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Umpires in Revolt?

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I was watching some preseason NFL football tonight before begrudgingly switching over to the Cubs-Reds game. In case you haven’t been paying much attention to NFL news, the labor agreement with referees ended and replacements are currently doing preseason games. The NFL has come out and said they will hope to have the “pros” out there soon enough.

There was a brutal call in the Bills-Redskins game where the referees called a touch back, when the ball was downed at the three yard line. My twitter page was blowing up about the boneheaded call and it got me thinking, what would the reaction be if the umpires went in strike causing a need for replacements?

The only time in recent memory that a quasi work stoppage happened was during the 1999 season. Eventually things were smoothed out and the umpires created a new union to protect themselves in the future.  Now I realize that this couldn’t happen anytime soon because a labor agreement was signed in 2010 through the 2014 season, but let’s play pretend here for a few minutes.

Would the Showmanship Die?

I remember a few years ago listening to Mike and Mike in the Morning on my way into work and they were discussing the role of umpires in the overall entertainment value at a baseball game. Greenie said that the saying “We don’t pay to see the umpires/referees,” doesn’t always apply in baseball because ejections get people back into a game if they’ve dozed off before the seventh inning stretch. Golic disagreed emphatically stating that umpire blowups take away from the game.

I don’t have much of an opinion in this regard, especially in baseball. Ideally when I pay oodles of cash to see a live baseball game, I would rather see a well played game without any interruptions from the guys in blue. However the occasional umpire-induced manager explosion can add a different angle to a game that other sports really don’t have.

There is a love-hate relationship between umpires and teams that can’t be described in simple terms.

I’m not sure if much would change with replacement umpires, but perhaps it could. Odds are that MLB would pick hand-selected individuals from the minor league ranks, since like the players they are officiating, those guys are auditioning for The Show as well. Minor league umpires and managers have had their fair share of YouTube classics. Like this one. (Sidenote: I really need to get to a Mississippi Braves game now that I’m down here)

Would Call Quality Get Worse?

I believe that MLB umpiring has gotten better over the last few years and is trending upward with the assistance of replay. Whether or not replay expands to play a larger role in umpiring responsibilities remains to be seen, but overall they have done a good job of becoming accountable for their mistakes i.e. see Jim Joyce.

Some guys do believe in wild  Joe west justice when it comes to close calls and retaliation to players they don’t necessary like. This is something that I believe would end for awhile because of the lack of familiarity with the players and less ideas of entitlement.

From a balls and strikes perspective there would likely be growing pains, the same ones the replacement NFL referees are going through on the more subjective penalties. The players are already used to shrinking and growing strike zones from night to night already, so maybe there would be less transition than initially thought.

What say you about the idea of replacements? Would it work?

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Game 109: Womp Womp

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

My goal for this recap is to write it in the same amount of time as the Cubs have scored runs during their eight game losing streak. In case you haven’t checked the MLB schedule lately, the Cubs have scored sixteen runs during the streak, fourteen of which came in three of the eight games. The only team not to shut them out was the Dodgers and somehow a weak Padres staff did it twice.

When Joe texted me a little bit before game time asking if anyone wanted to take the recap from him because he’d likely fall asleep, I obliged. I will consider this my Christmas and birthday presents for him all wrapped into one. You are welcome Joe.

I’ll be honest though, when I saw where this game was headed — shocking I know — I quickly tuned into some other work I needed to get done by tonight. I hope you will all forgive me for such a transaction, although I’m assuming many of you decided to watch beach volleyball instead. Good choice!

Good

Shark pitched well enough to win again, it’s really unfortunate that he’ll likely finish the year with 14 or 15 losses because the team won’t score runs. Castro also broke his hitting drought in the losing effort. Yay!

Bad

Aside from starting pitching, everything was bad. Defense wasn’t THAT sharp, but efficient enough to back up Samardzija’s strong effort. Rizzo had his first error as a pro on a ground ball.

