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Ramblings 06/07/2010

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I snapped this picture of Ryno coaching 3rd base Sunday in Des Moines.A Monday morning mish-mash….

I spent a BEAUTIFUL Sunday afternoon watching AAA baseball in Des Moines, home of the Iowa Cubs and their current head coach Ryne Sandberg. I grew up a Cub fan, and visited Wrigley Field in most summers growing up. I have seen many Cub greats play in the Friendly Confines. Santo, Banks, Reuschel, Suter, Monday, Jenkins, Beckert, Grace, Maddox. The list goes on and on. I then watched the Cubs when they visited Coors Field when I lived in Colorado for the 90’s and most of the 00’s. I guess I have seen most every Cub great play in person for the past 40+ seasons. To me, the greatest Cub of all during that time was Sandberg. His Hall of Fame Career in Chicago has cemented him as one of the best 2nd baseman to ever play the game. During his career, he combined tremendous range and skill defensively with power at the plate. A rare combination at 2nd at the time. He was a 10 time all-star, won 9 gold gloves and 7 silver slugger awards. He was the NL MVP in 1994 and was elected to the HOF in 2005. In addition, he is still the last 2nd baseman to lead his league in home runs when he topped the NL in ’90 with 40 round trippers. I have been out to the ball yard a few times this season and I must admit it is still a thrill to see old #23 in Cubbie blue. My hope is to see him manage in Wrigley in the future……..

The Flyers allowed 7 pucks into their net in game 5 (photo Jim McIsaac-Getty images)

The Flyers are in trouble. They dropped game 5 to the Blackhawks in Chicago to go down 2-3 in the series. Sure, the home team has won all 5 games so far, but in the 3 games played in the Madhouse on Madison, Philly has had no answer for the energy the Hawks draw from the largest, and perhaps loudest crowd in the NHL. That place gets ROCKING during the National Anthem and the Flyers find themselves down before they gain their legs. Even if they can extend the series by winning a game 6 in the City of Brotherly Love, game 7 will be back in the Windy City. The Hawks WILL win the Cup!………

What a gutsy performance by the Celtics in game 2 of the NBA Finals. After failing to show up in game 1 against the Lakers and getting waxed in LA, Boston

The Celtics rose above the Lakers Sunday, capturing game 2 and sending the series to Boston tied at a game each (photo: Ronald Martinez-Getty Images)

came out and took a big lead early in game 2. To their credit, the Lakers refused to roll over, and took a lead in the 4th quarter. Boston then closed out a 16-4 run over the last 5+ minutes to take game 2, and home court advantage, away from LA. As the series now shifts to Boston, make no mistake about it, this will be a long series. If Beantown wants to prevail over Hollywood, they can not afford to take another game off as they did in game 1……

Finally, as I flipped back and forth between the NHL and NBA games on Sunday, I was reminded of an old addage. While the seconds of the last 2 minutes of the basketball game melted slowly away, the final few minutes of the hockey game flew by. It took twice as long to play the final 2 of the Celtics-Lakers than to play the final 5 of the Flyers-Blackhawks, reminding me that if you only have 2 minutes left to live, you want it to be the last 2 minutes of an NBA game.

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Opening Day 04/05/2010

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Baseball!! I found this via a Facebook friend linked from utube. It is Perfect, obviously, for Cub fans. But also for any baseball fan. I LOVE opening day. The Boys of Summer are BACK!!!

TU-LO! 08/11/2009

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Colorado Rockies short stop Troy Tulowitzki hit for the cycle against the Chicago Cubs Monday night.  He became the fifth Rockie to

Troy Tulowitzki connects for his 21st home run during the first inning

Troy Tulowitzki connects for his 21st home run during the first inning

 accomplish the feat for the franchise since its inception in 1993.  Tulo went 5-5 for the game and collected a career high 7 rbi.  The 11-5 victory for the Rockies was their third win in the 4 game series.  The victory moved the Rockies 1 game ahead of the San Francisco Giants and into sole possession of first place in the National League Wild Card race.  They remain in 2nd place in the NL West, 5 1/2 games behind the LA Dodgers.  The loss drops the Cubs to 3 games behind the St Louis Cardinals, winners over Cincinnati 4-1, In the NL Central.  The Cubs also trail the Rockies by 3 games in the Wild Card race. 

