Siberian Baseball

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Postseason 2008 - How have the teams matched up?

While I certainly have more than my allotted amount of gut feelings on the postseason, we'll start off slow and work our way up to the real crazy predictions as the week drags on and I get more desperate as a fan.

Until then, I'll say this - if any team other than the Angels, Cubs or Rays wins the World Series, I'll be very shocked. If Milwaukee or the White Sox even make it, I'll be incredibly shocked.

Just to get things moving, here are the head to head matchups from the 2008 season. While I had this planned since this weekend, Baseball Reference went and did all of the grunt work for us, so I'll include those links for those with a true sickness for baseball stats.

National League:

Cubs vs. Dodgers - The season series stands at 5-2 in favor of the Cubs. All have been close, except for a 7-3 game where Carlos Zambrano took the loss. On top of that, two of the Cubs wins came off the Dodgers relievers. Oh, and one was a 10-inning win. And all came before Manny Ramirez was traded.

Be afraid, Cubs fans.

Phillies vs. Brewers - The Phillies have the edge here, up 5-1 on Milwaukee. Brewers fans should be wary of this matchup as the Phillies owned Milwaukee in mid-September as the Brewers were fighting to make the playoffs. In a four-game set from Sept. 11 to 14, the Phils took all four games - 6-3, 7-3, 7-3 and 6-1 - and Milwaukee's sole win was a 5-4 decision in April.

American League:

Angels vs. Red Sox - For all the press the Angels get for being "Baseball's 100-win Ballclub" they won five more games than the Red Sox. Five games. I can count that on my non-firework hand.

Plus, Boston has owned the Halos in the postseason in recent history.

This year might change that. Start with Anaheim's 8-1 domination of Boston in the regular season. The Red Sox have no Manny, a half a Mike Lowell at best, a questionable JD Drew and Josh Beckett having issues. None of this sounds good, regardless of defending champ status.

The Angels have beaten the Red Sox by a little, by a lot and now have a great shot to do something different - beat them in the postseason.

Rays vs. White Sox - The Rays own a slight edge over Chicago, but most of those wins have come later in the season. After dropping three of the first four games between the two teams, the Rays beat the White Sox like they beat everyone else this year.

Since then, Tampa won five of the last six.

The White Sox try to keep moving after needing two games this week to make it to Tampa, which should be a major red flag to anyone looking to wager on the Southsiders.

Working in their favor? Tampa didn't expect to be here and aren't all that veteran heavy, making them good candidates to totally freak out. They haven't yet, but they might.

The bottom line is that any of those eight teams is 11 wins from selling all sorts of crap to their fans all winter. If there's a God, that crap will be sold to fans of the Cubs.

Strap in, the playoffs are (finally) here.

(Image from:


Free baseball!

Well, not free baseball - tickets are going for $200 a pop and climbing as of late this afternoon - but Game 163 is upon us.

John Danks will start for the Sox and Nick Blackburn starts for the Twins. Despite Danks' issues of late - and face it, all of the Sox starters have been shelled in one game or another in September - I'll still take him over Blackburn.

Both have pitched 187 innings this year and have 11 wins. Danks wins pretty much every other category of note, incuding ERA (3.47 to 4.14), earned runs (72 to 86) and K/9 (7.46 to 4.48), just for a random sample.

Also, with the game being held in Chicago and not at the Ball Mall, the Sox have a huge advantage walking into the game.

Twins closer Joe Nathan was on the air with one of the radio shows in Chicago as I ran errands this afternoon and was asked to sum up the season with regard to matching 88 and 74 records leading to the one-game playoff.

Nathan said that in addition to both teams being division rivals and constantly beating on each other for the AL Central title, it seemed fitting to come this far to be tied. He pointed to the teams mirroring each other - when the Twins went on a skid, so did the Sox and when the Sox got on a roll, so did the Twins - all season long.

Regardless, both teams weren't expected to be here at the end of the season. I wasn't the only one to completely write off these two in favor of the Indians and Tigers.

Of course that won't help fans of whichever team loses tonight, but it's something.

Late note: John Kruk got done watching Danks speak to Pedro Gomez and was laughing at Danks' comment that he didn't know where this win ranked for him.

"I can tell him," Kruk said. "It's the best he ever pitched in his life. It's the most important game he's ever pitched in his life and it's the best he's ever pitched because he won the big game for this team."

