Archive for September, 2008

After The Storm

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

After The Storm by The Cubbie Dude 15 September 2008

After The Storm Music & Lyrics: Kessler/Thomas

“I Opened My Eyes
From A Night Like No Other
Was I Dreamin’ Or Is This Real….”

Carlos Zambrano’s performance yesterday was certainly “a night like no other”.

Today the Cubs continued to press at Miller Park. Ted Lilly pitched a magnificent one hitter through 7 innings. Well, one and a half hits. But it was still a magnificent performance. One hit, nine Ks, 1BB and 0 earned runs in his 15th win of the season. The Cubs bullpen maintained the one hitter for the rest of the game. What a treat.

The Cubs’ bats were alive today as well. Six runs. Home runs by Dee Lee, Geovany Soto & Jim Edmonds. Cubs won 6-1.

Playing the series in Milwaukee was a blessing. Having both games televised was almost too much to take.

Cubs are 8 games ahead with 2 weeks to go. Magic number for the division is 6. Four game win streak. They seem to have their mojo back.

Am I dreamin’ or is this real?

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Live Blogging: Brewers @ Cubs – Game 1

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

We’re gonna try something new tonight as we get closer to the playoffs. Tonight, beginning at 8pm EDT, we’re going to be live blogging this game. Feel free to submit questions before the live blog and during the game as well. I’ll do my best to get to all of them.

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Yost Relieved of Brewer Post

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Bad News Bears dvd Yost relieved of managerial post
09/15/2008 2:59 PM ET
MLB.com

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MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers today announced that Ned Yost has been dismissed from his position as manager of the Club. The announcement was made by Brewers Executive Vice President and General Manager, Doug Melvin.

“This was a very difficult move to make, and we appreciate all of the work that Ned has done to develop this team into a contender,” Melvin said. “In the end, this was a collaborative decision made to put our Club in the best position for the final two weeks of the season.”

Dale Sveum, the Brewers third base coach, will take over in an interim role as manager for the remainder of the season. Bench Coach Ted Simmons has been reassigned to an advisory role. Any other coaching changes will be announced later.

From ESPN:

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers fired manager Ned Yost on Monday in the midst of a late-season slump that has jeopardized the team’s chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 1982.

Third-base coach Dale Sveum will become interim manager for the remainder of the season. Bench coach Ted Simmons was reassigned to an advisory role.

“This was a very difficult move to make, and we appreciate all of the work that Ned has done to develop this team into a contender,” general manager Doug Melvin said. “In the end, this was a collaborative decision made to put our club in the best position for the final two weeks of the season.”

The Brewers share the NL wild-card lead with Philadelphia despite losing 11 of 14 in September, including seven of their last eight. Milwaukee was idle Monday.

“I think we have sucked in September so far,” a Brewers player who wished to remain anonymous told ESPN.com’s Amy K. Nelson. “And I don’t think it’s his fault that we can’t hit or pitch right now, but something had to change.”

Milwaukee is hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s collapse. The Brewers held an 8½-game lead in late June before sliding to 83-79 and missing the playoffs.

The Brewers kept up their playoff push even longer this season, boosted when they made a big splash on July 7 by getting ace CC Sabathia from Cleveland.

Sabathia, the reigning AL Cy Young winner, is 9-0 in 13 starts with six complete games and a 1.59 ERA.

Yost was in his sixth season as the Brewers’ manager. When Milwaukee hired him from Atlanta after the 2002 season, the team was in the midst of four straight seasons with 94 losses or more.

But the next three seasons resulted in records of 81-81, 75-87 and 83-79, a marked improvement for a franchise that hadn’t had a winning record since 1992.

Yost spent 12 years on the Braves’ coaching staff with Bobby Cox, and Atlanta won division titles every year Yost was there except the strike-shortened 1994 season.

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Brilliance

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

That was brilliant.

For the first time in 36 years, the Cubs have had a pitcher (Carlos Zambrano) throw a no-hitter (and, amazingly, Milt Pappa’s Wikipedia page

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has already been updated to reflect that).

The Cubs scored 5 runs early in the game, but that really does not matter.

Big Z was phenomenal, with very good velocity (in the upper 90′s), great movement, good control, and simply unhittable stuff.

If there was any doubt about Z’s health, that should be gone.

And don’t look now, but all the Chicken Littles should note that the Cubs have now won three in a row, and lowered the division magic number to just 7.

Yes we can?

Added by Rob:

I am grateful that Len and Bob broke the stupid don’t mention the no hitter until its’ over rule. Len said it at the end of the eighth and Z still got the not hitter. I thought this was impossible because of the jinx factor.

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Cubs / Astros Moved to Milwaukee

Sunday, September 14th, 2008
.!.
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced tonight that two of this weekend’s scheduled games between the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros, which had been scheduled to be played at Minute Maid Park in Houston, have been moved to Milwaukee’s Miller Park due to the effects of Hurricane Ike. The games will be played at 7:05 p.m. Central Time on Sunday evening and 1:05 p.m. Central Time on Monday afternoon. The Astros will be the home club. The third game of the series, if necessary, will be played in Houston on Monday, September 29th.
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Blow Wind Blow!

