Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Hendricks is a magic number

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Okay, so I took a few days off.

Here are the cliff notes on that:

Beat the Astros two of three, but realized they are a good team with a “Cub-like” young nucleus who will be very good in the coming years. Glad they didn’t take Kris Bryant with that pick when they had the chance. Bryant won game one with a two run shot, but also showed me why he should not be a #2 hitter in that series. Part of it is because he’s not a guy who will move runners over and be a situational hitter (nor should he be) but the other is the line in which he hits. With the exception of Fowler, he’s constantly following Heyward, Montero, Ross, “insert pitcher here,” or whoever is batting at the tail of the order. It’s remarkable he’s got so many runs batted in, really. Russell has almost as many, with about half the homers in 70 less at-bats and with 50 less hits, which tells me that if KB were hitting 4 or 5? He’d have 140 runs knocked in by now. Baez has begun getting on base, and using more of the field, and (with shock in my being and trembling fingers, I type) has cut down on his swing (sometimes – he still cranks it up 2 – 0 and 3 -1, but why not?) Zobrist would be a lot better hitting 2 than 4. Szczur can hit 2, when he plays. I know they moved KB there when they didn’t have many options (Heyward was, and still is, stinking it up) and no one else was making regular contact, but that has changed. And please don’t say “but it’s working” because MOST games are close and this team has had a ton of games that they’ve won DESPITE wasted opportunities. That doesn’t make it okay not to get better.

Defensively – this is a fun team to watch.

So, took the series from the Astros. Nice. I’m glad they are playing teams that are battling for contention, because it will keep them sharp in September.

Head to St. Louis, where Kyle Hendricks just flat carved them up last night. I really thought he was going to throw the no-no, but if you believe in jinxes? Blame Len. He just couldn’t shut up about it and had to tell the same story he told when Jake was throwing his no-hitter and they showed pictures of Jake’s no hitter, and for a moment, I forgot that Kyle Hendricks was pitching THIS game. Well, I didn’t really forget, but here’s a tip for all broadcast crews: first and foremost? Focus on the game at hand. Raker will love this: Cubs batting in the top of 9 and load the bases, and Len says something to effect of “I hope he just strikes out so Hendricks can get back to the mound. This is like watching the warm-up band for the Rolling Stones.” I missed most of the 9th inning because I had 243 texts from CAPS.

Did I mention that defensively this is a fun team to watch? They were flashing the leather last night. Some Cardtard tried to pry Heyward’s glove off his hand to pull the ball out on a foul ball he caught leaning over into the stands. That, too, failed, and really it was as easy a win as I can remember watching. The game just sailed by.

Maddon got tossed in the 9th for having Montero go to the mound to buy some time. HipHop Joe West tossed him. (You had to be with us in San Diego for that reference to make any sense, so just ignore it) West told Montero “if you go to the mound, I’m counting it as a visit.” Once again, West is making up rules as he goes along. Maddon objected to that and West tossed him. West is senile, again proved it, and let’s just hope he doesn’t work the post-season. Him, or Laz Diaz. Umpires should know the rules. Umpires should be impartial. Umpires should be not fat. Anyway, whatever the situation, it made Hendricks laugh, and I’m glad, because I don’t think I’ve seen him smile all season…and he has a reason to smile. He’s been so very good – and he flat carved up a Cardinal team that NEEDED a win last night, because the Mets lost. Masterful. And, perhaps the most amazing part? He’s doing it WITHOUT a beard!

Back to Baez for a moment. He’s played 125 games this season – has 102 hits, 13 homers, 50 RBI’s and 12 SB. He’s hitting .271. All in all, when you include the defense he’s played, a pretty good season – better than I’d expected from him and all signs seem to indicate he’s begun a climb toward, oh, let’s say greatness, or at least a lot “better-ness” and it’s fun to watch. In fact, in pure offensive stats? Baez and Fowler are almost identical in every stat, with one exception, walks, where Fowler has a LOT more (53)

Catching – with Ross and Montero taking most of the snaps? I think Contreras may NOT be on the playoff roster. Just a hunch, but maybe Joe wants his best receivers/game-callers come the post-season, and he appears to be playing Montero and Ross into that. Why else is Contreras not getting innings and at-bats right now? It weakens the offense, certainly, but does it improve the defense? I suppose only the pitchers can answer that.

