Archive for March, 2009

Fitting In

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I watched the first half of the Cubs-Sox game last night. Samardzija looked good for two innings, before giving up a HR in the 3rd.  I was surprised he went out to pitch the 3rd, after a long 2nd inning made longer by some iffy fielding.  The best part of the game, for me, was listening to Lou’s extended interview with Len and Bob.  Not much new came out of it, but I was reminded how much I like to listen to him speak.  Maybe it is still a hangover from Dusty and the rest, but Lou always has a reason for his decisions (side note, I am terrible at grammar, terrible at spelling, I can’t spell decisions so badly that I have to mis-spell it 3 or 4 times before spell check can recognize what I’m on about). Right or wrong Lou’s decisions have been considered and fall into a larger idea of what he wants the Cubs to be.  I take that back, Lou did give one interesting nugget, that the back up 3rd baseman was probably not on the team.  Which indicates that Hendry has a Reed Johnson type move in mind.

I am not just a Cubs fan, I am a general sports fan in general. All Chicago all the time.  Then, Ohio State, Northwestern, Illinois, and the Big Ten in general. I really like Marquette basketball (more in a moment). And everything I know about basketball I learned listening to Al Maguire. I feel really guilty because I injured Dominic James. I did. I have a novel rotting away and based in Richmond Indiana. The other day I had a idle thought, “I can set the thing during DJ’s homecoming after wining the national championship.” This is a good idea, because it gives the book the built in shape of a returning hero contrasted with my hero’s crooked dreams, and Marquette really has a chance to make a run (still.?.). And in any case I love the way Jerel McNeal plays, smooth and strong with complete confidence. 5 minutes after having this thought I turned on the Marquette-UConn game, and 2 minutes after that I hear that James has broken his foot. I don’t believe in chance, and a small part of me died when I realized it did not matter how I held my Bears football. But James’s injury could not have been purely coincidental.

Which is all a big preamble to say, that I think some my best contribution to VFTB will be outside the realm of strict Cubdome. I ask for your indulgences. Which is convenient since I gave up moderation for lent

If you needed any, here is more proof that I have no sway over the games whatsoever. With 14 min to play, the Marquette-Pitt game is tied, I pause the DVR so the family and I can go for a walk. And when I get back, game is still tied at the 14 min mark. But everything goes to hell anyways. Shouldn’t my doing the right thing equal getting the right results?

I’ve been waiting 11 months for Marquette to make a run in the NCAA’s, quietly confident, and now it looks like that might not happen. They’re too reliant on 3’s, lose the foul battle because for some reason a center is more likely to draw a foul at the basket than a guard driving the ball. But they play smart, are unselfish, and cold blooded. I worry a little about McNeal in the wake of James’s injury. I think he’s forcing the action somewhat, trying to take over games rather than letting his talent explode naturally. And anyone who watched last years tournament knows his talent explodes naturally. He’s not Dwayne Wade, he doesn’t have his hops, but I’d want him on my team.

Starting over from scratch, with the whole league available, what Cub player do I have to have on my team? Obviously I’d like the guy closest to perfection, but as A-Roid proves the best player might not be the best fit. For different reasons I feel that way about Ramirez, his numbers are great, but he doesn’t seem to lead. I think Big Z is often unfairly criticized, but I also fear the miles he’s logged on his arm. Maybe it is Marmol. I think he will close and close well, because he accomplished something last year: struggled and lost himself and then regain his form without losing his confidence, that is vital for a closer.  But the fact is, he’s never done it. He has never closed, and as the Cubs have proved repeatedly, promotion to an untried position often meets with diminishing returns (see Mike Fontenot) Can I start a team with an unproven closer, whose maybe no more than a set-up man?  Nonetheless he’s been the glue of these last two bullpens and I think he’s my guy from this team.

What does that say about the Cubs? Maybe, they are more than the sum of their parts.  Maybe, that Lou knows how to manage and motivate his players. The other interesting thing Lou said yesterday was that he thought this roster was more athletic and gave him more of an opportunity to rest players than the last 2 years. We’ll see when the red meat hits the rug if he really rests Lee and Ramirez and Soriano and Theriot.  If he’s right, my prediction yesterday of 86 games is low. And shouldn’t we be more comfortable believing him than me.

Chill ipod
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What are the odds?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

I’ll tell you, since I am in Las Vegas.

