Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

GirlieView (10/20/2016)

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely, and/or interesting quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’ers: Those with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2016 Post Season = 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.


  • On a night where the game offered little of interest, it was nice to hear the news that Theo will be with the Cubs for the foreseeable future.
  • He very much had a reason to get said colonic critter.
  • Almost astounding that Len has not spent the last 5 years musing about that possible relationship on air.
  • He will now because we all know he reads this blog as do Theo, Jed, and the others including Ricketts. Otherwise, why did he suddenly sign them on for five more years?
  • Any tips on how to keep from finishing arrears of Butts would be kindly welcomed.
  • Wake me up next Friday.
  • I want there to be no chance that the Cardinals can even think about ruining our parade.
  • CED- Green Spot Irish on me! Rum Chalada with an umbrella for Big Toe Joe!
  • Why does the MLB play 162 games in 180 days and then schedule playoff games every other day after a 4 day layoff?
  • I moved to NC 4 years ago, though, to get closer to Joe.
  • I might need a few shots of bourbon to calm the nerves.
  • Heyward has improved this past month. He still can hit better than Montero.
  • I have the same roster, except me instead of Montero.
  • I’m going to think outside the box and let Joe Maddon and Thed select the roster.
  • I am rooting for a 38 inning marathon tonight between the Met’s and Giants so Angel Pagan or Captain America has to pitch on Friday.
  • If we beat Cueto we will win the series.
  • Hello, Raker? It’s Friday. Wake up!
  • For a while it looked like I would be Jerry in MN, TN, IN, MI, or OH.
  • Jon Lester was outstanding.
  • Tonight – it’s the professor vs Mary Ann
  • my memory of Marriane has been tarnished forever.
  • What a relief to get that game.
  • Other than the 2-0 series lead, my favorite stat is Hendricks leading the team in playoff RBIs.
  • I believe the rule is if you are tagged off the bag, you’re out. Why not learn to stay on the bag?
  • Where is Jerry from Wisconsin?
  • Presumably Wisconsin
  • Listening to his wife.
  • You cannot end a game because you ran out of pitchers.
  • The sun is a little brighter this morning, the birds a little chirpier, and the morning wood a little pithier this fine day.
  • It’s simply insane that real fans have to struggle to watch the games. MLB, what are you thinking?
  • Well, that was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday evening.
  • Rizzo and Russell could really lift us if they would start hitting the way that they are capable of doing.
  • How about the Dodgers walking heyward to get to javy – were they looking at 2015 stat lines?
  • I’ve ripped on Montero as much as anyone, but I said to myself when he was up, “Miggie, you get a hit here and I’ll never badmouth you again.” As so it will be.
  • Box sums it up bud.. Riz and Russ swung their purses. Kyle vs Clayton and we shit the bed in Wrigley.
  • Kershaw was dealing but I thought we had a shot when Rizzo walked on 4 pitches to start the 7th or 8th. Then with Zobrist up I said to myself, “Here is a guy who will make Kershaw throw strikes, it could be 1st and second if Kershaw is starting to lose his legs.” Boom, Zobrist swings at the first pitch up out of the zone. Pops up to the catcher but the catcher drops it. I say, “Son of a gun, Zobrist swung at the first pitch out of the zone after a 4 pitch walk. That isn’t suppose to happen. Boom, Zobrist swings at the second pitch that is out of the zone, now 0-2. I say, “What the heck is going on here.” Then Boom, Zobrist watches a fast ball go right down the middle. Good morning, good afternoon and good night. I say, “That is the worst AB I have seen Zobrist take all year. Game over, let’s head to LA for game 3 tied 1 game each.”
  • That game was a bummer – it was there for the taking
  • Soler is over-matched by every pitcher he faces at this stage in the season. He may be able to hit the fastball, but no pitcher in his right mind will throw him a strike because he swings at balls all the time.
  • Going to go Buckless tonight.
  • If anyone does get on, they basically get a free pass to second with Arrieta on the mound and Montero behind the plate.
  • He’s a wise old toe, so let’s follow that advice, and take a look at the positives from last night’s game: […crickets…]
  • 2nd inning I was sure we were going to start pummeling Hill. He was laboring, you could see it on his face. The throwing hand was troubling him, the Lester-esque throws to hold the runner at first. All we had to do was lean on him and he’d fall over. We did not.
  • Right now our number one fear is our number one fear.


  • Cubbies feast on inadequate pitching…problem is that you don’t get much of that in the postseason. I’ve been thumping this all year – they need to have productive at-bats all game long: move runners over, sacrifice when called to, etc. It’s been the greatest deficiency of this club all year. They’ve had enough talent, and faced Reds enough to overcome it during over the stretch of the marathon, but this is now a sprint – and there is far less room for error. Ask the Giants.

