Archive for January, 2013

Morning News: Playoffs, And A Great Big Fat Lady

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Cubs
Kosuke is headed back to Japan…to play for my favorite Japanese team, the Hanshin Tigers. You’ll recall that the Tigers are the previous employer of Kyuji Fujikawa (a member of your 2013 Chicago Cubs); but more notably, they suffer from the Curse of the Colonel. Sayanora, Kosuke.

And we’re now just one month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to camp.

NFL
Game of the year started the divisional round. Ray Lewis and Ravens somehow found a way to win; the Broncos advanced no further with Peyton Manning than they had with Tim Tebow. On Saturday night the Packers beat themselves again (I can only presume), and this time it was the 49ers who were the beneficiaries. But if you had hoped to see Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs; don’t worry, you will. State Farm’s advertising budget has made sure of that…

On Sunday, the one they call Matty Ice (first, a terrible nickname; second, how can that be the nickname you bestow upon a guy who was 0-3 in the NFL playoffs, and 0-2 in ACC championship games in college…he was dangerously close to becoming Matty Ice Cold) and the Falcons jumped out to a 20-point lead over the Seahawks. But after falling behind 28-27 with less than a minute remaining, Atlanta managed to kick a game-winning field goal as time expired. In the final game of the weekend, it was never really close, the Patriots put another beating on the Texans in New England.

The NFL is a QB-driven league…that’s the simplest way to evaluate what remains and Tom Brady is miles ahead of the other three.

Li_estrong
If no one knows where to find the Lance Armstrong interview (because it’s on Oprah’s self-aggrandizing network), will we all wind up just catching snippets on various networks? He’d have to admit to something fairly compelling for me to be interested in watching the whole show anyway (I’m thinking ‘I had Oompa Loompas in charge of mixing my homemade EPO recipe and after time trials I routinely dropped acid with Joe Rogan while watching Sergio Leone movies’ would be enough to get me through one hour). At this point we all know he cheated, not sure why we need an hour-long special to find that out (kind of like LeBron’s ‘The Decision’).

Jackie Chan Hates America
Even more surprising, Jackie Chan is still relevant.

Gang Members Are Morons
Don’t just lock your doors in the ‘bad part of town’ – don’t use sign language either.

I Recant Last Week’s Fat Guy Warning
It saved her life

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Go: Who’s Your Geo?

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

If you’ve been around these parts for awhile you know I had a wonderful love affair (in my mind) with Geovanny Soto for several years, and my saddest day of the 2012 season was when he was traded. Still brings a tear to my eye.

Today’s question is: Who’s Your Geo? (aka What well known person do you find attractive?)

Many thanks to Gymjok for the idea for today’s column! Do you have a question you’d like us to feature in the Go! column? Send it to lizzie@viewfromthebleachers.com and she’ll see what she can do!

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18 Things Cubs Fans Won’t Hear This Season

Friday, January 11th, 2013

It still looks like winter in Buddyland, but Cubs baseball is right around the corner. As I think about the 2013 season over another cold beverage, my mind drifts to a few phrases that won’t come out of my mouth this summer:

  • “Man, that Darwin Barney can really hit.”
  • “Another great defensive play by Alfonso Soriano.”
  • “I sure miss Koyie Hill.”
  • “Ian Stewart crushed that ball.”
  • “And Carlos Marmol slams the door in the ninth.”
  • “Nice at bat by Josh Vitters.”
  • “Valbuena spelled backwards is…”
  • “I sure miss Marlon Byrd.”
  •  “You give me nine Jeff Bakers and I’ll give you the pennant.”
  • “Jeff Samardzija’s hair looks fine the way it is.”
  • “I can’t wait to hear today’s guest singer for the seventh inning stretch.”
  • “We need more political talk on VFTB.”
  • “Bring in Dontrelle Willis.”
  • “Why don’t the Cubs bunt more often? They need to play some small ball.”
  • “James Russell was underrated as a starting pitcher.”
  • “I sure miss Bob Brenly.”
  • “The fans did a super job with this year’s All Star Game voting.”
  • “That guy just knows how to win.”
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GirlieView (01/10/2013)

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Welcome to 2013′s first GirlieView. The slates have been wiped clean and we’ve got brand new commentary, counts, wit and wisdom. I wish a wonderful 2013 to all of you and yours, and of course to our beloved Cubbies!

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of 2013 = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims. Let’s go!

