Rhyme-o-rama 2012! Part One

For the past year or so, I have done a series of pre-season posts under the moniker of “Predictorama!”, in which I tried my hand at forecasting the future year in baseball. Results were usually somewhat strange, and required more than a modicum of brainpower to dream up. Bottom line: lots of work for comparatively puny results.

I was ready to trudge through another year of wringing the psychic juices from my wet rag of a mind, but then I had another idea…

Instead of boring old humor and time consuming photo-shop projects (image doctoring is really not my gift) what if I did this year’s prognostics in poetic form? A rhyming couplet for each player on the Cubs 25-man roster. Because that wouldn’t be more complicated at all.

And that is how this year’s “rama” came to be “rhyme-o” as opposed to “predict-o”.

This is the first installment. Please laugh with me and not at me.

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Before looking to the future, let’s take a very quick look glance back…

A limerick to summarize 2011
There once was a team called the Cubs
With players that mostly were scrubs
They did what they could
But they weren’t very good
And the fans long bemoaned all their flubs.

For the team as a whole in 2012, I predict the same thing I do every year. I’m the non-commital sort, you know.

Some folks believe the Cubs will stink;
I say we’re better than they think.
Still others hold the Cubs are dope;
I fear we’re stinkier than they hope.

And before we get to the players, an itsy bitsy ode to Dale Sveum.

For Our New Manager
At the helm’s our new skipper
His name is Dale Sveum
Should the Cubs hit the cellar
He’ll shoulder the blame!

To wrap up the first installment of Rhyme-o-rama 2012, here are a few for the players.

Sir Ian Stewart inherits third base,
We hope that he will not fall flat on his face.

Matt Garza is super, and rare are his blunders,
But is he Man Or Muppet, is what I still wonders.

Will Carlos Marmol get any scarier?
Or might he defeat that mental barrier?

He may well be traded, from what I have heard,
But there’s still no denying it: Byrd is the Wyrd.

Christopher Volstad is very tall
I’ve nothing else to say at all.

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Tune in next week for more exciting rhyming action!

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I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

In January, I posted a collection of a few of the perplexing, amusing search terms that led internet searchers to The FBB. I really get a kick out of some of these… gleaning them may take months, but it’s worth it. Some are funny and some just leave me scratching my head. In any case, here is another crop. Enjoy. (Note that once again all these “Googlings” have been left exactly as they were; no corrections in spelling, grammar, etc., have been made.)

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tim lincecum bed bath and beyond girlfriend : If it was just “Tim Lincecum Bed Bath & Beyond”, or just “Tim Lincecum girlfriend”, I could understand. Combining them, though? What were you hoping to uncover with that?

judd sirott no longer doing cubs play by play : Knowing the popular opinion regarding Judd Sirott, I guess this is what one would call wishful Googling.

nutella derek jeter: One of those that I don’t understand, but I love. LOVE.

joe mauer eyelash: And another of those.

 advantages of a jumbotron in a small town: I can’t think of any.

cliff lee charming: He is, isn’t he?

is darwin barney north korean or south korean?

is darwin barney his real name

darwin barney’s last name: A face-palm triple header.

 my emails from mrs carlos and mrs dempster.: Maybe try looking in your inbox.

how can baseball be a good thing for kids: How can it NOT be?

americans listen to wgn radio every day: We do?

what does a rat as big as a tigers look like: Like THIS.

 evan longoria psychic

matt garza is adorable: In a muppety kind of way.

who died in the boston tea party: Uhhh, nobody?

town virginia boston tea party: Boston is in Massachusetts. The last time I checked.

Yep!

 suitted babies

“doctor who” fruit: I don’t know how this led to The FBB, but I am thrilled. It gives me an excuse to post this:

 people with extraterrestrial resemblance: RYAN DOUMIT!!! Is it just a resemblance, though? I’m not so sure. And I’m betting whoever searched this isn’t, either.

marlon byrd loves me: So does Jesus!

the darwin barney initiative: Who searched this? I need to know. Whoever you are, you’re my favorite.

Saying Goodbye: Your 2011 Chicago Cubs

“I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.”

