Saturday, April 30, 2005

Most Important Victory Thus Far

For many reasons, Friday night's 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros was the most significant.

ltem - Mad Dog beat the Rocket. Even tho it was pointed out in yesterday's blog that Maddux's record against Houston was more exemplary than Clemens' against the Cubs, Roger had been almost perfect in his previous starts this year. While neither had his best stuff, each were able to pitch through some tough spots and Maddux was a hair better. The psychological implications of beating the best cannot be dismissed. Reflected Maddux, "Looking back, years from now, it will be a special game. I was going to do whatever it took tonight to win this one.'' And he did.

Peter Gammons speculated earlier this week that if the Astros keep up this anemic pace, we could very well see Clemens back in pinstripes by August.

Item - Credit Dusty Baker in his handling of pitchers, knowing when Greg's night was finished. Garner wasn't as astute with Clemens. He also lifted Ohman after his only walk and wasn't afraid of putting Hawkins in at a crucial moment, despite his many detractors. If I was Dusty, I wouldn't read the papers and I would definitely stay off the internet.

Item - LaTroy Hawkins was splendid. If he needed a confidence booster, this was it. Hawkins earned his fourth save of the season in a tight one-run game. For the year this fellow Hoosier (he's from Gary) has a whip of .90 and has 9 k's compared to 3 walks. It was reported during the telecast that Carrie Muskat, reporter for, asked the number crunchers at STATS to compare LaTroy's figures against the league for the last ten years and he is right where everyone else is in terms of blowing a one run lead (the average is less thn 50% saves) and Hawkins is better than the league in saving 2 and 3 run leads. But Cub Fans are fond of imitating Chicken Little. We wouldn't be Cub Fans if we didn't. Well done, LaTroy.

Jeromy Burnitz came through big time as he needs to do early and often this year if the Cubs are going to be a serious threat. Three big hits, including the decisive home run in the 7th, capped off a 5 game surge that has seen him hit .368 with three home runs and nine rbi's and only one strikeout..

Item: Todd Hollandsworth put smiles on his loyal if not misunderstood fan club by slamming two doubles and a run batted in to increase his BA to .250.

Item: Player of the Month Derreck Lee (if he doesn't get it, I demand an investigation) walked, doubled, scored and was thrown out at the plate by centerfielder Willy Taveras. If this kid ever learns how to hit, he will wear out batteries all over baseball. He is fast, even beating out a pitchout and what an arm to gun down Lee.

I am also impressed with Astro rightfielder Jason Lane who had two sensational catches. The Cubs have caught him and the rest of the team at a good time. Lane was hot at the plate early but has cooled off, going only 2 for his last 22.

Item: The team rebounded from lost opportunities. An irritating tendency so far has been so many missed chances to capitalize on men in scoring position with less than 2 out. Second inning. The first four batters reach safely. Two runs are in and there are men on second and third with nobody out. Clemens settles down and it looks like the second inning is going to cost the Cubs dearly again but Jeromy's clout in the 7th takes care of that.

Item: Aramis Ramirez collected 2 hits and scored. Good to see him starting to get back in form.

Item: Nifty Neifi and Hairston Jr. contributed with a snappy double play to get Maddux out of a spot in the 6th.

Item: A solid game from Kerry Wood tonite will close off April on a high note. And then we have Prior for Sunday. Houston is a shadow of its former self. This should be a sweep on the road.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Prelude to a Classic

The hype is strong on this one. Two future first ballot Hall-of-Famers square off tonight as Greg Maddux faces off against Roger Clemens.

Clemens has given up but one run in 2005. Four starts, 28 innings and his record is 1-0? His ERA is a microscopic 0.32 and his record is 1-0? In his last three starts (each a no decision) his team has lost 1-0.

On the other hand, Maddux is 0-1, giving up 12 earned runs in 24 innings. So score one for Clemens?

Not so fast. The Astros are pathetic this year (5 game losing streak including 3 shutouts) and the Cubs are on an offensive tear, winning 3 of 4 scoring 32 runs in those games. This game will not end 1-0. Maddux is also historically better against Houston than Clemens is against Chicago.

If the Cubs can somehow best the Rocket (Is his nickname a reflection of his roots in Dayton, Ohio?) and the ‘stros, this could be the ummpphh they need to enter May with some momentum with Prior and Wood going in the other two games this weekend.

