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Contrary to Popular Belief, I am not an A-Hole

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Those of us that have been following the comments in Sherm’s latest post know that it’s gotten into a heated battle about autograph hounds.  Those that haven’t read it should, or read this Cliff Notes version:

A Father and his son were at Spring Training.  The morning before their flight they headed over to Cubs camp just to see what was going on.  Carlos Zambrano, was out riding a bike, and the son approached him with a jersy to sign.  Carlos rode past them without acknowledgement. 

Classy move? Definitely not. Acceptable? Absolutely. I don’t see anywhere in any of these players contracts that state they must sign autographs at whatever time someone deems appropriate.  Carlos was at an early morning workout, and most likely didn’t expect an autograph hound.  I certainly wouldn’t.  Nor would I want to be approached at that time in the morning. 

I was raised with the idea that these professional athletes are people.  People with personal lives, that most of the time they’d like to have.  I distinctly remember eating at Chi-Chi’s on Lake Cook Road, shortly after Superbowl XX, and Mike Singeltary walked in with his wife. I was beside myself, Samarai Mike was eating at the table across from us.  I asked my Dad if we could say hello, and he told my sister and I, “No. Let him eat dinner with his wife. This is not the time to bother him.” Within minutes a man and his son walked up and asked Mike for a autograph.  His response? “Please. I’m trying to have a quiet dinner with my wife. If you must have one, wait for me in the lobby.” It struck a chord with me, and I’ve been respectful of athletes and their personal space ever since.

I’ve been pretty blessed with one on one encounters with pro athletes. I’ve hung around many Bulls players during their hayday while sipping coffee at Barnes and Noble. I personally attended to Phil Jackson while he shopped for hobby gifts for his sons. For a few years, I followed my friend to a local restaurant where WWE wrestlers hung out after shows. Same thing, we would wait around and just watch. Many times they’d start to talk to us. Partially because they recognized my buddy for the years he’d been doing the same ritual. The only autographs I’ve ever asked for, was Mickey Morandini, and that was at the post 9-11 game where that was why he was there. And the fact that everywhere I go Mickey seems to be there, so it turned into a running joke with a friend of mine. I’ve never understood the excitement over obtaining autographs. Maybe I’m missing something. Or maybe, I know how much I like my personal space, so I let them have theirs.

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Pessimism? I'll show you pessimism!

Friday, March 6th, 2009

As I stepped outside this morning and was hit in the face with almost warm weather, my nostrils got a quick wiff of what’s just around the corner.  A rotting pumpkin on my neighbor’s stoop.  Seriously. 

But I digress, last night I sat and watched about three full innings of baseball.  I’m not saying it was Cubs or Saox baseball because after about that inning, I don’t have any idea who the heck most of the guys are on the field.  For all I know it’s the local pub sponsored softball team.  I basically listened to the annual Len and Bob interview of Lou, and the “State of the Cubs.” It’s the one reason I like Lou.  He doesn’t mince words. He told us the good, the bad, you take them both and there you have.  The facts of life.  Lou is our Ms. Garrett.  That’s right, I’m comparing him to Charlotte Rae.  Laugh now, but you know you see a resemblance. 

He keeps the “kids” in line, tells it how it is, the good side of the team, and the minuses.  And trust me kid-os, there are more minuses this year than last.  As Lou put it, the team that won the Central Division had a 20% turnover.  That’s some scary stuff. 

Speaking of scary, and I don’t mean a Milton Bradley meltdown, check out this abomination of a bullpen. The void between a three inning Zambrano catastrophe and trying to get to Marmol or Gregg, is wider than Louie Anderson’s waistline. Where’s the beef? It certainly isn’t hanging out down the third base line this year.

Then we have that Centerfield mess. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Fukudome is going to make a miraculous turnaround.  That’s about as likely as you finding me at Britney Spears concert, who by the way I hear is looking spectacular.  Not that I would know. Do us a favor and just play Reed “Daughtry” Johnson. I like my outfielders scrappy. And not Theriot scrappy. Although, we’ve got a short dude thing going on this year don’t we?

Honestly, we’re a Bradley hat throwing, Big Z forearm tightening, Soraino calve cramp away from blowing this thing.  I can feel it.  Just you wait.

Then again, I’ve been wrong before.  Just not when it comes to the Cubs.

