Archive for October, 2012

Morning News: A Focus on the Farm and a Pam Anderson the Cannibal

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Do you play fantasy football? If you’re like me, you’re an addict and someone who is used to winning often. This year, things are not looking good. You know it’s probably not you year when you actually have a shot at winning only to see the win fall away with garbage reasons. I made the decision to bench Shon Green in the flex spot because, well, he sucks. In his place I inserted Brian Hartline who put up a solid goose egg. Meanwhile, Green put up a career day and I got nothing for it. Screw you Shon Green, screw you. Still, I had a chance if Jay Feely makes a field goal to win a game in regulation. Instead, he gets fancy, misses and sends it to OT, which allowed C.J. Spiller to pick up another few points in OT. Dude made a 61 yarder to tie the game ad then misses a 38 yarder? Screw you, Jay Feely, screw you.

Alright, on to the news, starting with some Cubs minor league nuggets in fancy bullet format:

  • It’s old, but here is a Q&A with Cubs draft pick, Albert Almora from Fan Graphs
  • John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall posted a review of his top 50 hitters (Part 1 / Part 2)  and top 50 pitchers (Part 1 / Part 2) from the pre-season. As you might imagine, the only one of the four lists we have someone on is part 1 of the hitters list. Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo are in that post.
  • With that previous series in mind, Sickels posted his preliminary list of top 50 hitters and pitchers going into the 2013 season. Four hitters make the top 50 hitters list from the Cubs system, and none from the system make the top 50 pitchers list.
  • I mentioned the other day a few names that elected minor league free agency. I forgot to mention that you can add Randy Wells to that list.

Moving on, it’s been a few days since the college football games took place this past weekend. I’m a big Notre Dame football fan and I caught some heat on the final play of the game that ruled in favor of the Irish. I wanted to get your take on the situation. If you didn’t see the final play, you can watch the video here. My take is this, and it’s my take when it comes to officiating in sports in general. I don’t know if the call that was made on the field initially was correct. I felt like the review decision was the correct one based on the call that was made on the field. There simply was enough doubt to not over turn the call. Some may say that Standford got the shaft. What I say to that is two things. First, when you show no creativity in your play selection when you have 1st and goal from the 4 yard line, you deserve to be stuffed. Why keep doing the same thing when it didn’t work the first three times. Second, and this is my main stance, if you don’t want the referees to be a factor, take them out of the picture by playing better. If Standford is up enough to prevent the game from going to overtime, the refs aren’t a factor. If Stanford would have held the Irish to a field goal on their first OT possession, we’re not having that discussion. If you don’t like the call, next time make it so bad calls can’t affect the outcome.

Joe’s iPod Song of the Day

I want to preface this one by saying that I think Lit, as a band, sucks. I am amused by this song and video. I get a kick out of the first line or two in the song, which is the hook for the chorus. It also makes me laugh to see them playing their instruments on Pam Anderson’s butt. Use that as your way to tell how old this song is. The only thing I can think of is that it distracts from the fact that the lead singer looks like a total tool. Finally, why in the world is she eating the band members? It just doesn’t make sense.

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Morning News: The Sky Is Falling

Monday, October 15th, 2012

The Cards Won’t Die
After once again being left for dead, the Cardinals improbably struggled back and won a game they had no business winning. I think it’s worth noting that this team lost the game’s best player, arguably the game’s best manager and they soldier on as if none of it matters. Anyone who doesn’t believe ultimate winning is due in large part to winning the game mentally, look to the Cards to set your thinking straight. This team didn’t belong here last year, they belong here even less THIS year, and yet they’re 3 wins from the World Series against a team that can’t hit. I have a feeling we’re all about to become Tiger fans…

Jeter Out, Tigers Halfway Home
Famous tough guy, Derek Jeter, stumbled to pick up a routine groundball in the 12th inning on Saturday night. He came away with the most innocent looking broken ankle you’ll ever see. The media has spent the hours since then in a tailspin, even Joe Girardi remarked that he’s never seen an athlete’s injury so deeply affect the mood of the media. On the gruesome scale this was NOT Joe Theismann’s knee; it was the polar opposite. I’m not a huge fan of how Jeter is covered by the media to begin with, so watching them embarrass themselves by fawning all over him has been hysterically enjoyable. ‘Derek Jeter, irreplaceable in every way.’ To listen to some of them, it’s as if a member of their family died (although I’m not sure a death in the family would depress them quite as much). Anyway, the Yankees season IS dead. Down 0-2, having lost both at home, and yet to face Verlander (whom they’d see twice in a 7-game series). Finished.

