Sunday, April 30

LIVEBLOG TIME : Brewers @ Cubs, 2.20pm

chicago-cubs-1


Fasten yer seatbelts for another [tentative] liveblog, this time co-starring Pennsylvania's favorite ISP engineer, Hyposquasher. Most recent updates will appear towards the top, so refresh the page for something new.



4.17pm
We're calling an end to the liveblogging escapades, mainly before one of us does something regrettable that results in a broken computer. Zambrano is loosey-goosey, and Dusty reaches for the classic "Dusty Baker Double Switch", leaving the game after 103 pitches. Brewers 6, Cubs 0, bases loaded, 0 outs. Beer and sunshine are the tonic, but we'll continue this down in the comments section. Bullshit! - JT


3.53pm
Points of conversation over the last half inning:
1) Brewers have 3 extra-base hits, leading off each of the last 3 innings.
2) "Cinnamon Stepchild" should have probably caught that ball.
3) Nice catch by Jacque Jones on RF to rob Satan Miller of a basehit.
4) Todd Walker has adapted to playing 1b much better than Nomar. However, if any of us present were going home to Mia Hamm to do an an assortment of naughty things to her, we probably wouldn't care too much.
5) Not bad coaching to intentionally walk Brady "Bathroom Dweller" Clark to get to Crapuano for the strike-out. Still down 2-0.
- Hyposquasher


3.38pm
Poo-Poo-Uano is looking extremely efficient, although great diving catches in the outfield don't hurt either. Jacque Jones and Hairston must have been miners in a past life, because they both dug themselves deep into 0-2 holes before gleefully coughing up their outs. Zambrano's the king of the swingers, popping out on the 1st pitch. I am angry. I am also drinking. The combination could be deadly. - JT


3.33pm
Well, Zambrano got himself into trouble early, allowing runners at the corners with two outs. However, the 3-2 pitch to Ricky "Two Tone" Weeks was a clutch strike-out pitch.
Reminder to Herry Jairston: You are not Ron Belliard. Do not every throw a baseball from your backside again. Nice catch though. Cubs escape with only 1 more run scored... I'm only worried that if the Brewers score again Zambrano may take a bite out of the baseball...
- Hyposquasher


3.19pm
Another dull half-inning trickles by, like water in a quiet stream. Disappointing easy outs, and Capuano's curveball is looking disturbingly effective. Two easy fly-outs and a strikeout, and beer is becoming the only thing of interest at this table. - JT


3.14pm
Make that Cubs 0, Brewers 1, JT. Carlos Lee jacks his 10th dingy in April, and as TheHawk has so duly noted, it is Kettle Chips 3rd longball off of Big Z in his career. Z still looked very strong in that inning, although has surrendered a 1-0 lead. However, Zambino is still showing more control than he has all year, so that's good. In other news, JT just farted, and it really smells in here...
- Hyposquasher


3.08pm
Venezuela is known for many things: art, literature, spicy cuisine and progressive philosophy. However, it is not known for base-running skills, as Ronny Cedeno gets caught in TWO run-downs in the SAME INNING. A poor inning with the bat, thanks to Walker and Pierre's soft ground-outs. Cubs 0, Brewers 0. - JT



3.00pm
WHOOOOAAAAA and Big "El Diablo Latino" Z es en la CASA!!!! Zambrano Grande is pitching well so far, the first time he has gotten out of a 1st inning that quickly all year thus far. I have a theory as to the reason, which I will reveal in a few innings if he continues to pitch well. And how about Cedeno showing some serious range by hopping on his horse and riding out to get that soft drive up the middle for the third out! So far, looking good!!
- Hyposquasher


2.41pm
Hello, hello!!! Today we hail to you from CT, that is, JT and I will be livebogging the game and drinking dark beers and eating delicious ribs together. The sun is bright (here) and it looks to be a terrific day...
Just watched the clip of Zambrano breaking the bat over his knee from last week. Still absolutely amazing. JT and I are hoping that today Big Z tops himself does something better... like break an umpire over his knee or something. The grounds crew is affectionately caresssing the warning track one last time right now to make sure the field is ready for today's game.
- Hyposquasher


2.21pm
WGN looks wet and wild, and the game will be under what looks to be a brief rain delay. That should give us more time to enjoy the absurb amount of beer purchased yesterday. - JT

Saturday, April 29

Brewers 16, Cubs 2

STARTING LINEUPS
---
Milwaukee Ale-Swiggers [12-11, Road 3-7]
-
2B - Rickie "Two-Tone" Weeks [.246]
SS - JJ "Pixie Dust" Hardy [.274]
RF - Geoff "Shithouse" Jenkins [.275]
LF - Carlos "El Caballo" Lee [.305]
1B - Prince "The Great Royal" Fielder [.345]
3B - Bill "Nondescript" Hall [.269]
C - Damian "Fuck" Miller [.315]
CF - Brady "Bunch" Clark [.194]
P - Dale "Facial" Davis [.000]


Chicago Cubs [13-8, Home 7-3]
-
CF - Juan "Lucky" Pierre [.264]
SS - Ronny "Fresh" Cedeno [.333]
1B - Todd "Hot Rod" Walker [.355]
3B - Aramis "Swingerita" Ramirez [.212]
LF - Matt "Cinnamon" Murton [.292]
RF - Jacque "Burnitz" Jones [.231]
2B - Jerry "Famous Dad" Hairston Jr. [.286]
C - Henry "The Heavy Solution" Blanco [.111]
P - Glendon "Bum" Rusch [.333]


TODAY'S PITCHERS
-
MIL : LHP Doug Davis [0-2, 7.66 ERA]
CHI : LHP Glendon Rusch [1-3, 6.41 ERA]


No liveblog today [I need a day to recharge], but I should be watching, and there might be an LB duo liveblog tomorrow [starring myself and America's No. 1 Sandwich Eater, Hyposquasher] from our mountainside hangout. No, it's not a treehouse. Jerks.

Friday, April 28

Game Time : Brewers 2, Cubs 6

2003-10-02-cubs-fans-cover



Liveblog time, inning-by-inning [hopefully]. Refresh the page for updates - latest inning will appear towards the top.


4.53pm - Top 9th - MILWAUKEE
Scott Williamson strikes out the side in order. CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! Maddux becomes the first in the majors to 5 wins with another competent outing [6 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, BB, 6 K], and the relief trio of Howry, Eyre and Williamson pitch 3 hitless innings, allowing one walk and striking out six. With the bat, Jones goes 3-4 [HR, 2 RBI], Cedeno 3-4 [HR, 2 RBI], Walker 2-3 [RBI], although Murton misses out on the party [1-4, RBI, K, 6 LOB]. Neifi goes hitless [0-4, K], dropping his average to .176 on the season. Cubs win in fine style, setting up the lefty vs. lefty matchup [Dale Davis vs. Glendon Rusch] tomorrow afternoon.

4.44pm - Bottom 8th - CHICAGO
Jacque Jones slashes a solo home run in the inning, raising his average to .231 with his 3-for-4 day. Scott Williamson will pitch the 9th now that the save situation has disappeared. 6-2 Cubs.

4.35pm - Top 8th - MILWAUKEE
Scott Eyre strikes out the side and I see God smiling down from the clouds. He made Carlos Lee look like a clown at the plate.

4.24pm - Bottom 7th - CHICAGO
Murton pops out in foul territory to end the inning, leaving the bases full of Cubs and reminding us that he is, after all, human. The meat of Milwaukee's lineup awaits lucky Scott Eyre with a 3-run lead.

4.05pm - Top 7th - MILWAUKEE
Bob Howry gets the job done in relief, although it takes a lucky play at 2nd [Weeks safe on the steal, but slipped off the bag and Cedeno nailed him], and a great running catch at the ivy by Pierre to finish the inning. I am especially happy because Howry's on my fantasy team and I get credit for Holds. Hallelujah. Now Ron Santo is helping the Ruth family [his daughter and grandson] sing during the stretch, and I mercifully reach for the mute button.

3.55pm - Bottom 6th - CHICAGO
Cubs caught stealing again, this time it's Jacque "The Black Jeromy Burnitz" Jones with his hand stuck in the cookie. Blanco pops out, and I almost lose consciousness. 90 minutes in, and 2/3rds of the game complete.

3.49pm - Top 6th - MILWAUKEE
Maddux rounds off another tidy inning, allowing only a 2-out double to former Cub Damian Miller. Dusty has noticed that his pitch count is at 89, close to what Baker wants him to throw, prompting debate that Maddux might be done for the afternoon and returned immediately to his hermetically-sealed cryo-chamber, the latest innovation for 40-something pitchers.

3.40pm - Bottom 5th - CHICAGO
Matt Murton gives support to the controversial new theory that redheads cannot steal bases, getting thrown out on his first attempt of the season to end the 5th inning.

3.33pm - Bottom 5th - CHICAGO
Holy Moses! Either Ronny Cedeno just smashed a two-run homer to left [it looked as pretty as it sounds], or I've built an immunity to my medication. 5-2 Cubs, and Walker's on first with a single and no outs.

