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Sunday night will mark the unofficial end of the Cubs' early-season Cupcake Schedule, which included games against:

  • Atlanta (3 away)
  • Cincy (6 away)
  • Brewers (3 home, 3 away)
  • Houston (3 home)
  • Metropolitans (4 away)
  • Washington (3 home)
  • Arizona (4 home)
  • Pirates (3 away)

Cubs try to take three of four from Arizona and end the homestand 4-3. Feels a lot like last weekend, when the Cubs were trying to salvage a road trip that started awfully, with three losses in four games at CitiField, then ended on an up note with the sweep at Milwaukee.

Sunday's lineups:

D-backs: 1. Abreu (2B)  2. Drew (SS)  3. Upton (RF)  4. Reynolds (3B)  5. Young (CF)  6. Ryal (1B)  7. Gillespie (LF)  8. Hester (C)  9. Jackson (P)

Cubs: 1. Theriot (SS)  2. Fukudome (RF)  3. Lee (1B)  4. Byrd (CF)  5. Tracy (3B)  6. Soriano (LF)  7. Fontenot (2B)  8. Soto (C)  9. Gorzelanny (P)


LIfe is better when the Cubs win, but failure has a way of stoking a Cub fan's creativity, doesn't it? This dramatic reinterpretation of a call into David Kaplan's post-game "Tenth Inning" show is the work of WGN listener Edwardo, who was clearly inspired by Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers."

(Apologies in advance if the readings from my crystal ball prove faulty. It's something about the neighborhood. Even the cable reception is erratic around here.)

 

by Paul Sullivan, Tribune Reporter
2:17 p.m., CDT, May 6, 2010

PITTSBURGH – If you thought that watching his team lose to the perennial doormat Pirates, 9-3, on Wednesday night and plummet into the NL Central basement was the toughest thing Jim Hendry has ever had to do as a baseball man, an hour after the game you were proven wrong.

Hendry informed the assembled media and all of Cub Nation that he was firing his good friend and Cub manager for the past 4+ years and 526 games, Lou Piniella.

"There's no two ways about it. This stinks," said an emotional Hendry, "but after a very disappointing season last year and the awful start we've had this year, we're going to have to take the team in a different direction. Alan Trammell will be taking over the ballclub for the rest of the year, and I know that he and the other coaches are going to do everything humanly possible to turn this thing around.

"There's still time to make this a special season, but the ballplayers have to start doing the things they're capable of. I know that, Alan knows that, and the ballplayers know that."

Ted Lilly threw 87 pitches—61 for strikes—in a seven-inning stint at Peoria last night, in which he gave up just one run and three hits while fanning nine. The Chiefs beat the Burlington Bees, 2-1.

Lilly walked the first man he faced and gave up a triple to the third Burlington hitter. He was almost perfect after that.

Lilly, as quoted in the Peoria Journal Star...

“I struggled with (my command) at times, but for the most part I felt alright. I was mixing my changeup more than I have, so I was getting a feel for it tonight.”

Tags: 

Here's the ugly box score, and here are some details...

The good: Randy Wells allowed just one scratch run over six innings, yielding six singles and a couple walks while fanning five. At the plate, Wells delivered two singles of his own, one of which figured in the mini rally that netted the Cubs' only run of the game. Also, Marlon Byrd, moved up to the leadoff spot in Lou Piniella's new-look batting order against southpaws, collected three hits and the only Chicago RBI of the night.

The bad: Where to begin?

The Cubs squandered another superb start, this one by Ryan Dempster, and lost 3-2 to the Astros in 10 innings Sunday afternoon. To make matters worse, the bullpen culprits on this day were the Cubs' two relief studs so far this young season, Carlos Marmol, who surrendered the tying run in the 9th, and Sean Marshall, who took the loss after allowing a double by Jason Michaels and a sacrifice fly by Pedro Feliz in the 10th. To make matters worser, the the now 5-7 Cubs wound up dropping two of the three games to Houston, thus ending the season's first homestand at 3-3. To make matters even worser, the Astros really, truly suck.

In the aftermath of the loss, Lou Piniella announced that Marlon Byrd, who had three hits and both Cub RBI Sunday, would henceforth be leading off against lefthanders with Jeff Baker moving up to the second spot and Ryan Theriot sliding down to eighth. (Byrd has actually hit leadoff or sixth more often than in any other spot in the lineup throughout his career.)

Young lefty Jon Niese is supposed to start for the Mets when the Cubs begin a four-game visit to Citi Field on Monday night, so Lou's new lineup will get its first go right away. Randy Wells is scheduled to start for the Cubs.

If you're a connoisseur of the work of Neifi Perez as I am–and as I know many longtime readers of The Cub Reporter are–you'll delight in this piece written by King Kaufman and posted at Salon.com.

The story, an excerpt from "Top of the Order: 25 Writers Pick Their Favorite Baseball Player of All Time," is simply too delicious for me to recap here. I will just share this passage, in which Kaufman, a Giants fan, explains how he became a Neifiphile.

It was in early June 2003, [Neifi's] first and only full season with the club, when I noticed he was a sort of secret weapon. The Giants were a good but not great 26-22 on the days when Perez made it onto the field. But when he stayed in the dugout, they were 13-1...

So I invented the Neifi Index, a measure of the contribution a player makes to his team by not playing. The Giants had a .542 winning percentage when Perez played, .929 when he did not. So his Neifi Index was .387 (.929 minus .542). I concocted the Neifi Award, given to the bench player in each league with the highest Neifi Index, and unique among baseball awards in that you or I, if we could only find our way onto a major-league team, would be a shoo-in to win it.

Postscript: in linking to Neifi's page at Baseball-Reference.com, I just saw that King Kaufman is a paid sponsor of the page, which also carries this tribute from the writer: "In his own way, he was the greatest I ever saw."

Indeed.


On Friday, the Cubs' new owner will be confronted by more microphones, cameras, and sweaty members of the press than I imagine he has ever been confronted by before. I predict he will say something to the effect of, "I can't give you a definite answer at this point, but that is absolutely something we are going to be looking at," more times than we'll be easily able to count. Nevertheless, after the ridiculously protracted sale process and with so many critical issues facing the team—from the immediate future of the leadership team to the long-term viability of Wrigley Field—I will join many of you in hanging on every word Ricketts has to say. (I've also never heard his voice, so I'm curious.)

Apart from all of the obvious questions Ricketts will face, probably multiple times, here are some questions I would ask if I had press credentials or the ingenuity to sneak in.

Thursday's Chicago vs. Chicago showdown at Wrigley Field will be the first Major League game to be streamed live to mobile phones, specifically to iPhone and iPod Touch users who have installed the MLB.com At Bat 2009 app and the new Apple 3.0 operating software.

Beginning with the White Sox-Cubs Interleague Play matchup from Wrigley
Field at 2:20 p.m. ET, up to two live games per day, subject to
blackout restrictions, will be included in MLB.com At Bat 2009. The
other game scheduled for Thursday is Detroit at St. Louis at 8:15 p.m.
ET.

Those who have already installed the $9.99 At Bat app this season will be able to receive the video streaming at no additional charge. Otherwise you can purchase the app at the iTunes store and enjoy it, video included, for the rest of 2009 for $9.99.

Chad Evans of MLB Advanced Media puts the whole story into something resembling perspective:

"I'm hoping there will be a generation of kids that grew up saying, 'Oh
yeah, I got box scores and watched games on my phone -- it was just
part of the experience of baseball.'"

Yeah, "part of the experience." Sort of like when you heave your remote control across the room after the Cubs have failed to score another runner from third with less than two outs.

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