Archive for February, 2007

It’s Go Time!

February 28, 2007

The Cubs actually play a game tomorrow!  I know it’s just the first game of spring training, but there will be people with different jerseys in the other dugout.  That makes it real enough for me to get excited.

Plus it’s those roid-ridden Giants, so at least there’s somebody to boo.  I doubt Barry will play, but if he can fit his tremendous melon of a cranium through the clubhouse door, we Cubs fans can give him the greeting he deserves.  Is there any truth to the rumor that the weight of his head caused those condos to slide down the hill in San Francisco yesterday?

On the pitching front, the Cubs have received good news since spring training began.  Zambrano was resigned, Prior and Wood are both on track to pitch in games next week and Jae Kuk Ryu was traded for a bag of baseballs.  All in all, there are reasons for Larry Rothschild to be at least cautiously optimistic about his staff.

I do believe that if Kerry can remain remotely healthy, he has the demeanor to be a nasty-ass closer.  Since the Cubs already ruined him for the long-term by riding him like a Clydesdale when he was young, maybe they can revive him by only asking him to throw 20 pitches 3-4 times per week.  That’s assuming that we will be in a save situation 3-4 times per week.  (Knock on Wood.)  Don’t invest in Ryan Dempster rookie cards…

Can You Say “Road Trip?”

February 23, 2007

I thought you could.

Cubs single game tickets went on sale today!  Luckily, I still have a few contacts in Chicago who can usually rustle up some decent seats at Wrigley if I give them enough warning.

I’m sensing a pilgrimage in my future.

You Gotta Keep It in the Park

February 21, 2007

I haven’t been able to write my full missive on the Cubs pitching prospects for 2007, but suffice it to say if you plan to keep the baseball within the firndly confines of the ivy when the wind is blowing out of that tiny field, you have to have some horses on the mound. (I think that’s enough mixed metaphors for one sentence.)

The Cubs made a good step in that direction by signing Carlos Zambrano to a one year, $12.4 million deal and avoiding arbitration.

zambrano.jpg

He is exactly the kind of hard-nosed pitcher who the Cubs need to keep hitters back on their heels in the batter’s box. He really is a frightening presence on the mound.

On a related note, Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” releases on DVD on March 27.

apocalypto.jpg

Pre-Spring Training Prospects

February 15, 2007

OK, so now I’m a Cubs fan.  Let’s take a look at what I’ve gotten myself into.

The Cubs lost 96 games last year.  Hey, there were two teams with worse records.  Kansas City and Tampa Bay.  Moral:  Don’t have two words in the name of your city.  But still that’s a lot of losing.

Let’s drill a little deeper-the heartbreak factor.  What was the Cubbies record in 1-run games?  15-26.  the worst in the majors.  Uh oh.  That demonstrates a lack of heart and grit and a paucity of pitching.  Or maybe Dusty Baker was a crappy game manager.  Yeah, that’s it.  Lou Pinella will fix all of that.

How about historically?  Hmm…last in the World Series in 1945.  Last won the world series a century ago.  Nowhere to go but up.

Let’s look on the bright side.  They’re for sale.  That’s a good thing!  Baseball teams that are for sale feel free to open up the purse strings and pay megabucks for free agents, because they know that the new owners will end up paying the bulk of the salaries and it will improve the perceived value of the entire franchise.  It’s kinda like putting in a new Viking kitchen in your house when you know you’re going to sell it in a year.  You should get your money back for it, plus you get to enjoy the bad-ass stove top until you move.

That’s one for the good.  So who did the Cubs pick up in the off-season?  Of course the big news was paying $136 million (that’s nine figures!) for Alfonso Soriano.  He’s a stud who seems to get more powerful every year.  Which is a good thing, since he’ll be almost 40 by the time his contract is up.  Hell, if he keeps improving at this rate, he’ll hit 96 home runs in the last year of his contract.  I guess I’m already drinking the Cub-ade.

Mark DeRosa was a solid pickup at second base, since he can play almost anywhere on the field and can bat anywhere in the order.  He should prove to be the definition of a utility infielder.  But hopefully he won’t play much at third base, since Aramis Ramirez agreed to come back to the Cubs for a paltry $73 mill over five years.  I guess he figured at that rate, he couldn’t afford the moving van.

If nothing else, the Cubs will have the roster with the most romantic sounding Latin names on it with players like (cue Antonio Banderas): Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Angel Guzman, Roberto Novoa and Geovany Soto.  Unfortunately, all that sexiness is completely undone by Ryan Dempster, Rocky Cherry and Buck Coats.

You notice the one thing I didn’t mention in all those positive roster moves?  Any new pitching. Ah, there’s the rub.  We’ll address that next time campers.  Until then, tip back an Old Style for me.

Welcome to the Born Again Cubs Fan!

February 14, 2007

Last October over at my regular home, I declared my general malaise over the state of baseball. After the World Series was over, I realized that I hadn’t watched an entire baseball game all season because I no longer had a team that I felt passionate about. So, in the spirit of our speed-dating society, I declared my free agency as a baseball fan.

I asked friends and family to suggest who I should root for and why, and the lobbying became intense. In the end, I put some extra names into the hat and took some teams out and let kismet determine who I was going to be a fanatical follower of. The gods must have a sense of humor, because it was the Cubs.

Was I disappointed? Certainly not. I have a history with the Cubs. I’ve been to Wrigley 5-6 times over the course of 20+ years. I have a lot of good friends who are Cubs fans. I really like beer.

So here is where I will share my experiences of rededicating myself to the Cubs and fandom in general. I pledge to follow the team, read the box scores, tell some old stories from my past experiences as a Cubs fan, share some rumors and unprofessional analysis.

Come along with me on the bobsled ride to hell that is futility. It’ll be fun!