August 22, 2009

Play Taps, Boys...

I think it's officially, "wait 'till next year" time. I had such high hopes for the year, but the cubs aggregate inability to hit the baseball has pretty much officially doomed the team this year. Gongrats to the Cards. It looks like the Holliday deal was a good one, and the team just looks like it's hitting on all cylinders. Even more, the superstar does the little things to win, and that rubs off on the rest of the team. Albert singled, stole second, went to third on the steal attempt, and hustled home on a Sac fly. If the top paid guy plays like that, it makes the rest of the team want to do it, too. You gotta respect that. I just hope my Cubbies can stay out of the rest of the Central. The rest of those team really haven't played well at all, and even if the Cubs can't make the post season, st least they can make a goos showing and finish in second.

Good luck to both teams for the remainder of the season!

August 7, 2009

Yank Aaron

I think Jim Hendry should take a tip from Robert Frost:

"Miles to go before I sleep..."

August 3, 2009

July 28, 2009

It's getting hot in here.

Cubs are officially on fire. Although they are down 4-0 to the Astros as I write this, things are currently looking up. Will it hold up? I don't know but it's nice to take a little air from under the sails of the Cardinals. Adding Holiday made things look really interesting and showed that the Cards mean business, momentum was starting to carry even further. I felt it start to shift with that Grand Slam from Soriano last night. I am believing the swagger and a strong run is building. As usual the division looks like it's going to be down to the wire just like every other year. But I want to see some strong Central representation in the playoffs this year, especially if its coming from Chicago.

So hold on St. Louis, even if you have arguably the best player in baseball, you are going to need more than that. Young pitchers from Cincy are starting to show their age, the Pirates are still the Pirates, Milwaukee goes the same sparkle and fade route. The Astros just lost Oswald with a lower back sprain to dwindle an already pathetic starting rotation. Wandy is your only quality starter and I don't see any help coming from management.

July 1, 2009


Which best describes Ozzie Guillen?

A cross between:

a) Lee Elia & Cheeh Marin
b) Yosemite Sam & Speedy Gonzales

June 27, 2009

"I've had enough"

To someone with a passing interest, it might appear that all I do is bash on the Cubs. While I get great pleasure in watching the implosion and collapse of the "lovable losers", I truly don't go out of my way to talk about them. They just make it so easy! Honestly, I've just never been one to avoid talking about the 800 lb. gorilla in the room.

Did anyone, besides myself, think that what happened yesterday was funny? (Not "Ha ha" funny, but "are you serious?" funny) I mean, this is the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black. Lou Piniella banished Milton Bradley from the Cubs dugout in the 5th inning, after Bradley flew out to right field then had a temper tantrum in the dugout. Bradley threw his helmet and "murdered" yet another Cubs water cooler. Were the Cubs NOT aware of who they were signing? This is not new behavior from Bradley. Bradley has had some of the most memorable meltdowns in baseball history.

I suppose the reason I couldn't stop laughing is the fact that Piniella has never been a role model in a baseball uniform. We would never tell our kids to model their behavior after Lou Piniella. What's even more humorous is the fact Carlos Zambrano is a serial killer when it comes to water coolers. I believe that Igloo has requested a restraining order against Zambrano. Carlos is like a 4 year old who missed his Ritalin, and then you see him at the check-out at the grocery store acting as if he needs an exorcism because mommy told him he couldn't get the Chicklets. This is accepted behavior as far as I've been able to see. I've not seen or heard Lou chastise Carlos for acting like a spoiled child.

In the post game press conference, Piniella said that he sent Bradley home because he'd "had enough" After all of the temper tantrums, broken bats, thrown helmets, destroyed water coolers... Why now? Why has he "had enough" now? You know, we used to love to watch Earl Weaver lose his temper and get tossed out of a game. He was a white haired, pudgy, little old man, who was also looked up to and admired by the fans and his peers alike. Lou isn't Earl Weaver. He just comes across as former player who can't find a razor, and is getting over the worst hangover of his life....every day! The players are supposed to learn from their manager, but in the Cubs' case, I'm not sure what Lou is teaching.

If I were a a Cubs fan, (Thankfully, I'm not!) I would be outraged! At some point, sanity and control needs to be returned to the organization. Lead by example, and right now the example isn't a very good one. Chicago has the best team in the Central Division. (I can't believe I just said that!!!) Across the board, they have the most talent, and the deepest roster. The problem is apparent to me. They don't have anyone who knows how to get the most out of that talent. They would rather spit, swear, and kill water coolers than pull together and work in unison as a team. It all starts with the leader, and I'm sorry to say... the Cubs have a poor one. Put it this way.... When is the last time you saw Tony Larussa kick dirt on an umpire, pull a base out of the ground and throw it, or have a meltdown at a press conference? I can tell you....... You haven't! He hasn't won 2500 games by accident!

The Cubs have the talent. They don't have the leadership.

June 22, 2009

If It Ain't Broke...

Ever wonder why the National League Central Division is the only division in Major League Baseball that has 6 teams? Why does the AL West have only 4 teams? Why are there 16 teams in the National League, and only 14 in the American League? Well, I'll tell you why. It's because Bud Selig just couldn't leave well enough alone! Now, I can't blame ALL of baseball's problems on old "rat faced" Bud Selig, but I sure can pin a bunch of them on him!

Because of Selig's introduction of inter league play in 1997, we now have an imbalance in the number of teams in each league. This imbalance has led to the absurdity of a 6 team division in one league, and a 4 team division in the other. You see, you need each league to have an even number of teams in order to make the scheduling of inter league play balance out properly. So, instead of leaving a game that worked perfectly well as it was alone, Selig had to go and mess with it. He moved the Brewers out of the American league and into the National League.(Which was a very profitable move for the owner of the Brewers, who just so happened to be Bud Selig) I thought the whole point of having two different leagues was so that the best team in each league would meet in this grand matchup in the World Series. Two leagues out to prove who was the better. Now each year, we potentially get the "thrill" of watching 2 teams who just may have already played each other six times that year. Kind of takes some of the drama out of it, don't ya' think? Personally, I hate the inter league games! In my eyes, those are dates on the calendar that could have been games against divisional rivalries. Teams fighting to win their division, or secure a wild card spot. The only time I want to see the St. Louis Cardinals playing against the Seattle Mariners, or the Baltimore Orioles, is in the Fall Classic! The way it was meant to be!

