So Far, Quade’s a Hit…But Too Much of a Good Thing?

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Sometimes when people try too hard or try to be too cool, they fail miserably. That’s why Quade has to be careful not to be too much like Kraegen in the above video.

I like that Mike Quade is making this team his own by doing things a little differently, however, he needs to remember to keep the tough love leader as part of his game plan as well considering how well it was received by the team at the end of last season.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the Cubs hiring Quade. I like that he’s enthusiastic to see his guys start putting on display what they can bring to the team. I like that he is looking to further evaluate guys he’s familiar with within the Cubs’ system. I even appreciate the fact that he listed lineups three games in advance. I believe it will help players prepare and learn their roles. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t have a successful team without everyone knowing and embracing their role.

I think Quade has kicked off Spring Training the right way. Let the veterans know what is expected of them and let the youngsters know they are getting a fair look. That’s all any of them can ask for. But are the Cubs in danger of having too much of a good thing the way Quade has started off camp? Is he in trouble of setting a tone where there is too much of a good thing going here (loss to Oakland aside, that is)? Will the players get too used to feeling like they know what to expect and not ready to easily adapt when need be during the season? Like anything, I suppose it’s simply a matter of opinion. Many of you are still upset that Sandberg isn’t running the show. However, in answering the last question, I believe everything is going to be just fine and anyone who is freaking out over Quade’s system of three days heads-up being too soft needs to relax and enjoy having Cubs baseball back on the air. 

I understand that people like to pick at the bone for things to complain about, especially when we’re only one game in to Spring Training. Not a whole lot to get worried about but we’re sports fans and when nothing is there, sometimes we create things. I’m feeling pretty good about Quade’s leadership so far and don’t think you should be expecting or worried about any crazy flying basket locker room meetings out of Quade. He may have his own way of running the show that wasn’t done by Piniella or guys before him, but so far I think he’s taking this team in the right direction and has not discarded the Quade that got him the job late last season.  

It speaks volumes about Quade’s interest in respecting veterans and leaving windows open to surprises coming out of camp. He referenced Colvin the other day as a recent pleasant Spring Training surprise/success story. I’m glad that he is looking to fill in the roster spots around the guarantees with guys who earn the spot and want to play hard. Of course we’re going to see the guys you can wear. If you can buy a jersey with a player’s last name on it, it’s basically a guarantee you will see them play a major role, at least in the first month or so of the season. It’s the bench players that make a team great though. Stars make you ‘really good’. Depth makes you great.

When I was in Vegas for my honeymoon, I bet on the Cubs three times and won two out of three bets. It would be wild to log into a baseball spread site and predict which players made it out of camp. They very well may, I’m not sure. I know the regular season matters so as a fan of course those games are already fascinating. However, I wonder how many people buy the season previews or the annuals or the minor league prospect reports and try to bet on who will come out of camp. If they are then I’m sure these Spring games are taking on a whole new significance and importance to those particular fans. Imagine watching a Spring game and truly caring how long a player stays in the game. I love the fact that Quade left Garza in the game to hit instead of replacing him with a pinch-hitter. Quade’s right, he has to learn to hit sometime. Now is the time to do so.

I wonder what Zambrano had to say about it privately to Garza afterwards. I know it was reported that he didn’t see it but Z is one of the best hitting Cubs pitchers on the team. While Garza is working with Jaramillo to feel comfortable hitting after hardly doing so for the Rays, he must also be talking to the other guys on the staff and who better to ask than Zambrano? Of course, Garza did get shelled in his first appearance as a Cub in spring training including a grand slam to Coco Crisp. But (cue Fred Armisen’s Joy Behar) who cares, so what? It’s Spring Training. I’m sure the guy was nervous and worried about making a good impression. I’m sure it was just one pitch that got away that led to four runs. Do I want to see it during the regular season? No. Does Quade leave him in the game in a situation where he should replace him with a pinch-hitter when the game counts? No. So far Garza has a hit and the ball to place on his mantle. So far, Quade has been a hit with the Cubs and fans alike.