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Blow Wind Blow! by The Cubbie Dude 12 September 2008

“Camille had either been the world’s most powerful hurricane or the largest tornado in history.”
Tom Clancy’s opening sentence in “Without Remorse”

I realize that Hurricane Ike will be “only” a cat 2 or 3 when it impacts the Houston, TX area tonight, but my gut tells me there won’t be any MLB games played in Houston this weekend.

I understand that Atlanta and Washington D.C. have been put forward as the most likely alternate “neutral” locations if any of the three Cubs/Astros games scheduled for this weekend are going to actually be played this weekend.

Nevertheless, I propose that the National League consider playing the games at Miller Park in Milwaukee. It’s available (the Brewers are in Philadelphia), it has a retractable roof (in case any Hurricane Ike influenced wind &/or rain should appear), and Brewers fans could be considered somewhat hostile to both the Cubs & the Astros right now.

Also, and this is completely unrelated to any personal motivation for my suggestion, Miller Park is located about 35 miles from where I am sitting at this moment.

So, MLB, what do you say? Move the series to Milwaukee??

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"The Good Lord Wants the Cubs to Win"

Friday, September 12th, 2008

This is probably my favorite quote from Harry Caray. During a crazy pennant race, a crazy play that I do not remember exactly happened (I think a ball that deflected off of one player into the glove of another player for an out) Harry Caray yelled out “the good Lord wants the Cubs to win!!!” I have studied some theology, and while I am sure that God cares about every detail of our life I do not believe that He is in Heaven wearing a Cubs jersey. Yet two days off to come home from a road trip and watch your two closest contenders play each other is a great plus for the baseball season. Sadly, of course it is very shallow to speak about things this way due to the fact that a destructive hurricane is the cause of the break. But this is a Cubs blog and that is the issue at hand. While we will be praying for the people who will be affected by the hurricane it has cause the postponing of the first two Cubs games of the Houston series. This is very opportune because the Astros are not losing right now and the Cubs are not playing well.

The good news from tonight’s game is that the Cubs won the series, which they sorely needed. They continued to push the Cardinals further away and diminish their hopes of getting back into the race. Rich Harden looked good, and there were some outstanding plays in the field, especially by Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome in the eighth inning with the Cubs only up by one run. These plays were stellar and they saved the game for the Cubs. However, the biggest fielding play of the night happened in the ninth inning. Up by a run Kerry Wood gave up a lead off double to Brendan Ryan. The next batter, Cesar Izturis, bunted the ball to D Lee. He threw the ball to get the lead runner at third. Because ARam was charging the bunt, he had to retreat to the bag and was not totally back when the throw came, Franklin was safe. But he over slid the bag and Ramirez tagged him as he tried to get back to the base. A good play and a lucky one as well.

The bad news is plenty. Runners stranded and opportunities squandered all throughout the game. Bad pitches swung at and a lack of patient hitting in clutch situations. The Cubs scored 3 and two of them were unearned. The bullpen was shaky at best. Though they did not give up any runs they worked out of plenty of jams. They were so inconsistent that Albert Pujols got an extra at bat with the winning runs on base in the ninth inning. Carlos Marmol got away with an obvious balk in the eighth inning which could have really changed the outcome of the game. It was so bad- and it would have been his second in three days- that Len and Bob discussed how future opposition will undoubtedly be trying to run or dance around on the bases because Marmol is vulnerable to the balk. By the way does anybody really understand the balk rules?

I don’t know what to make of Derrek Lee. He stranded 6 guys tonight. He seems to never come through when we need him- although this is certainly perception because I can remember when he has. He also has stats that don’t back up the skepticism. He is hitting .301 with runners on base this year and had a seven game hitting streak going into today’s game. I don’t know what to make of him.

Harden looked strong tonight. 6 IP 2ER 5H 3K 1BB. Good line. I wonder if the Cubs should push his next start back and watch how the teams in the race do and consider when it would be best to start him next. He seems real strong when he gets long rest. Maybe resting him until the playoffs would be a good thought unless we really need him to get there.

The magic number is 11 to win the division and 8 to make the playoffs. Over the next three days the Brewers will play the Phillies and the magic number will shrink every day the Phillies win. Since the Astros and Phillies are tied, the wild card number will not shrink because the Astros will then be closer to the Brewers than the Phillies for the Wild Card. It is a real possibility that the Brewers could get swept by the Phillies in Philadelphia this weekend which would make things real interesting for us.

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Blues No More

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

I’ll start off tonight’s diary with the thought that I hope the rain in St. Louis holds off so we can get this game in. I do, however, reserve the right to change my opinion and pray for rain if things go sour.There’s been a lot of chatter about Ted Lilly’s home plate dust up last night. Was it irresponsible? Was it reckless? Was it cool? I think it might have signaled a sea change in the Cubs attitude of the past few weeks. Lou Piniella warned about how a complacent attitude would ultimately lead to defeat. The mindset of “don’t take any risks, don’t get injured” had maybe crept in and contributed to the lack of fire recently. So yeah, Lilly was taking a risk, but that’s what we needed. Turns out Lilly came through the collision just fine, and Molina got hurt. Lilly’s aggressive attitude is what was required. That’s what got us here, and that’s the only thing that’s gonna keep us here (in first place), At least that’s how I see it.