Lizzies

  • I know the Cubs have worse players than Marmol, but he drives me insane. I probably need to seek professional help at this point.
  • Best-Theo and Jed discovered VFTB and now have a new source for ideas. Worst-Theo and Jed discovered VFTB and now have a new source for ideas.
  • truck nuts?
  • The best thing about the 2012 Cubs is that they still existed in the MLB. The worst thing about the 2012 Cubs is that they had to play actual MLB talent.
  • Best – The Cubs were on the field in April. Worst – The Cubs were not on the field in October.
  • Not much occurred in the baseball world on Boxing Day (by the way, we should really celebrate that here in the US)
  • Whatever your feelings towards any president, party or their policies, respect for the office and remembering that politicians are human beings is important.
  • Alfonso Soriano has as much chance of starting at 3B for the Cubs, as Carlos Marmol does of starting at 3B.
  • Marmol is moving to catcher.
  • I’d prefer Tony Campana behind the plate.  He could “crouch” from a standing position, and “throw out runners” in foot races.
  •  If [Ian Stewart] gets to 81 before being benched/put in the ICU it would be a miracle.
  • I got what I wanted for Christmas.  A happy wife and some new tools to play with .
  • Oh Man, I thought you said a happy tool and a new wife…
  • Hisanori Takahashi is the poor man’s Kyuji Fujikawa.
  • The Cubs are the poor man’s Cubs, so it’s a perfect fit.
  • I’m an aging lefty who can mix up my pitches and get them across the plate. As long as ibuprofen is not a banned substance, I’d be interested in talking to Thed.
  • At Randy’s camp you get the Cubs real trainers, at the WK you get Seymour carrying a bag of ice.
  • Yes in 1 month I will be forced to substitute diner with Raker for dinner with a couple dozen former Cubs, likely a left handed attorney and a few actors, rock stars and hockey players. They on the other hand get stuck with dinner with me.
  • Staying home with the wife and ringing in the new year in style….. Asleep on the couch by 11:30 pm!
  • I am making pizza. Then sleep. Lather, rinse and repeat.
  • 52 days till Spring Training.
  • there is just something magical about Chicago for Johnson
  • trading for Koyie Hill in what amounted to nothing more than a catcher booty call.
  • and Geovany Soto was moved late to the Rangers in a separate move than Dempster, which opened playing time for Wellington Castillo and broke poor Lizzie’s heart.
  • I’m excited about 2013, not because I think we’ll compete for the playoffs, but because I like the direction and philosophy this team is operating on.
  • Hopefully I can help make the transition from sweatpants and naps to shoes and productivity a little easier this morning.
  • There is almost nothing on earth more hazardous to your health than a blooming onion.
  • An onion is a vegetable.  Vegetable oil is a vegetable.  Flour is ground grain…a vegetable.  I’m surprised you didn’t learn about the health benefits of a vegetable-rich diet in med school.
  • Ass a couple large beers, while your at it.
  • this is just something that celebrities will have to deal with as long as we live in a free society.
  • I get it every time I leave my house. Who would have thought a small blog would cause me such hardship and lack of privacy.
  • Perhaps you should field a question or two…I’m still waiting to hear what happened to Sherm.
  • Sherm is healthy and happy. He’s moved to rural North Carolina. They might not have the interwebs where he is.
  • Is anybody in the U.S. following the world junior hockey tournament in Russia?
  • I doubt even the parents of the U.S. team are following the world junior hockey tournament in Russia.
  • Well the Appalachian vernacular should keep you mired safely in Lizzie obscurity.
  • Seymour has one of those mechanical robots, I think his blows up and has tassels.
  • She doesn’t like to be called a robot. She prefers Vinyl-American.
  • Some Joker named Raker D from Huntington’s Chorea, CA asked Carrie Muscat about putting Soriano at 3rd. I thought Lizzie already answered that.
  • His pitch is going as well as Ralph’s pitch to his mother for the BB gun.
  • File this under “pissing in the wind”
  • Things got weird Buddy.  Doc Raker a.k.a. Raker D managed to ask Lizzie a.k.a Carrie Muskrat the worn out thing about Sori bagging up at 3rd, which somehow got published on cubs.com.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Turk Wendell ends up in our rotation at this point.
  • Can Turk Wendell play third?
  • I’m not sure how many bloomin’ onions one would have to consume in order to completely loose sight of one’s twig and berries, but it must be a few.
  • Back on the View From the Dome blog back when Biggio was a catcher I floated the idea of Biggio moving to second base. I was met with negativity, I was told I was crazy and all the VFTD experts knew it couldn’t ever happen.
  • So I guess you were Postgrad Raker.
  • How old was Biggio when he moved to second base?  26?  At the height of his athletic peak/performance…or close to it?  Was he a bum-kneed, gimpy running 37 year old like Soriano?
  • Do not try to inject logic into this process. Raker has a strong immunity to it and will swat it away like book learning to a country singer.
  • Seymour Boots had similar anti-Postgrad Raker sentiments on the Astros blog.
  • So did the fat guy eat all the news reporters yesterday and that is why we do not have news today?
  • The Adrian Era couldn’t carry the Tommy Era’s jockstrap.
  • No matter how much the Tommy Era would want it to…
  • got my Niekros in a twist.