Tulo’s  night began with a 2 run home run in the bottom of the

Tulo's 7th inning triple completes the cycle

Tulo's 7th inning triple completes the cycle

first to give the Rockies a 2-0 lead.  Tulo’s bid for the cycle almost ended in the second inning.  Coming to bat with the bases loaded, he took a big swing at the first pitch and drove it deep into the Colorado twilight.  The drive landed on the left field concourse after flying high above the left field foul pole.  Tulo and the Rockies thought he had just hit a grand slam, but the drive was ruled to be foul.  Rockies manager Jim Tracy came out of the dug out to argue, and called for the first replay in Coors Field history.  The call was upheld, and Tulo lost his slam, but promptly singled to left , driving in 2 runs.  In the forth, Tulo doubled to center, driving in Todd Helton for his fifth rbi of the game.  He came to bat in the seventh only a triple short of the cycle.  He stroked a 3-2 pitch down the left field line.  On most nights that hit would have been a double, but Tulo pressed on and dove head first into third base before Cub 3rd baseman Jake Fox could catch a poor throw and apply the tag.  The cycle was his.  Tulo added a 2 rbi single to center in the eighth inning.  Tulowitzki became only the second player ever in the modern era (post 1903) to hit for a cycle and perform an unassisted triple play, two rare baseball events.  John Valentin got the triple play on 7/8/1994 and the cycle on 6/6/1996, both while with the Red Sox.  Tulo got his triple play on 4/29/2007.

Rockies notes:  Tulo’s home run was his 21st of the season while Clint Barmes hit his 16th in the second inning.  Todd Helton singled twice during the game to extend his hitting streak to 15 games.  Pitcher Jorge De La Rosa improved his record to 10-8.

Monday mish mash 08/03/2009

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A little bit about a lot of things.  Today is update day, revisiting several topics we have discussed in the past few weeks.

The Denver Broncos have begun training camp, and the saga continues with disgruntled wide out Brandon Marshall.  Marshall left practice during the morning session on Sunday.  He missed the afternoon session, and the morning

Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton (8), the Broncos new head coach and quarterback.

Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton (8), the Broncos new head coach and quarterback.

 session today.  As I write this, there has been no definitive word from Denver as to the nature or severity of the injury.  Marshall limped off of the practice field, and some speculate it is either a hamstring or hip issue.  Marshall, who has demanded to be traded,  is recovering from off season hip surgery, and had, from all reports, looked good during the early camp sessions.  As you will recall, it was a tumultuous off season for the Broncos and new head coach Josh McDaniels.  He was the subject of a segment of ESPNs Outside the lines.  It is an interesting piece.  Watch it here: http://sports.espn.go.com/videohub/video/video?id=4369078

University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz stated last week that running back Jewel Hampton is expected to be fine and at 100%

Quarterback Ricky Stanzi returns to lead the Hawkeyes in 2009

Quarterback Ricky Stanzi returns to lead the Hawkeyes in 2009

for the Hawkeyes training camp.  That is good news for Iowa, but still watch for significant contributions from red shirt freshman Jeff Brinson and perhaps even true freshman Brandon Wegher at the position.  During the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, the Hawkeyes were picked to finish forth in the Big Ten this season.  The Hawkeyes face a brutal away schedule within the conference.  The Hawkeyes face Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State, all on the road.  My thoughts are that the Hawks will be better than the Media experts predict.  On defense,  they have a solid linebacking corps, lead by seniors A. J. Edds and Pat Angerer, solid defensive backs including returning starters Tyler Sash and Amari Spivey, and there is experience up front.  Offensively, the Hawks have a returning starter at quarterback in Ricki Stanzi.  Besides the before mentioned running backs, Stanzi has experienced wide outs led by Darrell Johnson-Koulianos and Trey Stross, and tight end Tony Moeaki.  Place kicker Daniel Murray, who hit the last second, game winning field goal against Penn State last season, also returns.  Look for a 9-3 or 10-2 regular season, and another January bowl for the Hawkeyes this season.