As far as tonight goes, I expect Rich Harden to come out blazing. And, gee, it looks like Soriano came out blazing, too, starting the game with a lead off double. But the Cubs come up empty after the first two batters get on (1st & 3rd).

This brings us to the discussion about sacrifice bunting vs. no sacrifice bunting. It seems that quite a few baseball fans have strong opinions about this topic. I’m gonna defer to those of a higher pay grade, like Lou Piniella or Tony LaRussa, and, of course, all the commenters at this site, as to whether the sac bunt is “good” baseball of “bad”.

My feeling is that whatever works is “good” baseball. If the sac bunt advances the base runner at the cost of one out, the question is: is that result better of worse than what would have occurred otherwise? Better than a double play? Yep. Better than a strikeout (which Dee Lee just did)? Yep. Better than a two run homer? Nope. Better than a run scoring triple? Nope. But in some situations it’s fairly predictable with no catastrophic downside.

Bottom line, I guess I’d think of the sacrifice bunt as just one more weapon in the arsenal, to be used when called for.

And oh, by the way, the Cubs have stranded 4 runners on base in the first 2 innings. While scoring none. That’s not catastrophic, but it’s surely not desirable.

Albert Pujols just grounded out to ARam after swinging at a 3-0 pitch. How do you folks feel about swinging on 3-0? What about the pitcher automatically “wasting” one on 0-2? Are these valid tactics? Counterproductive?

We’re reminded of the date today, September 11th. I recall that seven years ago, on September 10th, 2001, my dad & I were at Wrigley Field for a night game. That was my first night game at Wrigley. We’re both kinda hazy on who played and who won. I think it was the Brewers, and I think the Cubs won, but in all the 9/11 excitement, I just can’t remember.

I had retired just 6 months earlier, after 20 years traveling the world on active duty in the US military. My dad & I had spent many summer afternoons together at Wrigley during the 50’s & 60’s, and being retired gave us the time to renew that pattern. So I guess you could say that I spent the last night on Earth before the World changed, with my dad at Wrigley Field. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Back to the game. I congratulate the Cubs on the tactic they used to advance Soto to scoring position in the 5th with no outs. Reed Johnson hit a grounder to Pujols, but instead of turning a double play, Pujols flubbed it. Runners on 1st & 2nd with no outs. Harden is up. Now do you bunt? A wild pitch advances the runners to 2nd & 3rd, which the attempted bunt failed to do. Like I said, whatever works. Now Soriano and Theriot walk, forcing in a run. Whatever works. The Cubbies get 2 runs and strand 2 base runners in the inning. Repeat: They stranded 2 base runners. Not catastrophic, but not desireable either. Should I pray that the rain picks up, or that it stops?

We have completed 5 full innings now, so the game is official. Cubs lead 2-0, but it appears the Umpires are going to let the game continue. I’d feel better with 10 more insurance runs (IFBWTMIR). Have I said that before?

The Cubs, in the top of the 6th, are demonstrating an alternate method for advancing the base runner: back to back doubles. Works for me. Cubs lead 3-0.

Oops! Bottom of the 7th, score 3-2, LaRussa calls for sac bunt to move tying run to 2nd with no outs. One out. Two outs. Three outs. No runs. The Cards ran out of chances (outs).

Here’s a dumb question for you: Since when do the Cardinals wear blue hats? I been away.

Cubs are displaying some world class defensive plays in the bottom of the 8th.

Into the 9th inning. IWFBWTMIR. Cubs strand 2 runners in the 9th. No runs scored. This is turning into a real nail biter.

Cards open their 9th with a double, just like the Cubs did. Cards try the sac bunt. Cubs get the lead runner at third. Too bad, soooo sad!! How about a double play? OK, we get a K instead. 2 out. Pujols is up. Do you pitch to him? Put him on to load the bases? I say pop him up.

Unbelievable! Cubs win 3-2 to start a 2 game win streak! (Cards strand 2 runners and score none in the inning.)

Now we head back home up Route 66 to rest and get ready for the last 16 games (or so) of this remarkable season.

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The Pitch: The AL All Underrated Team

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

September is a time for hype and pennant races. The Pitch took the opportunity Thursday to turn down the hype and turn up the praise for the game’s most underrated players.

Position-by-position, hosts Joe Aiello and Brandon Rosage strolled through the American League’s best players no one hears about. And, yes, there are a fair amount of Tampa Bay Rays on the list. For a peek at Brandon’s official AL All-Underrated Team, visit The Pitch’s 2008 All-Underrated Team page. The National League list will take center stage next Thursday.

The guys also discuss the demise of bullpens at the hands of managers and GMs that are too scared to let their starters pitch deep into games — a trend that has dismantled the pennant chase for at least three National League contenders.

Plus, the show features a spirited round of “Do you buy what Ozzie is selling?” and stories of Jonathan Papelbon getting his Dirty Dancing on and Lou Piniella hating on changing rooms.

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