OK I'm Gloating
Excuse me, but I believe I was the first CBA member to laud the Derreck Lee start by submitting a post entitled Turning History On Its Head way back in the first week of April.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Thru Cub Eyes - Billy Williams

Every Friday we peek into Cub History by selecting one player to tell us how it was in his own words. Banks, Kessinger and Beckert have already been featured. These are excerpts from Carrie Muskat’s fine anthology Banks to Sandberg to Grace. Be sure to add this volume to your vast collection of fine Cub Literature.

It was a tough time. You go to different cities and they call you all kinds of names. Half the time you’d get a base hit, and they were pissed off because you got a base hit, and they called you “nigger” or “jigaboo.” You hear that -- you can’t help but hear it. You try to brush all that away from your mind. You don’t want anything to take away from what you were doing. Your goal is to play hard and be a good player, and you wash all this [stuff] away. I heard all this until I got to Triple-A.

The game hasn’t changed. You still got to catch it, you still got to throw it, you still got to hit it. Whether or not you’re Tampa Bay or the New York Yankees, or the Chicago Cubs, you could add one or two players and that’s all you need to win a pennant.

We never played [Doug[Glanville in center field. I knew what he could do because I’d seen him play, but he was always playing left field because we went out and got Brian McRae to play center field. But we wound up trading Glanville and now he’s an outstanding player. So this is how the game has changed.

I often tell them, your playing career goes by so fast. Give all you’ve got while you’re on the field. Don’t walk in the clubhouse and say if I coulda, woulda, shoulda. Try to leave it all out on the field. You’re only out there three and a half to four hours. Make sure it’s all done.

next week, Fergie Jenkins

Monday, April 25, 2005


Everyone remembers where they were when Kennedy was shot (if you are that old, that is.) And 9-11 is still too fresh for people to forget their whereabouts when they learned of the Towers.

If you are a Cub fan, a third date is indellibly etched in your memory.


The First (supposedly) night game in Wrigley Field. I hated it. I am a traditionalist. But reluctantly, I had to concede. The networks had messed with the natural order of things in '84 when the Cubs were supposed to have three home games in the playoffs. But the networks intervened and said that they needed the extra revenue that prime time would bring so they made it so the Padres got the extra home game and as a result, the Cubs lost the series 3-2.

Each team won at home.

So Dallas Green and others rammed lights down our throat.


I was living in Chicago at the time, actually, studying to be a minister. But my TV was on the blink. Actually it had died. So I called my cousin who lived in the burbs and he let us come out and watch it at his place.

Then the heavens opened with a deluge so strong that a just and holy God let everyone know precisely what He thought of the idea.

I am thinking of that night as the Cubs play their first night game this year. Who knows? It just might snow. And if it does, I will smile.

Go get 'em, Lord

Nifty Neifi Neutralizes Nasty Naysayers

Need Numbers?

Not Necessarily.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Neifi's Team

It is about time for all those who have crucified or at the very least disrespected Mr. Perez for the last three weeks to finally give the man his props. He and Lee have carried this team on their backs. Not Burnitz. Not Ramirez, certainly not Kerry Wood. Others have contributed. Jason Dubois has done well. But Neifi for me is the emotional center of this team. And it is time for Cub fans everywhere to get behind him.

The 4-3 loss to the Pirates today was not his fault. Neifi got on base four times with a walk and three hits. He is doing the job in the field as well, turning fine plays when he has to.

Well done, Mr. Perez. Keep it up or Cub fans (and especially the Blog Army) will eat you alive.


A sad feeling has hovered over me for several days now. One morning as I checked the waiver wire, I thought my eyes were deceiving me, for the name I beheld before me was none other than
Rafael Palmeiro.

Now, before you get too excited, it wasn’t the Baltimore Orioles who had put him on waivers but rather one of my fellow Fantasy Mates. How could he? Not Raffy, not one of the most popular and productive men to ever cross the chalk line?!

And yet, my feelings of bewilderment and consternation were engulfed by shame as I realized that I could not in all good conscience pick him up on my team, either.

Palmeiro is 64 hits shy of becoming just the fourth man in history (joining the likes of Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray) to slam 500 home runs and collect 3,000 hits. He is a lock for Cooperstown. Or should be. He was one of the few who testified on March 17 at the steroid hearings who left with his integrity intact.