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One Heck of a Year

Monday, October 13th, 2008

As many of you know, I still play baseball. In fact, Jose and I play in the same league, on a National level.

This year, was nothing like the Cubs’ year, as our mighty Lobos struggled through the regular season, myself included. We managed to win our play-in game to get into the playoffs, and then things started clicking. Of course, it always helps when your four pitchers show up each and every game. We went the full three games (each series is a best of three) in the semi finals, beating a strong offensive Diamondbacks team, and reached the Finals, last Friday. Things looked bleak when we went down by five runs in Game One, but we managed two comebacks, and won it late. Yesterday was a doubleheader, in which we were shorthanded, and just didn’t have the arms, and some seriously untimely defense. Much like the Cubs showing in the NLDS.

Although we lost, and my body is truly pissed at me today, it was one of the most exciting years we’ve had. Before this season, the Lobos had never won a playoff game. This year we won four, just not that one game that we needed in the final day.

I just want to thank the guys for yet another memorable season, and tip my hat to the Devils, which is becoming quite the little rivalry. As we’re all used to saying around these parts, “Wait til next year!”Black Dawn hd

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Let It Roll or Matt's Crazy Off Season Plan

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008
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The Chicago Tribune had a poll up Sunday asking which Cubs collapse broke your heart the most. Honestly, I’d have to rank it, and this is only in my lifetime, the 2003 team, the 1984 team, and then this 2008 team. After the 2003 meltdown, I was literally numb for about two weeks. Mountain Dew wasn’t as sweet, Snickers bars weren’t as nougaty, and Old Style still tasted like crap. I believe when, or should I say if, the Cubs win the whole shabang, Old Style will be as fine as a vintage champagne. Yeah, who am I kidding. I didn’t even watch Game 3 on Saturday evening. I was done, the Cubs were done, and to listen to Dick Stockton one more evening would of driven me to the heights of insanity. I had lost my heart in Cubs baseball, all in a matter of four days.

 When Joe asked about each of us doing a “what do they do for next year” post, I actually had no ideas. On paper, and for most of the season, I saw nothing glaringly wrong with the team as it was. They needed a centerfielder, Jim Hendry grabbed Reed Johnson, and later Jim Edmonds. A starter to help fend off the Brewers, he traded for Rich Harden. What else could you ask for? Maybe a little bullpen help, but most of the time they were fine. Do you really make a major change with a team that just won back to back NL Central titles? I don’t think so, much to the chagrin of all some of you that want major changes. My bigger gripe about the team’s failure in the post season. Management. Why in god’s name did Lou reinsert Kosuke Fukudome into the lineup? Better yet, why did he bat him second? Why would you mess with a lineup that you’ve stuck with almost the whole year, and change it for the biggest series of the year? Blame the offense all you want, I blame Lou just as much. He tinkered when it wasn’t necessary.

Here’s my realistic ideas:

  • Re-sign Reed Johnson. Platoon him with Pie in centerfield.
  • Make Mark DeRosa your everyday right fielder. Put Mike Fontenot in as your second baseman. You’ll get two good bats in the lineup, and a lefty which is sorely needed in the right handed heavy Cubs lineup. You lose some defense in right, but after this year, they need to reward Mark with an everyday position, not as a super sub. If necessary, go sign a Felipe Lopez, utility type player to fill the super sub role.
  • Kosuke Fukudome heads to Iowa to learn American styled hitting and pitching. The Mets did it with Kaz Matsui, maybe it’s Kosuke’s time. He’s in Lou’s doghouse as it is, I don’t see this ending well, any way you slice it.
  • Micah Hoffpauir becomes the pinch hitter. He’s no worse defensively than Ward. And cheaper.
  • Re-sign Dempster and Wood. With the NLDS loss, they may take a hit in salary to see if they can get the job done, like they should have this year.
  • Sign Jeremy Affledt to strenghten up the middle relief, and give Lou another lefty in the pen. 
  • Resign Hank White. He’s a great mentor to Geo, and is one of the few people that can probably keep Zambrano under control.

And of course, some pie in the sky ideas:

  • Don’t resign Dempster. Make a serious run at CC Sabathia. Heck, sign Dempster, then go get Sabathia. Get us a dominating scary #1 pitcher.
  • Go balls out, and sign Manny Ramirez. Move Soriano to right field. Again, Fukudome gets to check out the cornfields of Iowa for awhile.

