Thursday, September 30, 2004

posted by James - 12:21 AM

This is pretty sad.

When the best news of the day is the Padres beating the Giants, it wasn't a good day.

I mention this because I just finished watching the Giants fall back into a second-place tie with the Cubs in the race for the N.L. Wild Card.

Something happened in that game which will change the way I look at an opposing team forever.

My wife is learning to love baseball (MOOOOOOSE!!!). One of her fledgling-fan peccadillos is to scream "TRIP!" at a player she doesn't want catching the ball.

I thought that was cute, and even started doing it myself on occasion. (My favorite is still: "HEY! You dropped your fish!")

Starting tomorrow, I will impress on her why she should cease that particular heckle.

San Diego battled San Francisco into extra innings tonight.

With the Giants' own erstwhile closer Dustin Hermanson on the mound, the Padres loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th.

He succeeded in getting the first batter out on a grounder to second, cutting off the run in the plate.

The second batter head hit a pop fly in rightfielder Dustan Mohr's direction.

It was pretty shallow, and Mohr had pretty good positioning to make a throw to the plate until he stumbled over the bullpen mound, turning his left knee to jelly in the process.

I'm gonna make a bold prediction and say Mohr's season is over.

Coming from a guy with a history of knee problems, I can honestly swear I'll never wish an opposing player to trip again, no matter how much my team would benefit.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

posted by James - 8:45 PM

Something very disturbing happened to me at the game.

I'm just a fan who loves his Cubs. I don't drink. I don't swear (especially when there are children around). I don't boo my Cubs under any circumstance.

I just like to have fun. I like to be emotional. I like to be a leader, not a follower.

I stand up and cheer. I don't do it excessively. I don't do it during pitching changes, or before a 1-0 pitch (i.e. not at inappropriate times).

But like the song says... I root, root, root for the Cubbies.

Interestingly enough, in the bottom of the seventh, right after Ron Santo belted out "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" and introduced our "3,000,000th fan", I was told by an usher (red uniform) not to do so.

When Moises Alou came to bat in the 7th inning with the bases loaded and the game tied, I stood up and cheered, like I always do... and I was told to sit down.

Of course, two seconds later everybody stood just like everybody always does at the biggest moment in a baseball game, I just happened to do it first.

Later on in the at-bat, I was told by a Field employee (dark blue) to sit down or be removed from the building.

To make things worse, they sent another employee by the name of Leigh Steinman (light blue) to watch over me (though I spent the whole rest of the game in my seat).

He proceeded to harass the entire section, even when they were standing at the "appropriate times", as they explained to them earlier.

You can go look for yourself. I posted my seat location two posts ago. I was in the last row of my section and there was even an aisleway in between myself and the apparent complainers.

I sat there in shock for the next six innings. It was like my entire experience as a baseball fan unraveled in one-half inning. I didn't know when to stand, when to cheer... I actually considered at one point whether I needed to ask the usher to excuse myself to the little fan's room.

It's not like they have "applause signs" posted.

From then on, I was useless to my team when they needed me most.

When LaTroy Hawkins had one strike left to go to close out the game, I was sitting down.

When Moises Alou was batting with the bases loaded in the 12th inning, I was on my ass.

I didn't even see what happened. I was surrounded by a whole bunch of fans standing up, like Cubs fans do.

I've never been treated this way at a ballgame, and I've been to a lot of ballgames in a lot of parks in my 26 years.

I'm definitely not over this, but I know if I had a chance, I would have done things differently. I just don't know why I should have had to.

posted by CHRIS - 4:12 PM

As I type, I am talking to James. It's kind of hard to hear him because he is at the Cubbies game.

Which brings me to the point of my post. Forgive me for the rant that I am about to go on, but I am venting for myself and James.

To the old people sitting in the SECTION behind him (remember that, it's important to the story)... GO TO HELL!!!

When I go to a baseball game it is to root on my team, not sit on my ass as we are in extra innings of a game that has playoff implications (not that any Mariners games I have gone to this year have had that).