In Baseball, the Cubs remain within 1/2 game of the Cardinals in the NL Central, and the Rockies have pulled within 7 games of the Dodgers in the NL West  and are tied with San Francisco for the wild card lead.  Chicago visits Colorado for a 4 game set beginning Friday.  Look for both the Cubs and Rockies to be in the post season.

The Rockies and Cubs meet again this weekend for 4 games in Denver

The Rockies and Cubs meet again this weekend for 4 games in Denver

Contending 07/20/2009

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There is life.  Ok, so it was the lowly Nationals, but in case you haven’t noticed, the Chicago Cubs have come to life.  They swept a 4 game series from the Washington Nationals, baseball’s worst team, over the weekend in the first series

The Cubs are celebrating victories more often these days

The Cubs are celebrating victories more often these days

 since the all star break.  The encouraging thing about the series, however, is not that they won, but how.  In the 4 games they did it in every conceivable way.  They won with timely hitting, they won with clutch hitting, they came from behind and won.  They won close games.  They won going away. And they did it on the road.  This team has been struggling all season.   Perhaps now they have found a groove.

Even more important, they won 2 of the last 3 games before the break from the division leading Cardinals.  In the tightly packed NL Central Division, the Cubs find themselves in 2nd place, 2 games behind St Louis.  during the week before the break they had fallen to 5th and 5 games back.  This team should be the class of the division.  They have won the Central each of the past 2 years.  But there has been no consistency in their play so far this season.  They would get good pitching but struggle at the plate.  They would score runs, but give up the lead in the late innings.  They have fought through injuries and player suspensions.  But perhaps that frustrating, seemingly fruitless first half is now behind them.  The Cubs have won 7 of their last 8 ball games.  If this team has the second half they are capable of, they will again be the Central champs.

The Rockies have been the best team in baseball over the past 40 games.

The Rockies have been the best team in baseball over the past 40 games.

Speaking of teams on a roll, the Colorado Rockies show no signs of slowing down.  On June 4th, this team was a dismal 20 – 32 and in a free fall.  All they have done since that date is go 30 – 10.  They are 8 games behind the LA Dodgers in the NL West, but they trail the San Francisco Giants by only 1/2 game in the NL Wild Card race.  They are in the Wild Card Race, and do not count them out of the division race because as good as LA is, their pitching is suspect and may not hold up all season long.  Many pundents believe the Rockies  are one or two middle relievers away from being the best team in the National League.  Watch for a move with the trade deadline fast approaching.  The starting pitching has been spectacular since early June, lead by Jason Marquis who became the first 12 game winner in the Major Leagues last night.  This team has seen consistent hitting and great fielding during this stretch.  They are one of a small number of teams that have a winning record on the road.  They approach each game expecting to win, and have played .750 ball for the last 6 weeks. 

Look for the Rockies to join the Cubs as participants in the National League playoffs at the end of the season.

Rockies Marquis became the Major League's first 12 game winner

Rockies Marquis became the Major League's first 12 game winner

Say it Ain’t So(sa) 06/17/2009

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Like the Ghost of Christmas Past, the ‘anonymous’ steroid test of 2003 keeps revisiting horror on Major League Baseball.