Is posting game lineups three games in advance too coddling? Is giving veterans reasonable expectations and laying all of your cards on the table too much? Is giving young players the feeling like they could possibly leave the minors behind and join the club for Opening Day or very soon into the season the wrong way to handle your business when it comes to prospects? No. No to all three.

I like what I’ve heard from Quade so far this Spring and I don’t think any of these things are a bad thing. This is Quade’s team now. It’s his time to put his stamp on it and run the show the way he thinks it should be run. At the end of last year he essentially had all of his players’ support that he should be hired as manager as well as mine.

I believe while it’s still early, Quade still has that support 100% and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the Spring plays out leading up to Opening Day. Go Cubs Go!

(Don’t) Passonmikequade!

With the recent success of the Cubs interim manager, Mike Quade, many Cubs fans are torn as to who should get the gig next year.  Lots of fans, while Lou was still here, thought it was a no brainer: get Sandberg up here and let’s roll!  Lots of other fans also thought trying to get Torre, LaRussa, Girardi, Bobby Valentine and the long list of others were no-brainers too.

However, now that the Cubs have posted a 9-5 record under Quade (an over .600 winning percentage) fans are wondering if perhaps Mike Quade shouldn’t be passed over and maybe he is the guy that should land the job for 2011.  Those that believe Quade should be given a shot if he finishes the season as strong as he’s started his shot as Cubs skipper are quite adamant about it and hope he does so and carries this success over to next year.  (Then again Cubs fans are always passionate in their beliefs of their Cubs no matter what those feelings are now aren’t they?)

The idea of Hendry’s buffoonery and Ricketts’ newness to the post and the fans’ new feeling of giving Quade a shot inspired this post.  Please enjoy this new development in the world that is known as The Chicago Cubs through the eyes of Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon”.

In this video and the parody script listed below it which you can use to read along in Cubs translation…Tom Ricketts will be played by Dr. Terminus and Jim Hendry is played by his shorter, older con-artist minion.  Ladies and gentleman, I give you “(Don’t) Passonmikequade!” (I suggest clicking the video window to open it in a second window and scrolling this page for parody lyrics)

Ricketts: Quick, who will they want to manage the team in 2011?

Hendry: Just pass on Mike Quade.

Ricketts: Just pass on my whatty?

Hendry: Pass on Mike Quade!

Ricketts: Got it. How wonderful to see your smiling faces again I…I’ve never known such warmth, such welcome, such loving hospitality

Man: Get out ya hack!

Man: And don’t bring those Milton Bradleys here again!

Woman: Go on back where you belong…Ameritrade!

Ricketts:
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
I sense enthusiasm I sense loving response
And that’s why I feel Wrigley is my home away from home
I’ve been making millions in my time at ‘Meritrade
Went to U of C and that’s right down the road
You’re gonna like us, No use in fightin’ us
Caray, Ernie, Billy Williams, let’s have statues surround the stadium!

Little Jeff Samardzija was so nice to visit
He comes and goes from Triple A when recalled

Man: Why doesn’t he stay there?

Ricketts: But through all the tips
You know who could manage this place
Make the call now, one name on my list
Why…..it’s…Get Joe Girardi, uh, Call up Joe Torre, no, no… Bring back ‘ol Dusty, uh, Try Alan Trammy, p…p…Persuade Bob Brenly Uh, Quick sign Jim Tracy, uh, Pass me a hottie? Oh, I know! I’ll Hire my daddy!

Cubs fans: No, don’t Pass on Mike Quade!

Ricketts: Of course, that’s what I meant to say

Woman: I thought we’d win, 2008 And then we got robbed!

Ricketts: Remember we’re losers who do thrive on your love!
I know Silva looks like he only drinks Buttermilk
Leads aren’t under firm control given to Marmol
Santo’s emotions, “Unreal” he does notion
New statues for Cub alliance
Forget we make losing a science

With L.A. we trade away
We couldn’t keep Ted here
Don’t know what to do with Sean Marshall

Cubs fans: You’ll probably ship him out

Ricketts: Ha, ha, yes we probably will…

Man: The issue is, no thanks to Jim our Cubs always stink!

