoffpauir
  7. Casey McGehee
  8.  Josh Kroeger
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You Make the Case – Ronny Cedeno

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

judge and juryI’d like to try something a little different today. I’m not sure if it will work or not, but today I challenge you to put down your bias and put on the coat of impartiality. Some of you may not like looking at things from a new perspective, but it really is good for you. One of the most beneficial things I ever had to do in high school was to debate the morality and legality of abortion from a stance that was not my own. It forced me to examine my beliefs and in the end made me more informed on the issue. I’d like to challenge you do to the same today with the case before you.

It’s no secret that Ronny Cedeno appears to be at the end of his Cub leash and is not getting any better. Other teams have expressed interest in him, and we see how well he hits in the winter leagues. That being said, it’s time to make the case for Cedeno to be the starting shortstop on this team. Does this mean you have to agree that he should be the starter? Of course not, but I want to see who can be impartial and look at him from the eyes of a GM. What are his strengths? What assets does he bring to the table? You’ve been put in charge of Mr. Cedeno’s life as a Cub. Defend it to the best of your ability. Can you do it? I’ll get you started with the following:

  • Cedeno has more power potential than Ryan Theriot
  • His ceiling, if given the chance, is higher than Theriot’s

I’m stealing this idea from, who is running the same contest but for valuable prizes like money after you pay an entry fee. The game is simple. Pick your players and the person with the most HR’s wins. Game on suckas!!!

Click Here to enter

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