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Commenting by Enetation

wSaturday, April 12, 2003



Bellhorn alert! Bellhorn alert!

Mark Bellhorn just broke an 0-24 streak. Not just a single, not just an RBI single, but a two-out RBI single to knock in Corey Patterson and put the Cubs up 1-0 in the 2nd. He was then promptly thrown out stealing, of course, but I'll take small victories wherever I can.

He's got a long way to go, but Dusty's doing the right thing by letting him work through it.


posted by Derek at 12:54 PM MST [link] --


wFriday, April 11, 2003



Wow. Karros just hit into his second double play of the day to end the game. Granted, the first was a lineout to right that doubled up a foolish Moises Alou, but still. Karros also committed the throwing error allowing the second Pirate run to score unearned. Wonder what Choi would have done?

Cubs lose, 3-2. Only 7 K's today, a slight improvement, but they're now 0-3 in one-run games. Sound familiar?

Zambrano pitched well and deserved better. Borowski was studly again and Veres continued to not suck in low-pressure situations. Alou with two more RBIs, it's looking more and more like he's put the 2002 nightmare behind him.

Since Karros was a source of some irritation today, I might as well enter the Dusty Baker rookie/veteran fray. All the Cub bloggers have already had their say, so don't expect anything earthshaking here.

On the Choi/Karros issue, I've got to agree with everybody else. Keep Karros fresh, start him against the occasional lefty. In other words, he had no business being in that game today. Choi has shown improvement at every level so far in his career, and early signs are that he's got pretty good plate discipline, a good glove and should hit for power. At this point it's almost like Dusty's just being stubborn. Like he's got a reputation for favoring vets over rookies, and he'll be damned if he's gonna change just because everyone's telling him to. Let the kid play, dude.

I'm not so sure about Bobby Hill, though - I think I'm with Dusty on that one. Hill was shockingly bad this spring, both offensively and defensively. Now I know you have to take spring training stats with a grain of salt, but he was so bad that it seems like there was something fundamentally wrong with his approach to the game. Do I know what it is? No. It could be mental, it could be physical, and chances are it's both. But I don't think I want to watch a kid work through something like that when the Cubs are trying to win games.

Of course, I have the benefit of hindsight on this one. Nobody could have predicted Grudz's strong start, but I'm glad we've had a fluke .400 hitter over the last two weeks instead of a confused kid making himself feel worse every day. Reports are he's still struggling at Iowa.

With any luck, Bobby will find his stroke just as Grudz returns to earth. Then again, as my man R.L. Burnside likes to say, if it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all.


posted by Derek at 4:37 PM MST [link] --


wThursday, April 10, 2003



Well, this is the kind of game that just makes you feel bad. Here's my reactionary rundown of today's developments:

- 3 errors in the first inning, leading to 4 runs, 3 unearned. While Estes was not sharp, if you had told me he would give up only 2 earned runs in 6 innings, I would have been happy. Of course two of those errors were committed by Estes, so it's hard to have much sympathy. I almost turned the game off after the first, because when the Cubs dig a hole like that one, there's generally no getting out. They might have had a shot if Alou's potential 3-run shot had traveled a couple of more feet in the first.

- 14 strikeouts. Along with yesterday's 15 strikeouts, this looks a lot more like last year than last week. Only 2 walks, 4 hits. When did Tony Armas, Jr. become Sandy Koufax?

- 1st and 3rd with nobody out in the 7th - no runs. Also eerily reminiscent of last year.

- Juan Cruz pitched poorly for the first time this year. In one inning, he gave up a 4-pitch walk, a homer, a single and a 5-pitch walk, before bearing down to get the final 2 outs.

Positives? Grudz got 2 more hits. Veres didn't suck in a no-pressure 9th. And that's all, folks.

Yeah, this is how it's gonna be when Estes pitches. What a buzzkill after the pitching performances of the last two days.

