Recently in Chicago Cubs Category

Zambrano to have eyeballs zapped

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As a Cub fan, this makes me very, very nervous.

But, on the other hand, whateve happens, that is one friggin' nice suit Big Z is wearing.

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Great Excuse, Last Year

"I think maybe we underestimated how prepared you have to be, how ready you have to be, especially in a five-game series," Dempster said. "It's like a short heavyweight bout. Ding, the bell is ringing, you've got to go."

The Cubs were knocked out quickly. Dempster also suggested the players were overconfident because of their great home record at Wrigley Field throughout the season.

"It almost felt like it was just going to be a given that we win Games 1 and 2 and move on and go from there," he said. "You've still got to play the games. You've got to put the uniform on and go out there and compete. If anything, we've learned that."

This would be a reasonable explanation for getting swept by Arizona in 2007. Alas, Dempster is talking about this year's sweep at the hand of the Dodgers. So much for the importance of "playoff experience."

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What did I do to deserve this?

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I try to be a good man. I love my wife and boys. I take care of them as best as I can, though I've done some things I'm not proud of, and I'll admit I'm lazy as a dog. I'm a lover of comfort and I could work much harder than I do, but my heart is in the right place (somewhere behind my ribs, I think). And it's true, when I was in high school I scalped Cubs tickets, but it's not my fault, my sister totally made me. She would buy all these tickets to games she couldn't go to, and she would give them to me to sell and I hated doing it, but she let me keep half the profits, but even then I was sometimes too terrified of the police to even charge face value, so I'd walk down Clark Street and dump them as soon as I could, usually before I even got to Byron, so you see it's not something that could be held against me. Anyway, I went to lots and lots of games, and we're talking about the early 90s here when the Cubs were truly pathetic, but still I cheered them on and I never ever booed and I was totally on the other side of the bleachers when the three-row battle royale fistfight broke out on 70s night when security tried to bounce the moron who dumped beer on the (Mets?) left fielder. And it's true I would sometimes get intoxicated yuppies to pay me to eat fistsful of jalapenos, but COME ON, THEY WERE DRUNK A-HOLES OUT HANDING OUT $20 BILLS, any enterprising young teenager would have done the same, especially when he needed to make up the loss on "scalping" tickets to his sister, not that she would have broken my legs or taken away my lunch money, but I had teenage pride.

But all of that is besides the point. I've been a loyal fan my whole life and I'm even bringing my boys up to be loyal Cubbie fans. They all have Cubs hats they love to wear and they have a Cubbie flag on the door to their bedroom and if they keep their room clean for the whole month of October they'll get the red Wrigley Field sign painted on their wall and I took Matthew to see the Peoria Chiefs play and told him all about Ryne Sandberg and now he wants to play for the Cubbies when he grows up and it's so totally not my fault that he thinks I used to play for the Cubbies -- I told him I played baseball in high school in Chicago and he knows the Cubbies play in Chicago and he put 2 and 2 together but unfortunately he came up with 5 and I've tried to tell him I played for the Lincoln Park Lions, not the Cubbies, but he forgets and it's kinda cute, but when he tells people I totally correct him so they don't think I really used to play for the Cubs (because they would obviously think it's true, right?).

Anyway, the point is that I'm a decent fellow who's been a loyal Cubbie fan as long as I can remember going back to the game I went to as a little guy when Ron Cey (RON CEY) hit two home runs and I cheered and cheered and it was the greatest thing in the world and I've stuck by them my whole life unlike those fair weather yuppies who just go to the game to get hammered and try to hook up with blondes and puke all over the bleachers and swear at the umps even when there's kids sitting right behind them.

And don't get me wrong, it's wonderful that we've made the playoffs two years in a row, which is something I couldn't imagine happening growing up when I would faithfully and loyally watch the Cubs get ground into the dirt every year, but I lovd them always and never ever gave up.

