Call me irrational. Call me a quitter. Call me a typical "the sky is falling" Cubs fan. I don't care. After 18 games of mostly lousy baseball, I'm done. I can't stand watching this team. Every time I turn them on, I get sick to my stomach. I should have known better too. Hendry never really gave them a shot to be successful. Gone are the veteran bats that could get the big hit in the clutch (Read: DeRosa and Edmonds). In their place are an always injured basket case who's hitting TWENTY (not 200, TWENTY) and Aaron Miles (Sucks). Good god. Throw in Soto's sophomore slump along with D-Lee's rotting corpse and I am actually shocked that they have won two games, let alone nine.
And then there is the pitching.
Ignoring the starters for a moment (who have been at least serviceable), this team's pen is filled with one mind-boggling question after another. Why does Neal Cotts even get to suit up for games? Does he have some nude photos of Lou and a 13-year-old Guatemalan boy? Why was throwing away 5 million on everyone's favorite Frenchman and Vizcaino a good idea? Why stretch out Smarj only to use him out of the pen when he gets the call? Why did anyone think giving the ball to a kid who hadn't pitched above Double-A would work? Why sign a closer with a gimp knee? Why continue to mess with the already paper-thin psyche of your closer-in-waiting by yo-yoing him between holding and saving? Why is it so impossible for this collection of stiffs to find the strike zone? I could go on and on.
Throw in the typical Cubs base running gaffes and their continued refusal to make the easy play in the outfield and this team may well be on its way to a worse under-achieving performance than...2004. That's right, I said it.
So I am done. I'm out. F this team. I've washed my hands of them...at least until around 8:40 CT tonight.
What better way to celebrate Dusty Baker's first visit to Wrigley in 2009 than with a live blog! Why a live blog you ask? Two reasons.
1) It's what we do here at FOTG when we are all out of original ideas. 2) It means I am not at the game tonight, which is better for everyone.
7:00PM: If there is a better highlight than walk-off HR against the Cards, I have never seen it. Starting a bit late today, which gives us a few extra minutes with Len and Bob. Life is good.
7:02PM: Fans of the new 90120 must hate the Cubs. They keep having their show bumped to midnight by these 7PM starts. Speaking of the new 90210, who the hell is still watching that pile of trash?
7:06PM: I always feel bad for the Cubs Care guy. The only time he gets to be interviewed on air is during a rain delay...when no one is watching.
7:10PM: Lou's dynamite analysis of Harden. 1) He needs to get his pitch count down. 2) Rich should be able to handle tonight's weather because he's from Canada. Wow.
7:12PM: Lou's dynamite analysis of the weather. "If it's nice out you play, if it's not you don't." Thanks again, Lou.
7:15PM: Game time. Micah still playing right. Let's do this.
7:18PM: Dusty is still a douche. Just wanted to get that out of the way.
7:20PM: Rich has the nasty stuff working tonight in the 1st. Will he have it in the 3rd is the question of the night.
7:21PM: If I was betting on the commercial we see the most tonight, I'd say it's the Will.I.AM-Bob Dylan Pepsi ad. I've already seen it 4 times in the last 15 minutes.
7:24PM: Wow. Jay Bruce nearly ran over Taveras. Would have been great for the Cubs and disastrous for my fantasy team.
7:26PM: Gotta love a long stretch of games in a row. Gives me an excuse to drink each day.
7:27PM: D-Lee flies out, again. I know it's still early, but I am starting to believe that 2005 was a fluke.
7:29PM: Damn, I forgot about the Comcast triple play ad. It's gonna be a tight race between that and the Pepsi ad. Am I the only one who notices these things.
7:30PM: Whoa, whoa, whoa. There was just a teaser for the WGN news tonight that mentioned the Midwest's largest strip club is opening soon. Why am I just hearing about this now?
7:32PM: Fontenot makes a bid for a web gem with his "leap" and grab of a looping liner. Great play. Jay Bruce follows with a HR. Bad play (unless, hypothetically, you have him on your fantasy team). 1-0 Reds.
