My MLB2K8 Review for MLB.com

Hey everyone…in between my time spent watching the Cubs and blogging about them I had the opportunity to pretend I was them.  And I suppose Lou Piniella too, for that matter, considering I was in charge of lineups, arguing with umpires, etc. 

Here is my review of MLB2K8 on Xbox 360.  I thought it would be cool to get the MLB.com by-line and a great chance to receive a free copy of the game.  It’s definitely one I recommend highly.  Here is the article, complete with reviews from Steve Dempsey and Paul Festa for the Wii and Playstation 3 respectively. 

If you don’t want to leave the site, you can read my Xbox review right here:

Bloggers take a swing at MLB 2K8
MLBlogger takes new video game for test drive

By Ryan Maloney / Special to MLB.com

A new Major League Baseball season also means a new beginning for video
gamers everywhere. Put down your Assassin’s Creed, your Halo2 and, yes,
even your Guitar Hero 3. The MLB 2K8 game from 2K Sports has just
arrived at the MLB.com Shop, and to help capture the diverse experience
we turned to three members of the MLBlogs community who reviewed the
game over the Nintendo Wii, PLAYSTATION3 and Xbox 360 systems.xbox logo.png

10 in 10…How Appropriate

winningest MLB teams.pngTen innings of history in the making.  One of the most exciting games of the year lead to the Cubs taking a two game lead in the NL Central, a five game winning streak to the extended status of six games in a row and their record to 10,000 wins all-time!  Only the second team to reach the 10,000 win mark ever!  Wood goes down in the books as the winning pitcher, even though he blew the save (a weird consolation prize the way baseball scoring works, you’d have to admit) and Marmol got the save.  Loved seeing Marmol come in and get the save…it’s not even that Wood pitched poorly, just a couple of pitches got away from him and he paid for it.  With a ‘W’.  Again, weird.  More thoughts on this to come when its not so late…for now, let me announce the new Prose and Ivy Chat board here on the blog that you can find me in during most games.  Feel free to come by and say hey on game days.  Until I get a chance to post more, here were my in game thoughts I posted in the chat board (in case anyone happened to stumble across the chat board during this history making event:

  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: c’mon hill, let’s go!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: look at soto go…and cedeno getting some respect! (i know, its to set up the force outs, but still, Cedeno’s slam=RESPECT
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: lee and ramirez…good times for cubs fans…not so much for opposing pitchers!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: soto 3-for-3!  nice!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: theres the first blemish on hill’s night 3-1 Cubs
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: wuertz is horrible
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: this could get ugly quick
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: wow, that sixth inning was hard to watch
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: gotta love the fight in this team!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: fuku-dome!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: fuku-dome!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: they are SCARED of him!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: do it for michael johns derosa! : )
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: f*ck
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 10,000 just may have to wait another day…bot 8, 5-4 COL…
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: here we go bot9
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 1 away…
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 2 balls to Lee…
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Lee gets on base and the lead run comes to the plate in Ramirez!!!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: pie in to run for Lee!  strike one to Aramis
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Ramirez on a 1-2 pitch…deep to left field for the LEAD, 6-5!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Hey Hey!  I almost called it to right….I could feel it coming and then BOOM to left!  AWESOME!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 7 8 9 coming up for the Rockies…a combined 1 for 6 on the day (and one guy hasn’t even hit yet!)
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: wood comes in and immediately 0-2, a ball and then STRIKE THREE
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 1 away
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: let’s go Wood!  let’s go!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: and again STRIKE TWO!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 2-1 count on Podsednik
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: base hit
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: damn
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Let’s go Wood
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 6 game win streak…10,000 overall on the line..Wood v. Spilborghs!  (who saw that  coming for the history books?)
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: are you kidding me?  6-6 and it has to be a guy named Podsednik off a hit by some no-name Spilborghs???
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: and of course Barmes….strike three.
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: way to go Wood.  history class dismissed.
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: here come the cubs in extra innings again
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: ward intentionally walked
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: c’mon theriot..how about a 10th inning RIOT
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: theriot hitting .365 for the month of april…
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: And in comes Fontenot making it 7-6 Cubs….somebody get Marmol up and ready!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: after all these years leading up to win 10,000, what’s another inning?! :)
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: heading into the bottom of the ninth…did I say history class dismissed?  My bad, sit back down, that bell didn’t ring yet!!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: all kinds of wins this year…could number 10,000 all time and six in a row be of the one run, extra inning variety?  perhaps!  bot 9 up next!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Awesome…Marmol it is.
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Go Cubs Go!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 3 fouled off pitches, helton making marmol work for this one
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: pitch 8 to helton is hit to cf and pie puts it away…one down!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 2 strikes to holliday…how about something to celebrate this holliday?
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: annnnddd……
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: ball 1…seven pitches in to a full count…grounded to first!!!  celebrate this holliday: 2 away!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: atkins takes strike 1
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: COME ON MARMOL!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: BALL 1
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: BALL 2
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: AND MARMOL GETS THE THIRD OUT BY CATCHING THE INFIELD FLY!  ATKINS IS OUT
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: CUBS GO 15-6 ON THE SEASON!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 6 GAME WINNING STREAK IN TACT!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: AND THE ORGANIZATION GETS ITS 10,000TH WIN!  Way to Go Cubs!  Way to go Marmol!  Go Cubs Go!!!!  What a great game to represent this milestone in the baseball history books!  Cubs Win!  Cubs Win!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: What a great game.

