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Commenting by Enetation

wSaturday, August 30, 2003

Holy crap, I almost forgot to restart the Estes pool today.

At the suggestion of Chris from Yarbage Cub Review, I am putting the Estes pool back in play. It's too late in the season to hope he'll suck and get pulled from the rotation, and Dusty probably wouldn't do it anyway. Early in the season when I ran this pool for three or four starts, Estes responded pretty well. We really do need to use every tool at our disposal when he's on the mound, especially at this critical point in the season.

So, give me your best guess as to when the first Cub reliever starts throwing in the pen today. Guess which reliever for the tiebreaker. Winner gets their name in print in the font of their choice right here, as well as admiration from the Let's Play Two staff.

I've got top of the 3rd, none out, the kid Leicester warming up.

posted by Derek at 10:31 AM MST [link] --

wThursday, August 28, 2003

Well, that was a kick in the gut. I arrived home from the airport and turned on the TV in the bottom of the 8th with Pujols on first base and an irritated-looking six-fingered man walking off the mound. Naturally, after all my hand-wringing over the past couple of weeks, I was thrilled to see Kerry had pitched a good game. It was also somewhat arousing to find that our "Woody" was bigger than their "Woody" yesterday.

I'm sorry, there's just no way I could pass up the golden opportunity to make a joke about Woodies.

Then the wheels fell off.

Over the last two games:
Starters: 1 run in 15 innings pitched. That's great!
Relievers: 8 runs in 2 innings pitched. That kind of bites!

Giving up 4 runs in the 8th to lose 4-2 is a terrible way to lose, but it also tends to inspire a lot of "that's the kind of loss than can stick with a team for a long time" crap. I'm generally as guilty of this as anybody, but if there's one thing you can say about this Cubs team is that they really do seem to play them one game at a time. Thank you, Nuke LaLoosh. Is it because they're stocked with Proven Veterans? Is it because starting pitching rotations don't lend themselves to streakiness? Or maybe the personnel changes so often that nobody remembers what happened yesterday?

In any case, other than a couple of weeks of sustained ugliness before the All-Star break, this team seems incapable of putting together a streak of any kind. They don't follow up inspiring wins with more great games, and gut-wrenching losses don't seem to carry over either. My guess is that we are so dependent upon starting pitching that the end result for any given game is largely dependent on that factor alone (yesterday's bullpen gag notwithstanding). So guess what? If Official Let's Play Two favorite player (TM) Carlos Zambrano pitches great today, they'll probably win. If not, they won't.

In the meantime, enjoy Carlos Zambrano Day!

posted by Derek at 12:32 PM MST [link] --

wSunday, August 24, 2003

Back on May 6, 1998, in the 3rd inning of a game against the Astros, Ricky Gutierrez hit a slow roller toward 3rd. Cubs 3rd baseman Kevin Orie failed to come up with the ball, and official scorer Don Friske called it a base hit. Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood went on to complete that game without allowing another hit (and struck out 20 in the process). Most would agree that Orie's play was tough but should have been made. In fact, if the play had occurred later in the game (let's say, just for purposes of illustration, in the 8th inning with 2 outs), the play probably would have been scored an error. In the end, though, one of the Cubs didn't do his job, thereby depriving Wood of a well-deserved no-hitter.

Fast forward to August 22, 2003. With two outs in the bottom of the 8th, Official Let's Play Two favorite Cub (TM) Carlos Zambrano is no-hitting the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona's Shea Hillenbrand chops a slow bouncer down the 3rd base line. Cubs 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez sprints across the bag, gloves it and immediately fires an off-balance sidearm throw to 1st. Cubs 1st baseman Randall Simon does the splits (ouch!), picking the throw up on a short hop, and Hillenbrand steps on the bag a few hundredths of a second later. And the no-hitter was lost.

But how? Zambrano did his job, inducing a weak grounder from Hillenbrand. Ramirez did his job, executing a perfect pick-and-throw to get the ball to first, and Simon pulled out all the stops to ensure that he had the ball in his glove before the runner hit the base. Who didn't do his job this time?

1st base umpire Bill Miller. Positioned perfectly to call the play correctly, Miller nonetheless blew possibly the biggest call of his young career by calling Hillenbrand safe at first.

Here's what Orie said after Wood's one-hitter: "He deserved [a no-hitter]. I'll go up there and tell them to give me an error."

And here's Miller refusing to acknowledge he got the call wrong on Friday: "I had the play safe . . . I've got to go with what I had on the field."

Ask me again why players and fans have so little respect for the umpires.

posted by Derek at 3:09 PM MST [link] --

wReigning NL Central Division Choke Artists

Eamus Catuli

wOfficial Let's Play Two
Favorite Cub (TM)

Carlos Zambrano

3-3, 3.22, 68 K
5/31: ND,8 IP,0 ER,1 H,9 K
Next start: 6/05 @ SD

wOfficial Let's Play Two
Gladiator Tracker (TM)

$ CHN12M5M+
$ BAL5M0

wK-chip Setting (TM)

Nomar Garciaparra

Last 10 games:
.125, 0 HR, 1 RBI,
torn groin