Vitters is swinging too early in counts, which isn’t a surprise considering it is a sickness that plagues most of the Cubs’ hitters. Be patient and wait for a pitch you want. I don’t care if the kid is young and nervous, I’d rather see him take a few pitches than the weak at-bats we’ve been seeing from him. At least our strikeout average went down today with Brett Jackson on the bench. These kids are obviously going to go through growing pains, as will the team until they figure it out. Everyone’s expectations have been tempered season wise after the trade deadline and the young guys need to realize that this is their audition for the future. Wins and losses no longer matter or shouldn’t to fans, but at-bats and fielding efforts do. None of these guys should take their roster spot for granted, because I can assure you that Jed and Theo are watching closely with final record no longer being a factor.

The Cubbies returned the favor and let the Padres sweep them on their home turf after doing it to them at Wrigley. Maybe they were thinking about Christmas presents too.

Happy Birthday!

Anthony Rizzo turned 23 today on the same day my father also celebrates his date of birth. Unfortunately he is a Red Sox fan and likely will not read my shout out. He would like us to send Rizzo back to him as his birthday present. Theo has politely declined the request.

It will be interesting to see how the young Cubs respond heading back to Wrigley with the “red hot” Reds swinging into town. The two teams have been heading in very different directions over the last month, but the Cubs as mentioned by others have played good teams well at home. Chris Volstad, Justin Germano and Travis Wood get the nods in that series. If that doesn’t give you confidence that the losing streak will end then I don’t know what will.

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Game 106: The Kids Are Alright

Monday, August 6th, 2012

I was pretty excited this morning when I got the text about the Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters call-up to the big league club and that they would indeed be in uniform, with Jackson getting the start in center. I was even more excited that it coincided with my recap slot because I generally end up with one sided losses. Luck of the draw I suppose.

While the loss theme didn’t change much from the norm, the entertainment value was enjoyable in a somewhat monumental game for the team. Only the predictably leaky bullpen could ruin such an event, which of course is exactly what they did.

 

The Famous Brett Jackson

It might have been surprising to some that Jackson, struggling at the plate in the AAA ranks, got a big league start before the hot-hitting Vitters did. From a hitting perspective I suppose that would be true, but defensively the Jackson start in center allows the Cubs to be better. It returns David DeJesus to his more natural position and takes Bryan LaHair out of the outfield, which will ultimately render him to spot pinch hitting duty.

Jackson had a positive debut at the plate, recording two singles and a walk, crossing the plate once. In the field, he misplayed a deep fly ball initially but recovered for a routine grab on the warning track. Nothing to really harp on though. Jackson might have a few good games over the next week or so until big league clubs get a chance to see some of his at bats.

Vitters also got an unceremonious first at bat, pinch hitting for Scott Maine, which I somehow missed until looking at the box score. I’ll be looking forward to watching his likely first start against the Padres.

 

LaHair and the Tortoise

Bob put it bluntly well today after his pinch hit at bat, saying that the guy is just searching for something. LaHair has clearly lost the swagger or confidence he had to start the season. He’s also losing any value he had in terms of trade value with each flail at the plate. His All-Star bid feels like a light year ago and unfortunately so does the last time we’ve seen LaHair connect on a pitch. I can’t even think of any possible solutions for him other than to look for a waiver trade or to send him back to Iowa. Neither is a very comfortable circumstance for the Cubs or LaHair.

 

Camping Out

Did it seem to anyone else that this game was unbelievably predictable? I saw the Soriano double before it happened and the Ethier two RBI hit to retake the lead too. Cubs relievers have long backed themselves in predictable and precarious situations with no signs of letting up anytime soon. Only one reliever lasted for an inning or more, Shawn Camp, who coincidentally was the one who received the loss. Scott Maine and James Russell both blew “save” opportunities, giving up runs inherited by the previous pitchers, Manny Corpas and Alberto Cabrera. Needless to say it was a group effort to lose this game today, as often it is.

Justin Germano pitched well for five innings until a sloppy sixth knocked him from the game. I’ve liked what he’s been able to do for the most part.

 

Can We Leave Cali?