10000 win flag.png10,000 and counting.  Great time to be a Cubs fan.  Go Cubs Go!  (Can you believe the Pirates are in at number 5 all-time??  Perhaps, but not with much help in recent years!)
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Heil-Yeah! And No Need to Rename it the ‘L’illy Flag

Ted Lilly got his first win of the year and all is well in Cubville.  zambrano_pumping_fist_1.pngMonday night Zambrano picked up another win with seven strong innings, allowing only one run and looked absolutely dominant.  Not only physically, but mentally too, the way he looked hungry for even more success and more domination after every strike thrown and out collected.  Having a warrior like Zambrano pitching for your ball club every five days is such a treat to look forward to, in between starts.  He’s the type of personality I love having on this team.  His scuffle with Barrett in the dugout last year came from his passion for winning and it ended up being one of the things that sparked the Cubs to success last year.  That fire in his eyes is the type of thing that, once contagious, can really propel a team to their best start since 1975…huh, what do you know…exactly the position the Cubs are in after 20 games into the season.

The Mets’ Heilman couldn’t keep up with Zambrano and the Cubs hit him hard over and over…a theme that continued throughout the evening.  Even one of the Cubs’ least effective bats found a way to put an exclamation point on the team’s dominance when Pie hit a 3 run shot in the eighth to put the game away.  I haven’t enjoyed a home run like that since Opening Day when Fukudome went yard to tie it up.  Sure, any Cubs home run is exciting, but these two came for guys in moments I really wanted them to come through and exceed expectations…or to some degree, meet them.  I couldn’t have been happier for Pie when the ball found its way into the cage just over the ivy in right.  A great ending to a great game.

cedeno slam.pngAnd then today…my goodness.  Not only does Lilly show signs of coming around and matching the results put up Demp and Big Z finally, but he even comes away with the win at that.  No ‘L’ flag for Ted today.  The Cubs’ bats are on a ridiculous streak and I LIKE IT.  Seriously, it’s hard to remember the last April that was this much fun to follow the Cubs.  Every single one of our starters today got a hit and six of the eight position players are hitting .300 or better.  What a rough couple games the Cubs gave Sosa there with Pie going yard after being in such a slump and then today Cedeno comes in and jacks him out of the park for a grand slam putting the game out of reach on a whole other level.  CEDENO.  Not Lee, not Ramirez…Cedeno.  Everyone is hitting.  I mean, look at this box score:

4/22/08

Chi Cubs AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Johnson, LF 4 0 1 2 1 1 3 .339
Pie, CF 5 0 2 0 0 0 4 .206
Lee, 1B 4 1 1 0 1 0 3 .353
Ramirez, 3B 4 1 1 0 1 0 3 .280
Fukudome, RF 3 2 3 0 2 0 0 .357
DeRosa, 2B 4 1 1 1 1 0 6 .309
Cedeno, SS 5 2 2 5 0 2 7 .345
Blanco, C 2 1 1 0 1 0 3 .357
  b-Ward, PH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .077
  c-Soto, PH-C 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 .317
Lilly, P 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 .200
  a-Fontenot, PH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .206
  Howry, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  d-Murton, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .111
  Marmol, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  e-Marquis, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250
  Hart, K, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 36 8 14 8 8 3 33

Also, great to see Marmol lock down 2 more K’s and the Cubs get out with the win without wasting innings from Wood and get a chance to let him rest today.  The more days we can do that for Wood, the better. 

