Wildcard Wednesday: All Star Edition

How happy for me that it’s Wednesday, and that I’m not forced to present my random thoughts and observations from last evening’s All Star Game in an organized manner!
Giant blowout: NL routs AL 8-0 in All-Star game

The National League won for the third year in a row, and they did it in convincing fashion. No one who did not possess omniscient knowledge would have predicted the American League lads getting trounced 8-0. Before the game started, I told my brother that I thought the AL would win, that they had the better team. He agreed, adding that if the NL did pull it out, it would only be if the contest were a low-scoring affair (2-1, or 3-2).

All this only goes to further prove that sage utterance of Yogi Berra, “In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”

***

Seeing Double?: I was quite struck by this photograph of Ryan Braun.

The bulging eyes… the chop-licking… the wild expression. It definitely reminds me of something, and I’m still not 100% sure what, but I think it might be this:

Shoes: A number of the All Stars last night were arrayed with the most ostentatious footwear I have ever seen on a baseball diamond. Bryce Harper, for instance, was sporting spikes of gold. I imagine if any of them had clicked their heels together three times, they might have ended up in Kansas.See if I don’t start calling the Nats’ rookie phenom “Goldenboy” from here on.

Oopsy Daisy: Bryce Harper, besides being flashily shod, got everyone’s attention by losing a fly ball in the night sky. It dropped several feet behind him. It might sound unkind, but I was really happy over this miscue. Landing in the MLB All Star Game at the tender young age of 19 isn’t going to do Mr. Harper’s ego any favors. I like to think that the embarrassing play might have tempered the effects just a smidgin.

Boo Birds: Robinson Cano found himself the recipient of more choruses of boos last night. Even though he was playing for the very team that the majority of the crowd was presumably rooting for… I can’t help wondering if they really thought that through. It is also amusing that some of the same folks who derided the KC faithful for their classlessness in booing Mr. Cano applauded their “classy” move of giving Chipper Jones a standing ovation.

Injustice!: Rafael Furcal remained in the game through 7 innings before Starlin Castro, the only other shortstop, was given a chance. But I’m sure it had nothing to do with Tony LaRussa being biased or anything. No, not at all. *Rolls Eyes*

FOX Broadcast: As tedious as ever.

Cubbies: It never seems to matter how boring the All Star festivities are, or how unlistenable the broadcast is, or how bad a year the Cubs are having. I am always happy and excited and proud to see the Cubs representatives at the Midsummer Classic.
Aren’t they darling?

Advertisements

2012 Home Run Derby: A Pictorial Review

Last evening’s home run derby was (as home run derbies tend be) rather dull and very long, with just enough amusing bits to keep me from turning it off altogether. In years past, my favorite part of the event (bar none) has been gleaning pictures from the event off of the internet. You know, those pictures that have various big leaguers watching the derby with their children. I love those pictures. They induce innumerable “awwww” sounds from me every time, and then I can patch together a blog post out of them to boot.
For whatever reason, there have not been the usual wealth of these sorts of photos this year. I’m afraid there are a but a disappointing few.  You will find them below, along with a smattering of other photos from the derby. Continue reading

Wildcard Wednesday: From Starlin Castro to Queen Victoria

I haven’t put up a good old fashioned Wildcard Wednesday post in a few weeks, so I figured it was time…

Skinna Marinky Linky Links:

I don’t know how Starlin did this, but I think the evidence suggests he might be made of magic.

What is the opposite of clubhouse cancer? A clubhouse miracle drug? Regardless what you want to call it, that is what Ryan Dempster is. And this is why if/when the Cubs trade him we should all be really sad. Randy Wells talks a little about why Ryan Dempster is so awesome in this lovely article from Comcast Sportsnet.

This has nothing to do with the Cubs, or baseball. Or… anything. But, did you know that the National Zoo has a live video feed of its red panda that you can look at all day long if you want to? And I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to. Red pandas are the cutest things since baby sloths.

Happy Birthdays in baseball today: Kendry Morales, Kevin Gregg, Carlos Lee, Dickie Thon, Red Barbary and Pryor McBee (I don’t know who he is, but his name rocks).

Other birthdays: Errol Flynn, Audie Murphy, Martin Landau, Olympia Dukakis, Brian Wilson (the Beach Boy, not the pitcher), Lionel Ritchie, John Goodman and Cyndi Lauper.

And the rest of historical happenings on this day:

-Congress approved the United States seal and the bald eagle as its symbol (1782)
-King Louis XVI was caught trying to escape the French Revolution (1791)
-Eli Whitney applied for a patent for his cotton gin (1793)
-An 18-yr-old Queen Victoria ascended to the British throne following the death of her uncle, King William IV (1837)
-West Virginia was admitted as the 35th state (1863)
-President Andrew Johnson announced the purchase of Alaska (1867)
-Caroline Willard Baldwin became the first woman to earn a PHD (1895)
-New York Giant player Josh Devore stole four bases in a single inning (1912)
-Joe DiMaggio recorded his 2,000th hit (1950)
-Brooks Robinson recorded his 2,000th hit (1970)

 

Rhyme-o-rama 2012! Part Three

Grab your kazoos and party hats! Cue the confetti cannon and fireworks! Prepare your happy dances!

Opening Day has, at last, arrived.

Although, if you’re a Mariners, Athletics, Marlins, or Cardinals fan you’ve had your moment already. This celebration isn’t for you. Go away.

For the rest of us, let’s let the good times roll.