Ricketts: But WE’RE here – the wins are coming!

Cubs fans: We’re gonna flush your BS down the troffs near the sinks!

Ricketts: Wait, listen, my specialties are Hand-shaking, public speaking, statue unveiling, beer guzzling Bleacher-bumming, sibling-having, spin-doctoring! And every other ‘whatever-ing’ you can think of! My friends, you are not giving me a chance!  We brought all of these free agents in from Tokyo! Japan.

Cubs fans: oooh…

Old Cub fan: Oh Ricketts, oh Ricketts, Ricketts, Ricketts, help me.

Ricketts: I hear someone. I hear someone calling me. A Cubs fan in need. A Cubs fans calling out to another great cubs fan. A service only I can provide. Madam, Tommy Ricketts is here to appease you.

Old Cubs fan: Ayye?

Ricketts: What’s your problem lady?

Old Cubs fan: Ayye?

Ricketts: How can I turn my back on such a dear woman? It’s the bleacher bum in me.

Old Cubs fan: I hear…Santo…yelling.
I hear…opponents…giggling.
I hear…fans…singing.

Ricketts: That’ll be exactly $150 madam. $75 a seat!

Old Cubs Fan: Oh, bless you Ricketts! Wait ’til next year! Wait ’til next year!

Ricketts: My decision can cure her! Did you hear her bless me while I blessed her too? How wonder I feel right here in my heart! And that’s what the baseball business is all about folks! People helping people. You should all get help!

(Hendry jumps up on Convention stage in disguise)

Ricketts: Gadzooks! What have we here?

Hendry: Oh, Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. All I’m asking for is a miracle.

Ricketts: All he wants is a miracle! How can I deny him folks….IF he’s willing to pay for it, he’s gonna get it!

Hendry: 8 years for $136 million!

Ricketts: 8 years for $136 million!

(Ricketts pours Old Style into Hendry’s mouth out of a flask, Hendry begins to dance to Go Cubs Go!)

Woman: I trust him!

Woman: I believe he’ll hire the right guy!

Man: I’ll put my hard earned money for season tickets with no guarantees in his hands!

Ricketts: My friends you’ve seen a miracle!
And you’ll see many more, People will come pouring in to, see Wrigley!

Sosa failed testing?
Surely you’re jesting!
Keep those dimes and dollars mounting

Hendry: I’ll collect!

Ricketts: I’ll do the counting! Everyone who roots for us will strong and happy We’ll be getting more wins by the day!

Cubs fans: Yay!

Ricketts: Get them off waivers!
Need the right man to lead us
All of Cubs Nation’s gonna say…
To…
Buhh..Bring us Bobby V, no,
Raise up Frank Selee,
no, no, Dig up McCarthy,
Uh, Call Atlanta ’bout Bobby?,
p…p…Player/Coach Rami,
q…q…q…Call up Bill Dancy
… Hire Barbaro Garbey,
Go with Bud Bailey,
Sandberg’s the must be,
Help me Girardi,
Just get Joe Torre, I want my mommy…ha ha ha ha!

Hendry (whispers): Pass on Mike Quade

Cubs fans: Don’t Pass on Mike Quade!

Ricketts: I know.

Guess we’ll see how it plays out!  For now, yes…if Mike Quade finishes this season the way he’s started, I agree.  The guy should be given a shot and someone should suggest the Cubs (Don’t) Passonmikequade.  Go Cubs Go!

Statues of Limitations

The Cubs will honor one of the greatest Cubs of all-time tonight when they unveil a statue of Hall of Famer, Billy Williams.

The statue will be revealed in a ceremony at Wrigley before their game against the Astros at the corner of Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue.  Lots of folks had a problem with the way they handled the Harry Caray statue situation in replacing his long-held location at that intersection with the new Williams statue.  While I don’t really understand the decision to move Caray for Williams (why not just leave Caray and Banks, the only other player to be honored with a statue at Wrigley, where they are and put Williams else where?), it doesn’t bother me outside of not understanding the logic in doing so.

