Siberian Baseball

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Curse of the Rayhawk?

I'm watching the Phillies pick up the World Series hardware right now and I have two thoughts.

1.) I know the Cinderella Rays were the big story, but part of me is happy for Brad Lidge after he was shelled in 2005.

2.) The city of Philadelphia is perhaps the most dangerous place on earth this evening. There is a lot of pent up fan energy in that town and I can't imagine how crazy their fans are going to go tonight.

Enjoy, Phillies fans. You've waited too long.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Silver linings

Let's say for the sake of argument that you have a job like mine that requires you to work some odd hours without much warning.

Let's say that, like me, you had a meeting planned for this evening with someone who flew from several states away and can't reschedule because there's a small window to meet up.

Let's also say that, like me, you died a little on the inside when you realized there was really no way that you'd be able to see much of the World Series game tonight.

Now, let's say that all of the those hypotheticals line up, but you're also a Phillies fan.

Tonight's game suspension looks a helluva lot better, doesn't it?

My apologies to the guy who has to work late on Tuesdays.

Late update, courtesy of Deadspin:

"SportsNet is reporting that the Rays checked out of their hotel in Philadelphia. That hotel is now booked solid. Life's funny. Maybe just because of that, I'll order room service again."


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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Derrek Lee-ving?

While the link off the Chicago Tribune's home page plays up the rumors that Jake Peavy would waive his no-trade clause to pitch on the North Side, the real surprise comes from the idea that it would take Derrek Lee to swing the deal with San Diego.

From Phil Rogers:

The Cubs are on the list of teams for which Jake Peavy will waive his no-trade clause. This doesn't look like a fit, but don't be surprised if Jim Hendry tries to put together a package that would include a swap of first basemen, Derrek Lee and Adrian Gonzalez, who is supposedly untouchable.

Interesting move, it shakes up the lineup following another October implosion and provides a pound of flesh for fans still angry that Lee has under-performed in the playoffs as a member of the Cubs.

I honestly can't imagine a scenario where it makes sense to kill a cash cow like Lee - not to mention that his postseason drought has only occurred while wearing Cubbie pinstripes - regardless of how badly the team wants Peavy.

(Image taken for Siberian Baseball)

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

The guy behind the guy

It's something as ubiquitous in baseball as Opening Day bunting and sweaty fans in the bleachers in mid-July.

And we all have Jerry Dior to thank for it.

Here's an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about the man behind Major League Baseball's logo. The most startling part is that the logo was created in the 1970s, showing a stark departure from other designs of the era.

Who would have thought that something emerging from the time of polyester, avacado green kitchen appliances and other design disasters would also produce this timeless logo?

While I'm sure that no one is going to think of this every time they see the logo, it's cool to know who made it and that it doesn't really represent anyone.

I bet that comes up in some bar trivia question in the next month or so.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Earning it

Watching Game One of the World Series is a bit strange for me this year after a promising year for the Cubs turned to dust in a matter of days and an overachieving Red Sox team finally ran out of gas this weekend in Florida.

Despite the fact that 100 years of history told me that the Cubs weren't going to have the odds in their favor - "Hey, these guys weren't even born for most of those years of futility!" - and knowing that the Red Sox were on borrowed time - "Just like last year and in 2004, they're going to capture momentum and push through!" - I still found new ways to be sucked into believing.

That what being a fan is all about, right?

With the Phillies and Rays in the home stretch, it's a bit tough to pick a team to cheer for. Despite this being the World Series, I have no real sense of animosity or a solid rooting interest, save one.

While I might be annoyed by the Philly sports culture in general, I can sympathize with a championship drought and a city just dying for a title. In shorthand, I don't feel the Rays have earned it.

I've read as much as I can about Tampa and their worst to first run, but I still can't help but feel a little annoyed with a fan base that has more bandwagoners than I'm used to seeing.

After opening that can of worms, I can certainly feel for fans who waited for years to finally have a team to call their own, but the combination of a goofy indoor stadium and the fact that attendance numbers have been driven by visiting teams for years in Tampa makes me feel that somehow the team won't enjoy a title as much as Philadelphia will.