If I ran WGN, I would fire the guy that plays music on the way to commercial breaks. If I hear this once during the San Diego series I’m writing a letter to someone. We get that Los Angeles is in California, give it a break.

 

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Game 104: Shark. It’s What’s For Dinner

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

Cubs 1 @ Dodgers 6

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

After a three week hiatus of Cubs baseball full of long drives, swindling moving companies and the occasional Waffle House, I was finally able to sit down and watch a game tonight at my new apartment in Jackson, Mississippi. Unfortunately for me I missed most of the streak where the Cubs were playing well and will likely not get to witness such a run again for the remainder of the season. I suppose being sellers at the trade deadline will do that to a team (bye bye Reed).

Fortunately for all of you, I now live in the Central Time Zone and was able to (barely) make it through this snoozefest and so enthusiastically report back to you.

Shark Bait – Jeff didn’t have his sharpest stuff tonight, leaving plenty of pitches over the plate. With the newly revamped Dodger lineup, they were able to tab five runs off him in 5 1/3 innings pitched. Not really much else to say other than I hope we see a more efficient Shark than we saw today the rest of the way, he may be the only pitcher worth watching this final third of the season.

As The Bullpen Turnstile Spins – With the additions of Chris Volstad and Alberto Cabrera to the ‘pen, which Nostradamus  Joe predicted a few days back, the Cubs bullpen will continue to have an amusement park theme to it. The rest of the season is going to be a tryout showcase for a bunch of the fringe AAA guys to see if there will be any keepers for the bullpen in the coming seasons. I’m assuming Theo and Co. knows that Scott Maine, Shawn Camp and Carlos Marmol surely aren’t the answers to those woes. I’ve actually liked what I’ve seen from Cabrera thus far, albeit in an extremely small sample size. But anyone that can strikeout three of the first four major league batters they face has my imaginary vote. It also helps that in a pseudo world known as my brain, A Cabrera is actually Asdrubal  and the Cubs starting shortstop/third baseman.

A Few Other Notes

  • I usually find Dale’s defensive alignments to be pretty well thought out and effective, but at times (like tonight) he can get a little cute with them. The Dodgers, lucky or not, found some holes in the Cubs shifts which turned into difference making runs, they would have been outs in a standard infield formation.
  • Nice to see LaHair grab a hit. Just looking at the box scores, he’s been really struggling to get on base. Also nice to see him look more comfortable in the outfield with that grab against the wall.
  • Dodgers are going to be tough to beat the rest of the way. Adding Joe Blanton as a number four or five starter will help too after they grabbed him for a player to be named and cash, which is considerably less than the Phillies asking the Orioles for Manny Machado.

Anyways….it’s great to be back with all of you. Hopefully my Monday post will be a little more coherent with a more rested and culturally adjusted Josh.

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Game 86: No Way Delay

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

The four hour delay may have thinned out an already slight Wrigley crowd, but the Cubs didn’t miss a beat in their first game back from the All-Star break.

In case you weren’t watching the game and didn’t hear Len mention how rare four hour delays are close to fifty times, four hour delays aren’t very common in today’s game. Some may have turned off the tv and gone about their business, checking in periodically for first pitch updates. Others may have sat there patiently awaiting whatever terrible substitute WGN had on during the rain.

Myself? I created a player the exact height, weight and skill set as Anthony Rizzo in the Road to the Show game style of PS3′s The Show. Naturally I named the player after myself because who wouldn’t actually want to be the savior of the Cubs? Early numbers aren’t promising.

Sori’s Big Day

Soriano teased Cubs fans with a 4-4 outing, all of which went for extra bases. His two doubles, two home runs and 5 RBI capped what was easily his best performance on the season. Now if only he could maintain a perfect after break pace to interest enough teams to take him for their early exit long postseason run. I know this is what many fans are hoping for, but I wouldn’t expect many to be naive enough to expect that this really does anything to his value. Not one game does a player make. That aside it is always good to see Soriano hitting.

All-Stars?

