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wSaturday, April 10, 2004

A win is a win, I guess 

Some of the best games are those knock-down, drag-out, 15-inning affairs. Where two good teams lock horns, matching each other inning by inning until finally, one team catches a break and pushes it over the top. As the final run is scored or the final out recorded, the winning team and its fans explode with joy as the other side collapses in despair.

Last night's 2-1, 15-inning Cub victory was not one of those games. By the 12th inning, I was just begging for this battle of attrition between two inept offenses to end.

Let it be said that Z was awesome last night. He celebrated Carlos Zambrano Day by pitching 7 solid innings while allowing only 2 hits, making only 1 mistake for which he paid dearly when Andruw Jones knocked it over the wall. It was nice to finally see a member of the vaunted Cubs pitching rotation deliver the goods.

And keep in mind, this guy is the 4th pitcher in the rotation, and would in fact be the 5th if Prior were healthy. I think we can go ahead and anoint Carlos the finest 4th (or 5th, as applicable) starter in all of baseball at this point.

And I'm also going to go out on a limb here and say that the acquisition of Todd Hollandsworth, who smashed a monster home run off of John Smoltz to tie the game with two out in the top of the 9th, was a fine move by Jim Hendry.

The only way watching this pathetic Cub offense could have been worse is if the Braves had somehow collected a bunch of Cub castoffs in its bullpen and used them to shut down the Cub hitters. Oh wait, that is what happened. The Cubs somehow couldn't score any runs off of Antonio Alfonseca or Juan Cruz, for God's sake, despite having runner on 1st and 2nd with none out in the 11th. Then Andy Pratt and Todd Wellemeyer walked the bases loaded in both the 12th and 13th inning, Wellemeyer looking especially impressive in walking Cruz on 4 pitches to lead off the 13th. Yet somehow the Braves couldn't put the game away.

Well, even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut, and the Cubs accidentally pushed a run across in the top of the 15th. Joe Borowski worked his way through the heart of the Braves order to get the save, and well, it's great to be back at .500. I was just praying that Joe would end it one way or another, if he had given up only one run and extended the game my newborn child might have been left fatherless.

Somebody please tell me that there's some alternative to the Alex Gonzalez/Ramon Martinez shortstop tandem. I just can't bear to watch either of these guys at the plate anymore. Can I program my V-chip to block out their at-bats?

For a more uplifting account of this game, check out Scott at the Northside Lounge. He was at the game and it sounds like he had a much better time than I did sitting in front of the TV.

Here's to a more fulfilling game this evening. What's that you say? Sergio Mitre's pitching tonight?

posted by Derek at 9:52 AM MST [link] --

wFriday, April 09, 2004

Why have you forsaken me? 

In preparation for the Rockies home opener on Monday, the Baseball Gods have decided it would be appropriate for them to drop 4-8 inches of snow on the Denver Metro area tonight. They also think it might help if they were to drop some additional snow on Saturday and Sunday, because it would be a shame if the grounds crew were given too much of an opportunity to clear the field.

I personally disagree with this approach. I find that the games are more enjoyable when I don't have to wear a stocking cap, long underwear and gloves, the latter of which have been found to interfere with beer holding program-related activities. I also find that excessive snow often makes the seats wet, the result being that my undergarments become soaked. This can lead to chafing, which also decreases my enjoyment of the game to a significant degree. In addition, given the wide range of temperatures (high 50s to low 80s, like we've had here for the past month) deemed optimal for game attendance, it seems odd to me that the Baseball Gods would instead opt for the less-enjoyable lower temperatures that often accompany snow.

Helpfully, the Baseball Gods may be easily contacted via email at baseball_gods@hotmail.com. I have just sent them my own message expressing my displeasure with their weekend plans. If they have done anything lately about which you would like to comment, or if you have some prayers you'd like to see answered, I'm sure they would appreciate hearing from you. They assure me that they will declassify most such emails and allow me to display them here at my leisure, so let 'em rip.

Happy Carlos Zambrano Day!

posted by Derek at 10:34 AM MST [link] --

wThursday, April 08, 2004

How the mighty have fallen . . . 

It seems like only a couple of days ago that the Cubs were in first place, sporting a league-best record.

But after today's somewhat disheartening loss to the lowly Reds, they find themselves rotting in the NL Central cellar. Only 3 notes worth making:

1) Nice to see Sammy cut loose today;
2) Adam Dunn is pretty freakin' annoying; and
3) While I truly believe this year's offense will be an improvement over last year's, the last two games should serve as a reminder that that's really not saying a whole hell of a lot.

Better luck tomorrow with my man Carlos on the mound.

posted by Derek at 2:50 PM MST [link] --

wWednesday, April 07, 2004

Baby needs a new pair of, er, booties 

The Cubs (the Trib?) are generally pretty good at extracting money from people in any manner one could possibly imagine. A couple of examples:

When they realized they weren't seeing a dime from the rooftop parties across the street, they filed suit and are now set to make millions of dollars off of them. That's pretty much free money now, the Cubs don't have to expend any additional resources to collect it, though they may have to pay another money-counter to keep track of it.

When they realized their per-game profits had maxed out since they were selling out almost all of their home games, they created their own ticket-scalping agency, thereby raising profits without raising "prices." Brilliant!

I'm not here to pass judgment on such plans (though I'll tell you I think rooftop profits=OK, scalping profits=sleazy) but just to point out my bafflement that the Cubs don't sell baby clothes at their MLB shop. Every other team does so.

