In addition to covering the Cubs on Prose and Ivy, I will now also be writing about baseball in general for BaseballDigest.com.
I like that they throw the Cubs Convention every year and I can’t wait to attend one myself one day. Living in New York City makes it rather challenging to do so but when this last one came around, I mentioned it to my wife. She said you should go to it one of the years. Agreed. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
One of the things I appreciate about the convention is that it gives the new Cubs an opportunity to taste what the club means to the people of Chicago and across the nation root-root-rooting for the Cubbies. Every baseball out there knows about the drought and they hear about it endlessly beginning with when their name is associated with coming to the team. It doesn’t even wait until they are a Cub. It starts with simply rumors. Still, it’s important for new Cubs to understand it’s a honor to be a Cub and that appreciation needs to be taught to guys like Pena and Garza by guys that have been there ie Ramirez and Silva.
The fact that they haven’t won it all in over a century guarantees that the team who does win it all will go down as one of the greatest accomplishments any team has ever reached on a baseball field. A World Series victory is not a World Series victory. They are not all the same. And when the Cubs break through and end their drought it will be talked about probably for as long as Cubs fans have been waiting for it to happen. Cubs fans will talk about it for at least that long or until they die. Whichever comes first.
I hope that the recent outburst by Silva in the Cubs dugout at Spring Training is simply a result of a pressure to win. Not merely make the rotation as he stated, but a pressure to win. I want the Cubs to realize the pressure they are under but not crumble by it’s intimidation factor, but rise up to the challenge and view it as the opportunity that it is.
Passionate ballplayers are a good thing to have on your baseball team. Quade needs to carale that enthusiasm and passion and make sure it stays focused in the right direction. Harnass that energy and emotion and make them play the game fundamentally sound and going all out, all heart, on each and every pitch.
Silva’s outburst should not be compared to Zambrano’s. Zambrano’s was during a regular season game against our crosstown rivals and the game counted. Heck, the BP Cup was on the line (kidding). Silva experienced only one year of Cubs baseball. Maybe that’s all it took for him to ‘get it’. Zambrano had been here for YEARS. We know he understands the pressure and the situation all Cubs are put in. You’ve heard other Cubs talk about it for years. However, some Cubs handle it better than others. Those guys with level heads need to help Quade keep guys focused, not motivate them to go out of control.
Ramirez was involved in the Silva skirmish and he’s another guy who has been here a while and has felt the pressure of the city and the fans. This game is a great thing. This team is a great home. The city of Chicago is a great place to live and the fans are a great group of people to want to win for.
Have there been incidents where Cubs fans haven’t exactly been put in the best light by their own actions? Absolutely. Does it happen across the country in ballparks with fans of all teams? Of course. Does that make it ok? Of course not. However, with however many bonehead moves any Cubs fans have made over the years to disgrace the rest of us, overall, the loyalty the group has shown this team outweighs any negative remark one could make against us.
The fans care. That’s all there is to it. They want the title so bad year in and year out. 103 years and counting and yet still…there the fans are rooting, supporting, praying, hoping, waiting. A great majority of league draws nowhere near what the Cubs do in attendance. Is Wrigley a big reason? Sure, tourists love it. However, many of the people through the turnstiles at Wrigley are die-hard fans who have stayed by the Cubs through thick and thin.
New and old Cubs alike need to appreciate that and play their hearts out. Care when the games don’t count and really care when they do. Only, know when to go ballistic. Know when is the right time and no when to let it go. Spring Training is the perfect time to care about your performance, but not to lose your mind over it.
I appreciate Silva and Ramirez’s passion however it needs to be focused in a positive direction. Still lots of Spring Training games left to clean up the sloppy play and get the mindset right. Quade has a tough challenge ahead of him. His words inspired a players only meeting called by two of the team’s veteran players. Hopefully I’m right in thinking he’s the right guy for the job.
I believe he is.
Go Cubs Go!
You have to love Spring Training. The games don’t count towards anything real except evaluating players, figuring out potential line-ups and planning ahead for potential call-ups. However, many take it very seriously. Today was a great example of Quade taking it just seriously enough.
After Starlin Castro committed the Cubs’ eighth error of the Spring (after just three games, mind you) Dempster said Quade was going to start penalizing the players after future errors that are made. How, you ask? With less playing time? Being pencilled in lower on the depth chart? Making them run sprints?
After every Cubs error, Quade is going to cut off one of the guilty player’s fingers.
Brilliant. Great line by Demp and awesome that Quade found it funny, too.
These games are supposed to be used to get back in the swing of things, no pun intended. To work out the kinks at the plate sure, but also in the field. Get them out of the way now, Quade said, and he’s right. Work out your throws to first. Let the sun win a few battles on pop-ups now instead of later. Get your timing down for double plays. Work it all out now. Besides, an errant throw to first in Spring Training is simply a future potentially autographed souvenir. No big deal.
Quade is organized as I said yesterday and I believe he has the team headed in the right direction. It’s going to take great leadership but also a great sense of humor to make it through the grueling 162 game season. So far, Quade looks like he’s batting .1000 in both departments.
It’s a lot easier to replace a gatorade cooler than it is our star young player’s fingers. No need to go crazy now. Give them time to realize their crimes.
This video goes out to you Mike Quade, from a most appropriate sponsor:
So happy Cubs baseball is back. Go Cubs Go!
Sometimes when people try too hard or try to be too cool, they fail miserably. That’s why Quade has to be careful not to be too much like Kraegen in the above video.
I like that Mike Quade is making this team his own by doing things a little differently, however, he needs to remember to keep the tough love leader as part of his game plan as well considering how well it was received by the team at the end of last season.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the Cubs hiring Quade. I like that he’s enthusiastic to see his guys start putting on display what they can bring to the team. I like that he is looking to further evaluate guys he’s familiar with within the Cubs’ system. I even appreciate the fact that he listed lineups three games in advance. I believe it will help players prepare and learn their roles. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t have a successful team without everyone knowing and embracing their role.
I think Quade has kicked off Spring Training the right way. Let the veterans know what is expected of them and let the youngsters know they are getting a fair look. That’s all any of them can ask for. But are the Cubs in danger of having too much of a good thing the way Quade has started off camp? Is he in trouble of setting a tone where there is too much of a good thing going here (loss to Oakland aside, that is)? Will the players get too used to feeling like they know what to expect and not ready to easily adapt when need be during the season? Like anything, I suppose it’s simply a matter of opinion. Many of you are still upset that Sandberg isn’t running the show. However, in answering the last question, I believe everything is going to be just fine and anyone who is freaking out over Quade’s system of three days heads-up being too soft needs to relax and enjoy having Cubs baseball back on the air.
I understand that people like to pick at the bone for things to complain about, especially when we’re only one game in to Spring Training. Not a whole lot to get worried about but we’re sports fans and when nothing is there, sometimes we create things. I’m feeling pretty good about Quade’s leadership so far and don’t think you should be expecting or worried about any crazy flying basket locker room meetings out of Quade. He may have his own way of running the show that wasn’t done by Piniella or guys before him, but so far I think he’s taking this team in the right direction and has not discarded the Quade that got him the job late last season.
It speaks volumes about Quade’s interest in respecting veterans and leaving windows open to surprises coming out of camp. He referenced Colvin the other day as a recent pleasant Spring Training surprise/success story. I’m glad that he is looking to fill in the roster spots around the guarantees with guys who earn the spot and want to play hard. Of course we’re going to see the guys you can wear. If you can buy a jersey with a player’s last name on it, it’s basically a guarantee you will see them play a major role, at least in the first month or so of the season. It’s the bench players that make a team great though. Stars make you ‘really good’. Depth makes you great.
When I was in Vegas for my honeymoon, I bet on the Cubs three times and won two out of three bets. It would be wild to log into a baseball spread site and predict which players made it out of camp. They very well may, I’m not sure. I know the regular season matters so as a fan of course those games are already fascinating. However, I wonder how many people buy the season previews or the annuals or the minor league prospect reports and try to bet on who will come out of camp. If they are then I’m sure these Spring games are taking on a whole new significance and importance to those particular fans. Imagine watching a Spring game and truly caring how long a player stays in the game. I love the fact that Quade left Garza in the game to hit instead of replacing him with a pinch-hitter. Quade’s right, he has to learn to hit sometime. Now is the time to do so.