But why oh why is it that we have to get so totally and completely embarrassed in the playoffs? Why can't our lineup, better than I ever imagined a lineup could be when I was cheering on Rey Sanchez, Jose Vizcaino and Luis Gonzalez (before he started juicing or sacrificing to pagan gods or whatever it was he did that turned him from a scrawny scrappy little dude into a 40 homer guy), do anything against... CHAD FREAKING BILLINGSWORTH, and who the freak is he and how can he make Soriano, Lee and Ramirez look like total chumps and what are we paying those guys for anyway and what is up with Fukudome -- why can't we hit the Asian jackpot like every other freaking team?

Anyway, what I'm really trying to say is that I've shed tears over this team. More tears than any self-respecting man should shed over the doings of other grown men who wear striped pants, but I shed them because I care, and honestly I'll keep caring, but why oh why can't we put up a decent fight? Is that so much to ask?

What did I do to deserve this?

(Cross-posted to my facebook account)

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I Have Dreams


Last night I dreamt that a friend started an order:The Canons of Wrigley Field. If only.

I haven't watched Bull Durham in about 6 years. Honest.

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One more thought on Fukudome


Whatever you do, don't pronunce the vowels in Fukudome in the following order: schwa, long u, schwa, long e. Your wife might get offended.

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Hello and goodbye


How good is Fukudome? It's always hard to transfer numbers between countries, but as the folks over at The Cub Reporter point out, we're talking a high OPS (on-base percentage + slugging average, it's jsut a stat that mashes together two other stats to give a number that doesn't mean anything specific except the guy gets on base AND hits for power.) guy with defensive skills and speed. Next year's outfield will likely consist of, left to right, Soriano, Pie and Fukudome, all speedy, all with good arms.

The Cubs are also reportedly going after Brian Roberts, also known as "the guy who saved my fantasy baseball team in 05 (or was it 04?)." I don't think many people call him that though.

Phil Rogers shows what the Cubs line-up could look like:

Roberts, 2B.

Theriot, SS.

Soriano, LF.

Ramirez, 3B.

Fukudome, RF.

Lee, 1B.

Soto, C.

Pie, CF.

Wow... wow.... that's an American league line-up. But I'd but Fukudome 2nd, put Theriot in the 6- or 7-hole and slide everybody else up.

As for the goodbye -- the Cubs said farewell to Mark Prior yesterday. To commemorate the event, The Cub Reporter recalls five of Prior's greatest games. It hurts to remember.

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The Economist on the Cubs

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This season Chicagoans grew giddy as their “loveable losers” advanced to the playoffs. More than 42,000 fans came to the Cubs' game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on October 6th, many wearing T-shirts that read “Goat-busters” or “Just Believe!”. Less than four hours later, the Cubs had lost again. Some fans sighed; some cried. And the seasons, they go round and round.

There's a lot of pain in those five sentences.

P.S. The Economist seems to have added a Chicago correspondent, there have been several Windy City-related stories these past few weeks.

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Stuff it, Mariotti


You want me to roll out the gush and the goo, the ``Go Cubs Go'' chorus, the Pat-and-Ronnie bop. You want me to suggest an emergency Bill Murray visit, an Ernie Banks pep talk, a Harry-and-Jack seance and all those desperate devices Cubdom pulls from its tail when 99 Seasons of Fear on the Wall are about to become 100.

Not really Jay. Nobody who's read more than one ofyour columns expects anything more than pompous half-educated vitriol. We'd like you to get fired and have to go cover the Lansing Lugnuts and have the SunTimes hand your column over to somebody with something new and/or interesting to say,

There's always next year.

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That sucked


Game 1: 3-1 D-Backs

I meant to blog this earlier in the week, but my take on the series is that man for man, the Cubs are the better team, but the most telling stats are:

  1. Arizona was 14th out of 16 teams in the NL in scoring runs - they actually got out-scored by their opponents on average - but still managed to pull off the best record in the NL.