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  • Trade for Robinson Cano.  The Yankees are looking for pitching and a centerfielder. We seem to have both of those. If you trade Pie, you resign Edmonds. I think a full Spring Training will benefit him. He became a clubhouse leader, from what I’ve been told, the day he arrived.

I’ll be honest. I’d be very happy to see the same team next year, with a tweak or two. Hendry’s close, and I think this team is going to be hungry next year. Really hungry. Not to mention, the free agent crop is below average, and most of them are past their twilight years. I’m not sure it’d be worth the risk. Of course, I see a nice young power pitching right hander is available. Mark Prior anyone?

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The 2009 Free Agent List

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Since we keep talking about blowing up the Cubs roster, or at least tweaking it, here’s your list of possible players. It’s not good this year.

Updated 10-7-08

Catchers
Brad Ausmus (40)
Paul Bako (37)
Rod Barajas (33) – $2.5MM club option for ’09 with a $0.5MM buyout
Josh Bard (31)
Michael Barrett (32)
Henry Blanco (37) – $3MM mutual option for ’09 with a $0.3MM buyout
Johnny Estrada (33)
Toby Hall (33) – $2.25MM club option for ’09 with a $0.15MM buyout
Jason LaRue (35)
Paul Lo Duca (37)
Miguel Olivo (30) – $2.7MM mutual option for ’09 with a $0.1MM buyout
Mike Redmond (38) – $0.95MM club option for ’09 with a $0.1MM buyout
Ivan Rodriguez (37)
David Ross (32)
Javier Valentin (33)
Jason Varitek (37)
Gregg Zaun (38)

First basemen
Rich Aurilia (37)
Hank Blalock (28) – $6.2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Sean Casey (34)
Tony Clark (37)
Carlos Delgado (37) – $12MM club option for ’09 with a $4MM buyout
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Jason Giambi (38) – $22MM club option for ’09 with a $5MM buyout
Eric Hinske (31)
Doug Mientkiewicz (35)
Kevin Millar (37)
Richie Sexson (34)
Mark Teixeira (29)
Daryle Ward (34)

Second basemen
Willie Bloomquist (31)
Jamey Carroll (35) – $2.5MM club option for ’09 with a $0.15MM buyout
Craig Counsell (38)
Ray Durham (37)
Damion Easley (39)
David Eckstein (34)
Mark Ellis (32)
Mark Grudzielanek (39)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Orlando Hudson (31)
Tadahito Iguchi (34)
Jeff Kent (41)
Felipe Lopez (29)
Mark Loretta (37)
Nick Punto (31)

Shortstops
Willie Bloomquist (31)
Orlando Cabrera (34)
Alex Cintron (30)
Alex Cora (33)
Craig Counsell (38)
David Eckstein (34)
Adam Everett (32)
Rafael Furcal (31)
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Cesar Izturis (29)
Felipe Lopez (29)
Edgar Renteria (33)
Juan Uribe (30)
Ramon Vazquez (32)
Omar Vizquel (42) – $5.2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.3MM buyout

Third basemen
Rich Aurilia (37)
Casey Blake (35)
Hank Blalock (28) – $6.2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Willie Bloomquist (31)
Aaron Boone (36)
Russell Branyan (33)
Craig Counsell (38)
Joe Crede (31)
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Mark Loretta (37)
Fernando Tatis (34)
Ramon Vazquez (32)

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Moises Alou (42)
Garret Anderson (37) – $14MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Milton Bradley (31)
Emil Brown (34)
Pat Burrell (32)
Carl Crawford (27) – $8.25MM club option for ’09 with a $2.5MM buyout
Adam Dunn (29)
Cliff Floyd (36) – $2.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Luis Gonzalez (41)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Raul Ibanez (37)
Gabe Kapler (33)
Kevin Mench (31)
Jason Michaels (33) – $2.6MM club option for ’09
Craig Monroe (32)
Greg Norton (36)
Jay Payton (36)
Wily Mo Pena (27) – $5MM club option or $2MM player option for ’09
Manny Ramirez (37)
Juan Rivera (30)
Fernando Tatis (34)