I wonder what Zambrano had to say about it privately to Garza afterwards. I know it was reported that he didn’t see it but Z is one of the best hitting Cubs pitchers on the team. While Garza is working with Jaramillo to feel comfortable hitting after hardly doing so for the Rays, he must also be talking to the other guys on the staff and who better to ask than Zambrano? Of course, Garza did get shelled in his first appearance as a Cub in spring training including a grand slam to Coco Crisp. But (cue Fred Armisen’s Joy Behar) who cares, so what? It’s Spring Training. I’m sure the guy was nervous and worried about making a good impression. I’m sure it was just one pitch that got away that led to four runs. Do I want to see it during the regular season? No. Does Quade leave him in the game in a situation where he should replace him with a pinch-hitter when the game counts? No. So far Garza has a hit and the ball to place on his mantle. So far, Quade has been a hit with the Cubs and fans alike.
Is posting game lineups three games in advance too coddling? Is giving veterans reasonable expectations and laying all of your cards on the table too much? Is giving young players the feeling like they could possibly leave the minors behind and join the club for Opening Day or very soon into the season the wrong way to handle your business when it comes to prospects? No. No to all three.
I like what I’ve heard from Quade so far this Spring and I don’t think any of these things are a bad thing. This is Quade’s team now. It’s his time to put his stamp on it and run the show the way he thinks it should be run. At the end of last year he essentially had all of his players’ support that he should be hired as manager as well as mine.
I believe while it’s still early, Quade still has that support 100% and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the Spring plays out leading up to Opening Day. Go Cubs Go!
From the folks over at The Beckett Blog, a photo of Derek Jeter, the Yankees’ pride and joy and captain…proudly featured posing in a Cubs uniform. Hysterical. Although it certainly would trump the Cardinals announcement that they signed Ryan Theriot to play shortstop for the next 2 years! (How about that? Theriot to the Cards. 2011’s Jim Edmonds. Get ready for a bit of bizarre world Cards fans….and you better hope it’s not more like having Aaron Miles on your side again). No need for Castro to sweat though. Just another ‘Fun With Photoshop’ moment for bored baseball fans on the Internet. Thank goodness for that.
Many people can’t understand why the Jeter talks are taking so long. Many also forget that baseball is a business. A huge, huge business. Like all businesses, it’s all about your return on investment (ROI). And when you are as old as Jeter is and coming off the career-worst year that Jeter is coming off of, your legacy is the only thing you have going for you in the boardroom. And like many of the greats before him, that might not be enough for the Yankees to offer what Jeter is looking for.
It would seem wrong to see Jeter play on another team, but it happens. The athletes that accomplish amazing things, setting them apart as the sport’s elite are few and far between. How many of those players actually get to play for one team their whole career? Even fewer. Jeter wouldn’t look right in another uniform but if the numbers don’t look right to the Yankees front office, then it won’t matter.
I like Castro at short. I love his upside and potential. We aren’t simply a Jeter away from winning it all and to bring him on board would be silly in tampering with Castro’s development. Still, the simple fact that they took the time to photoshop Jeter into all 29 teams uni’s is hilarious. Perhaps fans of some of those teams who could upgrade at SS, without a true young up-coming talent, who is a Jeter away from winning it all, now have reason to dream the dream: spending the Winter daydreaming over what might be next Fall after landing one of the game’s premiere talents. Jeter isn’t what he was in the 90’s, but still. You could do a lot worse.
Too bad he doesn’t play first base. Now that would be a move where the talent we currently have doesn’t stand a chance in measuring up against Jeter…’90’s or 2011 Jeter for that matter.
Not much player news on the Cubs front. Quade and coaching staff locked in and everyone’s looking forward to the upcoming December Winter Meetings. Jeterless, sure. Still, can’t wait to see what the roster looks like come Spring Training in February.
Go Cubs Go!
Cubs tied the Royals today in Spring competition and it was great to see Rami step up to the plate, look healthy and chalk up an RBI to contribute to a 5-5 final score after nine innings. I think the Royals are going to surprise some people so it would’ve been interesting if this game counted and they had gone on until someone finally won. However, in order for the Cubs to surprise anyone this year and return to NL Central dominance, they are going to need an effective, healthy Aramis Ramirez.
In a completely unrelated thought I just had after finishing watching the Bird/Magic documentary on HBO…there is something to be said about a team that knows and owns their roles. There is a large sum of value, completely intangible of course, when every member of your team puts on their uniform in the exactly appropriate mind frame. When all of your teammates are getting ready for competition focused on solely what is expected from them and why they are on the team to begin with, you will experience many more W’s than you will L’s in the long run. And often, as is the case when you compile a great number of W’s, it can often lead to a championship.
I speak from experience in the most amateur level of team sport competition. Now again, this is right after watching the Bird/Magic doc so it is inevitably directly related to basketball, however indirectly related to all team sports, including baseball and for this blog’s purpose, indirectly related to Hendry and Lou’s efforts in making the right decisions in assigning the right guys to the active roster for the start of the season coming just short of two weeks from now.
The experience level from which I speak is what I like to call organized-recreational-pick-up-campground-league basketball. Basically because that is exactly what it was.
One Summer day, in the early to mid 90’s, my younger brother approached me with an idea for a march madness style campground basketball tournament. My family was always camping and were seasonal for years. Every weekend would be spent camping at Moose Meadow campground in CT, playing basketball, playing softball, playing pickup football and then for the guys: trying to meet as many girls as possible. My brother and I were friends with a real tight group of guys who were also mostly seasonal. We would hang out every weekend with basically the exact same agenda each and everyday. And it was a schedule that is responsible for some of my all time favorite moments from childhood.
Around 9am everyday at the campground, we would be awoken by the sound of someone dribbling a basketball. The campground had just put in a full court basketball court…the greatest thing to happen to Summer since S’mores.
The dribbling was always by the same kid. One of my best friends, Kyle. Kyle and I grew up together, participating in the same activities and often on the same teams from the age of six. Kyle’s family was out at the campground seven days a week during the Summer where as my family came out only on weekends. Kyle was and is a Red Sox fan and also a die hard Celtics and overall basketball fan. If Kyle was awake, he was either shooting hoops or walking around to see who was awake to shoot hoops with him. That often didn’t prove necessary as his dribbling woke most of us as our sites were by the court.
9am, awoken by the sound of Kyle’s dribbling. 9:30am wrap up breakfast and head to the basketball court. Meet up with everyone by 10am (some were slower in getting out than others). 10am-12:00pm, three on three basketball. 12noon lunch. 1:00pm Adult Softball.
Oh man, the adult softball game.
This was supposed to basically be a softball pickup game of campers 18 and over for a serious game of softball without including and letting kids get in the way. It was a simple game, for nothing on the line but bragging rights, yet was always treated like Game 7 of the World Series by those who played in it. The simple fact that you got to participate in the adult softball game was an honor bestowed upon very few people still in their teens. With the frequency that we were at the campground and the close relationships we formed with the regulars who played at the game, we were usually allowed to play as well.
It was a thrill to be a part of and we saw some amazing, dramatic pick up softball games on that field. An old school campground baseball diamond with the dirt entrance/exit road lining the first base line, a giant 45 degree hill lining the third baseline, and forget ivy lining the outfield. From left to right the outfield quickly turned into the outfield wall comprised of forest…trees that felt like brick if you were one of the unfortunate ones to chase a flyball into it like smacking the wall at Wrigley. And if you were in charge of manning right field, your outfield wall mark was made up of a few very thick, very solid, very unsafe waist high giant tree logs. Another obstacle I’m sure if Sam Fuld had been a camper at Moose Meadow, would’ve run head first into time and time again.
Now, come about 3:30/4pm the softball game is over and it’s back to the basketball courts. 4-6pm basketball, 6-6:30pm dinner 6:30-8:30 basketball. We played A LOT of basketball. Anyway, all that time spent on the basketball courts, playing with and against each other proved to be very valuable. The same type of value hopefully this Cubs team is getting out of Spring Training…the knowledge, acceptance and possession of your own and each other’s strengths and ability you bring to the table that is most needed for the overall betterment of the team.
After my brother asked me to help him organize a tournament style basketball competition across the state against other kids at other campgrounds, we had an amazing time. Three years running, four teams participating in round robin style each year. Sometimes the kids and teams playing were repeat competitors, sometimes they were brand new teams and faces. Every year, however, we had basically 90% return rate of the players on our team. Moose Meadow had skills much at the same level as the other teams, but the one thing we had the others didn’t have was an unspoken knowledge of each other’s talents, personality and intangibles brought to the table.