But to be told by an usher that if I stand and cheer again I will be escorted from the stadium is ridiculous.

James is being told just this as I type.

I had a similar problem at the Seahawks game this weekend (my Hawks are 3-0 by the way). I'll get into that later.
What right do these people have to tell James to sit down, and did they tell everyone else in the stadium to sit down as well?


Now I could understand if they were in the row behind him and he was standing for no reason.

But he was cheering on his team, and they are in the section behind him (not the row, the SECTION)!

Last season, we had a guy who would just stand during the whole Seahawks game arms crossed as in some stand of defiance.

Well, needless to say, they revoked his season tickets, and if I was informed correctly he isn't allowed onto Quest Field (Seahawk Stadium was such a better name) grounds.

But he was disruptive to others at the game. He made it difficult to see the game and swore up a storm must of the time.

The ushers are trying to convince James he’s being a distraction to the players, by cheering.

A distraction to the players??? FROM THIRTY ROWS BACK???

I have had some great seats at most every type of sport, and never once have I ever felt I was distracting the players, and I would have to say that when it comes to sports, James and I are about as loud as each other.

These are the type of people who go to the games as a status not just because they want to cheer for their team. People like that should be asked to move not the people who are enjoying themselves.

Put them in the third deck in the last row where everyone in the stadium is in their way and give their seats to the "REAL FANS" who pay to sit in the last row because they want to go to the game to cheer. Better yet... ask them to leave the stadium for being bad fans.

This situation makes me think about the situation at the Seahawks game this weekend that caused a three-row-clearing brawl in the rows in front of me.

A family sits in front of me at the Seahawks games that constantly has people kicked out or asked to settle down. They sit in the seventh row near the Seahawks tunnel on the south end of the stadium. They sit about five rows in front of me.

They never stand and cheer. Hell, it's rare I see them get excited.

The guy sitting in front of them was getting up to leave the game (It was halfway through the 4th and we were kicking ass), and the wife grabs his sweatshirt and asks him to sit down. He then proceeds to tell her he is trying to leave and not to touch him.

From there, I couldn't hear everything she said, but he kept saying "don't ever touch me again, Bitch!"

Well, her husband stood up and, again, I didn't hear everything, but the next thing I see is the husband lunging over about three fans to hit the guy.

Well, the guy’s friends jumped in as well as a few fans caught in the middle and, as expected, there was a lot of blood spilled.

The worst thing about the whole fight is the guy who threw the first punch didn't get kicked out. The two guys he attacked got kicked out and arrested, but he was left there and left alone.

The point of my story, if you go to a sporting event then ask someone to stop cheering and supporting their team, just pick up your stuff and leave. Either that, or buy a ticket in the front row so no one will be in front of you.

Fans are there to cheer and have fun they have just as much right to be there as you.

posted by James - 8:52 AM

Looks like it’s my lucky day (and hopefully the Cubs too).

My boss was kind enough to only make me come in for a couple hours on my “day off.” So, I got up at a god awful hour this morning and got me a Field level seat to today’s Cubs game against the Reds.

I’ll be in Sec. 124, row 15 seat 8. Not bad for five hours before game time.

If you’re gonna come looking for me, I won’t be there until right before game time.

You won’t be able to miss me. I’ll be the one singing the National Anthem while I’m running (or stumbling) through Wrigley to get to my seats before First Pitch.


posted by James - 1:03 AM

I've been off of regular posting for a while, mainly because I have four big things I'm working on right now...
  1. my job, where I've been putting in 50+ hr weeks the whole month of September.
  2. designing the website for my employer (which isn't included in the 50+ hr weeks); click the link above for more. I'm also working on a new template for this here blog.
  3. trying to switch to a new cell phone plan with two lines (one for me and one for my wife), two decently cool phones and some kind of nationwide roaming option on at least one of the lines.
  4. last, but not least: looking for a new apartment in Wrigleyville/Lincoln Park/Lakeview, big enough for my wife and I for about the same amount of rent we're paying now (our lease is up at the end of October).
If anybody has any ideas on the last two, please send them my way (jamesinwrigleyville@yahoo.com).