In 2003 , MLB, in response to public outcry about the rampant use of steroids suspected in its game, decided to test players to determine the percentage of steroid users to decide if a drug screening program was necessary.  Players

Turns out that 2003 was a bad year for Sosa, starting with the cork bat affair

Turns out that 2003 was a bad year for Sosa, starting with the cork bat affair

 who participated in the test did so under the assurance that their participation would remain anonymous, and that the results would remain private.  104 players tested positive for what we now term PEDs or performance enhancing drugs.  This result spurred MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA) to reach a collective bargaining agreement that set into motion the current testing system.  In the last 3 years, spanning thousands, if not tens of thousands of tests, fully 8 positive results have come back to MLB.  Only one so far this year.  A cynic would say that that result is because we can not or do not test for the current in vogue PEDs.  An optimist would say the program is working perfectly.  The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.  With so few positives, why is baseball constantly in the news for PEDs?  The answer to that is simple.  And complicated.

First, the one positive test this season resulted in a 50 game suspension to the LA Dodgers Manny Ramirez, one of the biggest stars in the game today.  That is the simple part.  The more complicated part is that the first name of the 104 positive results from ’03 found its way into the public earlier this season.  New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez was revealed to have tested positive while playing with the Texas Rangers back then.  After denials, A Rod came clean and admitted to the usage.  He claims to have been clean since he joined the Yankees, and has not had a positive result since formal testing began.  And yesterday, name number two of the 104 came to light. Chicago’s  Sammy Sosa was revealed to have tested positave while playing for the Cubs in ’03.   In the past, Sosa has denied any PED usage.  So far, no comment has been issued about the newest report.  Assuming it is true, 2003 was a bad year for Sosa all around because he was suspended for using a corked bat after his bat shattered during a game on June 3rd.  Sosa’s excuse about the bat was that he used corked bats during batting practice to put on a show for the fans, and that somehow one of these bats made it into his game bats.  True or not, many people did not buy that excuse back then, and are even more suspicious of it now.  Sosa is the only player to hit 60 or more home runs in 3 different season.  That, coupled with the dramatic changes in his physical appearance would lead most observers to find a revelation that he used PEDs less than a shock.  The question is, is it news if the test results are 6 years old, and should we care?  The continued existence of these tests from ’03 is what makes this such a complected situation for MLB and the MLBPA.  Here’s why.

If you are given  drug test at your place of employment and it is to remain anonymous, you have every right to expect the results to be shielded from public eyes.  But we know that 104 players tested positive.  And we know that someone

The 1998 All Star game was in Denver

The 1998 All Star game was in Denver

has that list.  Many people are calling for the list to now be made public.  Is it fair to A Rod and Sosa to have had their results made public?  No.  Would it be fair to the other 102 on the list to make their names public?  No.  But if the names keep coming out sporadically, MLB faces a death of a thousand paper cuts.  Obviously not every name on that list is a star, and so not every name would demand the attention that has been directed at A Rod and Sosa.  But for every star name, baseball is dragged through the mud.  The further argument to releasing the names is that we would know who was dirty and who was clean, but that also is incorrect because not every player was tested.  The answer is to stop the leaks.  But that is probably unrealistic.  So should baseball release the list and take the hit all at once?  See, tough questions with no easy answer.

Back to Sosa.  I know no one who is shocked to learn that he used PEDs.  And, honestly, I know very few people who care.  He was part of the 1998 home run chase that brought fans back to baseball.  Now the two principals involved in that chase, Sosa and St Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire have booth been implicated in usage of PEDs.  My point is that most people knew it at the time.  Baseball had to know, and cashed in on it.  And cashed in on Barry Bonds.  And cashed in on Rodger Clemens.  The All Star game that July was played at Coors Field in Denver. All these players were there.   As my friends and I sat through the Home Run Derby,  the discussion for a time turned to steroids (we did not have the term PED at the time).  Were these guys juicing?  Certainly not all, but just as certainly some where.  We did not know who, but we had suspicions.  It did not detract from the enjoyment of the festivities.   It did not detract from that magical summer that brought fans back to baseball.  We knew it then.  The fact that we know it now with some certainty should not detract from baseball, because now baseball is doing something to try to prevent usage.  Lets look forward, not backward with recrimination.  PEDS have been a widespread problem in all of sports.  Baseball is not unique.  But Baseball must find a way to come to terms with its past, or it will bleed to death from the thousand cuts of paper.  Or needle pokes.

