Game 70: Rangers 7 – Cubs 3


Cubs 32-38, 8 GB
Rangers 27-44, 18 GB

POTG: LF Soriano (2 2B, HR)
Runner Up: RP Scott Eyre (1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R)

21 hitting it off 21, seems about right. No matter what went down, they shouldn’t have given Sammy’s number away for 10 years. They shouldn’t have given away Grace’s either. I’m not going to argue Sammy’s Hall of Fame case, because when it gets down to it, I don’t really care about the hall of fame. All I know is Sammy was a Cubs for a long time, was the best player on some really bad teams and a couple good ones, and was by far the only best reason to watch the Cubs in the 90s. I don’t what kind of baseball fan or if I’d be one at all if he hadn’t been around.

I’ve always rooted for Sosa, it’s tough to remember a time when I didn’t. I defended him before he hit it big, so it doesn’t make sense for me to give up. I don’t think he’s the right fit for Texas right now, but I don’t care much about these Rangers. Let Sammy hit home runs.

Marquis pitching like we thought he would, check. Koyie might have hit a HR, but he saw all of 6 pitches in 3 at bats. Pagan saw 6 in one at bat. Cesar was hacking even more, 9 pitches in 4 at bats.

Cubs, game story, Rangers

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NOTE TO SCOTT/Baltimore American League Franchise


Don’t do it! You don’t want him! It may be funny for a moment, you may be able to get blog posts out of all the dumb stuff he’ll say, but you’ll wake up one morning, roll over in bed, and see him chewing a toothpick – and you won’t be able to get rid of him for THREE YEARS. It’s bad enough that you got McPhail, it’s bad enough that you’re playing Corey, you need to stop it before it gets even worse. You don’t think it can, but you haven’t seen the lineups yet.

There’s got to be a mediocre AAA manager who’d kill for the chance to be in The Show for once in his life. Please go find him! Don’t put yourself thru this trauma.

Game 69: Cubs 5 – Rangers 4


Cubs 32-37
Rangers 26-44

POTG: RP Carlos Marmol (3 IP, 5 K, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, W [2/7])
Runner Up: Ryan Dempster (IP, 3 K, S [16/75]), CF Felix Pie (3B, 2 RBI), 1B D Lee (2 H, 2B, RBI), 2B Mike Fontenot (2 H, 2 R, BB), DH Uncle Cliffy (2B, BB, R)
Nice To Know Ya: C Michael Barrett (2 H, R)

Now that this is completely dated and mostly worthless, let me just quickly point out that Marmol as 7th (and 6th and 5th!) inning guy is looking like genius, Marshall was due for a bad start, and Sammy looked bad on all 4 Ks.

Instead of writing three paragraphs more about a game I really had a hard time getting into on tape delay, how about I talk about the Midwest League All Star Game I went to Tuesday night? Yea, well, I don’t think I’m going out of my way to go to an All Star game again.

If you’re someone who likes getting autographs, stashing them for five years, and seeing which of those Sharpee scrawls turn out to be slightly valuable, you might have enjoyed this event. They were selling $1 programs with everyone’s picture in it perfect for this event (as well as balls, and I saw a few people trying to get uniforms, bats and cards signed), and all the players were available on the field before the game for about half hour of free autograph signing. I’m not an autograph person (and my program got snatched away when I stepped away to get some food), but it was a nice job of providing access.

The presentation of the game really wasn’t up to that level. During the regular season, the Cougars had moved their stats from a two line electronic marquee to showing up on their video board. For the first time, you actually got info about who was at the plate, and that’s the sort of thing you need when you have 60 some players from 14 teams participating. For this game, they didn’t put names up on the video board, and they didn’t put up on the marquee board – the PA guy just said the name, and one was expected to race thru the program to find the name. The programs didn’t have uniform numbers, and the uniforms didn’t have names on them – really, you had little idea who was who unless they were on the team you normally followed, you’re a huge fan of the league, or you made your own cheat sheet and brought it. Who’s going to do that?