Pittsburgh's coming in for the weekend, maybe I'll actually catch the game on WGN on Sunday. Baseball gods permitting.



posted by Derek at 3:17 PM MST [link] --


w



Off-topic:

Saw Mike Watt play his boom stick last night, the sweetest old punk rocker there ever was. He's out with the Secondmen, playing music like you've never heard before. New stuff, a bit of old Minutemen and Firehose with the occasional Madonna, VU or BOC cover thrown in for good measure. Catch him at a club near you, you'll be glad you did and so will he.

Mike Watt's Hoot Page


posted by Derek at 11:46 AM MST [link] --


wWednesday, April 09, 2003



Just checking in...

First, a summation of yesterday's game for those who don't feel like reading yesterday's game log:

Wrigley: cold
Clement: good
Gonzalez: red hot
Grudz: inexplicable
Bellhorn: struggling
Miller: feeble
Borowski: studly

Don't worry, I'll not subject the gentle reader to another game log for awhile. What made this particular game log especially lame was that the Tribune actually produced two, count 'em, two game logs of their own for the same freakin' game. Mine was better though, and I didn't even have a TV.

Also in the Trib (at least on the web) was a picture of Remlinger celebrating the final out of the game. Some guys look weird in a Cub uniform; Remlinger is such a guy. Nothing against him, and he's pitched well, and don't ask me to explain it - it just don't look right.

Entering the top of the 9th in today's game - up 3-0 and Prior has been awesome. 11 K's so far and knocked in the third run last inning.

Damian Miller woke up today - 2 run homer and scored the third run as well after an eighth inning double. One of the fun things about this young season has been the contributions from a variety of sources. Corey's big 2HR, 7RBI Opening Day, Bako with a big game Saturday and today the offense was all Miller. Maybe Bellhorn will wake up tomorrow - we're gonna need it as there is no way the G-men can keep up their current pace. In fact, Gonzalez struck out in all 4 at-bats today.

In a return to form, actually, the Cubs struck out 15 times in only 8 innings. Vazquez is a good pitcher, but still . . .

Prior just struck out his 12th guy to end the game - a complete-game, 4-hit shutout. May he spend a long career pitching for the Cubs.


posted by Derek at 2:47 PM MST [link] --


wTuesday, April 08, 2003



8th inning:

Top half, bad call at first according to Pat Hughes but if Clement could remember to cover first we wouldn't have to bring the ump into it. He walks another and Dusty yanks him. Nice day for Clement, the fans give him a big hand.

I really like Hughes. Knows his stuff, great voice, and the perfect partner for the train wreck that is Ron Santo (the radio guy, not the player). He knows how to pull Santo's chain without being at all mean about it.

Guthrie comes in and gets wife-beater Cordero to ground out, then walks Vidro to load 'em up for Guerrero. I'm not real comfortable with this.

Borowski comes in for Guthrie and strikes out Guerrero on three pitches to end the inning. That was sweet, and it never would've happened last year. Other than Veres, who has had a pretty rough go of it, the relief pitching is vastly improved which bodes well for the Cubs this year. Borowski pitched pretty well for the most part last year and I'm glad Dusty kept him.

Bottom half, big surprise as Bellhorn and Miller go down in a hurry. Goodwin lucks out thanks to an error but Grudz continues his fall back to earth by grounding into a fielder's choice.

9th inning:

Remlinger does the job - gives up a single to Cabrera but strikes out 2 and the last Expo batter flies out to end the game. My favorite play in the 9th is Cabrera taking second base thanks to "fielder's indifference." I wonder if Cabrera can get that changed to a stolen base by dragging the G-men and Miller to the official scorer's table to testify that they were not, in fact, indifferent.

Scorer: Mr. Miller, describe your feelings about Mr. Cabrera advancing to second base at the point in time when this act occurred.

Miller: Well, I felt it was unfortunate. I mean, all other things being equal, I would have preferred that he remain at first base.