I need Kruk to help me put events in my life in perspective. What do you think he does in the offseason? I mean other than take naps and make crank calls.

(Image from: Some random blog. I'll assume it's from

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Monday, September 29, 2008

We're gonna need you to come in this weekend, hmmmmkay?

The White Sox are being delayed this afternoon because of storms in Chicago, meaning that the makeup game against the Tigers will wait just a little longer to complete.

The basics are that the Sox need two wins in two days to make the playoffs. Currently, they're a half game behind the Twins and one win gives them a tie for the AL Central crown. Beat the Tigers at home today and you get the Twins tomorrow in Chicago.

This earns them the right to play the Rays later in the week.

Needless to say, this is not a good thing for any team heading into the postseason.

Freddy Garcia will face Gavin Floyd whenever the game starts. If I'm on the Tigers, I'm coming out to make someone pay for making me play in the cold rain today when I should be flying home to see my family.

In the NL Central, the Brewers walked away with the Wild Card by virtue of a final game win. CC Sabathia proved that he's worth just as much publicity as Johan Santana as a one-game monster, picking up the win over the Cubs Lite lineup.

The Brewers ticket to October is resulting more from the Mets collapsing than stellar play on their end - the Mets owned their biggest lead of 3.5 games in the NL East as late as Sept. 10 - but they're in without play in games or tiebreakers.

For the record, both teams looked pretty awful at times in September - the Brewers were 10-16 in the past month - but now Milwaukee has to scramble to piece together a rotation on short rest.

Not that anyone north of the border is complaining, though. The Brewers are in with a few days to catch their breath. More than you can say for the two teams left.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

AL waits on Twins, White Sox

The American League saw the opening round of the playoffs fall into place with last night's loss by the Red Sox, but still needs to see how the AL Central's photo finish winds up.

Despite a loss to the Tigers, the Rays won the AL East with a good old fashioned ass kicking laid on the Sox by the Yankees. New York won a rain-soaked 19-8 mess of a game - why is that score so familiar? Oh, right. - to keep the Red Sox from winning the AL East two years in a row.

This means that the Red Sox will open the 2008 Postseason on the road in California on Wednesday, while the Rays will see the Twins or the White Sox in Tampa. This has to make you feel good if you're a Rays fan.

While Tampa will see a team that is either gassed from the sprint to the finish with its starting rotation in disarray, the Angels and Red Sox have time to rest and reload after sleepwalking through the weekend.

* The Red Sox are waiting for word on last year's playoff MVP, Mike Lowell, who left the game last night with hip pain. I know, I know, he's old, what should Red Sox Nation expect?

* A quick hit on the forlorn White Sox fans in our midst. I mentioned the other day that Kansas City is not a team to be trifled with when it comes to playing the spoiler and this year they are particularly dangerous.

According to Baseball Tonight, the Royals are 17-7 in September, good enough for the best record in the AL this month. Additionally, they own a half game lead over Detroit to stay out of the AL Central's basement.

How screwed up is that for Tigers' fans?

To say that the Royals are motivated is probably an understatement. I'd like to see the Kansas City marketing team produce some shirts every fall that say, "Spoiling September. I live for this!"

* Over in the National League, the pieces are falling into place as well, with New York starting Johan Santana on short rest to try and jump back into the race with the Brewers, who beat the Cubs last night.

The early word this morning was that rain was forecast for the East Coast, so if Santana is iced by the weather, the Mets will likely miss the playoffs at the 11th hour for two years in a row. The New York trails Milwaukee by a game in the Wild Card race and Philadelphia by two in the NL East.

(Image from:


Friday, September 26, 2008

Three games left (aka fear the Twinkies)

This is one of the many things to love about baseball. After 159(ish) games it can still come down to a Friday, Saturday, Sunday series.

Teams that have been ahead for most of the season have fallen by the wayside. Teams that have been close have run out of gas. Teams that should be able to pull things together drop three straight to the Twins, despite the Twins failing to retain any major talent not born within a 30-mile radius of the Metrodome.

And this is also where things get dicey. After waiting out a rain delay in Boston, I'm being treated to some strange sights - empty seats in Fenway Park in a game against the Yankees that has very little impact on the postseason.

The White Sox just took the lead against the Tribe in Chicago, while the Royals jumped to an early lead against Minnesota.