I know that Phillies fans exist, but I still have a sneaking suspicion that Tampa is a strip club, a beach, a TGI Friday's and a nail salon/tanning bed and not much else. I haven't really seen conclusive evidence to the contrary.

You're free to disagree with that. It's not the strongest arguement I've ever made.

Still, the Rays are at the bottom of my fan heap and I'm not very impressed with their base in previous seasons or this one. I can get behind the team - though it's weird to hear that Jason Bartlett is the indispensible cog in the Rays machine - and appreciate young, talented players who have worked just as hard as every other major leaguer, but that's where my respect for the organization ends.

It's a totally subjective thing and I know that a Philly championship has a strong possibility of turning insufferable fans in New York and Boston into second-class citizens in the land of sore winners, but I'll still be pulling for the Phillies.

May God have mercy on my soul.

Head to head:

These teams have not seen each other at all this year and have a pretty small sample to compare to, so it's really not worth breaking it down any further.

For the record, the Rays own a 10-5 record over Philadelphia in the all-time matchup. The Rays also own home field advantage by virtue of an AL win in the All-Star Game, which sucks and is set up all wrong.

Just saying that using the game to determing home field is a total joke is all.

(Image from:


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Winner take pennant

It turns out that the White Sox impressive run into October was just the warm up for the American League's main event this season.

I'm betting that John Danks would pull in a pretty hefty one-game paycheck if he were allowed to sign with either Boston or Tampa for a one-game contract after winning two consecutive "win or go home" games this fall.

In echoes of the final days of the season, it comes down to one game tonight to decide the American League pennant, which would be the major storyline to follow tonight if the Red Sox didn't find ways to fall apart and claw themselves back into another postseason series.

Between both species of Sox, we've had a very interesting games, where an incredibly long regular season comes down to one sudden death game. Granted, the White Sox did it twice in two days, but the Red Sox are in the middle of a dogfight with the Rays for the American League pennant.

Who says that baseball is a boring game?

* Yes, I know the "Red Sox are the new Yankees" argument is nearly indisputable, but that doesn't mean that I can't feel for Rays fans.

I imagine they felt the same sinking feeling seeing Jonathan Papelbon trot into the game last night that I am used to from years of seeing Mariano Rivera enter late in games.

Sorry about that.

(Image from:

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Can they package a side of Papi with that, too?

I'd be a completely worthless blogger if I didn't pile on regarding the wild speculation on the big free agent names every fall.

Sure, technically every team is looking at every free agent - and if they're not, then how do they justify their billable hours? - but the two big names in the front of the pack this hot stove season are Manny Ramirez and Jake Peavy.

Peavy is an easy one, as he's announcing his preference to stay in the National League where he can stick with hitters he already has a book on and won't face a designated hitter several times a game.

The best part of this is Greg Maddux's comment that he's stuck around the NL for his entire career because he's not stupid.

A trickier discussion arises around Ramirez who is the best way to start an argument with Red Sox fans this month. In the plus column is his status as arguably the best pure hitter in the majors right now. In the minus column is his "Mannyness" and his representation by Scott Boras.

The question with Ramirez is what it has been for years now - how much crap are you willing to put up with to reap the benefits of his big bat that doesn't disappear in the brightest spotlights?

If you're the Cubs, that crap threshold may be higher than most. Hence, the Manny to Chicago rumors are already swirling. Intertwined with this is the question of how to move Alfonso Soriano and his massive contract.

If nothing else, it gives Cubs fans something to talk about besides curses and how Old Style matches up against Bud Light.

(Image taken for Siberian Baseball)

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Thinking about omens

So, which is a worse omen? Having tonight's Red Sox/Rays game preempted by a rerun of the Steve Harvey Show or having an umpire leave the field with an injury?

Aside from having more sets of eyeballs pointed at a television with Steve Harvey on it than any other time in history, TBS resolved its issues on the standard and high definition sides of the equation and Chip Carey told us that he was very, very sorry several times.

I didn't really buy into any of the mea culpas.

The ongoing Josh Beckett storyline continues to boil to the surface every few batters tonight with his velocity down and the peeks into the dugout showing a mixture of pain and frustration. With a 15-minute delay resulting from the injury to umpire Derryl Cousins, Beckett is still in the game right now after giving up a home run to Jason Bartlett.

