Tuesday, June 29, 2004

posted by James - 1:22 PM

I'd like to thank Mike at the Cubs Pundit, who I'm currently trailing in his fantasy baseball league by quite a bit * grumble *, for pointing out this article in today's Chicago Tribune.

In the above article, the writer attacks the Cubs' poor baserunning in the last two series, armed with some unclear at best quotes from Cubs Manager Dusty Baker.

I say unclear because it's unclear who Baker gives credit to for the Cubs poor baserunning: Jim Edmonds, Sammy Sosa, Corey Patterson, Willie Mays, the failing state of today's public education...

I honestly can't tell, but I know that, if Baker actually thinks this way, we're going to continue to see these mistakes.

"I used to talk to Willie Mays, and he was telling me a good baserunner really doesn't need a third-base coach if he knows where the outfielders are playing [and] where the shortstop and second baseman are playing on a pitch-by-pitch basis," manager Dusty Baker said.
Yeah, Baker is proving himself to be quite the moron with each dumbass quote like this he gives.

What the hell is the player supposed to do? Look over his shoulder as he's running towards third. If he does that, he definitely won't be running fast enough to score on anybody, whether he's Randy Winn or Jim Edmonds.

If it's the baserunner's responsibility to make sure he can score... then Baker has to answer why the hell there's a third-base coach out there at all? To throw baseballs to the crowd at the every half inning? To collect a runner's batting gloves and battle armor?

But at least Baker's done one thing right by this... If they're not going to show third-base Coach Wendell Kim the door, I'd rather have even the Cubs' terrible baserunners making the call than him.

The funny part I took from the article is nowhere in the article does Baker defend Kim's ability to make the send-or-not-send decision.

I hope that's the message Baker is trying to send... stop paying attention to "Waving Wendell" so I don't have to fire my friend.

Monday, June 28, 2004

posted by James - 3:00 PM

OK... my editing prowess failed me while I was writing that post from the "Just as Friendly Confines", so here's what I meant to say if I could be Bill Bavasi for a day.

I remember thinking... if I could wear the Bill Bavasi hat for a day (the first thing I'd do is beat myself over the head a few times for being an idiot and wasting an offseason - effectively ruining said hat) and a guy bearing the resemblance of a White Sox GM offered me hot OF prospect Jeremy Reed for an erratic, overpaid pitcher, who is surplus at best, I'd jump and not think twice.
I'm looking forward to tonight's Monday Night Raw. They've had a couple great shows lately and tonight the Main Event features Chris Benoit vs Kane for the World Heavyweight Title.

I should be rooting for Kane, and I probably will be, but I'm also rooting for Triple H to stick his HUGE nose in this match and for Eugene, the most entertaining part of Raw these days, to borrow from his good friend the Rock and Lay Some Smackdown on his ROODY-POO CANDY ASS!!!

It's weird for me to advocate putting a newbie such as Eugene into a high-profile spot on a PPV, but not only is he amazingly entertaining with his current character, but he's proven to be a damn good wrestler to boot.

Everybody out there, get ready to enjoy Just Another Monday Night!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

posted by James - 6:09 PM

So, I'm sitting down at Casey Moran's at the bar, because after the White Sox thrashed the Cubs today the place cleared out and there wasn't a damned thing to do.

However, there were a couple "White Sox fans"* still basking in their series victory, and they were discussing the possibilities for improving their starting pitching after losing "the almighty Scott Schoeneweis."

They threw around names like Freddy Garcia and Randy Johnson, while dangling such prime trade bait as Aaron Rowand. I suggested they look at Ryan Franklin, who they'd have for more than a year at a much lower salary than Garcia, if they didn't want to part with a stud outfielder like Jeremy Reed or Joe Borchard.

One "fan"* said he didn't care, as long as it brought Garcia to the front of their rotation.

I remember thinking... if I could wear the Bill Bavasi hat for a day, and a guy bearing the resemblance of a White Sox GM offered me hot OF prospect Jeremy Reed for an erratic, overpaid pitcher, who is surplus at best, I'd jump and not think twice.