I know that the average Cubs fan was relieved when the 2011 season finally ended last week, and probably doesn’t think there was much worth remembering fondly from it. I believe that there is always something worth remembering from every year. This year, by some miracle, I have come up with not one or two but TEN positive things to either take from the 2011 Cubs, to look forward to in 2012, or (in a few cases) both.

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10. Sean Marshall… the man who deserved better than the Chicago Cubs. Sean recorded 34 holds and a 2.26 ERA and all that, but I don’t need to recite his stats. We all know how good he is.

9. Jeff Baker & Reed Johnson. Is it just me? Maybe. These may not be marquis-type players, but I have determined that they are genuinely likable human beings and I enjoy watching them play very much.

8. Carlos Pena’s smirk. I’m glad Carlos got to spend a year on the North side. I’ve always been a fan, and I will miss his smile next year.

7. Matt Garza. It obviously isn’t reflected in his won-loss record, but Matt had a very good year for us. And what stands out even more than his solid pitching performances is his enthusiasm. If it was so unflappable in a stinky year like this, I would love to be able to see how psyched up he’d be for a good year of Cubs baseball.

6. Kerry Wood. If seeing Kerry back home again didn’t warm your heart, you might not have one.

5. Throwback uniform days. We got not one, but TWO vintage uni days in 2011, a rare treat. Throwbacks will never fail to thrill me.

The socks… oh! The beautiful socks!

4. Ron Santo-ness.

3. Darwin Barney. I know that a lot of Cubs fans have long since turned their noses up at Darwin, proclaiming him unworthy of whatever acclaim he may have received this year. I know he isn’t Robinson Cano or anything, but Darney certainly exceeded my expectations of him (in the first half, particularly) and that is enough for me to count him among the high points of this year.

2. Tony Campanarama’s mad wheels. I know that some of the same noses turned up against Darwin Barney are likewise against Tony. He may not possess a lethal bat, but honestly… find me someone more fun to watch on the basepaths. You won’t, because there isn’t anyone. This is more than enough to earn our little speed-demon a spot on this list.

1. STARLIN CASTRO. Enough said.

***

GM For a Day

It had reached that time of year when fans the nation over begin to put their GM caps on and think/talk about what moves they would make if they were in charge. GM caps aren’t nearly as fun to play with when your team is mired in sub .500 mediocrity, but it is something to do nonetheless.

The following is a just-for-fun looksee at what I would consider doing if I were the Cubs GM for a day. You will see that, even as sentimental as I am, I do not share real GM Jim Hendry’s somewhat alarming stance on fire-sales and rebuilding.

This may be the most heartless post I’ve ever written.

***

Dempster, Ryan: While I am trying not to let my heart interfere with my head in my pretend 1-day tenure as Cubs general manager, I can’t help it with Dempsty. I couldn’t possibly let him go anywhere. (See also: Wood, Kerry.)

Garza, Matt: I never would have traded for Matt in the first place. Unless some other team was daft enough willing to part with 3 of its top ten prospects, I wouldn’t let go of him this year. It just seems pointless.

Grabow, John: Free to a good home.

Marmol, Carlos: There was a time when I would have considered Carlos #2 as untouchable. I don’t any longer. I suppose all that 9th inning stress has gotten to my head. I am not saying that I would trade Carlos, only that I wouldn’t rule it out. And I would demand a LOT in any possible trade situation (more than he is worth.)

Marshall, Sean: Sigh. It would be difficult for me to pull the trigger on any deal involving Sean, but I hope that in the end I would be able to do what was right for him and the Cubs.

Russell, James: If John Grabow and Sean Marshall aren’t around I guess that would make James the new go-to lefty in our bullpen.

Samardzija, Jeff: He’s done OK this year, certainly better than anyone expected. I would just keep Jeff where he is and ride out that contract.

Wells, Randy: Most of these fellows fit into one of three basic divisions. One, the guys somebody may want. Two, the guys that nobody want. Three, the guys people want but can’t have. I’m afraid that Randy might be a two.

Wood, Kerry: Maybe Kerry should be a one, but he’s a three as long as I’m GM.

Zambrano, Carlos: I wouldn’t even consider Carlos #1 as trade bait. If only to annoy Paul Sullivan.

Hill, Koyie: I heard a rumor that someone might be interested in Koyie. If it’s true, he’s theirs. But it probably isn’t.

