“You know how curious all dreams are…”

It has been rather quiet ’round here lately. A responsible individual, a good and honest writer, would shoulder the blame. I choose to point my finger. It’s the Cubs’ fault. One hundred percent. If they played better, I could produce dozens of gushy posts about how great they are and how much fun I have watching them. What’s a girl supposed to do with a 12 game losing streak, though? I’m sure not gonna sit around here and complain about what a dreadful team we have, and how painful they are to look at. Even if it’s true. The FBB is a cheerful place; I’ll have none of this doom and gloom nonsense. Even if it means all I end up producing are posts as irrelevant and innocuous as this one.
If you happen to be into super insipid baseball writing, you are in luck today! If not, just remember, like I said, it’s totally the Cubs’ fault.

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I have tons of weird dreams, some of which I remember and some of which I do not. The thing I dream the most is that I can’t see, or that my vision is at least severely impaired (more-so than it is in reality). It is most unpleasant. Baseball is the thing I dream about second most, though, which is usually much more awesome, and often  amusing.
Here, for your perusal, are an assortment of some of my baseball dreams. I’d love to hear anyone else’s, too. So do share in the comment section, should you feel inclined.
Years ago, I dreamt that I was at a Cubs game and caught a foul ball hit by Michael Barrett (who was my favorite player on the team, at the time). This is a actually one of the worst dreams I’ve ever had. Not because it was bad in and of itself, but because I was so excited in the dream and had thoroughly convinced myself that it was real. Waking up was the most disappointing thing ever.
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I don’t know if anyone else has these, but I frequently dream that I’m stuck in some massive, decrepit old house (full of creaking floors, cobwebs, etc.,) and have to try to find my way out through a labyrinth of rooms that never really end. Usually these are bad, bad dreams. But one time, I was blessed with company in the form of my lovely cousin Melinda along with ex-Cub Cliff Floyd. It seems an odd combination, but the three of us got along quite famously and actually had a really good time going through that creepy house together.
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Remember Ryan Freel? He was a Cub for about 5 minutes several years ago. A few weeks after the Cubbies discarded him, I had a dream that he was still on the team. He struck out or something and got really, really angry. One of the other players (I forget who, but it was someone nice who I liked… either Sam Fuld or Micah Hoffpauir, I think) attempted to console him in a kind way. This only made Ryan Freel even angrier, for some reason, and before anyone knew what was happening, he started viciously attacking aforementioned kind teammate with his bat. And I remember thinking, Golly! Who knew Ryan Freel was such a monster?
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I once dreamed that I was seeing the Cubs with my sister. We were sitting in the front row in the outfield of some non-descript park and were both suffering violently from colds. Our coughing, sneezing, and blowing of noses caught the attention of Reed Johnson, who was manning his defensive position quite close to where we were. He looked up at us with concern and asked if we were OK. Though really we were not at all OK, we were so excited that Reed Johnson had inquired after our health that we immediately responded that we were just fine.
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I don’t remember how this one started, but somehow I was being driven around in a mini-van with Joe Mauer.  I’m not sure who was driving, but Joe was seated in the middle seat and I was all the way in back. He was wearing glasses. He informed me that he was going to be running for president, and wondered if I had any advice as to what sort of policies he should have, etc., Unfortunately, I was too tongue-tied to give him the solicited advice.
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My favorite dream that I’ve ever had “starred” Ted Lilly. Only he wasn’t Ted Lilly the left-handed pitcher. He was Ted Lilly the escaped convict in what appeared to be the 1970’s.
It started with Ted and a fellow escapee holed up in a dingy motel. They went out and split up, intending to meet up again later. As what I’m guessing was some part of their plan, Ted then proceeded to wave down a commuter bus and hijack it. He had no weapons of any kind. If it were anyone else, one might wonder how he managed to hijack a bus full of people unarmed. But since Ted Lilly is pretty much the Chuck Norris of baseball players, I don’t feel an explanation is necessary.
The bus was bright green in color, and its driver was a young Julie Andrews. When Ted communicated his intentions, Julie was incensed. She fearlessly demanded that he let all the passengers off the bus before he took off with it. Ted agreed. Once the people had disembarked, Miss Andrews then insisted that he also personally reimburse each one for the cost of his or her bus fare. Ted assented to this also, with utmost politeness. He explained that he didn’t have any money at the moment, but if the passengers would write down their names and addresses, he would be happy to mail it to them at a later date.
Julie must have been impressed by all this courtesy, because she then proceeded to inform Ted that, if he wanted it, there was a gun in a hidden compartment on board the bus. He stared at her with what I can only describe as the Lilliest of looks, and said, “Why would you tell me that?”
After that, Ted took off in the bus. He eventually ended up being chased by a fleet of police cars, but the dream ended around that point. I woke up laughing.
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Predictorama! 2011: Into The West