A couple minutes later, I look up at the ticker on the ESPNews channel, and they're reporting the White Sox have acquired Freddy Garcia.

I pointed this out to the "fan"*, and he was pleased at his own prognostical abilities, though neither of us or his friends knew what booty the Mariners hauled in for Garcia.

The internet wasn't any help either, as neither AP, Sportsticker or ESPN had reported the story, and neither of the teams' sites had any info as of yet.

However, the waning innings of the Mariners latest loss to the San Diego Padres was nothing but a running close up of Garcia with a couple shots of SafeCo interspersed.

Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs finally provided the details of the trade sending Garcia to the South Side.

Not only did the Mariners get Reed, 23, and a minor-league infielder (Michael Morse), they also pillaged the White Sox' starting catcher, 25-year-old Miguel Olivo, in the trade...

...AND rid themselves of perennially overrated and overpaid catcher Ben Davis, who had been toiling in Triple-A Tacoma.

The reaction at the bar to the trade ranged from...

1. satiated ("Sox GM Ken Williams got his man, no matter what the price.")

2. anger ("Damn. The White Sox just took two out of three and they'll have an even deeper rotation and Houston added the best offensive player available on the market just in time to visit the Friendly Confines for Fourth of July Week. When are my Cubbies going to get off their duffs and get some help for my team?")

3. more anger ("I can't believe Williams gave up Reed AND Olivo. What was he thinking?")

I'd be pleased from the perspective of a Mariners fan, but there had to be money exchanging hands here, right? There's no way the Mariners unload that much salary AND get three high-value players in return.

Regardless, don't the Mariners still owe their fans a huge upgrade in payroll. They never spent the money they got from Kazuhiro Sasaki leaving for Japan before the season started, and now they have whatever they saved on this trade.

The fans are still putting their butts in the seats, if my sojourn to SafeCo Field earlier this month was any indication, so the Mariners need to start putting money back into the team - either for this year or for next.

This team has spare parts that other teams could use (Randy Winn, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Ryan Franklin, John Olerud...) and superfluous, high-end prospects to trade.

If the White Sox end up failing down the stretch, the Mariners should look dealing with them again for rightfielder Magglio Ordonez, and then signing him to a long-term deal.

I'm sure there are other options out there, but his is the first on my list.

Now on to our Beloveds...

"There are millions of Cubs fans in the world. We are spending our time, money, and what's left of our hearts supporting this team. We deserve better than management that is capable of gutting our hopes with putrid personnel decisions like this year in and year out."
I commend Scott, and his site I affectionately call Just West of Wrigleyville South (though I may have the directionals wrong), for bringing the heat and firing at the right location.

It's obvious this team doesn't have a talent problem. It's had a health problem for most of the season, but that's fixing itself (with added bonuses for Angel Guzman and Ryan Dempster).

But after watching the team blow runs on the basepaths, in the field and, to quote Scott one more time, with "putrid personnel decisions", it's obvious this team has a management problem.

Both Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker need to get their heads in the game and start treating this season as a one-of-a-kind chance... and act like they learned from last year, where they also blew a one-of-a-kind chance.

* The quotes are added because they just sounded like they were White Sox fans; they could have just had an interest in the trade, not unlike myself. I was too busy pretending to do actual work to have much of a convo with them.

Monday, June 21, 2004

posted by James - 8:03 PM

I have just one thing to say to the recent birthday boy...


That is all.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

posted by James - 7:06 PM

Photo Illustration by Chef Sunshine... aka the Wife Just North of Wrigley Field

My beautiful and talented wife came up with the perfect web expression for one of today's major events... if you must, call it an online birthday card for our very own, Skippy!!!

As you all can see from previous posts, he's enjoying this weekend to the fullest down in Portland. I'm sure he'd tell you the most important part is enjoying it with his father... at the races, on the links, at the bar and celebrating both his birthday and Father's Day!!! Dude! Double Celebration! Suh-weet!

Not only that, but both the Mariners and Cubs won today. That's becoming less and less of a rare occurance. Which I don't really have a problem with (they did whup on the Expos at my appearance at SafeCo Field last week) - though it won't help with the getting rid of Melvin and Bavasi.

