Thursday, August 12, 2004

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?

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