Heyward note: he’s 0 – 20 on this road trip, so basically since “The Heyward Game” has gone back to his “Wayward Game” and can’t hit. I honestly don’t know if I would have HIM on the post-season roster.

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Monday Quick Thoughts

Monday, September 12th, 2016

It’s Monday and I’m tired, but I’ve got some quick and random thoughts to share with you for discussion as we head into what should be a fun week of Cubs baseball.

  • If Jake Arrieta gets any 1st place votes for the Cy Young Award over Kyle Hendricks, then the process is flawed. Jake’s ERA is almost 3.00 after yesterday and Henricks has been around 2.00.
  • If Joe Maddon calls me in a couple weeks to ask my opinion on the playoff roster, I advise him to leave Jason Hammel off of it. It’s going to make Hammel lose his mind, but at this point I don’t care. The Cubs hold an option on him for 2017, and I can’t see him returning.
  • Javier Baez has impressed me a lot this year and I want him in the lineup as much as possible this stretch run.
  • The Cubs can clinch the division title this week and can even do it against the Cardinals with a sweep, however I have this sneaking suspicion that we will see a poor series and Cardinals fans will get all puffy chested and talk about how they are going to take us down in the playoffs as the wild card team like we did to them last year.
  • Did you know that since June 25th, Justin Grimm has posted an ERA of 0.78? He’s been a quiet assassin.

That’s all I’ve got for this morning. Enjoy the game tonight.

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Remembering 9/11

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

As is tradition on this site, I would like to post my story of 9/11. It’s important to share our stories because everyone was affected by that day. Don’t ever forget that day. Feel free to share your story in the comment section.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I woke up and got ready for class as if it was like any other day before it. On the way to my class, I stopped in the UC, one of the only places open for food in the morning, to get my usual breakfast, a blueberry glazed Krispy Kreme donut and a bottle of Minute Maid cranberry grape juice. It’s not the best breakfast in the world, but when your options are limited, you take what you can get. After paying for my food with a magic card called a cat card, I was off to class. I say it’s magic because it certainly seems that way. You simply scan it and they let you have your food. It’s as if the food is free and they are merely verifying your identity before you consume it.

The class I was on my way to that morning was a computer programming class. I had considered dropping the class at the beginning of the semester because it was a harder class than I needed but I decided to stick it out. The class began at 9:30 and went until 10:45. As I sat there through the class I began to think about all the things I still needed to do that day. I made a mental to do list in my mind. I had to go back to the room after class, get some things cleaned up, head over to Smoky Mountain High School for my first observation for EDCI 231, and then go to work that evening. What a jam-packed day. I was a little nervous about it because I had only talked once with the teacher whose room I was supposed to be in. On top of that, I wasn’t even sure exactly what my role was supposed to be. I had no clue where to go or what to expect. After all, it was my first semester at Western Carolina. I daydreamed and stared at my watch; 10:45 seemed to be so far away. Why is it that it always works out that way? When you want time to move slowly because you are having a good time, it always seems to move at the speed of light. When you want the time to go fast, as in my case this morning, the clock seems like it is out of batteries because the hands move so slow, almost not at all. After what seemed like an eternity, my watch finally said 10:45, which meant it was time for this class to be over. I gathered up my books, put them in my bag and headed back to my room. I had about an hour before I needed to be out the door, heading to Smoky Mountain. I wanted to get there early to make a good impression because it was my first day there. Also, I hate being late anywhere. I get very nervous when I am late or when other people are late.

As I walked back to my room, my mind couldn’t help but wander to thoughts about observing at the high school later that day. I was nervous. I had never had the opportunity to be in the classroom before. What if I made a mistake? As I got back to Scott Hall, the dorm I was assigned to, I walked passed a television in the lobby and noticed that it was tuned to the news. I don’t generally watch the news, it gets me very depressed, but I happened to see that there was a breaking news story on CNN. I made a mental note to check it out as I was cleaning so that I would know if it was anything important. More often than not, those breaking news stories are nothing. It is like the news station that cried wolf. They make little stories seem so big and get my attention and then I watch and they’re nothing. Normally I would not have even checked it out, but for some reason, that day, I did.

