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Effectively Wild is your place for mediocre coverage of the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Blackhawks, Arsenal FC, and FC Kaiserslautern.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Trade Winds: Jason Bay

I had a thought this morning on the way into work. It's a thought I've had before, but not since the Cubs acquired Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs have been making noise about going after a left-handed power bat, but there really isn't a whole lot available. What if they went within the division and went after Jason Bay? I know they already have a left fielder, but Bay seems to be back to his top form after his production dropped off the last year or so, probably due to the knee injury he was battling. True to his character, he refused to blame the injury for his issues, but healthy now, he's tearing it up once again. The way I see it, the Cubs have a couple options if they were to get Bay. One, they could see how he does in right field, moving Fukudome to center. Two, they could try Bay in center (which I believe he has played before), and Three, they could move Soriano back to second base and continue to play Reed Johnson and Fukudome where they are now.

I actually find option three somewhat intriguing. I don't know if Soriano can still play second, but I don't think he could be any worse a second baseman then he is an outfielder. By moving Sori to second, Mark DeRosa returns to the uber-utility role he excels at. Bay is an improvement over Sori in left, although not like a Gold Glove type improvement. I know Bay is right-handed, but I think he would offer great protection to Aramis in the Cubs lineup, which could look like this:


On any given day, DeRosa could sub for just about any of these guys. I know that's a big block of righties in there, but if the real Jason Bay is back and he brought his bat to the Cubs, this is a pretty sweet lineup. The Cubs would have control of Bay through 09, so it would be more than just a one year rent-a-player deal.

As for what the Pirates might ask in return, I would think Matt Murton would be the obvious first choice. He would replace Bay in the field and at the plate. I'm sure the Pirates would also want pitching as well, which the Cubs have. I'm not sure they'd be willing to trade too much pitching to acquire Bay, even if he's remotely on the radar.

Personally, I like this idea, just because I've liked Bay ever since he was traded to Pittsburgh. Every time we play Pittsburgh, I hate seeing him come to the plate, and have wanted him in blue pinstripes for some time. Plus he owns Carlos Zambrano, has ever since he was a rookie and there aren't that many guys who can say that. Realistically, I don't think this trade would ever happen, as Dave Littlefield is no longer in Pittsburgh and getting Bay would require too much shifting of the Cubs current field positioning. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Plus he's right-handed and the Cubs seem determined to get a left-handed bat, even if they have to settle for a mediocre one. I also think the price for Bay will be pretty high, especially if he continues to hit like he has so far. Still, it's always fun to speculate and I'd dig it if the Cubs could snag one of my favorite non-Cub players in the game.

BallHype: hype it up!

33-21: Keep it Rolling

Once again the boys in blue staged a comeback win against a team from the west. All the cylinders seem to be clicking for this team right now, especially at home. Marquis didn't pitch terribly, aside from one inning. Seems like once again, the Cubs are getting contributions across the board. Even when the Cubs were losing, I never felt like they were out of it. Marmol and Wood were absolutely filthy in the 8th and 9th innings. Granted, the Rockies are without a good portion of their lineup, including Matt Holiday and Troy Tulowitzki, but it was still a pretty solid win. At this point, back to back sweeps don't seem out of the question, but we'll have to see how the remainder of the series plays out. The Iceman pitches tonight and hopefully he'll bring his A game.

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

32-21: Coming Through in the Clutch

Continuing their home field dominance, the Cubs swept the Dodgers last night. The Cubs waited until the 9th to score their first run, but an erratic frame by closer Takashi Saito opened the door for the Cubs to send the game to extra innings, where Alfonso Soriano drove in the winning run. Much has been made of Soriano's bad defense in recent days, so it's nice to see the guy come through with his bat in the clutch. Cubs' brass has sent extra security goons to the bleachers to ensure the 136 million dollar man doesn't get booed or criticized too harshly. I'm sure Soriano had nothing to do with that, but it's a little annoying nonetheless. If the fans want to be critical, that's their right as ticket payers. But that's all really irrelevant anyway. The important thing is the Cubs are in first place and they won three very close games. Now if only this team can figure out how to translate their formula for success to the road, they might just be unstoppable.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hero Worship: Bill Buckner

The Hero Worship posts are a series of posts in which I hope to explain my infatuation with the Chicago Cubs. My father was in the Air Force and we traveled the country and beyond during the first fifteen years of my life. Aside from the three years we spent in Germany, WGN and the Cubs were our connection to our relatives back in Illinois.