3.29pm - Top 5th - MILWAUKEE
Geoff Jenkins' "stellar plate coverage" bags him 2 RBI for the ride home, cutting the lead to 3-2 with guys still on 1st and 3rd with one out. His location let him down a little bit, and three consecutive greasy groundball singles to the outfield [including one to the pitcher] certainly don't help. However, the Cubs turn a nasty double-play on the Lee grounder to Cedeno [it certainly makes your defense look incredible when Carlos Lee is slow and fat], and Maddux escapes with only two Brewers runs on the board. 3-2 Cubs, bottom 5.

3.20pm
The superb commentary team mentions that Bush should be a good pitcher because he double-majored in Psychology and Humanities at Wake Forest. The Cubs do roll over meekly for examination in the inning, however, so there's hope for him yet.

3.14pm - Top 4th - MILWAUKEE
Another 1-2-3 inning for Maddux - he's looking extremely comfortable now. If the commentary team does not stop referring to Damian Miller as "the former Cub", although it is true [he did leave, oh, right after 2003 playing just one season in Wrigley?], I might be forced to send a threatening fax to their PA booth.

3.08pm - Bottom 3rd - CHICAGO
No such luck - the Cubs leave Cedeno on 3rd and Walker on 1st -- Ramirez lofted a huge pop-out to the infield, Murton daydreamed his way to a strikeout, and Jacque Jones [presumably trying to copy his 2nd inning double] hit a sharp grounder right to Fielder at first. Still another run on the board, and Maddux has to be happy with a bit more breathing room.

3.02pm - Bottom 3rd - CHICAGO
The floodgates are in danger of opening : Pierre legged out a double on a base hit down the right field line, Cedeno's iffy bunt leaves the entire infield confused, reaching easily. Walker's dribble single up the middle scores Pierre and moves Cedeno to 3rd. Still no outs, but another run across the plate and 2 on the corner bags.

2.56pm
Maddux has settled down admirably, recording the 3 outs with little difficulty. 3 innings, 41 pitches, 29 strikes.

2.48pm
Jesus Christ. The Cubs seriously have about as much self-control as my grandmother after a few Christmas Day glasses of sherry. Dusty's pre-game talk seems to be apparent - swing hard, swing early, swing often. Aside from the 3 straight hits and 2 runs, the Cubs are feeling generous with their outs. I hope Maddux can handle the rollercoaster all afternoon long.

2.44pm - Bottom 2nd - CHICAGO
A-Ram collects his 13th hit of the season [BA up to .219 if you're keeping score at home], slamming the 1st pitch down the left field line for a double. Murton promptly kills a similar delivery to almost the exact same spot, scoring Ramirez easily. This prompts the commentary team to suggest nicknames for Murton, coming up with "Big Murt" and "Money Man". Fucking awful. Almost lost in the excitement was Jacque Jones' tickertape double to right, scoring Murton standing up. Dave Bush strokes his biker mustache in disbelief. 2-0 Cubs.

2.40pm
It's the imitation game - Milwaukee goes one better, recording 3 outs in just 8 Maddux pitches, including the mandatory strike-out by the pitcher.

2.34pm - Bottom 1st - CHICAGO
Pierre needs to quit his impatient pixie dance at the plate and start watching some pitches. The Cubs give an impromptu performance of video game baseball, giving up all 3 outs with just 9 pitches thrown. This game is easy without the controller!

2.30pm - Top 1st - MILWAUKEE
Maddux induces the soft fly out to end a shaky-ass inning, in which he nabbed a K, walked Hardy and then coughed up two straight singles. Milwaukee leaves the bases loaded in a scoreless 1st, and Maddux maintains his stretch of not allowing runs in the opening stanza. Wrigley Field can breathe again.

The Silent One Posts at Last...


Hello all, sorry for my recent silence. Or perhaps you are thanking me for my recent silence. At any rate, don't worry, I have been reading all of our posts, and all of your silly little comments. (Just kidding, hey, come on... Don't walk away like that, it was a joke... You know I love your comments! And your pretty face too, that's right, come on back, there you go just sit down so we can talk this out...)


Anywho, there is a very entertaining article on the NY Times today, so I thought I would share it with all of you faithful Cubilites. Here it is!

Former Cubs Watch

6400
Corey "Whiff King" Patterson, OF [BAL]
5-for-32 [.156 BA], HR, 4 RBI
.156 OBP, .250 SLG, .406 OPS
4 SB, 0 BB, 7 K
VERDICT : Once shit, always shit.


5061
Jeromy "Lockjaw" Burnitz, OF [PIT]
18-for-83 [.217 BA], 4 HR, 12 RBI
.253 OBP, .386 SLG, .638 OPS
0 SB, 2 BB, 20 K
VERDICT : The white Jacque Jones.


7095
Jon "Pudding" Koronka, SP [TEX]
3-1, 3.75 ERA
24 IP, 22 H, 6 BB, 18 K
1.17 WHIP, .239 BAA
VERDICT : I wish we had him instead of Glendon.


7136
Todd "The Great White" Wellemeyer, RP [FLA]
0-1, 5.06 ERA
5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 4 K
1.50 WHIP, .238 BAA
VERDICT : I'm glad he can finally get a tan.


7186
Sergio "El Mule" Mitre, SP [FLA]
1-2, 4.56 ERA
23 2/3 IP, 21 H, 9 BB, 18 K
1.27 WHIP, .239 BAA
VERDICT : Sad to see him go, but way better ethnic food in Miami.

Fun Facts with Rutger Hauer!!

bladerunner-hauer-01


Did You Know....

> The Cubs were 5-8 last season vs. Milwaukee??
> Greg's older brother Mike Maddux is the Brewers' pitching coach??
> Greg Maddux leads the NL with a 4-0 record and 0.99 ERA??
> Greg Maddux is 12-3 lifetime vs. Milwaukee [2.16 ERA in 20 starts]??
> Maddux went only 3-2 vs. Milwaukee in 2005 [4.80 ERA in 5 starts, OPP BA .328]??
> Brewers OF Geoff Jenkins is .395 lifetime vs. Maddux [15-for-38]??
> The Cubs are batting .278 vs. RHP??



TODAY'S PITCHERS
---
MIL : RHP Dave Bush [2-1, 3.54 ERA]
CHC : RHP Greg Maddux [4-0, 0.99 ERA]


I will be watching this one on the ol' MLB.tv I reckon, so we'll see what happens. Since Lee's injury, we've performed reasonably well at 3-3, but we'll need another week or two in order to fully understand just how his absence affects this team. We have a potentially tricky next month on the schedule, including 7 games against the Padres [4 away, 3 home], and a series against the White Sox at Comiskey.

I'm just glad that we should have Lee, Wood AND Prior back for the month of June, where the shit really could hit the fan [@ St. Louis x 3, @ Houston x 3, vs. Detroit x 3, @ Cleveland x 3, @ Minnesota x 3, vs. Houston x 3, vs. Milwaukee x 4]. That stretch should just about decide the Cubs' fate.

Regardless, maybe I'll liveblog today if work doesn't grab me by the throat and try to steal my milk money.

Wednesday, April 26

Take two and call me in the morning

capt.cxc10904260250.marlins_cubs_baseball_cxc109


I finally bought the full MLB.tv package, and first, I will say that despite early-season glitches reported by the likes of Deadspin, they've upped their game and fixed what was wrong. With that in mind, I tuned in for every frostbitten inning of last night's 3-1 win, and boy, am I happy this morning.

The Cubs not only moved to 4-0 in Sean Marshall's starts, but condemned Dontrelle "Beetlejuice" Willis to his first career loss in the month of April. It was a pitcher's duel from start to finish, and while Willis did pitch well [7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 6 K], Sean "Gunner" Marshall did him one better, tossing 7 scoreless innings of 2-hit baseball on a frigid Chicago night.

Marshall was phenomenal; his curveball was nastier than seven sun-soaked sweaty nights with the clap-ridden Paris Hilton. He struck out seven while only walking two [suffered early from that "rookie strike zone" as Lazlo pointed out], and threw a career-high 96 pitches in the outing. Economical, ruthless, victorious.

There were 8th inning jitters as Bob Howry couldn't finish off the side with 2 outs, but Dempster pitched an almost effortless 9th for his 6th save of the season.

Not much more to say, except that I am still angry with Aramis "Supposed to be the New Figurehead and Hero of the Team now that Lee is injured" Ramirez. Another disappointing outing. Despite a good play at the plate to score the first run, you went hitless AGAIN, putting up 0-2 with a walk, and dropping your average to a dismal .180 on the season.

Matt Murton needs your help, because you're dragging ass and stopping this team from being a lot better. Cubs still win, and I can't wait to watch Angel Guzman's debut this afternoon.


TALK AMONGST YOURSELVES
---
> Predictions for Guzman today, if he gets the start?
> What is wrong with Ramirez?
> Can Sean Marshall sustain his early success?
> Did you know that from Friday April 21 to Tuesday May 2 [11 games], the Cubs will have faced 7 left-handed pitchers?
> Did you also know that we are batting .211 as a team vs. LHP, although Matt Murton is batting a crazy .529 vs LHP [9-for-17, HR, 5 RBI]?