Lizard

  • Brevity is the soul of wit.

MVL

  • Congratulations to jswanson the Most Valuable Lizzie’er this time around!

Shout Outs

Congratulations to the following folks who contributed their very first 2013 Lizzie! (Yes, this is everyone since it’s the first week of 2013.) Bones, Buddy, cap’n obvious, Chuck, Doc Raker, Doug S., Dous Entendre, Dusty Baylor, Eddie von White, Gymjok, Jedi Johnson, Jeremiah Johnson, Jerry in Wisconsin, Joe Aiello, Josh H, jswanson, Noah Eisner, Seymour Butts, Tom C, Verncrowe5

Top Ten of 2013 (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. jswanson
2. Seymour Butts
3. Eddie von White
4. Doc Raker
4. Joe Aiello
6. Jedi Johnson
7. Buddy
7. cap’n obvious
7. Chuck
7. Dusty Baylor
7. Jerry in Wisconsin
7. Noah Eisner

Chit Chat

Let’s see, January 10th, does anyone have any New Year’s Resolutions you haven’t given up on yet that you’d like to share with us? In lieu of sharing yours personally, maybe share some resolutions you’d like to see the Cubs make (and keep!) for 2013.

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Morning News: The BBWAA embarrasses itself

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

This year, for just the second time in 41 years, the Baseball Writers Association of America failed to elect a single new member of the Hall of Fame. I’m quite frankly not going to waste my time looking at who was on the ballot in 1996 to see if the BBWAA had a decent point that season. What I do know is that this ballot included Craig Biggio (20th all time in hits in MLB history), Jeff Bagwell (career .408 OBP), Mike Piazza (greatest hitting catcher of all time), Tim Raines (.385 career OBP, 808 SBs), Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell and Sammy Sosa, among others. On top of that, the second highest vote total this year was for Jack Morris, who has absolutely no business in the Hall of Fame.

The BBWAA failed in dealing with two issues: (1) the steroid era; and (2) advanced statistics. Reasonable people can disagree about the steroid era, as there are reasonable disagreements about the effect of steroids on power numbers in the late 1990s and early 2000s as compared to general better fitness of players, smaller ballparks, and a relatively weak era of pitching. But the fact that a player like Craig Biggio, who with 3060 career hits clearly meets all old school standards for induction, has to wait because an era may be tainted is ludicrous. Players who are attached to no suspicion aside from having played during a certain timespan should not be viewed through the prism of having potentially done steroids.

The advanced statistics issue is evident in the fact that Tim Raines’ progression is so slow (he moved up about 4% to 52% of the vote), and Jack Morris has a shot at getting in next year. The problem Raines’ has is that so many BBWAA voters just don’t care about OBP. And Jack Morris has been the anti-sabermetrics guy. Without even an impressive ERA, Morris is even less impressive when you look at his peripherals, which include incredibly mediocre strikeout (5.83 K/9) and walk (3.27 BB/9) rates. All Morris actually has is a lot of wins (254), which is solely an indication of the fact that he played on a lot of good offensive teams and that he was able to stay healthy a long time.

But the guy who got it the worst is Bagwell. First, despite the fact that he’s never been linked to a steroid report he is viewed as “suspicious” because he gained muscle from his 20th birthday on. What a shock, considering he also played in the first era where ballplayers lifted weights. Second, because without 500 homers to his name (he has 449), the real reason he is a Hall of Famer is because he got on base for more than 40% of his plate appearances in his career.

In short, this year’s Hall of Fame vote is a joke, and the BBWAA needs to do something to fix it in the future, or the BBWAA’s power in voting for postseason awards and the Hall of Fame needs to be made much more limited.

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Hall of Fame Ballot, Prospect Notes, A Signing, and Rumors

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

I apologize for the lack of news yesterday. Unfortunately, I was in mourning due to the fact that my Notre Dame Fighting Irish forgot that the National Championship game was scheduled for Monday and didn’t realize the game had started until the second half. Say what you want about how they were “over-rated” and that they shouldn’t have been there. The fact is, you’re wrong. They deserved to be there and unfortunately them wetting the bed coupled with Alabama playing really well added up to a bad loss on the national stage. It is what it is and we move on.