Sunday, September 12, 2004

posted by James - 12:04 AM

I don't care what Schwam Berman says... THIS GUY!!! with two thumbs says Bears 24 Lions 13.

I don't know where anyone got the idea that the Lions don't suck. They do. They have. They will.

On the other hand, the Bears have loaded up this offseason signing John Tait and Ruben Brown to beef up the O-Line, Thomas Jones to do some runnin' and Tommie Harris and Terry "Tank" Johnson (GO DAWGS!!!) to clog up the middle and keep everyone off of Urlacher.

I leave you with three sweet words I hope to hear plenty this year... Grossman to Gage.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

posted by James - 11:20 PM

I can't believe he actually did it. The he is Dusty Baker. And the it isn't dropping Sammy Sosa to sixth, if that's what you were thinking.

The it is moving Aramis Ramirez ahead of Sammy Sosa... joining Derrek Lee to claim their rightful places in the Cubs lineup.

This is not by any means an indictment of Sammy, just an acknowledgement of Lee and Ramirez's production relative to their former (I hope. I hope. I hope.) places in the lineup.

They were under-utilized hitting behind hitters not quite having the seasons of these first-year Cub sluggers.

It's unfortunate Cub Management couldn't figure out how this should have worked until the last month of the season... but this is better than never...
1. Patterson cf
2. Lee 1b
3. Ramirez 3b
4. Alou lf
5. Garciaparra ss
6. Sosa rf
7. Grudzielanek 2b
8. Barrett c
Knowing Dusty, I'm crossing my fingers in hope he'll trot out the same lineup tomorrow.

...not that my lineup-tinkering fetish won't get the best of me, becuase that lineup is still strange, even though it's far effective more than the other versions.

The team still lacks left-handed batters which substituting Grudzielanek at second base with Walker partly fixes... except Grudzielanek actually hits better against right-handers than Walker (.910 OPS for Mark in 141 ABs/.839 OPS for Todd in 288 ABs).

I think part of this is because Grudzielanek doesn't have to face right-handers in pinch-hitting situations (Walker has had no success as a pinch-hitter with a sub .300 OPS), and he's had to sit behind Grudzielanek quite a bit lately, not that Grudz hasn't deserved playing time as well.

In fact, pretty much every Cubs player shows a staggering "reverse split" (def: right-handed batter hits better off of right-handed pitcher) except Lee and Ramirez, who crush LHPs, which explains a little why the Cubs can't hit LHPs very well and get shut out by the likes of Scott Downs... ok, maybe not.

None of this really matters, because it's just coincidence that the Cubs best hitters all happen to be right handed... and I'd rather the hitters be good and capable of hitting without worrying which hand he uses to shovel food into his mouth.

***We interrupt this post to give you a special report Live from Just North of Wrigley Field***

Ok not so live, but the reason Nomar left Saturday's game early was due to a groin injury. He will probably not play in Sunday's game, though the Cubs expect he'll be back in the lineup soon.

***We now return you to your regularly-scheduled post reading***

I'll forego my questions as to whether Nomar and Aramis would bat in the same spots Sunday as they did Saturday because Nomar (or at least his groin) didn't want to play that game with me. Not that I really want to play games with Nomar's groin anyway. Why in the heck did I just write that? Not that there's anything wrong with...

Enough with the political correctness, back to the topic...

They won with this configuration, because it produced when it counted, including hitting Sammy sixth.

Hitting Aramis third and Nomar fifth is interesting, to say the least, but as long as Lee and Alou are in the mix somewhere, and not the likes of Jose Macias or Neifi Perez, it keeps the best hitters the Cubs have hitting 1-5... and Sammy, Grud/Walker and Barrett aren't bad for backup either.

Even though Aramis batting third seemed out of Just Behind Third Base, it worked... So did having Lee in front of him and Alou behind him...