My love affair with the Chicago Cubs started with this man, Billy Buck, as my grandpa used to call him. I was very, very young when Buckner played for the Cubs, but my first memories of baseball are of my grandfather rooting hard for the mustachioed first baseman whilst swigging Pabst Blue Ribbon from the comfort of his easy chair. This then was how I came to know the Cubs and to associate them forever with the concept of home. My grandfather gave me my first glove and bat, and he made sure me and my brother were well supplied with Cubs clothing and paraphernalia until his death in 1983. Unfortunately, cancer claimed him before he could see the ’84 team reach the post season. He was quite a man, my grandfather, and I was named for him. The first beer I ever had was a PBR, which caused me not to drink beer until well into adulthood. (Like The Shooter, I'm a Coors' Light man.) Therefore, it’s appropriate to begin this series of posts with the player he liked the most, at least in the time that I had with him.

I still have my Bill Buckner rookie card and the amount of scorn and derision thrust upon Buckner after his error in the World Series still saddens me. I personally think Red Sox Nation took way too long to forgive this man, as he played such a crucial role in the team even making the Series to begin with. It's a pity that a guy with a pretty good career will always be remembered for that one play he didn't make. As for me, I'll always remember Billy Buck as a Cub, forever trapped in the hazy screen of my grandparents' old console television.

BallHype: hype it up!

R.I.P. Geremi Gonzalez

Former Cub starter Geremi Gonzalez was killed last Sunday when he was struck by lightning. The Shooter's Lounge extends condolences to Geremi's family and friends at this time. It's one thing when an older ballplayer passes away, but Geremi was still a young guy, so that makes it a little more difficult.

Geremi won 11 games with a 4.25 ERA and 93 Ks in his rookie campaign. He was an early part of the 98 wildcard team, going 7-7 with a 5.32 ERA in 20 games started before blowing out his arm. He was a colorful character on the Cubs and the other teams he pitched for. As far as I can tell, he never really capitalized on his potential, although the injuries he suffered may have hampered his progress. Still, he seemed to enjoy the game and the fans, which was all you really needed at that time to enjoy the favor of the Wrigley faithful.

BallHype: hype it up!

30-21: Road Warriors We Ain't

The Cubs continued their less than inspiring play on the road, dropping 2 of 3 in consecutive series against Houston and Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh losses in particular were of the brutal fashion, both coming in extra innings. Kerry Wood plunked another batter Saturday, blowing the save which opened the door for the Buccos to win it in the 14th. Then Sunday, Carlos Marmol induced the game ending flyout, only to have Alfonso Soriano lose it in the sun. Two innings later, the Cubs were cooked as Jason Bay once again gave the Pirates a walk-off win.

Uncle Lou has got to start putting a defensive replacement in for Soriano in the late innings if the Cubs have a lead. I know how important his bat is, but he can't cost us runs like that. Boston already does this for Manny Ramirez and the Giants used to do it for Barry in his declining years. If Soriano can't catch a simple popup like the one he missed Sunday, then he's a liability in the later innings.

The Cubs did pick up a win against the Dodgers on Memorial Day, but it was back in the Friendly Confines. The boys in blue need to get this road dilemma worked out and fast. This is a very good team, but they're not going to win the division in they can't win away from Chicago.

Geo Soto under .300? Say it ain't so, Soto-Rooter. Hopefully, he'll pick it up today and bring it back up.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, May 23, 2008

DoucheNugget of the Week: The MLB Brass

Over the last couple year, the head honchos at MLB have found a lot of nitpicky little bullshit things to focus on. While players have been injecting steroids, receiving HGH in the mail, and having alcohol and anger management issues, the goobers in the front office have been worrying about bullshit topics like whether Terry Francona and Lou Pinella are wearing their jerseys under their pullover jackets, how much gray was on Aramis Ramirez's shoes, and making Justin Miller wear long sleeves so his tattoos wouldn't distract opposing hitters.