TODAY'S PITCHERS
---
FLA : LHP Scott Olsen [1-1, 1.50 ERA]
CHC : RHP Angel Guzman [NR]

Tuesday, April 25

This Week in Dusty : 4/19 to 4/25

dbaker_celebhunt02
Remember dudes, always hunt with a white dude. That way, the cops won't give you sass. Love, Dusty.


"He'll get it; he'll learn. But I'd rather have that fire than I would a guy that you have to light his pilot light to get fire. You don't want to put that fire out. But instead of a raging fire, you want him to channel it like a torch."
- I have no idea what he's talking about. Dusty on Zambrano, 4/19

"You never see anyone lose two guys on one play. But nobody cares if Lee's hurt or not, except us and the people in Chicago and the people who know him. We'll just have to adjust and just keep on adjusting."
- Dusty on the Lee/Eyre two-for-one injury, 4/20

"He pitched so well the last time out. This time out, he's a different pitcher. Sometimes you have to figure it out yourself. He has the stuff. You could see from the last time out. It was just a bad day."
- Dusty on RHP Jerome Williams, right before they sent him to AAA, 4/22

"He's kind of in no-man's land a little bit. He's early on breaking stuff and late on fastballs. Jim Edmonds is probably in the same zone. You've got to swing your way and fight your way out of it. You can't try to press, but it's easier said than done."
- Huh? Jim Edmonds? Dusty explains [but doesn't explain] Jacque Jones' problems, 4/22

"[Williams] was real good one time, then the next time equally as bad. You just want to get some consistency."
- The delicious smell of being obvious, 4/23

"I have to see the big picture, not just today. I have to see [Sunday] and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday before we have another off-day. I know a lot of people just see today, but I've got today and tomorrow and the next day."
- Being a manager is hard work, 4/23

"Aramis has been flirting with that fence for awhile."
- Dusty on Aramis' home run on Sunday. Note to fans: don't touch the fence, 4/23

"He needs a little bit of craziness, just to be himself."
- Yeah, that or Valium. Dusty on Zambrano's 3rd Inning bat snap, 4/25

----

If you see great dusty quotes, email them to us at lingeringbursitis [at] gmail [dot] com.
[Don't forget to remove the you-know-whats. Spam us, and you don't wanna know what we'll do.]

Fun Facts with Bruce Vilanch!!!

bruce_vilanch_main


Did you know....

- Dontrelle Willis is has a career 9-0, 2.20 ERA mark in the month of April??
- Dontrelle Willis is 2-0 lifetime against the Cubs at Wrigley, with a 1.01 ERA and 23 Ks in 26 2/3 innings??
- The Cubs are 2-for-17 (.118 BA) against Dontrelle with runners in scoring position??
- Aramis Ramirez is batting .186 for the season??
- The Cubs are 2-2 without Derrek Lee??
- The Cubs are 3-0 in Sean Marshall's starts, even though he's thrown 86 pitches or less in each outing??
- Jacque "I don't care about no batting average" Jones turns 31 today??


TONIGHT'S PITCHERS
--
FLA : LHP Dontrelle Willis [1-0, 2.92 ERA]
CHC : LHP Sean Marshall [1-0, 6.28 ERA]

Monday, April 24

The Cubs love pulling rabbits out of hats

capt.cxc10604250149.marlins_cubs_baseball_cxc106
First base never looked better!!


Do you believe in magic
In a young Cub's heart
How the 8th Inning can free us
whenever it starts
And it's magic, if the pitching isn't groovy
It makes you feel happy like an old-time movie
I'll tell you about the magic, and it'll free your soul
But it's like trying to tell a non-believer about Jones in the 7 hole


CXC107042422_lower


This game was ballsack until the 8th inning. A poor play by Marlins C Matt Treanor, and some timely hitting by Jacque "Maybe after this I can go 0-20 and people will leave me alone" Jones, and the Cubs pull a win out of their pimpled asses.

Zambrano was absurd to watch, a moving, living, breathing carnival ride from start to finish. Whether it was his circus play with the bat in the 3rd, breaking a bat over his knee after striking out on a 3-2 count, or his 12 strikeouts, El Toro deserved better. Marlins starter Jason "Greased Lightning" Vargas deserved even better, pitching 6 1/3 innings of 1-hit ball before being yanked for that inept Florida bullpen.

We should not have won this game by any stretch of the imagination, but then again, when do teams ever get what they deserve? I still believe in magic, for one more game at least, despite seeing enough runners left on base to make me puke up my pancreas. Stay tuned for some quality content when our hangovers wear off tomorrow.

Sunday, April 23

Sunday afternoon shits & giggles

Glendon Rusch -- 1-3, 6.41 ERA
Jerome Williams -- 0-2, 7.30 ERA
Sean Marshall -- 1-0, 6.28 ERA


Sergio Mitre [FLA] -- 1-1, 4.08 ERA
John Koronka [TEX] -- 3-1, 3.75 ERA

Saturday, April 22

The image that broke a million blue hearts

2006_04_sports_derrek_lee_injured
D-Lee, April 20, 2006

This is it, people. This is the iconic image, forever burned into our bruised psyches, coming one year to the day that Nomar provided us with a litany of jokes [and a ton of disappointment] as he tore his groin running to first. Will this day become such a dark anniversary for years to come? One hopes that the schedule will furnish us with an off-day on April 20, 2007.


4EsNzYUl
Nomar, April 20, 2005


Having had time to digest somewhat, we have to look at what this ultimately means for the Cubs. I think it's safe to say we should be thinking long-term as opposed to this season, for it will be almost impossible to replace a man of Lee's calibre with bat and glove for such a period of time while still remaining competitive.

Lee led the Cubs in almost all major offensive categories last season [BA, SLG, OBP, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, R], a feat that has not been achieved for some time. So without him, our lineup is suddenly a lot less intimidating. The addition of Pierre thankfully provides some bite in 2006, but we're a lot easier to pitch around. Ramirez will get nowhere near as many chances to hit without Lee's protection in the lineup [think how impotent Manny would be without Ortiz in front], and the shaky infield arms of Cedeno and Walker are now a vulnerability thanks to the loss of Lee's gold glove defense at 1st.

If Walker moves over, Neifi or Hairston would have to become everyday players again. Michael Restovich, a RF, moves into the 25-man roster, although I struggle to see what long-term effect he could have on the lineup. So our lineup could look something like this, similar to what we saw last night:

Pierre, CF
Hairston Jr., 2B
Walker, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Barrett, C
Jones, RF
Murton, LF
Cedeno, SS
[pitcher]

Not threatening in the slightest. Teams now have the easy option to pitch around Ramirez and Pierre [and take their chances with Barrett], and in that lineup, both Jones and Ramirez are batting badly so far this season [A-Ram: .200, 2 HR, 5 RBI//Jones: .207, HR, 4 RBI].

It doesn't bode well. With Prior and Wood about a month away, and Lee out for "8-to-12", our pitching staff will have to work fucking hard to give the Cubs any chance of success in 2006. It doesn't help that we have Glendon Rusch and Jerome "I just got bitchslapped AGAIN by the Cardinals" Williams in the rotation, along with rookie Marshall. I like our bullpen, but it's a lot to ask of them when our starters are getting knocked out in the 4th or 5th inning [last night: Williams threw 1 1/3 IP] on a daily basis. Zambrano doesn't even have a win yet!

The Cubs have had shitty luck for the second April 20 in a row, but this is a much deadlier blow. It's going to be a tough month, but let's see where we stand after this weekend. Keep the beer and the cyanide pills close at hand.


Today's Starters
STL: RHP Sidney Ponson [1-0, 3.97 ERA]
CHC: LHP Glendon Rusch [1-2, 6.60 ERA]

Glendon Rusch career vs. STL
18 GS, 6-6, 4.77 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .274 BAA

Ryan Dempster = Red-Headed Hero

image_1851888

Other Things Ryan Dempster has saved during his Cubs record streak

- The entire run of Gaslight comics
- Last night's Beef Stroganoff from a faulty oven
- Bill Murray's acting career
- Arrested Development [well, for one season, but he's only human]
- Doogie Howser M.D on videotape
- Paris Hilton from herself
- half a million dollars in pennies found in the street
- 2 marriages
- money on his car insurance by switching to Geico



In the midst of the dim future that surrounds the current incarnation of the Cubs, Ryan Dempster is undoubtedly a highlight. His record-breaking exploits, netting 23 consecutive saves [and extending a scoreless innings streak to somewhere around 30] dating back to last season, has to bring some solace to a team without 3 All-Star players. Right?