Scorer (sarcastically): And yet you chose not to throw to second base, an act which, if performed properly, may have prevented Mr. Cabrera from arriving there safely?

Miller (irritated): Well, yeah. I'm not saying I was willing to run over there and tag him myself, but it bugged me a little. It all depends on what the meaning of "indifferent" is.

Scorer (eyes blazing, spittle flying): I'd like to remind you that you're under oath!

Gonz (to Scorer): You're out of order!

Scorer: I'm out of order??? You're out of order! This whole park is out of order!

[Curtain]


posted by Derek at 3:32 PM MST [link] --


w



7th inning:

Top half, Ouch! A solo shot by Guerrero. Santo says it wasn't a bad pitch, but I guess I don't care. If the worst thing Guerrero does is hit a solo shot when we've got a decent lead, I won't complain.

Ah, the velvet tones of Wayne Messmer. I'd like to go on record as saying this 7th inning "God Bless America" crap has got to stop. The National Anthem to start the game really is sufficient. You want more patriotic songs, go play catch with John Ashcroft. What's next, the 7th inning prayer?

Ernie Banks himself does "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" - slightly off-key but better than most. Best of all, it is apparent that Ernie is completely sincere - he really DOES want me to take him out to the ballgame, and I'd be happy to oblige if given the opportunity. I wonder if he ever thinks about anything other than baseball. How great it must be to be Mr. Cub. Oh, they've started playing again.

Bottom half, the Mark Grsdhfkjkj Era may be coming to an end - he's out for the second straight time. But the Alex Gonzalez Era continues with another freaking hit. What is up with this guy? Sammy comes through with another hit, and Gonz scores on Alou's groundout. Good stuff. Apparently the league memo went out reminding NL pitchers that it is simply impossible to walk Corey Patterson - a new pitcher arrives and promptly strikes him out. Opening Day seems like months ago.


posted by Derek at 2:35 PM MST [link] --


w



6th inning:

Top half, another K, another walk, another DP and the Puerto Rico fans have to be disappointed with the Dreck-spos so far today.

Bottom half, another nothing from the 7-8-9 spots.


posted by Derek at 2:13 PM MST [link] --


w



5th inning:

Top half, Clement still going strong, a weak infield single erased by yet another double play. Lots of groundouts and popups from the Puerto Rican team today.

Bottom half, Grudz finally makes an out. Gonzalez continues his torrid hitting spree with yet another single, and Sosa waits out yet another walk as the Barry Bonds treatment continues. Alou comes through with an RBI double - if Alou continues to hit like this, they'll have to start pitching to Sammy. Good times. The sun has set on Zach Day as Frank Robinson finally pulls him. Sammy is thrown out at the plate, but the Cubs don't get hurt as another wild pitch scores Alou. Patterson continues to flail away and strikes out to end the inning.

5-0 is looking good the way Clement is going today.


posted by Derek at 2:08 PM MST [link] --


w



4th inning:

Top half, another walk, another K, Clement looking solid.

Bottom half, Bellhorn walks - about the only way he can get on base lately. Aaaand Miller hits into the DP - that's about par for the course for Miller so far. Wonder what Pudge would have done.


posted by Derek at 1:39 PM MST [link] --


w



3rd inning:

Top half, another walk by Clement, but he seems to be in control of the game.

Bottom half, more hitting and aggressive baserunning by Grudz and Gonz (the G-men), as Grudz is safe thanks to hustle and an error and Gonz legs out a double. Sammy grounds out (again) but gets the RBI. I haven't seen the Cubs play on TV yet, but it sounds like Sammy's pressing, trying to pull too much. Alou with the sac fly RBI, gotta be encouraged by his production so far.


posted by Derek at 1:19 PM MST [link] --


w



2nd inning: Not much going on here.

Top half, infield play (other than Bellhorn) continues to be pretty good, double play initiated by Gonzalez keeps Clement in control.

Bottom half is over before I can figure out who batted.