Integrity will not win you any fantasy games, however. So Raffy, good buddy, your .226 average isn’t gonna cut it today, I’m afraid. I’ll keep one eye peeled, tho and good luck. I still wish the Cubs would have kept you and let the Wild Thing stay put in Texas. But with Mark Grace ready to anchor down first base, there was just not enough interest, I suppose.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Dempster Haunted by Clement's Ghost

I hate few things in life. Horror movies is one of them. But there is a horror movie being played out on the Cubs in their first tenth of the season. In Amityville Horror, the house was haunted. Anyone living there would be terrorized and dished up misfortune.

For the Cubs, the house has a name. 5th starter.

Last year Matt Clement was the victim. He finished the year 9-13 with an ERA of 3.68. on more times than not, on the days he pitched, the baseball demons would take possession of his teammates’ bats and he lost many decisions when he pitched really well.

Clement started 28 games in 2004 and the Cubs managed to lose 17 of them. In those games a total of 36 runs were scored by the good guys. Two runs a game and change.

Matt is gone but his ghost remains behind to haunt the Cubs’ new 5th starter, Ryan Dempster.

In his first four starts (1-3) his run support is seven, three while still pitching, four after his departure. All three were scored in his sole victory April 16th in Pittsburgh. In his 3 losses, Dempster’s teammates have failed to score while he was still in the game.

A rough first outing explains the 4.57 ERA. In his last three starts Ryan’s ERA is an even 2.00.
Somewhere the goblins and ghouls are rolling on the floor laughing.

Last night? Matt Clement won 1-0.

Thru Cub Eyes: Glenn Beckert

Carrie Muskat compiled anecdotes from several players and team officials in her fine book BANKS TO SANDBERG TO GRACE. Enjoy this feature every Friday (Ernie Banks and Don Kessinger have already been featured) and buy the book at your finest bookstore featuring Chicago Cub literature. These are just excerpts. Each player has alot more to say than what you see here.

My favorite Cubs moment, the all-time game -- and I probably had better stats in certain games – but my parents were from an agricultural background from western Pennsylvania. We were playing Pittsburgh at Wrigley Field and they weren’t much for traveling. They got the box seats in the front row. In the game in the ninth inning Kess [Don Kessinger] Kess got a hit and I think I got the key hit, first and third, nobody out, and after Billy Williams knocked in the winning run or whatever, I went over to my parents, and my dad and mother had tears in their eyes. You could see the pride. You could just see their happiness radiating from them. Being from Pittsburgh, beating them, it was just nice.

I think when we played there was a lot more team concept. There was no free agency and guys stuck together. You knew who was on he Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis. Now, one or two guys stay there five or seven years. I think that’s one of the good points of the game when I played. I think that’s why they remember our team, the ’69 Cubs. The nucleus was together nine years. There were seven, eight of us. It seems like yesterday. Just to be remembered for not winning is amazing. It’s the Cubs charisma or whatever. I’ve been very fortunate. We were able to set up great friendships, not only with the players, but the wives. As I look back, it’s a great treasure.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Down Goes Nomar! Down Goes Nomar!

Call it Eli’s Revenge.

On May 11, 2003, Cardinal right fielder Eli Marrero’s season was ruined when he ruptured ligaments in his right ankle when he slipped on the rain-soaked grass at Wrigley Field.

A game that should never have been played in the first place.

I’m not saying Busch Stadium’s conditions were comparable last night or even that Nomar Garciaparra slipped on wet ground outside of the batter’s box. But the bottom line may be eerily similar.

Nomar’s season could very well be ruined.

At least we won't have to have that insipid argument pitting Neifi Perez against Jerry Hairston Jr. for awhile. Both will have ample opportunities to prove their supporters/critics claims.

Happy Birthday Todd Hollandsworth!
You put smiles on your loyal if not misunderstood fan club's faces by snapping out of your 2 for your last 20 slump with 2 hits, including a double.

A scary night. The Cubs dodged imminent tragedy thanks to another stellar outing by Zambrano. Those 13 stranded baserunners usually spells gloom and doom for the Cubs, especially on Cardinal turf. Patterson stranded five as a lead-ff hitter! Are we sure we want him hitting in the middle of this order?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Been There, Dunn That

All right, Adam, that's enough of that! Why? That's all I want to know. Why do you have to beat up so on Cub pitching?