  2. They led the league in 1-run wins. This almost necessarily follows from 1), but what they say together is that Arizona is opportunistic and good at ekeing out just enough runs to win.

Playoff games are usually close and are won by the team that doesn't make mistakes.

That's what happened today. What was the mistake? Pulling Zambrano after only 86 pitches. I'm currently listening to Lou Piniella rationalize it, saying he wanted to save Z to start him in game 4, the problem is the Cubs have to get to game 4 for that strategy to work. If the Cubs had been ahead at that point, I could see pulling Z, but with a tie game and Z dealing, Lou should have kept him in and penciled in Jason Marquis or planned on giving Z a short-start on Sunday.

Either way, it was a mistake. Arizona, a young, scrappy, opportunistic team, took advantage and were just good enough, as they've been all year long.

If we're going to win this, we can't make mistakes.

One more thing: I'm honestly not jumping to a conclusion from one performance, but I don't agree with putting Marmol in. Yes, he's been lights out all year, but he's still very young. That seemed to me to be the kind of high-pressure situation they were prepping Wood for the past few weeks. If Marmol were a pressure-pitcher, he'd have been made the Cubs' closer months ago.

On the positive side, it should only get easier for the Cubs' offense. I wouldn't mind seeing Dan Davis in Cubby blue some day, but look for Lilly to have no mercy tomorrow night.


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Making of a (Division) Champion


The Sun-Times runs down the moves that made the 2007 national League Central Division Champion Chicago Cubs possible,

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With their victory tonight and the Brewers' loss to San Diego, the Cubs have clinched it. Their last division title came in 2003. The four-year interval is, believe it or not, the fewest season between Cub playoff appearances in my lifetime.


Carlos Zambrano came through in a big game, delivering 7 strong innings of shut-out ball.


Alfonso Soriano set a major league record with his sixth lead-off homerun in the month of September. He also tied Ernie Banks' Cub record of 13 homeruns in the month of September.


The Cubs can rest up for a few games. Division series pay starts early next week. It's not clear who the Cubs will be playing, since the other two divisions and the NL wild card are all up in the air.


Here's where I wish I were partying tonight!

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Envy me fellas


Mama-Lu on Kerry Wood's clutch performances:

Wood was always the best at getting himself out of jams. He kept it together better than Zambrano, but he got into more trouble than Prior.
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We got Wood

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Kerry Wood had another brilliant relief stint yesterday, coming in with bases loaded and no outs and escaping with a strikeout and double play ball. He stayed in for another inning, and after a one-out base hit off of his foot follwed by a walk, Wood again escaped on a double play ball. He hit 97 on the radar gun yesterday and had good movement on his fastball.

I continue to think Lou is prepping Wood for serious post-season duty. If our starting pitching stays as shaky as it's been early on, we're going to need strong middle relief. Right now, I'm feeling good abour Wood being that guy.

That is, if we can make it to the playoffs...

Magic Number: 2


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Sure, it's Pittsburgh, but...


The Cubs' combined stats for the three game series sweep that just ended:

30 R 45 H 9 HR .391 BA 0 Errors

The starting pitching was spotty the first two games, but the bullpen was solid the whole series against a good offensive team and today Carlos Zambrano finally gave a good starting effort. Note also that Kerry Wood pitched two innings with a large lead. I'm thinking Lou Piniella is getting him ready for serious post-season duty.

Oh, and incase you forgot, I said this in August:

[Leadership] was the most important thing about the Soriano pick-up (note how their biggest stumble since early June came when he went down). He gave the team a defining character (which is also why it was important to put him in the lead-off spot and in left field when he faltered in the 5-slot and in center field). When he comes back, this team is not going to look back, even if he's not 100%.

Cubs record since Soriano came back: 16-10
Soriano in that time: .293 BA 13 HR 23 RBI 19 R

Magic Number: 4!

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Cubs Fans!