7:35PM: I have no stats to back this up, but I think Harden does better when he doesn't have a ton of strikeouts. I'd check Cubs.com to verify this theory, but I'd rather surf for porn.
7:37PM: Our first Micah v. Micah match-up is won by Hoffpauir. Suck on that, Owings. (I have no idea if I spelled either of those names correctly.)
7:42PM: Anytime Aramis plays in weather like this, I pray for homers and singles. The last thing we need is for him to pull his groin trying to leg out a double. Actually, that may apply to all weather conditions now that I think about it.
7:44PM: First Micah HR of a Micah. That's a stat we all needed. Thanks WGN!
7:45PM: Geo still struggling, although he did move thealways-grimacing-when-he-runs-just-to-scare-the-shit-out-of-me Aramis to third with a fly ball.
7:48PM: Anyone who still boos when the pitcher throws to first should be kicked in the junk. Repeatedly. Why are you booing? Are you in a hurry?
7:49PM: Theriot stays surface-of-the-sun hot and smokes a single to left. 2-1 good guys. Harden follows with a beautiful bunt that results in a hit. Bases drunk for you know who.
7:51PM: Even with the bases loaded and the wind blowing in from left, I'd walk him. That's why my phone never rings when there is a managing vacancy.
7:55PM: Fuku is first pitch swinging (because that makes sense when the pitcher is wild) and flies out to center. Cubs leave them loaded, but score two in the inning. That's so Cubs.
7:57PM: Unrelated: My wife is getting her hair cut tonight and when I asked her how long it would take, she said "two hours." She wasn't joking. Reason #4,567 I'm glad I'm a dude.
7:59PM: Two straight Ks for Harden. He apparently didn't read my scouting report. Jerk.
8:01PM: Willy T. pops out to Lee at the exact same moment that I realize I didn't start Bruce this week. Coincidence? I doubt it.
8:03PM: Two things. 1) Why does Brenly have to scream the promotions he reads? 2) What does D-Lee have against taking a pitch?
8:04PM: Micah v. Micah Round 2 goes to Hoff with a base on balls. All is for not as Aramis grounds into a DP. Hooray.
8:10PM: A stray cat wandered onto the field and a security guy decided to pick it up by its tail...which got him booed by those in attendance. That might be the first legit boo by Cubs fans in years. That guy better watch out for the PETA mafia on his way home tonight. Just saying.
8:17PM: And...then the fans ruin their one-straight good boo streak by booing a fan for catching a not-at-all-in-play foul ball near the "Bartman area" in left. Good times. 2-2 after three and a half.
8:25PM: Theriot's .415 BA is making it harder and harder for me to hate him for no particular reason. Striking out, though, keeps the hatred alive. Cubs go quietly in the 4th.
8:29PM: Unrelated #2: An anonymous tipster sent the Consumerist a picture of a new Burger King sandwich that is in the works that is a "sloppy joe inside a fried shell."
It may be because I am starving, but that sounds delicious.
8:35PM: Willy Taveras uses his speed to reach with an infield single, followed by Brenly using "ironically" wrong. Not sure which one makes me more mad. D-Lee digs out a throw from Theriot to end the inning. Still dueces up (2-2).
8:41PM: How long does Fuku have to play well this year to be considered a non-bust? 150 games? 130? Seems like everyone I talk to is just waiting for his collapse to begin. In interest of full disclosure, I am one of those people.
8:45PM: D-Lee CRUSHES it to left, but the wind holds it in. Fortunately for the Cubs, the OF somehow muffs it and the bases are again intoxicated. I know there is no way to measure this, but that may be the hardest hit single of all time.
8:48PM: Micah v. Micah round 3 again goes to Micah H. as he hits a sac fly to deep center. 3-2 Cubs. (YELLING) Larry, I have the rounds at 10-7 (knockdown), 10-9, 10-8! Micah Owings needs a big round here or he's got not chance!
8:54PM: Speaking of boxing (see what I did there?), Aramis lands the knockout blow with a RBI single to right and Micah is down for the count. 4-2 Cubs.