We had Dan, our campground league equivalent to Michael Jordan. He was always the best player on the court and always the go-to guy in crunch time. Tall and athletic, the only one of us who could dunk and the same kind of quiet, confident likability that Jordan possessed. We knew that no matter who was on the floor with Dan, he was the offensive leader. He was to be deferred to in crunch time and the offense ran through him. Knowing his talent was a key ingredient to our team’s success and that it was our’s and not the other team’s was a reason to show up ready to win every game in and of itself. The games were always close for the most part. But when push came to shove, Dan gave us the advantage on paper almost every time.
We had Kyle. The Kevin McHale of our squad. Possibly our second best offensive player, best rebounder and a solid leader by example. A great guy to have in team meetings, timeouts, half times, etc to keep spirits up and the one with the strongest basketball IQ. He was a student of the game. Tireless energy and incredible sportsmanship. When the competition got too heated, Kyle was always the one to keep things level headed and appropriate. You respected Kyle as a leader of the team and looked to him to lead by example on the court and off.
We had my brother, Sean. The only guy in competition with Kyle as our second best offensive player. Sean was the best at running his mouth and getting into an opponent’s head. He had good offensive skills and the outgoing personality to keep things fun. One year he shaved his entire head except for the letter M on top for Moose Meadow. A complete showman, he was all about winning, got upset when others made mistakes but never was harder on anyone than he was on himself. People knew they’d get a lot of effort and production out of Sean because you knew underneath the showman shell, you knew he expected only the highest performance out of himself in each and every game. It made you want to play harder and deliver as well.
We had the Corbin boys, Jerry and Heath. Two of the nicest tough guys you’ll ever meet. They were total role players who knew their place in the offense and on defense. Especially defense. They contributed a level of commitment to the team matched only by their love for the game and the team itself. The passion they brought to the court and desire they shared with the rest of us to not be the guy that let’s the rest of the team down made them solid in their role as solid role players…not expected to perform like campground league all-stars, but to contribute consistently as best as they possibly could. They were also the first two people to get in a teammates face if one of their own was getting out of line, which let you know they’d be the first to get in an opponent’s face if they were out of line in the way they were acting when it came to someone on their team. Quality people, with a heart for their teammates and desire to win like only brothers could share.
And then, we had me. It feels weird to really try to describe myself as a player except to say that I was proud to wear the Moose Meadow jersey (Kyle would go on to tell me, after reading this, that he saw me as the Bruce Bowen of the squad). I understood everyone’s role on the team, even the bench players that I haven’t mentioned here. Even at that young age, I could tell that having everyone proud of what they bring to the table was the one intangible that separated us from the rest. We weren’t ball hogs. We weren’t all trying to be the star of the afternoon. It made us special and it deliver three straight campground league tournament championships with an overall record of 14-1 for the three years we participated. People knew their roles, the chemistry was great and everyone kept the energy, positivity and level of performance high in every game for not ourselves, but for each other because no one wanted to let any of our teammates down.
And BELIEVE ME, I realize this all sounds ridiculous because it was only a bunch of individual five on five pickup games, organized into a tournament of kids from different campgrounds played in the woods in front of crowds of tens (ok, maybe 10). I realize that completely. But I don’t care what level of organized sports one may talk about. A complete team of teammates understanding their roles, respecting the breakdown of every single player’s role on the team and carrying an understanding, devotion and level of commitment to not let down the guy standing next to you is an equation that equals winning.
Hopefully this is something this year’s Cubs team takes away from their experience in Arizona in this year’s Spring Training. If it is, it could make all the difference come October as to what kind of story they’re able to tell when their run with the organization has finally come to an end.
UPDATED 6/8/11: This link started getting a bunch of views again today. Dan and Kyle came across it and started sharing it on Facebook. Since it was brought to my attention again after writing it a year ago, I have read it about five times now today. Always fun to look back, whether it’s in this blog or in life in general. Give me a time machine and I’d go back and spend another summer with those guys in a heartbeat. Good times. (Also, this idea might be necessary if any of us are to actually live long enough to see the Cubs win a championship).
One City. New York City. The city that never sleeps.
I can attest that while the city never sleeps, I for one am again looking forward to doing so this evening. The new job is seriously a TON of stuff to learn: procedures, issues, tactics, strategies, training staff, outreach in the freezing cold, planning meetings and on and on. It’s one of the most fascinating ways to spend 60 hours a week though I must say. I really do feel like I’m making a difference and doing something that truly matters, which is a cool feeling. I’d love to be in front of the computer all day to watch Cubs games on-line, or listening to games on the radio. A lot of these Spring Training games are obviously during the day so I’ve been checking out box scores, watching highlights and reading up on all the latest news and updates. I can’t wait for the city to warm up and regular season games to back again. I already have it marked down when the Cubs come to town to play the Mets at Citi Field and am hoping to check out an exhibition game at the new Yankee Stadium when the Cubs are in town as well. That would be awesome.
Within this massive city however, depending on where you live, hang out, frequent, the baseball population is strongly divided between the Yankees and Mets. It’s rare to find a fan who roots for both teams as it is extremely looked down upon and hardly anyone takes you seriously if you claim to do so. Much like trying to sell someone in Chicago that you are both a White Sox and Cubs fan. Yeah, right.
Now every now and then you come across a Red Sox fan. Many have joined the bandwagon for sure since their recent success starting in 2004 but considering we’re on the East coast, it’s really not surprising. People move (like a lot of the transplanted fans with blogs in this community), people rebel against family, friends and ex’s to be different, people get attached to players that lead them to root for certain teams regardless of their zip code and again others simply climb aboard the band wagon. A lot Sox fans populate New York as well and it’s hard to tell who the Yankee fans hate more. I’m guessing it’s the Sox, but a crosstown rivalry is exactly that and there’s a lot to be said for it. Considering the Sox have the upper-hand as of late though, you don’t hear a lot of trash talking (or as much anyway) between Yankee fans and Sox fans, although they still enjoy picking on Mets fans. Calling them the JV team, saying their old stadium was a dumpster or simply enjoying watching their fans get amped up over projected success just to see their hopes crushed with two consecutive seasons of late season meltdown. This is essentially the baseball landscape in New York. A few Sox fans scattered throughout…but mainly a hard, loyal divide between Yankee fans and Mets fans. I’m sure it’s no surprise that those two teams get the most attention considering they both play here, but still, between the two of them I don’t really envy either. The ones I look at with a bit of green under the collar and for no reason related to my new job, are the Red Sox fans.
Red Sox fans walk among Yankee fans and Mets fans, nowadays, with their heads held high. Between years of AL East beatings and Buckner, both sides had something to say to them to give them a hard time if spotted walking down the street displaying their team loyalty be it a cap or jacket, t-shirt, etc. This is no longer a problem for them. Now, they basically walk around and get the same response as Cubs fans.
There aren’t a whole lot of us in comparison to the Yankee and Mets fans understandably. However, there are more than you’d expect. I’d say on average, at least once a day I see someone walking around with a Cubs hat on. Like Jeep drivers are known for honking at a fellow Jeep driver on the road to salute the car they have in common, so do Cubs fans acknowledge each other as we pass on the streets of New York. We have to. We’re all in this together and in a foreign land at that. I’ve walked down the street wearing my Cubs gear and constantly here it from construction workers who want to talk about last night’s game. From kids who love the Cubs and shout out “Go Cubs” as their parent proudly smiles and waves as they go by. From baseball fans at gatherings (bars, ESPN sports zone, etc) with just the utmost respect for the dedication we show as Cubs fans, or the most absolute confusion that we’ve hung in there for so long. Some laugh at the belief that every year is THE year and others completely respect it as they know there’s no other reason to be a ‘fan’. From the word fanatic, as a fanatic, you have to belief, simply by definition if for no other reason.