1998 All Star Game Ticket

1998 All Star Game Ticket

Inside the Numbers 06/15/2009

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The Chicago Cubs have won the National League Central Division each of the last 2 seasons.  Coming into the 2009 season, the Cubs were again favored to be division champs.  But 60 games into the season, the Cubs find themselves a .500 ball club at 30-30, currently third in the division 2.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers.  Not the start they were hoping for, but it is hardly time to panic.  Or is it?

In an an attempt to shake up the offense, the Cubs relieved hitting coach Gerald Perry of his duties and promoted their

The Cubs pennant should rise to the top of the standings flags flying over the Wrigley scoreboard by the end of the season

The Cubs pennant should rise to the top of the standings flags flying over the Wrigley scoreboard by the end of the season

AAA affiliate Iowa Cubs hitting instructor, Von Joshua, to the big club.  The Cubs are currently 13th in the 16 team National League in hitting with a .246 average.  They are 10th in slugging percentage.  To be fair, the Cubs have had their share of injuries and games missed by key players. Third baseman  Aramas Ramirez has started only 17 games so far due to a dislocated left shoulder.  Milton Bradley acquired during the off season to be the big left handed bat in the lineup has started only 38 games because of various nagging tweaks and strains, and a 2 game league suspension.  In addition, First Baseman Derrek Lee got off to a slow start, but appears to be rounding into the type of hitter he has proven to be in the past.  With these players getting healthy, the power numbers should increase.  There are indications of another problem which may be more damaging and harder to overcome.

Doubles and stolen bases are an indication of overall team speed.  (Triples are usually more a function of the ball park than sheer speed.)  And the Cubs have a problem in this area.  The Cubs currently rank 13th in the  NL in both of

The Cubs fate may depend on upgrading their bullpen

The Cubs fate may depend on upgrading their bullpen

 these categories.  More importantly, the Cubs have stolen 25 bases, but have been caught stealing 15 times.  This seams to indicate a lack of overall team speed on the ball club.  Another indication of this lack of quickness may show up defensively.  The Cubs currently rank 14th in double plays turned, indicating a lack of range.  These issues may be difficult to overcome.  Pitching would seam to be a bright spot.  Through 60 games, the starting pitchers average 6.1 innings a game, third in the league.  The Cubs are also third in team ERA at 3.82.  All this with limited contribution by team ace Carlos Zambrano who is 4-2 , having spent time on the 15 day disabled list and having served a 6 game suspension for an on field temper tantrum.  He should make this starting staff even better going forward.  The problem, however, is once teams get into the bullpen.  The Cubs have recorded only 14 saves, while blowing 9 save opportunities.  That is a 40% failure rate.  In addition, the Cubs allow just over 12 base runners per nine innings pitched.  That ranks 15th in the league.

The good news for Chicago is that they are in a competitive division.  The teams have remained bunched all year, and no one is likely to break out and run away with the division.  This means that the Cubs will rise as they get  healthy.  If they want a long run into the playoffs, however, they need to address the shortcomings in the bullpen.  Watch for them to pick up a pitcher or two before the trade deadline.

Chops Night In San Jose 04/20/2009

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The eight seeded Anaheim Ducks defeated the top seeded San Jose Sharks 3-2 Sunday night to take a 2 games to none

Ducks Bobby Ryan scores the first goal in game two.

Ducks Bobby Ryan scores the first goal in game two.

 series lead in their best of seven NHL first round playoff matchup.  Both games were played in San Jose.  The Sharks are now in danger of becoming the eighth top seed to drop a series to the 8th seed since 1994.  The series shifts to Anaheim for games 3 and 4. 