Here are the breakdowns heading into the last weekend of the season for the races still in play:

AL East - Tampa leads Boston by two games. The Rays trail the Tigers tonight, while the Red Sox are in this weird Yankee showdown with unknown pitchers, rain and empty seats. At least no one is getting hurt as people scramble for all the balls getting smashed in the first inning.

AL Central - The fun race to follow. The White Sox are home and the Twins are home. The White Sox face the toothless Indians and the Twins face the toothless Royals. The Twins, however, enjoy the Dome Field Advantage. Minnesota leads by 1/2 game, with the possibility of a White Sox vs. Tigers make up game on Monday. Oh, and Minnesota is getting slapped by Kansas City right now.

NL East - The Phillies lead the Mets by a game going into Friday night with Philly hosting the Nationals and the Mets hosting the Marlins. Doesn't this sound familiar?

AL Wild Card - Either the Red Sox or the Rays will fill the spot. For the record, New York is second at seven games back and the White Sox are behind them at seven and a half. So much for my preseason thesis that the AL East would it eats young with the revamped Rays and Jays taking more wins from the Sox and Yanks.

NL Wild Card - Milwaukee and the Mets are dead even with the Astros three and a half back. Miller Park is playing a major supporting role (wait, is that possible?) in the chase.

The Astros were plowing through the National League until the hurricanes hit and they were forced to play a two-game series against Chicago at the "neutral" site in Milwaukee, where I think the commisioner has friends or extended family or something.

In what might be part of the seasonal lore years from now, Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Astros who were away from home, sleep deprived and worried about what was going on in Houston. Ted Lily carried a no-hitter midway through the next game and the Astros haven't rebounded since.

Miller Park struck again last night when JJ Hardy apprently hurt his hand in the post-game celebration when Ryan Braun hit his walkoff grand slam. He's in the lineup tonight against the Cubs and still looks like that dude from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

The Brewers need to get through the Iowa Cubs this weekend to get to October.

(Image from:


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Well, this just got interesting

The White Sox game in Minneapolis just ended a few minutes ago in extra innings, with the Twins completing the sweep and giving themselves a slim 1/2 game margin in the AL Central.

For those up to date on their SportsCenter clinching celebrations, the Red Sox have a spot, the Rays have a spot and the Angels clinched in mid-August, leaving Chicago and Minnesota to duke it out for the final playoff spot.

The Twins got the better end of the series.

Now, as Cubs fans quietly whisper about the wisdom of printing World Series tickets by virtue of their best record in the National League, Sox fans anxiously watch the weekend series at the Cell with one eye on the out of town scoreboard.

Not to rain on anyone's parade, but if you could choose three games to determine your fate would it be against the Royals, who never contend but have had a hand in the AL Central two of three years now or the Indians, who were expected to run with the Tigers for the Central crown before the bottom dropped out on both teams?

(Quick time out. Which of those statements would have sounded strangest in early March? Indians and Tigers in the toilet before the All-Star break? White Sox and Twins in the mix with three to play? Cubs with the best record in the NL? The Rays winning the AL East? Seriously, this year is a total funhouse.)

Now, the good news.

Go back two years and the Twins were playing out of their minds down the stretch, winning game after game when - and stop me if you've heard this one - they had no business winning that often.

As Joe Mauer became the first batting champ while playing as an everyday catcher, the Twins trailed the Tigers into the final weekend against the White Sox. Detroit had Kansas City at their own park.

I'll turn it over to me for the breakdown:

Regardless of where you are or how good you think your team will or will not be, strange things can happen at both ends of the season. Just ask the Royals.

With that in mind, we were at the Twins game this afternoon to see a game that on paper in April and May should have been the Twins serving as spoilers to a White Sox title defense run. In practice, it was Kansas City pulling three games from deep in its collective ass to knock the Tigers from the top spot and give the Twins the division title for the fourth time in five years.

So, not only is there historical precedent, but with the teams involved. The Royals have played the frontrunner on the road and swept before.

Is it possible that the Royals are just better at playing the spoiler than other teams? Granted, they get plenty of practice where others teams fold under bad attitudes and crushing expectations, but could they really be the best spoilers in the league?

I'm totally serious about this.

Francisco Liriano starts for the Twins tomorrow, John Danks for the Southsiders. I'd post who they start against, but I'm betting no one else has heard from them unless they have teams in several AL-only keeper leagues.