Happy Father's Day to fathers everywhere!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2004

posted by James - 11:58 PM

Photo taken 06/19/04 courtesy AP/Jeff Roberson

Excuse me as I conjure my favorite ESPN News Anchor Brian Kenny to describe the end of the most thrilling Cubs game I've experienced from Wrigleyville...

*kinda high-pitched* One Todd will score!

*even more high-pitched* Two Todds will score!!!

I knew having dos Todds on the Cubs roster would come in handy one day.

It's pretty much what I envisioned when Cubs GM (and miracle worker) Jim Hendry added them to the bench last offseason... but they've played so well in their starting roles, it's hard to relegate them to a few PAs per week. Though I can't argue with the results so far.

The above picture is pretty much what Casey Moran's looked like after Todd Walker slid across home plate to give the Cubs the 4-3 victory. It was damn near one 400-person group hug... and then Playboy Playmate Colleen Marie (Miss August '03) showed up.

It was a wild day to put it mildly.

posted by CHRIS - 11:55 PM

Portland Race Track Map
Map courtesy Champ Car World Series

Here you can see where my dad and I sit every year on our annual trip to Portland. This section is one of the first to sell out. You can see more of the track from this section than anywhere else on the Portland track. You can see down into the pits as well as all the way into turn seven.

posted by CHRIS - 11:53 PM

Photo taken 06/19/04

This is what happens to drivers who think they can take the first few turns faster than they should. This Toyota Atlantic (Champ Car minor leagues) driver slid off the track and into the sand in between turns one, two and three.

posted by CHRIS - 11:45 PM

Photo taken 06/19/04

This is the only sport where you can go into the pits and watch the team work. You really can almost walk up pit road and watch them work on all of these cars.

It really would be like walking into the locker room of a basketball game and listening to the speech as the coach gives it.

posted by CHRIS - 11:39 PM

Photo taken 06/19/04

On race weekend even I got in on the action, taking second out of six in my race. I moved up 2 spots from the spot I started in. This is a picture of me in the #20 cart just after I had made a pass on the inside in the turn before.

posted by CHRIS - 11:32 PM

Photo taken 6/19/04

Paul Newman has been one of the biggest investors and supporters of open wheel racing for as long as I remember. On Saturday, I got close enough that he almost ran over my dad.

Friday, June 18, 2004

posted by CHRIS - 8:17 PM

First and foremost, I want to extend my deepest sympathy to Utah Jazz Head Coach Jerry Sloan and his family. After a long struggle with breast cancer, his wife of 41 years past away this week. My heart goes out to Coach Sloan.

Now on to something a little more light hearted... This has been a great trip to Portland, so far.

First off, I won the karaoke contest I had entered and won $400. Not bad for a night of singing.

Second, I beat my dad at golf (98 to 104), while getting a great start to my summer tan. I told you I would forget the sunscreen. So, yes I am burnt to a crisp (Ed. note... Crisp. Bacon. LOL!!!)

Third, today was the first day of practice and qualifying for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland. Paul Tracy took the pole early in the qualifying session, but youngsters Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira took that away from him shortly after being on the track.

Both Junqueira and Bourdais used a small amount of their allotted 15 qualifying laps. Junqueira also wins a bonus point helping him extend his lead in the Championship Points Standings. He now leads him teammate Bourdais by 2 points. This also guarantees Junqueira a spot in the first row for Sunday's race.

The heat and wind provided new challenges for some of the young teams with limited experience at the 1.969 mile long road course. The wind slowed the cars down coming down the back stretch as a headwind came whipping down the back straight away.

The sun also reeked havoc on the fans as a majority I saw were very sun burned (including me).

Well sports fans... that's about all I have for you today. I will write more tomorrow evening after the final qualifying session.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

posted by CHRIS - 2:49 PM

Hey guy’s It’s Chris from Just West of SafeCo Field.

