Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Heyward Game?

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Giants 2 @ Cubs 3 (Box Score / Condensed Game)

Kudos to Jason Heyward for getting three hits and having all three runs batted in. While the hits weren’t necessarily impressive, the timing certainly was, and they got the job done. It had to feel good for the big guy to contribute that way, and I hope this leads to better things.

I don’t like this Cubs lineup with Zobrist hitting 4 and Heyward 6. Those are two fairly soft spots in the middle and I think it’s time for some rearranging. I really think that Rizzo has had no protection with Zobrist behind him and that’s why his power has fallen. Zobrist is good – but he’s not a 4 hitter, he’s not a power guy and no one is afraid to pitch to him.

Speaking of “afraid to pitch to him.” Did you see the Soler at bat? After he hit a foul ball 2.3 miles and took out a small plane, a drone and two birds, the next four pitches, although not “intentional” couldn’t have been further from the plate without intention. That said, for a few games, anyway, I’d like to see 2 – 3 – 4 of Rizzo, Bryant, Soler – in that order.

Russell continues to get better. 3 more hits and some impressive at bats. Interesting statistics noted on the broadcast – since Russell has taken over at shortstop, the Cubs are 109 – 59. In that span, which is roughly a season, he’s hit 29 homers, and (I didn’t write this down, so am going from memory, but I think) 120+ rbi’s. (Might have been 125.) If you recall? He missed the NLCS, which they lost. He’s made a shitload of great plays, and only a baker’s dozen of errors since the position switch. In many ways, he is being overshadowed by Kris Bryant, but I think that Russell will be every bit as good as Bryant over the long haul. Bryant handles the attention so well, that Russell doing his thing in the “shadow,” so to speak, probably hasn’t hurt him a bit. This guy hit 9th all of last year. Now he’s hitting 5 and raking. And he’s 22.

The bullpen, which was a primary source of concern, continues to rock. In the series with San Francisco, the bullpen threw 16 innings and allowed no runs. Yes, you read it right. ZERO. ZIP. NADA. NIL. LOVE. NONE. In fact, yesterday, they threw 8 innings, collectively, and while walking several hitters, only yielded 3 hits. In the previous games (one of which they watched and did not play) they threw 8 innings and gave up…well, nothing. No runs. No hits. No walks. Grimm and Edwards have just been dirty from the right side, and Rob Z and Wood have been very effective from the right. Sure, Z hit Belt in the head, but no harm done. Other than possibly to Belt’s head, but he seemed okay. Joe Smith was again lights out – possibly the hamstring was the issue when he first joined the team, because he’s been great since. Ron Darling said “if he turns into the Joe Smith I saw all those years on the Angels? They’ve got ANOTHER wicked arm down there in that bullpen.”

I’m not against roster expansion, but a thirteen man bullpen is stupid – and it makes for loooooong games, which is exactly what baseball doesn’t need.

The Pirates have completely shit the bed – since being swept by the Cubs, they went on to get swept in Milwaukee, and have lost 6 in a row. The Cubs took the air out of them, and just made the road harder for the Giants, too, since the Dodgers were beating up the pAAAdres this weekend.

Do you care who gets the wild card berths? It looks like the Giants “should” get one, and the Mets and Cardinals are fighting for the other. So, Cubfan, do you have a preference? Mets or Cardinals in the play-in game against the Giants if it stays this way? At this moment, I really don’t care.

It’s a holiday today – so here’s to you, working men and women! Enjoy the day. Have a BBQ. Clean the garage. Watch the game. Have some fun. Get some rest. Walk the dog. Put some Irish Whiskey in your delicious cup of coffee – and enjoy the moment, because it’s a good moment.