I got up to my room and started straightening up. I continued with that for a few minutes before I checked my e-mail and looked on some sports websites. Basically, I wasted some time because I wasn’t in the mood to clean. Really, come to think of it, there are very few days that I am in the mood to clean. Then I remembered the news. I turned the TV on and flipped to CNN. What I saw was one of the scariest things I had ever seen. I read the caption at the bottom of the screen and it said that the world trade center tower had been hit by an airplane. I was amazed. I didn’t know the extent of everything yet. I just thought that it was an accident by a pilot. I sat glued to the screen as if we were joined together by some invisible rope. I could not look away. Picture after picture flashed on the screen of the plane flying right into the tower. It was unbelievable. Finally, as I listened to what they were saying on the broadcast, I came to the full understanding of what had happened. We had been attacked. I wasn’t sure by who or why, but I knew that it had happened. I began to feel all kinds of emotions all rolled into one, emotions ranging from fear and anger to sadness and confusion. It was all too much for me and I began to feel the tears well up. At that point, right there in my room, I began to cry. I cried for our country. I had never seen something like this before so I guess that was the only way I knew how to process it.

As the news continued to replay the incident over and over it sunk in more and more how vulnerable this country was after all. I had always thought that our country was immune to everything, invincible. All the wars that we had fought had been fought somewhere else, somewhere far away. I think everyone sort of had a bit of smugness: about themselves and about our country before this happened. This definitely woke us all up. The phone began to ring and it probably was the only thing that could have brought me back to reality. I answered it, my voice reflecting the shock I was experiencing. It was my mom. She called to see if I was OK and to tell me that she loved me. I think everyone in the country must have made at least one call that day to someone they love. I told my mom that I appreciated it and told her that I loved her too. We talked for a few minutes about what had happened and if it was going to happen again. At this point, I wasn’t really sure about what was really going on. I started to worry about my family back home after that call. I am from Chicago, which is a very large and important city. I started to have scary thoughts about if the bombings continued in Chicago and other big U.S. cities. So much had already happened on this day and it was still only 11:45. Was there more to come?

It was time for me to go to Smoky Mountain for observation. I sort of wondered if there would even be students there. Would they have sent them home because of such a tragedy? I wasn’t sure, but it was still my responsibility to go and find out. As I drove the six miles to the school, all I could think about was what I had witnessed that morning. I searched every radio station on the way to the school, which is about 3, trying to find out all the information I could. I pulled up to the school and found a parking place. Everything about the school was quiet. I walked in and the halls were quiet and vacant. I was beginning to think that the students had been sent home. I made my way to the classroom that I was supposed to be in and found a teacher in the room watching the news. She seemed to be in the same state of shock that I was in. I said hello and she snapped back to reality. She stood and I told her my name. She introduced herself as well, and our conversation immediately changed to what had happened. “Do they know anything new?” I asked. “No, still the same stuff,” she replied. It was frustrating. The two towers and part of the Pentagon had been taken out, and a plane was down in Pennsylvania. How could this happen? Before we knew it, the kids were filing into the room. Normally I would expect the students to be rowdy and loud, and this would prove to be true as the semester would unfold, but on this day the students were somber and still. They walked into the classroom and quietly took their seats. My teacher had told me that they had basically had the TV on all morning and she planned to have it on the rest of the day. She told the class that we were going to be watching the news for this class period. I could tell by the students’ faces that they were just as scared as I was. They watched the TV trying to sort everything out. There was miscellaneous conversation here and there and then all of a sudden a boy raised his hand and asked very seriously, “Mrs. Danner does this mean there is going to be a draft, because I’m 18?” My heart sunk. I had not ever considered the possibility, but it was a real one. I began to get just as scared. I was only 23 so I was also a prime candidate to get drafted in the event that there was one.