And what better way to kick off this glorious day than with the conclusion of Rhyme-o-rama 2012?

My remaining and increasingly un-predictiony “spoems” follow. I hope you’ll enjoy.

~

Let’s hope our hearts shall oft be cheered
By the presence of Blake DeWitt and his beard.

Rafael Dolis is as cute as can be
He’ll set up, which is fine with me.

Starlin Castro is here to stay-
We get to watch him every day. (Yay!)

Kerry Wood is my favorite, you see,
So instead of two lines
I am giving him three.

Don’t try to hit ’em where Reed Johnson ain’t,
He is everywhere, see, an outfielding saint.

Geo Soto I’ll shower with flattery,
He’s always a positive end of the battery.

Lendy Castillo and Shawn Camp have somehow made it this far,
I literally have no idea who they are.

Darwin Barney plays second base
By bubblegum power he activates.

Tony Campana, Campana Tony.
His speed is anything but phoney.

Luis Valbuena was acquired last minute,
If there was a prize for most infielders, the Cubs now would win it.

~

Thanks to you all for joining me on this strange, rhyming journey. Enjoy Opening Day, and Go Cubs!

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.

***

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.

***

Wildcard Wednesday: In which I address some elephants in the room

I hope my readers (assuming I have any left) will forgive my inconsistent ways here over the past few weeks. The lack of posts is attributable partially to general busy-ness and partially to the fact that I have sunk into a state of very sad indifference as regards the Chicago Cubs (and, consequently, the baseball world at large.) It is difficult to uphold a passion for writing about everyday minutiae in a season like this, and even more significant events haven’t inspired much excitement in myself. Many bloggers continue to canvas all these things, and do it well. I commend and am wildly envious of them. I wish I could keep up and avoid being driven by acrimoniousness at the same time, but I can’t.

I hope, with this brief post, to dispense of the topics I have lately ignored. I would also like to excuse myself from ever feeling obligated to address carious current events in the future. Three-fourths of the time I would rather write on more light, nonsensical subjects. Cutting edge coverage of anything has never been an intrinsic part of this blog, so I assume that no one has come to expect any such thing. I wanted to clear the air, just the same, and I feel better now that I have.

Now, for the nitty-gritty…

Issue One- Jim Hendry: I was enough out of the loop that I don’t think I even found out about Mr. Hendry’s dismissal until the day after it happened. If I hadn’t been preoccupied, I would have given him his own “Saying Goodbye” post. I believe that nine years warrants as much. I regret that I didn’t get around to that.

Once people are gone, I don’t usually find it difficult to let bygones be bygones and remember the good things that he brought to the table. With Jim Hendry, I am perfectly willing to forget about Milton Bradley, et al, and recall the positives that came from the result of his general management tenure. He netted us two franchise-face type guys in Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee for next to nothing. We witnessed three play-off appearances under his guidance, too. If these things aren’t worth remembering with appreciation, I don’t know what are.

The issue of who our next GM will be is exactly the sort of topic that I couldn’t care less about. Well, let me clarify that. I DO care very much who our next GM will be, I do NOT care to enter into speculation and conjecture during the searching process. Enough other people are doing that, and I have nothing to add to the conversation.

Issue Two- Starlin Castro: Apparently, Starlin suffered from some sort of concentration lapse during Sunday’s contest with the Cardinals (I didn’t actually see it, so I am just repeating what I’ve heard.) Unluckily, the game happened to be on ESPN and Bobby Valentine’s censure of our young shortstop’s mental error somehow blew up into national news. Cubs fans didn’t need to hear Bobby Valentine’s observations to make us aware of Starlin’s occasional deficiencies. We know. We are being patient with him, because he is still very young, and because his potential is ginormous, and because he is oodles of fun to watch play. It is my further opinion that baseball fans in general to not need to hear Bobby Valentine’s observations about anything. Our remotes have mute buttons for a reason, and I earnestly implore my fellow-fans to spare themselves a lot of grief and employ them any time they are forced to watch a game on ESPN (or FOX.)

Issue Three- Earthquake!: It might not have had any bearing on Major League Baseball, but I can’t resist mentioning yesterday’s unexpected East Coast earthquake. In retrospect, I was disappointed that it didn’t hit my home hard enough to skew pictures on the wall or make anything topple off of shelves. Perchance you missed it, here is a collection of haunting photographs documenting the devastation.

Issue Four: I was at the Nationals-Diamondbacks game on Monday. This isn’t really significant, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

Issue Five: I have been sitting on this link for over a month now. Since it is Wednesday, I’m gonna go ahead and throw it at you now. A very amusing take on the Cubs season thus far from Prose & Ivy.

Issue Six- Carlos Zambrano: This issue pains me above all others, and I don’t really have much to say about it (shocking, eh?) As a loather of drama, one would think I would be all for dumping Big Z however possible, as soon as possible. But I’m not. If Cubs brass decide that enough is enough and cut him loose (as Tom Ricketts hinted might be the case), there is nothing I can do about it. And I could hardly blame them. Z’s behavior has been unpardonable at times. I would still be sad to see him go. Especially in such a way. He has been a Cub for eleven years. Eleven. That’s a long time, people. And even if it is time to go our separate ways, I can’t be one of those people who will wipe the guy out of their memories like it’s a chalkboard.

So. If anything happens with Carlos, you can expect a big fat sentimental “Saying Goodbye” post in his honor. He deserves at least that.

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?