Shout Outs

  • Since we’re starting anew for the Post Season, everyone who had a Lizzie this time around had their first Post Season Lizzie. Thanks for being here Adam Peters, Brad Lyerla, Doc Raker, Dork, Doug S, Eddie von White, Jerry in Wisconsin, Joe Aiello, jswanson, Junior von White, Seymour Butts, and Sherm! You make my work here fun!


  • Congratulations to Doc Raker, Eddie von White, and Sherm, our Most Valuable Lizzie-ers this time around! Thank you all!

Top 10 of the 2016 Post Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard) – Actually the top 12 this time since that’s everyone!

1. Doc Raker
2. Eddie von White
3. Sherm
4. Seymour
5. Brad Lyerla
5. Dork
5. Doug S
5. Joe Aiello
5. jswanson
10. Adam Peters
10. Junior von White
12. Jerry in Wisconsin

Chit Chat

  • I’m composing this on Wednesday morning (yes, the Wednesday morning after the 6-0 loss to (gag) Rich Hill … the only thing I could think of that is more ironic than losing to Rich Hill would be to lose to Jeff Samardzija, for completely different reasons (Hill’s talent vs. Samardzija’s ego) but thankfully we didn’t go down that path.) Anyway my point is, it’s hard for me to anticipate how we’ll be feeling by the time this posts tomorrow and what we’ll feel like discussing. We might be elated by a Wednesday night win, or reeling because we’re one game from elimination. Let’s hope it’s the former, but either way please feel free to chat about whatever’s on your mind.
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Twas the Night Before Game One

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Twas the night before Game One, when all through Chicago
Every stomach was turning, with all thoughts on tomorrow;
The W Flags were hung through the City with care,
In hopes that Saint Maddon’s boys soon would be there;
The Chicago Cubs fans were nestled, all snug in their beds;
While visions of champagne corks danced in their heads;
And some in their jerseys, and I in my cap,
Were tossing and turning, unable to nap.
When all of a sudden, I remembered this season,
I remembered the games back in May that were freezin’
Away to my iPhone I flew pretty fast,
To relive some moments, and dwell on the past;
The moonshot, the pickoff, the walk-off base hit,
The feeling of comebacks, this team never quit;
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a team that made all feel that “this year” is here.
With a little old manager, so lively and quick,
Who pressed all the right buttons, and made everything click;
More rapid than eagles, they ran all the bases,
Things were great, you could tell, by the smiles on their faces;
There was Jon, and then Jake, Kyle, Jason, and Hector,
And then Carl, and then Javy, Addison, Ben, and Dexter;
To the top of the scoreboard! To the top of the wall,
To left field, and right field, they hit the baseball;
There was Addy off Jumbo, the no-hitter by Jake,
The wall catch by Rizzo, that made Wrigley shake;
And wherever they went, the baseballs, they flew,
In Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Milwaukee, too;
I remembered when Fowler came back to the team,
And how Heyward and Zobrist fit right in Joe’s scheme;
I thought about Javy, his glove and his bat,
And Rondon and Strop – with his slightly turned hat.
Not to mention Contreras, what a lovely surprise,
And the skills he picked up from Rossy the Wise.
I then closed my eyes, I could hear and could see,
The crowd chanting loudly for their “M-V-P”
His eyes – how they twinkled, made for the silver screen
The crowd would go wild, for good ol’ seventeen.
And then there’s his buddy, his partner in crime,
With clutch hits and putouts, he was there every time.
His defense was great, nothing to underscore,
He’s tops in our books and he wears forty-four.
So tonight when you’re squirming, and thinking oh no!
Know that this team is different; put your faith in dear Joe,
He’s got that broad face and a little round belly,
That shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly,
But he’s also the smartest, and brings out the best,
In his hitters and pitchers he’ll take care of the rest;
And if you are doubting, pessimistic this Fall,
Take a deep breath, just enjoy it, that’s all!
Just eleven more wins, all they need to achieve,
Forget the last 1-0-8, now it’s time to believe,
And tell all San Francisco, we’re afraid of no Giant,
You can keep your BUMgarner, we’ve got Rizzo and Bryant.

~by Matthew Fakhoury.

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It’s the Giants

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Billed as Thor vs. Paul Bunyan, Noah Syndergaard squared off against Madison Bumgarner in the NL Wild Card game at CitiField last night. And what a game! Syndergaard and Bumgarner were the story. Syndergaard went 7 innings yielding only two hits on 106 pitches with 10 strikeouts and 3 walks. He did not yield a hit until the sixth inning.