Call me crazy, but with a franchise that is antsy after Beckett stayed in too long in Game 2 of this series and still makes Grady Little references five years after a long night for Pedro Martinez in the Bronx, maybe Tito Francona could err on the side of caution one of these times.

There's an old philosophy - and I'm almost ashamed to admit that I believe it's featured in Tim McCarver's Baseball for Brain Surgeons and Other Fans - that managers need to make decisions on pitchers based on what they think they will do next and not what they have just done.

Judging by what we're seeing into the sixth inning in Florida, I think it's time to lean on that bullpen again. I'd prefer for this to be a bloody sock game that only serves to shore up Beckett's legacy as a post-season ace instead of the first verse in the ballad of Big Game James.

(Update: The Captain just drove Shields from the game with a solo shot in the sixth inning to put the Sox up 3-2.)

(Image taken for Siberian Baseball)

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Big brass ones

Say what you will about Curt Schilling's political leanings and tendency to maybe, occasionally run his mouth at the wrong time, but he has to be one of the more interesting athletes to grace the national scene in the past 20 years.

That he dares to do this in an age of constant media attention - in Boston, no less - where text messages can end up as bulletin board fodder - is either brave or very, very stupid depending on where you stand.

Regardless, Schilling will have a solid reputation when he's finished for being incredibly accessible as a player between his blog, calls to sports radio hosts and posting on fan boards.

Case in point was last night's Sox game where Schilling threw out the first pitch (and bounced it).

With David Ortiz coming to bat, Schilling posted a simple prognostication on the Sons of Sam Horn board:

Incoming Sox walkoff...

While Schilling and the fans had to wait a bit, he got his wish. I just want to know where he posted from. Blackberry? A reporter's laptop? Theo's office?

(Image taken for Siberian Baseball)

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

There are no wrong answers

What's more annoying? Nomar Garciaparra's batting glove fidget dance or Kevin Youkilis sliding his hand all the way to the sweet spot as he sets his trigger?



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One in, one left

In a matchup that Major League Baseball can't be very thrilled with, the Phillies punched their ticket to the World Series this evening with a 5-1 win over the Dodgers.

They now wait for the winner of the Red Sox and Rays series, which resumes tomorrow night at Fenway.

What this means in broad strokes is that MLB has lost teams from Los Angeles (twice, depending on how you count) Chicago (twice) and Milwaukee (OK, who really cares?).

With the Red Sox coming face to face with their own limitations, Tampa is a game away from joining the Phillies in the World Series. Wow, those TV ratings should rival reruns of the Golden Girls.

So, be prepared for plenty of 2004 and 2007 references during tomorrow night's telecast. I'm also guessing that Bud Selig isn't above placing a few phone calls to the umps tonight. You know, to keep things interesting long enough to see a few dozen more promos for Frank TV.

Because who can't get enough of those? I love those almost as much as I love this town.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

I'd expect that from a Sox fan

For anyone who missed the Saturday Night Live special Thursday feature, you missed Bill Murray standing up and asking what the candidates would do to help the Cubs and their fans.

From Maureen Walker's The Watcher blog:

Bill Murray, who appeared as himself in a sketch lampooning the town-hall presidential debate last Tuesday, asked Sen. John McCain (Darrell Hammond) and Sen. Barack Obama (Fred Armisen) what they would do to ensure that the Cubs would never lose in the playoffs again.

"Last week, in the National League divisional playoffs, the Chicago Cubs faced the Los Angeles Dodgers. In Game 1, the Cubs lost 7-3. In Game 2, they lost 10-3 and in Game 3, 3-1. What, as president, would you do to guarantee that this never happens again? Senators, in your answers, please be specific,” Murray asked.

“That's a fair question, William, but let's face it, the Cubs may very well be in the playoffs again, perhaps even next year. If so, they will lose again, and they will keep right on losing year after year after year, because that is what the Cubs do. We as a nation have got to wean Cubs fans away from supporting that team and train them to root for other teams – teams that will actually have a chance at winning,” Armisen-as-Obama said.

"Senator McCain?" moderator Tom Brokaw (Chris Parnell) asked.