(and yea, I did, but I forget to bring the sheet)

I didn’t score the game, because it’s a freaking all star game and I’m smartened up enough to know they never announce defensive changes or pinch hitters (which isn’t as big a deal as you’d think in a DH league but still kills me.) I’m almost sure the umpire didn’t actually know about the changes, but occasionally looked over to see that the tall black first baseman was all the sudden white and short. Both teams had bloated rosters to protect themselves in case of promotions and injuries. Neither much happened, and the managers just had to get everyone in the game, so it turned into a plodding and boring affair. If you don’t know who’s who (and who’s going to be someone you’ll care about in a few years), games stretching past 10 on a Tuesday night aren’t so good.

The highlight of the game might have been Darren Bragg, first base coach, the people encouraging Darren Bragg to teach each runner on 1st how to steal “just like you used to!”…and those people stealing and Bragg triumphantly taking credit.

Midwest League is a two umpire league. I think they might have had 4 for the playoffs last year, but honestly I don’t remember. Somehow, we got all six for this game. (And the worst at first, but that’s another story.)

This game will get replayed locally on Comcast 100 – that’s the near public access channel with the high school Game of the Week that used to be (may still be) way higher on cable system – this Saturday at some point and it’s available onDemand. Five people will watch it. I was actually going to, I have no idea why but it sounded like a good idea, but it’s like every other channel seems to be lately with digital static/buffering problems.

(personal drama which probably would be more interesting to write about than this post, but I’m bored with now: people who no-showed on me, buying $10 sun glasses for the express purpose of not caring if I lost them and then spending a couple hours fuming over losing them, walking around the parking lot for 20 minutes trying to find my car which was actually in the adjacent lot)

and one drama ends


Cubs catcher Michael Barrett was traded to the Padres on Wednesday, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney.

HOLY CRAP. I’d feel really stupid if I was just on the radio yesterday talking about how they were stuck with Barrett and had to just deal with it during the season…

Is San Diego trying to corner the market on defensive indifferent catchers? And why?

Edit 1: I would’ve bet you a million dollars Jacque would’ve been gone first. This is why I don’t gamble!

Edit 2:

C Michael Barrett + CASH ($3 mil-ish?) = C Rob Bowen + Super Duper Awesome Prospect if the radio people are to be believed. Well, maybe not actually super duper.

Rob Bowen is San Diego’s second catcher, but played most of last series because their #1 is out hurt. He’s 26. hitting 268, 371 OBP, 439 SLG (12 doubles, 2 home runs). All those are above career highs.

Everyone’s under the impression that because he’s not Barrett, he’s a defense catcher, but he’s only catching 8% of runners stealing on him, and teams are averaging a steal a game against him. Barrett is getting 6% of runners this year. League average is around 20%

He’s got slightly better numbers for Wild Pitches/Passed Balls per game, but still…

There’s talk this might be a white flag trade. I don’t buy that – if you trade Z, you’re giving up. If you trade Barrett, you’re trying to fix things. They’re going to most if not all of the $3 mil in contract in order to get a good prospect back from the Padres, but who it is hasn’t been determined. Bowen’s not expected to make it to Texas tonight, so it’ll be Koyie Hill and Ryan Theriot catching if anything happens.

Edit 3:

Sounds like the prospect could be Kyler Burke. 211/268/305 RF. He is only 19, but…not blown away here.

Game 68: Padres 11 – Cubs 3


Padres 40-28
Cubs 31-37

POTG: RF Jacque Jones (2 2B, R, RBI – quite naturally, Jacque wins POTG in an 8 run loss)
Runner Up: 1B Derek Lee (H, 3B, R), RP Scott Eyre (2 IP, 2 H, 2 K, 0 BB, O R)

This team always seems so close to turning a corner, just finishing off one home stand or road trip good and maybe they’d have something. And then they lose the last 2 (in Atlanta, here versus San Diego) and they’re still in the same rut. Even though they’re somehow still 5.5 back, it seems like they’re cooling off again.