Center fielders
Rocco Baldelli (27)
Willie Bloomquist (31)
Mike Cameron (36) – $10MM club option for ’09 with a $750K buyout
Jim Edmonds (39)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Gabe Kapler (33)
Mark Kotsay (33)
Corey Patterson (29)
Scott Podsednik (33)

Right fielders
Bobby Abreu (35)
Casey Blake (35)
Cliff Floyd (36) – $2.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Brian Giles (38) – $9MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Ken Griffey Jr. (39) – $16.5MM club option for ’09 with a $4MM buyout
Vladimir Guerrero (33) – $15MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Gabe Kapler (33)
Jason Michaels (33) – $2.6MM club option for ’09
Fernando Tatis (34)
Brad Wilkerson (32)

DHs
Milton Bradley (31)
Pat Burrell (32)
Adam Dunn (29)
Cliff Floyd (36) – $2.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Jason Giambi (38) – $22MM club option for ’09 with $5MM buyout
Vladimir Guerrero (33) – $15MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Raul Ibanez (37)
Manny Ramirez (37)
Juan Rivera (30)
Mike Sweeney (35)
Frank Thomas (41)
Jose Vidro (34)

Starting pitchers
Kris Benson (33)
A.J. Burnett (32) – can opt out after ’08 season
Paul Byrd (38)
Roger Clemens (46)
Matt Clement (33)
Bartolo Colon (36)
Ryan Dempster (32)
Shawn Estes (36)
Josh Fogg (32)
Freddy Garcia (33)
Jon Garland (29)
Tom Glavine (43)
Mike Hampton (36)
Mark Hendrickson (35)
Livan Hernandez (34)
Orlando Hernandez (43)
Jason Jennings (30)
Randy Johnson (45)
John Lackey (30) – $9MM club option for ’09 with a $0.5MM buyout
Jon Lieber (39)
Braden Looper (34)
Rodrigo Lopez (33) – club option for ’09
Derek Lowe (36)
Greg Maddux (43)
Pedro Martinez (37)
Sergio Mitre (28)
Jamie Moyer (46)
Mark Mulder (31) – $11MM club option for ’09 with a $1.5MM buyout
Mike Mussina (40)
Carl Pavano (33) – $13MM club option for ’09 with a $1.95MM buyout
Brad Penny (31) – $8.75MM club option for ’09 with a $2MM buyout
Odalis Perez (32)
Oliver Perez (27)
Andy Pettitte (37)
Sidney Ponson (32)
Mark Prior (27)
Kenny Rogers (44)
Glendon Rusch (34)
C.C. Sabathia (28)
Curt Schilling (42)
Ben Sheets (30)
John Smoltz (42)
Tim Wakefield (42) – perpetual $4MM club option
Kip Wells (32)
Randy Wolf (32)

Closers

Brian Fuentes (33)
Eric Gagne (33)
Eddie Guardado (38)
Trevor Hoffman (41)
Jason Isringhausen (36)
Brandon Lyon (29)
Francisco Rodriguez (27)
Salomon Torres (37) – $3.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.3MM buyout
Kerry Wood (32)

Middle relievers
Jeremy Affeldt (30)
Luis Ayala (31)
Joe Beimel (32)
Joe Borowski (38)
Doug Brocail (42)
Shawn Chacon (31)
Juan Cruz (30)
Alan Embree (39) – $3MM club option for ’09
Scott Eyre (37)
Kyle Farnsworth (33)
Casey Fossum (31)
Keith Foulke (35)
Tom Gordon (41) – $4.5MM club option for ’09 with a $1MM buyout
LaTroy Hawkins (36)
Mark Hendrickson (35)
Matt Herges (39) – club option for ’09
Bob Howry (35)
Jon Lieber (39)
Jason Johnson (35)
Damaso Marte (34) – $6MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Trever Miller (36) – $2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.4MM buyout
Guillermo Mota (35)
Will Ohman (31)
Darren Oliver (38)
Chan Ho Park (36)
Horacio Ramirez (29)
Al Reyes (38)
Dennys Reyes (32)
Arthur Rhodes (39)
Juan Rincon (30)
Glendon Rusch (34)
Rudy Seanez (40)
Brian Shouse (40)
Russ Springer (40)
Mike Timlin (43)
Ron Villone (39)
David Weathers (39)
Kip Wells (32)
Matt Wise (33)
Jamey Wright (34)

MLB4U and Cot’s Baseball Contracts were used in the creation of this list.

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