The Cubs two All-Stars Bryan LaHair and Starlin Castro seemed to be the only guys getting on base consistently to start the season. Now they look like the only two guys that can’t get on base with any consistency. Both were batting well over .300 at the start of the twelve game losing streak and have since then seen a steady decline in their averages. With his 0-4 performance tonight, LaHair is hovering around the Mendoza line since the middle of May. I would have thought that the protection Rizzo brings to the lineup would take pressure off both Castro and LaHair, but it hasn’t. Maybe LaHair really was the overachiever some thought to start the year. His recent struggles combined with his inexperience in the outfield make him a prime candidate for trade rumors over the next two weeks. Theo might want to cash in before his value takes another hit.

Maholm Stays On Track

Maholm won his third consecutive start since his bomb job in the desert against this same Diamondbacks. Other than the first inning, where he was bailed out by the double play, Diamondbacks runners never threatened to score again. The AS break/delay rust wore off as he went through the night, as Maholm looked to get stronger with each inning he pitched. With the game likely out of reach and his pitch count high, Manny Corpas and Shawn Camp came in to finish the game without issue. Just a well pitched game throughout.

Trade Talk

The Trade Machine has taken a bit of a hiatus because all the trade related articles on here may be boring you to death. You’ve gotten to hear about all our opinions on who will and won’t be traded. So give me your five most likely player to be traded before August 1st.

My list (to be expanded upon soon):

1. Ryan Dempster

2. Matt Garza

3. Darwin Barney

4. Alfonso Soriano

5. Bryan LaHair

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Game 83: Reed and Rizzo Catch Fire

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

Maybe the Cubs should move to the NL East. Their recent victories over the cream of the crop in the East, sprinkled in with a little bit of Houston Astros, has the team on a 8-3 stretch. During this stretch the team is now 5-3 against the “top” division in the National League, all since the announcement that Anthony “Cubs Savior” Rizzo would make his first start against the Mets just a week and a half ago.

Speaking of Rizzo, he has put to rest that the holes he had in his swing during his last big league stint still haunt him now. The kid has been everything as advertised and even the harshest of skeptics can put their negative spinners down to enjoy the show.

A line  to the tune of 4 for 5 with a bomb and 3BI has given Rizzo  a series of Pacific League-esque stats  to boast about in his first two weeks in Cubbie blue. If it wasn’t for his hit-less performance in a shut out of the Astros, Rizzo would have a hit in every one of his ten big league games  this year. Even still, Rizzo reached safely with a walk in that game meaning he HAS been on base in every game. Having guys like him and Starlin Castro get on base consistently in the beginning of the lineup seems like foreign concept  to me because it’s been awhile since this team has had that. Now if only we could consistently get those guys home.

Knock on Wood

Travis Wood wasn’t nearly as sharp as he has been in his last four or five starts. While he did get the win thanks in part to the Cubs dynamic offense on the night, he did have some struggles with his command throughout his six innings pitched. His four walks  on the night tied a season high and his three strikeouts tied a season low, which isn’t always a great combination. I  can knock the guy too much though because he grabbed a winning decision by the horns in the four straight outing after starting the season (0-3).

Castro Pining

It wasn’t much of a surprise to see the slumping Castro get a “night off” last night. He won’t get as much rest over the next few days because of his All-Star selection and obligations in Kansas City. Dale Sveum  said the night off was because he wanted Starlin to watch the game and point things out that he could be doing better. I would have thought that Rizzo’s addition to the lineup would take pressure off the young short stop, but his average has continue to trend in the wayward direction. He did pop in the final three innings to collect a hit in two tries.

Hot Reed

I love Reed Johnson. I love watching games when he starts. I love games that he starts off with solo shots. I love that the last time he led off a game with a homer, he was facing American League Johan Santana. I love Reed Johnson.

In all seriousness I’m truly hoping that  Mr. Johnson isn’t one of the guys shipped out for a bag of peanut prospects. As a fourth outfielder you can’t really ask for much more in terms of production and leadership. My man-crush aside, I know he doesn’t present much value in the long term plans for the team, but I’d be sad to  see him go.