...and Sammy hitting sixth as well. So why change any of these things?

I also don't care whether Ramon Martinez or Perez replaces Nomar for tomorrow's game... as long as neither of them bat second. I don't care at all that Perez has produced in both games he's played as a Cub. He still blows goats (damn! there goes my PG rating), and we all know that Cubs and goats don't mix.
1. Patterson cf
2. Walker/Grudzielanek 2b
3. Lee 1b
4. Ramirez 3b
5. Alou lf
6. Sosa rf
7. Barrett c
8. Martinez/Perez ss
1. Patterson cf
2. Lee 1b
3. Ramirez 3b
4. Alou lf
5. Walker 2b
6. Sosa rf
7. Barrett c
8. Martinez/Perez ss
I'd support either, and be back to shaking my head and muttering like a crazy man if anything else shows up while I'm working at Casey Moran's.

But if you wanted to send me your thoughts on the Cubs lineup, I'd give special consideration and commendation on this here blog to anyone who comes up with a better one.

Also, I'm still looking for people to join my fantasy football league. Bring it on, if you're not afraid of getting your ass whupped!

For those too lazy to scroll down to post, and heck who isn't?, here's the league id and password again:
League ID: 676156
League Password: chrisdavidjames

posted by James - 1:37 AM

What in red and blue blazes has fueled Dusty Baker's latest fetish with having hitters with a sub .650 OPS hitting second in the lineup?

He's now done so three times in the last week, following Corey Patterson with feared offensive powers Jose Macias, Neifi Perez and Tom Goodwin.

Any wonder they were shut out in two out of three of those games?

I should just let it go at that, but I won't because reworking a lineup to atone for grievous errors by pompous, incompetent managers is one of my fetishes.

So, here's my "What if...?" episode of today's double-header using only the players from the starting lineups:
Game 1
1. Patterson cf
2. Barrett c
3. Lee 1b
4. Garciaparra ss
5. Sosa rf
6. Walker 2b
7. Martinez 3b
8. Goodwin lf

Game 2
1. Patterson cf
2. Grudzielanek 2b
3. Lee 1b
4. Alou lf
5. Ramirez 3b
6. Perez ss
7. Macias rf
8. Bako c
For what it's worth, I wouldn't have let Prior pitch the eighth inning after the Cubs had taken a 11-2 lead either.

Looking at how Dusty "distributed" his available talent over the two games... I'm surprised the Cubs "managed" a split.

Friday, September 10, 2004

posted by James - 12:18 AM

Wow... that was kinda freaky.

If you visited this website in the last 24 hours, you noticed a rather lengthy post, which appeared last night. After I got off work, I couldn't stay silent after what happened to our Cubs. I probably looked like a crazy man, muttering at myself as I walked home.

Fortunately for me, I wrote my post in Word because Blogger did something stupid with my original post where I had all kinds of fun links and formatting.

When it blew up, fatigue and frustration got the better of me, and I posted it without the extras.

Then I checked the post from Casey's, to find the original post emerged from the electronic abyss... with a post date of 3 p.m.(?).

I usually hate double posting, but in this case I don't mind so much.

I finally got around to starting a fantasy football league. It won't be active until Week 2, but it's a points league, so I'm ok with that.

If you're interested in joining, you could E-mail me, and I'll send you an invite. Or you could just join with the following information and the link above:
League ID: 676156
League Password: chrisdavidjames
The draft is at a pretty inconvenient time next week. If too many people want to join, but can't make it, I'll consider making it an autopick draft to make it fair.

Good luck on the electronic gridiron this year, everybody!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

posted by James - 12:50 PM

I think Towlie says it best, “I don’t know what’s goin’ on.” I’m not as high as he usually is, but I’m just as flummoxed at the current state of the whole Cubs organization.

There have been several points this season where I thought the Cubs instilled in me a firm grasp of what it means to be embarrassed about your team.

I thought they put humiliations aside after NOMAR came to town July 31... I was wrong.