Isn't it enough that you pummeled Chicago in the series at the end of September during their downward spiral? You remember, don't you Adam? On Sept 27 8th inning, BAM! home run against Todd Wellemeyer. Next day, BAM! home run against Greg Maddux. Next day BAM! home run against Glendon Rusch. Finally, in the 4th game of the series, you whiffed 3 times and didn't go yard.

But yesterday, twice against Kerry Wood, BAM! BAM! Either you have a fondness of the Flintstones or Emeril Lagassi, I'm not sure which.

Why, Adam? Did you get a bad pack of Wrigley's gum as a kid? Did you get bad service at Harry Carey's bar and grill? Did Steve Stone offer some constructive criticism? Did Dusty Baker's kid kick you in the shins?

Why the Cubs? You have not shown the same power proficiency facing any of the other clubs in the Central Division. In 115 at bats vs. current Cub pitching, you have gone deep 13 times! Against St. Louis and 100 times at bat you have hit only 4. Houston, 86 ab and 2 dingers!

Speaking of Houston, you have 40 at bats against Roy Oswalt and cleared the fences once. Against Kerry Wood, 8 hits in 29 ab, four of which were homers. You have only four hits against Greg Maddux out of 21 abs, but 3 of the 4 are home runs.

So what are you going to do today for an encore, Adam? You are facing Mark Prior. You are batting .111 against him (1-9) and no homers, YET. I sure hope Remlinger doesn't get in the game. You are 6-7 against Mike with one homer.

So, Adam, show a little mercy, man. As for hitting Cub pitching, you can say you've been there, Dunn that!!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Not a Total Loss

Going about my day, I catch bits and pieces of game #10, the first of 3 at Pittsburgh. A critical moment comes early in the contest when the Cubs load the bases with one out and the meat coming to bat. Aramis strikes out (he used to obliterate his former club) and Big D grounds out. The score remains tied and I have that sinking feeling that this will come back to bite the Cubs big time.

I'm right. Although with the collapse of Remlinger and Fox it might not have made that big of a difference in the end. Pirates win 8-5.

Pssst. Neifi Perez is hitting .400. Don't tell the other bloggers. I loved it when I heard that he went yard.

The day isn't a total loss. David Ortiz hits a grand slam (fantasy points for me!) and while in Waldenbooks, I spy a gem in the bargain bin. What Baseball Means To Me, a compilation of over 100 essays from prominent politicians and personalities in and out of sports reflect upon the tie that binds us all, the love of our national pasttime. George Will, Bob Costas, Ernie Banks, George Bush (and his daddy) Charlie Sheen (and his daddy) and over 100 others. Beautiful hardback coffee table book full of vintage photographs. All this for (drum roll, please) $6!!

The first essay I read is from Pat Hughes, radio announcer for the Cubs. All he writes about is the '98 season with Sammy & Mark chasing some guy named Roger. Some day I will write of my memories from that year.

But today I'm just hoping that Mr. Dempster will repeat his earlier stellar performance and that tomorrow Greg Maddux can follow Derrek Lee's lead and have a good April for a change.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Thru Cub Eyes: Don Kessinger

Every Friday we look back at some Cub history. Carrie Muskat compiled anecdotes from 60 different players and team officials in her book BANKS TO SANDBERG TO GRACE. Enjoy this feature every Friday (Ernie Banks was featured last week) and buy the book at your finest bookstore featuring Chicago Cub literature.

Don was the first Cub I ever met. I have always liked him because he was a Christian athlete before it was "cool" to be a Christian athlete.

Don Kessinger
Let me tell you truly, that group of guys -- I was so fortunate to come to the Cubs at a time when we had such great role models. I was a young guy. Beck [Glenn Beckert] and I came up the same year. We had guys like Ernie Banks and Billy Williams and Ron Santo and George Altman. These were great guys. Not just good players, but great guys. It was great for us to be around a group like that.

Beck and I used to go out early, especially when Alvin Dark was the coach that first year. We used to go out 20 minutes before other people to take ground balls and work on double plays; so yeah, we did become close, and I think we're good friends today. That whole group of guys were good friends. That's the thing that people don't understand. That was the great thing about that group that stayed together for so many years. We really cared about each other. There was a unique relationship between the players and between the players and the fans with that group of guys that in all my16 years we were never able to emulate. It was really a unique deal.