“Here I have to agree with my opponent,” Hammond-as-McCain said. “Let me give you some straight talk, my friends: The Cubs will never win the pennant, much less the World Series! Junior over there, he won’t tell you that. I just did.”

The thing is that as a Sox fan, the answer from actual Obama might not be far off.

Still, I'm betting that in addition to the fan who has made news lately for auctioning off his fanhood, you'd have quite a few takers if you could jump ship like seeking political asylum.

I wonder how many would jump to the South Side if there would be no repercussions. To be honest, the bandwagon is still pretty full, despite all of these unpleasant twists and turns.

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Apparently the Dodgers are not unbeatable

Brad Lidge just shut the door on the Dodgers, giving Philly a 1-0 lead in their series. The Phillies came from behind, held onto the lead and won a game at home.

Nice to see that's possible.

On to the matchups for the League Championship Series in the AL and NL.

National League:

Phillies vs. Dodgers - The series was tied 4-4 in the regular season, but Philly broke free tonight in the first game to really matter.

Here's where it gets interesting - the home team won each game in the regular season. Additionally, the Phillies won their games at home against Los Angeles in August. Let's call this the anti-Cub effect.

To summarize, the Phillies won home games, after the addition of Manny Ramirez and won again tonight. It's pretty simple really:

Step one - Make the playoffs
Step two - Secure home field advantage
Step three - Win your home games
Step four - Dance on field with large trophy

American League:

Rays vs. Red Sox - Another one to sink your teeth into. Divisional foes face off after 18 games in the regular season. Red Sox 8, Tampa Bay 10. By my count, half of those 18 were won or lost by a reliever, so don't be surprised by barn burners.

My concerns about the Sox stand - Mike Lowell is hurt. JD Drew is hurt. David Ortiz is not the same monster he was with Ramirez in the lineup. I also stand by the statement that if teams other than the Cubs, Angels or Rays made the World Series, I'd be surprised.

Consider me surprised.

* What about Ortiz?

When I have more than a few minutes to spend, we'll check out Ortiz's numbers pre- and post-Manny, but with a .282 average, 12 RBI and 5 HR in the final 10 regular season games, things don't seem so bad.

Granted, seven of the RBI and three of the HR came in two games, but the numbers on their own aren't so bad.

In four games against the Angels, Ortiz is 4-for-17 with one run, one RBI and three walks. Just for a simple comparison, last year, he was 5-for-7 with five runs, three RBI and six walks.

It's an imperfect comparison, but the numbers are really off this season. Whether it's an injury, a lack of protection in the lineup or just the ups and downs of a slugger's season, something is amiss.

So, yeah, enjoy the series, Sox fans.

(Image from:


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Pictures worth 1,000 words

Once again, Palehose 8 has shown us the way.

Sometimes I hate it when he's right.

(Image from: Palehose 8... obviously)

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The Red Sox break a nasty streak

With all the chaos in my own backyard (and the late starts on the West Coast on school nights) the Red Sox have gotten lost in the shuffle a bit.

I guess that's the price that's paid when you win two championships in four years. Luckily, the Cubs made sure I'd be able to focus on just one team going forward in the playoffs.

Nice of them.

One of the more interesting notes pieces I've read this week was this one from the Boston Globe which pointed out that the defending champs hadn't won a single game since 2001.

(Wednesday night), the Red Sox will attempt to do something that has not been done since the very early morning of Nov. 2, 2001. Shortly after midnight, Byung-Hyun Kim submarined a meatball toward Scott Brosius, who clobbered a walkoff home run to left field. The New York Yankees had defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series.

And the defending World Series champions had won a playoff game. It hasn't happened since.

Sound strange? It shouldn't.

The '03 Angels and '04 Marlins join the '06 White Sox and '07 Cardinals as four teams that didn't even make the postseason after winning it all the year before.

The '02 Diamondbacks were swept by the Cardinals and the '05 Red Sox were shown the door by the White Sox in three games.

This stat impresses me on two levels.

First, it lends weight to the conventional wisdom that it's harder to repeat because you become the target for the rest of the league. Add to that all sorts of other intangibles - distractions from appearing in commercials, lack of a common goal, etc. - and it's amazing that anyone is able to succeed in the follow up year.