If they had confidence in Gallagher or Rapada to go a long way – and they didn’t and they shouldn’t have as it turns out – it probably would’ve been worth it to pull Rich after the first inning, because he had nothing to contribute today. He got killed, didn’t make any changes, and got killed more. By the time the bullpen added to the mess and made 9-1, on a day you knew the Padres and Maddux weren’t giving up much, I started to check out of the game.

This is a bad team, but if only they could reach somewhat below average, they mighe benefit from it. They just can’t do it. It’s so annoying.

Barrett saw 9 pitches in 4 at bats.

Way to get our failed president, Baltimore. Way to aim high.

(Does this mean Selig’s staying for another term? Probably.)

Game 67: San Diego 1 – Cubs 0


San Diego 39-29
Cubs 31-36

POTG: SP Z! (CG [1/7], 2 H, R, 5 BB, 6 K)

It’s hard to remember, given everything that went down in this game, but as much as we wanted Z! to hit the home run in the 8th inning to put the team ahead, he almost did it back in the 4th with the near sac fly. It probably was too shallow, but Bocachica made a better average throw to gun down Theriot at the plate. If that throw bounces or is a little off, everything after might change with a one run lead.

In some no hitters and near no hitters, you have great plays to keep it going. In this one, you had obvious errors, to keep the official scorer from ruling a hit. It fit with this game; Z was less dominant and more effectively wild, as those five walks can attest to. He and the Padres pitches were helped by the extra couple inches the umpire was giving on the outside edge. For whatever reason, the ump didn’t give it to Z on the second to last pitch to Branyan, so we got the only run of the game.

I’m using way too many commas today. Sorry.

Really, this is should be all on the offense, but there’s not much of one with Lee out of the lineup. I know Lee was ticked about being hit in the hand, but he really had to control himself better after – the team needs him, and now they won’t have him for a week or two sometime in the near future. Someone’s going to have to get hot here again, or the runs just might not be coming.

Ward might never have been much hurt and he’ll be rushed back after this – he’s already rehabbing in Iowa (and 1 for 9 so far) – so he’d split time with DeRosa at first if Lee stalls long enough for Ram to return. It’d still be until about the All Star break for the starting lineup to be intact, and they need to making up ground sooner than that. Someone’s gotta pick it up.

(hey, a one run loss. YAWN.)

I don’t have much to say about the fight. I don’t seem to have much to say about any of the fights, because pretty much all was said. (Z saying he was running out to “separate people” is probably not a lie, as long as you take that to meaning he wanted to separate people’s heads from their bodies.) Lee thought it was intentional, Young wasn’t apologetic enough to make Lee think differently, and Derek snapped. It’s so unlike him to do that, he must still be very concerned about his wrist.

I think no retaliation tomorrow, a little because of warnings, a lot because it’s Maddux. Not that Maddux won’t hit people, but probably not a team he was just on.

One game till Sammy. Just in time for 600. As if June hadn’t been crazy so far…

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Game 66: Cubs 4 – Padres 1


Cubs 31-35
Padres 38-28

POTG: SP Ted Lilly (8 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 3 K, W [5/64])
Runner Up: 1B Derek Lee (3 2B, 4 H), C Michael Barrett (2 H, R), 2B Mike Fontenot (HR, SF, 3 RBI)

Lilly totally could’ve gone the distance. He’d only thrown 92 pitches, he didn’t throw so many last time out, they had a comfortable lead (would he have stayed in if it was 4 run lead?) and he wasn’t getting in much trouble. I think it was one of those moves somewhat determined by the Save Rule, and by Dempster really wanting to get back into the game again – he was so fired up to pitch, he threw himself off the mound on his first one.

Gotta keep riding Fontenot while he’s hot. Who knows how long this stretch is, or what he’ll hit when he’s not on fire, but this stretch is pretty good and at the right time.