And it’s that respect that Cubs fans are shown in New York City. Abracadabra, a loyal reader of this blog asked me what it was like being a Cubs fan in New York recently and I decided I would post about it. This is pretty much what it’s like. Surrounded in one of the biggest cities in the world by millions who root for one of two other teams, with the occasional yet more frequent than expected encounter of a fellow Cubs fan with similar, friendly, Cubs logo-bearing fan gear who also can’t wait to see how the Cubs do this year, believe this is the year and tune in however we can (on-line mostly, or the occasional ESPN game) to follow every moment of the season. I recently joined a Cubs meetup group in the city and I can’t wait to experience ’09 with the Cubs fans I’ll meet as a result. Always fun to meet fellow Cubs fans and enjoy the season together, especially when we’re all in this together. And we might as well be together, we’re outnumbered for sure…and one day, when the sign reads AC000000, the disbelief and rare teasing will cease to exist from New York baseball fans. They will all look at us with the respect that a championship ballclub’s fans deserve, the same way they now look at Red Sox fans. Aside from being in Chicago, I honestly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the country experiencing Cubs baseball and enjoying the baseball community as diverse, fun, exciting, humiliating, frustrating and fascinating as it is in New York. Not sure if that was detailed enough, but that’s basically what it’s like being a Cubs fan in New York. In a word? I’d say it’s actually pretty ‘awesome’.
Today’s game was amazing. Three home runs by the Cubs…Soriano, Fox, and Ramirez going deep. Always great to see the bats warming up during the Spring, getting ready for the pitches to count come Opening Day. Marshall had a great day with three perfect innings and Gregg looked great too. Piniella says Marmol pitching in the WBC won’t effect the closer competition. I hope he’s right. Gregg was great and I’d love him in the set up role, but I’m still a big fan of having Marmol as our closer. Time will tell, but it was great checking the box score and seeing the three of them going yard and having Marshall and Gregg step up with outstanding performances.
Hope everyone in New York, Chicago, Boston and really everywhere else is enjoying the excitement of Spring Training. I know I am…I just can’t wait for these games to count for real! Go Cubs Go!
Arguably the Cubs MVP of last season, Ryan Dempster takes the mound today against San Diego and coveted starting Padres pitcher, Jake Peavy. Talk about a game that has something for everyone. Padres fans get to see how their team is doing and shaping up, Cubs fans get to see how their ballclub looks as they hope to extend their Spring winning streak to five and baseball fans get to see presumably two innings of Spring pitchers’ duel between two of the strongest starting pitchers in the NL Central.
Watching what Dempster offers up is always fun to watch and it will be interesting to see Peavy up close and personal. The guy many of us Cubs fans were hoping would be added to the starting rotation by Opening Day, displaying why we hope the young pitching we obtained in trades for Pie and DeRosa magically morph into ‘Peavy’ on the Opening Day roster. Chances of that trade happening are slim at this point, but still it will be fun to check out.
Apparently there is another pitcher on the Cubs’ radar that could be a much more likely solution when it comes to the fifth spot in the rotation this year. That recent development? Curt Schilling.
Mr. Clutch. Mr. Literal Red Sox. Mr. Need a Championship? I’m Your Guy, Curt Schilling.
Is it still possible for him to deliver as he has in the past after missing last season? Who knows. Would I prefer Peavy? Of course. But if Peavy isn’t coming…who would you rather? Heilman, Marshall…or take a chance on Schilling? I’d take my chances on Schilling. Reports have it that if he were to join the team, he’d probably be ready to contribute come mid-season on out, no sooner. He wouldn’t cost too much either…which combined with his resume and playoff experience sounds like a bargain to me. Tampa Bay is the other team Schilling is considering offering his services to if said team were to be interested. They haven’t won the big one either, but come on. If you’re going to make a last ditch statement in your already Hall of Fame credential career by helping a team end their championship drought, where better to do it than in Chicago with the Cubs? Nowhere. Chicago Cubs is the no-brainer choice between the two.
Now it’s just a matter of whether Hendry and company feel like he’s worth a chance. I know I think he is. Until then, looking forward to enjoying another Spring outing by Dempster and seeing what may still be in a Cubs uniform this season in Jake Peavy.
Curt Schilling…possibly in a Cubs uniform this season, huh? Didn’t see that coming…you?
Do your thing today Demp…Go Cubs Go!
CHI WHITE SOX (0) AT CHICAGO CUBS (13) CHI WHITE SOX AB R H BI CHICAGO CUBS AB R H BI B Lillibridge 2b- 4 0 0 0 A Soriano lf 2 0 0 0 A Pierzynski c 3 0 1 0 D Deeds lf 2 1 1 0 C Armstrong c 1 0 0 0 A Miles ss 2 1 1 0 C Quentin lf 3 0 0 0 A Blanco ss 2 1 1 2 B Myrow 1b 1 0 0 0 D Barney pr-ss 0 0 0 0 J Thome dh 3 0 1 0 D Lee 1b 3 1 1 0 G Beckham ph-dh 1 0 0 0 J Fox 1b 2 1 0 0 J Dye rf 3 0 1 0 M Hoffpauir dh 4 1 2 1 M Restovich rf 1 0 0 0 S Clevenger ph-dh 1 0 0 0 A Ramirez ss 2 0 0 0 A Ramirez 3b 3 0 0 1 J Nix 2b 1 0 0 0 L Rivas pr-3b 1 1 0 0 J Kroeger 1b-lf 4 0 0 0 M Fontenot 2b 2 1 1 0 J Fields 3b 2 0 0 0 B Scales 2b 2 1 2 3 J Castillo 3b 1 0 1 0 B Snyder rf 5 2 2 4 D Wise cf 4 0 2 0 K Hill c 3 0 1 2 W Castillo c 1 1 0 0 J Gathright cf 3 0 0 0 S Fuld cf 2 1 2 0 TOTALS 34 0 6 0 TOTALS 40 13 14 13 CHI WHITE SOX 000 000 000 -- 0 CHICAGO CUBS 000 220 90x -- 13 E--E Caridad, L Rivas, B Lillibridge, J Kroeger. LOB--CHI WHITE SOX 9, CHICAGO CUBS 11. 2B--K Hill, J Thome, D Wise. HR--B Snyder 1 (1) (off A Russell). CS--J Fields. IP H R ER BB SO HR CHI WHITE SOX J Marquez 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 M Thornton 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 E Wassermann (L,0-1) 1 3 2 2 0 1 0 O Dotel 1 3 2 2 1 2 0 R Williams 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 A Russell 0 5 8 6 1 0 1 B Salmon 1 2 1 1 1 1 0 J Nunez 1 1 0 0 0 3 0 CHICAGO CUBS A Heilman 2 1 0 0 0 4 0 K Gregg 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 N Cotts (W,1-0) 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 D Patton 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 K Kadokura 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 J Waddell 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 E Caridad 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 WP--O Dotel. HBP--A Blanco by J Nunez, J Fox by A Russell. SO--CHW: B Lillibridge 3, A Ramirez 2, J Thome 2, D Wise, J Kroeger. CHC: A Soriano 2, J Gathright, B Snyder, S Clevenger, D Deeds, J Fox, W Castillo, M Fontenot, M Hoffpauir. BB--CHW: J Fields, A Ramirez. CHC: A Miles, A Soriano, W Castillo, M Fontenot, D Deeds, L Rivas. T--2:56. A--13,010.
Three games into Spring Training and the Cubs are 3-0. Sweet. Hoffpauir has looked great at the plate in both power stats and patience. I kind of feel bad for guys like Hoffpauir and Fox though because it seems like every Spring these guys deliver unbelievably consistent stats, yet we simply have no room for them on the 25 man roster. It’s a shame too. It must drive these guys crazy. Hopefully one of them breaks through this year somehow, especially if their Spring is as impressive as Springs past. Hoffpauir’s the DH today so he’ll have another chance to shine this afternoon.
What’s up Lilly! I’m happy to hear that you have the Cubs’ best interests in mind when it comes to your pitch count in the WBC. Everytime I hear that, it feels like a boxing championship someone is trying to win. Anyway, I always enjoy hearing that organizations have prevented their key players from playing in this tournament. I know it’s a great thing for the game and a fun exhibition of the world’s greatest sport. However, when you’re investing millions in guys to come through when it counts during the regular season, it’s too scary of a possibility that the guy goes down to injury in an exhibition competition. Big Z, Lilly, Harden, Dempster and Marshall. Ok, fine. But if we were to lose any of those top four it would make us extremely vulnerable and a much less powerhouse in the National League. The Cubs are definitely the on-paper favorites to repeat in the Central but a huge part of that is pitching. We can’t lose Lilly to something stupid so I’m glad he has the team’s best interests at heart. Have a great time Lilly, but come back healthy for sure.