So Much For Rejuvenation

Carlos Marmol looked like the Marmol of earlier in the season. The ninth inning went as follows. Strikeout, solo home run, walk, walk, walk, 2 run single, double play. That double play was also extremely lucky. The Mets almost had a miraculous ninth inning victory for the second night in a row. In my opinion Marmol is allergic to big leads and needs to make games closer for his own personal comfort.

Quote of the Night

“It was awesome, right from Reed Johnson’s home run,” Rizzo said. “And it carried over. Hitting is contagious no matter where you are.”

Shark and Gee get the starts today in a matinee game at 4:10 EST


Notable Performances on the Farm

July 6, 2012

Arismendy Alcantara, Daytona: 3-5, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
John Andreoli, Daytona: 1-3, 3B, SB, BB, R
Delbis Arcila, DSL Cubs2: 2-5, 2 2B, BB, R, RBI
Sergio Burruel, Peoria: 0-1, 3 BB
Welington Castillo, Iowa: 1-3, HR, BB, 2 R, 2 RBI
Carlos Escobar, AZL Cubs: 2-5, 2 2B, RBI
Dustin Geiger, Peoria: 1-4, HR, R, 2 RBI
Chadd Krist, Boise: 2-4, BB, RBI
Blake Lalli, Iowa: 2-4, 2B, BB
Justin Marra, AZL Cubs: 1-1, 2B, BB, HBP, R, RBI
Jhonny Pena, DSL Cubs2: 3-3, HR, 3 BB, R, 3 RBI
Garrett Schlecht, AZL Cubs: 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, R
Rubi Silva, Daytona: 4-5, SB, RBI
Josh Vitters, Iowa: 1-3, 2B, SB, 2 BB, R
Daniel Vogelbach, AZL Cubs: 1-5, HR, BB, R, 2 RBI
Michael Heesch:, Boise: 2.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 4 K
Matthew Loosen:, Daytona: 7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 10 K, BB
Scott Weismann:, Daytona: 1.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 K
Anthony Zych:, Tennessee: 1.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 3 K

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Game 76: Mahalo Maholm

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

 

Box ScoreCondensed / Highlights

 

Hip Hip Hoorah! Paul Maholm jumped in on the week long win parade with a terrific rebound performance against the Astros. From the get go, Maholm was in control of every at bat and didn’t make the same silly mistakes he’s been making over his past five or six starts.

In his post game interview, he seemed more than relieved to get off the snide and grab his fifth win of the season. It’s strange to think he was 3-2 during April and hasn’t had a win since the first start in May. Although if you look at his box score stats from the past month, you can certainly understand why he hasn’t had one.

But Maholm wasn’t the only one to get back in the win column, as I am getting to recap my first win in over a month as well. I want to thank my parents, my wife and this wonderful team for the opportunity to do so. Brings tears to my eyes.

Rizzo Watch

Anthony Rizzo grabbed a walk in the first inning, as everyone else struggled to get on base against Bud Norris the first time around. Unfortunately this was the only time Rizzo touched first base and stayed there. Yesterday it seemed like he was going with the home run swing  a bit much, which will get him in to trouble in the Bigs. Overall his swing has been much better then it was with the Padres last year. His hands are a lot lower in his stance and he’s getting his hands around quicker. His first bomb at Wrigley is on the horizon.

Mahlolm’s Rebound

I won’t talk much more about him, since I did in the opening. Paulie M hadn’t won a game since May 7th and hasn’t looked very sharp since then. Maholm’s performance was “dominant” in a weird way, only walking one and giving up two hits through eight. I’ll give him a pass for the top of the ninth, although it always frightens me to bring in Marmol with guys in scoring position. Maholm definitely wanted to get out of his own jam for the complete game, but he was starting to leave the ball over the plate in the later innings. Some good defense by Castro and DeJesus saved some big hits and runs. I’d be happy if Maholm pitches somewhere between this performance and his bad ones. All he needs to do is give the team a chance to win every fifth day and he went above the call of duty yesterday.