What makes his transformation into a serviceable closer even more remarkable is the path he's taken to get to this point. Several meandering seasons as the 4th or 5th starter in Florida and Cincinnati could never have prepared us for this 9th inning champion. Taking a look at the numbers:

1999 [Florida]
25 GS, 7-8, 4.71 ERA, 7.71 K/9, 1.36 K/BB, .262 BAA
2000 [Florida]
33 GS, 14-10, 3.66 ERA, 8.31 K/9, 2.16 K/BB, .243 BAA
2001 [Florida]
34 GS, 15-12, 4.94 ERA, 7.28 K/9, 1.53 K/BB, .269 BAA
2002 [Cincinnati/Florida]
33 GS, 10-13, 5.38 ERA, 6.59 K/9, 1.65 K/BB, .286 BAA
2003 [Cincinnati]
20 GS, 3-7, 6.54 ERA, 6.54 K/9, 1.20 K/BB, .293 BAA

He's always been a hard thrower, but found a lot of trouble with pitch selection, trying to knock guys down with fastballs and getting hit to all areas of the field. However, he's curbed that aggression, and still holds down those nasty K/9 numbers that you could want from a closer. So much so that last year he set career-best stats in K/9 [8.71] and ERA [3.13].

Hats off to Dempster. May we continue to get save opportunites for you to convert.

Thursday, April 20

Getting serious for a moment

Escape

So yeah I have no idea what happened in the game last night, aside from TheHawk's periodic phone calls to fill in the blanks. However, I do know we have some injuries right now. I have no clue what's up with D-Lee, and Scott Eyre looked like he banged up his arm some too. However, I just want to put things in perspective for a second.

Yeah, I'm a crotchety-arse when it comes to the Cubs. Not a minute goes by where I'm gainfully searching for the downside or the dark moments amid our day-to-day struggles. However, I'm breaking from the trend and feeling happy today. Why? Because I just beat cancer, that's why. I know I've kept it quiet as hell around here [aside from brief comments regarding drugs and medication and whatnot], but yes. I just saw my doctor and he gave me the all-clear. I still need to monitor for a few years, but I couldn't care less. Two major surgeries, 4 rounds of chemo, shitty restrictive diets, the cold corridors of hospital life -- it's all behind me.

As for the Cubs, they're a lifeforce for me, and I'm sure the same goes for all of us. Their everyday minutiae is what absorbs me, but right now, the Cubs can wait. I just got a new lease of life, and no blown save or 15-day trip to the DL could possibly dampen it. I'll be back tomorrow once the beer wears off.

Also, congratulations to Ryan Dempster -- there's a few posts coming in celebration of his heroics too.

Wednesday, April 19

Penny vs. Marshall: Rubber Game Preview

We've dominated and been dominated in this series. Tonight's match up is an odd one that could go either way. Sean "Iceman" Marshall has been impressive for a rookie. Brad "Don't confuse me with Sidney Ponson" Penny has been just flat out impressive.

The Cubs have yet to drop two in a row this season so why start now? I'll just get right into my shot in the dark predictions: Marshall goes five, gives up two runs. Penny goes six and gives up three runs. Cubs win 6-3. Our bats will get warmer and Lee, Ramirez, and Murton drive in runs.

Plans changed at the last minute last night and I didn't make the game. In retrospect, that's a good thing. Last night's loss would have been a tough one to stomach in person (it was hard enough on TV). I'll be at Dodger stadium on the first base line tonight. It'll be the first time I've been to a cubs game in over a decade. I can't even tell you the outcome the last time I saw them at Wrigley. JT: I'll do my best to snap a pic of Nomar holding a tube of Vagisil.

Tuesday, April 18

"He has the Latin fire."

Who? As if you couldn't guess, this guy:



JT may be responsible for the always entertaining "This Week in Dusty" posts but I couldn't resist posting a gem from this article about the Cubs' decision to stick with the human torch and his combustible temper. Here's the quote: "Oh yeah. I've seen an evolution in some ways and the same in other ways. But let's not forget this guy's only 24 years old. They talk about the Latin fire. He has the Latin fire." Laugh amongst yourselves...

En fuego is on the hill tonight and I didn't feel the need to give him a pep talk, unlike Greggy. I'm confident he'll do extremely well tonight. Unfortunately, my trip to Dodger stadium has been postponed until tomorrow night...at least I'll get to see Marshall battle the somewhat intimidating Penny.

The 405 will be clogged tonight

la_dodgers_nacho


Tonight sees game two in LA-LA land against those crafty dodgers, in the city where conscientiousness and altruism go to die. With Zambrano on the mound, we have another strong chance of snagging the win, as Carlos can't get enough of these self-absorbed Hollywood types. Glamour was always his strong suit, and with TheHawk's presence, maybe he'll pull out the pyrotechnics once more, just for LB's sake.


AROUND THE BASES - WHAT TO WATCH FOR
---
1st Base -- Zambrano loves Los Angeles.
In 7 career appearances vs. the Dodgers [3 starts], El Toro Borracho is a sturdy 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA. Not only that, but lifetime at Dodger Stadium, he's allowed only 2 unearned runs in 16 1/3 innings pitched. As if that all wasn't enough - the current Dodgers roster has a pathetic .182 BA against Z. [99 at-bats] Only Jeff Kent has anything to shout about, posting a .250 mark with 2 RBIs and 10 Ks.


2nd Base -- Derek Lowe: Not So Lucky
Lowe is a career 8-9 when pitching at Dodger Stadium [4.26 ERA], which makes his decision to join them all the more perplexing. His last start saw him cough up 8 runs on 9 hits in just 5 innings of work. Derrek Lee is also 6-for-12 lifetime [HR, 3 RBI] and Neifi Perez is .357 lifetime [5-for-14, HR, 3 RBI], which might make tonight more difficult for the Lowe-meister.


3rd Base -- Hot Hitters
Todd Walker and Matt Murton are red hot right now [Ho Ho Ho], tearing the cover off the ball over the last 7 days. Walker rightly earned COTW for his efforts [.474, 2 HR, 5 RBI], while El Murto was no Ramblin' Rose with an equally warm week [.360, HR, 2 2B, 3B, 6 RBI]. For Los Angeles, Olmedo Saenz [.333, HR, 6 RBI] and Bill Mueller [.333, 2 HR, 6 RBI] are the hot hands to pay attention to.


Home Plate -- Dempster's Run at History
After last night's performance, Ryan Dempster moved one step closer to the Cubs' record books. He is tied with Joe Borowski [hey, whatever happened to that salty sea dog?] for most consecutive converted saves with 22, and has a chance to smash it tonight. His current scoreless innings streak is now up to 29 1/3 [going back to last season], making him look like a changed man from the once-failed starter who went 3-7 with a 6.54 ERA in his last full season as a starter [2004 in Cincinnati, which is hardly surprising].



Talk to us! I'm looking at a juicy W tonight [and that's a double pun, you know]. Tell me how much you hate me, and let's have some laughs.

This Week in Dusty - 04/12 to 04/18

bakers
If y'alls keep stealing Dusty quotes for other posts, this fedora trio might come visit you in the night. Let that be a lesson to you, especially because of pimp juice on the left.


"It's warmer now. I looked at the weather last night, and it was 70 degrees in Minnesota, 65 in North Dakota and raining like [heck] in California. Usually, the wind doesn't blow out this time of year, either, here."
- Dusty tries his hand at Meteorology when discussing "juiced" baseballs, 04/12


"I've learned from hamstrings that when a guy says he feels good, you give him a couple extra days."
- Dr. Dusty on Jacque Jones, 04/13

"It seems like we have trouble keeping them in the ballpark. If we could keep them in the ballpark, it'd be different."
- Dusty breaks down the home run's impact on winning or losing, 04/13

"We're trying to take it slower versus faster. He is a rehab player. "
- Dusty on Kerry Wood [interpret that how you will], 04/15

"We want him to come here and throw the ball the way he's been throwing down there."
- Dusty on RP David Aardsma's callup. Is that too much to ask? 04/16

"That night, I had two friends with me and they were taking us to the airport. They were taking our wives, me, Kenny Landreaux and Derrel Thomas. I came around the corner in the parking lot and saw some Canadian dudes there. I saw Derrel's wife and her feet were up in the air. They'd pushed her out of the way, and we got into a fight in the parking lot. I was uppercutting this guy, and I guess we beat him up, and I got on the plane and my right hand started throbbing. I went to tell Tommy [Lasorda, Dodgers manager], and I said, "I think I broke my hand." He said, "What? How?" I told him: fighting."
- Dusty on the '81 World Series injury that almost held him back, 04/16

Mad-dog is NAASSSTTYYY!!!

madduxrook


And used to have a funny mustache, too.


Well I'm sticking with my vote for Cub of the Week last week. I think it was one of those cases where he was reading our blog, and said, "FINE! I didn't get enough props on your blog? I'll have to have an even better week!" Maddux has seriously been ridiculous this year, and the articles are everywhere, so I'll try not to get into the stats and repeat everything every other article says. But seriously, did you guys see that he pitched 8 innings last night and only gave up 1 run on 3 hits with no walks? Pretty crazy, huh! In true JT style, I now dismiss you to talk amongst yourselves. Topics could include:

* Dempster had an OK game for a closer, allowing no hits, striking out 1 and registering the save. He didn't strike out the side, but I guess I'll take it.

* Walker had another terrific game, getting the scoring started with a solo home run and going 2/3. Dusty even let him finish the game. It was his 100th career dinger.

