Saying Goodbye: Tom Gorzelanny

I feel like there have been so many hellos and goodbyes lately that I hardly know what to say anymore. I hope this is the last, at least until spring training (which, by the way, gets underway in less than a month. Squeee!)

Mr. Gorzelanny wasn’t with us for too long, but he served us well. If I’ll cherish any memory of him, it will be this sensational, albeit hurtful, defensive play from May of 2010. Also, this great photograph which was captured during that very play:

Happy trails, Gorz.

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“I’m gonna go to the game. They could win. It could happen.”

I was in attendance of Monday’s contest between the Cubs and the Washington Nationals up in DC. What follows are a lot of random thoughts and details of the experience. If they seem boring or trifling to you, just keep in mind that I’ve left out a lot (like being waved, nodded, and smiled at by several different Nationals players who we did not recognize.) But let us commence…

Talking about my collecting of autographs makes me feel not-cool at the best and just plain creepy at the worst. I suppose I could just NOT talk about it, but as this hobby (let’s call it a hobby… hobby is a nice word) makes up half the fun of going to MLB games for me, it’s a bit hard to avoid.
The routine in my family involves arriving to the ballpark a good seven hours before game-time and camping out at the player’s entrance. The sister and myself arrived at that very destination in Washington DC at noon on Monday. It was just the two of us there, and it proved to be a day worth remembering. Our creepy autograph stalking could hardly have been better and the game itself could hardly have been better.

As we walked from Nationals Park back to the Metro station after the game, there were a number of squealing and whooping Cubs fans (probably inebriated) surrounding us. Someone in front of us (probably a Nats fan) muttered that you’d think it was the World Series. Some people consider it stupid to celebrate meaningless wins in the midst of horrible seasons… I won’t comment on that extensively, but I have got to admit that it was an undeniably fun and enjoyable day. I had a blast. And if that is wrong then I can’t say I want to be right.

Here are some blurbs for each player on the Cubs roster inspired by observations made on Monday. Only I didn’t really have anything to say about Carlos Marmol or Aramis Ramirez, so they aren’t part of the list…

Justin Berg & James Russell: James and Justin. Justin and James. A lot of people seem to get them confused, which I don’t get. However they do both seem nice and I proclaim each to be adorable in my sight.

Andrew Cashner is sorta fun to watch in the outfield during BP. Threw lots of baseballs to the crowd… Cash is a people pleaser.

Nothing but *applause* for Casey Coleman. The kid threw a heckuva game.

Ryan Dempster: Dempsty is always awesome. Al-ways.

Thomas Diamond emerged from a cab outside the stadium carrying a messenger bag and I totally did not recognize him ’til he was almost gone. Yes, I am ashamed of myself. Sorry, Thomas.

Was the mystery man with a round face and light colored hair Tom Gorzelanny? I think it probably was.

Sean Marshall is still really tall.

Marcos Mateo seems jolly.

My sister doesn’t like Randy Wells. I do. She also doesn’t like Tyler Colvin, so I think everyone knows who’s in the right on this one.

After BP, there was a gentleman next to me who was genuinely put out with Carlos Zambrano for not stopping to sign autographs and engage with the fans. I always see/hear people like this a pro ballgames, and I am always a bit amused and bit incredulous. I am neither defending nor accusing Carlos. I’ve been to plenty of games, and never personally seen him sign an autograph for anyone. That doesn’t mean he’s never done it. It just puzzles me that people can be so selfish as to not understand that there are 162 games in a season, and at every single one there are thousands of people vying for the attention of players. There is no possible way for every fan to go home with an autograph or a free baseball. Obtaining such coveted freebies is all about being in the right place at the right time. Just because a player doesn’t respond to the masses screaming for attention, that does not make him an inferior human being. OKAY?!?!?

Koyie Hill’s autograph (at least the one he graciously gave me) consists of just his first name. Perhaps he’s trying to be like the Cher of baseball. It’s Koyiejust Koyie.

We saw Geovany Soto’s face through a cab window, and he looked sad.

Jeff Baker… He may not be the most valued or exciting player on the roster, but you’d have a hard time convincing me he wasn’t one of the nicest. In all seriousness, I like Jeff enough by this point to warn anyone who would dare to insult him that you’re gonna have to deal with me.

Darwin Barney has a cheerful face. Doesn’t he?

I love Darlin’ Starlin Castro more every time I see him. Watching him play is an absolute pleasure and his boyish enthusiasm has melted my heart. I want to adopt him.

Blake DeWitt does NOT look the same in street clothes. At ALL. That’s my only excuse for not knowing who he was at first. As with Thomas Diamond, I am ashamed of myself. I’m sorry, Blakey Bear.

I WANTED TO SEE SAM FULD, WHAT IS MICAH HOFFPAUIR DOING HERE???? … Kidding, kidding, of course! I’ve always been fond of Micah.