Soto, Geovany: Not for sale. Catchers, even half decent ones, are too hard to come by.

Baker, Jeff: If I were the GM of a team that was in contention, I would want Jeff Baker. As Cubs GM, I would hesitate to part with him. Players as versatile and inexpensive as Jeffy B. are worth hanging onto, even in a bad year.

Barney, Darwin: Not going anywhere on my watch.

Castro, Starlin: Crown prince of all the untouchables.

DeWitt, Blake: Blake has never really seemed like a fit on the Cubs. I would send him some place where he could be more useful.

Pena, Carlos: I love Carlos Pena. I always have. I’ve enjoyed watching him as a Cub. But he is still probably the first guy on the proverbial chopping block.

Ramirez, Aramis: The times, they are a-changing. I’m willing to say goodbye if he is.

Byrd, Marlon: Yet another prime trade candidate who I’d miss.

Campana, Tony: Should probably be in triple-A getting more seasoning and playing time, but if half the trade propositions I’ve suggested went down, he’d probably have to tough it out in Chicago.

Fukudome, Kosuke: Sayonara, Fuke. (I seriously feel so mean all of a sudden.)

Johnson, Reed: I couldn’t let go of Reed. So much for that head/heart business.

Soriano, Alfonso: Rumors, schmumors. Fonsie isn’t going anywhere, whether we like it or not.

*Jackson, Brett: I would appease the people (myself included) who would like to have a peek at Mr. Jackson in Chicago before the 2011 season expires.

*Flaherty, Ryan: How do you feel about third base, Mr. Flaherty?

***

So, how ’bout it? What would you all do if you had GM powers for a day?

While I Was Out…

I am afraid the FBB has been sadly neglected over the past few weeks, but I promise it has not been without just cause! I have been to and fro all over creation (well, really just New Market, Chicagoland, and Washington DC) and have had few moments to spare for writing.

Instead of spreading out or just ignoring the happenings of my hiatus, as I would probably usually do, I’m just gonna cram them all here into one awkward post. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get to it!

*

Love & Marriage: I can’t not include this… My most loyal reader/commenter (who also happens to be my cousin and one of my favorite people in the whole wide world) was married on June 25th. It was pure joy being there with her on that special day. Congratulations, my dear Melinda!

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Cubs: It was sort of nice to be able to ignore the Cubs for awhile, as both losses and injuries have continued to heap up. Marlon Byrd, Matt Garza, Reed Johnson and Darwin Barney all returned from the disabled list. Carlos Zambrano went in the opposite direction. Jeff Baker also came off of the DL, but then he hurt himself again. But I think he’s OK, now. Ryan Dempster was on the fritz as well. Marcos Mateo had a really lovely outing on the same day that Big Z went down, then he went down himself in his next appearance. DJ LeMahieu and Lou Montanez were sent packing to triple-A Iowa. Casey Coleman was brought up from the I-Cubs and promptly sent back down. Chris Carpenter was sent down to the I-Cubs and promptly brought back up. It’s all very mind-dizzying and, as I said, it was nice to not pay much attention for a week or so.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, however, the Cubs had pretty much ALL my attention, as I traveled with my siblings to see them play a pair of games against the Nationals in our nation’s capital. In classic Cubs fashion, they lost both games. Our experience was most fortunately redeemed thanks to our success in the “souvenir” collecting department (autographs, baseballs, etc.,)

A few notes about individuals:

“Professional” ballhawk and grade-A nincompoop Zach Hample was in attendance at Tuesday’s game. I watched him push by an innocent person right in front of me, saying loudly and flatly, “Watch out.” What ever happened to “Excuse me?” I was incredibly disappointed that no opportunity to bump, fall into or step on Mr. Hample by “accident” presented itself. It probably would have been wrong, but I would have enjoyed it immensely.

Koyie Hill: I have decided that Koyie is a really cool guy. And I think that people need to quit treating him like a kitten-eater. I don’t care what his batting average is.

Sean Marshall: Also a really cool guy. Sean probably does really deserve to play for a team better than the Cubs, but I am a selfish fan and I hope he never ever goes away.

