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

Monday, August 25, 2008

80-50: The Fukudome Question

The Cubs are 30 games over .500. Let that sink in a bit. Take your time. I'll wait.

Still here? Okay, let me just say, wow. There's only 32 games left, the Cubs are in first and they still look pretty good. Oh, Fukudome's been struggling, and Howry and Cotts could both end up gator bait and I probably wouldn't complain, but nothing's perfect.

There seems to be two schools of thought on Kosuke. There's the "He Sucks, Bench Him" brigade, undoubtedly the same panic prone ledgies who freak out whenever the offense slumps or Big Z has a bad day. Then there's the folks at Cubs.com who think everything is fixed with one pinch hit homer. A nice homer to be sure, but no guarantee that Kosuke's troubles are behind him.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Has Fukudome struggled? Uh, yeah. Anyone who watches baseball can see that. Is it time to pull the plug and send him back to Japan with his tail in between his legs? Absolutely not. First of all, the guy plays a Gold Glove caliber right field, something the Cubs haven't had since . . . since . . . since . . . oh, hell, not in my lifetime. Do you really want Sammy back? How about Jacque Jones? Jeremy Burnitz? Didn't think so. Second of all, this guy can hit. We saw it in the first few months. He hit like a beast in Japan, which while not the equal of the majors, is to my mind a notch above Triple A. He has a track record. I think we need to stick with him and hold on. The Japanese leagues don't travel the way MLB does and don't play as many games. While I think Japan has good hitters, the pitchers in the majors have the edge. I think Fukudome will continue to learn and adjust to the pitching and conditions. I think next season he's going to really surprise a lot of people with how good he really is. Is he ever going to hit 30 home runs? Probably not, but with our lineup, he doesn't need to. People can go on and on about how corner outfield spots need to be power spots, but when you're getting good HR production from 1B, 3B, LF, and C, you're doing pretty good. Throw in some solid power from DeRosa and Edmonds and every HR Fukudome hits is gravy. That said, I believe he WILL get better. The question, ultimately, is whether he'll improve enough to make a difference this season. I think he will and I reiterate I think he will be a badass in 2009. Look at the difference between Theriot in 07 and 08. Theriot kind of wore himself out last year and this year is cooking along nicely. It's a difference in conditioning for a major league season. One could even argue Fukudome was working himself too hard, following the regimen he was accustomed to in Japan, where the practices are longer. I have to say, his defense is too good to replace him. If he can get his stroke back, he can continue to hit near the bottom of the order and hopefully contribute. I think the rest of our offense is solid enough to absorb it if continues to struggle. If he's still struggling come playoff time, we can always use Reed Johnson and Edmonds in right and center.

Anyway, the Cubs took 2 of 3 from D.C., losing only one game in spectacular fashion on my birthday. Naturally. Still, some things remain constant. Carlos Zambrano is still awesome. Mark DeRosa continues to be one of Jim Hendry's smoothest moves as a GM. Rich Harden is filthy. And the Soto-Rooter put another jimmyjack on the board, giving him 19 on the year. And the motherfucker can catch! There are 32 games remaining. I doubt the Cubs can go 20-12 to notch a hundred win season, but if they keep playing this way, they might come damn close.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mustache Rides, August 19th, 2008

Hey douchebags, The Mustache is back. The Poet's still busy at his 9-5 job, so I'm here to stir things up. In case you haven't noticed, I'm employed again as Kerry Wood has returned from blister hell to resume closing for your Chicago Cubs. So the ol' Hairball is back in action as well, keeping that shoulder tendon of Woody's nice and strong. The pay is good and the brew and the bitches are flowing.

Me and the Closer Beard have been watching the Olympics the past week or so. Pretty sweet job by that Phelps kid. USA all the way. My favorite sport is the beach volleyball. What'd you think I was gonna say, gymnastics? Sun, sand, and tiny bikinis, that's the way to go. Sit me down at the end with cold bucket of brews and that's the perfect day for the 'Stache. Here's what's shaking . . .