Over the last nine days, they’ve redefined embarrassment on three separate occasions.

August 31... The Cubs get shut out by the Montreal Expos, in the midst of a going nowhere season and a vagabond existence, in a manner which means your playoff credentials should be revoked.

Yes, they were facing the team’s “ace”, but unless his last name is Carlton, of Johnson or Young (no, not Matt Young or Curt Young... you know which one I’m talking about)... losing to him 8-0 (he also had two hits and an RBI off of our “supposed” ace), is unacceptable.

September 7... Even worse than getting shut out and blown out is losing a game where the other team did everything under their power to hand us a victory, and saying it just didn’t happen is putting it nicely.

forget niceness...

WE BLEW IT!!! To further distance myself (and all Cubs fans) from the Cubs’ state of emergency... THEY BLEW IT!

They blew it before the game. They blew it for nine innings. They decided they didn’t have enough fun blowing it, so they blew it for another three innings. And then, they blew it after the game too (more on this later).

I’ve said this before... this team has a coaching problem and a leadership problem. Jim Hendry can acquire all the Nomars he wants, but he doesn’t fill out the lineup cards, or make pitching changes or make ridiculous, ludicrous, unproductive, double-switches.

I, nor anyone I’ve asked yet, can figure out what Dusty Baker was thinking yesterday when he wrote (for, inconceivably, the 10th time this season) Jose Macias rf into the two hole in his batting order.

He sucks to a degree only a Pittsburgh Pirate can admire, and Dusty found a way to give him six at-bats. And four of them came with Corey Patterson on base (twice in scoring position).

Amazingly, the Cubs tagged the Expos the day before for a 9-0 win with Derrek Lee hitting second, and Dusty doesn’t think keeping that ball rolling would be a good thing.

Even worse, the Cubs could have had Mark Grudzielanek (three hits) or Michael Barrett (two hits) bat second. Both batted at the bottom of the lineup, where Macias should be banished to, where their five hits combined to drive in zero runs.

With astonished, bewildered and bumfuzzled looks on our faces, we at Casey Moran’s suggested several lineup alternatives, which I share with you now, for no other reason than to feed my insanity and the feeling of staring into an oncoming train’s lights and not being able to move:
1. Patterson cf
2. Lee 1b
3. Garciaparra ss
4. Alou lf
5. Ramirez 3b
6. Barrett c
7. Grudzielanek 2b
8. Macias rf

1. Patterson cf
2. Grudzielanek 2b
3. Lee 1b
4. Garciaparra s
5. Alou lf
6. Ramirez 3b
7. Barrett c
8. Macias rf

1. Patterson cf
2. Lee 1b
3. Garciaparra ss
4. Alou lf
5. Walker 2b
6. Ramirez 3b
7. Barrett c
8. Macias rf

1. Patterson cf
2. Barrett c
3. Lee 1b
4. Garciaparra ss
5. Alou lf
6. Ramirez 3b
7. Walker 2b
8. Macias rf
And the fun doesn’t stop there, but it always started with Macias, the worst bat-wielder without pitching responsibilities, batting eighth. Why Dusty thought differently is beyond me.

He compounds this almost insurmountable pregame gaffe by wasting his available replacements pinch-hitting Jason Dubois for Glendon Rusch in the fourth inning.

I can’t blame Dusty, et al., for Matt Clement leaving the game early, but Rusch’s availability makes that not so bad a situation.

This guy has been an amazing find for the Cubs this season, pulling them out of jams with long innings in the rotation and out of the bullpen. He’s even kicked in a little on the offensive side.

He’s saved our bacon more than I eat bacon. And I eat a lot of bacon.

And Dusty, starting his quest to burn through his bench faster than I can go through a slab of bacon (damn, this post is nothing but a bunch of pork), pinch hits for Rusch with Jason Dubois, ending Rusch’s night after only 1.1 innings.

I was working at the time, so I didn’t even notice Kent Mercker had replaced Rusch for the beginning of the fifth inning.