Click the scores to bring up full box score

Cubs [AAA] Won 5 to 1

SP – Drew Rucinski – 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K

1B – Bijan Rademacher – 2 for 4, 2B, RBI

Smokies [AA] Won 12 to 4

SP – Michael Wagner – 3.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 2 K

RF – Kelly Dugan – 3 for 5, 2B, 2 RBI

Pelicans [A+] Won 11 to 4

SP – James Pugliese – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K

1B – Yasiel Balaguert – 4 for 5, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, BB

Cubs [A] Won 3 to 2

SP – Justin Steele – 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K

C – P.J. Higgins – 2 for 4, 2 RBI

Emeralds [SS] Lost 7 to 6

SP – Tyson Miller – 4 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K

3B – Wladimir Galindo – 2 for 5, 2B, HR, 2 RBI

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Good as Gold

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

On a day when the Cubs were raising money for childhood cancer, it was only fitting that Jon Lester pitched one of the best games of his career, and Anthony Rizzo hit the ball hard four times and got two hits from it. What made it great for Lester, in my opinion, was that he didn’t nitpick and try to strike everyone out, but he put the ball in play and let his defense do their job. He worked quickly, and it was a good game to watch. He wasn’t unhittable, and easily could have given up 6 or 8 eight hits if not for some nice plays (2 or 3 by that young third baseman, Bryant) but he was efficient (complete game with 101 pitches) and very effective. A hanger to Pence for the Giants only run.

The offense struggled, but you don’t need to score 8 runs a game. You need to score one more than the other guys, and that’s exactly what they did. A full count, opposite field double Baez started it, and Ross doubled to bring him in. Lester bunted Ross to third, Fowler singled him in and that was all they needed thanks to the excellent pitching and defense.

Fowler wore gold shoes, too, which were signed by a bunch of the kids who have lymphoma that were at the park. The kids got autographs and GAVE autographs to a lot of the players. The Giants and the umpires wore the gold wristbands, so it was a good day to raise awareness and win a baseball game all at the same time. Rizzo made a great point in a tweet yesterday – one to think about. 4% of all cancer monies raised goes to children’s issues. Only 4%.

They interviewed Ross after the game and he talked about how much fun this season is and has been. He said what a great organization this is from the players, to the coaches, to the ownership to the fans. Len asked him “and the broadcasters, right?” and Ross said, “well, not really. That’s the weak link in the chain.” I thought it was hilarious, even if he was just kidding. I thought of Lizzie’s “if you have to ask for love…”

The bullpen was again perfect. Grimm warmed up when asked. That’s about it.

The Cardinals lost to the Reds, and are now infinity games back. They have a shot at the wild card.

Here’s today’s topic – and I am not trying to be a downer in a up time, but – why haven’t they extended Theo Epstein? This is his free agent year, and if ANYONE deserves a long term deal? It’s this guy and his crew. Lock him up and lock up Jed Hoyer. These guys are obviously brilliant. If Epstein hasn’t cemented his place in history as one of, if not the best, team rebuilding architect ever…he will. They made a movie about Billy Beane. They should make a statue of Epstein. Or more. One in Boston. One in Chicago. And? I really don’t want to see him working anyplace else in my lifetime. LOCK him up long term and let’s enjoy this kind of season for years to come. I really thought the Yankees might go after him hard…and they still might, but Cashman has done a pretty nice job in the last 24 months to rebuild that organization fairly quickly. There are so many teams that need a guy like him and that have the money to throw at him. I can’t imagine why Ricketts has not extended Theo and Jed into the 2020’s. Look at the farm system…and then try to remember that which we’ve all try to forget – the Jim Hendry regime. Or Ed Lynch. Or Larry Himes. Etc. Etc. Etc. Look at the trades (Arietta, Strop, Edwards, Russell) You get the point. Extend Epstein and Hoyer ASAP.

Good luck to Jake today – he’s going against Bumgarner, so it should be a great game. If Jake stays on HIS game, and attacks hitters, I think he can be dominant. He has to throw inside and break a few bats. Unlikely to score a lot vs Madbum, so he’ll need to be sharp. I think he will. I feel good about today’s game. They’re playing loose and having fun, and the Giants are a little tight.

Enjoying the coffee and a beautiful southern morning. Best wishes to those getting hit by the storms on the coast – I hope that none of you are getting hit by any of that. We’re far enough inland (as close to Nashville as we are to the coast) that we’re getting a little rain, but not pounded.