Look, Cubs, I am pretty much required by law to purchase cute baseball clothing for my baby boy. And not only that, I have to buy at least one outfit every 3 freaking months just to keep up with a growing kid. If you sell these clothes to me, I will give you my money, and my kid will give you a lifetime of his loyalty. Do you want Tony to grow up to be a Rockies fan?

For anyone interested (there are at least 3 more Cub Blog Army babies arriving in the near future) I was able to find some stuff at the following links, but it was not easy.

Wrigleyville Sports
Fans Edge

Get on the ball, Cubs.

posted by Derek at 1:15 PM MST [link] --

wTuesday, April 06, 2004

More Good News 

Yesterday was so pleasant that I'm just going to pretend it's still Good News Day. Just imagine that the sun never went down last night.

Good News Item #4:

The Cubs vaulted into the division lead yesterday with their 7-4 win over the Reds, and they currently share the best record in baseball with several other teams.

It wasn't pretty. Kerry was shaky. Sloppy play, including an error, a wild pitch 3rd strike, and baserunners thrown out at home and 3rd in one nutty rally-killing play. Fortunately, the Reds suck so it didn't matter much. On the other hand, the bullpen was awesome, Corey looked good and Moises Alou picked up where he left off toward the end of last season with a bases-clearing double in the 3rd inning.

The Cards lost as Matt Morris got shelled.

The Astros lost their first game of the post-Billy Wagner era, as 1) Jimy Williams hesitated to go to the pen, leaving Roy Oswalt in to serve up a game-tying 3-run homer to Barry Bonds in the 8th, and 2) new closer Octavio Dotel lost it in the 9th.

A man can't ask for a better day. The sugar on top was the gut-wrenching loss by the White Sox in which the Royals scored 6 runs in the bottom of the 9th.

Good News Item #5:

April 1st was, appropriately, the one-year anniversary of Let's Play Two. The staff celebrated the historic occasion by, well, not really noticing it. Feel free to gander at the post-heard-'round-the-world, when our humble blog made its debut with this earthshaking call-to-arms:
I'm new at this, please be patient.
Another milestone passed a couple of weeks ago with little fanfare, when we received our 20,000th visitor. Treat yourself to an afternoon off.

Good News Item #6:

There are still 161 Cubs games left to enjoy this season. Then it only gets better as the postseason awaits.

posted by Derek at 1:06 PM MST [link] --

wMonday, April 05, 2004

Here's a fun fact:

If you use Google to search for "Leo Mazzone" and "urinal" you will receive exactly 1 hit. I bet you can guess what it is.

Let's Play Two - America's #1 Leo Mazzone/urinal information resource!

posted by Derek at 1:37 PM MST [link] --


It's 11:44 am. Do you know where your game face is?

Baseball starts in less than a half-hour. And those who know me can vouch for me when I tell you my game face is right here - eyes glazed, nostrils flared, jaw slack, hair standing staight up, and drool slowly creeping from the corner of mouth, down my chin and onto my shirt.

But first, it's Good News Day at Let's Play Two.

Good News Item #1:

The newest member of the Let's Play Two staff showed up for his first day of work at 9:23 am back on March 16th. He brought with him the following resume:

Name: Tony
Weight: 8 lbs 9 oz
Experience: 9 months of floating in amniotic fluid
Relevant skills: Screaming; Waving limbs around; Attracting women; Soiling clothing using one or more bodily excretions

These are precisely the qualities we look for in our staff at Let's Play Two, so needless to say we hired him on the spot. While I don't expect Tony to make writing contributions immediately, his presence will certainly have an impact on the site. Like, it's difficult to type while wiping up bodily fluids.

Welcome aboard, Tony!

Good News Item #2:

I mention my friend Bryan the Royals fan here from time to time, we both like baseball and have taken in our share of Rockies games together. This year, Bryan bought 2 tickets to the Rockies home opener on April 12th, one for him and one for me as a birthday present. Last week Bryan called to inform me that he would be unable to make use of his ticket, and that I would have to find someone else to attend the game with. What the hell? Missing the home opener? I'm sure you are as outraged as I was. He better have a good excuse, you're surely muttering to yourself.

Well, how about this one: Bryan can't use his ticket because he got a job working in the Rockies' Public Relations Office. So while I'm forking over $8 to park a mile away from Coors Field for the privilege of standing in line, forking over my ticket and subjecting myself to body cavity searches, Bryan will be cruising into the employee parking lot, walking into the park for free and enjoying the game from wherever he damn well pleases. Probably high-fiving Todd Helton on his way in, too. What a bastard.

So, a tip of my Cubs cap to Bryan on his good fortune. And Bryan, feel free to toss a few tickets my way. Also one of those Rockies' seat cushions, if you can swing it. Those metal bleachers in the Rockpile can be a tad uncomfortable.

Good News Item #3:

Cubs 1, Reds 0 after one inning.

Happy 2004, everyone.

posted by Derek at 12:24 PM MST [link] --

wSunday, April 04, 2004

Next time somebody tries to bowl you over with the dazzling brilliance of the shining star that is George Will, you can brush them off with this doozy, from this morning's column:
Selig has been -- baseball is a game of inches, but this is not a close call -- the greatest commissioner.
Will's column is meant as a tribute to the resiliency of our national pastime. It is ironic that he fails to note the best evidence of baseball's resiliency, its ability to thrive despite Selig's best efforts to destroy it.

Being a geek doesn't make you smart.

posted by Derek at 10:46 AM 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