* Maddux also contributed to the offense getting what he termed a "cheap hit" with runners at the corners. That was the story of his RBI, and he rounded the bases and scored a run on a Walker sac-fly as well.

* Maddux drove in My Main Man Matt Murton who was hitless again last night, but did collect a free base on balls. He ran the bases well too, advancing to third on a single and scoring on Maddux's cheap trick.

* Um, Maddux catching Furcal in a rundown while he tried to steal third? According to Mad-dog, that call was made by Larry Rothschild. So he gets his credit in that one too.

* Doesn't TheHawk feel a little regretful for deciding to go to tonight's game to see Z instead of going last night? Everyone understands a busy schedule, and I guess tonight was more CONVENIENT for him, but let's make fun of him anyway. HAHA, SUCKS FOR YOU!!!

* "The main thing is strike one. You get strike one and you can do a lot of things." Dusty Baker does have a way with words, eh?


Regardless, Dusty may have said it best (?!?) when he described Maddux's pitching last night as "Masterful."

maddux

Monday, April 17

Baseballs: Congress' Next Target?

Forget about Bonds, it looks like some are saying it's the ball that should be under the microscope.


Just look at it...smug, cocky, GUILTY!

Browsing this morning's headlines I came across two stories making a case that baseballs might in fact be juicing. The first is here. Of course, Dusty weighs: "It's warmer in places. I looked on the Weather Channel, and it's like 70 degrees in Minnesota [dude]." As the article's author points out, that's a huge factor in MN, where they play in a dome. Well done Dusty, well done.

The second story I stumbled on is here. Dusty's also quoted, here in a more joking tone, possibly starting this whole controversy: "Maybe the ball is on steroids."

Sunday, April 16

Rusch Recovers, Cubs Squash Pirates

Glendon!!




The Cubs bounced back from tough 2-1 loss to take the series from Pittsburgh with a 7-3 victory this afternoon. Rusch finally had a decent outing going six innings allowing three runs and got his first win of the season. All three of the Bucs' runs came on a Craig Wilson dinger. This afternoon's performance will no doubt extend Rusch's stay in the rotation. I'd love to see him do well but honestly, I don't see it happening. Remember, this win came over the Pirates, easily the worst team in the NL Central. We'll see how he fares against a decent opponent, which, should be St. Louis later next week.

Ramirez looks like he's found his stride (without pulling an ass muscle, will these jokes get old soon?) going 2-3 today with a walk. Ram-rod drove in three of our seven runs, two with a homer in the sixth.

We had ten hits today coming from seven different Cubs. A nice combination of small and long ball today. Pierre was consistenly on base which will hopefully shut up some of the haters. Murton was quiet at the plate going 0-4.

Dempster doesn't get mentioned much here or any other Cubs blog but he's doing a hell of a job. This game was Dempster's 30th straight appearance without allowing an earned run. That's 29.1 scoreless innings. Impressive to say the least.

Next up is a three game series with LA. Hopefully, I'll make at least one of these games since I'm only about 60 miles from Dodger stadium. I guess the big decision is who I want to see pitch: Mad Dog, Z or the 'mini-unit'.

Cub of the Week update coming later today and Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 15

Pirates 2, Cubs 1...PNC streak ends

Tonight's game was pretty boring but I did catch the whole thing on WGN so I'll throw out a few comments. First thing: Ramirez did get a hit tonight but he still looks very uncomfortable at the plate. Not sure that is ass muscle is back to 100% but hopefully he'll warm up soon. The Cubs can't afford for their clean up hitter to hit < .200. If he doesn't get hot soon, have Murton hit 4th. Murt’s getting better every game and went 2-3 with a walk tonight. He would have been 3-3 if P-Burgh's 3rd baseman, Randa, didn't snag a line drive in the top of the 9th. Speaking of Murton, anyone else think he looks eerily similar to McGwire at the plate? He has a similar stance and he's starting look like he can hit like big Mac too.

Barrett got bumped up to 5th in the order but failed to do anything notable offensively. Defensively, he attempted to throw out two stealing. He got the second one but his first throw ended up well into center (big surprise there…).

As for tonight's pitchers, both did well. I expected Duke to do well against us (2 ER in 23 IP against the Cubs) but Williams surprised me. He went a solid six and only one of the two runs he gave up were earned. The unearned run came as a result of a couple of ugly plays in the infield, one of which was a Cedeno throwing error. Cedeno has been impressive so far unless he has time to think. He's great charging a ball and quickly getting it over to first but give him some time and he struggles. Anyway, let's hope Jerome can reproduce this kind of performance because who knows when our "star pitchers" will be back (side note: Wood threw 51 pitches today but I’m sure he’s still got quite a few more simulations and minor league rehab games ahead of him).

A couple of other random things: The Cubs turned three double plays tonight, always good to see. This loss ends an eight game winning streak at PNC Park. We've got Rusch on the hill tomorrow night (for a couple of innings at least...I don't expect him to last long) but with any luck we'll be able to start our next PNC winning streak and take this series.

You the People...

TheHawk made a clutch administrative decision in bringing back Cub of the Week (look right if you haven't seen it yet). So, it merits some talk in this young baseball season. The conversation has been started by some faithful commenters, so here are there thoughts, and let's continue the discussion...


lazlo said...
Who should be Cub of the week? Todd Walker sat two games this week against the Reds. Barrett had a great week last week. Murton had a great night and is starting to hit again. Cedeno is starting to cool off (that free-swinging is coming back to bite him). None of the starting pitchers have been great except Maddux. Dempster, Williamson, Eyre and Howry have been great. Who hasn't been good? Oh yeah, Ramirez. And Perez. And Pierre (but he was on base twice yesterday). Looks like it's between Murt', Walk, and Barrett for Cub of the week. Maybe somebody will break out tonight.


Jim said...
If Maddux keeps going the rest of April the way he's performed in his first two starts, you've gotta give him player of the month. At his age, he deserves it.

Friday, April 14

Eat Schmidt and Die

pittsburgh-pirates-bobbin-head



When I was a young'un, my grandmammie told me that if I've got nothing nice to say, then don't say anything at all. Therefore, I will leave behind that seething pile of shit that was our latest encounter with the Reds, moving on to newer pastures, periodically yelling "serenity now!" to anyone within earshot.

Excuse me.

So today brings us to the road once more [for a brutal nine-game stretch in Pittsburgh, LA and St. Louis], and a three-game weekend series with the NL Central's red-headed stepchildren, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

They're nothing to scoff at, and everything to laugh at. It's where former Cubs have come to die, like the withering right field wallflower Jeromy Burnitz. I have to mention that he has begun the season hotter than a hot thing, batting .262 with 3 HRs and 9 RBI. It pains me to also mention that Jacque Jones is currently .111 [2-for-18] with 1 HR and 4 RBI, and is nursing a hamstring strain on the bench. Serenity Now #1.

We also have our rook on the mound, curveballing Sean Marshall, and he might prove to be useful against the sleepytown Pirates lineup [Team BA .255 vs. LH, 5 HR, 17 RBI]. That being said, fat masher 1B Sean Casey is batting .438 [2 HR, 5 RBI] against the southpaws, Jason Bay a respectable .294, and terrier-like Jack Wilson .375. Serenity now #2.

Not only that, but Victor Santos is hurling for the Pirates. Sure, he's still a little fresh-faced to the show, but he likey Chicago long time. With only a pathetic 18-34 record [4.98 ERA] in 67 major-league starts over 6 seasons [to be fair, he's played for Detroit, Colorado, Texas, Milwaukee and now Pittsburgh], he is a career-best 3-3 against the Cubs, holding down a studly 2.74 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and .208 BAA in 11 games [7 starts]. Serenity now #3.


All these things probably doom us to some sort of squeaky 7-6 defeat or something, but I'm past the point of predicting, so I'll hope for a good result despite a wealth of evidence that might hint towards the contrary.


Today's Pitchers
CHC - Sean "Mini Unit" Marshall [0-0, 8.31 ERA]
PIT - Victor "Blood, Sweat and" Santos [1-1, 4.66 ERA]


So let's open the floors for a wealth of possible discussion. Topics might include:

- Is JT full of shit when it comes to this stuff?
- Predictions/thoughts on this road trip?
- Who will be next to get injured?
- Glendon Rusch: thumbs up, or thumbs down?


Let's go Cubbies. First pitch scheduled for 7.05pm.

Cubs "News"

Wrap up of yesterday's mess: Is it really necessary to say "Stomped"?
Anoter reason MSNBC sucks: Surprising Start??
Pierre haters, here's your story: Dusty's still worry free
Mmmm...Pie: Some Q&A with Paul Sullivan

Thursday, April 13

A Link in Time...

Hello, all, I came across a pretty funny article and had to post it... If I think of something that is actually interesting to say on my own, I guess I'll post it here later... (Jeez, you guys are so freaking demanding!)