The Mustache wants one. Your mustache wants one. Obey or die, little man.


Every time a strip club closes, the ‘Stache gets a little misty. Excuse me a moment . . .


Designer Vaginas? No thanks, paying for middle-class level vagina is expensive enough . . .


One woman answering the Mustache’s call to crazy things up. Come on ladies, do it for the ol’ Hairball.


WTF moment of the week. Apparently, the Pope is hopping mad . . .


Another hot bi-sexual teacher. The Mustache still feels gypped.


Flat Earth? Is that anything like flat-chested? They both suck ass.


That's all there is to it, the Mustache is fuckin' going to the Beaver Festival.

All right kids, that's it for me. I'm fucking sick of typing. In keeping with the Olympic Spirit, here's some stuff that fires up my torch. Drink one for me.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, August 15, 2008

74-47: Stay Classy Atlanta

The Cubs completed a three game sweep of the Braves by bitchslapping Tom Glavine around like a little girl on Thursday, scoring 7 runs off the future HOFer in 4 innings. Ted "The Killer" Lilly gave up 4 runs, but struck out 8 and nailed one whiny little bitch of a shortstop in the arm. This prompted the benches to clear, despite the fact that a Braves pitcher had thrown near Soriano's head in the previous game and broken his hand in the earlier series at Wrigley.

Now normally, I don't go in for the beanball nonsense. The Cubs took the high road in the Brewers series earlier and refused to be baited into a childish pissing match. I applauded them for being the more mature team and not getting distracted from playing the game. The Braves are a different story. The animosity here dates back to last season, when Alfonso knocked three homers in a single game. The next day he caught one in the ribs. Ted Lilly retaliated in that series, drilling Edgar Renteria, and was tossed before warnings were even issued, which was complete crap. It should have ended there, but of course it didn't. Renteria felt the need to go after Mike Fontenot, chopping Mike on the neck when he stole second and went in hard. Apparently, Atlanta feels that the score wasn't evened up, which I can't understand at all. Soriano=Renteria, plus we let you smack our 2nd baseman, and Lilly was tossed, whereas Hudson wasn't despite nailing Soriano. If anyone should feel slighted, it's the Cubs.

In 2008, the Braves came to Wrigley and they broke Soriano's hand with a tight pitch. Now he gets buzzed near the dome after continuing to offensively punish Atlanta. What a childish bunch of crap. Frankly, I expected better from a Bobby Cox managed team. Ted Lilly manned up and nailed Yunel Escobar, who should be directing his complaints to either Francisley Bueno, who was the one who threw near 'fonso's head or to his manager for allowing this bullshit to continue. At least Lilly wasn't tossed last night like he was last season. I'd also advise Escobar not to screw with Ted Lilly. The Ted Lilly Fan Club sums it up best here.

I'd like to think this is all over and done with, but the Braves can't seem to let this go. You know, if Alfonso Soriano is beating the crap out of you, maybe you should blame your pitching before you throw at the man. You could always walk him for crissake. I guess what irritates me the most is that the Braves have the gall to be pissed off when the Cubs retaliate. If you're gonna stir the shit, don't be surprised when some splashes back on you. 6-0 motherfuckers. See you next year.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

71-47: Cubs Still in First, Olympic Distractions

Been a busy week for me as we finished up our fiscal year end. Been watching the ballgames and the Olympics over the past couple days, so this is the most I've used the remote since that Aurora Snow marathon on pay per view the other day. The Cubs took two of three from the Cardinals over the weekend, a series marred only by the colossal ass-whipping El Toro Loco took on Saturday. Luckily for me, I missed most of it, taking a TV break to finally catch The Dark Knight. I am now permanently ruined for all movies, comic book or otherwise. I liked The Dark Knight so much, I want to make sweet love to it. This was the Batman movie I've waited my whole damn life for someone to make. Thank you Christopher Nolan, you rock.