8:56PM: Bad omen? Bud Light Fan Cam, featuring the musical styling of Wang Chung tonight, experiences some technical difficulties. Not good. Not good at all.
8:58PM: Reds reliever Lincoln plunks Fontenot and walks Soto which plates a run and brings...wait for it...brings Dick Pole to the Mound. I think I have that DVD somewhere. 5-2 Cubs as we head to the 6th.
9:07PM: I am pretty sure that the Reds didn't score in the 6th, but I helping the wife pack for Baltimore. Unrelated #3: While I have never been to Baltimore, I am nearly certain that the question "Do you wanna go to Baltimore?" is always answered with "Not even on a dare."
9:12PM: Soriano smokes the bag with a ball and somehow ends up with a double. During the play, Votto takes out the legs of Bruce and nearly ends the season of both my fantasy teams simultaneous. I may have pooped myself a little bit.
9:18PM Lincoln apparently is attempting to throw pitches with his eye closed again. He hits Fuku and then walks D-Lee. Dusty FINALLY gives him the hook. I know I speak for everyone when I say that if nothing else, Dusty is a god when it comes to managing his pitchers.
9:21PM Bob Brenly just describes the motion needed to throw a screw ball as "turning a door knob counter-clockwise if you are a righty and clockwise if you are a lefty." I hurt my forearm just thinking about that. I'm day to day with an arm.
9:23PM After Reed strikes out, Aramis says "I FEAR NOT YOUR SILLY PITCH!" with a two-run scoring single to right. 7-2 Tiny Bears.
9:29PM Even with a 7-2 lead, this bullpen's not-being-able-to-get-outs-ness worries me.
9:36PM The Class 4A basketball champs are gonna sing? THE CLASS 4A BASKETBALL CHAMPS ARE GONNA SING!
9:38PM As the fans begin their on-going debate over which field "sucks," The Riot keeps on keeping on with another single. Two on, two out as Aaron Miles (Sucks) comes in to pinch "hit." Color me excited.
9:43PM A full five minutes later, Aaron Miles (Sucks) is still at the dish. Will wonders never cease?
9:44PM Aaron Miles (Sucks) strikes out, proving my question to be rhetorical.
9:48PM Neal Cotts is warming up which means somewhere in Chicago a Cubs fan is crying.
9:49PM The bases continue to be unable to hold their liquor as they are now loaded for D-Lee. With two outs making it impossible for him to hit into a DP, I am guessing walk.
9:53PM Lee proves me wrong and flies out to shortest left. Sigh.
9:59PM Cotts follows a full-count K with a first pitch single and a walk. Somewhere in Chicago a Cubs fan has thrown something breakable at something hard.
10:04PM Cotts is relieved of his duties (let us hope permanently) as Marmol comes in and induces a quick fly out. He then proceeds to throw at Jay Bruce's knee solidifying the fact that God hates my fantasy team. Marmol K's Bruce and the the lead remains 5.
10:07PM We have a late charge in the most seen commercial race tonight as Southwest's "Lady Boxing Out On the Elevator" makes its move! 10:07PM Bob and Len discuss how far it is from Puerto Rico to Seattle. That's what you get with a 5-run lead.
10:12PM Is it just me or does it seem like they crank up the outfield mics in games like this? All I can hear are the drunken morons screaming at each other. Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky.
10:16PM Maybe I am an idiot, but why exactly is Bradley appealing his suspension? Since he's not on the DL, he would have served his suspension already if he doesn't hit tonight. I understand there are principalities involved here, but they seem trivial at best.
10:12PM Viscaino in to close it out. All 3,000 fans left are thrilled.
10:25PM The ump appears to have no plans tonight as he calls a borderline strike three pitch a ball. Next pitch is hit off the wall. Jerry Hairston Jr. then gets booed for no reason other than the drunks kind of remember his name...sort of.
10:25PM JHJ takes strike three looking and the Cubs wrap up another one. Time to sing.
That's the Cubs record with me in the stands dating back to the start of the 2008 season. Seriously.