Oh, and the "Post-Season 2008" tag just got minted for this post. This is the second most exciting thing that's happened today.

Late edit:

The teams that have tickets punched for the postseason are:

Los Angeles

Tampa Bay
Los Angeles (by way of Anaheim, etc.)

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This is why you want Santana

I have to admit, it's been a pretty quiet season for Johan Santana in his first year in New York.

I just assumed that by moving a power pitcher into the eye of the media hurricane it would mean non-stop Santana from March to October. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, it's just an observation.

One of the things that I noticed about Santana when I lived in Minnesota was that regardless of the skid the Twins were in, when Johan took the mound, everyone expected the win. More often than not, they were right.

His numbers after the All-Star Break were ridiculous, he rarely lost two consecutive starts and in most cases, he got the win over a no decision. Whether it was the psychological impact on the other team's hitters or the belief that all the Twins needed to scrape together was a run or two and Santana would take care of the rest, chances were that the team was ending the night in the win column.

This is why the Mets made such a major play to pick up Santana in the offseason, staring down offers from the Red Sox and Yankees.

Tonight's game was a must win for the Mets with the Brewers gamely trying to tumble across the finish line despite streaky play and the firing of their manager. Holding a one-game lead over Milwaukee, Santana took the ball and shut down the Cubs.

Granted, Chicago is coming off a clinching win and is more concerned with making it through the next week without incident, but Santana still went eight innings, scattering seven hits and allowing two runs against the Cubs.

Was it playoff intensity for Chicago? Probably not. Was it a game the Mets had to have to stay alive? You bet.

That's why you pay the big bucks for Santana.

(Image from:


Indulge your inner Beavis

Today is the 100-year anniversary of Merkle's Boner.


Those from outside the Chicagoland area (and especially those who can remember the New York baseball Giants) must be pleased to know there's a bar that shares his name in Wrigleyville.

If you really feel like celebrating (and with the Cubs heading towards the playoffs, who wouldnt?), head over to Merkle's Bar and Grill (3516 N. Clark) tonight at 7 p.m. for a special Merkle Day celebration. Let the exorcising begin, Cubs fans.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last night for Yankee Stadium

The Yankees just tied the Orioles in the last game at Yankee Stadium - it's finally safe to say that the Bronx Bombers won't be hosting any games in October - and ESPN is trotting out the old guard to try and wrap things up in a neat little bow.

While there will certainly be a flood of short stories, poems and nostalgia pieces in the nation's magazines about what the stadium meant to everyone involved that may never end, it's hard to chalk it all up as hyperbole. After all, it is Yankee Stadium.

Other notes:

* This is a big chance for the New York media to try and bully the rest of the country into admitting that Yankee Stadium is the best stadium ever and that no others will ever come close. I'm going on record now to say that to dismiss Wrigley and Fenway out of hand like that is just plain stupid.

* I'm taking a degree of pleasure in noticing that two of the key pieces to the 2004 Red Sox championship team are having an impact on this game - Johnny Damon to give the lead to the Yankees and Kevin Millar to score the tying run - and that most of the stories I've read take time to warn fans that anyone trying to steal souvenirs will be beaten and have their birthdays taken away.

* I may be cynical, but I bet MLB's cut gets smaller if the market is flooded with memorabilia fans took themselves.

* ESPN is still trying to figure out the whole Internet thing tonight, where they don't even have the good sense that God gave lowly bloggers when it comes to live posting. Every few lines on the virtual guestbook reads "Text deleted," which I can only assume is from people jumping on to trash the Yankees or the stadium.

That means some poor intern is tasked with manually deleting such poetry as, "My favorite memory was last year in the locker room when Derek Jeter dropped the soap and A-Rod plugged his anus (with his I LOVE ESPN if you didn't know). I heard Derek now uses liquid soap because it's harder to pick up. That was the only scoring they did that year. Go Yankees."

Thank you, bw71864. Stay classy.

*As a Red Sox fan, I feel like I'm in that scene in Forrest Gump when Forrest bought the home she grew up in and knocked it to the ground. So many wonderful memories to choose from.

* So, did MLB choose the Orioles instead of the Red Sox for the last game the same way that high schools pick the crappiest teams they can find for homecoming games?