In this vein, the brass has decided that baseball games are still taking too long and has asked umpires to enforce the asinine rules. Players, managers, PA announcers, and entertainment staff can be reprimanded for taking too long to do their jobs. All of this is ridiculous. Baseball games are long. They involve strategy and deliberation. If that's not your thing, don't watch. Forcing players and managers to speed up the pace of the game by shaving seconds here and there is just retarded. Players have established routines. Some pitchers are very quick to the plate, like Jon Lieber. Others take their time, like Bob Howry. Then there are those who take forever to release a pitch, as in Steve "The Human Rain delay" Trachsel. Trachsel holds on to the ball like some people hold on to a bowel movement. But that's his thing. Other players, like Nomar, have an elaborate batting ritual. All of this is part of the game. You have to respect the game and what goes along with it. You can't sandblast all of the personality out of this game. It's still the greatest game in the world in my opinion, partly because there are no time constraints. Everything in today's instant gratification society is about time. Fast food, TV on demand, movies on demand, everything has to be now, now, now. Baseball is the last bastion standing for taking things leisurely. This is supposed to be enjoyment. It's a kids game, played for the amusement of the masses. Stop fucking around with it. My life is all about rules, timing, and deadlines. Baseball has to have rules, sure. But the rules that defined the sport for over a century don't need to bow to the modern world. Hell, cricket matches can go on for days. What's the harm if a baseball game lasts an extra couple minutes because Scott Eyre needs to breathe between pitches? What difference does it really make if Uncle Lou has his jersey on under his Cubs jacket or if he's rocking it commando style? And if guys want to put tributes to late friends on their hats by inscribing their numbers there, is that somehow going to violate the integrity of the game? Come on MLB. Don't be such douchenuggets.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

28-17: The Soto-Rooter Delivers

Geovany Soto is an unhuman badass. The dude's got power, a great eye at the plate, and calls a mean game behind it. But who knew the kid could fly? Soto's inside the park home run was a thing of beauty, reminiscent of the Prince Fielder one from last year. Soto trucked around those bases and the Cubs wouldn't need any more as Ted "Iceman" Lilly only allowed two runs to the Astros. Lilly was in fine form and he kept super slugger and all around hoser Lance Berkman off the base paths all night. Aramis Ramirez added some insurance with a two-run missile later in game. If there wasn't a wall behind those seats, that ball might still be going. Oh and newest Cub Jim Edmonds made some kind of catch in center field. That'll do, Lassie. That'll do. Can't root against you, Jim, since you're a Cub, but if you do good stuff like that, you might force me to root for you. What kind of eighth circle of hell nonsense is that?

Ryan Dempster takes the hill tonight to do battle with Chris Sampson. Ryan's been solid all year and if memory serves, Sampson shut the door on us at Wrigley earlier in the season. Should be a good one. I wonder if any of our boys will see anything high and tight after the Iceman blatantly buzzed Carlos Lee's tower and Marmol about took his head off, albeit not purposely. Might be interesting in old Houston tonight.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, May 19, 2008

27-17: Sweet Home Chicago

Do my eyes deceive me or are the Cubs really 10 games above .500? Wow, what a far cry from the hapless bumblers of last year. The Cubs took 2 of 3 from a resurgent Pirates team over the weekend and now head to Houston to do battle with Lance Berkman and the Astros. The Cubs went 8-2 on the homestand, which was the bast mark since like 1978 or some shit. Now if only we could play this good on the road. In other news, Alfonso Soriano is smoking hot right now, third fiddle to only the aforementioned Berkman and good old Larry Jones of Atlanta. In the meantime, Cub pitching continues to get the job done, including batting cage pitcher Jason Marquis, who notched his second win of the season. If Jason could just pitch against the Pirates every single time, we'd be talking about him for the Cy Young. Since that's not the case, I'll continue to cringe and reach for my blankie on days when he starts. On a better note, the Soto-Rooter continues to pound the baseball. Geo hit another home run against the Pirates as he makes his case for ROY honors. Sean Gallagher made a fantastic start as well, looking sharp against the Buccos. Anyone still wish we had Brian Roberts? I didn't think so.

The only thing that really bothered me was Zambrano's performance. El Toro Loco looked more loco than toro in his last start, the first of the year where he didn't look sharp and more to the point, the first in which he lost his composure. I thought we were done with the whole breaking the bat over body parts thing. It seems so 2007. Carlos, please dude, for the love of Jeebus, don't break bats over your limbs or neck, amigo. That's what the water cooler in the dugout is for man. It would be totally Farnsworthless of you to injure your leg or neck expressing your frustration with batting. And so what if you have a bad at bat? The fans still think you're the Venezuelan Babe Ruth, okay? More important than your at bats is your performance on the mound. Everything else is gravy my friend.

