When the White Sox (I am allowed to mention them here?) were headed towards the AL West Division title in 1983 an opposing manager said that they were “Winning Ugly” because they never seemed to lose. The same might be said about the Cubs having won their last eight series…a feat that they have not accomplished in over 100 years. However, tonight’s victory over the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates would have to be quantified as winning ugly in the regular ugly sense of the word.

A major question that is beginning to develop regards the volatile Big Z, supposed ace, Carlos Zambrano. His last outing against the Reds now appears like an aberration in contrast to his starts of recent. Z didn’t have it again tonight as he seems to be falling into the third spot in the playoff rotation. He was wild again in the first inning and having thrown over thirty pitches the night looked long as the Cubs found themselvesin a 3-0 first inning hole. He improved for a couple innings but still gave up baserunners. The plus 3 WHIP might be something that could hurt Zambrano if it does not improve. 6 earned runs, 4 walks, and 8 hits in 4.1 innings probably is not the thing Cy Young awards, or World Series, or even getting wins are made of. Even after the Cubs erased the deficit and gave Zambrano a chance to get an undeserved win he gave up two more earned runs and was pulled from the game without even finishing the fifth. I cannot imagine how Zambrano will not be the pitcher in game one of the playoffs…but having said that I can’t imagine how he could either.

The Cubs bats were big again tonight. Geo Soto had a monster night batting 3 for 5 with 3 runs scored and 7 (count them 1,2,3,4,5,6,7…lightning flash “Ah ha ha ha ha” seven rbi). DeRosa and Soriano also had real good nights at the plate. Fukudome was 0 for 3 but did have 2 walks and he seems to be improving somewhat after receiving special attention from Lou and the gang. However, maybe by the end of the season he will be able to lay off the sweeping off speed pitch that ends up in the right handed hitter batter’s box and makes him spin like a top. Maybe if he knew how foolish he looked he would be too self conscious to swing at the pitch in the first place and let it go by more often.

The Brewers won again tonight and the Cardinals seem to be toast. Which is not surprising because it is unbelievable that they have hung in there this long. The Phillies took a small lead over the Mets in the East and the D-Backs continue to lead the West. It would be nice not to have to face Brandon Webb in the best of five in the first round and if we do I would wish we could have Harden facing him down (he almost threw a no hitter against the snakes in Arizona earlier this year) , but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Cubs and Brewers are looking more and more solid to go. I must admit that it would be fun if both of those teams made it. By the way through a few Wisconsin trips this summer I have found a delicacy in fried cheese curds, which are life Mozzarella sticks…but not at all. Pick some up for artery clogging goodness.

Instant replay enters the picture beginning Thursday. I am surprised by the opposition to it. The home run instant replays will probably arise once every four days and it will be more clear cut. I think it makes a lot of sense as long as this does not open the door for more and more replay down the road. Just home runs. The ballparks are goofy and some parks have to paint yellow lines to determine home runs because they don’t have seats for the balls to fly into. It makes sense. The home run call is black and white and all or nothing (or close to nothing). Get them right…it is ridiculous not to. But I wish that the replay calls involved the umpire needing to go under a hood of some sort in order to make the call. The bottom line is this: any reason to hear “Freeze Frame” by the J Geils Band more often is a reason that should be seriously considered and accepted. 

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