* For what it's worth - and this is where things border on sour grapes - the evening is shaping up to be the archetypical Yankee experience for all those who aren't Yankee fans. It boils down to the Yankees and their beat writers telling everyone else why every other franchise and ballpark pale in comparison to the empire that is New York. It's pretty tiresome.

Yes, the Yankees have a long history. Yes, it's been a very successful history. Yes, great players have played at Yankee Stadium, many of them in pinstripes.

They also have a solid head start on most franchises in terms of pure mileage. Give the Twins or Rangers another 50 years and I'm sure they can fill a park full of monuments as well.

It's one thing to show pride in your team. It's quite another to consistently do that by constantly pointing out how other teams fail to measure up to the Yankee standard.

* I think one of the things I'll miss most about Yankee Stadium is that it represents an era where baseball was the only game in town before the NFL assumed its position as alpha dog. I read books on the days of the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees all competing for attention in New York and the stadium was a big part of that.

It's hard not to have the images of Yankee Stadium come to mind when someone mentions baseball in the 1920s and 30s.

Some fans might not like it - a friend just e-mailed to ask if we can keep the stadium and blow up the team - but Yankee Stadium is a hallmark of our shared history, both baseball and otherwise.

Give me five years - I just might miss it.

(Image from: REUTERS)

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

No need to worry about Wood... right?

As I watched the celebrations at Wrigley at a restaurant downtown with Frankie tonight, it dawned on me that I was retroactively nervous about Kerry Wood's appearance hours after the game was over.

The playoff spot was clinched along with the division. The corks had been popped. Even the lowliest benchwarming scrub was being asked what it all meant by fawning local television reporters.

I was still cringing slightly when contact was made on Wood's pitches. It's nothing against the guy, but it just seems like he enjoys whittling down leads to within a run before closing the door. This isn't good for the mental health of most fans.

However, after being through season after season as a fan, I'm well aware of the tendancy to blow things out of proportion over the the course of 162 games. Things are rarely as good or bad as you think.

At the time, I made the mental note to pull the actual stats for Wood this season and see just where he stacked up over the course of 2008.

Final count? Wood converted on 32 of 38 save opportunities. That's six blown saves spread out over the course of the season, give or take a rest for a finger blister or two. When I see it laid out like that, it's not so bad.

Also entering into the mix are an average of 7.59 hits per nine innings and 11.39 strikeouts per nine. There's also the 16.31 pitches per inning average (compared to the gold standard of closers, Francisco Rodriguez, who is averaging 17.4 pitches per inning, that seems stellar).

While we're on the K-Rod comparison track, he's responsible for seven blown saves this year (59 of 66 opportunities). When breaking down the pitches per inning stat, there are no relievers, period, in the top 100 this season.

I guess not many closers are missing bats in 2008.

Why don't I feel much better?

(Image from:


Friday, September 19, 2008

Rethinking the whole Eddie Vedder thing

When I was in college, I dated a girl who loved Pearl Jam more than any other band, ever.

Of course, when we broke up, I swore off Pearl Jam as a bunch of hacks and Eddie Vedder as a talentless monkey. Since then, I've mellowed and realized how stupid it is to take out one's anger out on an entire band. It's safe to say that I've come back around again - not all the way, but far enough to dig this offering on the Cubs from Vedder.

It's a solid offering by Vedder, which I found this through a posting by Greg Kot:

“Go All the Way,” (is) a song he recorded during his two-night solo stand at the Auditorium Theatre in August. It’s a simple acoustic folk ditty, written at the request of Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, that poetically sings the praises of the city’s own field of dreams, Wrigley Field, and anticipates the day the perennial losers finally win it all...

The robust chorus turns it into the kind of sing-along sea chantey or drinking song that Vedder loves. As he said in a 2002 interview with the Tribune, “A big night for me is to have a few friends, a few beers, and you get really messy at the end of the night hanging with a bunch of fishermen, a bunch of old grizzly guys dancing barefoot while singing something like [Three Dog Night singing the Randy Newman song] ‘Mama Told Me Not to Come.’ That's just good.”

I really appreciate the fact that it's not just a sappy song about the futility of the Cubs and their off century, nor is it a cheap attempt to cash in on the "It's Gonna Happen!" buzz. That last one is probably prompting all-night jam sessions from all sorts of awful local bands looking to book the Cubby Bear as you read this.