And lastly, a note to Tom Gorzelanny. Dude, we own you this year. You seriously need to talk to your manager about him skipping you the next time you guys play the Cubs. I feel for you. I had you on a fantasy team at one point. Thankfully, not for very long, but I still feel for you. If he won't skip you, I'd suggest barfing up a lung before the game. Maybe walking through a glass door. Falling out of a hot tub. Something.

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

25-16: Dempster Delivers on Black Thursday

Leave it to Ryan Dempster to salvage what could have been a black day in Cubs history. Jim Edmonds has joined the Cubs and was in the starting lineup. This travesty was overshadowed by the stellar performance of one red-headed prankster, who came out throwing bullets today, retiring a career high 12 Friars via the strikeout. Dempster didn't allow a run and pitched into the ninth inning before being relieved by Kid K, who notched his 8th save. The Canadian funny man also went 1 for 3, driving in a run and scoring on a Derrek Lee double. Dempster moves to 5-1 on the year, with a nifty 2.35 ERA. Moving Demp to the rotation might just be the move of the season, folks. He looks legit.

As for the other story, Jim Edmonds went 1-4, bouncing into a double play and striking out with the bases loaded. He's got a long way to go to justify his signing. I won't root against you, Jimmy, but I'm not exactly in your corner, either.

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Come Back Jacque! Seriously.

Hey Jim Hendry! Yeah, you, with the doughnut. Put it down and come over here so I can smack you. You're really gonna do it, aren't you? You're really going to bring Jim Edmonds, my 2nd least favorite ballplayer of all time (Jeff Kent is my all time least favorite player) to Wrigley and let the motherfucker wear a Cub uniform. I hate you. I know that won't change your mind about bringing Captain Mascara to the Cubs, but I thought you should know. I'm just curious, but if we really needed a light hitting left hander to play some center field, why didn't we just keep Jacque Jones? Or Angel Pagan, who was better than Edmonds or Jones?

Super Jock had his issues. He struck out like crazy while making faces like he was constipated. His throws in from the outfield often were eaten by turf monsters. Sometimes he seemed to have a bad attitude. But more importantly than all that, Jacque Jones is NOT Jim Edmonds. I've had my issues with Jacque. Called him names, made fun of his red bat. (Never any racial shit, though. The Poet doesn't play that way.) However, deep down, I don't dislike Jacque Jones. And here are some reasons why:

1. The guy hustles. Sure he can't throw and he goes through stretches where he forgets to stop swinging at everything, but when Jacque connects with a ball, he's busting ass down the line. Doesn't matter if it's a well struck ball or a little infield bloop, Jones always ran them out.
2. He was MUCH better in center than he was in right. He used that hustle to cover a lot of ground and I recall him making some pretty sweet plays out there last year. I know he's a much better center fielder than the remains of Jim Edmonds.
3. Jacque may be a streaky hitter, but holy crap when he's hot, he's scalding. There was a period last year when Jacque was getting clutch hits left and right. I'd rather take a chance on him getting hot than running "Jimmy Ballgame" out there.
4. Jacque Jones is NOT JIM EDMONDS. I can't stress that enough.

To be honest, I never understood why we dealt Jacque to begin with. He was signed rather cheaply, given the way contracts for outfielders exploded the year after we signed him. He has the skills to play in the bigs, he seemed like a team player (even if he was fond of Dusty Baker), and when he was hot, he could hit pretty good, despite his power sort of melting away. He still would be a great platoon partner for Reed Johnson. In addition, the Jones trade accomplished virtually nothing. Sure, the Tigers assumed part of the financial responsibility of his contract, but big whup. The guy we got back, Omar Infante, we promptly packaged with Fat Ohman and sent off to Atlanta for Jose Ascanio. If your response to that was "who the fuck is Jose Ascanio?", I'm sure you're not alone. So basically, we didn't even come up even for all the wheeling and dealing. I think we should have just kept him. Now Florida will get him and we won't even get anything good out of it.

I would take Jacque over Jimmy Ballgame any day, despite the fact that Jones's batting average was just over 10 points lower than Edmonds's. Jacque finished last year at .285 and I have faith that given the chance, he could repeat that figure. Jim Edmonds ended up at .252 and I don't believe it'll ever get that high again and I don't think any one would give a shit if it did.

So Jim Hendry. I know you're gonna sign Jim Edmonds. I've resigned myself to it. But think about what you threw away for peanuts, only to turn around and sign a worse version of what you gave away. In conclusion, you suck.

BallHype: hype it up!