Felix Baumgartner Flies
He’d been forced to reschedule numerous times, finally daredevil Felix Baumgartner was able to jump from more than 24 miles above the surface of the earth. The freefall lasted an incredible 4 minutes and 19 seconds and his top speed was mach 1.24 (that’s 833.9 mph), making him the first man to go supersonic without any aid – other than his jumpsuit. To call it skydiving is a gross understatement, but since that’s the only frame of reference I have any personal experience with, let’s just say I’m jealous. It looked incredible.

Jay-Z Fans Lash Out At Preferential Treatment For Streisand
Clearly Jay’s fans have never been to a Streisand concert. I imagine with all the metal hips, knees, and plates in the head found at a Streisand concert, it would be physically impossible to put all of those people through a metal detector.

‘I had to eat a piece of my friend to survive. It was repugnant.’
Forty years ago, on October 13, 1972 a rugby team from Uruguay crashed in the Andes. If you’ve seen the movie ‘Alive’ you know the rest; some of them died, the others cannibalized the dead in order to survive a bone-chilling 72 days in the snow almost 12,000 feet up. They played a rugby match this weekend in Santiago, Chile (the site of the original match, to which the fateful flight was headed) to commemorate the event, because that’s something I’m sure they all forgot!

Packers Update: Green Bay remembered to play both halves on Sunday night. After getting up big again early, the Texans made the mistake of getting back in the game BEFORE halftime; the Packers came out of the break and put the hurt on what most considered to be the NFL’s best team. Discount double check!

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Morning News: You Just Never Know

Saturday, October 13th, 2012


If for some reason you were isolated from any form of social media, television, or radio broadcasts, allow me to inform you of yesterday’s events:

American League: Oakland was blanked by Detroit. Verlander pitched a 4-hit shutout, sending the young cast of Moneyball 2 back to the dugout via strikeout 11 times. The Tigers move on to face the Yankees in the ALCS, which should be a pretty good series.

The Yankees beat the Orioles 3-1 behind CC Sabathia’s complete game effort. Hopefully the ALCS will be filled with great pitching and overall good baseball with these two teams. Maybe A-Rod will be able to muster up a hit, maybe even one for extra bases?

Nevermind. Verlander and Fister have already put that silly notion to rest.

National League:

The Giants are on their way to the NLCS after beating the Reds in stupendous fashion on Friday, winning 6-4 courtesy of a Buster Posey grand slam.  Thank goodness we won’t have to deal with Dusty’s toothpick-twirling face on television sets until next season.

With their win, the Giants will face the Cardinals in the NLCS. I stayed up to watch the end of the Cardinals and Nationals duke it out, thinking that the Nationals had the game in the bag with a 7-5 lead in the top of the ninth. Silly me. Everybody knows that the Cardinals rely on late, dramatic comebacks in the postseason. I watched in disbelief as Drew Storen was unable to control his pitches and keep the Cardinals lineup in check. St. Louis went on to score 4 runs in the ninth to win game 5 and clinch their spot in the NLCS.

Today would have been Strasburg’s start. If only, if only.

Other News:

Melky Cabrera was reinstated after his 50-game suspension, but will not play for the remainder of the year, however long that may be.

There is an MLB pitcher who has a new pet named Cat Latos. I bet you can’t guess who it is!