I have Marlon Byrd’s autograph! *Giddy giggles*

Kosuke Fukudome didn’t spit in my face or run away when the Sharpie I offered him proved to be dried up. Thats’ a proper gentleman.

Xavier Nady did not arrive at the ballpark between the hours of 12 and 4. Was he really late, or really early? You decide.

Alfonso Soriano: The same as always.

+ Corey Miller: Bullpen catchers just seem like cool guys to me.

~

Wildcard Wednesday: “On Wednesdays I go shopping and have buttered scones for tea.”

Happy Wednesday, readers!

Link…

Just one… If you’re a fan of both the Cubs and LOST, this piece is required reading material. I absolutely love it.

Congratulations!

Mr. and Mrs. Tom Gorzelanny welcomed their first child into the world a few days ago, a little boy. Ain’t that precious?

This Day In History:

-Miles Davis born, 1926

-Bobcat Goldthwait (actor from such classic films as “One Crazy Summer”) born, 1962

Chicago White Sox Ed Walsh no-hit the New York Highlanders, 8-1 in 5 inning game, 1907

-Ty Cobb became the first player in history to collect 1,000 extra-base hits, 1925

-The Golden Gate Bridge opened, 1937

-On this day in 1959, Pittsburgh pitcher Harvey Haddix recorded what is one of the greatest performances in the history of baseball.


NOTE: Don’t look for a post tomorrow. Well, you can look. But there won’t be one. I’m leaving for a mini baseball trip in Baltimore today. If you’d like to keep track of me, I’m sure I’ll be Twittering every minute detail.

Week Seven In Review

Week seven of the major league season : In which Florida’s young shortstop caused a bit of a kerfuffle and the Cubs reeled us back in a smidgin’.

Around The Majors…

No More Ouchies: This was not a good week, health-wise, for major leaguers. Andre Ethier broke his pinkie finger, Asdrubal Cabrera broke his arm, Marcus Thames broke his ankle by accidentally stepping on his own bat, Josh Beckett went down with back problems and Grady Sizemore with a badly bruised knee. Fantasy teams everywhere are crashing and burning.

Don’t see that everyday…: On Wednesday, the Mets’ Angel Pagan hit an inside the park home run AND started a triple play (8-2-6-3.) This last happened in 1955. How can anyone not love this crazy sport?

Hanley, Hanley, Hanley. : He may be one of the best young stars in the game today, but Hanley Ramirez is also a big baby. Lack of hustle wasn’t the issue here. Hanley’s problem is more the lack of maturity and common sense. If you remember a year or so ago when he demanded a trade following the Marlins mandate that he cut his hair, then this didn’t surprise you. Morgan Ensberg had a good take on the whole thing, in case you missed it.

“Sigh” Young Awards: Trevor Hoffman. Kerry Wood. Sigh. And an honorable mention for Dan Haren.

Titter-inducing tweets of the week : Courtesy Dirk Hayhurst and Fred Lewis…

As for the Cubs…

Big Z (The Continuing Saga): Lou has said that Carlos Zambrano will assume a long relief role in the ‘pen for a spell with the aim of stretching his arm out for an eventual return to the rotation. What a baseball soap opera!

Say! Speaking of that…: If the Cubs season thus far WERE a soap opera, what would it be called?

Super Hero of the Week: Let’s give it to Rami for his walk-off home run. Also deserving, Starlin Castro. For continuing to hit like it’s his job, and for making plays like THIS.

Kitten Eaters of the Week: John Grabow and Bob Howry (who has yet to even ink his contract, put on a uniform, or throw a pitch.)

Outstanding gloviness: Tom Gorzelanny blew my mind with this play. On a similar note…

Seeing Double – Faceplant Edition:

If he hadn’t been hurt on the play, I’d say that the “slide” by Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo (above, left) was one of the funnier things I’d seen in awhile.

Hug of the Week: I bestow it upon Tyler Colvin. Just because we have an exciting new rookie shortstop doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten that we have a pretty cool rookie outfielder as well.

“When putting away your luggage after arriving home, always close the zippers so bugs can’t crawl in.”

Author’s Note: The following post includes significant Starlin Castro-inspired enthusiasm. Nothing that has happened since his stellar debut has really dampened my excitement over him, and it is my opinion that the individuals who booed Starlin during last night’s game should all be hit square in the face with a sock full of pennies.

I hope nobody will hate me for relating every minute detail of the little trip I went on last week. Friday’s game was by far the best Cubs one I have ever been to in person, and the entire day was just flat out awesome. If it ever sounds like I’m bragging, forgive me. I am not trying to… I honestly had an incredible few days and count them as a tremendous blessing. If I could give everyone a little of my leftover joy, I would. And Cubs Nation would have a few more happy campers. Continue reading

It happens every spring

Every spring and every team has it’s own little tree of story-lines to keep fans interested. Today’s post is dedicated to identifying the branches and twigs of Cubness that are likely to keep the Chicago faithful atwitter for the next month and a half.