Feeling the heat of the pennant race? Is every game, every pitch as exciting as 2003? Well, here's some news to make your spine tingle:

As reported on

Prior plays catch at Friendly Confines

That's right, the one-time "future of the franchise" can finally play catch!

Snark aside - go Cubbies! I wish I could watch all the games fom work!

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But that's not to say the Cubs have underperformed. They haven't. This goes right to why it's so hard to go from worst to first in one season. Stick with your guys, and they aren't likely to be suddenly good. But put together a bunch of new ones, and you have no identity, no clubhouse culture. Piniella had to sift through an awful lot, figure out who can do what.

I've been saying this to anybody who will listen for 8 months. When people would ask about this year in Spring, I would say, "Wait and see. That's a lot of change for one off-season. It's going to take time for the team to gel."

It's even worse than Couch says, because the Cubs have had no consistent leadership since Sosa left. Zambrano and Barrett (when he was with the team) are too crazy, Lee, Ramirez and Maddux (when he was with the team) are too much the quiet types, Wood and Prior are broken-and never-around types. That was the most important thing about the Soriano pick-up (note how their biggest stumble since early June came when he went down). He gave the team a defining character (which is also why it was important to put him in the lead-off spot and in left field when he faltered in the 5-slot and in center field). When he comes back, this team is not going to look back, even if he's not 100%.

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Mariotti on Zambrano


In early June:

Zambrano said all the right things after the 6-2 win. The night before, he told himself, "Tomorrow is the season opening for you. Forget about anything else. Just start from tomorrow." But isn't that a dicey proposition for anyone thinking of paying him up to $100 million -- that he starts the season two months late?


This is the Wham Bam Thank You Zam that Cubdom adores. This is the ace/stud/stopper who gives his team a chance not only to topple the Brewers -- a rotation-challenged ballclub with no arm to match him -- but do some damage in a month that must be whispered around Wrigley Field (October, shhhh). In nine starts since his Nuts on Clark, two-round smackdown of Barrett, he has been baseball's surest thing, allowing two or fewer runs eight times. His latest win was his 12th, inching him toward Cy Young Award contention and his first 20-win season. He has been so brilliant, you wonder if he'd have won 30 if he'd punched out Barrett in Mesa...

It is the duty of the Tribsters, then, to respond in kind and give him his money now in their final act.

Let's just call him fair-weather Jay.

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No, I'm not whining about pro-choice Republicans, I'm bringing you gold - USA Today's profile of Hall of Fame Cub Ryne Sandberg midway through his first year managing the Cubbies Class A affiliate in Peoria.

Sandberg, 47, approaches his job with the Peoria Chiefs in the same manner he did everything in his 15 seasons as the Cubs' second baseman — The Right Way. No shortcuts, no big-leaguing it, no mailing it in. He rides the team buses, stays in the economy motels, takes his rotation pitching for batting practice, coaches third base during games and files daily reports on his players....

Sandberg's credentials — 10 consecutive All-Star Games, nine consecutive Gold Gloves for defensive excellence, 1,061 runs batted in and a .285 career batting average — give the manager instant credibility with his aspiring players, who range in age from 18 to 24. Some remember seeing him play; some don't.

Sandberg hears one comment often from them: "Hey Ryno, you were my parents' favorite player."

That notion definitely plays in Peoria: The Chiefs' second baseman is Ryne Malone, and the spelling of that first name is no coincidence. The Clinton, Iowa, native was named after Sandberg.

Hmm... Anthony Ryne Lu? Er... pretend you didn't read that.

I didn't know until I read this that Sandberg interviewed for the Cubs job last year. That must have been in my disenchanted period. According to the article, Hendry recommended he take over Peoria to get some experience.

This reminds me, I gotta get out there for a game.

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Chris DeLuca on Zambrano's fresh start:

"I'm 1-0 with 6 2/3 innings, and from now on, I will try to think like that."

The official record will show that Zambrano is 6-5 with a 5.38 ERA and pummeled his own catcher in his previous outing.

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Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

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