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Morning News: Playoffs, Drug Mules, and Unlikely Dog Ownership

Friday, October 12th, 2012

MLB Playoffs

Let’s start by catching you up on the action from yesterday’s quadruple-header. In the opening tilt, the Giants broke open the scoring with six runs in the fifth inning–including this monster grand slam from Buster Posey–and held on to win 6-4, eliminating the Reds from the postseason. After losing the first two games at home, the Giants didn’t look like they’d make it to the NLCS. To get there, they accomplished what no other team has ever done in a five game series, winning back-to-back-back elimination games.

The Cardinals and Nationals were the next game of the afternoon, and Washington pulled off the victory on the back of Jayson Werth’s walk-off homer. The 2-1 victory forces a decisive Game 5 today. Altogether now: “Go Nats!”

The Orioles and Yankees staged another extra-innings war; this one lasting thirteen innings before Baltimore could push across the winning run. The 2-1 win tied up that series as well, so you’ll get to enjoy two elimination games today. (Again, “Go Nats!”) A sad subplot from this series came to light today, as news broke that Yankees manager (and former Cubs catcher) Joe Girardi’s father passed away last week prior to the ALDS. Girardi had tried to keep it quiet and focus on the games. He plans to bury his father next week after the series is over. Hats off to him for trying to keep his personal pain from distracting from the task at hand.

The final game of the night was the elimination game between the Tigers and the A’s. It didn’t have any of the late-inning dramatics or fireworks of the earlier games, but it was no less exciting. Detroit won 6-0 behind a dominant performance from Justin Verlander, who set a new MLB record for strikeouts in a postseason series with twenty-two. Verlander’s complete game shutout was a masterpiece, as he struck out eleven batters, surrendering only four hits and single walk on an economic 122 pitches. (And congratulations to Chet, Josephine, and all the rest of you Tigers fans out there.)


You might have passed on the night’s MLB action and opted instead for football, as the Steelers and Titans faces off in Nashville. For those of you who didn’t watch, the Titans won on a 40-yard field goal as time expired.

However, you might have skipped all the evening’s sporting events and watched the debate between Vice Presidential Candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. I’ll spare you from all but the briefest recap here–it happened, it was long, and it was underwhelming–but consider the topic open if you’d like to comment below.

Speaking of abrupt transitions, who else has fond memories Marty McFly’s blacked-out Toyota truck in Back to the Future. Sure, the DeLorean was the star, but discerning viewers (i.e., me) always had a soft spot for the 4×4 that represented his new, less slackerish life. So it’s wonderful news that the original has been located and is being painstakingly restored to its former glory. And apparently, like so many young stars in Hollywood, its had some rough years–possibly including some work as a drug mule.

Just a heads up for all you amateur gourmets out there: if a dove crashes into your home and dies, by all means, feel free to cook and eat it. Just don’t post your culinary escapades online, because apparently that kind of thing is frowned upon–especially during dove season. (Also, who else didn’t know “dove season” was a thing?)

And finally, today from the not-so-great-ideas department, Michael Vick is a dog owner again.

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Northside Archives: The Significance of 100

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

The Cubs lost 101 games this year. That shouldn’t be news. Cresting the century mark is something the Cubs have done only TWICE before. In 1962 and 1966 the Cubs posted identical 59-103 records.

This team had an excuse. Just two years before, the 1960 Cubs featured an average age of 28.2 and switched managers after 17 games. That team finished 60-94 good for 7th (out of 8) in the NL. What had changed by 1962? The average age was 25.6, and P.K. Wrigley was more than a year into the debacle known as the College of Coaches. There are two ways to look at this team – a lineup that boasted Banks, Santo, Williams, and even Lou Brock. Four HOFers. Some people look at that and say, “How did they lose 103?”; others look at it and say, “If only the Cubs hadn’t traded Lou Brock!” The latter is a realization that Santo, Williams, and Brock were each at least a year away from their prime. In Santo and Williams the Cubs had the 1960 and 1961 NL Rookie of the Year winners, respectively. Lou Brock was playing his first full MLB season, and wouldn’t see his career blossom until year three. Santo, age 22; Williams, 24; and Brock, 23 reflected the general makeup of the everyday players the Cubs were penciling into the lineup. Only Ernie Banks, at 31, had seen his 30th birthday. The rotation was even younger, Bob Buhl all of 33 years old was still 7 years older than the next regular starter. All but three of the regular Cub pitchers (rotation or bullpen) were 27 or younger. They did finish with a Pythagorean record of 61-101, so they were a bit unlucky.