Now, "rat face" Selig has screwed the game up in other ways too. To start with, it was Selig who changed the format of the All-Star game in 1993, awarding home field in the World Series to the league that won the "Midsummer Classic". He claimed it would make the game important again. Pfffffft!!! How is the All-Star game important to a guy who is only there because someone from his team "has" to be represented in the game, and his team is already 15 games out of first place? Hell, the fans didn't even vote him into the game! Do you really think that guy cares who has home field advantage in October? It was Bud Selig who also made the bonehead decision to end the 2002 All Star game in a 7-7 tie. He's been a genius as the commissioner! Bud, single handedly, can be blamed for the shortened 1994 season as well. The only season in the history of the game to NOT have a World Series Champion. Thanks Bud! Oh yeah... and the "steroid era" falls under good old Bud Selig's watch too! Although, I suppose you can't blame the steroid issue completely on Bud Selig... but I'm going too because it's just too easy, and I dislike him that much!

On April 6, 1973, the game changed drastically as well. While I've never heard Bud Selig's name mentioned in conjunction with this one, I'm certain, with out a shadow of a doubt, that Selig had to be involved in this debacle as well. (Vegas has it at 3-2 odds) It was April 6, 1973, when Ron Blomberg stepped up to the plate, wearing a New York Yankee uniform, and Blomberg had been penciled into the lineup as the "designated hitter" Another sad day in baseball history! The powers that be had decided that baseball was going to allow the pitchers in the American League to continue pitching, but strip them of their title of "baseball players" Since they were no longer required to play all aspects of the game like the rest of the red blooded American population, pitchers would relinquish themselves to merely being "pitchers". (Kind of like the rule in football that prevents the quarterback from being hit) That just sounds like a Bud Selig idea to me!!!

What would Abner Doubleday say if he were alive today? Doubleday is credited for inventing the game of baseball in Elihu Phinney's cow pasture in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. From that day, a century and a half of baseball went unchanged for the most part. Then somebody felt the need to try to fix something that wasn't broke! Selig is responsible for an awful lot of those bad changes! I wish we could shove Selig out through the back door and forget about him. Let someone like Bob Costas take over the role as Commissioner. Someone who knows, loves, appreciates and respects the game. Someone needs to put the game back together. Back to the way it was meant to be!

June 20, 2009

Is It Inter-league Already?

Is it just me or is this season just flying by? The Cubs are doing there usual dance with .500 coming into the All-Star break. As usual, I am happy with that especially when they are less than 4 games from the top of the division. I guess that's why we call it Six Degrees of Mediocrity. I don't think any team in the Central should be all that proud of their performance. I think that Milwaukee and the Reds are really playing better than expected. I am really surprised with the Reds' young pitching and think they are going to have a rebound year that will offer some hope late into the season.

Cubs are 4-3 in inter-league play right now and look to be making some progress. I can't believe how many extra inning games they have had this year already (I would look them up but I am just too lazy to throw out numbers right now). Looks like Kerry Wood was nice enough to lend a helping hand in the last two games. Looks like he is becoming the closer I thought he was going to be last year with the Indians, makes me think of the post I lodged against him last year when he earned the job for the Cubs. Either way, winning in extra innings give the confidence to grind it out as the summer becomes even hotter.

Derrick Lee is rolling a hot streak and seeing the ball well as of late. I have been waiting all season long for this, along with an extended visit to the DL from Soriano and the Cubs rallying off tons of wins in his absence. I think he is up to 17 games with the 2 he had today. I am curious to see what moves they are going to make to shore up the team as some teams start to fade. I suspect the Cubs will do the most shuffling in the division.

Off on a Tangent

Sorry I haven't been posting as much folks. Since Let's Go Astros passed away, baseball has been a bit bittersweet for me. Joel was one of the very few die-hard Texas fans I had ever come in contact with. I think of him often and how pumped he was when they went to the World Series a few years ago. He took his step-son out in the middle of the night to get them both World Series T-Shirts the night the Astros clinched the pennant. He was a crazy superstitious as me when it came to sports and was a good fan of the game in general. As some of you may very well know, Houston fans are very fickle and fair-weathered. Joel couldn't have been farther from that and I will miss knowing that he is not available for some late-night trash talk. I will miss you good friend and I am truly sorry that you didn't get to see and Astros World Series Championship in your lifetime. When they do, you will be the first one I will toast too, even if they beat my beloved Cubs.

June 16, 2009

"the right way"

I'm going to veer off of the beaten path a little bit, so please bear with me for a moment. As I sit here watching the College World Series, I find myself watching with a huge smile on my face. As an avid fan of the game of baseball, and one who finds beauty in the simple intricacies of the game, I can't help but want to write a "Thank You" note to the head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils. Take a look at the photo that I posted along with this blog and see if you can guess what has me grinning from ear to ear.

I can't remember the last time I saw an entire team of baseball players on the field, and in the dugout, wearing their uniforms the way they were intended to be worn. I don't know if this is something that ASU head coach, Pat Murphy, has mandated to his players, or if this is a subtle sign of team unity. Either way, I don't care because every player on the team is wearing his pants pulled up to his knees, with stockings and stirrups showing for all the world to see and enjoy. No baggy clown pants (ie: Jeff Bagwell, Manny Ramirez and the majority of professional ball players) hanging down over the tops of their cleats.

Baseball is a game of traditions, superstitions, and well defined rules. In an era where the concept of "team" has given way to "individualism", I can't help but yearn for the days of old when baseball players respected every aspect of the game. The game of baseball today feels like it's more about the huge contracts and endorsement deals, rather than the game itself.

I know, this probably all seems ridiculous to the average fan, and petty to the fair-weather fan, and I respect those opinions. But, to the true baseball fan, I feel confident that I'm not the only one to feel this way.

I played baseball for as long as my body would allow me to. I still remember the feeling of pride and excitement I had each and every time I put on my uniform, and the meticulous way I would make sure my stirrups were straight and my pant legs were pulled up evenly. I miss putting on a baseball uniform. I have a 6 year old son who plays T-ball, and I've already impressed upon him the importance of wearing his uniform "the right way". Physically, we all eventually outgrow the game of baseball, but the game will never outgrow us!