Credit the patient Giants hitters, however. The hardest team to strikeout in the majors made Syndergaard work for his outs. He got his 10 Ks, but he also was at his pitch limit when the Mets took the bench for the bottom of the seventh. He did not return for the eighth inning.

Meanwhile, Bumgarner was pitching to contact and conserving his strength. He too appeared dominant and was pushed by Mets hitters only in the bottom of the fourth. Though the Mets offered some tough at bats that half inning, they were unable to score. After that half inning, Bumgarner was back in control and cruising.

If you like pitching, then this was a very good game. But good things have to come to an end. In this game that happened in the top of the ninth. With the score still tied at 0 – 0, Mets Manager Terry Collins started the ninth with his closer Jeurys Familia, in a non-save situation. Familia gave up a lead off double to Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. In a move that I didn’t like, Angel Pagan then failed to bunt Crawford to third, striking out instead. But then Familia walked Joe Panik, bringing former White Sox great (and Hawk Harrelson favorite) Conor Gillaspie to the plate. Gillaspie hit a ball hard over the right field wall for a three run homer and the game was over. Bumgarner came out in the ninth and sat the Mets down 1-2-3 for the complete game victory.

The Giants will now face our hometown hero Cubs at Wrigley field Friday night. Game one of the five game Division Playoff will begin at 8 pm cdt. As Jimmy Durante used to say, “it will be uproarious”.

Pitching matchups

Madison Bumgarner will not pitch in Chicago in game one or two. He will not be ready again until game three which will be played in San Francisco next Monday. The Cubs likely will see Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore over the weekend in games one and two. Though the probable starters have not been announced as of this writing and Jeff Samardzija is an interesting possibility too, I see him getting the start in game four in San Francisco against John Lackey.

The broadcast

The ESPN broadcast team did a nice job with the game last night. Dan Shulman, Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone work well together. Mendoza displayed a sophisticated understanding of the mechanics of hitting and Boone is solid playing off Shulman’s capable play by play call. It took me a season or so to get used to Boone’s voice, but now that I am, I look forward to him.

Personal note

I found myself rooting for the Giants to win last night. I did not expect that, but I think I figured out why: Hunter Pence is the most entertaining player in the game today. I do not know a thing about him off the field, but on the field, he is fascinating. I cannot look away. He is a very fine ball player. He is a dependable fielder, base runner and a productive hitter. But he looks like a cross between a giant rooster and a marionette. Arms akimbo – all knees and elbows. Eyes of a lunatic chicken and hair like Robinson Crusoe. He is my favorite guy to watch who is not a Cub. I plan to enjoy watching him this series with the Giants whatever the outcome.

I say it will be Cubs in five.

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The Cubs Biggest Playoff Opponent – The Format

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

As a man who wrote an entire book describing “rational” reasons for the Cubs’108 year drought…I hope this does not come off as an excuse. The 2016 Cubs are clearly the best team in baseball…and that is not a subjective opinion. Whether one uses record, WAR, defensive metrics, pitching statistics, on-base percentage, the gaudy run differential…there really is no doubt. The Cubs are so good…that I would be willing to guarantee a title…if they didn’t have to play a five game series.

Of the major sports leagues, the MLB has always been the last to embrace any kind of change, and when they do make alterations… it results in half-assed or just plain bad results. For years the MLB resisted extra play-off teams:

  • From 1903-1968 there was one representative from the NL and AL that went to the World Series. For 58 of those seasons there were only 8 teams in each league…so…fine I guess.
  • In 1969 when the AL and NL each expanded to 12 teams, the leagues were split into 2 divisions of 6, so you had two play-off teams in each league playing in best of 5 league championship series. Of course the league championship series were changed to best of 7 in 1985…one year after the Cubs lost in 5 to the Padres.
  • This remained the status quo all the way up until 1995(forgive us for the strike…please!) when 4 teams from each league made the play-offs…3 division winners and a wild card.
  • In 2012 a fifth wild-card was added…to play a 1 game play-off with the other wild card entry.

While I love the idea of extra play-off teams, and regular season records do not always indicate who the best teams are, it is worth noting that:

  • Since the 1995 inception of the wild-card (21 seasons), the team with the overall best regular season record has won the World Series just 4 times. The good news? Twice it was the Red Sox with Theo players!
  • By comparison, there have been 6 wild card champions during that same time.