And now next up, Hill on the mound in the high altitude, higher expectation environment of Coors Field.  With all the recent success the Cubs have had to start the season including this five game win streak, Hill is going to be expected to continue to show signs he deserves to be one of our starters and to keep this thing going…especially when it comes to the bigger picture: the 10,000 all-time win mark for the Chicago Cubs.  Now, does that really matter in the long run for this season?  No, but it would still be a cool milestone for the organization to hit.   With all the hitting that is going on, I don’t expect it take very long to get there. 

Tomorrow night, a six game win streak and 10,000 all-time Cub wins is certainly not out of the question.  Go Cubs Go!
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We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh

52-24 and 2 sweeps.  That’s our record so far against Pittsburgh this season.  We’re 6-0 against the Pirates with an overall record of 12-6 on the season.  Thanks to this last win against the Pirates, we took over first place by 1/2 a game over the Cardinals.  And this weekend, it wasn’t even close.

Unbelievable.  I feel like I’m saying “I’ll take that anyday” a lot so far this season.  Well, roughly 12 times anyway.  One run wins.  Ugly wins.  Completely dominating wins.  Completely dominating wins back to back.  And even wins that come back-to-back-to-back in a sweep.  It’s been a great first month so far.  I mean look at these two box scores from the past two blowouts over the Pirates:

4/20/08
box score 4:20.png
4/19/08
box score 4:19.png

That is an amazing weekend of baseball.  With the new format here, I’m not even sure they lined up correctly honestly, but really…what’s it matter?  Both days happened regardless of whether they line up with the correct date here and the Cubs look great.  I think it’s amazing it’s happening without our All-Star outfielder and leadoff hitter but boy, signing Johnson sure does look like a really smart move now, huh?  Why do we continue to see rumors that the Cubs are looking at Coco Crisp?  Maybe, they’re just that, rumors.  With Johnson in the leadoff spot, I’d be interested to hear what the Cubs record is opposed to others leading off, besides Soriano (anyone know?).  Lee is amazing.  Even people in the message boards (my point being not just me) are talking about Lee killing it this year and predicting he finish with the triple crown.  Hey, who am I to argue?  He looks great.  And Ramirez seems to be coming around lately too, especially today with his four hits (matching Theriot’s four hits as well). 

I’m glad Fukudome’s deal isn’t more serious, just a cyst over his eye.  It does go to show again how valuable Derosa is though as he played right field today.  He’s supposed to be our starting 2B and he has since played LF and RF (could Brian Roberts do that? I don’t know that he could).  Eyre is supposively coming back, so that will be interesting.  We haven’t gained too much from those who took his place in his absence, but I certainly don’t want the Eyre of 2008 that we’ve seen so far to come back.  We don’t need that now.  We already have Weurtz.  Isn’t that bad enough?

And if Dempster was unhappy about his inning management today, well then somebody help him out with that or tell him something that he thinks will help.  Because whatever he’s doing is working as I was right.  Demp is justified as a starter starting the season at 3-0 and having one of the best starts among all Cubs starters. 

Speaking of which, Zambrano goes tomorrow against the Mets.  A much truer test of the Cubs’ abilities.  MLB.com’s story is right.  I believe the Pirates are a team you should beat.  But the Mets are another story…so…we’ll see.  Maine is on the mound for the Mets and he’s having a great season too.  Should be another pitcher’s duel Zambrano finds himself in.  Let’s hope the Cubs didn’t waste all the good offense on the Pirates.  Time to ‘meet the Mets’ all right…with a giant offensive onslaught.