Thank you Coach Pat Murphy and the Arizona State Sun Devils! Thank you for respecting the game! I hope it rubs off on others!

May 23, 2009

Baseball 101... (...years later)

The 3 game sweep of the Cubs this week in St. Louis was impressive, but apparently not enough to muzzle the fans from the north side. Not only did the Cardinals sweep the mid-week series at Busch, they did it in dominant fashion. The Cubs managed to eek out 2 runs over the course of 3 games, and quite honestly should have been shutout in 2 of the 3 games. If not for a slight let down by Cardinals reliever, Ryan Franklin,who gave up a lone run in the 9th inning on Wednesday night, St. Louis would have had five pitchers contributing to a shutout. Chris Carpenter was untouchable, picking up the win in his first start back from the disabled list. Adam Wainwright was filthy on Thursday, giving up 1 run in 8 2/3 innings of work. The Redbirds pitching staff dominated the series, leaving the Cubs looking like they had left their bats at the airport in Chicago.

Even on the heels of this humiliation, Cubs fans continue talking. One excuse after another to explain their pitiful performance. I hear it at work, I read it in blogs, I see it in the media. Apparently, the cure for what ails the Cubs all rests in the return of their injured players. Ramirez and Zambrano seem to be "the resurrection" that Wood and Prior were supposed to be in seasons past. "Just wait till we're healthy again..." I've heard it my whole life.... I'll just keep waiting. Fortunately for me, I'm a Cardinals fan, not a Cubs fan. I'll give it to the Cubs fans though, they ARE loyal. To a fault.

The difference between the Cubs and the Cardinals is that the Cardinals have proven that they can play through the injuries. Year after year, Tony Larussa puts a team on the field with guys who step up and perform in the spotlight. Larussa has a way of convincing his players that they can win with whatever lineup they put out there. They don't sit around and wait for "their guys" to get healthy. They step up to the challenge and perform in their absence. That is why Tony is always altering his starting lineup and changing the batting order. He keeps everyone involved so that they are prepared if and when their time comes to step up to the plate.

I keep hearing Cubs fans calling it "over-achieving." Maybe some of their guys need to learn to over-achieve? It might save them from the heartburn that they are afflicted with every September. I'll take over-achievers before under-achievers every day of the week!

May 21, 2009

Holy Cow, Part II

After 2 2/3 games in St. Louis, I can safely say that the Cubs are in a nasty funk. Right now, they couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat in the middle of the ocean. It's almost sad to watch, actually. What is even worse is that it's against the FLIPPIN' CARDINALS! Almost anyone else I would understand... But the Cards?!?!? Geesh.

Oh, well... Enjoy it now while you can, Cards fans. I get a sneaky suspicion that it won't lat. Of course, if the Cubs don't re-learn how to hit and quickly, it may be an even longer summer on the North Side. That would be especially discouraging since the Cubs have the best talent... on paper. It's too bad they don't play the games on paper, though...

May 18, 2009

Holy Cow!

I hadn't checked here in quite a while, and what do I find? A CARDS fan talking smack?! Holy cow! Holy smoke! Holy crap! Pick your favorite "holy" reference... ;-)

Seriously, the Cards play waaaay above their heads for a few weeks and all of a sudden, they're the team to beat?? If this were a three week season, perhaps, but it ain't. It's long, and injuries taked their toll with the best of them. Heck, Bradley, Lee, and Ramirez either have or are missing significant amounts of time, Soto couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat in the middle of the Atlantic, and Cubs pitchers were near the bottom in runs allowed, and yet the Cubbies are only a game and a half out as of this writing. That's either saying something about the talent of the Cubs or the weakness in the division. Given the title of the blog, one may think the latter, but I believe the former. I guess only time will tell, huh?

On a sadder and unrelated note, many of you already know, but for those that don't, "Let's Go Astros", aka Joel, died last Wednesday evening. For those of us that knew him IRL, I can tell you that you wouln't find a better friend, coworker, and all-around great guy than Joel. He will be truly missed. I know God has him now and he's watching the 'Stros from his recliner in Heaven having a cold one. Godspeed, my friend.

May 14, 2009

Stop The Bleeding!

Troy Glaus, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Brendan Ryan, Rick Ankiel, and now, Ryan Ludwick. All key components and all on the DL. The St. Louis medical staff is working overtime trying to treat the wounds that keep piling up in the Cardinals clubhouse. While the clubhouse is looking more and more like an Emergency Room, the rest of the coaching staff is flipping coins, drawing straws, and playing "Rock, Paper, Scissors"trying to put together a lineup each night. While the injuries continue to pile up, so do the losses. The Cardinals, who at one point, were 10 games over .500 and had a little breathing room in the division, have now lost 7 of their last 10 games, and are in a 3 way tie for 1st with the Brewers and the Reds. It's nowhere near "panic time", but somehow, we do need to find a way to stop the bleeding.

Troy Glaus started the season on the DL, recovering from off season shoulder surgery. So, we haven't really "lost" him to injury as much as we've "missed" him because of an injury. Carpenter seems to be well on his way back to the mound, with nothing but positive feedback coming from his rehab. Hopefully, Carp will be back on the mound within a couple of weeks. Rick Ankiel was spared from what not only could have been a career ending injury, it very easily could have been a life altering injury. I believe all he needs is a little time to let the bruising and aches go away, and he'll be back very shortly. Ankiel has never come across as one who would be sidelined for any more time than absolutely necessary. Brendan Ryan, who has proven to be a very valuable utility infielder, has a left hamstring strain to go along with the right hamstring strain of Ryan Ludwick. Brendan Ryan did a great job of covering for Khalil Greene at shortstop while Greene was hampered with leg problems, but more importantly, Ryan is needed to fill in the question mark that has become 2nd base. The loss of Ludwick hurts in several key ways. First off, Ludwick was proving that last year was no fluke, and was hitting for avg. and power. Secondly, Ludwick is really the only "good" protection that the Cardinals have on the roster to hit behind behind Albert Pujols. The result of this being that we will have to live with musical chairs in the outfield until Ludwick and Ankiel return, and hope that Chris Duncan can fill the void that Ludwick has left in the cleanup spot in the batting order.