23-16: Estes?

Shawn Estes? Seriously? I don't mind losing fellas, but to Shawn Estes? Come on. Jason Marquis proved to be his usual hitable self, giving up four to a beleaguered Padres offense. The Cubs did manage to scratch out three runs, but it turned out to be not enough against former Cub Estes. The Cubs'll need to bounce back against Jake Peavy and Greg Maddux, who are much tougher than Shawn Estes.

That's all for now. I'm sharpening my sword to commit seppeku when the Jim Edmonds signing is announced.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And Darkness Washed Across the Land . . .

According to MLB Trade Rumors, this deal is all but done. Apparently, the Padres desire some form of revenge for sticking them with Barrett, Prior, Rusch, Estes, Todd Walker, oh how the list goes on over the years. But this is really low, San Diego. Jim Hendry, I can't believe you would sink this low. Is Felix Pie really that bad? Is there no one else who can play center field that we can rescue from the fucking scrap heap? Nyjer Morgan, anyone? Tike Redman? Rajai Davis? Terrence fucking Long? Terrence Long sucks, but at least I like him.

Any of these guys would be preferable to Jim Edmonds, who's done. You hear me? He's DONE. Stick a fork in him and serve him up, he's fucking finished. If we really positively have to have another left handed bat who can play center, can we get Kenny Lofton? I mean I know the guy is old, but come on, Jim. He's a former Cub, he looks like Jimmy Walker, and he's NOT Jim Edmonds. What confuses me is why the fuck we ever traded Angel Pagan. Or Jacque Jones, who while shitty at times, would still be more palatable than signing Jim Edmonds. Please Jim. For the love of Christ man I'm begging you. Please don't sign Jim Edmonds. Think about the children, man. Don't do this.

BallHype: hype it up!

23-15: The Curly Shuffle

I was watching the press conference after the game last night and was struck by Carlos's resemblance to the late Curly Howard. Zambrano was relaxed and funny last night, coming off the Cubs 12-3 pasting of the Friars, who suddenly find themselves in dire straits. I'd love to find a full on face pick of the stubble-headed El Toro Loco to compare, but this'll have to do.

One thing's for sure: the way Carlos is pitching is no laughing matter. This guy has really taken it to the next level this year. He looks great and helps his own cause at the plate. After a bumpy road trip, the boys in blue have picked it back up again, sweeping the D-Backs and taking the first game from San Diego easily. Whipping boy Alfonso Soriano seems to have found his stroke over the past few days, playing a key role in the Cubs' victories. Darryl Ward has come on strong as a pinch hitter the past few days as well, making solid contributions from the bench. The team seems to be firing on all cylinders once again, although it'd be nice to see them play this way on the road. Still, that's a minor complaint and the season is still early. With the bullpen issues some of our rivals are struggling with, the Cubs need to take the opportunity to gain some ground while things are unsettled. I had a blast watching the game last night and hope for more of the same all week.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, May 12, 2008

22-15: Payback's a Bitch

After shitting themselves against the D-Backs in the playoffs last year, the Cubs bounced back over the weekend to sweep the series from the Snakes. Dempster and Gallagher both pitched well and the Cubs got some great offensive contributions as well. The Brewer's win yesterday moves the Cubs back into a tie with the Cardinals. Say what you will about our bullpen, but we're in much better shape than the Brewers and Cardinals right now. Hopefully it stays that way.

Four games against the Padres are up next.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, May 9, 2008

20-15: The Iceman Cometh

The game started out as in the playoffs last year, with Chris Young drilling a homer off of Ted Lilly. This game turned out much for the better, as Lilly turned in a commanding performance, striking out 10 and only surrendering the one run. He also helped his own cause by driving in one of the Cubs' runs. Nice job, TR. Lilly gave the Cubs exactly what they needed: a solid outing following the disaster that occurred in Cincinnati. A home run from Derrek Lee was a nice bonus. Now the heavy lifting begins as the Cubs face rookie Matt Scherzer and perpetual nemesis Randy Johnson over the weekend. I'll see you bastards on Monday!

BallHype: hype it up!

DoucheNuggets of the Week: An E-mail To the Reds Organization:

Thanks to Bad Kermit at Hire Jim Essian for bringing this story. to my attention. Apparently, during the Reds broadcast on the 5th, Thom Brenneman and partner Chris Walsh implied that Geovany Soto may be using performance enhancing drugs. Here is my e-mail response I sent to the Reds, including comments on Marty Brenneman's anti-Cub fan rant back in April. I was going to take the high road and not complain about that, but when you have two members of the same family who broadcast games for the same organization insult my team and its fans in the span of under a month, I've gotta say something. Considering how pissed I am, especially about the Soto comments, I thought I was pretty civil.