Sundays victory by the Ducks featured the first ever Stanley Cup Playoff goals in the career of 3 Ducks players.  Bobby Ryan, Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller each picked up their career first markers.  All three played earlier this season for the AHL Iowa Chops in Des Moines.  Ryan opened the scoring just 3:45 into the first period with a power play goal.  He took a rebound off Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov and beat him  to his stick side.  The shot, however, was just wide and bounced off of the left goal post.  Ryan then dove, and while airborne redirected the rebound with his stick from behind Nabokov and into the goal. (See Ryan’s goal at http://www.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?hlg=20082009,3,152&event=S.J29)

The Sharks Ryane Clowe tied the score at one 5:38 into the second period.  It was the first goal in the series for the

Former Chops Bobby Ryan (top left), Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller (bottom)

Former Chops Bobby Ryan (top left), Andrew Ebbett and Drew Miller (bottom)

Sharks, who lost game one 2-0.  The score remained tied at one until 9:44 of the third period when Ebbett took a rebound off the boards behind the San Jose goal and slapped an odd angle shot off Nabokov as he moved from the left of the goal to the right to cover the near post.  The goal gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead.  They made it 3-1 three and a half minutes later when Miller stuffed a rebound off Nabokov just left of the net through traffic past the goaltender’s glove and just inside the far post.  The Ducks then held on for the 3-2 win.

Random notes from a weekend of Sports:

Clean Sweep.  Saturday was a rare day in Chicago sports.  It was the first time in 17 years that both the Bulls and Blackhawks won playoff games on the same day.  The NBA  Bulls defeated the Boston Celtics 105-103 in overtime while the NHL Blackhawks defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2.  In addition, Baseball’s Cubs defeated the St Louis Cardinals 7-5 with a walk off 2 run homer in the bottom of the 11th and White Sox beat the Rays 8-3 making the Chicago teams 4-0 for the day.

Rocky relief.  The Colorado Rockies are off to a 4-7 start.  While the schedule has been brutal (series against the Phillies, Dodgers, Cubs and Diamondbacks) with only 3 games played in Denver so far, pitching has been poor for Colorado.  The team era of 5.74 is too high, and only Jason Marquis has been consistent among the starters.  He is 2-0 with a 1.93 era in his two starts.  The bullpen has been a horror show, allowing 53 hits in 36 2/3 innings of work  including 11 home runs and has only 2 saves in 4 opportunities.  This team will hit and score runs.  But it will go only as far as the pen will take it.  It is early, but improvement must be significant.  And soon!

Baseball’s Good, Bad and Ugly 04/13/2009

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It was an eventful first weekend in Major League Baseball. 

 

The Good.  Chicago Cubs vs Milwaukee Brewers. 

Cubs Reed Johnson robs Fielder of a grand slam

Cubs Reed Johnson robs Fielder of a grand slam

 

With the Cubs leading 6-2 in the bottom of the fith inning Cubs replacement outfielder Reed Johnson robs Prince Fielder by reaching over the wall and bringing back a grand slam home run.  Fielder is credited with a sacrifice fly and an rbi instead of a grand slam homerun and 4 rbi.  Even Fielder tips his cap to Johnson as he returns to the dugout.  The Cubs go on to win the game.  (Watch the clip:  http://mlb.mlb.com/news/gameday_recap.jsp?ymd=20090412&content_id=4245924&vkey=recap&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb )

The Bad.  Los Angeles Dodgers vs Manny Rameriz?

 

Los Angeles outfielder Manny Rameriz answers a question and ignites a firestorm among Dodgers fans.  You remember Manny.  He held out for a larger contract from the Dodgers, didn’t receive it or any offers from other teams as a free

Will Manny wave bye-bye to LA after the season?