Let’s keep it going…Go Cubs Go!
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Let’s Say They’re Right

Let’s say the experts are right and the Cubs are going to represent the National League in the World Series this year.  And really, what better game to talk about this afterwards than today’s game.  Our 4-8 hitters looked great and our pitching looked strong.  Hill turned things around a bit and had a decent game giving up only 1 run on 3 hits and even erased one of those men on base by picking off a Pirate at first.  It was the first win by a Cubs lefty starter this season…a nice trend to kick off, hopefully its contagious.  Marmol was AMAZING facing six hitters striking out five.  He is quickly becoming one of my favorite Cubs to watch, right up there with Fukudome and Zambrano.  And Wood put it away for his fourth save in five opportunities.  What a great late game 1-2 punch he and Marmol are becoming.

wood soto 4:18.pngfukudome triple 4:18.pnghill 4:18.png 
As for the ‘obnoxious’ behavior exhibited by the Cubs fans against Cincinnati…shove it Brennaman.  Get a sense of humor.  One ball leaves and fifteen are thrown back.  Come on, that’s funny.  As long as no one’s pegging Fukudome or using Derosa and Reed as target practice, I’m all for the fun.   Derosa’s cocl with it too aside from the fact that its 10 minutes of his life he’ll never get back (the clean up).  Where exactly does Derosa have to go?  His Idol was eliminated so no phone calls to Fox to make.  Don’t sweat the 10 minutes Derosa.  Just keeping doing a great job backing up Hop-A-Long Cassi-D.L. 

Often, with as tight as MLB competition can be, your records in one-run games are huge come the end of the season.  Always great to see the Cubs take as many as they can get and especially against a team in the Central.  Not that the Pirates should factor in to heavily this year, but you know what I mean.  10-6, 1 game behind the Cards.  Good times.

Now, to the real business at hand.  Say the experts are right and the Cubs are in the World Series…well who’s representing the AL?  Does it matter?  No…as long as we’re there, they could all be fun!  As promised, here is my first installment of why it would be fun to play any of the teams in the American League in the World Series.  And we begin with:

The AL East

Yankees:  Two of the most historic, oldest ballparks in the Major Leagues.  One is being demolished come the end of the season and the other may never be the same if certain people get their way.  What better way to celebrate a Cubs Series after all these years than by playing every game in two of the greatest stadiums in baseball…and beating the Yankees in a four-game sweep?  Sounds like fun to me.

Red Sox:  As above, same goes for Fenway.  Red Sox Nation got their’s four years ago and then took another for good measure last year.  Cool with the Green Monster, but not with a Greed Monster.  You’ve had yours, share.  The story lines would be amazing and although I’m not positive…it may not be too late to bury a Lee jersey in the Fenway Park visitor’s dugout.  Something to check into if the time comes.  Sounds like fun to me.

Orioles: Ok, so maybe this will be the reason that oriole kept trying to fly itself into my bedroom window over and over again and not the Brian Roberts trade.  100 years since the Cubs last title and the silver anniversary of the O’s.  “Derosa, Roberts.  Roberts, Derosa”.   Nice put a face to the trade rumors.   Cubs playing in a Series involving Roberts regardless of whether the trade happened or not.  Sounds like fun to me.

Rays: Could be billed as “The No-fair Bowl”.  With the Rays being in existence since 1998, not exactly the same amount of suffering between the two teams’ organizations/fan base.  Every where in baseball people will be talking about how money doesn’t make a difference as they try to offer contracts to ballplayers whose names sound like the other cast members of ‘Desperate Housewives’.  The stories that could be written about the extra pressure the Cubs will be in to win this Series and shock the Rays would put on the baseball world.  Sounds like a lot of fun to me.

Blue Jays: First World Series victory against a team that resides in another country after signing a third country’s number one free agent back by a pitching staff made up of pitchers from all over the world.  Hardly simply a World Series title…that’s practically world domination.  Sounds like ‘waited for a 100 years to win another’ kind of fun to me.

For now though, we’ll take these things one game at a time.  AL Central to come next week (for fun, of course) and the Cubs continue their drive to make the experts look brilliant tomorrow against the Pirates.  Marquis on the mound.  GO CUBS GO!
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A New Feature on Prose and Ivy

While I will definitely continue writing here as close to daily as possible, whenever I get a chance to add a little something extra to this space, I’m going to try throwing on this new feature as an add-on to my writing.  Of course, I’m not sure the embedding is going to be compatible with the new format.  (If so, great, if not, I guess there will be a link at the end of this to click on).  This was my first attempt so they’ll get better as we go (promise).  Those AL East comments I talked about yesterday are coming either later this evening or tomorrow at the latest.  Rough game today, huh?  I don’t know what Lilly’s waiting for.  Hill’s in danger of losing his spot in the rotation and Lieber didn’t look so hot today giving up Griffey’s #596, a 3 run shot…seriously…could someone besides Zambrano and Dempster please start showing something in the starter’s role please?
lilly pitching 4:17.pnggriffey 596 HR.png

Please?

