Friday, October 06, 2006

 

Thank God that's over

2006 has to be the worst season in the 30+ years I've been a Cubs fan. The season was over before June rolled around! And the June Swoon came, as it usually does, but by then so what?

I'm glad that Baker and MacPhail are both out. 2/3 of the architects of the MHBs (Most Horrible Baseballers) are gone. But the head clown, Andy boy, is still there. And as long as he's building a team, the ceiling will be 80 wins. So we suffer through 2007, 2008, and hopefully no more.

I didn't go to a single game this year. I started going to Wrigley in 1987, the year that Andre Dawson won the MVP and had a career year. I always went to at least 1 game a year (I think 1990 was my only 1 game season), and in the early 1990s, when I lived a few blocks from the park, I was going to 10-15 games a season. I could tell stories about these games all day long (and my wife likes to point out that I already have). But I won't do that here.

But my point is that, since I came to Chicago to start college, and in the years since, going to Wrigley has been a part of summer. I considered it a perk of living in this city. And yet, before the season started, I knew this team was not worth watching. And, alas, I was right.

With Baker gone, the manager spot is the key one to address. Joe Girardi seems like the easy play, and I think it's the right one. The planets had to align this way, and this is a chance that will not happen again. Take it, Hendry, or bear the wrath of your already angry and disenchanted fan base.

Lee will be back, and he'll hopefully have a solid season. Not an MVP season, but a good season. You need a second baseman badly. Don't know who that will be at this time. Theriot seems like a good prospect at short, and Ramirez is gone at third. He'll want too much, and his moment to prove he deserves it came in May after Lee was hurt. He went into a tailspin, and finished up strong when it meant nothing. So take your silicone-like numbers, A-Ram, and go play in New York after A-Rod is run out of town. Good luck surviving in that atmosphere.

Can the Cubs go out and get Joe Crede? Would that be a kick? Pay him Ramirez money ($11 million per) and he'll earn it more than Ramirez did. I like the idea.

In the outfield...I still say missing Johnny Damon was a mistake, but too late now. Pierre should leave, because 200 hits and 60 steals meant nothing to the team's success this year. And don't go with Felix Pie in his place if you're wanting to win in 2007. Ixnay on the Urtonmay. Jacque Jones didn't earn his money last year (did any of the Cubs?), but he wasn't bad, either. So he'll stay. But the other 2 spots are apparently open.

Barrett does nothing for me, but at least he's signed. That is one player they should deal if they get a chance, because he is not a playoff-caliber catcher. But there he is.

Pitching...where to start? Carlos must stay, and Rich Hill's lone complete game gives him a spot in the rotation. At least 2 free agents (one a very big name)should be signed, and perhap Carlos Marmol could be the number 5 guy. Prior should prove himself in April and May before I'll get excited about him. I think the damage Dusty did to him in September and October of 2003 is irreversible. Look up his pitch counts if you don't believe me.

The bullen also needs revamping. Dempster IS NOT a closer. He never was, either. He had one good season with it, but that does not mean he's Goose Gossage now. Who to get? Beats me. Eyre and Howry were worked too much in 2006, but they're signed for big dollars, so they stay put. But other arms are needed, too.

2007 should be an interesting season. But I'll sit that one out, too. I didn't break out in a rash, or lose control of bodily organs, the way I thought I would last year. There is life beyond Cubs baseball and Wrigley Field. A different life, but not an unpleasant one.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

 

Thanks President Clinton

Giving Chris Wallace a piece of your mind helped to inspire me. The Republicans cannot pull their garbage anymore, and not expect to hear something in response.

The torture and the wiretapping and the fraud and the deception and the killing--it's about time all of that ended, isn't it? Well, it won't end, but at least it can be toned down. But only if at least one house of Congress goes to the Dems in November. And then, only if they have the guts to do what it takes to rein Bush in. I'm hopeful that they do.

Final Cubs homestand--Thank God!!!!!! I'll expound more on this later.

Peace.

Monday, September 11, 2006

 

Keith Olbermann cuts through the 9/11 BS

http://video.freevideoblog.com/video/a9f5b4c9-f31a-4628-9462-983901619005.htm
Just watch. It's awe-inspiring.

 

Keith Olbermann cuts through the 9/11 BS

Just watch. It's awe-inspiring.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

 

When it all went wrong for the Cubs

The Moment it All Went Wrong

When the Cubs lost at home to the Pirates yesterday, in their drive to take over the only sixth-pace spot in the Majors, their record under Dusty Baker slipped under .500. The Cubs have won 311 games under Baker, and have lost 312. On top of three straight seasons without a playoff berth, now we can officially proclaim his tenure to be a failure.

But what’s most striking, for me, is the symmetry involved. After going 88-74 in 2003, the Cubs were 20 games over .500 late in September of 2004. The Cardinals had locked up the NL Central by then, but the Cubs were in the lead for the Wild Card spot. And the last week of the season was to be played at Wrigley. Anybody have any playoff tickets?

That’s when fate intervened. A long road trip, which included a swing into Florida for a make-up double header, ended with a weekend series in New York. The Cubs won the first game 2-1, to move to 87-66. Never again would the Cubs ride so high under Dusty Baker.

The next day was horrible. The Cubs took a lead into the 9th inning, and seemed to be headed toward another win. And then Baker made a mistake, in my judgment. Not the biggest one he’s made, but important nonetheless.