For all of you Cardinals fans, it's way too early to even think about panicking. I like to look at this as a blessing more than a problem. We can be glad that these injuries and visits to the DL are happening now, and not in September when we should be tuning up for the post season. Hopefully we can get all the kinks out now, so they won't be a hindrance later. After all... we're still in 1st place, despite the injuries, and even with the 3-7 record over the last week and a half, we are still 7 games over .500 for the season. First on the agenda needs to be winning tonight, and avoiding a sweep by the last place Pirates, then it's back home to face the Brewers at Busch this weekend.

Stop holding your breath! We're going to be just fine. Breathe in... let it out... breathe in...

May 3, 2009

I thought there was some rivalalry between the Cubs and the Cardinatls. Listening to fans on this blog, it's like St Louis has some inerative right to win and the Cubs are just glad to be close. Shouldn't there be some volley's back and forth? I guess at this point of the season, everyone is looking internally for thier own issues. BTW - Astros are playing like ass when it comes to consistency, both I do beliver we have some gamers, that will give everying at 110%. Let them come up to the big club to replace peoplse that are kind of half ass..

May 1, 2009

"King" Albert

April is in the record books, and Albert Pujols is well on his way to proving that he IS the best player in baseball. Whether you are a Cardinals fan or not, whether you are a Pujols fan or not, there is no denying that when "King" Albert steps onto the baseball field, we are all witnessing something special.

All Albert did in the month of April was lead the Major Leagues in RBI's with 28, lead the National League in Runs with 22, and belt 8 Home Runs, including 2 grand slams. He is in the top 5 in the National League in 5 offensive categories, while leading the Cardinals to a MLB best record of 16-7. The Cardinals hold a 3.5 game lead over their closest rival, the Milwaukee Brewers, going into the month of May. (Note: The Cubs have lost 7 of their last 10)

Albert Pujols is nothing short of spectacular, on and off the field. On the field he is not only intimidating to pitchers, he is a Gold Glove winner at 1st base, a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, last years Roberto Clemente Award winner, not to mention two-time, and reigning NL MVP. Pujols is the only player in Major League history to begin his career with 8 consecutive seasons of a .300+ batting average, 30+ home runs, and 100+ RBI's. That streak is still alive going into the 2009 season, and the way April looked, he should be well on his way to making it 9 consecutive seasons.

I admit, I may be a little biased when it comes to speaking about Pujols. After all, I am a Cardinals fan, and I am so very fortunate to have him wearing the "Birds & Bat" on his chest every night. But the truth of the matter is, no matter what team you are a fan of, and no matter who your favorite player might be, there is no denying the talent that Albert Pujols brings to the table. He does it with class and respect for the game. He doesn't showboat or have any antics that he has to display for the fans in order to have an identity. The #5, and the name Pujols on the back of his uniform is all the identity he needs. Love him or hate him, you can't deny that you would love to have him on YOUR team!

April 27, 2009

Dangling the Carrot...

I am so thankful that there are Cub fans in the world! No matter how bad my day has been, or what terrible tragedies are being reported on the Evening News, I can count on Cubs fans to cheer me up. Delusional opinions and ramblings (Cubs fans call it "optimism") saturate the comment sections of every major sports web site today. The Cubs lost 2 out of 3 to St. Louis this weekend, and trail the Division leading Cardinals by 3 games. The thing that makes this all so hysterical is that, because Chicago won the final game of the series, well... "that makes everything OK!" You see, in the mind of Cubs fans, they have all of the momentum now. Beating the Cardinals on Sunday has somehow paved the road to the World Series. Nevermind the fact that as of today, they are 3 games back, in 4th place in the Division, and at the pace that they are on right now, they will be 24 games behind the Redbirds after 162 games. (Shhhhh... I know we're only 2o games into the season, but Cubs fans are already trying to figure out if they are Wildcard contenders)

The beauty of this yearly ritual is in watching their confidence rise to off the chart levels, then in the priceless expressions of disbelief that they get smacked in the face with when they finally realize that they have to say once again, "Wait 'til next year!" Cubs fans spew these words out every September as if they had never spoken them before. This is a phrase that has come to be synonomous with the Chicago Cubs, yet they say it with the same thoughtlessness that most of us say, "Good morning" or "I have to pee." "Next year" is the carrot that they keep chasing. (Look up the definition of insane)

Now I'm not one boast or brag, but in my lifetime alone, the Cardinals have been to the World Series 6 times. Out of those 6 times, they have won the Championship twice, 1982 and 2006. (Should have won it in '85 if it weren't for the infamous blown call by Don Denkinger at 1st base in game 6) Now, I can hear Chicago Cub fans laughing and saying, "You lost 4 out of 6 times!"

My response to them is this:

"Better to have been there and lost, than to have never been there at all!"

April 17, 2009

The Heavyweights Collide

Game one of "The Rivalry" is in the books, and I'm happy to say that my Redbirds managed to find a way to eek out a victory yesterday. It was a game that could have gone either way, but Adam Wainwright wriggled his way out of a tight jam in the 6th with the bases loaded in a tie ball game. Errors by Chris Duncan and Brendan Ryan didn't help the Cardinals hurler, but he got a favorable called 3rd strike on Milton Bradley, and a routine fly ball to left off the bat of Soriano to end an intense, pressure packed inning. Duncan and Yadier Molina each had clutch RBI singles in the top of the 7th, giving St. Louis all the insurance they would need to help make Wainwright 2-0 on this young season.

As much as I'd like to use this first meeting between divisional foes as a barometer for things still to come, I have to admit that it is WAY too early in the season to get either too high or too low. So far, the Cardinals look to have a scrappy team thao could have enough to put it all together. Leading the division with an 8-3 record and already having two one run victories under their belts, despite the fact that we still haven't established a legitimate closer, is somewhat impressive. One run victories have been a rare commodity in recent years, so I'm taking this early success as a good sign.

With the good comes the bad, and Chris Carpenter on the DL, especially after how he has performed in his first two starts, is a little deflating. I suppose the good news is that the injury has nothing to do with his surgically repaired shoulder or elbow. An oblique tear that he incurred during an at-bat in Arizona will have him sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks they say. That means P.J. Walters will make his MLB debut this afternoon against Carlos Zambrano at Wrigley. As long as Walters doesn't put too much pressure on himself, he should be fine. Zambrano is one of those guys that you just never know which Carlos will show up on the mound. If the Cardinals can put a few runs on the board early, like they have been doing frequently this year, that just might be enough to rattle the "Big Z" and we can take some shots at the Cubs bullpen.