They haven't won in OVER A YEAR with me in attendance. I don't know why this is continues to happen. I have not taunted the baseball gods. I avoid cracks. I walk around ladders. I don't break mirrors. I haven't crossed paths with any black cats. I have not looked at a new moon over my left shoulder nor have I sung before breakfast (thanks Google). And yet...the Cubs continue to lose. It's infuriating. With that in mind, I have some good news and some bad news.
First the bad news. I am going today. Sorry.
Good news? If they lose today, I will not go anymore. I promise (not really).
As I sat and watched Len Casper finally accomplish his goal of jinxing Lilly's no-hit bid yesterday, I reflected on the week that was. From a Cubs perspective, it had been a good week. Two series wins, an opening day victory for Z and another masterful pitching performance from Theodore "Rosy" Lilly. While you can't really make an informed decision after 7 games, I will. Here is what I know after a week of baseball.
1) Ted Lilly might be the most underrated Cubs pitcher this or any year. While continuing to remind us every chance he got that Lilly had "only allowed a walk so far" and "the Cubs had the only hits in the game" and "the Rockies were hitless," Len Casper mentioned a stat that floored me. Lilly has now taken a no-hitter into the 7th in 3 of his past 5 starts. Wow. That's pretty friggin' amazing. Lost in the shadow of Z's "intensity," Harden's "durability" and Dempster's "hijinxery," Lilly's consistency is often overlooked. All he does is take the ball every fifth day and dominate. It's like Marquis, only the opposite. I doff my cap to you, sir.
2) Reed Johnson Likes Him Some Drama Like so many Cubs fans, I cursed the moment Prince made contact with that pitch Sunday night. That ball was gone, as was the lead and probably the game. I was only watching to see how far he hit it. Then I saw Reed setting himself up near the wall. I thought it was wishful thinking on his part, but admired the effort. Then I watched him leap. I still doubted him, but applauded his moxy. Then my jaw hit the floor as he reached out, snagged the ball and landed. I will doubt him no more. My apologies.
3) Kevin Gregg is...I have no idea. Honestly, I have trouble understanding how he gets anyone out. But he does...sometimes. I find myself holding my breath with each pitch. I think it's because I'm not used to watching him yet (or at least I hope that's what it is). What I do know is that I don't picture myself uttering the phrase, "We got this, Gregg's coming in..." at any point this year.
4a) Ian Snell Isn't a Caucasian. I have had Ian Snell on probably 90% of my fantasy teams over the years (yes, suck at fantasy baseball). We have a tumultuous history to say the least and I was pretty confident I knew everything there was to know about this "talented" pitcher. Imagine my surprise when I turned on the Pirates game (thanks again for the free week of MLB Extra Innings, DirecTV) and he wasn't a lanky, white dude. His name is Ian for god's sake. I thought it was a no-brainer.
4b) Aaron Harang Should Not Be In HD....EVER! I IMed Martin while watching Harang pitch this week wondering if he had a functioning liver. The man looks like he is one coughing fit away from dying on the mound. I can't believe that no one is talking about how amazing it is that he can pitch a 3-hit shutout with the gout. Unreal.
5) There are Subtle Differences Between Len Casper and Hawk Harrelson Sharing Bad News I was flipping between the Sox game and the Cubs pregame yesterday when the sad news about Harry Calas's passing reached both announcers. Len invited Pat Hughes onto the broadcast and they spent the next 20 minutes discussing what he meant to not only Philly fans, but fans of baseball in general. I switched back over to the Sox game and was greeted with this from Hawk:
(paraphrasing) (excited) So it's 8-4 good guys as we go into the top of the 5th! As I was saying last inning, news is that...uh...Harry Calas...uh...long-time voice of the Phillies...has....uh....he's dead. (awkward pause not filled by Steve Stone) I remember the saddest news I have ever received in the booth...when...uh...Donny Drysdale died. (pause) So, Stoney...how many dogs you have these days?
I've spent the last three days trying to convince my wife that we must have the MLB Extra Innings Package. She thinks its stupid. She is, of course crazy, because without the MLB Package, specifically the MLB Game Mix, I couldn't possibly learn the following things:
Rob Dibble is the color man for the Washington Nationals. He's still an uberdouche.