We were bad in 1965 and worse in 1966 and Leo took over and said "I guarentee this is not an 8th-place ballclub." He was right, because we finished 10th. we were bad. But then in 1967 we went from 10th to 3rd. In June or July of that summer, we won a ballgame that put us in first place, and from that moment on there was this deal with this group of people and the fans. 1968 was better. We were really good and we finished third again but we were good, and '69 was just a magical year that didn't end right. I don't know how it could've been more wild than having won it.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Is 6 for 9 in yesterdays double header good enough for you? Now that you have kicked Dusty and Neifi from here to the curb, how about a little humble pie? Give the man his props.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Hairston's Harangue

OK, did Jerry Hairston Jr. have a legitimate beef with Dusty Baker's decision to start Neifi Perez over him in Monday's game against the Padres?

Should he even be speaking out? Two different questions. Even if he has a point, I don't think he should be airing it in public. Walk into Dusty's office and face him man to man.

Now, for the original query. Baker said he played the match-ups. Hmmm. Considering that Hairston has never faced Adam Eaton before all he had to go on was Neifi's record and the record shows going in that Perez was hitting 6 for 21 which places him above .300. Score one for Dusty. And Perez did deliver, getting his first hit of the young season, going 1 for 3. Later, he laid down a sac bunt getting Lee in scoring position so no one should question Neifi's presence in the game.

One would have thought that Todd Hollandsworth would have had a blowout game as he has owned Eaton in the past, going 9 for 16 with 2 homers and 2 doubles. The percentages didn't work out this time, however and Todd went 0-2 against Eaton and 0-4 for the game with two strikeouts against the relievers when the game was on the line

By the way, Ryan Dempster is now hitting .500 (1-2) against Eaton so at the very least I expect to see him pinch hitting the next time the Padres and Cubs meet in battle. Shoot, Dusty, you might even want to rearrange your rotation so Ryan can get more than one crack at Adam Eaton.

Let's predict what Dusty might do today in the double-header based on the numbers. In game one Jake Peavy faces our Boys in Blue. Doesn't look too good for Neifi in game one. 0-10 with just a base on balls. In fact few of the Cubs have had any success against this guy. Aramis is 2-5 and Corey is 3-5.

Now don't get too excited, Jerry. Jose Macias is 1-2 but that one is a Home Run! I wouldn't be surprised to see Jose start in game one. Besides, Dusty may just be teaching Jerry a lesson in public griping Again, Mr. Hairston Jr. has never faced the big Jake.

Game two pits Prior against Brian Lawrence. Checking the history shows the Naperville native's best chance of playing before family and friends yet. (One wonders if this has something to do with his remarks) At least he has seen Lawrence in a game. But an 0-3 performance may tip the scales once again for Perez who is 2-7 against the pride of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Look for Lee and Burnitz to get some good cuts at Lawrence. Both have cleared the fence on him before.

Even Prior is 1-2 in past meetings. This twinbill has a make or break feel to it. A sweep for the Cubs could infuse enough confidence to propel them to a strong run. On the other hand, a Padre sweep could deflate the team even further and this could mire them into mediocrity or worse for quite a spell.

And a split would probably keep them in a perpetual state of enigmatic flux.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Ho Hum?

Bottom of the ninth, 1-0 score, one out. Up to the plate strolls Todd Hollandsworth. He has to face no less than Padres ace closer, Trevor Hoffman. It’s a nailbiter for sure and then the camera catches a shot of the Todd Hollandsworth fan club in the stands. Are they cheering wildly for their icon to be a hero? Are they encouraging him with chants of “Let’s Go Todd, Let’s Go Todd?”

Not quite.

They sit there, looking bored. One guy even yawns. Yawns? The announcer is perplexed. I am perplexed, even somewhat agitated. Hey fella, did you get the memo? There’s one outstanding baseball game in progress and it’s coming down to the wire and your guy is up! WAKE UP!

But Todd strikes out as he does in the 7th. Michael Barrett flies out and that’s the ball game. All right, fella. You can go home now and take a nap. An outstanding effort by Ryan Dempster is wasted, shades of the 70’s when Fergie Jenkins and Rick Reuschel lost so many 1-0 deceisions.