Enjoying the excellent coffee and looking forward to a long weekend at home with NO travel plans.

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Who ARE These Guys?

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

To steal a line from Lizzie, it’s fun watching baseball in September again. I’d call it meaningful, if only for the fact that for OUR team, this is their “spring training” for the post-season. Keep everyone sharp, get some young guys into pressure spots to see how they handle it, get plenty of rest, and oh, yeah, continue to beat the crap out of every they play.

I missed the first four innings last night. Got home kind of late and turned on the entertainment machine and queued up the taped list, found the Cubs/Giants and quickly watched three minutes of Bob Costas and John Smoltz talking before it asked me if I wanted to delete my recording. I did. Partially because I spent many years as a Bob Costas fan, but the last 15 or so have not been any of them. I found the game live, chose the Cubs broadcast because now I can’t help myself – thank you very much, Raker (it’s like a train wreck. I don’t WANT to see it, but I HAVE to look. I find entertainment now in how bad Len is…) Anyway, I find the game and it’s already in the bottom of the fourth, Cubs down 3 – 2, so I’ve missed much of the early excitement and nearly all the scoring. I bring up the box score on my phone and loosely piece together what has happened, and settle back to watch the rest of the game. And what did I see? Five perfect innings from Rob Zombie, John Doe and the Thin Man. Okay, fine, I’ll type it: Rob Zastryzny, Joe Smith and Carl Edwards, Jr. They deserve that – they were terrific. In my head, some questions popped up. Who ARE these guys? Pedro who? Will Joe Smith ever wear his hat sideways? Can Carl Edwards, Jr. be THE closer if they don’t re-sign Chapman? Is it too late for another beer?

So – yesterday’s pitching “lineup” was Montgomery, Zastryzny, Smith and Edwards. And they were good. I know there’s a month left, but Joe Maddon is going to have some tough choices come playoff roster time if these guys keep pitching like THAT. Grimm has been terrific in pressure spots. Bring back Strop and Rondon and you have a few too many guys for the postseason bullpen…so, that brings us to the question: how many pitchers do you need in the postseason? If they carry five starters, which I think they WILL, do they bring a bullpen of 8? If so, that eliminates Montgomery or Smith most likely. And, do they carry three catchers into the playoffs? I know I don’t and you don’t…but will they? They really don’t NEED Ross in the postseason. At least Montero bats left, and the pitchers seem to think he’s good to throw to – Contreras is a right handed hitting catcher. Do they carry Ross just for Lester? That seems a wasted roster spot to me, despite the good karma of “farewell tour” and all. They’re trying to win a world series, not make the Oprah book list.

If you saw Edwards strike out Pence in the 9th – that was awesome. Swing and miss on a 97mph fastball – shoulder high. Only thing harder than hitting that pitch is laying off it…and Pence was flat overmatched…something you don’t see very often, as he’s got a very quick bat. And looks a lot like Ichabod Crane. From the cartoon, not the TV show.

Russell again delivers – and is up to an amazing 88 RBI’s thus far, and is a good bet to exceed 100. And he’s only 22. And he seems to get better almost every inning. He’s quietly become tied as the number five RBI guy in the NL. Two of his teammates are above him on that list.

They are playing loose – which is great. They are playing well – which is even better. Lester goes today, so I like their chances again.

Coffee? I’d LOVE some!

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GirlieView (09/01/2016)

Thursday, September 1st, 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 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.