Despite both Rob Dibble and the utter crappiness of both teams, I watched the entirety of the Nationals-Marlins game. What the hell is wrong with me?
The Padres waited all of two days before introducing the camouflage unis, essentially saying to their fans "we're gonna suck, so here are some pretty colors."
The NY station did a two minute explanation of the architect behind the bridge in Cincinnati. I guess they've run out of baseball stories after three games.
The story ended by stating that, architecturally, Cincinnati was about 30 years ahead of New York when the bridge was built. To which the main announcer responded "Cincinnati 30 years ahead of New York? In anything? That's a joke." Nothing like confirming the stereotype about New Yorkers, dude.
Dusty Baker is still dumb.
I can't explain how fun it is to watch angry Baltimore fans boo Mark Teixeira every time he touches the ball. Especially because he's a first baseman.
Speaking of Teixeira, its just like a Yankee to think he's too good for the rules of grammar. "i before e EXCEPT AFTER C" asshole. Go sit with Jhonny Peralta.
I really want a Sham-Wow. I have no idea why.
Participating in the Neifiball league this year has taught me one powerful lesson: its much more interesting to root for crappy players to fail than root for good players to succeed. And much less disappointing.
Michael Barrett managed to both catch a throw in from the outfield and actually tagged a guy out at the plate. Its good to know he can actually do that.
Why haven't we gotten to a point at which anyone who uses the phrase "clogging up the bases" isn't immediately flogged?
If you're going to ask Ozzie Guillen about a really important yet sad topic (i.e. Nick Adenhart), you may want to verify that what he said was coherent before putting it on the pregame show.
The Pittsburgh announcers refer to their position players the same way other announcers refer to their pitchers: "Ground ball hit to TODAY'S first baseman."
It took all of three games for the asshole on the YES network to mention Steve Bartman. In a game in which the Cubs were not involved. And a play involving no one who was involved in the 2003 playoffs. Or anyone who was ever even on the Cubs. They spent the next inning talking about a Cubs curse.
After the late inning loss to the Astros a couple of nights ago, like most Cubs fans, I was less than happy. Actually, to be more accurate, I was furious. Seething mad. Insanely pessimistic. In short, I was a nutjob.
For the next 24 hours, I stewed about bad this team was and how they had broken my heart once again. This was after TWO games. It got to the point where I had planned on writing a rant about the team detailing their faults and highlighting their failures. Again, after game TWO.
Then, thanks to my chronic laziness, the day slipped on by and I found myself listening to last night's game and enjoying myself once again (early 8-0 leads can do that). Gone was the anger that had me preparing 1000 scathing words on why Fuku should NEVER play (oops), Fontenot was never gonna be as good as DeRo (double oops) and that the bullpen was going to our downfall (triple oops).
It was strange how fast my mood had changed. I no longer wanted to point out how much D-Lee sucks and that everyone outside of Soriano was tanking. I no longer had the desire to go on and on about how dumb the Miles signing (still dumb) had been. I had no desire to rail on Cotts or Gregg or anyone else for that matter. So what had changed? Well, for one...the Cubs were winning again. For two, I realized that I had not prepared myself emotionally ir mentally for another baseball season. I had forgotten that losses aren't nearly as catastrophic in baseball as they are in the NFL or college hoops. My brain hadn't made the switch to baseball thinking yet and a 1-1 start to the season seemed like a disaster.
The good news is that I think I have made the transition now or at least I hope I have. I am going to try my best to not let the next loss send me over the edge like an insane person (or a Yankees fan).
If they lose this weekend, I WILL take it in stri...ah, who am I kidding. I will be in the corner, quietly weeping in my beer.
What, you thought I'd put a picture of the NBA's next Cherokee Parks here? Keep dreaming.
So yesterday wasn't all bad, right? Before the national nightmare came to fruition (Tyler Hansbrough: NCAA Champion), your Chicago Cubs took the field for opening day 2009 and actually managed to win for once. Will wonders never cease? The game was entertaining and gave us a glimpse at what this latest version of Lou's club will play like. There was some good, some bad and some Fuku.