After my time at Smoky Mountain was done, I drove home quietly. I turned off the radio and just drove home in silence. Too much had already happened today. I just needed some time to process everything. I got back to campus and went back to my room. I immediately went back to the TV. I had to be at work later that day for a short shift. I decided to take a nap because I was physically and mentally exhausted. I woke up around 4:15 with plenty of time to check the latest developments and get ready for work. Everything in me wanted to call in sick and stay home. Part of the reason was because I wanted to watch the TV and part of the reason was because I was still scared. I didn’t know if there were more attacks coming. Rumors were everywhere. There were people saying that the next hits were going to be close to where we were in North Carolina for some strange reason. I guess it was just conspiracy theory, because I have no clue why someone would want to bomb Cullowhee. Nonetheless, I was still scared. I went to work at Subway and had a hard time concentrating because the attacks were that all every customer wanted to talk about. So many people asked me if I had seen the latest news as if I was standing there watching the TV with them. I don’t think they realized that I was at work and not able to see the news. It was very frustrating.

Mercifully, my shift ended at 8 and I was back in the dorms. By this time my fiancée was with me and we were talking about what had happened. It just didn’t seem real yet. In the days ahead there would be news about terrorists and a hunt for Osama Bin Laden, but this day, September 11th, 2001 would be a day that will live in my memory forever. It is a day where lives were lost and heroes were born: A day that has changed our country forever. A day that I will never forget.

Please take a minute to share your story of that day in the comment section and remember the people affected as you go through your day today.

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Which Cubs are Eligible for the Playoff Roster…Explained

Friday, September 9th, 2016

Got an e-mail from reader, Doug, who asked about playoff roster stuff, so I wanted to break it down short and sweet, because it really is very simple.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

The main thing you need to know here is that a player must be in the organization, whether on the Major League roster or in the minors on August 31st.

Any players added to the organization after this date are considered ineligible. This is why many consider the August 31st date as a “second trade deadline” of sorts. Granted, the trades are harder to come by because the players involved must clear waivers, but deals still get done and basically get done by August 31 if a team wants the player for the playoffs.

The Cubs have not added any players to the organization since August 31, so anyone of significance in the organization is eligible to be on the playoff roster.

From there, the rule is that players on the 25 man roster are eligible as well as players on:

  • on the disabled list (7, 15, or 60 day DL), or
  • on the suspended list, or
  • on bereavement leave, or
  • on military active duty

This is where the crazy stuff can happen. Because guys on the DL are considered eligible, they are also considered “replaceable”, meaning basically everyone is eligible. Zac Rosscup has been on the 60 day DL all year. Assuming he’ll still be there come playoff time, the Cubs can replace him with any player in their organization on August 31st, after submitting the appropriate paperwork documenting the injury to the commissioner’s office. Christian Villanueva and Kyle Schwarber are also on the 60 day DL, making them eligible AND replaceable.

WHEN DOES IT NEED TO BE SET?

There is not one roster for the entire time a team is in the playoffs. It is set round by round. In the event a player is injured during a round, he may be replaced on the roster. The replaced player is then ineligble for the remainder of the series AND the entire next series as well.

QUESTION FOR TODAY

Now that you know the rules, let’s talk playoff roster. Who is on your roster for the NLDS?

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A baseball game happened

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

So – I had/have no desire to write a recap on last night’s ball game. What’s to write? Villa beat Rizzo, 2 homers to 1. Broxton in CF for the Brewers gets an assist for robbing Rizzo of homer #2, and probably saving the game.

Elsewhere, the Cardinals lost, so the magic number reduces anyway…

Montgomery looked pretty good – so did Edwards, and Grimm left the game with a tummy ache. All in all…a very boring baseball game.

Other than that, the AL East is getting VERY interesting, and the Mets signed Tim Tebow, because hey, they’re still paying Bobby Bonilla, so why not? (I realize those are unrelated in every way EXCEPT unbridled stupidity, so there you go)

Speaking of unbridled stupidity, which I suppose is worse than bridled stupidity (though perhaps not) here’s a question for you. Suppose a Cub player were to decide to go all “Colin Kaepernick” and sit out the national anthem…let’s say, for the playoffs and World Series. How would you feel about that and what would you do? Would you stop rooting for him? Would you boo him if you were at the game? Would it affect your feelings about the team?

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