Speaking of staying healthy…what’s up with the quad Milt? We definitely need that to be a precautionary measure in pulling himself from the game the other day. Milton Bradley makes this team so much better, especially when you figure his power in the middle of the order allows for us to keep Soriano up top leading off and not constantly questioning if we should be using his power later on in the order. Not sure that he’ll end up leading off yet having not seen much from Theriot or Miles as of yet this Spring…but more than likely that’s where Piniella will start him come Opening Day.
I know it’s been a little while since his signing and I’m not even sure he’ll make the roster, but I like the signing of Taguchi. From what I’ve seen of the guy he can be pretty clutch late in games when you need a big hit. If he sticks, his bat may be a great option off the bat here and there throughout the season. The Cubs are in a great situation with how deep they are, a great problem to have. Tons of people to look at and consider this Spring. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Piniella’s office throughout S.T. and the regular season. That would be fascinating. The flying ability would be cool too.
Today the Cubs and the White Sox take their crosstown rivalry across the country to battle in exhibition. Heilman will get the start for the Cubs. Living in New York, I’ve seen quite a bit of Heilman over the years. He’s a guy that would surprise me if he were to take the fifth starter spot in the rotation. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the couple innings he gets today, as well as how Rami looks at third. Always good to get those cuts in, work out the kinks from the winter months. It came up in the chat box I have set up here in the right hand column the other day as to who should back up Ramirez at third. Any Cubs fans out there have a preference? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
The Cubs have outscored their opponents 22-11 so far this season. 11 runs given up in 27 innings. Not too shabby, but could definitely be better. 22 runs in three games. Looking good. Good start to the Spring.
Here’s to a good ol’ fashion walloping of the Sox today. Go Cubs Go!
CUBS BASEBALL IS BACK!!!!
And Hoffpauir is awesome. His grand slam put the Cubs in front of the Dodgers for good today. 25 man roster here he comes? Only time will tell. Below is the box score from today’s game. Great to get back in the swing of things.
Wow…blog puns can really be horrible.
Wow. What a great game today and it was a blast listening to it and chatting with the couple fans that found their way into the Prose and Ivy Chat room. Looking forward to doing that with more of you in the near future!
All of us agreed that it was about Marquis and Wood today and they both came through. Marquis was great with his bat going 2 for 2 with an RBI and after a rough first inning, locked it in and came away with the win. In 4 1/3 innings, he allowed four hits and three runs while striking out five. The three runs came off of one errant pitch, a 3 run shot given up to AdrianGonzalez. I think Marquis must have understood what wsa at stake today as he buckled in and retired the next 11 batters! I don’t envy Lou today having to pick between Lieber, Marquis and Dempster to round out the rotation. A quick side note though, how awful must it look/feel to be the guy guaranteeing a championship this year…and then not even make the rotation? Oh boy. No worries though, I believe it will be Dempster and Marquis rounding out the starting five. If this were T-Mobile, Zambrano, Lilly, Hill, Dempster and Marquis would be in Lou’s five.
Wood kicked in his door of opportunity today too by recording yet another scoreless inning, striking out two! With today’s outing, I have to expect Wood will be named the closer…for now. Good job Wood…two days in a row, scoreless dominating innings. Nice.
A door may have opened today for Pignatiello (YES) seeing that Eyre seems to be experiencing some tightness in his left elbow. Pignatiello along with Marquis, Dempster and Marmol is a guy I’ve been pulling for this Spring. Without this time Eyre may miss, Pignatiello has no shot. Now it looks like he may get the shot he most definitely deserves after the way he’s pitched this Spring.
Feel better Derosa (flu) let’s get you back out there asap. The guys looked great today on the basepaths: 3 stolen bases today (Theriot, Soriano, Patterson)…speed is so huge with this team and its great to see one of the guys we’re really counting on there apparently has his legs coming back strong! As for power: COME ON LEE…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!? And everyone, 8 guys left on base? Way too many. Fun game to listen to but definitely a lot of polishing left to do before March 31st!
Go Cubs Go!
Happy Easter everyone! Today’s game against the Padres should be an interesting one! Marquis will get the start and with the way Dempster and Lieber have been pitching lately, he best get the egg hunt out of the way early and get focused asap. Lou’s looking to make the remaining club roster/pitching decisions by tomorrow (finally) and Marquis has a huge opportunity today to make a statement and keep himself out of the bullpen/another city. I personally would like to see Lieber in the bullpen if that’s an option and round out the rotation with Marquis and Dempster…too bad one of the three isn’t a lefty…I’d gladly switch out for Hill.
Wood is going to get his chance to shine today as well. While I do believe Wood is going to break down in April no matter what and Marmol will end up being the guy we go to with Howry in the set up role…until then…I’ll be rooting for Wood to do well today. If he can prove me and any other doubter wrong, gain some momentum going into the season and continue to deliver scoreless innings including two or more strikeouts within those innings I will be first in line to apologize, say I’m wrong and thank him for getting it done when it counted. Lou believes in Wood and I believe in Lou (no matter how much I think he’s missing something when it comes to some recent decisions in leaving people off the roster come Opening Day ie: Pignatiello). And I surely haven’t won any World Series…so Lou wants to go with Wood? Let’s do it. But I can’t promise I won’t eventually write a posting with the title "I Told You So".
I hope we’re able to go with the same lineup as yesterday yet feature Theriot in the leadoff spot. I enjoy Spring games but much more so as we get closer to Opening Day and the lineups are more true to form.
The Oriole was back again this morning (see my posting titled ‘Over and Over and Over and Over and Over’). I know ‘Oriole’ shouldn’t be capitalized in this case really, but its more fun that way as we’ve officially begun calling the bird ‘Brian Roberts’ here. I must say, the more this trade lingers, the less I care about it. Spring is for tinkering not the regular season. The longer they wait to make the trade, the more regular season time it will take for Lou to get comfortable with his lineup 2-8. He’s already played with so many in the Spring and he wants to stick to one come the regular season as much as possible. I realize that Roberts would leadoff, no question leaving very little to move around for Lou if it happens. I just have a bad feeling about it taking so long to actually go through and how it may affect the beginning of the season.
I’ll be around here and there throughout the day today to chat during the game. Feel free to use the chat room anytime you’d like and hopefully I’ll catch a couple of you on there later this afternoon! ‘Til then…do your thing Marquis and Wood and Go Cubs Go!
Today’s game against the Sox comes down to a couple key facts. One. Our bats finally showed some life! 11 hits total on the day with our 3-4-5 guys going 5-12 on the day. Ramirez and Lee both got an extra base hit and Fukudome found his way on base three out of five times. The most exciting part of this for me is two-fold…Lee hit a triple and stole a base and Fukudome came through in the five hole after Lou considered moving him out to switch things up a bit. I’m glad Lou is giving this line up a shot for a while longer. I would much rather have a 3-4-5 of Lee, Ramirez and Fukudome than Soriano, Lee, Ramirez for as long as we possibly can given the roster we currently have. If it were up to our bats alone today, we’d have won.
Two. Unfortunately, we had to pitch.
Lilly looked good early and then fell apart. His line ended up being 6IP, 7H, 4ER, 2BB, 3K. 4ER in 6IP. Not great…but he would’ve come off as the pitcher of record since we scored four runs to tie things up, bailing him out before he came out of the game. He accounted for 4 runs and our boy Eyre accounted for 3 in the 10th. Our starter and our finisher…disasters today. Somewhere I can’t help but think Pignatiello was enjoying it a little more than he should. Either that, or it was more upsetting than he’d ever let on. Pignatiello’s ERA this Spring: 0.00. Eyre’s ERA: 9.45. And again, we can’t find room for Pignatiello, why?
Wood impressed again today with 1IP, 0ER, 0H, 0BB, 2SO bringing his Spring ERA to 4.00. I’m still an advocate for Marmol as our closer come Opening Day but I must admit, it was good seeing Wood have another strong outing. Now, if he can only do it two days in a row.
Could have been a great Spring win over the White Sox today…ended up being a couple moral victories and a technical tie. Looking forward to watching this line up with Theriot up front and seeing how the rest of the Spring plays out. I’ve added a live chat option as well in the sidebar…looking forward to chatting about everything with you guys during upcoming games and into the regular season! Go Cubs Go!