No matter what happens today, a win or loss isn't going to make or break the season for either of these teams. With that being said, a win from P.J. Walters in his Major League debut, against the ace of the Chicago staff, could be huge and have long term effects on both teams. A win today could go a long way in giving the Cardinals and their rookie pitcher a boost of momentum that could help shape the Central Division race.
It should be a fun weekend. I hope you all enjoy it!

April 13, 2009

One Week Down...Will the Lineup Stay?

I am getting more and more irritated that Soriano is batting lead-off. He's off to a great start but it's affecting everything. But it could be argued that he is giving up valuable RBI's and affecting the rest of the lineup by insisting on leading off. It's no secret that the Cubs were hampered by a non-balanced right handed lineup in the playoffs in the last two years, but this is not the way to fix it. These guys are professionals and should be able to hit pitching from either arm, I know it's an advantage and helps when relievers come into play but at what cost? Since Soriano is a righty and leading off we go to Fuke because he is left at second, Lee because he is right at third, Bradley at cleanup because he is left and Ramirez at 5 because he is right. Bradley is batting horrible right now and you are taking your most consistant hitter who averages over 100 RBI's and moving him to 5? I know it's early and it doesn't seem to be affecting Rami right now, but what happens when Fuke forgets how to hit a curve ball again? I think Lou will look into moving Bradley to second but that still leaves things a mess. By insisting on keeping Soriano at 1 and rotating the Leftys and the Rightys you are throwing out the baby with the bath water. Sometimes I think Lou needs to open his mind a bit and not try to force things. The lineup get shuffled from time to time but I don't like it starting this way. I am still happy with the start but I think things could be improved on. Gregg as a closer is a BIG mistake. I would have rather given a multi-year deal to Kerry than that. I hope that they will be addressing this issue. Give Marmol the ball and find a quality set-up man and move on already.

April 12, 2009

Home Opener @ Wrigley

It's a strange feeling knowing I won't be at Wrigley for opening day this year. My best friend, who has two young kids, couldn't make it this time. But I did enjoy two spring training games (one at Hohokam and one at Tucson Electric Park).

It certainly has been an interesting start. Soriano's been hitting the ball really well (first pitch HR again today in Milwaukee). We should have Soto back by the middle of this week following his shoulder inflammation. I think the real fun will be to wait and see what lineup changes happen as the season gets underway.

Piniella has just come off two very disappointing playoff years where a lack of left-handed bats was a serious issue. Now he seems dead set on alternating left and right handed batters. I think we may see that change. Kevin Gregg is Lou's choice for closer, but I think we may see more from Marmol. In any case, I'm looking forward to another exciting season. Let's Go Cubs!

April 10, 2009

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Here we are, not even a full week into the season, and already I'm speculating in the back of my mind whether or not October baseball is in the cards. (No pun intended)

(The Bad)
After game one, I was certain that it would only be a matter of days before my anxiety would raise my blood pressure to a level that would literally cause my heart to explode inside my chest. A 4-2 lead with 2 outs in the ninth inning... and our new "closer", Jason Motte gives up 4 runs? To me... and maybe it's just me, but I don't think this is a very good sign of things to come. It's a good thing that I put wrist straps (thank you Wii, your concept has saved my television on more than one occasion!) on my TV remote, or it might have found its way thru the back of my 60" flat screen. I watched this 9th inning collapse happen with total amazement, and in that moment, I was convinced that this season was doomed.

(The Ugly)
Todd Wellemeyer didn't exactly make me feel all warm and fuzzy coming off of his first start of the season either. Five runs on 12 hits in just 5 innings on the mound. That my friends, is the recipe that nightmares are made of. All of the ingredients needed for a sports induced, massive coronary were right there, and Wellemeyer was blending them together like Grandma in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. There was a moment when I felt a sharp pain shoot thru my chest and it became difficult to breathe... then I realized it was just the burrito I had eaten for dinner, not the game, that was causing this discomfort. I have to keep reminding myself... it's just the 1st week of the season.

(The Good)
The first bright spot of the season came yesterday. Chris Carpenter carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning in his first start of the season. Now, I realize that this is only his 1st start, but after multiple shoulder surgeries, and all of the questions that lingered around Carpenter going into this season, yesterday was the best news that anyone could ask for. The 2005 Cy Young award winner looked to be back in top form, picking up the win in his debut. Yesterday he was downright filthy, and his "stuff" was untouchable. Couple that with the fact that Albert has come out of the gate in his typical form, hitting .500 in the first 4 games, with a dinger and a handful of RBI's. Khalil Greene looks solid at shortstop so far, and Yadier Molina is looking stronger on offense, and is in pursuit of back-to-back Gold Gloves behind the plate.

Baseball is a lot like golf if you stop to think about it. You can play a horrible round of golf, but there is always that one hole where you hit the perfect shot. You know... that shot that makes you want to come back and play again the next day. Carpenter's performance yesterday was a lot like that shot.

Who am I kidding??? The season isn't even a week old, and to borrow an over used cliche', there is lot of baseball left to be played! To be honest... it doesn't matter what happens over the course of the season. I'll be there regardless. Checking the box scores of all the games each night before I go to bed. Setting my line-ups for my Fantasy League teams every morning. Standing around the coffee machine with my co-workers, debating who has the advantage in the pitching match ups for that day. I'm not going anywhere!

On a more serious note, I'd like to take this opportunity to send my condolences to the family, friends, and teammates of Nick Adenhart, the Angel's pitcher who was tragically killed in an apparent hit and run accident caused by a drunk driver on Wednesday night. We, as Cardinals fans, know all too well how hard it is to lose someone so unexpectedly. The loss of Daryl Kile and Josh Hancock still hangs over St. Louis fans like a dark cloud. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.

April 6, 2009

I Can't Fight This Feeling Any Longer...