To Whom It May Concern:

It has come to my attention that during the Reds broadcast on May 5th, Announcers Thom Brenneman and Chris Walsh implied that Cubs catcher Geovany Soto may have used performance enhancing drugs and that this was the reason for his increased output last season and in the opening months of this year. Making that accusation without any evidence is completely irresponsible. The minor league testing program appears to be working quite well, so I doubt Soto would have been able to slip through the cracks. In addition, Soto’s offensive surge came after an extensive off season regimen of diet and exercise, during which he dropped thirty pounds. This is one of the reasons he’s been so much better, both at the plate and behind it. I think Mr. Brenneman and Mr. Walsh owe Geovany Soto and the Cubs organization an apology. These unfounded statements are the kind of asinine thing that can cause a stigma to be attached to a player, despite their being no evidence of wrong doing.

In addition, I would like to add that the Reds owe a second apology, that to the fans of the Chicago Cubs for the comments made by Marty Brenneman on April 17th. Debasing an entire fan base over the actions of a few fans isn’t good broadcasting in my opinion. If Mr. Brenneman loathes the Cubs organization and its fans that much, perhaps he should seek a different vocation. My family is made up of Cub fans who have never acted in an obnoxious fashion at ball games. The words of Mr. Brenneman were insulting to me as a fan of the Cubs and of baseball and were completely unprofessional and inappropriate. They were in fact petulant and childish.

Perhaps the Reds as an organization need to look at the professional standards to which their broadcasters are held. I’ve been watching baseball for most of my thirty-one years and never have seen two lapses in judgment made by the same organization’s broadcasters within the span of a month as has happened here. Perhaps these gentlemen are not the people you want out there as the voice of the Reds, as it serves to give a poor impression of your storied franchise.


And the response from the Reds:

Thank you for your e-mail. We appreciate hearing our fans comments.
Ginny Kamp

I sure as hell hope that's an automated reply. This ain't over.

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

19-15: Nobody Panic

This picture of Rami pretty much sums it up. Frustration. Anger. Doubt.

Do not push the panic button. Do not say, "Wait until next year." Do not say this team sucks. Not yet. The Cubs are all right. They're in second place. Remember how bad they were last year? Yes? Good. This is a better team than that one. Are there questions? Yes. Will Lou answer them? I believe he will. There's still a lot of baseball left.

Say it with me:

"I will not doubt. St. Louis must drop off eventually. This is not 2004. This is not 2006. I will not approach the ledge, let alone jump off. I still believe."

BallHype: hype it up!

Under Construction: One Pitching Staff

Let's take a look and see how the pitching staff stacks up thus far:

El Toro Loco-Carlos Zambrano may just get his Cy Young award this year. All of the contract talks are behind him and he’s pitching like a man possessed. I’m really impressed with the level of self control the Big Moose has exhibited this year. This year Carlos hasn’t beaten himself. There’s a new maturity on display here and it really could be a sign of big things to come from our number one.

Ryan Dempster-The clown prince of Cubdom is nothing to laugh at. Since his return to the rotation, Dempster has looked solid, posting a 2.72 ERA, notching 4 wins and 1 loss in 7 starts. Not too shabby for a guy who often struggled with his command in the closer role. If Dempster looks sharp all season, he put up some solid numbers.

Ted Lilly-TR struggled early in the season, but appears to have righted the ship. His last couple starts have seen the Iceman move closer to his 2007 form. He’ll need to regain his edge if the Cubs are going to make a serious run.

Rich Hill-After a solid 2007, Rich Hill’s head went back in the clouds and he returned to being an AAAA pitcher. Rich needs to stop worrying about pitching perfect and worry about actually pitching. Life’s not perfect, Rich. Baseball doesn’t need to be either. Perfect games are like a white buffalo: they only come around very rarely. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll pitch one someday. Chances are you won’t. Get out there, trust your stuff, trust your teammates, and throw the best pitch you can. Remember the immortal words of Crash Davis: ‘Don’t think, just throw’. Trust me.