I'm not ready to anoint this song as the new Cubs anthem to displace all others (does it make me a bad person to admit that I'm more than sick of "Go, Cubs Go?"), but it's catchy as hell. I definitely put it above "Tessie" by the Dropkick Murphys as far as loosely associated team anthems go.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last call for the Hall

OK maybe not the last last call, but the Veterans Committee is considering 10 former players who have seen their ship sail on induction to date.

I'll give you a tip - don't try and untangle who played when and how they're eligible in the final few graphs. I'm sure that it is all pretty simple, but not the way the Hall of Fame outlines it in this release. Pre-War, Post-War, starting their careers prior to such and such a date? Some are up every other year, others every 5 years... It's like reading stereo instructions in German.

Still the lucky 10 are:

Dick Allen, Gil Hodges (note: I know someone's dad must be happy today), Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Al Oliver, Vada Pinson, Ron Santo, Luis Tiant, Joe Torre and Maury Wills will be considered for election by the Veterans Committee for enshrinement in 2009, with votes to be cast by Hall of Fame members this fall. Any candidate to receive 75 percent of the vote among all ballots cast will earn election to the Hall of Fame and will be enshrined on July 26, 2009. There are 64 living Hall of Famers.

Santo, huh? Never would have guessed he wasn't in the Hall. I have to think by this point, the committee is doing it just to spite the poor guy.

For what it's worth, I'm going Hodges, Oliva, Tiant if I had to pick three off the top of my head. I'd add Wills, too, but I'd like another look at his numbers before committing to that.

For those who are curious, the big list of those for consideration are:

The 21 candidates considered by the Screening Committee: Allen, Ken Boyer, Bert Campaneris, Rocky Colavito, Mike Cuellar, Steve Garvey, Hodges, Kaat, Ted Kluszewski, Mickey Lolich, Roger Maris, Lee May, Minnie Minoso, Thurman Munson, Oliva, Oliver, Pinson, Santo, Tiant, Torre and Wills.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

No noooo!

Someone please remind me to tune in on Sept. 14, 2044 - by my watch, that'll be the next no-hitter for the Cubs.

Thanks to a cruel twist of television scheduling - namely Week 2 of the football season - I was watching the Cleveland Browns struggle to keep up on a windy night as Carlos Zambrano pitched the first no-hitter for the Cubs since Milt Pappas in 1972.

Living within walking distance of the ballpark, you'd assume that someone would have been hollering enough to alert the neighborhood, but you'd be wrong.

I liked the reaction from his teammates, who downplayed how much they had to do to keep the no-no in tact. Granted, very few balls left the infield through the course of the game, but Mark DeRosa embodies my secret fear that I have for the fielders who back up a hot pitcher in these situations.

They totally know what's going on and will act accordingly.

"When he hit it, you hate to say this, but it was like, 'I'll bite the ball if I have to,''' DeRosa said. "You know what's at stake. I was fully prepared to sell out to make that play."

It's really not a good week for the Astros, huh?

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Useful trivia for a change

Nice work, ESPN - you gave us something worthwhile in the long-running Cubs/White Sox rivalry.

ESPN the Magazine compiled a lengthy list of trivia connecting the two teams and covering a lot of ground. Granted, some of the 102 facts that mark the 102 years since both teams were in contention for the postseason come down without much rhyme or reason in the numbering system, but otherwise it's a fun read.

My favorite is the comparison from umpire Bruce Froemming, who chimed in on the difference between being bawled out by Lou Piniella and Ozzie Guillen:

ON LOU: "He's very loud. When he flipped his lid last year, I thought it was premeditated; his team was playing bad, the press was all over him, so he had to do something. But the next time we saw him, he was very humble, apologized and said it wouldn't happen again. He likes umpires."

ON OZZIE: "He yells at the same decibel level as Lou. The difference is, when Ozzie started yelling and talking really fast, I couldn't understand him. He'd go *@&@(!(@ and I'd say, 'Ozzie, slow down.' With him, I don't think anything is premeditated. I'm not sure he remembers the things he did three days ago. Which is good.

In news that should shock no one, Wrigley Field's food is awful and should only be eaten if you've recently come out of a coma and are in need of constant nourishment.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oh, I'm sorry... You were saying?

Sorry for the break here, but the start of the football season caught my attention for a moment there. When I neglect the baseball blog in the middle of the pennant race, I feel like someone who drifts off in a big meeting and then notices everyone staring at them.