I have to admit...I haven't been all that excited about baseball starting. I don't know if it's because I'm back on the road again, (been in Dallas pretty solid since July), get tired of reading the gloom and doom prediction of the Astros, (I believe the baseball prospectus predicted 92 losses), or tired of all the PED talk. However, here I was today, talking baseball, counting down the clock until first pitch, even telling my client I'll have to send some comments later as the game starts at 6:05. It really is an sociology question. Are we programmed from birth to love baseball or something we've learned over time. I know all of us have had much more heartbreaks than successes over the years. What keeps us coming back?

I will admit watching the Cubs-Astros (it's top of the 6th as I write), my enthusiasm is starting to wane seeing us not move runners and make bone headed mistakes, (Yes Miggy, you were out). However, I know that tomorrow I'll be pouring over box scores and knowing the pitching match ups for the next game. I think for me one of the things I like is seeing the writers proved wrong. The favorites seldom do as well as predicted and there's always a surprise (TB last year, Colorado in 2007).

I think my biggest wishes for the start of this season, (wait a second...what a crappy call on Mr. Anal Fissures. That was not a strike). Astros play .500 ball. Yankees don't win anything. Neither do the Red Sox. Braves win the East, (just to piss off the East Coast media predicting the Phillies and Mets) and Head in the Ivy is not shown on TV with his shirt off and the Cubs logo painted on his chest.

Now one more college basketball game to go. Thank goodness for the hotel bar with multiple TV's.

Opening Day

Peanuts... Popcorn... Cold beer HERE!!! Ahhh..... Can you finally smell it? Opening day is here. Across the country there are thousands upon thousands of baseball fans who woke up at the crack of dawn this morning, went to the closet and grabbed their favorite players' jersey, and threw it on over their favorite t-shirt. They ate breakfast while watching ESPN, and have been "clock watching" all morning, wondering if it's still too early to head towards the ball park? Fathers and sons, husbands and wives, best friends, co-workers, and friendly rivals... all ready to hear the playing of the National Anthem, and to finally hear those two words that they have waited all winter for ..........

This Year Is Here!

I have visions of the beginning of "The Bad News Bears" swirling in my head. I can see the sprinklers going off, the lines being chalked and the bases being laid out. I know there is extensive Spring Training but the 12 year old in me doesn't really recognize baseball until opening day of my favorite team. It hampers my pre-season conversations but it just makes the season all that more special to me.

That being said, it's very unsettling going in expecting big things from the Cubs this year. The "curse" or as I prefer to call it "mystique" has now worn out it's welcome with me and I just want it to end, whatever it's considered. I left last year more than a bit disappointed, I felt that I was cheated out of a great start. It's like driving a luxury car for a week and then going back to your rusted out Honda. I had the taste and it makes the reality all the worse. Today is the beginning of a new day and a new season. Last year is officially over, although I will be wearing my 08 Central Division Champs hat to remind myself and the non-believers that we are the team to beat.

This year will also be my first official live opening day. Chicago usually doesn't come to Houston until MUCH later in the season and I am looking forward to taking it all in. That being said, I think offering "healthy" options at a ballpark is blasphemy. To me "healthy" means peanuts, unsalted it you are really trying to take care of yourself. Welcome to 09 and let the games begin!

February 24, 2009

St. Louis searching for way to fill the holes

Going into this season, I once again find myself cautiously optimistic. There are so many holes to be filled in the Cardinals lineup, that I don't know where to start? This off season has been another, almost predictable, disappointment for Cardinals fans. Since the departure of former general manager Walt Jocketty, and the arrival of the new general manager, John Mozeliak, the front office has been hesitant to pull the trigger on any major deal.

The addition of Khalil Greene at shortstop is questionable, at best. While it will be nice to once again have an everyday guy playing the position, the numbers that Greene put up last season leave a lot of room for doubt. If he can revert back to the player he was 2 years ago, then we can all exhale with relief. If not... it's going to be a long season for the fans, and Greene.

Troy Glaus had off season shoulder surgery, and very quietly, Joe Mather has been taking his reps in the infield. Mather, a 6'4", 215 lb. specimen, has the kind of power with his bat that has earned him the nickname, "Joey Bombs" amongst his teammates. Mather, an outfielder in the Cardinals organization until now, was actually drafted as a shortstop, and has played the hot corner on occasion in the minors. So, Joe Mather may be a pleasant surprise this year, filling in until Glaus is ready to re-enter the lineup.

The release of 2nd baseman Adam Kennedy a few weeks ago might be the biggest surprise up to this point. With no real replacement waiting in the wings, Tony Larussa is in the process of trying to convert Skip Schumaker, last years impressive and dependable outfielder, into a reliable and capable 2nd baseman. Other names mentioned to fill the role have included Brendan Ryan, Tyler Greene, and Brian Barden. Ryan is a good utility man, but doesn't have the "pop" that I think most fans would like to see at the position. Barden has all of 23 games of experience under his belt in the majors, and all of those were played as a shortstop. Greene, on the other hand, has absolutely no experience, and to throw him into the lineup as a starter is highly unlikely. Cardinal fans might have to get used to the "position-by-platoon" concept for yet another season.

Unfortunatley, 2nd base may not be the only position to be platooned. Jason Isringhausen, the long time Cardinals closer, was not offered a contract renewal this off season. Injuries had plagued the St. Louis closer for the past 4 seasons, and the organization felt it was time to part ways, with no viable "plan B" in place. Hopes were high on acquiring Brian Fuentes, the highly sought after closer from the Rockies, but Fuentes had his eyes on Anaheim, his home town. The Angels had already lost their 9th inning man, the outstanding Francisco Rodriguez, to free agency. Once Fuentes made his desires to play in southern California known, he basically wrote his own ticket. The day that Fuentes signed with the Angels, Cardinal fans watched the last hope at getting an experienced closer ride off into the western sunset. We'll just have to wait and see how the Cardinals skipper decides to handle this one. I can tell you this... I'm not excited.

The last big question is Chris Carpenter. Carpenter has had a full year to rehab and rest his twice surgically repaired elbow. What he'll have in the tank, and how effective his "stuff" will be, is going to be the question of the day each time he takes the mound. The former Cy Young award winner has the ability to be a dominant force, but only if he's healthy. All we can do, is hold our breath, and hope for the best. All indications up to this point show that Carpenter is back and throwing nasty stuff to hitters in Florida.