The Good Aramis and Soriano Leadoff homers? Check. Both Ramirez and Soriano seemed to be seeing the ball rather well last night and smacked a couple of Oswalt "fastballs" into the seats in left. Good sign. Both are now on pace for 162 HRs this year, which would be a record of some sort.
Big Z I was a shocked as anyone to see Carlos pitching well on opening day. I guess that the 5th time is the charm. Sinker wasn't really working and he ran out of petrol towards the end, but a win is a win is a win is a win.
Bullpen Heilman (aka the guy I forgot was on the club) looked decent pitching out of a mini-jam in the 7th. Marmol did his best Scott Schields impersonation (creating drama and then getting out of it) in the 8th and Gregg closed out a shaky 9th for the W. Could have been better, but at least now we know if nothing else, it's gonna be "entertaining" to watch these guys all year.
The Bad D-Lee 0-fer with a K, two ground outs and one warning track power shot. Is it too early to replace him with Micah? Probably, but remember where you heard it first.
"Guys in the Truck" Replays kept running over actual live ABs last night. Come on fellas, you are better than this. (Sorry, not a lot to be mad about after a win in the first game of the year.) The Fuku The now "acclimated" Fukudome went 0-fer and looked lost (still) at the plate. Brenly mentioned that it would "behoove" him to get off to a hot start which is about a 1000 times nicer than what I was saying about him. He looked so bad I was actually talking myself into a lineup with Bradley in center with Micah in right...and I was sober. Not a good start.
All in all, it was just great to have baseball back. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I found myself watching eight consecutive hours yesterday. God bless you, DirecTV and your free week of MLB Extra Innings.
Go Cubs. PS. Thanks to Rush the Court, here is last night's One Shining Moment in case you missed it.
Now there's an image to get you pumped up for the 2009 season, eh? Am I right? Bueller?
Anyhoo, when last we left our friendly, north side baseball club, they were being handed their own asses on a platter. But why dwell on the past, right? As a new season begins, the hopes and dreams of Cubs fans everywhere are the highest they will be all year. The slate, as the say, has been wiped clean. Gone are the painful memories of last year. In their place is the hope that this year is THE year. It's a good feeling, no matter how fleeting.
So, as we count down the hours until Z takes the mound, I thought I would break from the blogger tradition of season previews and predictions and offer up a few things that WON'T happen in 2009.
1) The Cubs Will Not Win the World Series. Sorry, I thought it would be less painful if I got this one out of the way first. As much as I like this team and the additions that our buffet-loving GM made, there are still more questions than answers. Will Harden and Bradley stay healthy? Can Fuku remember how to connect the bat with the ball? Can the bullpen survive without Wuertz's sliders or Guadin's facial hair? Do the Cubs have any outfield defense? Sadly, the answers to those questions are: No, No, Never and God No. That will make it hard to win the division, let alone the World Series. Lucky for the Cubs, the NL Central is going to be horrific.
2) Carlos Zambrano Will Not Win the Cy Young. He will be a 20-game winner though, so there's that. Maturity and command, two things that have eluded Carlos his whole career, will finally help him reach that elite pitcher status. Fear not, Z fans. You can still count on him for a tantrum or seven and possibly a few questionable hair styles.
3) The Cardinals Will Not Go Away (Until August) A nucleus of young talent will help the hated Cardinals keep pace with the Cubs until after the All-Star break. Then, after failing to land Peavy at the trade deadline, they will collapse under the considerable weight of their shitty rotation.
4) Jake Peavy Will Not Finish the Season a Padre. Unfortunately, he will also not finish the season a Cub. After a fierce bidding war, the D-backs will land Peavy in a trade that sends the struggling Justin Upton and a collection of minor league arms to San Diego.
5) The White Sox Will Not Finish In Last Place. They will finish in second to last. Quentin and Ramirez will come back down to earth. Fields will be a bust. The rotation outside of Buehrle and Danks is awful. Not good news for a division that may be the strongest in the AL this year. I hope they do better, but I doubt it.