So the rest of the game, I wondered, quite vociferously on occasion, why Macias continued to get at-bats when even Dubois would be a better option, and why pitchers such as Jon Leicester, Michael Wuertz and Todd Wellemeyer were getting in the game and not Mercker.

Heaping on... Dusty further proved his ability to waste resources when he pulled the tried-and-true, always-works-out-great, what-makes-NL baseball-special, double switch out of his bag of tricks (I miss American League baseball) in the 11th, bringing in Wellemeyer, the eventual loser, to pitch and bat fourth and putting Calvin Murray in leftfield, batting ninth.

Of course, this meant losing Moises Alou for the rest of the game... OUR CLEAN UP HITTER!

I’m not going to harp on this game much longer, so I’ll just leave it with this:

An at-bat from Calvin Murray and an at-bat from Ramon Martinez with the game on the line or an at-bat from EITHER Murray or Martinez and an at-bat from Alou with the game on the line... Which would you rather have?

You don’t have to answer that, because I’m moving on from this embarrassment because it gets worse.

September 8... When Livan Hernandez shut out the Cubs, I was slightly okay with it. It was the one loss to the Expos I could handle and still consider this team the front runner for the fourth-and-final NL playoff spot. And if you’re going to lose, lose big. Lose in a way which doesn’t hinder your chances at taking the rest of the series, which the Cubs did.

...and it was against their best pitcher, even though he doesn’t have a last name Carlton, Johnson or Young (dammit... you know I don’t mean former-Cub Anthony Young), he’s got a World Series ring and the ability to do that to any team.

Scott Downs, on the other hand, came into Wednesday’s game with a 7+ ERA on the season and a near 10 ERA in his last three starts.

And the Cubs couldn’t touch him. They got only six base runners all night, and the Expos erased three of those on double plays.

Greg Maddux pitched his butt off, but three of the five runs against him were unearned off of errors from Derrek Lee and Paul Bako (why does he have a regular gig again?) and then Mike Remlinger, “our most trusted reliever”, added another charged to Maddux by serving up a bomb to Termel Sledge (who the Expos stole from the Mariners for Chris Widger, a future backup catcher, who never became a backup catcher. You would have thought they would have known this since they traded him to the Expos in the first place).

Remlinger has now dealt a serious blow to a potential Cubs victory in consecutive games.

And despite the floundering of the bullpen, with or without Kyle “I’m gonna kick that fan’s ass” Farnsworth, Hendry lets the Florida Marlins snatch up David Weathers for the minimum over the rest of the season.

Good work, Jim.

I’m in way too bitter a place to go to work on Hendry right now. He’s done a great job this year, but this team didn’t need another backup outfielder or catcher. This team has needed bullpen help all year long.

The Cubs now enter the most difficult playoff run I can imagine, including a whole heck of a lot of games against Florida Marlins and practically no days off.

And now everybody is in this hunt, including the Cubs since they’re no longer the hunted anymore no matter how many ESPN pundits keep saying they’re the favorites.

They don't have the lead anymore, and they have absolutely no momentum.

They're behind! No more belligerent quotes from our manager brushing aside criticism because his team is "still on top of the Wild Card".

This team has the talent. They just need to start making better calls, before fantasy football is where I’ll have to divert my attention in October.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

posted by James - 2:52 PM

If you didn't know, today is my birthday. And yahoo was good enough to send me a list of "stuff" that happened on my birthday.

Some highlights: ...and now ESPNews is telling me that it is also Beano Cook's birthday. If you know who this is, it's either a good or bad thing depending on your opinion of him (bad: he made it to another birthday. good: he's one birthday closer to death. lol). If you don't know who this is, consider yourself blessed.

If you have any other Sept. 2 tidbits, send them along. I love this kind of stuff.

I'm off to enjoy the rest of my birthday, which will be kinda hard to do since I just had my bike stolen this morning while buying myself a birthday present and I just found out some Cubs games this weekend might be postponed.