With so many questions going into the season, I am not betting the farm on a World Series title in '09. Being a die hard Cardinals fan, I always go into every year with an optimistic hope that they can find a way to do something spectacular. this year is no exception, but I'm also smart enough to know that that the reality is, my Redbirds are going to need the stars and the moon to align at just the right time, and in just the right order for this to be a "dream season". I'm pulling for Albert to win the MVP, among many other awards that he'll no doubt receive at seasons' end. I'm hoping that Comeback Player of the Year will go to Chris Carpenter, and that Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel each can pick right up where they left off last year.

While I always wish for a World Series title, if nothing else, I hope that the Cardinals can find a way to win their division and make the playoffs. Another division banner would look good hanging in Bush Stadium. With that being said, we may not win the World Series, and we may not even win our division, but as long as we finish ahead of the Cubs in the final standings... that's another good season as far as I'm concerned!

February 16, 2009

Rebirth of Slick

Can a 49 year old come back and pitch in the Majors? Oil Can Boyd thinks he can, even after an 18 year layoff. He was recently pitching in fantasy baseball camp and says his arm is well rested and healed. He noted that Satchel Page began his MLB career in his 40's and Satch doubles as his hero and inspiration.

Don't you think that baseball could use a "feel good" story right now? That would be great but I don't think this is going to be leaving me feeling all that good. Here is a news flash, according to my memory Satch was pitching in the Negro leagues before the MLB. Oil Cans arm may be fresh but I would put Satch in a different realm of greatness. I would even say that going into the MLB was probably at least an even match to the competition he was facing before getting his shot. Striking out schlubs like me in fantasy camp is not quite the same. He claims he is throwing in the low 90's and still has his off-speed pitches. I may be a little bit of a cynic but a little part of me would like to see him get a shot. With my luck he will be named as the Cubs' fifth starter next week and take over the Viagra void that Palmeiro left behind.
Don't Call It a Comback, He's Been Here for Years

February 10, 2009

Let's Clear Up Some Misconceptions...Shall We?

Can I even get excited about the upcoming season without the same stories about PED's and lying to congressional committees? Without getting too sucked in I would like to know why Congress really cares and how it's so strange that politicians invite people into the den of sin and expect them to play by different rules than they play every day. I know that congress threatened to clean up baseball if the MLB didn't, but are we really winning anything here? They know it was rampant, they now have testing that has brought results and punishments in place. Maybe if our fine outstanding politicians can learn to pay their taxes they will be granted the right to put someone under a binding oath and expect them to incriminate themselves.

I keep reading the latest stories and ridiculous statements that other "bloggers" are making and I want to clear up some talking points that have been run into the ground.

First off, I highly doubt you would get fired from your desk job if you were taking a PED that would increase your productivity by leaps, have you miss less days at work and bring in success and millions of dollars to your company. So don't keep spewing trash on how the MLB is protecting these idiots and no other corportation in the "real world" would. Talk to me when they come and take away the coffee machine. Do you ever wonder why many companies provide it for free?

Pete Rose ACCEPTED a lifetime ban from baseball. Sure he thought it would probably be reversed in a couple of years, but he took the deal to stop them from further investigating him. He gambled on baseball games at the least, they would have found many more things if they continued the investigation. He knew that and that's why he agreed to the ban. So let him lay in the bed that he made. He took his deal and it doesn't matter which is worse in the battle of steroids vs. gambling. My personal opinion is to let him in the hall after he has passed away, that way he can't directly profit from it.

Mark McGwire is retired and doesn't owe you the truth. I respect him more for not blowing smoke up my ass and instead saying that he would rather focus on stopping future players from making the same mistake. He answered the questions in a way to keep him from having to give further testimony and others should have learned from him instead of proclaiming false innocence. There are plenty of stories showing the down side of steroids out there, Big Mac's record breaking home run season isn't what you want to use to scare players away. His use of other performance enhancers were very well documented and so are his countless lingering injuries.

And finally, I don't care if Phelps smoked pot. I know he's not a baseball player but enough is enough. If you think pot can provide a performance boost, look no further than me in my college days. I was barely able to lift the pizza from the box to my mouth on most days. LET IT GO. If swimming thinks they don't need him, think again. I've seen more ping-pong on ESPN than swimming. I don't think I would feel comfortable benching my only commodity for the next three months. He won 8 gold medals for our country, he made a mistake and had the balls to admit it without having to be dragged to Congress. He could have just have easily said that the bong was a new training tool for breath control and I would have never thought anything different.

February 9, 2009

Really? REALLY???

Snippet of my imaginary interview: (Actual A-Rod answers)

January 9, 2009

Ghost of Jack Buck (GJB): "So, Alex, let's go back. It's 2001. It has been 3 years since Mark McGwire broke the single season home run record. Barry (Bonds) breaks that record a year later, and ever since then, the media has been all over the steroid issue. Allegations swirling in the media that steroid use is rampant in Major League Baseball. A new testing program is being discussed by the players and owners. And it is during this time that you tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED's)?"

A-Rod: "I was young, I was stupid, I was naive."

GJB: "Really?"

A-Rod: "I did take a banned substance. For that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful."

GJB: "Really?"

A-Rod: "I had just signed this enormous contract I felt like I needed something, a push, without over-investigating what I was taking, to get me to the next level."

GJB: "Really? So, you sign the largest contract in MLB history. 10 years, $252 million dollars, $25.2 million a year... and you decide you need steroids?"

A-Rod: "Overall, I felt a tremendous pressure to play, and play really well"

GJB: "Really? Really?? OK, so what substances did you start using?"

A-Rod: "To be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using"

GJB: "REALLY??? REALLY??? You were making $25 million dollars a year... OVER $155,000 a game... and you don't know what substance you were injecting into your body??? REALLY???
Forgive me for saying this out loud, but that in itself, the fact that you were injecting a banned substance into your body, and you have no idea what it was... all the while you are making an obscene amount of money for playing a game! Well, Sir, that is just about the dumbest thing I have heard in all my life!!! REALLY???"