Williams already has his number retired by the club and it’s a great honor to be immortalized outside the game’s greatest stadium.  I’m currently reading about Billy Williams and it’s a fascinating story.  I’m happy for him and can’t wait to see the statue next time I visit Wrigley.  (Banks too for that matter as I’ve only seen the Caray statue in person).

A team that is short on championships and long on failures, I’m glad the Ricketts have decided to find a way to keep moving forward while updating but not changing the old stadium and honoring greats of the past, highlighting the positives that Cubs fans can be proud of while many obsess over the losing seasons and loveable loser reputation (a little too much in my opinion).  I feel it’s hard to break out of the lovable loser/losing mentality when you are constantly embracing it and while it may be necessary in a laugh-instead of crying kind of way, it won’t ever help us win a title.  The more ways we can emphasize the positives and look to move this team forward in a way that makes a positive difference, the better.

In a way, it would be easy for the Ricketts to push the old Veeck mentality of come out and have fun at the ballpark, don’t worry so much about the winning.  This would be even easier for them than other potential owners considering they grew up with it all around them finding love in life and for their team in the bleachers of Wrigley and as die-hard fans, it would be easy to take that loveable loser mentality into the owner’s box.  Think about how horrible that would be if they took the ‘let’s have a sense of humor’ approach and commemorated some horrible moments/characters in Cubs history with statues outside of Wrigley.  My Cubs statues of limitations if you will.

A statue of Lou Piniella for instance.  Giant belly, raving lunatic face, maybe even yelling in the face of an umpire (this statue would take a while considering there’d be an ump as well).  Holding two giant stone tablets, one reading 2007, one reading 2008 and beneath him on the ground, two broken tablets: 2009 and 2010.  His left arm in the air in anger and his right arm reaching out, just short of a carved out stone version of the word “potential”.

A statue of Dusty Baker for instance.  This one would have to be practically a characature.  Big smile on his face commemorating his arrival in the Windy City.  A toothpick so large it’s nearly the size of the rest of the statue.  Carved out fans crying all around him at his feet and a little Sammy Sosa in the back of the statue doing whatever he feels like.

A statue of the Cubs batting glove Bill Buckner wore in game six of the World Series in 1986 for instance. Simply to commemorate the once a Cub, always a Cub feeling.  You may be able to take the player out of Chicago, but you can never take Chicago out of the player.

A statue of Sammy Sosa for instance. Biggest torso on a player’s statue ever created with a tiny head and two gigantic arms sitting upon two gigantic, powerful legs.  In his back pocket a syringe.  His right arm pointing up to the sky in celebration of a home run and his left hand behind his back with his fingers crossed to denote the honesty that each home run was bashed in while chasing down unattainable records.  Of course there would be no number on his back because next to him would be a very little Tyler Colvin wearing the number 21 just laughing and having a great time doing a respectable job representing Sosa’s old steroid infested number.  At Sosa’s feet, a Spanish to English dictionary ripped in two and set on fire in hopes that no one knew it ever existed in Sammy’s possession, ever.  And the bonus feature, for some reason after years and years of looking this way, the statue’s face will begin to fade until the face is so white it longer resembles anything that it used to be and fans will have to do a double take to make sure it’s who they think it is.

A statue of Todd Hundley if you will for instance.  Todd Hundley’s statue would be made of the most expensive metal and yet, would deliver the least amount of entertainment value.  If fans had their way, it would probably also receive the largest amount of bird excrement.  Hundley would simply be standing there with hands in his pocket offering absolutely nothing with a giant smile on his face.  No glove as he was horrible behind the plate.  No bat as he delivered nothing compared to what was expected of him.  Next to him on the ground?  A giant bag of cash with a cartoonish $ symbol.  Hundley’s would be the only statue with a sound effect…that being, the sound of a truck backing up which would commemorate the giant contract he was given.  When the truck doesn’t arrive, fans will realize that it is commemorating how long Cubs fans waited for results out of Hundley even though all of his money was on the way.