Derek getting three doubles, 4 hits, and not scoring any time is pretty incredible. Everyone behind him did get hits, but just not enough at the right time. Lilly seeing all of 4 pitches in 3 at bats is pretty funny.

Lee’s ball might have been a home run, depending on how it hit the top of the fence. I think Cliff had indeed timed the catch right on the other ball, and he probably would’ve caught it.

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Game 65: Cubs 3 – M’s 2


Mariners 35-28
Cubs 30-35, win series

POTG: SS Cesar Izturis (2 H, 2 RBI, 2B)
Runner Up: LF Alfonso Soriano (2 H, R, 2B), CF Felix Pie (3B, R, RBI), RF Cliff Floyd (3 H, R, RBI), 2B Mike Fontenot (3B, H, RBI), RP Carlos Marmol (1.1 IP, BB, 3 K), RP Bobby Howry (1.1 IP, 2 K, W [3/32])

Murton going down the day before isn’t much of a surprise. It’s something I was looking for much easier, and it makes even more sense with a spare righty on the bench and the lack off outfield spots. Floyd (and not Jacque, who would be gone if the Cubs were willing to swallow his contract, I think) still needs a platoon partner, but I guess they’re going to work with Pagan in that spot for now. Matt needs to get regular at bats to get back on track – for the Cubs or for whomever he ends up with.

What I’m wondering is – will Fontenot hot hitting (if with no power) steal his college teammate’s spot when Ram comes back and a roster move has to be made. It sure was sign when Fontenot started over Ryan in this game.

Fontenot: 417/440/792 (25 PA)
Theroit: 268/332/338
Izturis: 253/310/310

Both those numbers are awful. The league’s figured out something about Ryan that Ryan’s really failed to adjust to, and he’s becoming as much a black hole of offense as Izturis’ rep.

APR: 299/347/328
MAY: 256/330/367
JUN: 244/311/293

Anyway, this game and the game before are two games I’m sure they’ve lost at some point in the first sixty games. Somehow, instead of the fatal error by DeRosa killing the team or Cesar striking out in a big situation, things worked out for the best. That’s so weird!

Marquis is back to pitching like an average pitcher (up from horrid), and luckily the bullpen got a break the night before. They could use a long start by Lilly on Friday to straighten things back up, and perhaps it’d allow them to add one more hitter to the bench.

This was yet another game where it seemed like they should’ve gotten far more runs based on the hits and walks, but at least they ran their way into some extra bases.

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Game 64: Cubs 3 – M’s 2


Mariners 35-27
Cubs 29-35

POTG: SP Sean Marshall (8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 K, 0 BB, W[3/9])
Runner Up: 2B Mike Fontenot (2 H, 2 RBI), C Koyie Hill (2 H – all the way up to .150!), 3B Mark DeRosa (H, R, BB), 1B D Lee (2 H, R, BB), CF Felix Pie (2 BB, H, R, SB, CS)

Got there in the bottom of the 2nd – we got to 90/94 and thought “Eh, we’ll take Lake Shore.” Not the best call we’ve made, but we did find our secret half filled parking lot. Seats were obstructed by a piller, but what are you going to expect in the 200 section. We had people going back and forth thru our row at annoying rate; I eventually decided it’d be quicker just to go get food and be able sit down when I got back. (Pretzel, Pizza, Mountian Dew – a healthy dinner.)

A beer vendor kept walking up and down the aisle, with random non-beer concessions she’d apparently picked up to sell to someone else in the section. She’d be walking up the stairs with four trays of pretzels or nachos, stop to sell them, and then sit on the stairs while talking to the people and selling beer. And then she’d back with more an inning later. It was odd.

Marshall seemed okay, though not great. Looking at his line, it was all about the Mariners not taking walking and not working the count. Anytime you can get thru 8 IP and only throw 94 pitches, people are hacking. He could’ve come back for the 9th if the situation required it, but it gave Dempster a chance to get a save. Barrett’s PH at bat – he seems to be on his second vacation in as many weeks – got mostly cheers, but there’s some boos.