So here's the story:

Dusty Baker Not Worried About Cubs' Hot Start


EDIT:


So the line-up is in. Hairston Jr is starting for the second day in a row. This is going to start to really tick me off if he and Walker are basically splitting starts on the basis of the throwing hand of the pitcher. Hairston did fine yesterday and I'm no complaining, heck, I have nothing against the guy. But Walker deserves that starting position, just freaking once. He's deserved it ever since we traded Grudzielanek. Of course then he got injured. But he is healthy now, and playing well, so it is absolutely ludicrous to deny him half of the starts on the basis of which arm the pitcher uses to throw the ball. I know we can't complain if both guys continue to do well, so I suppose I'll reserve further criticism for when/if Hairston Jr's production falls off.

Pagan is again in RF, which is cool. Murton is batting fourth today, in front of Pagan, because Barrett is being rested and Blanco is catching. We'll see how this works out...

Attack of the Colour Red

Cincinnati Reds Baseball guy
That is not a bat in his hand, of that I am certain.



Talk amongst yerselves as the fucken Reds stick around for some more gratuitous home run action. Discuss what you want, and let's watch GameCast until we puke from the sheer disorganized mess of graphics on our computer screens. I will be listening to Santo & Hughes, baseball's equivalent of the Golden Girls, so let's hope their infinite wisdom is not sleep-inducing as it often is.

Possible topics:
- Jacque Jones out again.
- Aramis possibly sidelined with a "strained muscle in his buttocks" [cubs.com]. The jokes are obvious.
- Dempster chasing the team record of 22 consecutive saves in Cubbie blue [set by Joe "Sea Dog" Borowski in 2004]. He needs one to tie, and has thrown 26 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
- Zambrano's woes against the lefty. This season, RHBs are a combined .095 off El Toro, while LHBs are .429 so far this season. Ouch. Need I mention that the Reds are stacked with switch-hitters and leftys? Fuck.
- Is Michael Barrett one of the best catchers in the game? Peter Gammons sure thinks so, and Barrett's among the league leaders with 13 RBI already this season.
- Did anyone else catch some ESPN baseball discussions yesterday? The question was posed: "Is the NL Central the best division in baseball?", I guess because we have 4 teams with winning records [last I checked]. I laughed so hard that I fell off my stool and fractured my clavicle.


Today's Pitchers:
CIN - Eric "The Home Run is my Preferred Mode of Death" Milton [1-0, 2.57 ERA]
CHC - Carlos "The Fat Bull" Zambrano [0-0, 4.22 ERA]


Let's see what tidings today will bring.

Wednesday, April 12

Thoughts on Today's Line-up

jerry-hairston-jr


The Cubs take the field today after a couple injuries jumped up and bit their backsides during yesterday's game. Jacques I've-Been-Jonesing-For-Hits-So-Bad-I-Strained-My-Hammy left the game with a broken nose. Just kidding, he strained his hammy and probably won't start today. I would imagine Mabry will start in his place, although it might be nice to see Pagan (so many jokes about his name could be made, yet I'll refrain and allow JT to have his best shot) get the start.

Aramis Ramirez also left the game yesterday. If he doesn't start today, no one will probably notice. No, just kidding, if he doesn't start today, I don't know who will start in his place, but I would guess perhaps Freddie Bynum or Neifi Perez. Alarmingly, Ramirez is the only officially listed third baseman on the roster. My money is on Mabry starting here too. I heard he was good like that.*

I did read that Hairston Jr will be starting today. This one I'm not so sure as to the reason. Dusty Apparently-Baked-All-The-Time took Walker out of the game early yesterday too. To my knowledge he isn't injured and wasn't tired. Are you people gonna try and tell me that yesterday was a situation where you'd want to have a "more defensive second baseman" in the game? I sure hope not, but I have to admit, I was pretty confused when that happened yesterday. Let's hope he's not hurt, although it's probably more likely that Dusty blamed all of the Red's homeruns on Hot Rod Todd's poor defense.

Anyway, the point being that Hairston shouldn't start at 2b in my opinion. In my opinion you leave Walker at 2b. You put Pagan or Hairston Jr (if you fricking MUST play him) in RF, and you play Mabry at 3b. Regardless, let's sit back and see what happens... I'm hoping we get those pesky Reds back today!!! (and get Maddux number 320, anyone?)

* "[Mabry] is a solid defensive outfielder, a first baseman with good hands and a surprisingly adequate third baseman." - excerpt from ESPN.com scouting report

Tuesday, April 11

It's never too late for a Valentine

[Arroyo has hit both of his career home runs off Cubs starter Glendon Rusch. In the second game of the season in Cincinnati, Arroyo homered off the left-hander. It was his first major-league hit since 2001, when he played for the Pirates.]


arroyo_hotstove

Close your eyes, give me your hand, Glendon
Do you feel my heart beating
Do you understand
Do you feel the same
Am I only dreaming
Is your fastball an eternal flame?

I believe it's meant to be, Glendon
I watch you when you are pitching
You belong with me
Do you feel the same
Am I only dreaming
Or is your fastball an eternal flame?

Say my name
my home runs shine through the rain
An offense so lonely
And then you come and ease the pain
I don't want to lose this feeling

Say my name
my home runs shine through the rain
An offense so lonely
And then you come and ease the pain
I don't want to lose this feeling

Close your eyes, give me your hand, Glendon
Do you feel my heart beating
Do you understand
Do you feel the same
Am I only dreaming
But is your fastball an eternal flame?


glendon-rusch

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet our Achilles heel

capt.cxc11204112041.reds_cubs_baseball_cxc112


Look at the Cincinnati Reds. They're a power-hitting team, with a good chunk of speed mixed in at the top of the order, a barely-passable starting rotation with one major personality, and an awful relieving corps.

With exception to the bullpen, do they sound familiar to anyone?

The Reds are shaping up to be that team for us again this season. Having put up superb numbers against the Cardinals last year [10-6] and so far this year, Cincinnati might be that place where postseason hopes go to die.

With all due respect to the Reds, we should finish above them this season, hopefully with a wide enough gap to consider us in the hunt for the playoffs. However, every team has their specter, their ghost in the closet, their unmentionable, unshakeable white elephant in the room that they cannot shake.

Last year, the Cubs put up a 6-9 mark against the Reds, and this season we're 1-2.

Today was ugly. Apparently MLB.com decided to automatically renew [aka BILL ME IN SECRET] my membership to their audio game package, although they neglected to send me an email that would not only tell me, but would give me cause to use their service again. They would prefer to take my money without me knowing, but they fucked that one up didn't they?

So, I decided to pop a painkiller or two and let the gentle spring sounds of Hughes and Santo lull me into a pleasant slumber. It would have been perfect, except for their periodic screaming at constant home runs by the Reds' lineup. Bronson Arroyo had never homered until meeting the Cubs last week, and he decided to repeat the gesture this afternoon, along with two blasts from Adam Dunn, a Griffey Jr. moonshot, one for Austin "Jim Hendry dreams about acquiring me" Kearns, not to mention an Edwin Encarnacion [watch this fucker carefully] grand slam.

Glendon "Cuddle Bear" Rusch let the Reds touch him up in consecutive starts, proving there is romance in even the most masculine of sports. Meanwhile, Arroyo sauntered through a placid lineup, with a delightful line [7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 4 K], and even another Michael Barrett home run couldn't save us.

Barrett is on fire so far this year [.391, 3 HR, 10 RBI], but Ramirez is batting like he's stuck in quicksand [.174], and guys like Will Ohman keep screwing the pooch so much that I'm considering pressing charges [0 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, BB, 5 batters faced].

Pick up yer shit for tomorrow and let's hope for a win. If we keep playing like this, I shudder to think what I might do.

This Week in Dusty, 4/05 - 4/11

1969_Dusty_Baker


"It's like fishing -- you got to get that first one in the boat. Once you get that first one, the skunk is off the boat and everything's cool from then on. You've got to get that first one. Once he gets the first one, I know he'll be fine."
- Dusty likens Jones' hitting woes to maritime pursuits, 4/10

"You play whatever ball is necessary to win, but you have to have the personnel to play it and the bullpen to hold it at the end. You hope you can beat people 2-1 and also have the punch if you have to come back."
- Dusty makes it sound so simple, 4/09

"They're not called negotiations because people agree right off the bat. Sometimes these things take a little time."
- Dusty breaks down the art of contracts, 4/08

"When I played here, winning wasn't as important as it is now. Winning now is very important to the fans and very important to me. I'm spoiled by winning."
- Really? 4/07

"It's real nice to be home. I miss my wife helping me unpack. At least she called 'Peapod' and got me some groceries so that was good."
- Dusty's a lucky man, 4/06

"We have a bunch of guys who we might have to give the keys to the clubhouse because they beat the clubhouse guys some of the time. Hard-working guys influence other guys, too. It's a very positive effect."
- Dusty and the Cubs sitting in a tree, c-o-n-f-u-s-i-n-g, 4/06

"The guy's a stolen-base man. We had him one time on that pitch out [in the third] and didn't execute properly. We know he's going to run. We just don't know when he's going to run."
- Baker on Ryan Freel, 4/05

The Box Seats : Views from the Media

3Aw6FpRw

Mark Prior is boring even when he's in court. Couldn't he get in trouble for something more exciting? [Chicago Tribune]
Say hello to our early season heroes. We'll need a lot more where this came from if we're to be competitive. [Chicago Sun-Times]
It's Mariotti time, that fat flip-flopping bastard. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Peter Gammons gives the Cubs some love, ESPN-style. Could this be the year? Really? [ESPN Insider, reg. req'd]*




* I'll dissect this later for you plebs who don't have Insider.