Dempster was awesome on Sunday, even if I did skip some of the game to watch Michael Phelps and company kick some Frenchie butt. This is the first year I've been excited about the Olympics in quite a while and like a lot of people, I've been caught up in the Phelps mania. I love swimming anyway, but this guy is just something else. Usually I just watch the beach volleyball and drool, but a lot of the other events have held my interest as well this year. The opening ceremonies were pretty sweet as well and whomever ends up with the next Games is gonna have a helluva time topping this year's.

Cubs meet the Braves at 6 tonight. Let's keep the good vibes going, despite rumors that Kosuke may be headed to the bench. Hopefully, Fukudome can get it going against Atlanta tonight and finish his first year strong. Go Cubs and go US.

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Working in the Coal Mine

I've been MIA lately as this week is the busiest time of the year where I work. Not that any of you really gives a rat's ass, but I thought I'd make sure to post just so people don't think the site is folding or anything. As soon as Monday rolls around, things will return to normal (whatever that is) and regular posting will resume. So to the five people who read this web site, I say thank you. Kisses.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, August 1, 2008

R.I.P. Rod Beck

R.I.P., buddy. I miss you.

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A Special Edition of Hero Worship: Rod "The Shooter" Beck

August 3rd is Rod Beck's Birthday. Since I have no computer access Sunday, here is a special post regarding the man who gave this site its name.

The year is 1998. I have just graduated from college and am working full time for the first time in my life. Full blown alcoholism is still a year away. The world is my oyster. I’ve been a Cub fan for most of my life, but this is the year it turns serious. This is where true obsession begins. My main man, Mark Grace, is still with the Cubs, but this year brings two new heroes to light. The first is Kerry Wood, the young rookie phenom with the fireball arm. The other is the man who epitomizes ‘closer’ to me: the mulleted, fu-manchued, beer-bellied wonder that is Rod Beck.

He is known as The Shooter. He has a steely gaze that intimidates hitters before he throws a single pitch. His right arm has a restless energy of its own as it twitches spasmodically while he crouches over the mound, glaring in at the hitter. He is from the John Kruk school of baseball, which means he doesn’t resemble an athlete so much as a beer league softball player, probably the one who brings the keg to the game for his teammates. He is also magnificent.

Rod Beck came to the Cubs via free agency in 1998. He went on to record 51 saves in 58 chances, a big part of the Cubs’ Wildcard run. 1999 was a different story, as The Shooter battled injuries, eventually being traded to the Red Sox. In 2001, the big man had Tommy John surgery. Eventually, he was signed to a minor league deal by the Cubs in 2003.

Some of you may ask: Why the big deal about a guy who only pitched just a year and a half for the Cubs? Most of his best years were with the Giants before he ever became a Cub. All of this is true, but there’s more to the Rod Beck story. While with the minors in Iowa, Rod became somewhat of a cult figure. He lived in his motorhome, which he parked behind the Iowa Cubs’s stadium. More to the point, he welcomed many fans to share his food and beer. If the martini light in The Shooter's window was lit, it meant feel free to knock and share some good times. Rod Beck understood that baseball was a game and that it was fun. He was a fun guy who got paid to do what he loved and honestly seemed to enjoy the appreciation and attention of the fans. Other men in his position, at the tail end of the career, eking out an existence in the minor leagues, hoping for another big league shot, might have been bitter and withdrawn. Not The Shooter.

Beck did get his chance, as the San Diego Padres offered him a role in the majors again when closer Trevor Hoffman was injured. The Shooter posted 20 saves in 20 chances with a 1.78 ERA for the Padres in 2003. He was voted the Comeback Player of the Year, but struggled personally and professionally in 2004 and was released.