Lizzies

  • Tommy La Stella reported to AA Tennessee yesterday
  • If they resign Fowler – which they should and if Schwarber and Soler are healthy and hitting…where does Jason Heyward play? Maybe Toronto.
  • Heyward’s double was a weak, broken bat slap. Still don’t have much optimism in his direction. But man, how ’bout those Cubs?
  • So, the ball actually hit one of them?! And he literally didn’t even react? I mean, I guess that’s why he’s covering his raspberries.
  • You don’t know who Sue is, Kyle, but she’d be mortified by that video.
  • The Brewers broadcasters explained the game the bullpen plays. They can’t move on a foul ball or else they are subject to shaming. May I suggest watching a broadcast with broadcasters that actually pay attention to the game.
  • La Stella Artois
  • I suppose he came to his decision after fermenting on it for a few days.
  • I really disliked Tommy’s response to being sent down. It seemed arrogant and entitled. But I think Doc is right. The players likely won’t care if he is a good guy in the locker room and he seems to be. He certainly is a good fit for the role he will play when he comes up again.
  • Me, Capn, CAPS, Sherm, Alec Berg and Big Toe Joe. Am I forgetting anyone?
  • maybe a Johnson will show up. Plenty of dicks already on the guest list.
  • Have you asked Safety Sue?
  • We did. In my shirtless “VFTB…”scenario – we thought she could be two thirds of the ellipsis. Our seats are way to close to the field, er, danger-zone, therefore she declined.
  • So let’s say you are in the can taking a wee wee and your outfielder hits a slam, that’s $8($4 bucks for the 4 bases and $4 for the 4 RBI) from 5 other guys which totals $40 in winnings. But you are in the can mid whiz and you have to get to your seat to ask for the money before the next pitch. What do you do, run out of the can still whizzing yelling “Give me my $8 everyone” or do you finish your whiz in comfort and give up the $40? Many a crazy person has run down the aisle of ballparks ranting and raving about collecting money on their way back to their seats after a cash money play in their favor.
  • I’d much rather read a VFTB recap than from elsewhere.
  • As a team, the offensive patience appears to wear off as the games goes on.
  • We need Bryant, Soler, Baez and others to shorten up with two strikes and men on base.
  • Unlike the usual aging process, since ’03 and ’08 we have become much younger.
  • On Sunday we sat in the second row box seats and a foul ball came right to me and I didn’t catch it, it hit my hands and bounced away. We fly back to CA that night and the first thing my wife says when I get back is, “So you missed the ball.” Apparently my error was featured on the WGN broadcast, lucky me no TIVO back then.
  • At least you didn’t have to prove to your wife that you really went to the game – like Seymour would have had to.
  • Of all the above listed former Cubs, I’ve met 2. One living, one not so much.
  • Heyward hits a 2 run blast (words not read on this site often)
  • Outfield game was fun, too, even though I had Heyward which was like betting on a donkey in the Kentucky Derby.
  • “It must be nice never having to play a road game.”
  • A sweep in San Diego made all the sweeter by the fact that the VFTB crew was in attendance.
  • This has been a great week. In addition to baseball, I’ve been writing Brad’s phone number in bathroom stalls all over the world. Next stop is Panama!
  • Not to be confused with guaranteed rape, which is what happens if you get lost in that neighborhood
  • he does have very pierce-able nipples.
  • Big Toe Joe orders a Rum Chalada and Sherm and I walk to the bar to get a round and I say to Sherm, “What the hell is a Rum Chalada?” and Sherm says, “I don’t know, he’s getting a Rum and Coke.” And I say, “Good, cause I am not carrying a drink with an umbrella in it back to the table.”
  • The pirates have to really HATE Jake Arrieta and the cubs by now.
  • Bryant’s learning curve is breathtaking.
  • And his eyes are dreamy
  • I’ll skin up with you next year CAPS.. just need a Cubs lead and about $80 of stadium beers
  • But that’s only like 3 beers…
  • Anyone else notice that Montero was not happy…even after the walk-off?
  • I think he was just winded from running all the way to first…
  • Kyle Hendricks threw 99 pitchers – 218 of them for strikes.
  • I hate the fact that baseball will head into the winter and the last two series could be played in a light snow or freezing temperature. That’s stupid and needs to change.

Lizard

  • What a privilege to watch this young, humble and talented man play baseball.

Shout Outs

  • Big shout outs to Jared for his brief return to VFTB and his first 2016 Regular Season Lizzie!!!! Thanks for helping out, Jared!!