Cubs to win WS are 7:1 (Yankees are out at 3:1)

Over/Under for wins is 91.5

Place your bests now.

I could go to tonight’s game, but probably won’t.

By the way — check out http://www.phillysportspost.com/

Pumping Iron movie full

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla divx

 – it’s a Philly website and they “email interviewed” me about the 2009 Cubs. So now I really am famous.

If I can get access later — I’ll add more. Or not.

Sherm

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Make Opening Day Your Personal Holiday

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

I turned in my time off request yesterday for April 6th, 2009. Opening Day, for as long as I can remember, has been my own personal holiday. I remember as a kid being able to take the day off school and go to the game if I could get tickets or watch it on television. I’ve always skipped school or skipped work to watch a day packed full of baseball. There are always those people who petition that Opening Day should be a national holiday, considering the fact that it’s the “National” pastime, but even if that was the case, do you really think your employer would honor it? Heck No!!! That’s why I’ve made it my own holiday and this year I want you to as well. Be bold. Take the day off.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints ipod

Super Size Me buy

If you’ll commit with me, I wanna hear from you in the comment section. Make it happen.

Lost Voyage release

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Wait Till…This Year?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

“Did our season really end?”’ Lee asked himself. “That’s how I felt the last two years.”
And inquiring minds wanted to know: Why did the team play so poorly after the regular season ended?
“We need to let it go and move on, but it does come up sometimes,” the Cubs’ first baseman and clubhouse leader said. “You get questions from friends and fans, like ‘What happened?’ I really don’t have an answer for them. It’s frustrating, especially two years in a row.” source

I am not over last season yet. Fool me once, (2007), shame on you. Fool me twice? Then we have to talk.

The 2007 Cubs largely overachieved, and stumbled and grew into a playoff team. I hoped they’d do well once the postseason started, but I remember in November/December of 2007 thinking, “did the Cubs make the playoffs.” It was over so fast, their failure made no real impression on me.

The 2008 Cubs were totally different. They were the dominant team in the National league and at points arguably the best team in baseball. So for them to pull a worse disappearing act, essentially laying down in the first game and never getting up. It hurt a lot more.

I spent last season compiling notes for a 100 year book—I know, me and 2000 other people—(but mine was gonna be really good), but when the season ended I couldn’t bare to look at it. I still can’t.

The book was supposed to be a chronicle of why a team won or lost, what factors went into creating a winning or losing system.  In my mind winning came from persistence, experience, and repetition.  This is not a shockingly new idea, but one lacking from the Cubs none the less. What I found as I took notes last year was that the Cubs continually showed those attributes. They were experienced, practically the whole team had been in the playoffs,  Soriano, Lee, Edmonds, had won World Series. Their youth, Marmol, Soto, Shark, was mature.

They were not guaranteed to win the everything, but they were guaranteed to compete, to win a little. And they never even showed up?  I didn’t understand it and I don’t understand it.

Last years failure, built on such and outstanding foundation, makes this season sort of anti-climactic.  Maybe this is what it was like to be a Braves fan in the ‘90’s.

Is Lee right, do we need to move on? I know that the overwhelming response by readers will be: yes, this is a new year.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen video

But unless you are one of those sham champions, like the Marlins (twice!), then winning is a process, an achievement of planning and persistence, not merely a role of the dice.

If you are right, and this is a brand new year, then we should just close our eyes, wake up in late September, hope the Cubs did enough to get into the post season and cross our fingers that the goodlordwillin it will be the Cubs year.  Then the next year we’ll win 75 games and people will consider our greatness about as much as the 2005 White Sox

Maybe I am dumb, but I think process is inseparable from result. That doing it right matters, is what separates us from the Yankee’s.  That and a century of winning.

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Setting the record straight

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

All right. Enough already.

I am not a pessimist. Nor am I their King. A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. I see the glass and drink whatever is in it. And pour another.

I am, in fact, quite the optimist (no, Smitty, I’m not an eye doctor) — I believe that our beloved Cubs have a chance every year. I think that THIS is the year. No matter what year THIS is. Re: 2009? I honestly think that we will win our division…handily. Re: the playoffs? I think we still need either a.) a midseason impact move to push us over the top, or b.) a breakthrough year from a previously non-impact player (could be an 18 win year for Sean Marshall, or a 25 homer year for Mike Fontenot. Could even be what we expected from “Goes K” Fukudome last year. Whatever…in my heart, I deeply want it to happen. I want to celebrate a division win, two playoff series wins and a world series win. So, you see…I am an optimist.