This team had no excuse. Ok, well very little excuse – at least as it relates to losing 100. The College of Coaches started to die a slow death after 1962. That death would be complete following 1965 when the Cubs hired Leo Durocher. Yes, Brock had been infamously traded (in 1963) and immediately became an MVP candidate, finishing 10th in the voting that season. But Santo had finished 8th in 1963, ahead of Brock. That started Santo’s stretch of 7 years where he was a stalwart of the Cubs attack and the best 3B in the NL, a perennial All-Star and regular MVP candidate. Williams had finished further down the MVP ballot in both 1964 & 1965. And the Cubs had talented youth in support; future fantasy camp organizer Randy Hundley, Don Kessinger, and Glenn Beckert were regulars in 1966. Stocked with impressive names, this team was still young. Even now it reads as a team too young to compete at the highest level – but surely they’d lose fewer than 100? Except the pitching was deplorable. Worst in the NL in nearly every category, their best pitcher was acquired after one appearance with the Phillies. A young right-hander named Ferguson Jenkins would log 60 appearances, only 12 starts; but he racked up an incredible 184.1 innings, 72 of which came in the last 5 weeks of the season when he became a regular starter. They were incredibly unlucky, their Pythagorean record was 64-98.

Everyone Else
To have only 3 100-loss seasons in franchise history is actually a stellar record. For franchises in existence before 1961, only the Reds, Giants (each with a single such season), Yankees, and Dodgers (each with two such seasons) can now boast a better history than the Cubs. Interestingly, the Cubs now find themselves tied with their cross-town brethren. Contrast that with the Cardinals (4), Indians (5), Tigers (6), Red Sox (7), Pirates (8), Orioles (10), Braves (13), Phillies (14), and A’s (with an incredible 15 such seasons) and the Cubs look pretty good. Especially when you consider that prior to 1961 baseball played only 154 games, it would seem more difficult to have accumulated so many 100-loss seasons. But losing 100 was MORE common then. Most expansion teams have at least one 100-loss simply due to those first few years of fielding a mediocre roster – with the Rockies and Angels being the most notable exceptions, never having lost 100 games.

What Does It Mean For The Future?
The Cubs’ previous 100-loss seasons have virtually no bearing on what to expect in the future. Times were different, free agency didn’t exist and I don’t think anyone is looking at the 2012 Cubs thinking it had 4 future HOFers or a roster full of very-soon-to-be everyday regulars to compliment them. And though the post-1966 Cubs were fairly successful (finishing 2nd or 3rd until 1973) – even they didn’t achieve ultimate success. Of recent 100-loss teams elsewhere in baseball, the Tigers took 3 years to turn it around to win the 2006 AL pennant. The Diamondbacks took 3 years before losing in the 2007 NLCS. The Marlins took 5 years to win the 2003 World Series. The Brewers took 6 years to win the 2008 Wild Card. The Rays took 6 years also, and have emerged not just as a pennant winner, but a top tier AL team. And the team everyone will be talking about if they can continue to advance, the Nationals took 3 years to become the NL’s best team. Of course, Bryce Harper and Steven Strasburg aren’t in the draft every year. Gio Gonzalez isn’t available to acquire in a trade every year either. But as you can see, there is no fast track to rebuilding a team that lost 100 games. The Tigers needed an entirely new lineup, and a couple of new pitchers – one named Justin Verlander. The Nationals needed the two best No. 1 picks in forever, fast-tracked to the majors, and producing right away – and there’s no guarantee they’ll even win a playoff series!

So I’m aiming low; my only desire is that the Cubs don’t again lose 100 games in 2013. There’s precedent for that, and not all of it is good; I don’t want to become the Kansas City Cubs of Chicago.

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