Monday, April 10

Ho-LEE Shit!!!

Hey guys, just wanted to be the first to report the good news. It seems that our beloved Cubbies and the Super-Duper Derrek Lee have reached a 5 year deal. The deal includes a no-trade close and is thought to be somewhere in the realm of $65 Million ($13 Mil. a year). Here's the official story....http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2404132.

I can't even begin to describe how great this is for the organization. We've locked up what I consider to be the best player in the game (Screw Pujious and his lower batting average, no gold glove and somehow still getting the MVP while playing the same position less effectively ass) for what should be his prime years. I also think it's great that Derrek will now be the highest paid Cub, passing both Kerry-would-if Kerry-could and Ara-missing-the-ball-constantly-so-far-this-season-Ramirez. Now don't get me wrong, I love both those guys, but definately think Mr. Lee deserves top billing.

Ahh, and we're also currently tied for the lead in the old NL Central. I know it's really really really early, but it's nice none the less. Let's hope Glendon Dont-Rusch-Me-I'm-pitching can get us of to a good start tomorrow against those sluggers the REDS. I guess we know not to pitch to Arroyo tomorrow.

And now I've noticed that as I was writing this post that fag The Hawk has beat me to it. Damn, guess I wasn't the first, but I'm still real excited. Peace out Bitches.

It's About Time...


Cubs.com is running a story reporting that the Lee contract negotiations are finally over. We all knew that Hendry would eventually re-sign Lee but it looks like it will be made official at a press conference tomorrow. The story says he's getting $65 Mil over the next five years. Relative to what others in the league get (sans baseball's evil empire, you know who I'm talking about), that sounds about right. There's also supposedly a no trade clause in there. Bonus.

Most other clubs, like the Cubs, had the day off. St. Louis won their first game in the new Busch which is bittersweet I guess. I never like to see the Cards win but somebody needs to take Milwaukee down a peg or two. That also puts us in a tie for first in the division...we'll see how long that holds up.

Tomorrow we're facing Cincy at home with Rusch on the mound. Z was able to redeem himself after his first appearance of the season, let's hope Rusch can do the same.

Prior was also in the news today but not because he's going to be back in the rotation any time soon. He had his court date today for failing to sign rubbers or something along those lines. Check out the linked story for the details.

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Well, while JT is sitting in Connecticut looking for reasons to get down on our 4-1 Cubs, I've decided to take this off-day to exude feelings of greatness and pride after completing the sweep. TheHawk may be disappointed that we relied on the longball (again) in order to pull off a victory, but you all have to admit, that was a pretty exciting game, and Barrett CRANKED that ball! I'm happy today that the Cubs were able to overcome the Rook's first MLB start AND the absolutely horrendous "umpiring" behind the plate. I try not to complain about referees, arbitrators, arbiters, adjudicators, judges, or mediators as a general rule, but umpires are sat in a realm of separate judgement; and plus... last night's home plate umpire wholly deserves it. Everyone saw the terrible call on Juan Pierre's "swing" with 2 strikes, 2 outs and runners at the corners, so I won't say anything else about that. But before that even happened I had been commenting on the fact that the umpire back there had a different strike zone for Ponson and Marshall, and it sure seemed that Marshall's was a little skinnier. Joe Morgan even woke John Miller from his slumber so that they could collectively observe a couple pitches using ESPN's state-of-the-art K-Zone. K-Zone, I might add, was in agreement. But enough griping about the ump, the point is, on a day when the Cubs getting strikes called from the umpire was about as common as rain on the PGA tour, they were able to overcome and come-from-behind to pull off an awesome victory.


Points of business to attend to...


1) Congrats "Jock" (or "Jack" as one of the announcers repeatedly called him). Your first hit was certainly a good one, going yard for 3 Ribbees to put the Cubs temporarily ahead. Keep that up and we'll see why you're making 4k thousand.
2) Barrett, you are my hero. Don't ever go back to Boy Scouts, stay here in Cubland, and keep swinging that wood (at strikes)(that you can hit)(that you can hit not to opposing players)(ok, just relax and don't do anything stupid). No, seriously, I said it earlier this year about how I hope he has a really good year; a year that I know he is capable of, so this was definitely a bright spot to build on.
3) How about Walker's pathetic double play throw to first?? I mean... I love Todd Walker, I really do, but... that throw was TERRIBLE!!1one! He caught a ripping line-drive on a hit-and-run, and then he one-hopped it to D-Lee!!! Wow... oh well, the throw got the job done... I guess. (However, to keep things clear, he still had better continue to start)


I think that's about all for now. What do we have to look forward to this week, Cub-faithfuls?

The Bleachers : Cubs Blog Round-up

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The sham that was Marshall's strike zone. [A Cub Fan Rants]
Barrett earns [brief] redemption via the long ball. [G.R.O.T.A.]
The week in review. [View from the Bleachers]

Sunday, April 9

Bring Out the Brooms!

Well, I've finally done it: I just used the cheesiest post title in LB history. But seriously, we've got a good chance to sweep those pesky red birds today. Everyone's been making a big deal about Marshall (for good reason) but looking at who St. Louis is putting on the hill, we've got a damn good chance of putting 1.5 games between us and the Cards in the standings.

The Cubs are riding their first winning streak of the season and if they can somehow combine elements from the previous two victories (I'd like to see both some small and long ball, too much to ask?), the streak will continue.

Back to the pitching. The Cards are starting Sidney "I once ate 31 crab cakes" Ponson. Ponson is a portly guy who reportedly has trouble maintaining velocity because he's out of shape. Pathetic. Looking at his stats from recent years I think the best way to describe him is mediocre. Ponson and the cubs have never met so there are no fun stats in that department. My prediction: he lasts four or less innings, gives up at least 4 earned runs and retires to the locker room to hang his head in shame. Once back in the locker room, he'll devour an entire 22 ounce bag of pork cracklin's.

Sean Marshall. We all know the back story by now. He's a young guy, never pitched above AA ball, makes any serious Cub fan nervous and is making his big league debut in prime time on ESPN. I'm not passing judgment and I’m staying optimistic. I'll either love him or hate him after the game tonight.

The last thing I'll mention is Jacque Jones. This guy is getting over 4 mil this year and while it's still way to early to make sweeping generalizations, I’ll do it anyway. He looks like our new Corey Patterson. That's right, he's jumped right into the shoes left vacant by CP: Official Cubs whipping boy. So far he's 0-12 with six strikeouts. If that's not Patterson like I don't know what is.

Saturday, April 8

Cubs Cards Round 2

Today we've got Zambrano going up against the Cards' ace: Chris Carpenter. ESPN would have you believe that Zambino has dominated the Cards and we're the favorite. Looking a little closer at the stats (complied by another blog, why compile stats when other blogs will do it for me?) paints a different picture. Carpenter has a solid track record against us (6-1) and Z has been fair (4-4) when considering ALL his starts (12) against St. Louis.

Anyway, I'm thinking we'll see Z recover from his opening day performance. He's back at home and I think he'll go at least 6. Murton and Cedeno will continue to add sparks at the plate and in the field. Jacque Jones? I'm guessing he'll continue to be worthless.

It looks like another windy day at Wrigley so we'll see how that goes...we played small ball yesterday and it worked well. Hopefully today will be more of the same. With any luck (OK, lots of luck) we'll clinch this series today and Marshall will wrap up the sweep tomorrow night (now I'm officially hallucinating). Oh, and Walker is starting today, nice.

EDIT: How could I post w/o mentioning Dusty?



We all know this is his do or die year and he will be talking contract throughout the season. He recently said "money is important to everybody, but you can't have money as your primary focus." Easy to say when you're already one of the highest paid managers in the game...

Friday, April 7

Uh Oh

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Cubs shortstop Ronny Cedeno is coming to Toys "R" Us!


Saturday, April 8
6:30 - 8 p.m.
Toys "R" Us Niles
9555 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Niles, IL 60714

To attend this rare personal appearance, visit the Major League Baseball™ feature shop at
Toys "R" Us. Simply make a purchase of $30 or more and receive a ticket to meet this Major League star!

ACT NOW! Tickets are available now through the event date or while supplies last. Only 225 tickets are available for each event and there is a limit of one ticket and one autograph per purchase, per customer. Players will autograph baseballs and MLB provided photos only. No other memorabilia will be signed.

Please call or visit the designated Toys "R" Us store for more details. For a complete listing of all the upcoming MLB player appearances at Toys "R" Us log on to www.Toysrusinc.com/MLB or call 1-800-TOYSRUS.

Please note: A $30 or more Major League Baseball merchandise purchase from the designated Toys "R" Us store is required to participate in this event. Events are subject to change or cancellation.