Jason Marquis-Jason’s kind of an enigma to me. It’s an enigma to me how he remained in the rotation after the public pissing match between he and Lou Pinella. It’s an enigma to me how he manages to get anyone out. He pitches to contact and gets rocked. His velocity isn’t down, he just is getting hammered.

These were the guys we started out with. We may see some more guys here as Lou works through these issues. Lieber may get another chance, despite getting blasted by the Reds. Gallagher may get a shot, as might Sean Marshall.

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

19-14: Z-Money

I missed the game as my alma mater's last regular season game was last night as well. Still, from what I was able to glean from various sources, it was a good night for the boys in blue, led by the shiny-headed El Toro Loco, who continues to pitch like he's on a mission from God. Big Z has shaken of the malaise that plagued him last year, plus he has the benefit of being Barrettless this season. Harang was the hard luck loser last night, courtesy of Boom-Boom Cedeno. Be nice if the Cubs can roll with it and win their first series in over a week.

Oh and the game I attended: IWU Titans 10 and Blackburn Beavers 3. 2 for 2 on a Tuesday night! Doesn't get much better than that.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

18-14 So Much For Staying Positive

Well, holy shit. Didn't take the Cubs long to destroy the good feeling I had going. All of a sudden we're two and a half games behind the Cardinals and their no-name pitching staff. we've dropped series to Washington (!), Milwaukee, and St. Louis and lost the first game against the Reds last night. Just fucking great. Not only do we get Harang and Volquez for the remainder of the Reds series, but then we get to play the best team in the National League, the Diamondbacks. The team that swept us out of the playoffs look even better this year. Great.

On the plus side, SL favorite Geo Soto kept up his great year by hitting another home run. The Soto-Rooter is hitting .352 and is tied with DLee for RBIs. I guess it's still too early to talk about Rookie of the Year, but holy crap is he punishing the ball. The big guy still looks pretty solid behind the plate as well.

The Cubs need to get their starting pitching figured out and the offense needs to get consistent. We're scoring runs, but too many of those runs are coming in blowouts. This is a good team, but we need to straighten it up before St. Louis puts too much distance between us before they get Mulder and Carpenter back.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Suddenly Cards Fans Don't Seem That Bad . . .

Anybody see this? Kinda puts the whole Cubs-Cardinals rivalry in perspective doesn't it? Some of the comments on the story will blow your mind. To all St. Louis fans out there-I hope that none of you ever feel upset enough by a Cub fan's behavior to run them down with your car. I enjoy the rivalry our teams have and enjoy the ribbing and insults that pass back and forth. Let's not forget this is a kid's game, meant to be a good time, not life and death. Let's keep it a fun, civilized rivalry, deal? Thanks!

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DoucheNugget of the Week-Triple Threat: Joe Morgan/Jon Miller/5 Second Delay

Since I didn't do a DoucheNugget post last week, here's an extended version full of salty goodness.

I don't have the heart to recap the three game series against the Cardinals, but the sting of defeat on Sunday was made much worse by the fact that the game was televised on ESPN, thus putting it in the hands of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller, perhaps the worst announcing team in the history of baseball. I think I'd rather watch the Hawkeroo call a game in which the White Sox hit thirty home runs then hear Miller/Morgan call a Cubs game, especially a Cubs/Cards game. Shall we begin?

Joe Morgan:

Joe Morgan should be Albert Pujols's personal ball washer. This guy spends so much time polishing Pujols's knob, he knows how many indvidual pubic hairs Albert has. I know Albert's a great player, but the man-love has gotten disgusting, especially now that Morgan's other mantasy, Barry Bonds, has "retired" or whatever the fuck. Last night was no exception, with praises heaped upon King Albert, including an interview that was inexplicably broken up and shown in chunks throughout the game. Now, Joe, if you want to talk to Albert that's cool, but for Christ's sake, do I have to hear this shit while the game is going on? Can't you just shoot your wad before the game starts and be done with it? And ESPN, where's the corresponding interview with one of our players? Derrek Lee, for example, who's off to a fantastic start or Kosuke Fukudome, the man with all the pre-season buzz. (More on Fukudome later). Not only do we get a treatise on how awesome Albert is, but Morgan also spent a good chunk of the game talking up Tony LaRussa. At one point, Joe says the mark of a good manager is being able to win with different teams. Yeah, yeah. Tony won with the A's and the Cardinals. I'd like to see Tony go down to Tampa and win with those kids during the years Uncle Lou was down there. Now that would be something. And Joe, you played the game a hundred years ago. Shut the fuck up already. Walt Jockety is exiled to Cincinnati. The Reds suck now. Deal with it.