Welcome to the third installment of my annual divisional prognostications! Today we finish up with the American and National League West divisions. Why not just plunge right in?

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AL West:

2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez will make 30 quality starts and win less than half of them. Larry Bernandez will make 27 quality starts and win less than a third of them.

Jerry Blevins will lose 4 pounds as the result of a stomach flu and on the first breezy day will float away like a dandelion spore.

Howie Kendrick will take up knitting!

Elvis Andrus will learn to tap dance and cement his status as the Shirley Temple of major league baseball.

First Place: Oakland A’s (because I want to go out on a limb somewhere.)

Last Place: Seattle Mariners

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NL West:

Carlos Gonzalez will hit 18 more home runs and Troy Tulowitzki 4 more cycles off of Cubs pitching.

I don’t have any predictions for Arizona. I just want to point out that I was wrong about Detroit… the Diamondbacks also have 3 Virginia natives on their roster (Justin Upton, Joe Saunders, and Daniel Hudson.) I, for one, never would have thunk it. 

Now bereft of their All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres offense will not hit a home run in Petco Park once the entire 2011 season.

Ted Lilly will hit a home run… at Petco Park. Dun dun dun!

Freddy Sanchez will discover and re-popularize “The Freddie.”

First Place: Colorado Rockies

Last Place: San Diego Padres

NL Wildcard Winner: San Francisco Giants

 


 

 

 



 

“I’ve developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.”

Well, dears, it’s mid-August and Chicago’s North-siders continue to entrench themselves in a mire of mediocrity. But, hey! That doesn’t mean we can’t still have some fun! With the Cubs losing in some of the most creative and imaginative ways possible, it’s almost worth tuning in just to see what is going to happen next. Here are a few possibilities I’ve thought up:

-An opponent hitting a walk-off inside-the-park home run… on a bunt attempt.

Tyler Colvin losing a fly ball in the moon.

-Alfonso Soriano hitting into a triple play in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded in a 1-run game.

-Marlon Byrd going for a catch at the wall, disappearing into the ivy and never being seen again.

-Ryan Dempster throwing a no-hitter and still ending up as the losing pitcher.

More ideas, anyone?

Forgive the snark. I’m not trying to be vicious, I just can’t take any more doom and gloom. I can’t exactly be optimistic about a season like this, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be cheerful. Or try to, anyway.

Before Opening Day, I compiled a big fat list of projections for 2010 as a guest writer for The Cub Reporter. Now that the year is half gone, I am offering up a few additions and alterations to that list. Take note:

-Starlin Castro will hit for the cycle on the final day of the season.

-Since Ted Lilly is gone now, I now say that Ryan Dempster will hit a home run.

-Since Ted Lilly is gone now, he will almost certainly hit a home run for the Dodgers. I will hear about it and cry.

-Darwin Barney will earn a call-up in September and make the defensive play of the year.