I’m watching the Cubs/Rockies game right now and seeing that only a couple regulars are playing today, I thought it might be interesting to see how our projected starting lineup is doing so far this Spring, compared to the lineup we have out there today. Here is yesterday’s lineup, very close to what opening day will look like:
Counting only those that started the game and not including the pitcher, their accumulative batting average is .283. That is with Fukudome in CF instead of Pie (Murton in RF) and no Soto, instead its Blanco behind the plate.
Now here is today’s lineup and their averages through the second inning of today’s game as I’m doing this while the game is on, otherwise I’d wait until the end of the game. Again, only the players that started the game, not including the pitcher. This lineup features only 4 regulars (Theriot, Derosa, Soto, Pie) and doesn’t include Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, Fukudome. Take a look at this lineup so far this Spring and their averages up until this point:
Their accumulative batting average? An impressive .334. The good news: our bench is having a great Spring. The bad news: we may see some of them playing more regularly than any of us would prefer. 10 days until Opening Day. This might get really interesting, really quickly…and not necessarily in a good way. Ward just got taken out like he was hitting the corner of the end zone approaching first base. Let’s not add any further injuries to the list of things to figure out and deal with, shall we? Marshall looks good so far today…good times. GO CUBS GO!
Apparently that’s what this Spring has been for Cubs fans and Lou Piniella when it comes to Carmen Pignatiello. And its another case where I don’t understand why the numbers aren’t doing the talking.
Eyre is looking to be the lone lefty in the Cubs bullpen this year. First of all, why only one? I don’t understand that. We have a ton of righties but only one lefty? I’m sure the league is GREATLY dominated by right handed hitting so having right-handed pitchers coming out of the bullpen to jam them up and give them a challenge is very important. And having more than one to choose from to cover yourself when you’d like to stay away from those who aren’t performing is always a good idea, I get that. But still. If we’re going to with one lefty, why aren’t we starting off with the one who’s had the best Spring? Why not find a place for him in the bullpen if he’s been so great…why feel like there’s no place to put him if he’s out-pitched someone you feel will have a spot??? That kind of talk coming from Lou, to me, makes no sense!
Check this out:
Like in the case of Wood v. Marmol this Spring, for Lou to be so dedicated to having Eyre as ‘the guy’ as our one lefty in the ‘pen…WHY? Pignatiello has pitched in just as many games, one third of an inning less. HITS Pignatiello:2 Eyre:7. RUNS: Pignatiello:2. Eyre:7. ER: Pignatiello:0. Eyre:4. HR: Pignaitello:0. Eyre:1. WALKS: Pignatiello:0. Eyre:4. Ks: Pignatiello:2. Eyre:6. ERA: Pignatiello: 0.00. Eyre: 6.35. So congratulations Eyre, you won one stinking category, K’s with four more (and you pitched 1/3 more innings, so let’s say you won that by three in taking away that one extra chance to get a K). Otherwise, Pignatiello has dominated the Spring. Pignatiello should be in, Eyre out. The only reason I can see that he isn’t, is big league experience and age. Pignatiello is 10 years younger than Eyre. Clearly he’s the guy of the future in this role but when you commit as many dollars as the Cubs did last year and then again this year by signing one of the biggest names in the offseason…a guy that’s supposed to put you where you need to be to win the whole thing for the first time in 100 years…aren’t you trying to win now? Maybe somebody needs to kick some dirt on Lou’s shoes and get his attention.
Other pitching decisions so far this Spring I find questionable:
Hill’s guaranteed a spot on the rotation. I knew this from the beginning so all of my blogs have been trying to determine who gets the last two spots between Marquis, Lieber and Dempster. However what I didn’t know from the beginning of Spring was the extent of control problems Hill would have. The way Hill is pitching this Spring, I’d love to be able to say send him to the bullpen and keep the other three giving us a rotation of Zambrano, Lilly, Marquis, Dempster, Lieber. Unfortunately, that’s one too many righthanders and when it comes to the starting rotation, if that were the case, RLRRR, we would be screwed. Hill better be thanking whoever it was that taught him how to pitch lefthanded, either them or his parents for working their DNA the way they did. Without his being left-handed, Rich Hill would be in a much different scenario come April: sitting right next Eyre, probably talking about how lucky Eyre is to be there considering Pignatiello kicked his butt all Spring.
Wood over Marmol as the closer. Wood was able to come back after missing only one day with back spasms yesterday and pitch well. So, okay, maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. But I just can’t help believing inevitably, eventually it will be. This weekend we’ll see how he does on the MUCH awaited back-to-back days/multi-inning test Lou wants to put him up against. I can’t wait! And if he does go with Wood come March 31st…I can’t agree either.
Anyone else enjoy watching a game with a lineup that closely resembles what opening day will look like?
After a rough first, Marquis turned things around and looked great through five innings giving up 4 hits, 1ER and striking out four. It brought his Spring ERA to 1.93. Phenomenal. Soriano looked uncomfortable to me today going 0-3 and he looked horrendous trying to field a flyball in the third inning, letting it drop next to the warning track. Once again, Lee was a no-show, figuratively and statistically speaking that is. Another 0-3 day dropping his avg to .154.
A few great ‘firsts’ in today’s game: Ramirez hit a 3 run shot for his first HR of the Spring and Fukudome picked up his first stolen base as a Cub. I’ve made comments in the past about how Fukudome (who’s name by the way, is censored as is on the MLB chat site they have available for fans to talk during the game…how ridiculous is that?) needs to get out of the way of pitches and his HBP haven’t been so regular as of late. Unfortunately, in successfully stealing second base, he also managed to successfully take the catcher’s throw right to his neck in the process. One of his teammates joked about him being a magnet with all the roughing up he’s been experiencing. It’s funny, but it won’t be if it keeps up. Fukudome will be huge this year…especially if we need him to be our back up CF (what is that about? Pie better not be included in a Roberts deal if that’s where this might be headed…)
Speaking of Pie, he played the whole game and looked great in legging out a run from first on Cedeno’s triple in the ninth to tie it. I think the club would do a great disservice to take the Pie piece of the puzzle out to drop in the Roberts one…just as I think Lahey did a great disservice to himself with today’s outing. 1/3 of an inning pitched and managed to give up 4 H, 4ER and walked another. I believe he’s done enough to make the team this year but only if he can finish strong in these next couple weeks to make up for today.
It was a blast seeing our potential opening day team on the field (minus Zambrano) today. Going ahead 4-1 after 5 innings would normally put us in a great position especially if you figure in the regular season we keep in perhaps Eyre to pitch the sixth, then Howry, Wood and Marmol to close it out…a much better chance of getting the win over putting out Eyre, Lahey, Walrond, Ascanio and Hart. Even with those guys finishing up for Marquis, we eeked out a 6-5 win in a thrilling bottom of the ninth performance. That’s the positive. The downside is you never want to struggle against the Royals…spring training or not. I feel really good about where the team is right now. If it wasn’t for the potential Roberts deal, I’d feel really comfortable knowing everyone knows their roles, etc. And if its irritating for me, I can only imagine what its like for the guys on the team. Split squad games coming up tomorrow…one of them featuring part 1 of the ‘Can Kerry Wood Close Out a Game Effectively Two Days In a Row’ experiment. Good times. GO CUBS GO!
This is probably by far my favorite picture from Spring Training so far:
Look at that face. “So I’m batting where?” “Who’s our closer?” “When’s Lee getting here?” That picture says it all and its exactly how I feel about the Spring so far. I’m willing to acknowledge the Cubs are the favorite to repeat in the Central this year simply because I’m biased…oh, and because I feel any team who won a division last year that hasn’t seen enough significant change in the offseason to make a real difference this year, SHOULD be the favorite to repeat that following year.
I’m just as willing to admit I’m a little confused. When will Soriano’s face be answered?? The season starts March 31st. That’s 2 1/2 weeks away.
2 1/2 weeks.
A quick start when the games count sure could come in handy come late September when we’re battling for a division that came down to two games last season. Things I can think of on the Cubs’ two week notice plan:
1. Need to pick a closer.
2. Need to figure out batting order.
3. Need to figure out if Brian Roberts is going to be in our batting order.
4. Need to send D-Lee a memo that he once won a batting title.
5. Need to call Dad and wish him a Happy Birthday on Sunday.
Oh, wait. That last one’s mine. You get the drift. I’m happy that Lou is getting fired up about the state they’re in. That balance of taking Spring for what it is isn’t quite where it needs to be. I believe in Lou’s philosophy that a little momentum heading out of Spring into the season wouldn’t hurt. I hope the players start feeling the same way…and seriously…if the Baltimore scout is that present at our games and things are going down sometime soon…can we please just do this trade already? Spring’s starting to give me an irregular heartbeat.