Secondly, I have even more respect for the Yankees teams of the 30's, 40's, 50's and early 60's that kept rolling off championships tear after year. There are stories of players being shorted during contract negotiations because the team counted playoff bonuses as found money.

Fewer teams, no wild cards and the ability to be there year in and year out?

It was a different game back then.

* For the sake of posterity:

Dodgers advance past the Cubs (3-0)
Phillies advance past the Brewers (3-1)

White Sox survive and play the Rays again tomorrow (Rays 2, Sox 1)
Red Sox lead Angels 2-0 with Game 3 tied 4-4 in the top of the seventh inning

(Image from:

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People who get it, people who don't

Best regular season record in the National League.

Worst postseason record in the National League.

So it goes.

I'd like to point everyone to Goat Riders this morning which is doing a great job of mopping up the unmitigated mess that was the Chicago Cubs 2008 playoff run. Of course, this means roping some of the strays back into the herd and taking a hard line on the fans who refuse to admit the earth is round and that there is no curse, spell or supernatural occurrence that caused the Cubs to fail this year.

I don't live on a hill, or behind a pulpit. I'm not looking down on people from a pedestal. I'm just another fan, like everybody else reading this blog, and I really have no place to preach at people. More importantly, I am certainly not a betterfan than anybody. Anybody.

But I am very tired of certain kinds of fans. The pessimists, the woe-is-me's, the doom-sayers, I feel great frustration when I hear from those people. All along we've known a few simple facts - the Cubs were the best team to enter the playoffs, but the playoffs are a crap-shoot where momentum means everything. The best team got eliminated last night, and it happened because they lost their momentum very early in Game 1 and never found a way to get it back.

It's not about curses, it's about crap-shoots. As Billy Beane has always said, you can assemble a great team and put all the pieces together, but once they actually get there other factors come into play. So, to all the insanely negative fans who have allowed a lifetime of losing to distort their world views, I'm sorry, but I have nothing for you.

Amen. Sometimes shit happens.

More frustrating than the lack of progress in the second consecutive playoff sweep is the new wave of speculation that Cubs' fans actually prefer to lose, that it gives us an identity and that if the team actually would win a World Series, it would dash the numbers of fans.

Right. Just like the massive die off of Red Sox Nation after 2004 and 2007.

As a fan with a foot in each camp, I get to put up with this all over again. I nearly took the bait yesterday in the comments section of Babes Love Baseball, where one of the commenters outed themselves as clueless to the whole matter:

Would Cubs fans truly enjoy a World Series victory? Is that what they actually want?

I ask because if they should ever win one again, then Cubs fans lose their ability to complain about how it sucks to be a Cubs fan, and pity this, pity that, it's a hard knock life kind of stuff.

I'm on the fence with the Cubs. I would like for them to win once so I no longer have to hear about poor Cubs fans, but on the other hand, should they win one I could easily see them becoming just as annoying as the Red Sox and their fan base.

Same nonsense as before with the Red Sox and to a lesser extent, the White Sox, and it's never been the case. On the last point? Oh, yeah, that would totally happen. Biggest bandwagon in the history of baseball.

To paraphrase Bill Simmons in the pre-Boston domination era, we just want to be a normal team with no baggage associated with October baseball. Anyone who suggests otherwise has a screw loose somewhere.

No one likes being the loser and prolonged talk about curses and other title droughts only heaps on the pressure that's felt by the team.

Sometimes teams just lose because they cool off at the wrong time, lose momentum and stall out in a short series. Game 2 will be the thorn in my side this winter as a short stretch of defensive ineptitude torpedoed the season in a matter of minutes.

A supernatural goat didn't sweep the Cubs, a Dodgers team with the addition of young talent, Manny Ramirez and players returning from injury in time for October did.

But, as Phil Rogers pointed out this morning, favorites falling early is hardly unheard of in a short series:

The Cubs become the ninth team in the last 14 seasons to lead their league in victories and not advance past the first round. Only five of the No. 1 seeds went on to win the World Series, making it almost twice as likely for a regular-season powerhouse to go the way of the Cubs than to win a championship.