-The combination of Brian Schlitter, Jeff Stevens, Mitch Atkins and Casey Coleman will be shuffled between Iowa and Chicago 59 more times.

-Jeff Baker will adopt a gerbil and name it Nibbles.

-If we don’t get no-hit by season’s end, I’ll be more surprised than not. I’m calling it happens against a rookie. Or a sophomore.

In late March, the following prediction was a part of my list:

Write this down: On August 17th Randy Wells will eat some bad pasta primavera at a sketchy San Diego bistro (he will have heard the chef there was reputable, a sad bit of misinformation.) Violently ill on August 18th, Randy will be unable to make his scheduled start. Sean Marshall, unsurprisingly, is the last minute replacement. He will take a no-hitter into the 8th inning. With 2 outs, he will lose the bid on a blasted infield single to stupid Will Venable. He’ll still end up with a 2-hit shutout.

I’m sticking with this basic idea, but change August 18th to September 29th (I had the home and road series against San Diego mixed up.) Also change Sean Marshall to Casey Coleman, and stupid Will Venable to blasted Ryan Ludwick.

It could happen. Just you watch.

Saying Goodbye: Ted Lilly

Because Ted Lilly was always making me laugh no matter what he did, I just want to start out by posting this very special (and slightly disturbing) Seeing Double image…

Ahem. On to serious business.

The Chicago Cubs have a very rich tradition of letting go of my most favorite players… at least one goes per year. 2006: Todd Walker and Greg Maddux. 2007: Michael Barrett. 2008: Matt Murton, Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa. 2009: Reed Johnson. 2010: Ted Lilly. It isn’t that I don’t understand why any of these guys were let go, because I do (with the possible exception of Mr. DeRosa.) It doesn’t make me angry or upset, just sad. It’s never fun losing your favorite player, whether it’s to a trade, free agency, or even retirement.

With me, there are favorites, and then there are favorite favorites (Mark DeRosa, for example, was simply a favorite. Kerry Wood was a favorite favorite.) Theodore Roosevelt Lilly III was a favorite favorite. I will attempt to outline my love in the following list of my favorite Lilly-moments. Think of it as his “greatest hits,” if you will.

1. In late 2008, the Cubs played Milwaukee in an afternoon game that was blacked out for me. I was listening to Pat and Ron on Gameday Audio. Ted was at bat against Ben Sheets with the bases loaded and, according to Pat, hit a blast that ended up being about 10 feet short of a homerun. Neither Pat nor Ron could contain their chuckles at such an unlikely almost-grand slam, and I was laughing hysterically. I can’t explain why exactly this is such a memorable moment in my mind, but I just LOVED it. Ever since, I have been predicting that Ted would hit a home run. I’m still waiting…

2. Who could forget the Yadier Molina incident? At the time it happened, this was not something enjoyed at all, fearing for Ted’s safety. Now it seems to have become the personification of Theodore’s Cubs tenure.


3. Ted Lilly carried no-hitters into late innings what seems like countless times in his three and a half years in Chicago. The closest he came, I think, was earlier this year. But my favorite of the almost no-nos took place on September 15th, 2008. It was the day after Carlos Zambrano had no-hit the Astros. Not to be outdone, Ted didn’t allow a base-knock until the seventh inning. I don’t know if I’ve ever giggled so much during a baseball game in my life. I just enjoyed that game more than words can say.

4. That stolen base, Arizona, 2008. Ted was a total cat on the basepaths.

5. At the end of 2008 (all the cool stuff happened in 2008) fan-favorite Mark DeRosa gave a lengthy interview on ESPN radio’s local Chicago station. His comments on Ted Lilly were absolutely priceless. If having them in print would have done them justice, I’d have transcribed them. Unfortunately, I don’t think Mark’s sentiments can be properly captured that way. The basic idea was, Ted Lilly is awesome. The phrases “gamer,” and “quiet crazy guy” are thrown around as well. He spake the truth.