Why am I so irritated anyway? Because the Cubs lose? Possibly. Is it because I am jealous that while I am working that guy is enjoying himself within the Friendly Confines? Perhaps.

Is it because Todd Hollandsworth is starting in left instead of Jason Dubois? No, you will have to visit my fellow Cub bloggers for that complaint.

Maybe it has something to do with the first seven games. This team is still somewhat enigmatic and finding itself. A 3-4 record isn’t panic time but aside from a 16-6 blowout to start the season the bats have yet to come alive.

I don’t care if it only April. I don’t care if we are a generation where “chicks dig the long ball.” If ever there was a time in this fledgling of a season that called for excitement, even hysteria, this is it. The game is on the line. Man, give me something. Give me frustration over the Jeromy Burnitz error that leads to the game’s only run. Give me vitriolic apoplectic rage over the team’s best hitter, Todd Walker, going on the DL because yesterday Carlos Lee chose to gun for him with his spikes up.

The point is, for the love of everything that is sacred about Cub Baseball, feel something, anything.

Even Bartman did more than just sit there.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Thru Cub Eyes: Ernie Banks

Fridays often follow an off day so this is an excellent opportunity to look back at some Cub history. Carrie Muskat compiled anecdotes from 60 different players and team officials in her book BANKS TO SANDBERG TO GRACE. Look for this feature every Friday and buy the book at your finest bookstore featuring Chicago Cub literature.

Many of the players didn't quite understand my own philosophy. I believe in forgive and forget, and keep your mouth shut and listen to whatever somebody is trying to tell you and you can learn something. I tell my children that. But it was just misinterpreted that Leo disliked me. He made my life better, he made me a better player.

I remember in St. Louis, I hit two home runs and drove in seven runs one time against Steve Carlton. I mean, there's many things I was proud of. I was the oldest player on the team at 39 years old. Most people wouldn't have even been on the team at that time. But [Leo] inspired me to reach inside of myself and do more. And that's what I did....It was just inspiration to let somebody know that somebody in your life -- it could be a wife, it could be a manager, it could be a coach -- could light your fire, that would stimulate your life and that's what happened to me when Leo came here from '66 to '72.

Anoher time, one of the most touching things that ever happened to me, in New York, we were losing the game and Leo sent up Jim Hickman to pinch-hit for me. As we were passing Jim said ""Ernie, I'm sorry for doing this." He apologized for pinch-hitting for me. Leo didn't hear it, nobody else heard it. I didn't want to embarrass him. I just looked up and said "You can do it." And I went on back to the dugout. It didn't bother me. What I'm saying is, embarrassment and unkind things that we must all learn from really can make us better -- better people, better individuals.

"Let's Play Two." That started in '69. Like most things, it just kind of come out. It was July and over 100 degrees and everybody was kind of down a little bit. I came in the locker room and Jimmy Enright was there and alot of writers were around, and I said "Boy, this is a great day. Let's play two."

They all woke up and looked around and it stayed with me for a long while. Then we played a double-header in Houston, and me and Lou Brock fell out in the firs game of the double-header. It was about 120 degrees in Houston. I hit a double and faintedand Lou Brock hit a triple and fainted. They took us out and ever since then, most of my friends around the league always remember that. "You always want to play two, but what happened that day in Houston?"

The great joy in my life is to come out to Wrigley Field now. Coming out here is better than going to a psychiatrist. It's real therapy for me. The other parks are OK, but it's special coming here. The people are enthusiastic. They really love this park and they love the players and they love everything about it. It's the epicenter of all our lives and that's why I enjoy coming here so much.

I wasn't around when they talked about the money part of the game. You approach playing at Wrigley Field for the love of it, and the other part is the friendship you can build when you're here. The friendships you make while you are here are much greater than all the money you will make in your life.

So now, I want my ashes to be spread over Wrigley Field with the wind blowing out.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

G-Man Force to be reckoned with

The Astros had the Killer B's. Arizona has their own version of it. Call them the G-men, Gonzales, always a Cub killer has this year been joined by Glaus and Green. The G-Force combined in the series for a .364 clip with 12 hits (half of which were extra base), 9 rbi's and 11 runs.