Jon Miller:

Jon Miller is such a sycophantic little douchenozzle that he undoubtedly has a picture of Joe Morgan mounted above his headboard so he can sustain an erection while fucking his wife. The fact that he can call ballgames with Joe's cock in his mouth is truly amazing. Not that these two assclowns actually call games so much as sit around and bullshit while a game is going on in the background. Hey, Jon? we know Joe Morgan is a Hall of Famer, okay? You don't need to tell us every single fucking time. Jon apparently knows Japanese as well, as he conducted an interview with Kosuke Fukudome that wasn't aired on ESPN, since they apparently couldn't fit it in around their Albert Pujols coverage. Of course, Joe Morgan had to chime in by telling us that the Japanese league is equivalent to our Triple A teams and that Albert Pujols could go over to Japan and absolutely destroy it. No word on whether the Japanese would make Pujols their new Emperor on the spot or not. So these two hosers managed to take an interesting piece about Fukudome and turn it in to another compliment to Albert AND insult the Japanese leagues at the same time. True statement or not, you don't say that kind of shit on the air. It's just not polite. And let's say Fukudome dominates all year and is in contention for Rookie of the Year. I totally predict you'll hear Joe Morgan change his tune on air and say Fukudome shouldn't be considered because he played professionally in Japan. But if the Nippon Leagues are equal to Triple A, doesn't that put Kosuke at the same level as a rookie who came from Triple A? He'll find a way to spin that one, I'm sure.

It's bad enough losing to the Cardinals, but watching ESPN feels like watching a Cardinal home game. That's just shitty broadcasting. I know Miller and Morgan hate the Cubs and that's fine, but they shouldn't be given a national venue to express their disdain. Get a blog, assholes. It's free and you can be as biased as you like. Fuck both of you sideways.

The 5 Second Delay:

The forgotten culprit here is the bullshit 5 second delay that all televised games have these days. (Thanks Janet Jackson. Thanks a lot.) If not for this beastly little device, it would be possible for me to mute the TV and listen to Pat & Ron (Who should be in the HOF, Joe Morgan. Cocksucker.) The 5 second delay means that the radio announcers call the play before the play happens on TV, which just gives me a colossal headache and ruins watching the game on TV. So then I'm forced to choose between listening to the game or watching it on my new HDTV with Miller/Morgan. I chose Miller/Morgan, but after last night, I'm not sure I can make that choice again. If the Cubs play the Cards on Sunday night again, I may be forced to revert to my five dollar AM radio rather than watch my seven hundred dollar TV. At least I won't be tempted to throw something heavy through the screen of my radio the next time Morgan and Miller ignore the play on the field to talk to Albert about his approach to hitting. Fuck all of you fucking douchenuggets.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

17-10: Soto's Revenge

The Cubs broke out the whipping stick last night, clobbering the Brewers 19-5. Top dog in the game was our very own Soto-Rooter, who blasted two 3 run homers before being removed for Henry Blanco. All of the Cubs save Felix Pie had pretty good days at the plate and Ryan Dempster notched another win in his quest to gain some respect from Bad Kermit over at HireJimEssian.com. Due to the bullshit MLB blackout rules, I was forced to listen to the game on the radio as opposed to watching it on ESPN. Fucking WCIU. This would be the game where Geo goes yard twice, wouldn't it? Ah well, listening to Pat and Ron get all excited about the young catcher was good enough. Later in the game, when most of the regulars were out and the Cubs were cruising, Pat told a great story that I would have missed had I been watching the game on the Eastern Sports Network, so it ended up being worth it.

Apparently when he was 11 or so, Pat and a buddy snuck into the Cubs clubhouse at Candlestick and got to hang out with Ronnie's boys for a few minutes. He said they were all over Billy Williams with questions and Billy was really cool about it. Great story. Pat Hughes has to be one of the most underappreciated announcers in baseball. Plus he has to work with Ronnie, who is a lovely human being and Hall of Famer, but a complete trainwreck as an announcer. Yet Pat keeps him steadily on course.

So we've got the rubber game of the set coming up today and hopefully the bats still have some runs left in them after the offensive explosion yesterday. Starting Friday, the Cardinals are in town and holy crap, games in May that are meaningful for both teams! The Cubs had an amazing April and here's hoping the rest of the season is just as memorable.

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