6. There are a dozen other little things I could bring up to illustrate the infinite awesomeness of Ted Lilly. Cubs fans know these things, so I’m just going to skip ahead and close out with my own personal experience. Last year I went to the San Francisco area with my siblings to visit our family out there. We were fortunate enough to be able to take in a great Cubs game at AT&T Park while we were there. There weren’t nearly as many Cubs fans there as there have been at any other place I’ve ever visited. We were pretty much the only people decked all out in blue standing down by the field during batting practice. Ted came out of the dugout to throw a bullpen session (we were directly in front of the bullpen) and noticed our little group immediately. He smiled, said hi, and was just very charming in general. After his throwing session, he signed autographs and talked some more. He just absolutely could not have been nicer, and that experience is something I will treasure for as long as I live. I’m throwing this photo in, even though I look completely doofy in it. I love it.

Ted Lilly: thank you, sir, one last time, for your stellar pitching, your bulldog mentality, your sense of humor. For all you did for us while you were in Chicago, I am truly grateful. You will not be soon forgotten by the Cubs faithful.

Week Thirteen in Review

Week thirteen of the Major League Baseball season: In which many casualties occurred, another pitcher did that thing where he doesn’t let the other team hit the ball with the bat, and the Cubbie bears sunk even deeper into their morass of mediocrity.

Around the Majors…

Oh no-no!: Arizona’s Edwin Jackson recorded the fourth hitless game in the majors this season! It mightn’t have been all pretty, but he did it, by gum!

No More Ouchies: It was another bad week for fantasy managers across the nation as fellows like Dustin Pedroia, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, Joel Zumaya and Luke Scott succumbed to injuries.

3x The Fun: Denard Span’s record THREE triples in a game couldn’t have been more fun than if he’d been rounding the bases on a hoverboard.

Curtains: The Diamondbacks are saying so long and farewell to manager AJ Hinch and GM Josh Byrnes.

Headline Injustice: “Rangers acquire C Molina from Giants” Personally, I would have titled this one, “Giants acquire P Chris Ray from Rangers

“What is this strange, mystical object, and what am I supposed to do with it?”

As for the Cubs…

Yo-ho-ho: Once again, the North-siders failed to solve the lowly Pirates. I remain perplexed by this embarrassment, but am surprised by it no longer.

Superhero of the Week: I present the honor to Theodore Lilly, not just because he pitched finely, but because I’m afraid he won’t be around to receive it for much longer.

Kitten-eater of the week: I may as well start skipping this category… there are too many candidates.

Airing of grievances: I have been irked by this all year, but what the hey is the problem with WGN Radio’s Judd Sirott? It’s not as if I’m a huge fan or anything, I just don’t see what this man has done to deserve all the hatred I’ve seen directed at him. Cubs fans constant whining and complaining  are far more obnoxious than Judd himself, if he is obnoxious. For myself, I have no problems whatever with the man. And you can quote me on that.

Z Center of Attention: I suppose the main topic that has kept Cubs nation atwitter this week was Carlos Zambrano’s angry little outburst and the sequence of events that followed. Initially, I was pretty put out with Carlos. I have always found his periodic tantrums vexing and counter-productive. This one particularly frustrated me, probably due in large part to the circumstances of this disappointing season. I forgive Carlos now… but what has eclipsed his behavior is the organization’s curious reaction to it.

The thing I don’t understand is, why NOW? Carlos has been on this team for ten years, within the organization for even longer. He’s had these “episodes” many times during his professional tenure and management has just looked the other way. Now, all of a sudden, his behavior is unacceptable. If this is the sort of thing that “cannot be tolerated” why have you been tolerating it for a decade? To me this feels like bad parenting or something.

Then there was the announcement that, upon serving his suspension, Carlos will be sent back to the bullpen. Do you see my dander? Cause it’s UP. The first time Carlos was exiled to relief work it was supposed to be to help out the team, to fill a hole that desperately needed filling. This time it feels more like they’re trying to punish him further and I don’t get it. It was sort of dumb and desperate the first time, now it is just flat out idiotic.