On June 23rd of last year, The Shooter was found dead at his home in Phoenix, AZ, the victim of his own personal demons. He may have spent more years and had more success in San Francisco, but he elected tobe buried in Cub pinstripes. He may only have been with the Cubs at the major league level for just over a season, but it seems his heart and soul remained with the Northside Franchise. I think the fans who remember him, like me, probably feel the same way about him. He never took the game for granted and relished his big league opportunities, rare for most players in this day and age.

To me, in 1998, Rod Beck was bigger than life. When I decided to create my own baseball blog, his attitude and humor seemed a perfect fit for a tribute. There was just something electric about the guy. On August 3rd, 2008, Rodney Roy Beck would have turned forty years old. Pick up a sixer of Coors this Sunday and drink a toast to the Mustachioed One himself.

God Speed Shooter.


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65-44: We Came, We Saw, We Kicked Their Asses!

Thursday the Cubs laid a whupping on the Milwaukee Brewers, handily beating the piss out them with their own sausages. Jim "My Career Ain't Over" Edmonds hit two homeruns, including a grand salami. Fukudome's bat continues to rebound from his mid-season slump as he added a two run shot of his own. And our pitching? Holy Crap. Rich Harden finally earned his first Cub win and struck out nine. Nine! That's ten, ten, ten, and nine Ks in his first four games, if anyone's counting. Sabathia's been sexier, with his 4 wins and 3 complete games, but so long as we can get the new kid some runs and he stays healthy, he's gonna catch up pretty quick. Dempster continues to be the best thing to come out of Canada since LaBlatt Blue and Zambrano is just a beast. I love this team!

I didn't expect the Cubs to sweep, given how anemic the bats were to start the second half, but the Cubs came in hot after that win against Florida on Sunday and never looked back. They manhandled the Brewers offensively and our pitching dominated their high scoring offense. Now I know we're only in the first throes of August, but I gotta say, the boys in blue look very sharp. I don't expect this to be the turning point of the season or anything, as there's still plenty of ball left to play, but it was sure enjoyable.

I found myself very disappointed in the Brewers the last game. The one knock I have on their team is that they resort to childish, pantie twisting bullcrap when they get knocked around. It happened last year against St. Louis and now the whole thing with Gagne throwing behind Edmonds in the 9th. The guy hit two homeruns, didn't pose for pictures as far as I could tell, so what's with the circus stuff? It was apparent Gagne meant to hit Edmonds, but Jim pulled his butt in and the pitch sailed past him. Leave it to Jim Edmonds to NOT take one in the ass. How you could argue that wasn't intentional is beyond me, but Gagne and Yost tried. Then Fielder throws his hissy fit in the 9th and gets rung as well. Get over it Prince. It was 11-4. You could have hit one to the moon and it wouldn't have fucking mattered. I didn't see where you had anything to bitch about anyway. Eat a tofuburger and shut the fuck up. Conversely, the Cubs handled the 9th with grace. No beanballs from Eyre or Marshall, although I'd be willing to bet if there'd been a close play at second in the top half, Edmonds might have tried to take down Weeks or Hardy. The Cubs may not forget what happened, but if the playoffs are on the line the next time we see the Sausage Slingers, I doubt you'll see any retaliation. I think the boys will just file it away for 2009. Whether it's just tempers boiling over or just a low class maneuver by Yost to try and distract the Cubs, it's still bullshit. The Brewers remind me of the Cubs from 2004, when they allowed distractions and ass-whippings to get to them. (See Moises Alou, Kent Mercker, et al.) Maybe I'm wrong, but this just suggests to me that maybe the Brewers aren't quite ready for the playoffs. A little more maturity down the road and I think they'll get their chances, as their young studs get a little more seasoning. A new manager might help, too, as Yost seems sort of clueless to me. Maybe not Dusty Baker bad, but Yost's style (or lack thereof) just doesn't work for me. With guys like Lou, LaRussa, Scoscia, Francona, and Torre in the game, you just need to manage smarter. They've got a great team and they could still overtake us, but I think they have a lot of growing up to do, hopefully starting next year or the year after.

BallHype: hype it up!