Examining year by year, one finds many examples of solid division champs that played in a tough division and hence had lesser regular season records, and therefore are deserved champs. Amongst the wild-card champs, you find the ’04 Red Sox who won 98 games finishing second to the Yankees only to vanquish them in the play-offs…a rightful champ. While I don’t want this to sound like a pre-emptive excuse for the ’16 Cubs, I believe the play-offs as currently structured allow for too much randomness. (See 2014 when both World Series teams won one game play-offs)

Obviously no one will ever be in favor of reducing the number of teams(Less money, less teams in the race), yet I think a bit more regular season relevance is needed. Why play 162 games if the “hot” team can win 1 game and is even with a team that has done it throughout 162?

Here is what I would suggest:

  • The two wild-card teams play a best of 3 series over three consecutive days.
  • The winners then play the #1 seed in a best of 7 (eliminate the 5 game series), then 7 NLCS, and 7 in the World Series.
  • Have the wild card games start in the last week of September…this could easily be done by (gasp) bringing back a few traditional double-headers throughout the year for teams.

Would you feel better knowing the Cubs, by virtue of winning the division, would have a 7 game series versus the wild-card winner?

I realize comparing sports is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, or really more like comparing apples with hard candy…yet I am going to use hockey to further illustrate my point. Hockey…much like baseball…is a random sport where the best team does not always win. Sometimes it just may take a hot goalie or “puck luck” for a team to win a hockey game. Yet as a Blackhawks fan, it has given me great comfort knowing that during this current run a team would have to beat the Hawks 4 times out of 7. Since 2010(the first cup), in three of the four years the Hawks didn’t win the Cup…they lost in game 7…twice in OT! In fact…if hockey series were the best of 5 rather than best of 7…the Hawks would not have won in any year in which they won the Stanley Cup! A 7 game hockey series takes as much of the randomness out as possible.

These last few weeks people have constantly asked my opinion of the Cubs chances…and my response is always the same-“the 5 game series scares me”. If I knew they would play three seven game series…I would almost be willing to guarantee a title.

Just like my Hawks! (In most years)

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A Tie? I blame Bud Selig

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Cubs 1 @ Pirates 1 – (Box Score / Condensed Game)

It was an odd game last night that ended in a 1-1 tie. I wonder if, as a result of this tie game, that MLB won’t pass a rule in the collective bargaining agreement that the winner of the 159th game of the season determines tiebreaking procedures if the two teams end up in a tie at the end of the regular season. Seriously, we have to have these players play like it means something. Next year there can be the marketing promos around game 159. This time it counts.

In all seriousness, next Friday cannot get here quick enough. The combination of a bullpen game, rain and a new phone had be turning the game off early and watching The Goldbergs with my wife. I cannot wait for playoff baseball.

In case you missed the news, Theo Epstein signed a five year extension. To be honest, I was sort of getting worried. With Jason McLeod interviewing for a position with Minnesota (that he didn’t get) and Theo not being signed, I had this panic that all the front office was going to be cherry picked and leave before we have a chance to win it all. Granted, this team is built to succeed now and it would take an idiot to screw it up on the front end, but until I saw that press release, I was a little worried. After all, we saw Paul Depodesta go to the Browns. What’s to say that Theo wouldn’t want to really show his dominance and take over another sport. I could see it happening when this contract is up.

Now we wait for the series with the Reds to be over and then we get down to business.


FridayJake Buchanan vs Josh Smith

Buchanan will make his first start with the Cubs and pitch in his second game since he was called up from Triple-A. In 22 starts, he posted a 4.35 ERA, striking out 97 over 130 1/3 innings. He’s appeared in one game with the Cubs on Sept. 5. This will be long reliever Smith’s second time starting this season, and it’s again vs. the Cubs. On Sept. 20 at Wrigley Field, he pitched well with one run, three hits, two walks and three strikeouts over three innings.

SaturdayJon Lester vs Tim Adleman

Lester will be vying for his career-high 20th win in his final regular-season start. He’s 10-0 with a 1.34 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break. Against the Reds, the lefty is 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA in four starts. Adleman has thrown a career high in innings in each of his past two starts, including seven well-pitched innings in Monday’s win over the Cards. He held down St. Louis by retiring the first 10 batters in a row and wasn’t afraid to throw strikes.

SundayKyle Hendricks vs Robert Stephenson

Hendricks boasts the best ERA in the Major Leagues at 1.99. Can he finish under 2.00 for the season? The right-hander picked up his 16th win in his last outing against the Pirates, striking out five over six scoreless innings. He’s on a roll. Stephenson demonstrated better life on his pitches and improved command, until he ran into a fourth-inning buzzsaw vs. the Cardinals on Tuesday. His 2-0 fastball to Aledmys Diaz was over the heart of the plate and stung for a grand slam.

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