The Geovany Soto Chronicles One of the most prevalent subjects I’ve seen thus far concerns our young catcher. Which Geo will we see in 2010? The 2008 Rookie of the Year? Or the 2009 disappointment? Time will tell. On Tuesday, Geovany responded to speculations that he’d been on steroids (the 40-pound weight loss raised suspicions.) Here are some selected quotes from his statements:

I wasn’t strong. I was just fat.” (Good answer, Geo.)

My dad used to tell me, because I used to open the refrigerator a lot, ‘Just eat right, small portions throughout the day, it’s a lot better,’ We didn’t know that [growing up]. I got a personal trainer, a professional in that area, to try and help me. I stick to the program and it worked. I’m really happy I did it, because I feel a lot better.” (That’s good enough for me.)

A little before and after.

The Progressions of Ted Lilly When will our lovable lefty be able to pitch again? Ted wants to be ready by Opening Day, which seems… optimistic, to say the least. But, hey! If anyone can do it, Ted Lilly can. If he came back early and threw a no-hitter in his first start of the season, I wouldn’t be surprised. Seriously, though, this is what Ted himself had to say:

If it turns out to be May 1 or whenever after that, then that’s what it is. The whole idea is to not only come back as soon as possible and start contributing, but to be productive, too.”

He also spoke of the early arrivals to camp of many Cubs players:

I would hope that failure is a major motivator. This is my opinion, but us not getting to the playoff is failing. We’ve got a lot of talent, and we expect that of ourselves.”

Ted also had this to say, on 2010 being the last year of his contract.

I think the best thing to do is not make it be about yourself. I don’t want to draw attention to myself that way or distract from anything our club is trying to do. I don’t think it’s all about me. That’s my perspective, and I’d like to keep that behind closed doors.”

I love this man.

The non-story of Carlos Marmol It irritates me that people are already making an issue of “Marmee.” It’s as if folks are expecting him to fail. I do not see Marmee as a problem at this point. HE IS OUR CLOSER, LET US ACCEPT HIM AS SUCH AND GET BEHIND HIM ALREADY.

The Return of Greg Maddux He’s back! Squeeeeee! Who isn’t happy to have Mr. Maddux amongst us? Beat reporter Carrie Muskat twittered the following on Wednesday: “Greg Maddux just strolled into the Cubs facility at Fitch Park, looking more like a special ass’t to GM than a pitcher.” Oh, how I smile. Because, let’s be honest… Greg Maddux has always looked a little more like a general manager’s assistant than a pitcher.

Battle for the back end of the rotation So we got Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster. We hope Ted Lilly will be ready soon and that Randy Wells will be able to replicate his outstanding rookie season. Then we got Carlos Silva, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzellany, and Jeff Samardzija in competition for the fifth spot (and the fourth spot, whilst Ted R. Lilly is vacant from it.) My money is on The Shark.

Battle of the pine-riders There is also competition for a spot (probably just a single spot) on the bench. Combatants include Micah Hoffpauir, Andres Blanco, Kevin Millar, and Chad Tracy. I can’t help but root for James Micah Hoffpauir. At the same time, I have a major crush on Andres Blanco’s glove. Sigh.

Is the future now? What kind of showing are we going to get from super-prospect Starlin Castro? This is probably going to be the most interesting twig to keep an eye on throughout the course of the spring. Cubs legend and minor-league manager Ryne Sandberg had these things to say:

Is it too big a jump at his age? It’s all up to the individual. But I’ve never seen a guy start at low A, go to high A, then Double-A and the Arizona Fall League all in one year and dominate like Castro did.”

“We don’t know how he handles adversity because he hasn’t had any. But when he was with us at Double-A, I saw a lot of good things. He was disappointed if we lost, or if he didn’t advance a runner, or didn’t feel like he had a quality at-bat.”

He could be slated for Triple-A, but if he has a big camp, he might give them no choice.”

*

For even more good springy info, check out this Bruce Levine chat from Tuesday.

The Daily Herald has some photosBoys of Spring has better ones.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago has some nice video.

“For a moment, I thought I was seeing double!”

Did you ever look at a baseball player and think, “He reminds me of [fill in the blank]!” ? Of course you have. It happens all the time. This ‘Seeing Double’ feature is dedicated to such noteworthy resemblances.

One: Hank Greenberg/Luke Wilson

The resemblance struck me when I was reading Lawrence S. Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times and first saw a photograph of Hank Greenberg. He was pictured in a military uniform and suddenly scenes from “My Dog Skip” started flashing through my mind.

Two: Ryan Doumit/Alien

Maybe this isn’t a resemblance at all. Maybe Mr. Doumit is an extraterrestrial. I can think of no good argument which negates this possibility.

Three: Tom Gorzelanny/A Darling boy

Alright, so this one is almost certainly just me. But whenever I see Mr. Gorzelanny with that blank expression I instantly think of the Andy Griffith Show, and those stony faced Darlin’ boys.

More “Double Vision” to come in the future, folks. And suggestions are welcomed.