(And to follow up from my previous post: as for Billy Crystal’s performance today…0-1 with a strike out. Worked the count full and then went down swinging. Robin Williams was there and thoroughly enjoyed watching Billy Crystal DH for the American League East contenders, the New York Yankees. Those reported to have not enjoyed watching it from the unemployment line: Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.
Now that Mr. Crystal, is FUNNY. Happy Birthday Billy. Now sit down and let the professionals do their thing. And for crying out loud Lee…you got on base today as many times as Billy Crystal, and with more opportunities.
2 1/2 weeks. Time to start hitting. GO CUBS GO!
Barry Bonds. Andy Petitte. Roger Clemens.
Misremembering HGH. D-Lee’s Spring. Ichiro’s streak.
How much more can baseball possibly take?
Apparently baseball thinks it can take A LOT.
*The Yankees have officially reported they and comedian Billy Crystal have come to terms on extending 1-day agreement into a 7-day contract and the Commissioner has approved the negotiations. In the upcoming week of Spring Training, fans can now expect Yankee line-ups to include some variation of the following additional camp invitees, resulting in possible batting orders such as:
Billy Crystal, 2B
Fernando Lamas, CF
Sammy Davis, Jr., RF
Muhummad Ali, LF
Howard Cosell, 1B
Mike Mazowski, RF
Wang, P (when facing an NL opponent).
Crystal’s request to have Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg signed as well were denied. Williams was not available for comment but his representation said the news has upset their client and kept his applause barometer in an extremely inactive state. Goldberg’s media rep denies claims that Whoopi was not signed because she refused to adhere to the Yankees ‘appearance code’. Johnny Damon couldn’t get away with it and there won’t be any ‘Whoopi being Whoopi’ in Spring Training this year either.
I think inviting celebrities to play with our major league teams definitely takes something away from the game. It is Spring Training for MAJOR LEAGUE baseball…not Rock ‘n’ Jock. Or in Crystal’s case, Mock ‘n’ Jock. And honestly, with his first game against Pittsburgh, haven’t the Pirates suffered enough? They are horrible as it is. Imagine if Mr. Saturday Night embarrases them for the afternoon?
Too bad there’s no chance of it happening to the Brewers. Now THAT would be ‘Mahvelous’.
As for the Cubs, I hope Lee is in the line up tomorrow. I don’t care what he says. Lou’s right. He needs the at-bats. And he needs them fast.
Today was ridiculous for the Cubs and the game was nowhere near as close as the final score makes it look. Out of 21 Cubs who came to bat, only two of them (Theriot and Ramirez) looked any good and once again…way to many oh-fers! Cubs lost to the Brewers today (AGAIN! Opening day is coming guys!) by a score of 6-4 and its not even like we left a lot of opportunity out on the bases. They only stranded 2 runs. It never ceases to amaze me how a team can destroy one day and get destroyed the next. Rich Hill was roughed up something fierce pitching 2 2/3 innings giving up 8 hits and 4 ER’s. Piniella has announced he will officially be our fourth pitcher in the rotation. I know its only one game and in the Spring nonetheless, but still. Spring lineups your pitcher is facing are not the same caliber they will be facing in the regular season. It would make much more sense to see them punishing people now and hope it continues later than seeing them flounder now and hope it turns around when the season starts given the types of players who are getting into the games right now. I don’t know. Shake it off Hill and let’s all just move on to the next game.
On a positive note Lahey (that’s right Lahey…he’s earned the right to not be called “Not Scott Kazmir” as I have been calling him with his pitching lately) looked great again pitching out of a bases loaded jam in 1 1/3 innings giving up no hits and picking up another strike out. What a great surprise this kid has been.
Pie has me a little concerned, or should I say his groin has me concerned. If this ‘minor groin surgery’ he’s coming off, resulting in him missing up to 5 days, is taking care of the twisted testicle he suffered from earlier this Spring, then fine it’s done with. But given I’d like to see Pie as our guy in CF for the entire ’08 season, I hope this isn’t something that keeps coming back. It’ll be interesting to see if Fuld takes advantage of this additional playing time.
One thing that did come back was Derosa and it was great having him back. Hearing what he’s been saying in interviews sounds like he’s in a great place mentally. He just has to get over the fear of something happening since he did just come off heart surgery. The fact that he put the ball in play in all three at-bats with his mind not quite right, I believe is a great start and sign of things to come. He may have gone 0-3, but he’ll get to where he needs to be after he gets used to seeing live pitching again and becomes more comfortable with playing after surgery. Welcome back Mark…good to see you back.
And on a more “Wait, what?” note…Billy Crystal will sign a one day contract with the Yankees on Wednesday and he will play in their game against the Pirates on Thursday. As if Clemens, Petitte and Hank Steinbrenner aren’t making the Yankees a big enough laughing stock already. Have fun Billy. 700 Sundays and one Thursday. Billy Crystal: Yankee. I look forward to hating you for the day. GO CUBS GO!
Today’s game is against the Brewers, one of two teams I believe will challenge the Cubs for the Central. Now I’m certainly not stating anything new there. Lots of experts have it coming down to the Brewers and the Cubs in the NL Central. Not that I’m an expert either…although I might as well be since the minute those season preview magazines come out with all the ‘expert’ opinions 99.9% of them are wrong. You might as well have bought the 2008 Weatherman Fantasy Preview Issue of Weather Predictions Digest. Regardless, I, like many other baseball fanatics have it coming down to the Cubs and the Brewers in the Central (the other team I’d watch out for is the Cardinals).
Because of this fact, I’m very much looking forward to listening to today’s game. Dempster is making his second start of the Spring after an impressive first impression as a starter for 2008. I like Dempster and I am predicting a starting rotation of Big Z, Lil’ ly, Hill, Marquis and Dempster come Opening Day. It’ll be fun to see how he does against one of our biggest rivals. It will also be interesting to see if Fielder takes his contract dispute and uses it as a motivation tool to play for a huge contract next year (likely on another team) or if it simply becomes to much of a distraction, ultimately helping the Cubs repeat as division champs. Not sure if he’s playing today or not, but either way, I’m sure there will be lots of chatter about the situation in the broadcast.
Rivalries help make the game what it is. As does tradition and history. That’s why it bothers me so much that Wrigley could be renamed. I read that the Red Sox are adding over 400 seats to Fenway by adding a section called Coca-Cola Corner. Considering corporate ads and money are such a part of today’s game, especially when it comes to paying some of the salaries today’s players are making, I understand its a necessary evil. HOWEVER, I think the Red Sox got it right on this one. You don’t need to rename your entire stadium…sell out on the inside of the park not the outside by going corporate…and in turn, you’ll keep your fan base happy and continue to sell out the other way as well. Now of course, I realize that Cubs fans would show up no matter what, no matter whether the confines were called Wrigley Field or something horrible. But its the happy part that would be different. And I believe Mr. Zell should keep that in mind. Keep your clientelle happy…if baseball is truly such a business for you, then do what businessmen do…look to make a profit while keeping your customer happy. Come up with corporate named segments of the park if you need to like the Delta Upper Deck, the match.com first-second-third base, the tasteful ExxonMobil concession stands. You get what I mean. You can still make money off corporations without selling the NAME OF THE STADIUM! Coca Cola Corner will be in the team colors, sodas are completely associated with the baseball experience as much as beer, hot dogs, peanuts and cracker jacks so it doesn’t look like you’re selling out and it doesn’t take away from the ballpark’s atmosphere and historic vibe in a way that makes you cringe.
My point: I understand baseball is an expensive business and you want to be able to feed your family, but let’s either try doing so with the billions you already have…or find a way to do so by creatively enhancing the inside of the park as opposed to completely wiping away one of the most historic names in baseball. Thanks for reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter and your own solutions to this problem. And with that, thanks to The Page Crew for this hilarious video (also found in the Sites for Sore Eyes section listed in the righthand column of this blog):
The one stat I think Fukudome is leading himself in his HBP. I hope somebody starts going over ways to get out of the way with him. The Cubs can’t afford to have Fukudome getting hit once a game, let’s face it. It’s a long season and it’s becoming routine to see that Fukudome had almost as many HBP counts as he did AB this Spring. Fun to see Fukudome and the Cubs getting the best of Ichiro’s Mariners as I type this and they are heading into the ninth though, good times.