And here's one final factoid: None of the five teams that dominated in both the regular season and the postseason brought in a priest to sprinkle holy water in the dugout on the day of Game 1.

Imagine that.

I dream of a day like that, Phil. I really do. Maybe next year...

(Image taken for Siberian Baseball)

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

This is a new one

Honestly, in my years of being a fan of sports, I can't recall ever hearing of Muslim intervention. Sure, people pack churches on Sundays and keep checking their watches to make sure they see the kickoff for the Bears' game. I've heard plenty of priests joke that they'll keep it short to reach that end.

On Opening Day this season, I saw a few rows of Cubs jerseys in my church a mile from Wrigley for the morning service.

Safe to say, there are plenty of prayers for the home team sneaking in amongst the serious pleas to a higher power.

But honestly, never Muslims.

Until now.

The prayerful will arrive at Wrigley Field this afternoon to try and right the sinking ship. My favorite quote is at the end of the piece:

Islamic scholar Inamul Haq said seeking Allah's intervention is usually reserved for serious concerns such as bringing rain to a drought or, on a personal level, granting success to a job-seeker so he can feed his family.

"Usually Muslims do not do that for things which are, I would say, morally neutral, and which do not have any element of human suffering," he said.

No suffering? What about that century of futility?

"I am not much for games," he allowed. "Maybe I do not realize the intensity of feeling which fans have for these things."

No. No, you do not.

On the plus side, this might solve the who's right issue once and for all. If 100 years of Catholic God failed and Allah steps up right out of the gate there may be a mass of conversions in the greater Chicagoland area in early November.

(Image from:

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

A quick bedtime story

With one out to go before the Cubs go down 2-0 in the series, the one shred of hope I am now forced to cling to comes courtesy of my experience as a fan of another beleaguered team, the Boston Red Sox.

Sure, bleary-eyed Cubs fans will spend tomorrow morning telling themselves that in 2004, the Sox rattled off four straight against the Yankees and made it to the World Series, where they finally reached the promised land.

Four games is more than three and the Dodgers are no Yankees, but that's not where I'll be drawing inspiration. (Game Two just ended with a called strike.)

The lessons of 2004 are a double edged sword. On the downside, it takes a team that doesn't feel the pressure to break decades of pent up hope and heartbreak and can just go out and play baseball. I don't feel that the Cubs are that team. One of the only reasons I can see for the offensive drought is that the hitters feel the hopes of the city crashing down on them every time they enter the batter's box.

In short, this team knows its fans a little too well.

On the positive side, 2004 taught me that a team making small strides on a pitch-by-pitch basis can come back, regardless of the opponent. The Cubs aren't facing a team that has bullied them for decades on end and will get out of Chicago for a few days, which hopefully makes things easier for them.

That said, here's a quick story that will keep me going into Saturday's showdown with elimination.

Even after the Red Sox climbed out of their three games to none hole, they still needed to play game seven in the Bronx. Most Boston fans couldn't bring themselves to feel better about that game, stopping just short of insisting that fate had brought them to that point just to smash them on the rocks of despair once again.

I watched cautiously, but I did watch.

Then, a weird thing happened. David Ortiz hit a two run homer with two out in the first to give the Sox an early lead.

In the second, Johnny Damon hit a grand slam to give Boston a 6-0 lead. It was that grand slam that signaled to Sox fans that things just might be OK.

For the first time in a long while, it was.

Final score? 10-3. The Red Sox were headed to the World Series and that game is seen as an afterthought now, missing the drama of the three games that came before it.

That's my point here. As a rational fan (sometimes) I know that the odds are in favor of the Cubs sluggers continuing to struggle, press and ultimately fail as they have for two years running with these players and for a century prior to that for the ballclub as a whole.

I know that given two games at home, the Dodgers should wrap up this series in a game or two and that Cubs fans will quietly slink back to dark rooms for the next few weeks to quietly listen to Eddie Vedder's new song on a near constant loop and focus on the "someday" lyric in "Someday We'll Go All the Way."

I also know that teams that seem unbeatable sometimes fall apart and that a little momentum can go a long way. I know that the Cubs have no one to blame but themselves for lack of run production and sloppy fielding like the kind that plauged them in tonight's game. I know that if the team can stop beating itself, it has a shot to at least hang around long enough for the Dodgers to make some mistakes to capitalize on.

