Archive for April, 2010

Game 19: Sweep!!

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Cubs sweep!! They did many things right in this series and when things begin to go your way, everything seems to go your way. Such was today’s game! What is the opposite of “When it rains, it pours”? You would think I would know this, as someone who subscribes to a glass-half-full notion of life. But I don’t know, and neither does Google. No matter, the Cubs know the feeling!

Theriot led off with the first of his five hits (anyone think he’s not looking over his shoulder at Starlin Castro?) and by the end of the first we were already ahead 3-0 courtesy of a two run double by Tyler Colvin. Speaking of Colvin, how do you like to pronounce his last name? Everyone I’ve heard say it, says a long O like coal except for Bob Brenly who says it like call. So, is it Coal-vin or Call-vin? Either way he had a fabulous game at the plate, a triple short of the cycle and three RBIs. Kosuke also needed a triple to complete his cycle. That’s good hitting, when you’ve got two guys close to the cycle in a single game! Randy Wells pitched another beauty, lasting 7 innings and giving up 7 hits. If the starting pitching stays as wonderful as it has been, and the bats stay even half as lively as they were today, it won’t matter who’s in the bullpen because this team will be fine. Fingers crossed that this was the start of a more consistent offense.

Win Probability

First Star: Tyler Colvin (.191)
Second Star: Kosuke Fukudome (.167)
Third Star: Randy Wells (.105)

Here are some other random thoughts from throughout the game:

  • I don’t like to see anyone get hit by a pitch but if someone has to I suppose Ryan Braun is my favorite choice. Guess how many RBIs Braun had in this series? ZERO. Guess how many Prince Fielder had in this series? ZERO.
  • Home runs today for Fukudome, Colvin, Soto, DLee. Even Aramis got a base hit today, and also two sharply hit line drives that were caught. He looked better all around. Like I said (or tried to): “Opposite of when it rains it pours.”
  • One small Colvin criticism, I watched him catch a full FOUR fly balls in center field with one hand. That scares me a little bit. But at least he doesn’t hop.
  • I’ve decided I would like Bob Brenly to take Lou Pinella’s place as the Cubs coach next year, and then I can take Bob’s place as the color man.
  • Even Randy Wells got in on the fun, with a double in the top of the 7th! At that point Soriano was the last Cub needing a hit (even though Brenly claimed he already had one. That’s why I should be the color man.) Soriano did get a hit in the 8th, completing another full lineup of hits. They did this on Friday too (sans Dempster).
  • Ryan Theriot’s foul ball “hit” in the top of the seventh again proves that when things are going your way, everything does.

Beat the Streak

As promised, we’ll recap the Beat the Streak standings in each Sunday game’s recap. Here’s where you stand! If you’re not on the list, your streak = 0.

5 – Rich Beckman
5 – y2kansas
4 – bawhite2
4 – Doug Bagley
4 – GV Hub
4 – Lizzie
1 – Chaise Kahlenbeck
1 – Ginger Russ
1 – Joe Aiello
1 – Lord Alastair Dimwitty III
1 – Nick Francone
1 – Terrelle Pryor 2

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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The Blind Side

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

The title is “The Blind Side – Evolution of a Game”. It was published in 2006. The author is Michael Lewis.

It was the author’s name “Michael Lewis”, which drew me to this book. I recognized him as the author of “Moneyball”, which was about the application of sophisticated statistical analysis to the game of baseball, as opposed to “gut feelings” &/or anecdotal “evidence”. I enjoyed reading “Moneyball” very much.

I was blissfully unaware of “The Blind Side”, despite the fact that it has been made into a major motion picture, and despite the fact that Sandra Bullock recently won the “Best Actress” Oscar for her role in that movie.

This book is about football in general, and about the importance which the offensive tackle position has taken on in protecting the quarterback in professional football.

it is also about one specific person, Michael Oher, who wanted to become a professional athlete, and the route he took, through his freshman year in college, to realize that dream. Mr. Oher is currently a starting offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.

In the early chapters the author describes Lawrence Taylor’s defensive work, and how that type of linebacking increased the value of the Left Offensive Tackle position.

The author quotes his friend, Sean Tuohy, who is featured prominently in the book: “What I learned playing basketball at Ole Miss,” he said, “was what not to do: beat up a kid. It’s easy to beat up a kid. The hard thing is to build him up.”

It is also in chapter three that the author describes what a quarterback’s ”blind side” is, and why it’s important to protect it.

The author describes the process whereby high school All-American athletes are wooed by college athletic departments, a fairly vulgar process in my humble opinion.

The author also includes a black view of white people which is very accurate.