So, I'm sorry. You were saying?

Today, I'll pass along this link of great baseball quotes, some of which I'd never seen before.

I liked the Harry Caray joke about bears on the pill, but my favorite has to be this one from Dizzy Dean, "There is a commotion in the stands. I think it has something to do with a fat lady... I've just been informed that the fat lady is the Queen of Holland."

If that happened today, there'd be endless coverage of the ensuing international chaos.


Friday, September 05, 2008

White Sox lose heart, soul in one shot

One of the underrated skills that professional athletes need to develop in order to survive in larger markets is the ability to sell bad ideas and bad breaks and to do so with a smile on their face.

For anyone needing an illustration of these skills, refer to the reactions after word got out that White Sox offensive spark plug Carlos Quentin has a broken wrist and will have to undergo surgery.

"He was the heart and soul," Thome said. " ... You're talking about a guy who could be the MVP.

"It's tough, but you got to move on."

Nick Swisher was a bit more optimistic... kinda:

"[How good will team be?]We'll find out tonight. I think it's a huge loss. It's hard to tell. With the power that he's provided, taking that out of the lineup, we have to pull together.

"The timing couldn't be worse. I hope he heals faster than any of us can imagine."

Lest you think that Thome and Swisher are just leaning on a little hyperbole to prop up a teammate who's feeling a little down, here are some of the numbers for one of the most unnoticed stars this season:

Quentin is the team leader in runs (96), home runs (36), RBI (100), OBP (.394) and Slugging (.574).

I was going to list where he ranked second and third with this year's Sox, but it's pretty much every other category. I'll just stop before I drive off the Sox fan base.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Cubs continue history of fingerless players

If the Cubs weren't doing so well this season, the filler between innings would just be par for the course.

Before I was told that I could win big money and fabulous prizes just for watching 90210, the announcer broke in with, "After the game, he nearly lost four of his fingers in an accident. Now he's playing for the Cubs..."

That seems to capture roughly 85 of the past 100 years for the home team.

So, somewhere along the way, I missed word that Koyie Hill cut the majority of fingers from his hand last October. That must make things difficult for a professional baseball player with no discernible soccer skills.

From the Daily Herald story:

The 29-year-old Hill, a journeyman catcher, was making a wood window frame for his house last Oct. 16 when he suffered a horrific injury, one that nearly cost him four of the fingers on his right hand.

"I don't talk about it much," said Hill, the son of a master carpenter. "It's just an accident with a table saw, something I've done a million times before. I was using a saw that's really bad about grabbing, and grabbed, and there it went."

There went Hill's thumb, his pinkie finger, his ring finger and half of his middle finger. Although Hill said he didn't have to pick any of his fingers up off the floor, he said some were hanging by small pieces of skin.

Yikes. And this is coming from someone who nearly severed their index finger as a child. Mega yikes.

Of course One and a Half Finger Hill is not to be confused with Three Finger Brown, who lost pieces of a few digits in a farming accident and further destroyed his pitching hand when he broke several more bones as the initial injury was healing.

Oh and for all of the lazy fans out there who are looking to grasp at straws, yes, Brown was one of the mainstays of the rotation when the Cubs last won the World Series. The first one to scream, "It's gonna happen!" gets a slap in the mouth.

Maybe the guys who make the Fukudome t-shirts can quickly turn their stock around to capitalize.

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The Orioles probably regret passing on Soto

In today's Baltimore Sun column by Fred Mitchell, he points out that the Orioles apparently passed on Cubs rookie catcher Geovany Soto in the great Sammy Sosa roster dump.

Learn something new every day, huh?

From Mitchell's piece:

In their eagerness to unload Sammy Sosa and his $17 million contract to the Orioles, the Cubs and Baltimore apparently discussed Soto, a Cubs minor-league catching prospect at the time, as a possible throw-in to the deal.

The Orioles, according to a league source, talked themselves out of demanding that Soto be part of the transaction. Instead, Baltimore received Sosa and cash in exchange for Mike Fontenot, Jerry Hairston and David Crouthers on Feb. 2, 2005.

I'll speak for the Baltimore front office and fan base when I say, "Damn!"

In their defense, Soto hadn't done much to that point and didn't break out until later, but I guess that's why there are scouting departments, right? Of course, it might also explain the Orioles' lack of success lately, too.

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