Vitters Back on Top Lists

I know that Kevin Goldstein’s fantasy prospects list isn’t the most regarded in terms of opinions in the baseball world, but it’s interesting to see Vitters on the list. He has been much more consistent in AAA this year and should be a August or September call up, possibly even before Brett Jackson. The reason I believe that is because of Vitters’ ability to make contact, while Jackson tends to struggle. His defense still isn’t great, but I can see him platooning with Valbuena — who I really like — if the team DFA’s Mather or Stewart.

Trade Talk

Ryan Dempster looks like a top choice for Dodgers according to multiple sources. Garza might stay, he might go to the American League, who knows. Also according to Joe’s dream last night, Starlin Castro is getting traded to the Nationals for a bunch of underwhelming veterans. We should all pray he is not Nostradamus.

Speaking of Garza, he gets the start today against the red hot J.A. Happ. Garza, like Maholm has been on a cold streak in the win column despite his best efforts. It would be nice to see Garza put out a more dominant performance though, rather than his status quo of giving up three runs over six innings in every start. We shall see.

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Game 72: Swinging at Tumbleweed in the Desert

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

The Cubs had the unfortunate task of running into the red hot buzz saw that is Diamondbacks’ starter Wade Miley this afternoon, which made it easy for me to watch the replay of the game rather quickly. I’d be lying to you if I were to say I watched the game as intently as I have others in recent weeks, because quite honestly I’m bored of watching the same thing every day.

The losing isn’t the issue, it’s the style of losing. I predicted the team to win around 65-70 games on the year, which definitely isn’t that hard of an accomplishment for a major league quality team. What I forgot is that the Cubs currently aren’t fielding a major league quality team.

I know, I know. I’m being a little harsh. I’m happy that the team is giving guys tryouts –Valbuena, Castillo, Clevenger, Campana etc. — to see if we can sort through the muck and eventually field a real MLB roster. In doing so, a team is obviously going to struggle on a nightly basis in terms of consistency. I get that, trust me I do. I am a Cubs and Bills fan who understands the process of everlasting rebuild phases.

My issues lie in that the same mistakes are made over and over on the field. This leads me to believe that A) the young guys haven’t figure out how to learn from their mistakes or B) don’t want to listen on how to learn from their mistakes. I’d have to believe that Sveum gets on guys about mistakes even though he probably had zero expectations for “Project World Series” year one. Like I said before losing isn’t what I take issue with, it’s the lack of progress seen on the field.

Maybe I’m expecting too much. Anyways on to the game.

Five Step Draw

This was a good game to watch if you enjoy a solid pitching matchup. The aforementioned Miley (not the scantily clad teenage drama queen) pitched a dominant eight innings, striking out seven Cubs in the process. To be honest, I was thinking he was closer to ten K’s while I was watching the game. I guess I’m just a Scrooge.

I thought Matt Garza pitched effectively enough to deserve win, but he continues to not have that GREAT kind of performance that gets fans excited. I’m starting to cool on him being a future staple of the pitching staff because of his inability to keep teams off the scoreboard on occasion. Again I’m harping on something that isn’t that big of a deal because the guy is usually a “quality start machine” but I’d like to see a dominant performance every once in a while.

RISP Ain’t Crisp

The runners in scoring position issue gets brought up multiple times a week. Enough to the point where I really didn’t want to talk about it in this article……BUT the differences in average between the two teams this weekend was pathetic.

Cubs with RISP:   3 for 25   .120

Diamondbacks with RISP:  13-32    .406

Yikes…….. At lot of that has to do with Kirk Gibson’s willingness to push his team towards being aggressive regardless of the count in the at-bat. The Cubs have a similar approach in at-bats, but they are often selective at the wrong times and free-swingers at the wrong times. For example taking fast balls right down the pipe and then swinging at sliders way out of the zone. The eighth was a prime example of this. Frustrating.

