Thursday, August 26, 2004

posted by James - 9:02 AM

Boy, Skippy sure had a good week last week...

First, the Seahawks finally signed their first-round draft pick, DT Marcus Tubbs, which will help a team who dumped their defensive tackles from last year (Chad Eaton, who signed with Dallas, and John Randle, who retired).

Then in their first preseason game, the Seahawks drubbed the Packers 21-3 (ok, so that was a good thing for us Bears fans too).

Finally, USA Basketball lost their first of two basketball games to Puerto Rico. Normally, our patriotic Poulsbo resident wouldn’t be happy about that, except Carlos Arroyo is Puerto Rico’s point guard, and the Utah Jazz had the foresight to lock him up with a four-year deal going into this season.

In contrast, I had an absolutely horrible week, spending most of it in bed. Spending 6.5 hours in and out of rain delays at Wrigley Field the week prior finally caught up with me.

But I feel much better now, especially after the Cubs popped off with three consecutive series wins (COREY!!! YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL HITTER!!!), so I’m going to do it all over again!

I’ve got tickets to today’s tilt against Houston. Thankfully, the weather report is calling for a respite from rain, but, with my luck, I'll get a sun burn after the sun breaks out over just my section.

This will be my rubber game on the season, as the Cubs have split two games against the Astros with me in attendance.

The first game, the Cubs couldn’t touch Roger Clemens, back when he looked like a Cy Young candidate.

The Astros had just acquired Carlos Beltran before the second game and Andy Pettite was on the mound, but he was just coming off injury, and the Cubs properly welcomed him back.

So, after seeing three of the Astros high-profile additions to this year’s team, today I get a fourth: Brandon Backe, who they acquired during the offseason from Tampa Bay.

Combine that with Mark Prior on the mound, and I’m feeling pretty good about winning MY season series against the Astros.

I’ll be in section 223, row 19 seat 102, if anybody cares.

Friday, August 13, 2004

posted by James - 8:21 PM

ok... Yes, Bob Costas is doing a pretty good job of making the Opening Cermonies for the 2004 Olympic Games sound less like a Thanksgiving Parade than co-host Katie Couric, but he's lost my vote for MLB Commissioner.

During the Roll Call of Countries, he named some famous Venzuelan baseball stars such as Davey Concepcion, Omar Vizquel and Bobby Abreu, but he showed no love to Carlos Zambrano.

Interesting enough, I guess they're going by Greek Alphabet, so Venezuela comes before Brazil, which came before Germany, which came before Zambia, which came before the United States of America... which comes right before Japan.

Oh... at least Katie Couric threw some love the Cubs way... to Sammy Sosa. Oh well.

posted by James - 5:03 PM

There's a common coincidence (how's that for oxymoron?) in baseball where a player who makes a great defensive play leads off the next inning.

Well, it happened in today's Cubs game, except both ends of an 8-2 double play (Corey Patterson-Michael Barrett) led off the next inning, which I think is pretty cool.

Big ups to Corey Patterson, for his second... make it third (Corey just threw out another batter as I'm writing this) great play in two days.

Of course, I was there in person yesterday to see the first one, and after I get off work I'll have more to say about the most grueling 6.5 hour baseball game I've ever attended.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

posted by James - 9:20 AM

ok... so one more thing.

I was honored to be invited by Scott from Just West of Wrigleyville South to contribute to his analysis of the prospects in "the Nomar trade".

I might start to pick up some of the minor-league coverage on this blog, but I might wait until the offseason for the Winter Leagues and work on my formatting for next season... in the meantime, consider my analysis services available for any blogger who needs them.

Also... check out Scott's, rather even-handed, but to-the-point views on the horrid editorial published in the Tribune. (So horrid, I'm ashamed I've actually linked to it twice in one day. Ick!)

GO CUBBIES!!! (once again... I'll be in Sec. 123, Row 5, Seat 5)

posted by James - 9:05 AM

I’m getting ready for my day off from Casey’s (even if it becomes just a half-day off), and I’m gonna enjoy it to the fullest by spending three good hours at the Friendly Confines.

Yesterday, my lovely wife got lucky (Chris... GIT YER HEAD OUT OF THE GUTTER!!!) and scored (DAG NABIT, CHRIS!!!) two prime tickets to today’s game from the Wrigley Field Box Office... BITE ME SCALPERS! (Sec 123 Row 5 Seat 5, if anybody wants to stop by and say hi or curse me for wasting your internet time.)