This book is all about the Southern United States. The SEC. Memphis, Tennessee. Oxford, Mississippi. It’s a foreign world to me, but I enjoyed reading about it.

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Game 18: Couldn’t Have Gone Any Better

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

A whole lot to be happy about with this one. I don’t think you could have scripted the win any better. Everything went right for this team and then find themselves on the cusp of not only sweeping someone, but having that someone be a division rival. Just a few days ago that would be considered unthinkable.

First Star: Ted Lilly (.379 WPA)
Second Star: Marlon Byrd (.156 WPA)
Third Star: Carlos Zambrano (.092 WPA)


  • Ted Lilly was just plain awesome considering the fact that not only did he come back after just two minor league starts, but he’s also back earlier than the early to mid-May timetable we were originally given. He started out a little rusty with his command and left a good amount of pitches up in the zone. That had me worried when I looked at my lineup card and kept reading the names Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder coming up. They couldn’t take advantage of the wildness early and Lilly kicked it into gear from there to go six strong, while not allowing a run. He completely dismantled Fielder’s game at the plate, striking the big fella out all three times he came to the plate. Lilly wasn’t overpowering, but he did show shades of brilliance with the curveball and pitched far better than you could’ve expected. His contract is up at the end of the year and Len mentioned in the broadcast that it’s been one of the better contracts for both sides that Jim Hendry has signed via free agency. There is no question in my mind that I want Lilly on this ball club next year.
  • Carlos Zambrano made his debut out of the pen tonight and didn’t fail in stealing the spotlight. Coming into the game in the 7th, Zambrano was immediately thrust into a situation that Lou envisions him helping out in. After John Grabow wet the bed, Zambrano came in to get Ricky Weeks out on a check swing grounder on two pitches. He came up and in on Weeks who couldn’t keep the bat back and made contact to end the inning. The show stealing part, as if his one at bat relief appearance in the 7th wasn’t enough, came in the form of comic relief and clutch insurance. Coming up to hit in the 8th, Zambrano hit a deep drive to right field that scored an insurance run. The funny thing was the fact that as Z was following through on his swing, he came out of his shoe….literally. His shoe was left in the box and Zambrano ran to first. Overall, the outing for Zamrano was acceptable. He did give up a run, which is not what you want to see, but I have to believe that may have been due to the fact that he had a decent lead to work with. The pressure was off at that point. When it was on in the 7th, he did the job and I think you grade day 1 as a success.
  • You can bash Soriano for continuing to hop, as some have, but the fact of the matter is that he’s one of the few .300+ hitters on the roster right now. He grabbed another hit today and also reached base on an error by Casey McGehee. I think we need to lay off him as well as Geo Soto for awhile. Both players, especially Geo, have played a lot better than they did last year so far this season. Geo just looks locked in at the plate and seems so much more patient this year in his approach. I’ve gone from cringing when he comes to the plate to looking forward to watching him take his at bats. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him moved up to the 7th or even 6th spot in the order real soon if his hot hitting continues.
  • Aramis Ramirez snapped an 0-for-21 streak tonight with an RBI single in the 6th and suddenly it was all love for him in the booth. I wouldn’t go that far, but we need Ramirez to start hitting. It doesn’t show up in the box score, but his first at bat just missed being a homerun to deep center by about 10 feet. I think his bat is going to come around and come around real soon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a big game tomorrow night against Jeff Suppan, despite his career struggles against him.
  • Bob Brenly mentioned something I’ve thought of quite a few times in the 7th inning. Lou sent Ted Lilly up to the plate with the sole purpose of laying down a sac bunt. He already had it in the plans to pull Lilly after the at bat in favor of a reliever and Lilly failed to get the bunt down. Why not, in that situation, use Ryan Dempster to get the bunt down. Lilly looked horrible at the plate all night and Demp is one of the best in the business at laying down a bunt. I’d have used him instead in that situation.
  • Did you know that Zambrano has just six walks taken in his entire career? That’s over 600 plate appearances and just six freakin walks. Couple that with 206 K’s and you’ve got a crazy ratio.
  • Thumbs down to Xavier Nady for leaving the bases loaded in the 3rd against Doug Davis, who was on the ropes. You need to take advantage of those situations when you’re team is struggling and you’re charged with hitting 4th in the lineup.
  • Holy cow was the Blackhawk’s game today, awesome. If you didn’t see it, you missed a crazy good finish.

We go for the sweep tomorrow against a pitcher that Brew Crew Ball considers “the textbook definition of atrocious.” I like our odds.

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Ted Lilly Back…Down Goes Samardzija

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

From the Cubs Media Department:

The Chicago Cubs today activated left-handed pitcher Ted Lilly from the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija to Triple-A Iowa.