Matt Garza: The Muppet Man definitely gained a few cool points in my book this week. We saw him outside Nationals Park and he declined to sign any autographs, saying he’d “get us inside.” I assumed he was just saying that, but he proved to be true to his word. I thought it was very good of him.

Tony Campana: What a sweetpea. That’s all I have to say.

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Starlin Castro: Starlin gets his own heading in bold because he is just that cool. And because I love him. And because he was elected to his first MLB All Star team. Let us hope it is the first of many! Congrats, kiddo!

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Rebels: As always, the New Market Rebels have been bringing much fun, excitement, and chaos into our lives. Last Friday I sat through the longest game (inning-wise) I’ve ever attended. It spanned 19, easily beating the previous record 17, and we won, so it was more than worth it.

On Saturday morning, Rebel Park hosted an open batting practice for whomever wanted to participate. It was a small group, but we had a good time. I managed to hit a few balls that made it past the infield grass, and I think one of them might have rolled all the way into the outfield grass if it hadn’t been fielded. That’s right! Look out, Albert Pujols.

Among our number were two Rebels alumni, pitcher Tim Adinolfi (1999) and third baseman Adam Frederick (2004-05.) It was extra awesome to have those guys there. I turned into a total fan when “Freddy” pitched to me on my last turn in the batter’s box. Is it fair to blame my poor contact skills on the fact that I was thinking more about that unforgettable playoff series in ’05 in which he drove in 6 runs? No? Well, I’m doing it anyway.

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Elsewhere in baseball: I was definitely jealous of the hard-core campaign the Nationals have going to get Mike Morse onto the NL All Star team via MLB.com’s “Final Vote.” If I had that kind of fire-power, the Darwin Barney initiative might have gone somewhere. Oh well.

The Cardinals released former All-Star closer Ryan Franklin. On the surface, this was not a significant piece of news to me. BUT, as St. Lou chose to fill Mr. Franklin’s roster spot with none other than legendary 2006 New Market Rebels all star closer Cotton Dickson, it quickly became very significant indeed! Major, major congrats to Cotton! Here’s hoping he sticks around in the bigs for a good long time!

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Well guys, I hope that my posts here at the FBB will be more consistent the next few weeks. Thanks for sticking out the craziness with me.

 

Wildcard Wednesday: “Are the cubs really as wild as they say?”

I’ve been a bit backed up blog-wise this week due to busy-ness and technical difficulties. Let us hope for smooth sailing from here on…

Today I thought I’d just fling around a few thoughts on the Cubs season thus far. It’s only been five days, but there is already plenty to talk about.

NL Central Standings, as of this morning

My scatter-brained thoughts on…

Tyler Colvin: Did you get a load of Tyler at first base yesterday??? He looked like a pro. I never would have expected as much, especially given the standard (years of Derrek Lee and, now, the very adept Carlos Pena) I can’t help holding him to. It was really a delight to behold. He’s had some delicious at-bats, too.

Carlos Pena: Speaking of Carlos Pena! How much do we love him already? Who could resist such gloviness or such smiles? I am happy he is on our team.

The Defense, in general: Much better, so far, than I expected. Starlin’s gems have outnumbered his hiccups. Mr. Pena has been great. Geovany Soto’s arm has saved us a number of times already. Nothing truly atrocious has happened in the outfield. Now if they can only keep it up…

Andrew Cashner: Cash put up a hey of a showing in his first ever major league start yesterday. Of course, given the Cubs fortune, his health is now in question. I am hoping and praying, for his sake and ours, that the shoulder tightness which forced Cash’s early exit proves to be nothing serious.

Matt Garza: Was very enjoyable to watch in his 12-K Cubs debut. Is even more fun to watch in the dugout during games he is not pitching.

Starlin Castro: I’ve tried to be objective when it comes to our young shortstop. I can’t do it anymore. I love this kid. He has thrilled me to my very tippy toes since I first watched him taking batting practice in Cincinnati last May. I can’t recall having as much satisfaction watching any single player as I have had watching Starlin. Of course, it is less than a week into the season. He probably is not going to maintain a batting average of over .500. Just the same, you have to think that we are going to have a whole lot of fun rooting for Starlin this year. And, hopefully, many many more years in the future.

Geovany Soto: Made the best tag ever on Sunday.
Darwin Barney: Runs funny. But so much fun to watch!