I’ll once again be taking my digital camera with me. I have a bunch of shots from Nomar’s first game as a Cub and Greg Maddux’s first shot at 300 wins (also my Grandma’s 70th birthday) to put up here... I’m thinking of going offsite for these pictures because the load time on hosting that many on this blog would be crazy.

I’m sure the Cubs needed the off day on Monday, but it would have been nice for Dusty Baker to keep Maddux on his regular rest, so I could be there for his first attempt at 301, but I’m ok with Matt Clement taking on the Padres, his former team, as long as the hitters don’t take another day off like they usually do when Clement starts. (I’m 2-1 with the bearded one pitching.)

Winning this series is important for the Cubs, who need to prove their newest incarnation can compete with the best teams in the League. A win would stretch their lead over the Padres to three games, while a loss would leave the Cubs with a scant one-game advantage.

I’ll leave you this morning with a warning, albeit a rather long one.

Even with Nomar on board and the Cubs sitting atop the Wild Card standings, not all is happy in the Cubs Blogosphere. It’s not altogether safe to traverse the Cubs Links to the left.

Our storied slugger Sammy Sosa is partly to blame for quite the controversy. The division is wide enough to verge on Cubs Blog Army Civil War (not that civility stands a chance with the Sloth and the Chicago Tribune involved).

I’m kind of in the middle between Sammy’s a streaky bum and Sammy’s a streaky superstar.

I don't mind his streakiness. I don't mind his double plays and strikeouts with guys on base and weak popups (Moises Alou performs quite the same). What I mind is his apathy about it AND the Cubs' inability to lessen the impact of these massive swings by moving him lower in the lineup.

When Jason Giambi sucks, he comes out and says so. He’s a man about it. He doesn't act like nothing's wrong.

Sosa should be put in a position where if he's hitting, he's driving in a bunch of runs, and when not he's ensuring the Cubs batters who are consistent producers see good pitches. This means Derrek Lee, Nomar, Aramis Ramirez, even Michael “Mega” Barrett.

I'm not saying batting him eighth is the answer, but fifth wouldn't be out of line. Again, I don't blame Sosa for this (except for every time he blows it, and doesn't make up for it later), as much as I blame Dusty Baker, "the King of Laissez-faire Managers."

God love them, there are those who blog amongst us who don’t think Sammy should have moved out of the third slot in the first place... Nomar or no Nomar

I won’t insult these high-level contributors by saying they have their head buried firmly in the sand on this issue, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a chance Sammy has lost his grip on best option to bat third, especially with the Cubs having increased their offensive options this year.

It doesn’t help Sammy’s case that Lee, Ramirez and now Nomar have shown the on-base potential to maybe stop the deluge of solo home runs by getting on base when Sammy actually does connect.

Sammy, who hasn’t posted an OBP over .336 in any month since May, and Moises Alou, who doesn’t get a free ride on this either, aren’t doing this for Lee, Ramirez, Barrett, etc.

Sammy’s OBP has been in decline ever since 2001, streaks or no streaks.

I'm not calling Sammy a bum. I'm not calling for him to lose the rightfield job, as some people going through a wild, reactionary phase.

I'm calling for him to bat in a position where he helps this team EVEN IF HE'S SLUMPING... No. 5 behind Nomar, Lee and Ramirez.

There, his SLG% (which is still above average even when he's slumping) will help drive in the runs Aramis doesn't get to, his presence will provide better pitches to hit and his low OBP won't hurt the team as much.

And if he ever gets hot again, he can either stay there or move up. Either way, we win!

We win now, and we win later!

There are some out there that are forsaking logic for loyalty. There are some out there that are forsaking loyalty for logic. And there are some that are forsaking both.

There's a place for both where Sammy is concerned.

And there's a place for making sure our Cubs win, which is the most important thing, right?

Saturday, August 07, 2004

posted by James - 4:58 PM

Red Stripe Man to Corey Patterson: "Corey, Would you say you are an ugly hitter?"

Corey: "uhh..."


Red Stripe Man: "Here have this beer and the leadoff spot."

Red Stripe Man: "Wow! Look at the beautiful hitter! HOORAY BEER!!!"

Corey: "HOORAY BEER!!!"

Red Stripe Man: "Said the beautiful hitter, who just won Greg Maddux his 300th game."

Please accept my apologies, but I couldn't pass this up.