And last but not least, a statute of Will Ohman for instance.  Quite possibly the worst Cubs relief pitcher to ever demonstrate hilarious ineffectiveness right before my eyes.  Ohman’s statue would be of him on the mound looking in for the sign.  Behind him, a brick wall covered in ivy and the famous scoreboard.  Out of the scoreboard would be a kid just waiting to flip over the visitors’ run total on the scoreboard. When Ohman pitches, the other team scores a ton of runs and it will show.  Ohman’s statue, the only one with a cool interactive feature, will allow fans to step up to the plate, literally.  You can step on a home plate and right on cue a ball with be shot out of a small cannon, flying over the outfield wall.  The run the boy running the scoreboard was counting on, delivered.

Needless to say, this would be a horrible sight to see and I’m glad the Ricketts are knowledgable enough of the past and looking to celebrate it.  We need more focusing on the positives these days as our team is falling apart beyond what I expected.  2007, 2008 were a blast.  2009 was a let down.  However this year, has simply been sad.  No playoffs.  No title.  Not even having Lou for the whole season.  The bright spots need to continue getting us through and they need to continue to be celebrated.  Williams is a bright spot from the past and we need to keep those bright spots in mind while enjoying the current bright spots of today (Quade, Castro, Colvin….and that’s been about it).

You guys have any other ideas for Cub Statues of Limitations?  Congratulations Billy, you deserve it!  Go Cubs Go!

We’re a Major League Baseball team.


cubs amex commercial.jpgEverybody
: Hello. Do you know us?
[Everybody, except Zambrano, puts on their caps]
Everybody: We’re a Major League Baseball team.
Lou Piniella: But since we haven’t won a pennant in over 100 years, nobody recognizes us – not even in our own home town.
Ryan Dempster: That’s why we carry the American Express card.
Derrek Lee: No matter how far out of first we are, it’s cool. You know, it keeps us from getting shut out at our favorite hotels and restaurant-type places.
Aramis Ramirez [pointing to us] So if you’re looking for some Big-League clout, apply for that little green home-run hitter.
Tyler Colvin: Look what it’s done for US. People still DON’T recognize us but…
[Tyler snaps his fingers]
Carlos Zambrano: We’re contenders now.
[Also dressed in a tuxedo, Starlin slides into home plate and holds up a green credit card]
Starlin Castro: The American Express card: Don’t steal home without it.

17.5 games out of first in the NL Central.  Go Cubs Go!


Listen to my guest appearance on St. Louis Cardinals’ radio show, ‘i70 Baseball’ on blogtalkradio

Every now and then, I make an appearance on another blogger’s blog or radio show and sometimes, they aren’t Cubs fans.  Usually, if they don’t root for the Cubs, they are Cardinals fans (just the way it’s been working out).  These guys in particular are Bill Ivie (Cards) and Matt Kelsey (Royals) and they have a great show on blogtalkradio.com called i70 Baseball.  We had fun discussing the weekend series between the Cubs and Cardinals (what a fluke that series win for the Cubs was, huh?), Piniella’s announcement, the future of the Cubs come this off-season, whether the rivalry between the Cards and Cubs is the same that it used to be and why the Cubs and Cards annual series always seem to be tight even if one team is 1 game out of first and the other is 17 games back.

Have a listen and feel free to leave a comment in the comment section agreeing or disagreeing with anything I said!  Go Cubs Go!


http://www.blogtalkradio.com/btrplayer.swf

Listen to internet radio with i70baseball on Blog Talk Radio

 

One List. Two Lou’s. Three Acceptable Options.