Will Manny wave bye-bye to LA after the season?

 agent and ultimately signed a one year contract (with a one year option, HIS option) for the puny sum of  20 million dollars.    The Question.  Does Manny want to return to Cleveland?  Manny broke into the majors with the Cleveland Indians where he was a teammate of  current White Sox slugger Jim Thome.  Apparently Manny and Thome had discussions during the spring about reuniting in Cleveland.  Both are potential free agents at the end of the season.  The answer?  It would be nice to go home.  The problem?  This q & a took place on the eve of the Dodgers home opener.  Dodger Nation is on fire.  When Manny became unhappy in Boston, he quit on the Red Sox.  That’s how the Dodgers acquired him in the first place.  Is he now unhappy in LA?  Will he quit on the Dodgers?  Manny being Manny?

 

 

 

 The  Ugly.  Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

 

 (No, the ugly here is not the Angels name, though it could be!)  It’s the bottom of the first, and the Angels Bobby Abreu

Both benches empty after brush back pitch in Red Sox - Angels Game Sunday

Both benches empty after brush back pitch in Red Sox - Angels Game Sunday

is at bat.  He asks for time and is granted it by the home plate umpire.  As the umpire stnds up and moves out from behind the  catcher, Abreu steps back.  Boston Pitcher Josh Beckett throws the pitch anyway, and buzzes Abreu about the head.  This is no acident, but a message.  Both benches clear.   Second base umpire and crew chief Joe West says there was no attempt to throw at Abreu.  No attempt??  Who is he kidding?  The pitch was thrown well after time was called, and was at Abreu when he was almost out of the batters box.  High School pitchers have better control than that.  It was a message.  Plain and simple.  And when MLB reviews the tape, there will be a suspension for Beckett.  Oh yes, and Anaheim won the game.  There will be further fireworks when thest teams play again later in the season.  (See the incident.  click here:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4118833)

Chicago Hope 04/08/2009

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AAAAAHHH, Spring is here!

Spring time, when all Cub fans hope fill anew!  Spring time, when the future looks bright!  In April, Cub fans sleep with visions of World Series dancing in their heads. 

No thoughts yet of all other Cub traditions and history.  No thoughts of the goat, or the June swoon, or Bartman or of the collapse of ’69.  All of  those nightmares will come, as sure as the Ivy will bloom and Wrigley will be green.  But cubs-win-wrigley-sign1 they will not come in April.  As sure as a Tinker to Evers to Chance double play, as sure as a Ernie Banks home run or a Ryne Sandberg miracle, April brings assurances that THIS is the year for all Cub fans.

It has been 101 seasons since the Northsiders have celebrated a World Series victory.  It has been since 1945 that they even appeared in one.  But it’s April and it’s possible!  This is a good team, for sure.  It is the two time defending NL central division champion.  Never mind that the Cubs were swept out of the playoffs each of the last two seasons.  Not one victory to show for their effort.  But it’s April, and the left handed power has arrived.  Milton Bradley will balance the lineup.  Never mind that he has never played a full season without injury, appearing in more than 124 games only once in his 9 seasons.  But it’s April, and new closer Kevin Gregg will be the savior.  Never mind that be blew nearly one in four of his 38 save chances for Florida last season.  Yes all is well in Wrigleyville. 

Cub fans will have many celebrations this year

Cub fans will have many celebrations this year

And with all that trepidation, all that history, this April is different.  Because it will not melt away in June, or in the dog days of July and August, or in the pressure of September.  No more Wait till next year.  Yes, Cub fans, there IS an October.  And this year, it will include the Cubs!  Remember Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks.  Win one for Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson and Keith Moreland. Sing loud and proud with Harry Caray’s memory in your heart during the 7th inning stretch.  Have hope, all you long suffering Cub Fans!  This Cub team will win 100 games, and the Fall Classic will make an appearance in the same park that hosted the NHL Winter Classic this year.  This IS the year the Cubs will be in the World Series!!