Hard Not to Spend


Anyone else finding it difficult to be fiscally responsible this holiday season?  I am doing this year on a strict budget like never before and it has been tough to not go over budget on anyone on my list, and of course, hard not to ask for expensive things when others ask what may be on my list…especially since I don’t really make lists anymore.  Not like I used to anyway.

I find so many things on-line that I think would be cool to own.  Sandberg something here, Banks something there. Fukudome here, Cubs jacket there.  But most are so expensive, I don’t even suggest them when people ask if there’s anything I’d like for Christmas this year.  I know everyone is in the same boat with the economy and unless they won’t take no for an answer, I’ve decided to not ask for anything this year.  That is a hard thing to do! To simply grow up and understand that ’tis the season, but not for being greedy and asking for things you can’t afford yourself, mainly because chances are others can’t afford them either.  Ahh, to be a kid again.

I remember growing up and the big event that putting together ‘The List’ was.  Video games, jerseys, caps, entire sets of Topps baseball cards, dvd’s, autographed memorabilia, more video games.  I was game and wise to the whole Santa thing (looking forward to seeing what he puts in my stocking this year though) and I don’t think I ever really appreciated how much it took for my parents to have gifts under the tree.  I sure do now though.  Especially from my Mom those few Christmases when it was just she and my brother and I.  This economy we’re in now is making it amazingly complicated when it comes to shopping for people and affording nice things you know they’d like.  Probably not unlike what it is for a single parent to deliver a great Christmas for her two kids.  Only difference is, at that time I didn’t ‘get it’.  My list still included video games, jerseys, caps, entire sets of Topps baseball cards, dvd’s, autographed memorabilia, and more video games.  Many years later, I get it.  I haven’t asked for anything from anyone this year.  Some people just won’t take no for an answer though and nyone who demanded to get a couple ideas from me so they could make sure they got me something I like (even though I said no worries about 10 times), okay, sure, those things were Cubs things.  I’m only human and they were being really adamant about the whole thing.  Really the only thing I’m looking forward to this year is seeing my family, including my new born nephew enjoy his first Christmas.  Hard to believe my brother has a kid.  Soon he’ll be the one trying to figure out how to get those video games, jerseys, baseball card sets, etc. under the tree for his kid.  Good times.

All that being said…I’m not so concerned about St. Hendry’s pocketbook this holiday season. And I’m not going to ask for anything/anyone.  I’ve always found the best Christmas presents are either the one thing you wanted all year (that number one thing on your list growing up) or when someone gets really creative and delivers something you may have never even thought of and it makes your whole holiday.  I’m not giving a list to GM Hendry.  Time to get creative Jim.  We’re all going to go to bed knowing the economy is tough Christmas Eve, but we all hope you get creative and come through with the team that will provide the greatest gift of all.  (Hint: the organization has had 100 years to figure out what that would be).

One more day of editing this week and then its off to see the family.  Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, no matter what it is you may be celebrating!  Happy holidays to you all!  And of course, Go Cubs Go!

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

The Talented Mr. Fukudome


Thumbnail image for fukudome and third base coach.pngAre there no limits to the talents of Kosuke Fukudome?!  People said he was fast, but he’s shown some great speed so far this season!  Today against the Brewers, Fukudome nearly became the first player in major league baseball history to get to first and third base at the exact same time.  Psyched the Cubs were successful in landing him in the offseason!  Check out these numbers:

1.  K Fukudome
OBP .667  SLG% 1.125 AVG .500

Whatever they’re whispering in Fukudome’s ear, keep it up!  Sure it’s only three games in but Prose and Ivy and Chicago are huge fans of Kosuke Fukudome!  Even if they don’t quite know how to express it.  Let’s see how Kosuke does against the Astros this weekend!  The Brewers couldn’t figure him out and I doubt the Astros will in their first series against him either!  FUKU-DOME!!  FUKU-DOME!!  Rich Hill on the mound tomorrow…let’s take this series and make it a great weekend!  Go Cubs Go!

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Opening Day 2008: Theri0-for-5, Sorian0-for-5 and a Big Day for ‘Dome


marquis welcomes opening day 2008.jpgNot a win.  But definitely an amazing start to the season…at least when it comes to things to talk about.  Of course when you start the season and you’re looking to get out of the gates quickly, it helps to win your first game.  Especially when its against a division rival.  And especially when its the division rival you’re supposed to take down to the wire again this year in determining who wins said division.  

So in that respect, today was a huge let down seeing that the Cubs lost to the Brewers in 10 innings today 4-3.  However, what an unbelievable start to the season. 