Lilly will make his first start of the 2010 season tonight in Milwaukee.  He was placed on the disabled list on April 4 (retroactive to March 26) to continue his recovery from a left-shoulder arthroscopic debridement procedure performed November 3 by Dr. Lewis Yocum.

A 2009 All-Star, Lilly returns to the Cubs rotation after going 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA (61 ER/177.0 IP) in 27 starts a season ago.  Since joining the Cubs prior to the 2007 campaign, Lilly leads the club with 44 wins, a .629 winning percentage and 509 strikeouts in that span.  Overall, he is 44-26 with a 3.70 ERA (242 ER/588.2 IP) in 95 starts with the Cubs.

Lilly made two minor league appearances as part of his rehab process, combining to go 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA (2 ER/11.0 IP) with 13 strikeouts and two walks.  His most recent appearance took place Monday with Single-A Peoria, when he limited Burlington to one run on three hits and one walk in 7.0 innings, fanning nine.  Lilly threw 88 pitches in that final tune-up.

Samardzija is 0-1 with an 18.90 ERA (7 ER/3.1 IP) in four relief appearances with the Cubs this season.

I’m curious to see what role Samardzija will be used in down in Iowa. If you want him to be a member of the bullpen in the Majors, give him a chance to learn that role in the minors.

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Game 17: Well That Was Fun!

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Nothing better than watching a solid Cubs win where things seemed to go their way from batter one. I could be wrong because I’m not famous for my stat tracking, but I think Theriot’s leadoff double was the first time this year the Cubs’ leadoff batter got a hit.

As I said, things seemed to go their way from the outset. Back to back doubles to start things off, then later in the same inning a running gaffe by Lee ended up giving us a run. Things like that don’t usually happen to the Cubs. Mistakes are usually tragic and seem to multiply exponentially. Not so tonight, though there were indeed mistakes made. But nothing changed the momentum of the game and the Cubs really needed this.

First Star: Kosuke Fukudome (.256 WPA)
Second Star: Ryan Dempster (.236)
Third Star: Ryan Theriot (.099)

Here are a few tidbits:

  • Ramirez had the night off. Per Carrie Muskat he is working with Jaramillo on his timing.
  • Nothing made me happier than Ryan Braun costing himself a run when he trotted around second admiring what looked like a Prince Fielder home run which ended up (with replay confirmation) being in play. Braun could have easily scored. Which would have been doubly annoying since he was on base in the first place due to Fontenot botching a simple double play. Too much admiration, not enough action there Ryan. (Disclaimer: Ryan Braun is my least favorite MLB player by a mile.)
  • Fundamental mistakes, mental or physical, annoy me. Listen up Theriot and Fontenot. Even Bob Brenly commented on your “sloppy middle infield play during this road trip.” Note to Mr. Brenly: You’re being kind. It’s not just been this road trip.
  • Speaking of Fontenot: Honey, if your mates are telling you that squared-off cheek hair looks hot, they’re yanking you. None of your friends are sporting that look and if they are you need to find some new friends. Thank me later.
  • Happy Birthday Carlos Silva!
  • Ryan Dempster is this season’s best bunter.
  • Chad Tracy held his own tonight after one rough play to start the game. (And he also looks a lot like Ryan Dempster.) I’m very happy with him as a backup for our rough-starting Rami.
  • Marlon Byrd is the man!!!!!!!
  • Nifty play by Byrd flipping to Colvin to throw back a base hit by Gregg Zaun, since Byrd’s momentum was carrying him in the wrong direction. Might be able to see it somewhere again if you missed it the first time around.
  • Tyler Colvin hit one a country mile in the top of the ninth for two insurance runs. I heart Tyler.

From the Daytona Cubs Media Department:

Cubs Announce 4th Annual Beer Fest
Sample from Over 100 Different Types of Beer

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – The Daytona Cubs Beer Fest will take place on May 1st from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will take place on the Riverwalk at Jackie Robinson Ballpark featuring over 100 different types of beer to sample from and live music from the Jimmy Buffett cover band, Captain Josh.

The 4th Annual Daytona Cubs Beer Fest is presented by Hooters. The lovely ladies from Hooters will be walking throughout the festival passing out goodies and prizes.

Tickets for the event are $20. That includes your price of admission, over 50 beer samples and bottled water. The Cubs will also offer free bottled water.

To purchase tickets or for more information please contact the Cubs at 386-257-3172 or go online to www.daytonacubs.com.

Enjoy your weekend and the remainder of the series! Sure did get off to a good start!

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