There’s non-Lee part of the infield is hilariously lacking in power. Theriot and Fontenot are the kings of the 40 feet hits; Fontenot’s go ahead hit went all of 120. Once again, it was a game with no extra base hits, which is how you end up with only 3 runs from 9 hits and 5 walks. The Riot is starting to press – 7 pitches in 4 at bats is bad.

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Game 63: Mariners 5 – Cubs 3 (13)


POTG: 1B D Lee (2B, 2H, R, RBI, 2 BB) situation)
Runner Up: 3B Mark DeRosa (3 H, 2B), LF Soriano (2 BB, R), RP Bobby Howry (2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R), RP Carlos Marmol (1.1 IP, 2 H, BB, 2 K)
notes: DQed Theroit (8th), Barrett (13th)

(aside: I have no recollection of the bottom fo the 7th exception wanting to shoot my TV and using the mute button so much. I had to listen a little, just because it was a car crash – I can only imagine how radio went – but it was so horrible. Not that I’m a country fan, but Cubs couldn’t do better than last year’s Idol non-winner flavor of the moment? I ALMOST SAID APPLE JACKS – DO THEY SELL APPLE JACKS?)

This game was a middle-finger to probability. It was crazy, it made no sense, and it was awesome.

USS Mariner

Welcome to 2007 Cubs Baseball, where your chicago national league ballclub plays games which turn out vastly entertaining to the opposition as they find new and even more incredible ways to lose each night – and still can’t fall of the race.

I think it’s been underplayed how, for once in his miserable Chicago career, Jacque Jones was going to gun a man down at the plate. Maybe “gun” is overstating it, because it was the usual four-bouncer to the plate, Jacque having over rotated his arm into almost spiking the ball in the infield, but a Jones throw was actually going to beat the runner. (Did the M’s third base coach and/or Vidro lose track of who was out in right field? If he Vidro didn’t hesitate, he could’ve jogged in without a play.) Not only did the throw beat the runner, but the runner didn’t actually get around to touching the base till he walked a couple steps past it and turned around. A below average play by the catcher ends the inning tied. It didn’t even needed to be caught, just stopped and grabbed before Video clued in. Instead, for the second time in three games, the Cubs lost because Michael Barrett couldn’t block a ball in the dirt.

If Koyie Hill had gotten a hit in the 13th, I don’t know that he’d be the new starting catcher, but I think the playing time ratio might have wildly changed. It still might, when Blanco gets back.

Barrett wasn’t the only problem; this was an okay performance by Rich, but not near his last one. The offense really should’ve scored more runs. We’ve seen the 8th inning performance occur in previous games, and this is starting to look like a very questionable run scoring team until A Ram gets back. Ohman not bothering to cover first on the ball hit back to Lee in the 13th was inexcusable, but normal at this point.

Lou hiding away from the media, knowing that’ll just make it rain even harder on Barrett (and Hill, because everyone saw that argument and everyone saw Z pitch better with Koyie) is probably not endearing himself to his clubs right about now.

This is the 3rd game of 4 where the bullpen has been absolutely throttled. Since Pie got his day off yesterday (well, for a while anyway), do you send Pagan down for 10 days and bring up Rocky Cherry? Best case scenario is Jacque getting traded in the next 15 minutes, but that’s quite obviously not happening. Can’t even hope for a Barrett trade until Hank White gets back.

M’s had to be trying to pitch around Soriano in the 13th, right? The pitches were close – all the pitches were close with in that strike zone – but they threw 4 bad ones even though that would’ve moved the tying run into scoring position because they knew the pitchers spot was next and they were much better off with Koyie (or Marquis), right? Hargrove doesn’t seem to have a rep for that sort of chance taking, but it’s what I figured was happening last night.

Still 5.5 out. Crazy.

Going to the game tonight, though with who and what inning I’ll actually make in the park is a dense mystery. Hopefully they don’t kill me while I’m there.