MVL

  • Since Sherm consistently wins this, I’ve decided to begin listing the top three! Congratulations to Sherm, Brad Lyerla, and Doc Raker, our Most Valuable Lizzie-ers this time around! Thank you all for everything you contribute here!

Top 10 of the 2016 Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Sherm
2. Doc Raker
3. Eddie von White
4. Doug S
4. Seymour Butts
6. jswanson
7. Joe Aiello
8. Brad Lyerla
9. cap’n realist
10. Dork

Chit Chat

I can’t believe it’s September already. I also can’t believe it’s September and we’re still enjoying meaningful baseball with a very good chance of continuing well into October. With that in mind, here are some interesting dates in case you need to take some time off work, arrange travel, or cancel early morning meetings. LOL

  • NL Wild Card Game – Wednesday, October 5
  • NLDS – Various dates beginning Friday, October 7 through Thursday, October 13
  • NLCS – Saturday, October 15 through Sunday, October 23
  • World Series – Tuesday, October 25 through Wednesday, November 2
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I Love Boring Baseball

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Pirates 0 @ Cubs 3 (Box Score / Condensed Game)

I realized toward the end of last night’s game that it had been a rather boring baseball game. All of the scoring took place in the first two innings, and all on the right side of the scoreboard. Kyle Hendricks threw 99 pitchers – 218 of them for strikes. The Cub hitters squared up a lot of balls that were hit right at people, and only three strikeouts all game. They never really ran away with it, but it never seemed to be a lead in jeopardy, either. Edwards throws hard. Chapman throws harder. After seeing Hendricks for seven innings that couldn’t have been pleasant for the Pirates.

Let’s take a little trip back in time. May 15, 2016. Gerritt Cole pitches a good game and the Pirates finally beat the Cubs. Once. They act like they’ve won the World Series. Little League world series, I mean. Cole says the Cubs aren’t the best team in baseball. Harrison goes further and sings “No Cubs No” to Cub fans as he’s leaving the field that day. On that day, the Cubs are 27 – 9 and the Pirates are 7.5 back at 20 – 17. The Pirates get closer…right before the All-Star break they blow a chance to get within 5 games and go into the break down 7 games. Cubs are flat at the time, and the record was 53 – 35. Still 18 games over .500 (same as on May 16) and the Pirates are 46 – 43, still 3 over .500. Fast forward back to the present. Cubs are 83 – 47 (36 over in case you left your calcutor on the bus) and the team from Western Pennsylvania is 67 – 62 and they sit 15.5 games back in the division. That’s a lot of games back. A whole lot. What is Josh Harrison singing about today? Maybe “Whipping Post.” Don’t know. Don’t care.

Question – you can choose any one position player in the game to start your team. Who is it? Mike Trout? Kris Bryant? Bryce Harper? I think the question has changed dramatically this year with Bryant’s continued growth. I think he’s going to be the NL MVP, which would be quite a run for the young man. Player of the year in college – player of the year in the minors – NL rookie of the year – NL MVP. In four consecutive years. Pretty impressive. Hey, why not add World Series MVP to that this year and get it out of the way?

I hate the fact that baseball will head into the winter and the last two series could be played in a light snow or freezing temperature. That’s stupid and needs to change.

Coffee is so good today – of course, it’s the good stuff I brought back from Colombia…but why wouldn’t I drink the good stuff today? I got to enjoy a very boring baseball game last night! I think we will see a fired up Jason Hammel tonight, and I personally expect him to throw a good game.


Click the scores to bring up full box score

Cubs [AAA] Lost 8 to 2

SP – Drew Rucinski – 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 4 K

2B – Juan Perez – 2 for 4

Smokies [AA] Won 5 to 3

SP – Michael Wagner – 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K

2B – Ian Happ – 2 for 3, HR, 3 RBI

Pelicans [A+] Won 1 to 0

SP – Trevor Clifton – 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K

2B – Bryant Flete – 2 for 4, 2B, RBI, BB

Emeralds [SS] Won 7 to 5

SP – Dylan Cease – 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 8 K

LF – Kevonte Mitchell – 3 for 4, 2B, 3 RBI

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