Rizzo Bells Are Ringing

Supposedly the call-up is happening in time for Tuesday night’s battle with the Mets, although there has been no official confirmation of that unless I missed it. I would have liked to see LaHair get a start in the outfield tonight in preparation for his impending sentencing to right.

I understand his struggles against lefties, but I fail to see how we are getting any better results with him out of the line up. We aren’t. Sveum’s man crush for Jeff Baker aside, there should have been a way to get LaHair reps in the outfield today, even in sweep up duty in the later innings.

Side note: Who is getting the demotion/DFA when Rizzo comes up? Reliever? Baker (wishful thinking)? Campana/Reed Johnson? I have no idea.

All things considered, the Cubs were a foot and a half away from tying the game in the eighth with Barney’s homer. Would that have changed the way the bottom of the eighth was played out? Probably, but it didn’t happen that way. The Cubs haven’t had much luck with those kinds of bounces this season. In the end however, they’ve left too many plays on the field to even sniff a .500 record and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.

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Game 65: A Rally Goes by the Wayside

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

Tonight I had the opportunity to watch the game with my father (a Red Sox fan), which was a pleasant change from the norm of being tortured by watching Cubs games by myself. Unfortunately the Cubs didn’t come through for me, but I suppose the old man needs some kind of present from me for Father’s Day and this game is “my” contribution.

Usually after losses I find myself being frustrated by something in particular that the team as a whole just struggled with during the game. Tonight was the probably the first game I watched this season where I felt good after a loss. Neither starting pitcher had a fantastic outing and neither offense was overwhelmingly effective either. But for some reason I just felt good about how the team performed tonight. Maybe Joe is right and I’m coming to terms that this team won’t be good for awhile, but they are making the necessary moves to be contenders in the future.

The Good

  • Luis Valbuena hit his first home run as a Cub tonight which cut a four run deficit to one. Valbuena took a tailing fastball to deep left center with the wind blowing out. It’s unfortunate that no one else was able to take advantage of the breeze. I thought for sure that LaHair was going to save the day with some last inning heroics with the weather conditions how they were.
  • Manny Corpas has looked pretty good since coming up to the big league club. He does get wild from time to time, although not nearly as bad as Carlos Marmol. I thought he pitched a solid two innings to end the game giving up one hit and one walk while striking out one. We can always use some consistent innings eaters in the bullpen, although I’m still being cautiously optimistic about Corpas.
  • Clevenger came in to the game in the 9th and screamed a liner into center for a single. I wish we could combine his bat with Welington Castillo’s defense to make a starting catcher. The two are starting to make Geo seem a little bit more expendable.

The Bad

  • Jeff Samardzija wasn’t his normal efficient self for the second straight start. His pitch count was high from the get go, constantly battling with batters to get routine outs. His 108 pitches through five and a third definitely isn’t anything to be proud of. He continues to leave his curve ball over the plate once his pitch count starts inching closer to 100. The Saltalamacchia homer was an example of that.
  • Tony Campana and Bryan LaHair both battled in their sole at-bats only to come up short.
  • Darwin Barney’s line out in the 8th should have been a hit in my opinion. It did look like Daniel Nava got his glove under the ball, but I’ve watched it a dozen times and I swear it bounces off the grass. The way I see it is that the web of Nava’s glove scrunched down instead of going under the ball. My wife disagrees with me, but that’s because of her Boston bias.

The Ugly

  • Soriano not running on that “line-out” to Will Middlebrooks was awful. So awful that I hope he wastes away on the bench for a week or is traded for a turkey sandwich on rye (hold the mayo). Plays like that make me kind of miss Marlon Byrd. I know the guy wasn’t the same after the “Aceves” to the face, but he would have hustled that ball out. Soriano deserves every boo that was directed his way for the remainder of the game.

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads. Hope you get to enjoy a day of rest without having to help out too much with the grilling duties. I will also pray that none of you get another ugly fish tie from Great Aunt Matilda, those always end up being hideous.

Which leads me to my last question. Worst Father’s Day presents? Discuss.

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