Either ESPN's Gamecast is slower this year or MLB realaudio is in real time - I remember last year Gamecast would show me the game-losing home run, crushing my spirits - then I'd get to hear Ron Santo's cries of pain a few second later. Just a devastating 1-2 punch. This year Gamecast is lagging 2-3 minutes behind - perhaps this will be less damaging psychologically.


posted by Derek at 1:03 PM MST [link] --


w



Let's try one of these lame game logs, I'm listening to the game on Real Audio. Home opener, Cubs-Expos, eagerly anticipated matchup between Clement and Zach Day (?).

1st inning:

Very encouraging top half - 1-2-3 for Clement. He had a tough start last week, but I've been making myself feel better about it by assuming it had to do with his stiff back or whatever it was that caused him to get pulled after only 3 innings. Gotta like the Guerrero strikeout.

Nice hitting, patience at the plate in the bottom half, and they continue the trend of scoring early. Still, an inning like so many last year, where you feel they missed an opportunity to grab control of the game. 2 hits, 2 walks, a wild pitch and only one run? Great to see Grudz (no way I'm typing "Grudzielanek" more than once this year) and Choi continue to hit, as well as the newfound plate discipline of Gonzalez.


posted by Derek at 12:56 PM MST [link] --


wMonday, April 07, 2003



The baseball gods have forsaken me.

I was going to save this topic (entitled "How Bryan and I were royally screwed out of Spring Training") for a later date, but recent developments between them (the baseball gods) and their worshippers (Bryan and me) are forcing my hand.

The wrath of the baseball gods was first felt during the Spring Training Storm of '03 (pronounced "aught-three").

Bryan and I had our annual trip to Arizona for some Cactus League ball all planned out. Perhaps I am overstating how "annual" this trip actually is, given that our inaugural trip was last year (that's "aught-two"). But I digress. We had such a good time last year that we'd been talking about this year's trip since, oh, right about when the Cubs and Royals fell out of contention. That would have been May or June. The added bonus this year was that the Royals just moved to the Cactus League, so we were all set to catch the Cubs, Royals and Rockies. We bought the plane tickets in January, reserved the car and warned Bryan's in-laws that we were invading for the last weekend of Spring Training. Our flight was leaving Thursday evening.

Have I mentioned that I live in Colorado?

The snow began falling late Monday night. By the time it stopped Wednesday afternoon, 22 inches had fallen in Boulder and even more in Denver. In Colorado, 14 inches of snow is typically equivalent to an inch of rain. This time, the ratio was down to 5-to-1, the heaviest snow I've ever seen (or shoveled). Denver and Boulder pretty much shut down all day Wednesday - Boulder police were actually ticketing anybody dumb enough to try driving. I-70 was shut down between Denver and Breckenridge through Friday. And - you guessed it - Denver International Airport was shut down all of Tuesday and Wednesday.

United Airlines canceled our flight Thursday morning. The minion on the other end of the line informed me that the earliest we could get to Phoenix would be Sunday evening. We would have to cancel Spring Training '03.

And the baseball gods laughed.

But we mortals were undaunted. Yes, the gods had exploited our vulnerabilities, exposing us for the feeble mortals that we most certainly are. Yet we vowed to shrug off this vile insult, circling the date Friday, April 4 on our calendars - the Rockies' home opener.

And the gods laughed again, silently mocking Bryan as he approached Coors Field at 10:00 Friday morning, a full hour and a half before the ticket office opened, certain he would obtain a couple of the "limited number of Rockpile tickets available for purchase on the day of the game." (lifted from the Rockies' Official Website.) Shortly after the ticket office opened, another minion, this one bearing a striking resemblance to George Steinbrenner, informed Bryan that the game was sold out. "Limited number" indeed.

When will the gods strike next? I've got tickets behind home plate when the Cubs visit Coors Field. If you live in the Denver area, may I suggest that you carry an umbrella on April 26?


posted by Derek at 4:17 PM MST [link] --



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