1. I have returned! [not to anyone's interest, I'm sure] In my absence, LB has welcomed a new member into the fold, the venerable Sarce, not to mention a casual assortment of side-splitting hilarity and critical invective regarding our very own Chicago Cubs. Oh, and I almost forgot - a deluge of posts from perhaps the laziest man in blog history, sir Hawk, returning after almost a 9-month tour on the posting DL. Welcome back to you too!

2. So yes, I have a lot of catching up to do, as well as plenty to say about what has already been said. However, in the spirit of Buddhist philosophy, fuck it, because I'm living in the moment. Let's see what shall become of it.

3. I received this hogwash in my inbox this morning. So the deal is - spend 30 bucks on baseball caps and gloves and then you get a ticket that means you should hopefully meet a rookie shortstop and get an "MLB provided photo" signed by him? I don't know what MLB's marketing wing is doing [I mean after all, we know their steroid fact-finding commission ain't doing shit, wah wah hit me with your best shot], but this might be one I choose not to attend. If I were in Niles, IL, I might choose to spend my 30 dollars more wisely, perhaps a case of OM Light, a gallon jug of Fleischmann's Bourbon, and some fireworks.

4. Damn you St. Louis for snapping the Rollins streak. He is a good SS, but this was his chance for true immortality, and that chubby Jason Marquis went and ruined it. Not only was his run at history closed, but our run of "less stories about Barry Bonds from Pedro Gomez" on SportsCenter has just ended too.

5. Did anyone see Bonds on Bonds? From my uncomfortable hospital bed, I popped a couple of Vicodin and sat back to enjoy his tearful theatrics over the half-hour span. It actually wasn't a bad show, far better than I had been expecting, and I felt that I did learn something new and more genuine about BB himself. However, there was so much staging! Sure, the scene with him sitting on a sunny spring day next to his dad's gravestone was a little heartfelt, but we don't need it to be forced on us by some unscrupulous producer.

I'm not BB's biggest fan by any means, and there's little he could do to make me think otherwise on the juice issue, but the show did give him another angle, one different from the ornery, smug shit approach he normally takes with the press. I don't know how much of the show is "genuine" Barry talking and how much is set-up for him, but I will be tuning in next week to see where they take it.


EDIT: Oh, and calling a trip to Toys 'R' Us by Ronny Cedeno a "rare personal appearance" is like saying the Rolling Stones' latest comeback tour is their "final farewell". PR is fun!

Cubs, Cards showdown in Wrigley

The Cubs play the Cardinals today for the first time this regular season with the game starting in about an hour. I don't have a lot of time so here is some food for though: These two teams met 16 times last year, with the Cubs winning or splitting every series in which the two teams faced each other. Their record was 10-6 against the Cards and they only played the team twice in the first half of the season. Let's hope our beloved Cubbies can continue their dominance of this division rival, starting today against Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan. Suppan has started against the Cubs 10 times in his career and has a middle-of-the-road record of 3-3 against them with a 3.09 lifetime ERA.

If this post had any less personality, you would have to assume Joe Morgan had written it.

More later from the Super-happy-make-me-want-to-dance-all-time-while-celebrating-my-good-fortune Funland that I call WORK!

Wednesday, April 5

Cubs up 2-0!

Aramis Ramirez hit a 2-out homerun with Walker on base to give the Cubs a 2-0 1st inning lead in today's game!! (moments ago)

I'll edit this post and make something decent of it later. But Walker hit a soft single for his at-bat, continuing to do well in the 2-hole.

SO, for the second straight game, the Cubs score first, and in the first inning. Let's hope they can hold onto (and build on) the early lead!

Monday, April 3

Enter, Sarcia...

Alright, so I don't have a lot of time to leave a post and I do realize that that is kind of lame considering this is my inaugural appearance on LB, but hey it happens. And yes I'd like to apologize for not getting my ass in gear earlier, say anytime last season, but hey it happens. Anyway, anyone who knows me knows my tendency to rant and say "go off the deep end" so I hope it wasn't a mistake for you all to invite me to the blog. I might drive you crazy with in a few weeks if the Cubs start heading down the DUSTY Road again this year. (Is that funny, I can't really tell?)

Anyhow, I just got done watching the game (I Tivo'd it, best invention ever) and much like my arch nemisis BRANT-MAN i have to say overall I was very impressed. I agree with the evil BRANT-MAN's blog on just about all counts so instead of retyping it myself I'm simply going to elaborate on it slightly.

One thing the simple minded B-Man forget to address was the spark that all of our recently acquired speed set off. I mean, did anyone else see how many infield hits we had? It was incredible, very effective and a very welcome addition to the offense. Also, I know Cedeno's offense wasn't great, but I don't know if I've ever seen anyone lay down such a beautiful bunt with an 0-2 count and then beat it out for a hit....incredible. He earned major points with me for that one. And lastly, how about Adam Dunn looking like an absolute moron several times. I counted 3. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed that. I think he's just a big ol MOOK and it was nice to see him act like one. Ahhhhhhhhhh, and how could I forget Todd Walker. I'm a huge Walker supporter and I'm glad he came through today. Definitely one of my favorite cubbies and I think he should start every game.

So that's it for now. I guess this turned out to be a decent length afterall. Hopefully we'll keep this up and make it a season to remember.

* How about Manic Matty

Cubs rout Reds

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OK, so I'm sure everyone has seen the scoreboard, and if you haven't... go look somewhere else. Here are my thoughts on today's game:

1) Z = not so great. I wasn't impressed by the effort today. Although, knowing Zambino, he was probably too pumped up and therefore his troubles were maybe caused by over-enthusiasm or too much effort. Either way, he didn't pitch well today, surrendering walk after walk, and finding it nearly impossible to hit the strike zone. It's possible, as one of our reader's has pointed out, that he was simply effected by some of the things that other pitchers in today's game were effected by, such as the cold weather or the wind. Regardless of the reason, there were a number of pitchers in today's game who had a lot of trouble hitting the strike zone, and I gotta believe that Z will come around. It was probably just getting some of the early-season kinks out of the ole' throwing arm, I'm sure.

2) Anyone who said that Walker should be traded or used as a bench relief player is insane. I think most Cubs fans were in agreement on this fact, but todays game was evidence of exactly why. He hits great in the second spot, it's where he was born to be a hitter. Struggles he may have had in the past as a hitter for the Cubs were when they tried to have him lead-off, for lack of a better lead-off hitter. I'm not backing this up with stats at this point, mostly memory, but I think if you look it up you'll find that he's been exceedingly more successful in the number two spot... and guess what?!? The Cubs have a bonafide lead-off man now!! Yeah, you can show me stats saying he isn't as good defensively as Hairston Jr or Neifi, but I'll take the offense he contributes over his SLIGHTLY lesser abilities on defense. Summary: Walker should be starting day-in and day-out. He was a huge contributer to the big 'W' today.

3) Murton... Murton. Wow, I don't know what to say about this kid. This should be my number one point today, because he was what stood out to me the most in this game. I mean... his first at-bat of the season is a 3-run knock in the first inning. Wow. I was so impressed to be completely honest. I know it's one at-bat out of one game, and people have been talking about him a lot and all, but still! He was impressive the whole game, and I just hope he can keep the bat going throughout this season. I think his performance today deserves a nickname, don't you?!? I'll kick it off... I'm gonna start calling him "Little Red Murton". It will probably catch on about as much as me calling our starting pitcher today "Zambino", but oh well. Leave your comments with your suggestion for a nickname.

4) I guess there have to be some cons, but Cedeno was offensively unimpressive today. From what I understand, this is to be expected from him, so oh well. More unimpressive was Barrett hitting into two double plays. I like Barrett a lot, but he was supposed to be the next big thing as far as offensive catchers. That was like 3 years ago. Like I said, I like Barrett, so I'm not trying to rag on him too much, but I'm waiting for him to break out of his shell a little bit, and if it's not this season, then it's not gonna happen.

5) The Cubs scored 16 runs in the season opener last year, and 15 in the season opener the year before. Let's hope this year isn't a historical repetition of the last two years.

That all being said, I really like our line-up so far. The biggest bright spots for me today were probably (in no particular order): Pierre (cause come on, we have a lead-off man!!), Hot Rod Todd (I've been on his bandwagon since he got here, let's hope he keeps starting), and Little Red. I think there is a LOT of potential throughout the whole line-up, and overall I am pretty excited about things to come!!! (Note to self: You were saying this exact same thing one year ago at this time.)

And, one final picture to take us to break...

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Hell yeah...

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

Or at least to a semi-decent PC with a working internet connection and viable browswer options. This way I can simultaneously run MLB.com's gamecast along with ESPN.com's gamecast and listen to the game at MLB.com. This way if someone calls my desk phone at work and I can't listen -- and one of the gamecasts gets messed up (as they ALWAYS do!) -- I can still be less than a couple seconds from the next update!

That's right, folks, Major League Baseball season has begun! And I was working on my alt-tabbing skills last night to make sure I don't get busted trying to watch a Cubs game(cast) at work.

Question of the day, and it is REQUIRED to post a comment: What are you doing in the last few hours before the opening pitch of the Cubbies' season???

zambrano2
I hope Zambrano is as excited as I am to start this season today.
History shows, he is probably much more excited.