I know, and I cling to this particular point, that sometimes in must-win games, Johnny Damon slaps a home run into the foul pole and your team runs away with a game that caused you to lose sleep over in sickening anticipation. Because of that, I know that when faced with a game you feel there's no way your team can win, every once in a while that team comes in and wins in a laugher that leaves you wondering why you even doubted them in the first place.

I know this because I've lived through this and feel much the same way tonight as I did after the Red Sox were whipped 19-8 on the night of a good friend's wedding.

What I don't know is if the Cubs are up to the challenge of following in the footsteps of idiots for a few weeks in October.

(Image from:

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Well, at least it isn't Zambrano's fault

There are two outs in the top of the fourth inning of the Cubs/Dodgers game and Chicago has made errors at first, second and third base.

Add Ryan Theriot's barehanded adventure and it's been an amazing game all around for the Cubs.

My wife wasn't watching the game when I passed through to the kitchen in the middle of the "bleed out" inning.

"What's the score?" she asked.

"I dunno, like four or five to nothing," I said. "The defense is playing like shit."

"Wow," she said. "That's a lot of runs if the game just started."

It's like she's never seen the Cubs play before.

Update: Hey, hey! Theriot just got his error. That's one for everyone! A new record! Mark it down! Aww, hell... Why am I still watching this? It's like watching TBS broadcast someone breaking into my truck.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Stop me if you've heard this one

Being a Cub fan in October is a lot like living in a constant state of deja vu. Sure, it's nice that there are two tracks to take, but neither one ends well.

Track one is the one everyone is used to, where you tune into games just a tad late, check your e-mail and wonder if you're a bad fan if you turn off the game in favor of reruns of The Office or to fire up the Xbox. Needless to say, track one is the October where the Cubs miss the playoffs. Will they miss by a little or miss by a lot? Surprise me.

Track two is the one where the Cubs make the playoffs, people go nuts and every 100 years or so, they join the White Sox in the postseason. Usually, they make the playoffs comfortably by virtue of a soft NL Central schedule and hopes are high until first pitch.

Then, the bats go quiet, the stars curl up into the fetal position and you're left looking at the final score and wondering how it got that out of hand.

Again, stop me if you've heard this one.

Tonight, the Cubs walked eight batters - seven of those by the starter, Ryan Dempster - including two free passes to the other team's pitcher. Additionally, the top five batters were two-hit by the Dodgers, with Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee picking up one hit a piece. Both also grounded into double plays.

If all of this seems extra familiar this year, it's because the team has picked up where it left off last year, when they were swept by the Diamondbacks in a series so quick that it didn't hurt much.

Lee had four hits in the series, Alfonso Soriano had two and Ramirez had a fat oh-fer.

The three sluggers had one thing in common - zero RBI for the trio. That's in last year's series and in tonight's game against Los Angeles.

The two teams square off again tomorrow night in Chicago and I honestly can't blame any Cubs fans that pass on the festivities because they have reached their breaking point prematurely this season. After all, it is a new episode of The Office tomorrow night.

* Because I probably won't get a chance to post before tomorrow night's game, I'll piece this in here:

Carlos Zambrano is starting a critical game in the postseason for the Cubs. Zambrano has never gotten credit for a win in four tries. With an ERA of 4.37 Zambrano only has one loss, but the team has gone on to lose all four.

Much has been made here in Chicago of the wisdom of starting Zambrano with the second slot in the rotation over Ted Lily, but it is what it is. The question circle around Zambrano's all-or-nothing reputation, especially in light of his no-hitter followed by an outright implosion following the death of his grandmother.

No, that's not his fault, but anyone who has seen the past months worth of games can't deny the fact that Zambrano will run hot an cold on you. If you are ready to live and die by the Cubs tomorrow night, this matchup should be giving you nightmares to the point that you'll be worthless at work tomorrow morning.

My suggestion is that Ron Santo should just try to stay out late tonight and get to the ballpark early to see if anyone needs a hand on the grounds crew or moving boxes of hot dog buns or something.

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