Alas, I am also sane. I am practical. And I call them as I see them…good or bad. Some Cub fans, and other fans, have a very annoying habit of thinking that everything about their team is perfect and that if they don’t think so, they somehow jinx the team. Or, worse, they really believe in fairies and pixie dust and think we are destined to win. There is no destiny in sports. God doesn’t intervene. It is what it is. So you will always get my version of sanity. Crazy as it might be.

Milton Bradley can’t get through an inning? He’s Milkit Badly — until he shows me different. I’d be thrilled to change my opinion of the guy.

DeRosa trade a good idea? I hope that pans out. Personally, I’m not seeing it…but I’ve been wrong before.

What pessimist thinks that Aaron Heilman is going to have a great year? I happen to think that. FYI — watch this guy…he CAN pitch.

I’m glad we lost a couple of spring games. I really didn’t want to be undefeated for ST.

More later. Or not.

Sherm

Homo Erectus aka National Lampoon’s Stoned Age ipod Cemetery Gates movies

Sick Girl rip

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My Nomar Dreams May Be Ending

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

“Free-agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera has agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract with the Oakland Athletics, who also are closing in on a deal with veteran infielder Nomar Garciaparra, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney on Monday.” ~ Source

Instead, we get Cory Koskie to compete for the job. I swear, if the A’s sign Nomar, it better be for a steap price. If it comes in under that $1.5 mil range, I’m going to be dissappointed.

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Steroids OR No Baseball

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

I’ll be back at lunch to pick apart Sunday’s box score, but until then I’d like to pose a question to you.

If you could go back to 1994 and make it so that no player would EVER take steroids again, but as a result, would have no MLB by 2002 due to the strike and lack of fan interest, would you do it?

It’s All About Love on dvd

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think I would. Steroids brought the long ball, which at that time was what baseball needed. Think about how good you felt watching Sammy battle Big Mac in ’98. You can’t script how well that brought the interest back to the game. It would be a tough choice.

The Tripper trailer

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Game 4: We're a Freakin Juggernaut

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Boxscore

Game four of the spring campaign and yet another win for the Cubs on their march toward an undefeated spring training campaign. I suppose that’s one way to make sure we win the World Series. If you never lose a game, it’s a lock.

Creature from the Black Lagoon film

Alfonso Soriano was back in the leadoff spot for this game and was back to normal a little. He did draw a walk, but his other two at bats resulted in strikeouts.

Micah Hoffpauir continues to not understand that he’s not supposed to make this team. He picked up another two hits on the day and now has a .400 average with 8 RBI in just four games. He’s slated to have the day off for his birthday on Sunday. On that day he turns a very non-prospectlike 29 years old. That’s something people need to remember when getting excited about him. He’s not a young kid. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about how he’s doing, but I understand that it needs to be taken in context. He needs to be looked at as a veteran, yet without the veteran experience.

Jake Fox, my hopeful backup at the corners took a little hit to his chances with an 0-for-2 day at the plate while leaving four guys on base. On top of that, the Cubs signed veteran 3B, Corey Koskie to a minor league contract yesterday to compete for that backup spot.

Brad Snyder had a good day at the plate, but really didn’t do what the headline of the story on Cubs.com said. “Snyder helps slam door on White Sox”. The Sox never really had a foot IN the door, so Snyder’s grand slam really wasn’t much more than gently closing the door so as not to awaken the sleeping Sox after kissing them goodnight.

Sam Fuld had some continued success at the plate and is hitting .500 early. Last season he came in with a shot at making the club out of camp. This year, with the crowded OF the team has, Fuld should be slated for AAA regardless of his spring stats.

Aaron Heilman got his first shot at winning the 5th starter job and made a good impression by striking out four hitters and allowing just one hit in his two innings of work. He seems like more of an outside contender for the spot, but that could just be my love for Sean Marshall

Minority Report movies

talking again.

David Patton, someone I had my eye on last game he pitched, threw two scoreless and is now scoreless in the first three innings he’s thrown. He’s one to watch, as the Cubs would need to keep him on the roster the entire year to keep him due to the Rule 5 draft regulations.

That’s all I’ve got. What were your thoughts?

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