The biggest news story today is the announcement of the new editions to the baseball hall of fame, assuming any are actually enshrined. There are some who believe that this year could be a year that elects no one, which is mind boggling to me considering the vast amount of talent on the ballot. The ballot  features 37 candidates with 13 holdovers from previous elections, including Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Lee Smith, and 24 newcomers, including Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa.

There have been quite a few people who have posted who they would / are voting for and some who have said they are turning in their voting rights. Regardless of how you feel about the issues related to performance enhancing drugs, the who process is broken. We have people voting on election that not only no longer write about baseball, but some that really don’t even follow baseball anymore because when you’re given a vote, you’re given it for life. How is that not a broken system? I’m not sure what the solution is on that matter, but what I do know is how I feel regarding the ballot this year and future years as we struggle to figure out how to deal with the steroid stain left on the game and careers of the players of that era. My feeling on the issue is pretty simple. The players of that era used drugs. We do not know for sure who used them and who didn’t. What they did was not against the rules of the game at the time. Because of these things, I don’t use suspicion as a basis. I vote based on the numbers I can see and don’t discriminate based on what I can’t see. With that said, if I had a ballot, it would be filled out as follows:

  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Craig Biggio
  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Mike Piazza

Discuss that among yourselves and feel free to post your ballot.

Jim Callis of Baseball America recently released the top 10 prospect list for the Cubs. It’s subscription only for more in depth coverage, but the list as well as more awards for the system can be found here. If you’re too lazy to look, the top ten is:

1. Javier Baez, ss
2. Albert Almora, of
3. Jorge Soler, of
4. Arodys Vizcaino, rhp
5. Brett Jackson, of
6. Pierce Johnson, rhp
7. Dan Vogelbach, 1b
8. Jeimer Candelario, 3b
9. Kyuji Fujikawa, rhp
10. Arismendy Alcantara, ss

I like the fact that we’re slowly building up the system. It’s still going to take years to have a deep system that can consistently contribute to the big club, but we’re heading in the right direction.

Keeping with the prospect theme, Keith Law had a chat recently in which he addressed a few Cubs questions.

Q – Will Brett Jackson of the Cubs ever be more than just another replacement level player or do you believe altering his swing this off season will help him reduce his strikeouts enough to make him an effective 4th outfielder?

A – It’s not impossible, but it is unlikely that these swing changes – which haven’t appeared in a game yet – will help him boost his contact rate to a playable level.

Q – Is there a scout, front office member, executive, or analyst anywhere in baseball that seriously thinks Dan Vogelbach could ever play anywhere but 1B or DH in the majors? Because many Cubs fans expect a shift to LF is in his future, and that just seems silly.

A – I don’t even think he can play first. Any fan who thinks he can play left field is living in an alternate reality.

Moving on to the rumor / news mill, we have a few things to report:

  • We signed Zach Putnam to a minor league deal. He was claimed off waivers in November, but non-tendered later in the month.
  • Ken Rosenthal reports that “The Phillies, sources say, continue to look at all options, including the signing of free agent Scott Hairston and trades for the Chicago Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano and Los Angeles Angels’ Vernon Wells.” (Source)
  • Roch Kubatko reports that “I heard last night that the Tigers and Cubs are discussing a potential trade involving pitcher Rick Porcello, who also interests the Orioles. Now here’s the rumored kicker: The Tigers are trying to get the Orioles involved because they want shortstop J.J. Hardy, and they don’t feel as though the Cubs have the necessary components to make it a two-team trade. For this to happen, the Cubs would have to send pitching to the Orioles as part of a three-way deal.” (Source)
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Morning News: NFL, Two Lances, Dontrelle, & A Fat Guy

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

MLB
Two years ago, the Rangers were spurned by one notable free agent – Lance Berkman. He was rather vocal about the Rangers’ decision to sign Adrian Beltre to a long-term deal. This off-season, virtually every free agent has spurned the Rangers, except Lance Berkman. Texas signed Fat Elvis to be their likely solution at DH and provide a bat that sometimes hits from the lefthanded batters’ box.

Late on Friday, the Cubs signed Dontrelle Willis to a minor league deal that could see him earn an invite to the major league camp for Spring Training.

NHL
Is tentatively back…

NFL
The first three games of Wild Card Weekend provided little intrigue. The Bengals stayed close, until the end – but Houston won. The Vikings were without Christian Ponder at QB, and the Packers easily controlled the game. The Colts were no match for the Ravens, who won Ray Lewis’ last home game. And the final game got out of hand late, as the Seahawks took down the Redskins.