As I’m sure everyone has read, I am an avid Champ Car Racing fan. Race #4 brings the Bridgestone Presents the World Series of Champ Car to my neck of the woods, the Great Northwest. I will be in Portland, Oregon for the weekend watching all the action LIVE!!!

As is tradition, my dad and I will be in the stands for two days of qualifying and the race on SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!!! I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Father’s Day (June 20th, Don’t forget!!!) and MY BIRTHDAY (presents and money gladly accepted), than watching the finest drivers in the world doing 185 MPH! Of course I will be updating the website after each day of qualifying, and as soon as I get home on Sunday, I will post pictures of the race, and the winners.

Hopefully, I will also be granted an interview by Mike Nealy, the President of Global Events Group. (They are people in charge of making sure all of the sponsors and investors are represented this weekend. They also handle ticket sales. So if you don’t have tickets already click on the link and buy today!).

The Weather Channel calls for highs in the mid 80s and mostly sunny skies all weekend long. That means two things. The track will be fast, and I will get another lovely sunburn.

* Memo to me: buy sunscreen.*

Note: I just said buy sunscreen; I will end up forgetting it and getting burnt anyway.

Before the craziness of race weekend starts, I will also be competing in a karaoke contest at McFadden’s in downtown Portland. So if you find yourself in the Portland area on Wed., June 16th at around 11 p.m., stroll in and listen to some of the best karaoke singers in the Great Northwest.

The following day, my dad and I will be visiting Heron Lakes Golf Course to play golf together for the first time in almost 3 years. He hasn’t picked up a club in that time, and I have played the course within the last month. This should be an easy win for me.

Well sports fans, work calls. Stay tuned for updates on James’ trip to SafeCo Field and an update on the night of wrestling that never was (long story).

Thursday, June 10, 2004

posted by David - 7:38 PM

Time for a Waste of Space...

(NO... I don't have any pictures to share. If I had a scanner, I would show everyone how bad the interior of my house looks. Of course, I'm having it torn apart... So that's O.K.)

Things have been a bit rough for me these past few weeks. I contracted the plague, and suffered mighty. Well, maybe it wasn't quite the plague, but I think that the origin of my illness can be linked to the improper disposal of Rodentus Uglificus (Wharf Rat). There were a couple of them killed at work that were left to rot in a seldom emptied trash can. This is, by chance, next to my muster location, and I may have caught something there-from.

I wound up with pneumonia and have been struggling to get over it for a couple of weeks now... And I feel like I'm making little headway. On the bright side, my medication wasn't very expensive. The best part about being North of Petco Park is that TJ isn't too far south of Padre-land. Bless the south-of-the-border discount healing. Saved me a might bit more than a few duckets.

It's nice to see that the slacker and the goof-off are back to posting. I was wondering what was wrong with them for a while there. The least they could have done for a poor plague victim would have been to entertain me with blog entries. I really like that jersey that the J-man has. 'Course I may be slightly biased on the whole issue.

I'm also looking forward to crashing Crispy's place some time in the future. I just have to get my map out so I can find where his domicile is... I always get lost out in random looking housing land. Too bad I can't do anything of the sort until I go back to Washington... But that won’t be for a bit more than a month yet (unless I get extended on my little sojourn down here in Diego.

Well, I'm not quite dead. And for that I am apologetic. For you have had to endure another...

Waste of Space

Monday, June 07, 2004

posted by CHRIS - 8:15 PM

Photo taken 6/7/2004

Oh yeah, and did I mention that I put all of my old Jazz posters on the wall? These are all from games in the late 80's and early 90's (Back when I had season tickets at the Salt Palace).

posted by CHRIS - 8:10 PM

Photo taken 6/7/2004.

This is what will be called "The Den". Soon to be the site of the first WWE pay-per-view in my house since WresltleMania, and the second since James moved to Chicago.

The Den features two satellite TV's, Gamecube, N64, DVD player, VHS... you name it. I even found a green carpet that looks like grass and painted home plate and foul lines. The parquet flooring is reminiscent of the old Boston Garden. Soon, the left wall will be a mural of the view of downtown Seattle from the grass inside SafeCo Field (looking over the left field wall).