The closer that year was the since-departed LaTroy Hawkins. With a 3-0 lead, it was a save opportunity in the making. But instead of putting in the closer, Baker went with Ryan Dempster instead. Hawkins was not even warming up when the inning began. Baker later claimed this was because Hawkins had pitched six of the seven previous days.

Dempster, in shades of things to come, got one out in the ninth, but he also gave up two walks. So now Hawkins comes in, having inherited two crucial baserunners. He retired the first batter he faced, and was one out away from another save. Then Victor Diaz stepped in.

Diaz, who grew up a Cubs fan and played at Clemente High School, hit a 2-2 pitch out of the park, tying the game up. The Cubs had not lost the game yet, but they definitely had their heads snapped back. Then Kent Mercker, also since-departed, gave up the game-winning homer in the 11th.

Was that the moment when it went south? Not quite. The Cubs still had a game on Sunday, before back to finish with nine games at home. Unlike this year’s team, the Cubs could still count on a home field advantage in those days.

But the wheels came off early the next day. And they haven’t come back on since. Kerry Wood gave up 3 runs in the first inning, and the Cubs could not dig out of the hole, losing 3-2. From that day to the present, the Cubs are 136-173, which is a .440 winning percentage. Before that game, the Cubs were 175-139 under Baker, good for a winning percentage of .557. This was higher than the 1998 team, which won the Wild Card spot with a .552 winning percentage.

The numbers of wins and losses before that game and after it are practically mirror images of each other. And though it took nearly 2 full seasons to do it, the Cubs have now given back every single game they were over .500 on that day. And they are still stuck in reverse.

One of the literary devices of any story is the turning point. Everything that happens before it is prologue, and the rest of the story plays out based on that one moment. Had the Cubs come out and won that last game in New York, maybe they go on to the Wild Card that year. And maybe the playoffs go well, or maybe they don’t. We’ll never know for sure.

Instead, the Cubs looked past that game, toward coming back to Chicago for the last week of the season. They came close a couple of times that Sunday afternoon (especially when Moises Alou was called out on strikes with the bases loaded in the fifth inning), but they never took the lead or even tied the game up. They looked flat, in this fan’s opinion. It cost them in 2004, and touched off a downward spiral that hasn’t ended yet. It also looks like it will cost Dusty Baker his job. Which would be fine with me.

I’ve always though this game was the turning point of Dusty Baker’s star-crossed tenure in Chicago. And now the numbers bear that out as well.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

 

These are the best six weeks of the year.

The weather outside is just perfect. Sunny, mid-70s, and not a cloud in the sky. I often tell people if Chicago had more than 6 weeks of this weather each year, everybody would live here.

The Cubs still suck, and Bush should still be impeached, so not much has changed. But Bonds' march toward Hank Aaron seems to have ground to a halt. Good. He's tainted his records so much that, even if we can't ever prove he was taking steroids, it's impossible to believe he deserves to be at 715 home runs. The drop-off in his performance this year and last (since the steroids testing was toughened up, BTW) is no coincidence at all.

If Bush attacks Iran, which I think is just a matter of time, I am either going to a) put on enough weight that nodody will want to draft me, or b) act as gay as I have to be to whoever needs to see it. Like Harold Ramis said in Stripes, I'm not a homosexual, but I'm willing to learn. Either way, Rumsfeld and those idiots will never take me alive.

Two links worth looking at:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5137581991288263801

and

http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/10432334/was_the_2004_election_stolen/1

Peace.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

 

All Hail the Chicago MHBS!

I'm done with this team. And they are no longer the Cubs to me. They are the MHBS (pronounced Muh-HUBS). It has two meanings:

MacFail Hendry Bakers (the ones to blame)
and
Most Horrible Baseball (what the result is)

This is so bad its funny. And not in a good way, either.

Peace.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

 

PLEASE fire Dusty Baker!!!

This is as bad as I have seen it in 30+ years of being a Cubs fan. They can't seem to turn it around, and the season may already be lost before Memorial Day. I wait and I wait for the season to start, and when it does, it's over in just over 6 weeks. Amazing.

Is everything Baker's fault? No. He didn't serve up that home run ball to Piazza today. But When Dempster put the first two runners on base in the 9th, Maybe a visit to the mound was in order. Just to talk to him and settle him down. That's in the manager's realm. Would it have made a difference? We'll never know.

The day that I lost faith in Dusty Baker was in late September of 2004 in New York. The Cubs had the wild card berth in hand, when LaTroy Hawkins served up a three run dinger and lost a game with 2 outs in the 9th inning on a Saturday. A stunning loss, but those things happen. But it was the next game that did it for me. Rather than coming out that next day and playing with a purpose, to show they still had that wild card berth in their grip, they played listless. I think they were even shut out that day. I have a hunch that Baker, ex-player that he was, didn't want his guys getting too worked up until they got back to Chicago the next day. So they dogged it, and it showed. And they never recovered from it, not in 2004, or 2005, or even 2006.

I don't care about the injuries to Wood, Prior, or Lee. Every team has them. And the manager's job is to get through them. But that isn't happening. And it won't happen with Baker in command, either.

I think the real blame lies with Jim Hendry. But of course, he got himself a 2 year extension, which will keep me away from Wrigley until 2009 at the earliest. Which is hard for me, because Wrigley is just about my favorite place on earth. But I cannot reward such boneheaded moves with any of my money.

Continuing to keep Baker on, or worse, extending his contract, will push me further away from this organization. I hope this doesn't happen, but the Cubs' organization does not want to win. They only want to line their pockets. Fine, but I don't have to go along with this.

Good luck with whatever comes next, Dusty.

Peace.

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