But the real news out of the final game is that the Redskins are being accused of putting RG3 at risk of further damaging his knee. Only it’s the famous Dr. James Andrews leveling the accusation, and he claims they’ve been doing so since he was originally injured in mid-December. Of course you hope RG3 shakes it off and comes back fine in September, but if he doesn’t…

Lance Armstrong = Pete Rose
Everyone knows Lance Armstrong is a cheater. Everyone knows Pete Rose bet on baseball. The difference between the two might only be that Lance has seemingly come to grips with reality about 15 years sooner than Pete ever did. Armstrong is already floating the trial balloon of, “ok, I’ll confess to cheating.” The French are breaking out their finest wine and cheese to celebrate.

NCAA
National title game tonight. I really don’t see how Notre Dame wins this game. In 7 of their 12 games they scored 22 points of fewer. In another game they managed only 29 points total after three overtimes. Alabama scored fewer than 30 points only twice all year – at home in a loss to Texas A&M, against the Heisman trophy winner at the peak of TAMU’s season; and then in a win against division rival LSU. In 7 of Alabama’s 13 games they’ve scored 40 points or more. If the Tide rolls, a few more rednecks will have Nick Saban shrines in that broken down RV occupying the front lawn.

Look Into Your Future America
It’s a New Year, and if you don’t already know it, your take home pay is smaller and you’re also paying for health coverage you won’t be getting for a few more years. But people like this will now get to spend millions to remove the consequences of their irresponsible lifestyle. U-S-A! U-S-A!

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Go: Seasons

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Rank the seasons from your favorite to your least favorite.

Here’s mine:

1. Fall
2. Winter
3. Spring
4. Summer (yes, even though I’m a baseball fan!)

Do you have a question you’d like us to feature in the Go! column? Send it to lizzie@viewfromthebleachers.com and she’ll see what she can do!

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Morning News: Hop Aboard The Coaching Carousel

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Still not a lot of substantial Cubs news to report in the New Year. Jed Hoyer said that Matt Garza is feeling good, but that’s not news if you follow Garza on Twitter. And Theo Epstein sat for a radio interview with a station in Boston–you can listen to it here. I didn’t hear the full conversation, but it sounds like they were mostly interested in what he had to say about his former team, with only some sparse information about the Cubs sprinkled in.

In fact, the only MLB news that’s even (barely) worth mentioning is that the season will kick off with an Opening Night showdown between the two Texas teams and new AL West opponents. The Rangers will square off against the new-look Astros in a game that will mean a ton to baseball fans across Texas and virtually nothing to baseball fans anywhere else.

In college football, the Oregon Ducks coasted to a 35-17 win over the Kansas State Wildcats. As a fan of a Big 12 school, I saw my fair share of Kansas State this year, and I think the after-effects of one-time Heisman frontrunner Colin Klein’s injury are still holding him back. Oregon is always an overwhelming opponent, and they had the Wildcats on their heels from the first kickoff. Literally–they ran back to opening kick, and Kansas State never really looked like they could recover. One interesting subplot to the game was that it might be head coach Chip Kelly’s last with Oregon. Kelly is rumored to be a candidate for at least a few of the head coaching jobs. He’s got an interview sometime today with Buffalo, and with many NFL teams adopting versions of the relentless spread attack offense he’s arguably perfected with the Ducks, it’s safe to assume other teams will be interested in his services.

The Chefs Chiefs likely won’t be one of those teams, as they appear close to an agreement with former Eagles head coach Andy Reid. I don’t know who loses out worse in that deal–Reid or the Chiefs. I wouldn’t say they’re an obvious fit–he struggles to succeed without legitimate playmakers, and a big name coach doesn’t solve any of the personnel problems in Kansas City. In fact, the only winners might be NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers, who can look forward to mining consistent laughs from how much Reid will look like the Kool-Aid man once he’s draped in Chiefs red.

One college coach who won’t be making the leap to the NFL is Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, who restated that he won’t interview for any jobs, choosing instead to remain with the Nittany Lions and help further revitalize their program. O’Brien was recently named the Big 10′s Coach of the Year.

Add another layer of senseless tragedy to the death of Dallas Cowboys practice squad player Jerry Brown, who died last month in a drunk-driving accident caused by friend and teammate Josh Brent. While Brent’s blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit, Brown’s was under the limit, meaning that at least according to the law, he was sober enough to drive. Brent faces manslaughter charges.

Finally, scientists in England studying Noroviruses–a particularly explosive kind of flu that usually includes, among other dignity thieves, projectile vomiting–have built an anatomically accurate robot to simulate the spray from that projectile vomiting to help them ascertain how the virus is spread. So far absolutely nothing at all has been accomplished, mainly because they’re just having too much fun playing with their puking robot.

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