That would be great.  In the meantime, feel free to click this link to play the first Prose and Ivy Cubcast!  Good times.  Go Cubs Go!

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They Could All Be Fun

reds v cubs.pngAs I write this, the Cubs are up 11-3 in the middle of the 8th inning tonight against the Cincinnati Reds.  Cincinnati was down by more than Ocho by the middle of inning numero Cinco and there was no looking back.  What an unbelievable game.  Zambrano looks amazing.  7 innings and only 2 runs given up on 8 hits and 5 strike outs.  He even doubled and had an RBI.  Now if only the rest of the starters could follow suit. 

I didn’t really know what to expect with this being the first game with Soriano.  15 days.  Wow.  That is horrible.  It’s unfortunate it happens on a move (the hop) that isn’t even necessary to field his position…and odd that it happened doing something he does game in soriano swinging bat close up.png and game out, fly ball putout after flyball putout.  I like the fact that it opens up the opportunity to get the Theriot/Fontenot LSU double play combo on the field and it gives great value to Derosa’s existence on the roster.  Still though, losing Soriano is huge and it will be interesting to see how it affects us over the next couple weeks. 

Now, when I created the D Lee News and every other link list in the sidebar, I had the freedom of using them and adding to them anytime I wanted.  Since the blog format change, they haven’t been working properly always so I haven’t been able to keep the D Lee News or the Pitchers/Beer section as I’d like.  So let me say this, as for the pitcher/beer result for today’s game, it’s obvious, no?  Zambrano, this tall, ice cold, frosty mugged beer is on us.  You may be expected to stay off the soda and coffee…pull up to the bar with a bunch of bananas, a potassium pill and some pretzels my friend.  This beer’s for you…and its on us.

As for the D Lee News…if you look at the archives or have been a regular visitor to Prose and Ivy since Spring Training…you’ll know how worried I was about Lee.  He looked so amazingly bad in Spring Training, regardless of whether it counted, I really thought it mattered.  Turns
D Lee.png out…I was wrong.  Lee is having an unbelievable start to the season.  Fukudome has totally stolen the show, but Lee is probably the biggest reason the Cubs kick things off at 8-5 (about to go 9-5 as they are now up 12-3 in the top of the ninth with one out, about to put this one away).  Coming into tonight’s game Lee leads the team in AB, R, Hits, Doubles, HR, RBI, total bases, slugging %, and batting average (not counting Blanco who only has 8 AB on the season).  Are you kidding me?  No.  I did not see this coming.  And it is probably the second best surprise of the season.  Fukudome is the first.  He had another great game tonight going 2-for-3, scored twice, 2 RBI and walked twice.  He’s hitting .353 on the season and leads the team in on-base percentage.  Imagine this lineup when Soriano is healthy and hitting and Ramirez is hitting and in a timely manner and for power as expect, at that.  Incredible.

For now though, Soriano is out and we’re looking to make due.  Tonight was a great start coming away with the W.  9-5 on the season including a nice two game smackdown of Dusty in his return to Wrigley.   Hard to complain about too much so far.  A few pitchers need to pick up their game a bit and they know who they are, although I have no problem with the press harping on their struggles.  Hopefully it will motivate them to turn things around and join the rest of the team on their level of extraordinary play so far this season.

A number of publications in the beginning of the season picked the Cubs to win the Central and many picked them to win the whole thing.  I’ve been thinking about that (who hasn’t) for a while now and if that were the case…I was thinking about what it would be like to play the American League champion whoever they may be.  Lots of thoughts on facing every American League team in the Classic.  Those thoughts to be posted in the upcoming days…but let’s face it, if the Cubs are representing the National League in the World Series, bring on anyone from the American League…they could all be fun.  Tomorrow, to kick things off: the AL East.

Great game tonight!  Go Cubs Go!
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