I thought Fox looked great again today as he’s impressed me this Spring. Not sure if Lou is looking to carry three catchers, but Fox is definitely showing some serious ability so far. (Oh interesting, “Not Scott Kazmir” just entered the game. Let’s see how Mr. Tim Lahey does.)
I was very pleased with how Marshall did today as well as Samardzija. (Second pitch by Lahey hit for a base hit by Cairo.) 2 innings pitched by Marshall including 3BB and 2K’s. Lieber wasn’t as fortunate but I’m sure he’s got plenty of dust to shake off still. So does Cedeno on the bases…picked off once and caught stealing another time. Theriot on the other hand looks GREAT this year. Hitting .500 so far and he added another stolen base today. I wonder who they’ll bring in to pitch the ninth. I’d like to see Marmol honestly. Saw Wood get roughed up the other day, curious to see how Marmol does in making a case for himself.
On a completely separate note, I read on another bloggers blog that they are against the blue alternate road jersey. I disagree. I like it very much and in fact, I own one. Granted, it’s not quite as slick as pinstripes or traditional like the road grey but still…I like the blues. Maybe its the giant C with the bear cub, or maybe I just like it when they mix it up a little (as long as its the team’s colors…green jerseys when you’re team colors are red, white and blue etc…come on). Anyway, just wanted to throw that out there. Oh look…more breasts. Bravo. MLB. Mesa’s Lovely Breasts.
Very much looking forward to seeing how the team looks when we start getting everyone in the game and everyone healthy. Anxious to see what our regulars are going to be like with Fukudome in the mix. And if we’re going to deal with Roberts, I hope it happens soon. The more time Piniella has to play with the lineups including Roberts, the better.
One down in the top of the ninth, 6-2 Cubs leading the Mariners. It’s great having the afternoon free to catch the game. Even if Nick Lachey is a guest commentator for an inning or two. I’m going to get back to simply watching the game, although its been fun writing my first blog while the game is in progress. I have to figure out how to become a pop star so I can afford my own minor league ballclub too. Go Cubs!
And that is pretty much what today boiled down to. Cotts. 2/3 of an inning and 5 runs…excuse me…EARNED runs that is. Good thing we have these games. I’d hate to see us give the ball to Cotts in a similar situation without having some idea of how he might perform. Actually, that’s not fair. It’s still Spring. But come on…5 ER on 8 batters faced? Not good.
Also, 10 men left on base? Not good. Always a pleasure to watch the guys, especially the unknown to see what this team is made of in a more complete sense, including the minors…but I hope this isn’t the type of team we have this year. We need clutch hitting this year so let’s hope it shows up when it counts.
Did I miss something? What did Frandsen do to deserve getting plunked by 2 pitches in a Spring game? Granted, the first one was on a lame pitch by Lilly that didn’t break, but still. Regardless, just another reason to be thankful for Spring: getting our pitch control, well, under control. I thought Lilly looked good otherwise so that was good to see and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Soto throw out a guy attempting to steal as well as Pie going yard once again.
Piniella and Marquis apparently attempted to smooth things over. I liked hearing that Piniella said he was the kind of guy who admits when he’s wrong. Nothing worse than having to perform everyday for a blow-hard who doesn’t have that voice inside of him. Let him kick dirt at the umps and let’s keep the team in check. I like Marquis’ competitive nature but its way too early to be making comments like that. I like Marquis and if he can keep his head together, I’d love having a rotation of Zambrano, Lilly, Hill, Marquis, Dempster. But the club is real high on Marshall so there’s probably a ton I don’t know about him. Looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table this Spring, and also what Marquis learns to check at the door.
Here’s to waiting to see if Soriano’s fundamentally sound yet injured finger is truly a 5-day wait to having him back in the lineup. I know Piniella said that if his regulars can get about 70 at-bats in the Spring he’s happy, but as a fan, I think the Winter was long enough. Time to get our Soriano/Ramirez fix and get those at-bats in ASAP.
I believe I have achieved one of the cheesiest post titles in recent MLBlogs related to Spring Training.
So yeah, a spring in my step. It was a great Saturday as I was able to catch my first Cubs game of 2008. I had to follow the first couple games by refreshing a scoreboard over and over again but today I was able to watch it on-line. It was fun to hear Piniella talk about everyone, especially how Pie and Fuld will both be getting a ton of playing time this Spring to figure out CF. So far Fuld looked decent in the field but Pie is doing well at the plate. Murton looked good too at 3 for 3. I don’t know if he may end up being more valuable as trade bait, but he looked really good today.
Wood looked far from the guy I expect him to be this year giving up 3 runs in one inning and the only real bright spot offensively was Fox’s home run. I thought Marquis looked decent for it being so early in the Spring although he apparently felt Lou will feel otherwise come the end of camp as he shot his mouth off about going elsewhere if there’s no place for him in the rotation here in Chicago. Hey Jason…shut up and pitch. I mean really…isn’t it a little early to be a headcase? Is it because you have to throw strikes and learn basic Japanese phrases? Is that it? Too much to handle for you? Just pitch and everything will be fine…but if you’re set on this headcase thing…thanks, but no thanks.
Definitely looking forward to seeing Fukudome play on Sunday.
It will interesting to see our opening day lineup after Lou has a chance to play around with a few different options this month. It will also be interesting to see how many times Comcast can find attractive women in the hot Arizona sun in between innings, at-bats, pitches, commercials, bases touched by a player during a home run trot, after every other word a broadcaster speaks and any other time they can possibly squeeze in another shot of cleavage. They talk about how Cubs fans should head out to Arizona and take it all in, get ahead of the other Cubs fans in seeing what the team might bring to the table this year. I believe they may also be subliminally saying, “You like baseball? You like breasts? You want to see Cubs fans with beautiful breasts? Planning on looking at breasts on-line after watching Cubs baseball? Why not do both at-the-same-time???”
With less than two weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report to camp, I couldn’t be more excited. I have always loved the regular season, lose my mind when my team makes it to the playoffs and while its more fun to have your team in the Series..its still the World Series so really, what’s not to be at least a little excited about. Come that time of year all kinds of great baseball stories have taken place and its always an exciting spectacle to end the season. Of course, the Cubs ending their run without a title with a championship would be the ideal but you know what I mean. The postseason is the postseason and the World Series is deserving of the title ‘The Fall Classic’. And really even postseasons that haven’t included the Cubs lately have been pretty exciting and I think if you’re a big enough baseball fan, that’s the way it is whether your team is in it or not. However, lately I’ve been more and more excited about the offseason and I’m not sure why.
Maybe its because of the caliber of players that have been available…maybe its because of the offseason signings the Cubs have made (or not made), the speculation of what they will or won’t do, talking/debating with friends what moves should and shouldn’t be made and the excitement that comes with new players, promises, predictions and possibilites (and to keep with the ‘p’ theme, especially lately with a guy named Piniella having a large effect on all of those things).
Like every die-hard fan you feel a part of the drama in who will be sent down and who will be invited to ‘the show’. How will the starting rotation playout and which guys will take on which roles in the bullpen? What moves are yet to be made and does a great record in Spring Training mean anything at all? What about a horrible record in Spring Training? What else can I come up with what could be a never ending list of What if’s…you get my point.
I’m excited. I’m excited the offseason is drawing to a close. I’m excited pitchers and catchers are reporting. I’m excited about the games I’ll get to see on TV and logging on to this site to watch the other games on-line. I’m excited about following the scoreboards, the standings and reading the rumor central reports throughout the season. I’m excited to hate a guy one game and love him the next and vice versa because after all no matter what, he’s still our guy and if Lou has him in there, well, then Fukudome, that’s who I’m rooting for today!
Super Bowl Sunday on its way…couldn’t care less about the Pro Bowl…NBA doesn’t get real good until June…I CAN’T WAIT FOR BASEBALL. Even for the upcoming games that mean very little once the calendar hits October (very little=nothing). I don’t care. Bring on Spring Training. ASAP. And if any of our guys happen to show up early and play a game of wiffleball or MLB 2K8, I’d love an update on how that turned out as well.
Less than two weeks and counting.
At this point, sometimes literally. Go Cubs!