Yea, I think they can top last year's win total of 51. If their pitching is anything to speak of, they will improve at least by 30 games, putting them even at 81-81.

Of course I may be overstating it a bit. After all, I seem to recall several occasions when the Cubs faced a kid in his first start in the Bigs and looked like Cy Young himself only to return to normalcy in his next start. So, take this with a grain of salt.

Anyone want to venture a guess as to what the ERA of Cub starting pitching is thus far?


And their WHIP? If my calculations are correct, it stands at 2.34.

I know, I know, it's only 3 games.


At least I didn't have to listen to any more stories about Ron Santo giving shots to his diabetic cat. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against cats nor am I insensitive about diabetes. My wife is diabetic and the first link I ever featured was This Old Cub, the movie that features Ron Santo's courageous struggle to overcome juvenile diabetes in his life.

But the cat stuff is kinda out there. That was Tuesday.

All day yesterday I kept hearing how the game time was was going to be altered for ESPN2. So naturally I assumed I would get to see the action. After the Braves outlasted the Marlins (13 innings!) I watched expectantly only to see the Dodgers/Giants game. What's with that? I live 3 hours from Wrigley Field and I have to endure two west coast teams?

Back to the Cubs. I did enjoy listening to Michael Barrett cracking that 3 run homer. It was the one time the Cubs did not choke in a run producing situation.

Nice going, MB.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Dusty, for the sake of the team...

Repeat after me. Must walk Gonzo. Must walk Gonzo. Must walk Gonzo. Bases full of Diamondbacks? Irrelevant.
Walk Luis!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Turning History on its Head

What does the Cubs' 16-6 blowout of the Diamondbacks have in common with 100 lawyers at the bottom of the sea

A good start.

Especially for Derrek Lee, 4-6, one dinger and 5, count em, 5 runs batted in. Let's put this into perspective. A year ago, Derrek didn't get his 5th rbi until game 13 on April 19. He did pick up 4 that day but finished the month .233 2 11.

Two years ago, while still a Florida Marlin, Lee knockd in # 5 in game 10 vs. Atlanta, a particularly great series for Derrek, who had 3 rbi's for the day and a day later added 5 more. But at month's end, his totals were a bit better at .272 4 16.

In 2002, Lee started off strong in a series with the Montreal Expos and collected rbi # 5 during game 2. He got 4 that day. That was the year he cleard the fences in each of the first three games, all against Expo pitching. He faltered after that, ending up hitting just .221 for the month of April.

Fascinating that whenever Lee got his 5th rbi he always gets at least 2, and often 3 more the same day. More importantly, however, Derrek Lee has a chance to turn around his usual anemic start and yesterday's pasting of Arizona was just the ooomph he needed. Now, keep it going Big D. You are a star.

I apologize to all the lawyers out there for the opening jibe. Please don't sue me!

Friday, April 01, 2005

The other Fantasy game in town

Some may see us Cub fans as engaging in a fantasy. Let them think what they want. We are who we are and I will always believe.

Now, I do enjoy a good Fantasy Baseball League and hopefully I have found one within our little family here of Cub Bloggers. Last Sunday was the Draft and after enjoying a good dinner with friends from our church, I hit the books, cramming for the 5:00 p.m. deadline, hoping for another Easter miracle in the form of an early draft pick. I don’t think the Lord was amused. 7th out of nine teams is what I got. Oh well.

Nobody but my mother likes to play Scrabble with me. It takes me sometimes 10 or 15 minutes to form just the right word for the maximum score. In the draft we got 90 seconds to make the perfect choice. 90 seconds? My nerves won’t take it.

A plethora of potential pratfalls threaten to unravel me but I somehow hang in there and only miss the deadline once, which means the computer chooses for me, using the list of pre-ranked players I submitted before the drafting begins.

And that is how Matt Clement is on my team. Which is fine with me. Really, I know it’s April Fools Day but I am serious. I like Matt. Of the fab 5 starters the Cubs had in 2004, Matt received the least amount of run support and he never whined about it. Class act all the way. Now he should have plenty of run support with the world champs in Beantown so I have high hopes for my fantasy team. Matt deserved a better fate in Chicago.

Oh, by the way my wife wants to know why a Cub Blog Fantasy League is drafting from the American League. I do not have an answer for her. I missed the owners’ meeting.