James and I will break in The Den Just West of SafeCo Field next Monday as we go for a marathon session of a WWE PPV (“Bad Blood” featuring Triple H vs. HBK in a Hell in the Cell match) followed by Monday Night Raw.

Ohhhh yes... Behold the wonders of TiVo.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

posted by James - 1:05 AM

Photo taken 1/23/2004

Wow... I can't believe how cool that worked. I'm still going to have to tweak with it some, but that was so cool and pretty damn easy too. This is going to be a fun thing to play with in the future!!! The above photo is me in the best Christmas present this guy has ever received, courtesy of our one and only banished in San Diego Washingtonian, David. I can't rightfully express on any level how much I miss him.

Just wait until I post some of the pictures I took at the game I went to today. I sat right behind home plate 20 rows back in the 200 level. Even though this is blasphemous, I couldn't help but be in awe of my fortune to see future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens pitch against current Cubs ace Matt Clement (Yeah, until Prior and Wood show their true dominant forms again he's the ace of this staff).

I've gone to countless AL games over the last 25 years and numerous Red Sox, Blue Jays and Yankees games, but I can't recall ever seeing the Rocket pitch in person until today.

I find it borderline humorous that I had to move to a NL city to see Clemens pitch, when we both have spent the last 20 years of our lives in AL cities.

The whole game I was wishing the Cubs would lay some crooked numbers on the still-undefeated, 41-year-old, but I admit I couldn't keep my eyes (or my camera) off him for most of the game.

And it gets even better because not only did my Uncle Greg join me at a Cubs game for the second time this year (The first was Clement's victory over the Cardinals last week. Clement is now 2-1 in games I've seen him pitch at the Friendly Confines. WE'LL GET 'EM NEXT TIME MATTY!) but my wife attended her first game at Wrigley Field ever.

I had to go to work right after, so maybe I'll get a more detailed report on her experience, but all signs point to a successful baptism in red and blue waters!

Even though the good guys didn't come out on top in this one, I feel blessed in so many ways after going to the game today.

posted by James - 12:40 AM

Photo taken 3/29/04

This was from my brief tenure as an Allstate Arena employee. I got a picture of me on a Zamboni. At the time, I couldn't think of anything in the world cooler than that.

posted by James - 12:32 AM

Photo taken on 4/8/2004

This is my first test of posting pics to my blog... I may or may not keep this feature, but it could be worth it. This is the view from the sidewalk outside my house. It is a painting of the Cubs logo my wife made on an East-facing window in our second-floor apartment.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

posted by James - 11:58 PM

So, I'm stumbling home in my usual manner up Clark St on my way home from work (man a block seems like forever after a night-time shift) and I spy something in the gutter at the corner of Clark and Waveland... something that definitely warranted further inspection.

I had the "fortune" to discover what appeared to be a Kerry Wood "action figure." That wasn't the intriguing part, because the big red 34 on its back was obvious.

No... what caught my attention was the disheveled nature of the visage of the Cubs' difference maker.

This plastic figure is missing both feet, half his right leg, he doesn't have a glove, and his right arm is completely torn off (or is that up?) and there's nothing above his neck...

Basically this is the Kerry Wood which closely resembles Chuck over at Ivy Chat's vision of the hard-throwin' Texan.

It also could be a good metaphor for the physical health of the entire team, but the mend is on this Friday!!!

Come on down to Casey Moran's at 3660 Clark St. (across the street from Wrigley Field) on Friday for the 2:20 pm start. We'll be celebrating the return and 2004 debut of Mark Prior with "Welcome Back Prior Night." (I guarantee there's a certain TV show theme song you'll hear at least once that night.)

We'll be toasting to the continued health of Mark Prior and speedy recovery of all our currently Befallen Beloveds and success of our reigning National League Central Division Champions.

The party starts at 11:00 a.m. and we'll keep it going before during the "Official Start of the Cubs' season." So, be there for the flowing drinks, tasty food, great music, fun staff, all those humongolous 53" high-definition TVs and the triumphant return of Mark Prior.

See ya there!