Kerry Wood: Boy is it ever nice having him back home where he belongs!

The BIRDS: The droves of seagulls and low volumes of people have made Wrigley Field something of a sight these past few days, dontcha think?

Hopefully it doesn’t come to anything like this…

Predictorama!: Your 2011 Chicago Cubs, Part One

I shall conclude all my prediculating this week with an “in-depth” peek at the Chicago Cubs. Come to think, I’ll probably due some more once October hits, but no worries! That is many months off.

For now the end (mercifully, of both Predictorama! 2011 AND the off-season) is in sight. What better to do with these few remaining days than taking a stab or two at what the future may hold for Chicago’s North-siders?

This is Part One… look for Part Two on Thursday, Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise. To help measure my expectations, I have instituted a “system” of baby sloth hugs. The more hugs, the better, obviously. It’s not an exact science, though, so don’t read too much into it.

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In 2010, I predicted that the Cubs would be neither as bad and people generally expected nor as good as they secretly hoped. Don’t think it cheap of me, but I pretty much expect the same for 2011. That’s about all I have to say on the team as a whole. I’ll take the rest of this preview player-by-player, going in alphabetical order. Ready? Here we go.

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Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney, Blake DeWitt: It is hard to say who will see the most playing time at second base. I consulted a magic-8 ball, but it was noncommittal, so I am lumping these gentlemen all together. Their names are conveniently close together alphabetically. I am strongly of the opinion that we need something cool to call this infielding trio. “Killer B’s” has been done… do you think “Bakey, Blakey & Barney” works, or does it sound too much like a law firm of  babies? I am wide open to any better-suited suggestions.

Marlon Byrd: I am prepared to award Mr. Byrd 5 baby sloth hugs per web gem he makes. That should add up to something like 7,000 hugs, right? I forecast a slight drop-off from the offensive stats he put up in 2010. Nothing drastic. Byrd will continue to be the Wyrd.

Additional Note: Baby sloth would highly approve bringing back the post game victory hug that was instituted for a time last season.

Andrew Cashner: I am delighted that Cash was awarded a spot in the starting rotation and have every hope of his holding his own there. I expect we’ll see some flashes of brilliance interspersed with a few rough periods. Don’t lose heart, though. He’s gonna be alright, in the long run.

Starlin Castro: If Darlin’ Starlin continues to play in the regular season like he has in the spring, and improves a bit in the field, I will buy him a pony and grant him infinite baby sloth hugs.

Tyler Colvin: Will easily become the most popular “TyCo” in the Midwest since beanie babies. With any luck, he will hold onto his value better. Speaking of which, what will anyone give me for a Patti the Platypus (near-mint condition)?

Ryan Dempster: I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that Demp will have another solid year. Who could ask for a steadier, more reliable pitcher? Or a more genuinely like human being, for that matter? Baby sloth hugs: lots and lots.

Kosuke Fukudome: I would be no more surprised to see Fu put up respectable numbers than I would be to see him wearing a different team’s uniform by August. Doesn’t really need any baby sloth hugs, as he has an adorable Asian child of his own to embrace at his leisure.

Matt Garza: Matt gets two baby sloth hugs for every different muppet he will remind me of this season. That’ll add up to more than a few. Pitching-wise, I am going to be optimistic and predict 14-15 wins and an ERA in the mid 3’s.

John Grabow: I honestly believe that John G. will exceed expectations this season. I’m not saying he won’t eat a few kittens along the way, but I have a generally positive feeling. 12 baby sloth hugs, one for each hold I predict John will record.

Koyie Hill: I hear more lamentations about Koyie than any other individual on the team. I’ll stick up for him, not just because I like him, because I don’t find it entirely fair. There aren’t more than half a dozen really good starting catchers in the major leagues. It’s almost funny that people seem to  expect so much from a back-up. I can only owe it to the fact that we were spoiled for several years with Henry Blanco, who was exceptional for a second string guy. I am sorely tempted to do a bit of a study on back-up catchers. I may well do it, if I continue to be provoked by peoples treatment of Koyie. Really, I would just implore that folks be a bit more realistic. That’s all.

I grant Mr. Hill one baby sloth hug per insult he receives this year. I hope they are less than in 2010.

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