Speaking of ex-Cubs, I drafted Mark Bellhorn at second base. Another example of a player who flourished outside of the Friendly Confines. Fingers are crossed that he can produce another solid performance. His OBP was .384 in 2004 so go, Mark, go!

Every draft has to lay a goose egg. I think it’s in the by-laws of inevitable occurrences. Anyone ever hear of Dallas McPherson? He plays for the Anah – excuse me, the Angels from Los Angeles (sheesh!) but a disc problem sent him to the minors. A risky pick I grant you from the start, the Yahoo baseball gurus ranked him somewhere in the 900’s but the fantasy mag I was using to do my homework with touted him as a rising star so I took a shot. Granted, I may have been influenced by the fact that Dallas was my father’s name.

My biggest miscalculation could have been timing as I grabbed him in the 10th round, 10 out of 20! Nobody else was probably going to even consider him so I should have waited. Hindsight is 20/20 but I could have had the likes of Bartolo Colon or Kevin Brown or even Richard Hidalgo. Oh well. By then my nerves were spaghetti so one bonehead move out of 20 ain’t so bad, is it?

Besides, I am ecstatic that my centerfielder is none other than Coco Crisp! What a great name! Plus, he is an exciting player to watch.

Five days later, I have just crunched the numbers as I am curious to see if draft position was a significant factor in the strength of the team. The results are inconclusive. I mean it seems that way at the top and bottom of the League but the middle is muddled. Check it out. I calculated points that the team would produce if everyone performed exactly as they did a year ago.
Pos Points
1 18,236
2 18.974
3 17,097
4 16,202
5 17,915
6 18,707
7 17,965
8 16,045
9 14,897

Most of my fellow GMs have tweaked their rosters so the above totals may be misleading and for the bottom two teams, they drafted players with no points a year ago because they were either injured or playing in Japan so their apparent weakness may be just an illusion.

Now word has come down that Bobby Crosby, my one and only drafted shortstop, got hit in the wrist by a Brewer pitcher in the final exhibition game. Ouch! X-ray results should be out today but just in case the 2004 AL Rookie of the Year is sidelined for a spell I need another SS so I pick up Pokey Reese. Who needs A-Rod and the Big Unit when I have Coco and Pokey!

Ok, you can stop laughing now.

Also, I waas a bit thin pitching wise (all my drafted bench players were on offense) so I drop Trot Nixon and pick up Ryan Drese.

Hallelujah! Bobby Crosby’s wrist is not broken. The A’s just posted the good news on their web site so I breathe a sigh of relief. I better keep Pokey around just in case, however.
Quoting the story “Oakland trainer Larry Davis said Crosby is day-to-day and may be on the field for Opening Day on Monday. "It's a contusion, no fracture," said Davis, who added Crosby was still scheduled for an MRI Thursday evening "because we're paranoid."
"This is just being extra careful on our part because it's so close to the season," Davis said.”

So, heading into the weekend before opening pitch, here’s how my roster stacks up. And if things don’t work out, maybe I can find a Fantasy Scrabble game somewhere!
C I. Rodriguez Det best choice among backstops
1B D. Ortiz Bos My # 1 pick. See the smile on my face?
2B M. Bellhorn Bos Too many K’s but gets on base.
3B S. Hillenbrand Tor 80 rbi’s and doesn’t strike out.
SS B. Crosby Oak Rookie of the Year; promising
OF H. Matsui NYY Over 100 runs & rbi’s, over 300 TBs.
OF C. Crisp Cle Needs to mature in SB dept
OF M. Kotsay Oak plucked his 190 hits in rnd 14
DH G. Anderson LAA can still produces
BN K. Mench Tex Productive when healthy
BN B. Broussard Cle Came on strong second half of 2004.
BN T. Martinez NYY Overshadowed by his teammates still dependable.
BN P. Reese Sea Hope I won’t need him.
SP F. Garcia CWS Avg ERA, better than avg. WHIP
SP M. Clement Bos Good K total, should have more W’s this year.
RP J. Nathan Min One of the top closers in the game
RP M. Timlin Bos 1.23 WHIP is his best stat
P G. Meche Sea Dubbed a Spring stud by Yahoo’s analysts.
P R. Drese Tex Poised for great year
BN K. Rogers Tex Most think he is a gamble but 18 wins in 2004.