For some reason, the Cubs and WGN picked today to celebrate their 60th anniversary and party like it was 1948. The atmosphere was fairly cool as the throwback uniforms looked good, some of the staff (including Len and Bob) were decked out in 40’s garb, and Brenly and Kasper were doing their best James Cagny and Jack Brickhouse impersonations, respectively. However, in 1948 the Cubs were the worst team in the NL and the Braves, then in Boston, went to the World Series.
And for most of the game, that was how it looked, as Tim Hudson cruised through the lineup twice and the Braves took the lead into the 9th. But then Hollywood Jim Edmonds shows up in his DeLorean and takes us back to good ol’ 2008 where the Cubs are a juggernaut and the Braves are 3-18 in games decided by one run. We go to extra innings where the Cubs load the bases in the 11th and bring up Reed Johnson to do what Reed Johnson does best – the walk-off hit-by-pitch. Go, Cubs, Go!
Some random notes and musings:
- Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde rip
- Johnson is now one behind Chase Utley in the all important HBP category with 9. Of course, he has done it in just under 200 plate appearances, whereas Utley has come up to bat about 300 times, giving Reed an astronomical HBP rate of nearly 5%. Furthermore, Reed Johnson is the type of player who should be taking one for the team – valuable but expendable. Utley, likely the most valuable player in the NL, should do everything he can do to avoid the same injury that sidelined him for 6 weeks last year.
- I wonder how my friends at Cut Jim Edmonds are doing to spin this one. Len was just dying to channel Jack Brickhouse and his “Hey, hey!” call, and had to wait until one out in the 9th before Edmonds gave him the chance with a line shot into the left field basket.
- With Ramirez on 2nd and none out in the 11th, Soto singled to short left. Mike Quade was waving Ramirez to home only to throw up the stop sign just as A-Ram hit third and the left fielder had the ball. Aramis threw on the breaks quickly (hello, knee injury!) and returned to 3rd safely as he would have been out by 20 feet. I was surprised that nobody mentioned on the replay that Ramirez reached out with his hand as he was stopping and touched Quade. In my judgement he was clearly already stopped and in no need of aid, but the Cubs were lucky the umpire didn’t notice ans see things differently. In the official MLB rulebook, rule 7.09(g) states “It is interference by…the runner when…if, in the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base…by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base…” What was Quade even thinking waving at all with none out in the first place?
- I know Big Z is a decent hitter, but is he really good enough to be batting with runners on 1st and 2nd with two men out in the bottom of the seventh and after throwing 100 pitches? That was a bad mistake, and probably should have cost the game. To make matters worse, Piniella pulls Zambrano after one hitter in the 8th. Lou, either keep your guy in there, or don’t; there’s an argument to be made for either position – but what actually happened made no sense at all.
- Tremendous job by Eyre and Marmol working around that leadoff walk in the 8th, by the way. Eyre comes in to give up a double, but then strikes out two followed by three nasty Marmol sliders and one huge K. I tell you, that bullpen is tremendous, with at least four outstanding arms, and six quality ones if you count Wuertz and Cotts. Today’s line: 4 innings, 18 batters faced, 9 strikeouts, 0 runs! That’s getting it done.
- Speaking of strikeouts, with his K in the 8th Marmol now has 61 on the year. Jason Marquis: 36. In almost twice the innings. Sunday’s gem notwithstanding that guy has got to go. Raise your hand if you think he is a better option than Sean Marshall.
- The Cubs had the first two on and none out in the 3rd before Eric Patterson, starting for Soriano, grounded into a double play – except for the pesky little fact that he was safe at first and the umpire missed the call. Again. How many bad calls at first have gone against the Cubs the last week? Like, 4? Please, instant replay – now!
- How hard is it to hit in the big leagues? Tm Hudson was a star two-way player in college at Auburn. He has a career ML OPS of around 390.
- Late added note: Tim Hudson needed IV fluids after pitching on this humid day. He was suffering from muscle cramps. Presumably Zambrano had no problems – the bananas must be working.
And as an added bonus, I have got a few interesting tidbits for you, dear readers. As most of you know, the Cubs have gone nearly half the season without a single three-game losing streak. Of course, the chances of this continuing for the whole season is very unlikely, but just for a little added incentive, if they can keep that going, they would be the first team to achieve that feat since the 1902 Pirates (in only about 140 games). The only other team to do that was the 1882 (that’s an 18, not a 19) Reds, which was in only 80 games, so it doesn’t count (plus, it’s the Reds). A few more streak stats:
- While going the season without a three-game losing streak is exceedingly rare, countless teams have gone a season without a four-game streak (based on my memory, I would say it’s been done about 30-40 times). The unofficial leaders by my count are, of course, the Yankees with 8 such seasons.
- Interestingly, three teams have gone a season without a 3-game winning streak: the famous hapless 1899 Cleveland Spiders (in their last season) and the 1916 and 1919 Philadelphia A’s. The A’s were probably the modern game’s first real dynasty, before selling off their stars and becoming a laughing stock in the late 19-teens.
- At least 5 teams have had both 11-game winning streaks and losing streak in the same season: the 1959 Kansas City A’s, the 1955 Phillies, the 1951 New York Giants (who won 16 straight to help close a 13-game Dodger lead on August 11th), the 1987 Brewers (who opened the season with 13 straight wins), and the 2004 Tampa Bay Devil Rays (manages by? yes – Uncle Lou. By the way, I have no recollection of the Rays ever having a 12-game winning streak.). Talk about roller coaster.
- Finally, just to show that avoiding losing streaks doesn’t guarantee success, the 1972 Mets are one of the many teams to accomplish the impressive feat of never losing 4 straight. Their final record: 72-87.