I’ve often wondered what my Mom and Dad did to pass the time during the day at work.  My stepfather and stepmother were a plumber and teacher respectively so they never really had the 9-5 challenge of staying awake and being productive.  Nowadays you can practically coast through 2/3’s of a given day on Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Youtube, Foursquare (not sure why this one exists), various blogs, websites, Hulu, and on and on.  Honestly, how many times can you go to the bathroom?  How many times can you walk over to a co-worker’s desk (notice, not email or IM) and ask them to grab some coffee or visit the water cooler?  If I had to put up with that nowadays, I don’t know how I’d survive.

With the Internet we find out things instantly and we are able to communicate to others in an instant of finding out the news of the day.  Somehow it got by me yesterday that James Gammons passed away.  Now for many of you, chances are that by name alone, you don’t know who I’m talking about.  However, what if I say “None of this OH-LAY ********” or “Forget the curve ball, Ricky.  Give him the heater”.

Now do you know who I’m talking about?

Of course you do.

The actor that played Cleveland Indians manager, Lou Brown, in the film Major League passed away yesterday at the age of 70. Here is the article in the NYTimes.  In my opinion, James Gammon is responsible for giving us the best overall performance of a baseball manager in the history of film.  I loved his dry humor and the way he’d deliver his lines.  His voice could help you pick him out of a line-up all by itself, as it probably should be credited for landing him a number of roles that he played.  His performance was impeccable and unforgettable, proven by the fact that I still quote him over and over again even after a decade’s passing since the film came out.

It got me thinking about the greatest performances of all-time when it comes to depicting baseball managers.  As soon as I posted on Twitter upon hearing the news that I feel Gammon’s performance was my favorite and the best of all time, someone tweeted “Wilford Brimley is pissed at you right now”.  I know Brimley was the oatmeal guy and had a long respectable acting career.  I know he was likable and many think his performance in The Natural is the all-time best.  However, I disagree.  I respect Brimley’s performance and in fact I think it was the third best of all time.  Who comes in second?  Well, here is my list of the top five of all time starting with number 5:

5. William Devane in “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training”

While he can’t live up to Matthau’s performance and really, who can?..(not Billy Bob Thornton, that’s for sure)…he is responsible for coming through in the end for his son, Kelly Leak, and for his Bad News team against the mighty Houston Toros.  Watching Tanner run away from the umpires is my all-time favorite Bears moment, however, it’s the moment that happens right after Tanner starts yelling “The game’s not over, we’re not finished!” that really tugs at the heart strings.  The old guy with money to burn and a ten gallon hat jumps on board, then we as the audience do as the rest of the fans in the Astrodome do when the Bears’ manager, Kelly’s dad, runs on the field to support Tanner’s efforts in giving his guys a chance to win it all with a heartfelt “LET THEM PLAY!  LET THEM PLAY!”  TRY to watch that scene and not feel the absolute yanks on the heart strings while he convinces everyone in that stadium, the Astros included (in their old ugly uni’s, although to their credit they are the inspiration for the chant) to let the game go on.  A great moment and simply for that, he gets number 5 on the list.  Here is that moment:
4. Tom Hanks in “A League of Their Own”
It goes to show you how I feel about the other performances if Mr. Oscar himself is sitting in at number 4.  Hanks’ comedic chops and timing deliver a memorable performance of a washed up, alcoholic, has-been who is stuck managing in the lady bigs.  A guy’s guy, managing a bunch of women was probably the last thing Jimmy ever thought he’d be doing.  However once he comes around and realizes the heart his players have and decides to work along side his star player in Geena Davis, his story hits it’s arc and it’s a performance worthy of number 5 on this list.  And honestly, we all remember there’s no crying in baseball.  Why?  Because Tom Hanks said so.
3. Wilford Brimley in “The Natural”
The old guy just wanted to win.  He had nothing left for BS.  He had nothing left for politics.  He certainly didn’t have anything left to battle gambling that was starting to play an effect in outcomes of games.  When he found out his ‘new’ talent was an old outfielder and that he was expected to do something with what he viewed as never-was garbage, he was irate.  Yet it was this same talent, Roy Hobbs and his Wonderboy bat that saved the day and the pennant.  Brimley’s mustache helps him get the edge over Hanks in addition to the film itself being a classic.  Movies can’t achieve that status without it’s actors providing incredible performances like Wilford’s.
2. Walter Matthau in “The Bad News Bears”
Matthau starred in one of the raciest baseball scripts of it’s time as a little league baseball manager.  Although they way these kids talked and the way Matthau’s character behaved it easily could’ve been the Majors.  This was basically South Park before there was South Park.  All we needed was Lupus running around going “Oh My God, they killed Tanner!”  Matthau hates his life but has to continue his role as manager of this sorry group of kids.  As their season goes horribly and the kids are ready to give up, he’s afraid of seeing that part of him coming through in his kids and he gets under their skin to finally get them performing.  Swiggin beers and working with his new female pitcher (another role of a movie manager having a problem with a female player, interesting) and his new star outfielder in Kelly Leak, along with building a comraderie with Engelbert, the two kids who could only speak Engl
ish and his useless in the field, great at keeping score/taking a pitch team geek made Matthau and this team a bunch of guys you loved to root for.  A drunk little league manager doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of guy you’d like to root for, but in Matthau’s hands it was a lot of fun and one of the best ever.
1.  James Gammon as Lou Brown in “Major League”
The great thing about Lou Brown as a manager was the way he used the information he had on the owner’s wish of throwing the season to move to Miami as motivation to get his guys angry and play beyond expectations.  That’s something that a big league club needs.  A common goal and common enemy at times to get your team going as a team and picking up ground in the standings.  Gammon showed absolutely no interest in joining the club at first and then in the end of course, they get it done.  The rest of my thoughts on his performance are included above.  Thanks for all the quotes, James.  You da’ man buddy. Of course, not a lot of his quotes aren’t NSFW so here is a fun behind the scenes video for the film:
That aspect of being able to rally your team for a common goal is something I feel Piniella was always missing (and still is) with the Cubs.  Division titles in 07 and 08 were great, but you could tell he couldn’t get this team over the hump in being swept in the playoffs and not returning in ’09.  Lou announced he’ll retire after the 2010 season and I’d love to see him go out a winner.  I just don’t know that a cardboard cut out of Jim Hendry with removable pieces revealing more and more of his body is going to cut it with this squad.  (Maybe the Ricketts sister?  Or what about Sarah Spain perhaps?)  I appreciate what Lou has done with this team as it’s been one of the best tenures in Cubs history.  Just would’ve been great to see him win the big one with the Cubs knowing what it’d mean to him, the city and the organization and it’s fans.
Seeing that he’s out soon, here are the three possible replacements that I would actually be OK with:  Ryne Sandberg, Bobby Valentine and Alan Trammell.  More on that in another post.  For now, here is some information on the career Lou has compiled.
Going to watch the rest of the game now without typing through the whole thing.  Cubs down 6-0 in the fourth to the Astros currently.  Dempster on the mound.
Forget the curveball Ryan, give him the heater.
Go Cubs Go!

Blessing in Disguise

When it comes to Chicago Cubs baseball, if recent events have taught us anything, it’s never say always.  One of my favorite things to say here at Prose and Ivy is, “We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh”.  Given our performance in the past against the lowly Pirates, it always appeared on the year’s schedule as a gift-wrapped blessing.  A small three day break if you will where wonderful things happen like Cubs home runs flying out of the park, pitchers dominating on the mound, Cubs ending up on the right end of a blow out and W flags are hooked to the flag pole rope at the top of the first for it’s inevitable rising after the top of the ninth.  Plan to head home early folks because the Pirates are coming to town.  There won’t be any Cubs batting in the bottow of the ninth because there won’t be one.  These games are given.  The Pirates can’t handle the talent and the skill level the Cubs bring to their games.  Regardless of how the Cubs were going, if you see Pittsburgh coming up on the schedule, get ready for at least a three game turnaround and find your brooms.  The Cubs were about to seem the Pirates and all will feel right again in Wrigleyville.

That was then.  This…is now.