It was cold and rainy and miserable yet nobody cared.  Fans were out to support their Cubs, old and new as many turned out to cheer Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks during the unveiling of his statue next to Wrigley before the game.  I can’t wait to see the statue in person.  Its made by the same guy that did the Harry Caray statue and it look incredible.  Henry Aaron was right, it should have been done a long time ago.  I’m glad someone who seems so down to earth and appreciative of all life has given him and all he was able to give back is known as Mr. Cub.  Here is a photo of the statue:
Picture 3.pngTwo tarps had to be taken off before today’s game.  The one on Ernie’s statue and the one on the field.  The field’s new draining system got a real test today as it was raining hard before the game causing a 40 minute delay before the game and another 52 minute delay during the game.  It was amusing to see the groundskeepers using giant squeejee’s to dump the flooded water that did remain on the field into the system.  While there is no longer a crown in the middle of the field, there are so many draining holes, I half expected Bill Murray to show up and give them a hand.
bill murray caddyshack.pngOf course, after nearly a hundred years without a title and months of offseason drama leading up to what should be a very exciting season, what was another 90 minutes of rain delay?!

Once it finally got underway, it was worth the wait to finally get to Opening Day!  Zambrano looked strong before and after the rain delay.  Ernie Banks threw out the ceremonial first pitch and for a bit it looked like they may only get to play two…innings.  After the tarps were pulled for a second time, Zambrano continued to dominate along with Sheets.   If these guys both pitch like this all year, its going to be quite a race for the Central.  Unfortunately, Zambrano went out of the game after hitting the ground and falling awkwardly in the seventh on an infield fly he caught while crashing into Lee.  Marmol came in to relieve him with 2 outs and a 2-2 count.  He successfully got the Cubs out of the inning with one pitch.  Not surprised by that at all seeing that I’d been saying all Spring he should be our closer, not Wood.  (more on that later)

Our bats were pretty pathetic today.  The Cubs were 2-for-31 today without Fukudome who had an incredible debut going 3-for-3 including a double and a three-run blast to tie the game in the ninth.  Fukudome is going to be great for the Cubs this year but we can’t rely on him to carry us and give us a chance to win like this on a regular basis.  The other guys are going to have to step up, especially in the top of the order where Theriot and Soriano were horrible going 0-for-5 each. 

Fukudome was definitely the one true bright spot as far as the offense was concerned today.  It was a blast to watch the response the right field bleacher fans gave him when he came back out to right after tying the game and even more interesting to see how the crowd welcomed him before his first at bat.  This picture to me is hilarious, all the different things I believe the fans think about Fukudome’s arrival wrapped into one photo:
fans looking at fukudome approach first at bat.jpgThe one woman with her jaw dropped in awe.  The guy with his camera ready to go as if there aren’t enough cameras pointed at Fukudome these days.  The guy in front in the red cap looking at him like he’s ‘the one’ and the answer to take us to the promised land.  The guy in the blue cap to the right of him looking absolutely giddy over his presence on the Cubs this year.  And once the moment arrived, he didn’t disappoint.  The first pitch he saw he drove to deep CF.  The ball landed at the base of the wall and Fukudome had himself a stand up double.  The place went crazy…but then seriously, why wouldn’t they?  I did…and especially in the ninth when Lee FINALLY got a hit, Ramirez got on base on a walk and Fukudome hit the shot that people will probably truly remember his debut for.  A three run shot to tie it up and clean up after Wood almost destroyed us in the top of the inning.  Great day Fukudome!  Now, let me rephrase that second to last sentence.

Wood basically did destroy it in the ninth.  I wonder if Lou is questioning his decision…I am (still).  I’m willing to chalk this one up to Opening Day jitters but we surely can’t have any more outings like that from Wood.  Especially against division rivals.  Howry ended up giving up the winning run in the tenth but if it weren’t for Wood’s ninth, we never would’ve seen Howry.  Actually, even that’s not true…it was a mixture of Wood’s collapse and Gagne’s.  Good thing Gagne’s off the HGH!  He looks horrible…not only fundamentally weak and pitching horribly, but like a total slob.  At one point the ump even had to tell him to tuck his jersey in because he looked like such a slob.  And what is he experiencing, menopause??  It’s 40-something degrees outside and he’s fanning himself like its the dead middle of August?!  Something is definitely wrong there and I think it can only mean good things for the Cubs in the long run.

I still think the Cubs have a strong bullpen, however today, the bullpen along with every hitter except Fukudome were the reason we lost.  Piniella wanted a fast start and told them it was important to do so in a very competition division along with all the potential this Cubs team has.  Apparently, they don’t quite understand what he meant by that just yet.  Let’s hope Lilly fares better come Wednesday and the point finally starts to sink in. 

Exciting start to the season..
.let’s start getting some ‘W’s!  Go Cubs Go!
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