State of the Game: We've Been Cheating Ourselves

As more than a casual baseball fan, I feel that the recent A-Fraud accusations are leaving a bad taste that go back even further than 2003. Allow me to play devils advocate here and say that there is no drug that you can take that will allow you to hit the ball, or really even hit the ball further. Nothing can replace pure athletic talent, hand-eye coordination and good old fashioned hard work. As it has been stated by every reporter, baseball is all about stats and numbers. Maybe we are buying way too much into that. Baseball is a beautiful sport all into itself and maybe we are tainting the game by letting the numbers get into the way. I love the numbers as much as the next guy, but maybe, just maybe I am letting them cloud my vision a bit. If a guy bats a buck-and-a-half and goes to the World Series and wins, he won the World Series. If a guy hits 73 home runs and doesn't even make the playoffs, does he really win anything?
Let's face it, the numbers have been tainted by more than just steroids. The stolen base doesn't hold the same value as it did in the late 70's early 80's. That doesn't mean I value Lou Brock or Ricky Henderson any less. Hank Aaron's homerun record will always be special because he was doing something more important than breaking records, he was breaking barriers. To be honest, the 56 game hitting streak by Joe D. and Ripkens 2632 game streak are the only current stats that I can truly appreciate, and it's because they were streaks (not a common stat). The game has changed and I am fine with that, the game is not the same as it was even from when I was a kid and I can accept that. Players will always be looking for an edge and I can understand that. The only way for baseball and it's fans to truly win is to acknowledge the game for the beauty that it is and not for the stats that people put up. Stop comparing the modern games stats with the stats of the last era and you will truly appreciate what the game brings.

Update: A-Rod has admitted the steroid use over a three year period. Based on his apology it will probably end the conversation in a couple of weeks like it did for Giambi and Pettitte. I bet that Clemens wished he would have gone a different route at this point. In 2003, 104 players tested positive during baseball's survey testing, which wasn't subject to discipline. That averages out to over 3 people per team. To say that the games stats had been compromised would be an understatement. More importantly, just think of the players who would not have even made the big leagues without that little edge.
Full Article Here

January 10, 2009

My Favorite Potpourri

Everyone has one. For some, it might be a hot apple pie, or fresh fallen rain. Maybe it's Grandma's house, a perfume, or a brand new car. Not me. For me, it's stale beer, pine tar, dry roasted peanuts, hotdogs and chewing tobacco. Put them all in a pot and let them simmer on the stove. Let the smells of each intertwine and weave themselves together into an aromatic tapestry. The aromas, when all brought together, create the most perfect potpourri that I can think of. Close your eyes and try to imagine. Allow your mind to drown your sense of smell and breathe it in. Inhale deeply and slowly. Can you smell it? Can you almost taste it? That's the smell of baseball!

Every year, right around this time, I start to get a little antsy. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting to camp soon. Followed by the position players not too long after. It's just around the corner... and I can almost smell it!

You see, baseball is the game that I fell in love with at the age of 4. My earliest childhood memories involve baseball. It all began with watching my Dad. He would sit in the garage (pretending to be working on some project) and listen to Jack Buck narrate the action through the transistor radio that sat on his workbench. Telling the story of the game as if he was reading some classic Walt Whitman poem. I could see the happiness and excitement in my Dad's eyes. The anticipation of every pitch. The glow on his face as my Dad soaked in every minute of every game. Every night, Jack Buck was orating his modern version of "Leaves of Grass", and baseball fans listened.

It was baseball. Nevermind the fact that it was St. Louis Cardinal's baseball for a moment. For the purest of baseball fans... it doesn't matter who it is. Baseball fans know exactly what I'm speaking of. It IS BASEBALL! Everyone remembers walking into the baseball park for the very first time. For me, it was like entering the great Roman Coliseum. There I stood with my Dad and my little brother. Standing at the end of the the long dark tunnel at Busch Stadium, looking down on the field as if it were filled with the greatest Gladiators of all time! And the smell.......oooooooh.......... that smell!!! It was fantastic!!!

It doesn't matter who your favorite team is, or who your favorite player is. It doesn't matter if you are in first place or last place. The only thing that matters is that the game is there for all of us to enjoy. Cards fans and Cubs fans, Yankee fans and Red Sox fans. We may protest our disdain for one another's teams each year, but the truth is, we are all in the same brotherhood. We are all guilty of being in love with the same mistress. We're all in love with baseball.

It won't be long. It's just around the corner... and I can hardly wait!!!

Can you smell it?

January 9, 2009

HOT stove!

I find it curiously coincidental a ball club owned by a guy who also owns a newspaper would spend so much to sign on a player with a moniker providing such a vast wealth of headline pun fodder...

October 9, 2008

It's been a great year......

Am I upset about another collapse? Yes. Do I feel cheated? Kinda. Am I fed up? Not at all.
That is something all the Cards fans and those who root against the Cubs simply don't understand and never will. If I have to explain it and put it in drawings (mostly for Cards fans), you still wouldn't get it and understand.

This is why the Cubs have the support they always or lose......mostly lose. But how does that differ us from the Reds fans or Red Sox fans? Red Sox fans may understand more, but still haven't the history a Cub fan has had.....either seen or told.

How many fans go to a game.....a game that means nothing...and still go just to see your team? Especially one that lost any hopes for the playoffs? I do.....even to an Astros game........and they tried to win the wildcard.

Don't lose faith. The Cubs are good....real good. Did they win a series....Nope! How are they good? Because they finally care about winning.......even if the fans have always cared but still loved their team. They spent the money (less than some with more talent on paper), the fixed and upgraded their stadium at NO cost to the city (sure....tix aren't cheap), and gave us a great 6 months of baseball.

Do I care that they lost......YES! How can I support this team with the 100 years of failure? I don't call it failure...I call it tradition and that's something other fans just don't get. Failure isn't always bad......Just like winning the lottery isn't always good.

In the last week I have been consoled (still on suicide watch), laughed at and told I was cursed as well. I laughed and agreed and would have it no other way. Teased when they lost 3 in a row....again.

Contrary to belief of others on this blog....Cubs fans are the best fans. Do they get worked up....Heck's not that often we get a good team....much less a great team. I'm not putting other fans down, they just don't understand.

October 5, 2008

I am disappointed (again)

“The price of excellence is discipline. The cost of mediocrity is disappointment.”

Enough said. This is life as a Cubs fan. Swept in the post-season again. Say it with me ... "There's always next year."