All of a sudden, the Cubs can’t be counted on to beat one of the worst teams in all of baseball and the cellar dweller or the NL Central.  See that .342 winning percentage and the 17 games that they currently sit behind the division leading Reds?  Don’t let that fool you!  When the Pirates have had the all-of-a-sudden priviledge of playing the Cubs, they are a surreal .800 ballclub!  In ten games against the Cubs this year, they’ve won 8 and lost 2.  What?!?  WHAT!?!  There are certain things that this blog feels it can count on:  baseball magazines and websites and blogs will have the Cubs listed as contenders in the Central, talk whether this is the year and then the Cubs will let you down come October (some seasons even earlier); Dempster will predict the Cubs will win it all; Carlos Marmol will be responsible for at least six heart attacks across the midwest throughout the course of a season; Sox fans will hate on Cubs fans and vice versa; and if nothing else is going our way, hey hey…at least ‘We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh’.  Well, that last one apparently no longer applies.  And it just may be a blessing in disguise.

Think about how this season is going.  The Reds lead the NL Central and the Cubs currently sit in fourth place looking up at the unfortunate view of Brewers behinds, hardly even keeping the Cardinals in sight, while the Reds are a ******** 10 games out in front of them.  The offense thinks it’s still the off-season.  Carlos Zambrano is seeing a shrink.  Piniella seems to be snoozing through the first half of the season.  All of our ‘all-stars’ suddenly look too old, too injured, or too apathetic.  Castro started out hot and then cooled off to an average pace.  Wells can’t seem to find the form that kept him one of the club’s most dominant pitchers in ’09.  And for some reason, we CAN’T beat the Pirates.  Fine.  If that’s the way it is…if that’s the way it’s going to be, then perhaps the rest of the things we’ve come to expect can start to make a change as well.

Perhaps the head shrink can get Zambrano under control and he can perform out of the bullpen upon possibly returning after the All-Star break.  Perhaps Wells can find his form and start to lead this club through a charge to possibly make up 10 games to the top of the division.  Our crosstown rivals just made a huge push to put themselves in the club of relevant baseball teams for this year, and if they can do it I KNOW we can do it.  Perhaps we will find a way to win one run ballgames in the 2nd half of the season.  Those eighteen losses in one run games might just be the single most frustrating aspect of 2010.  Perhaps since what has become the norm against Pittsburgh has been turned on it’s head, maybe all of these other things we’ve come to expect from this team this year can take a change of course as well.  Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise.

Of course, if it does happen there is a very good chance that we may have a few different guys wearing that same disguise as there are rumors that everyone from Zambrano to Marmol to Fukudome to Lilly are on the trading block.  I’m not sure how far behind we need to be for Ricketts to consider himself a seller as opposed to a buyer.  He’s a good business man it seems, but he’s also a fan.  I wonder how hard it must be for him to make rationale decisions when analyzing at point this particular team is no longer going to make the push it needs to contend.  I wonder if Ricketts thinks Pittsburgh is just another symptom of an extremely frustrating and disappointing Cubs season.  I wonder if he can find a way out of this mess and find the blessings in all of this turmoil.  So many fans on-line if you read around the Cubsblogosphere have already said ‘please, no more’ or are very close to taking that flag and throwing it in like a towel.  I don’t like our odds against the rest of the league if we can’t even handle Pittsburgh.  However, I didn’t expect Pittsburgh to put the beating on us the way they have.  Hopefully an unexpected 180 on this season’s trajectory is around the corner as well.  If not Pittsburgh, we’ll always have fool’s hope, right? 

(Any thoughts you’d like to share can be done in the comments section, or if you’d like, you can call into tonight’s Baseball Bloggers Alliance podcast.  I’m guest hosting tonight at 11pm EST and you can find the show’s site and information here!  And since I’m hosting with WebSoulSurfer who runs a Padres blog, I’ve included a clip of the Derrek Lee/Chris Young fight.  Why not?  Enjoy.  Go Cubs Go!)