Just to be clear, I may be arguing on Big Z’s behalf, but in no way do I intend to excuse his actions. He is a grown man. There are kids that look up to him, and he has children of his own. He should be able to better control his temper.

While I don’t entirely agree with all the actions that have been taken, I do sincerely hope that the disciplinary measures have some benefit. I like Carlos a lot, and I feel for him. If this stuff helps him become a better player and/or a more controlled person, I think it’d be fantastic.

My point in all this rambling, I guess, is just to say that I am on Carlos Zambrano’s side. He isn’t all in the right. He has his problems. But as long as he’s wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform, I’m gonna stand by him.

~

I wish all my readers a safe and happy Independence Day weekend!



Week Eight: An Illustrated Review

This weekly review is brought to you in photographic form! This is what happens when the author does not time to prepare.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, all!

The Randy Wells sock magic continued in Texas this week…

Members of the Chicago Blackhawks took in a game at Wrigley Field. I’m not sure who Jonathan Toews and Adam Burrish are trying to fool with the shades.

I think this is one of the greatest photos taken in the majors this year. I also think that the Cubs have the best bullpen catchers ever.

BLACKOUT!!!

Ryan Dempster is my super hero pitcher of the week!

Jeff Baker had to leave the game with some kind of vision problem. Scary.

Dodger Casey Blake got himself into some trouble by accusing Ted Lilly of cheating

… Big mistake, Mr. Blake. If there is anywhere you don’t want to be, it’s on Ted Lilly’s bad side.


Week Two In Review

Week Two of the Major League Season: In which there was Wrigley’s home opener, errors, home runs, #42’s, and some disturbingly fine weather.

Around the Majors

Outstanding Gloviness: The two coolest defensive plays of the year so far are both by starting pitchers. This week it’s Pittsburgh’s Paul Maholm. I’m putting my money on Jorge De La Rosa for next week!

Fashion Statement: The Braves and Padres donned throwback uniforms in yesterday’s match-up. If I never mentioned it before, I LOVE throwbacks. Love, love, love ’em. So any time two teams have a throwback day, you’ll be hearing about it.

Atlanta’s spiffy powder-blue duds.

“Sigh” Young Award: I bestow this week’s trophy upon Milwaukee’s LaTroy Hawkins. With many thanks.

Houston, we have a problem: It took the Astros until yesterday afternoon to tally their first Win. No 0-162 season for the ‘Stros this year! 1-161 still looking like a possibility, though.

“Blast” of the Week: Did you see Aubrey Huff’s inside-the-park homer? My favorite part is Mark DeRosa pretty much lying tummy-down on the grass to emphasize the need for a slide (although it wasn’t really necessary.)

Disabled: Brian Fuentes, Brian Roberts, Jimmy Rollins, Esmailin Caridad

As For The Cubs…

Superhero of the Week: I wish there were more candidates… I’m going ahead and awarding this one to Kosuke Fukudome for his game-winning hit Wednesday.

Kitten Eaters of the Week: Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Samardzija (two weeks in a row for the Shark. Not a good thing, but I’ve had enough of the “trade him to the Bears” jokes already.)

Called Up: Jeff Gray… woo-hoo.

On The Right Track: Theodore Lilly pitched 4 innings in Iowa on Wednesday. He will make another minor-league start next week and hopefully be back with the Cubs before the end of the month.

Hug of the Week: Marlon Byrd. I just wanted to hug him about six different times, didn’t you?

Signs of the Apocalypse: Derrek Lee was ejected from yesterday’s contest by home-plate umpire Angel Campos. This is about as common as an ivory-billed woodpecker sighting. And the only thing rarer than ivory-billed woodpeckers and D-Lee ejections? Eighty-degree weather in Chicago in APRIL.