(With all respect for, and apologies to, Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven")
The Billy Goat
Once upon an evening dreary, while I watched a sad conspiracy -
One of many cruel and curious volumes of Chicago lore,
While I nodded, nearly snoozing, modestly I started musing
at their newfound ways of losing, losing at victory's door.
"'Tis the manager," I muttered, "balking at victory's door -
Only this, and nothing more."
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak September,
And each separate stranded runner wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From the blogs surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Prior -
for the rare and radiant pitcher whom the angels named Prior -
Nameless here for evermore
And the doughy visage leaning from the dugout's edge
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
"Is that some manager entreating that we walk through victory's door?
Some old manager entreating that we walk through victory's door?
Could this be, so help me lord?"
First off, I didn't see the incident happen and wasn't planning to do a recap today. That said, here's a good effort at reconstructing what happened by watching all the replays. Eye-witnesses, please fill in the details in the comments.So we know that the Padres were upset with Soriano's extended admiration of his home run, yesterday. Beyond that, I'm unaware of any other bad-blood between the teams. In the fourth, Chris Young goes up and in on Lee, knocking him down. The pitch hit him up high, I'm not quite sure where. It didn't hit flush, but obviously, fastballs near the head are always potential matters of life and death. While the home plate ump is busy talking with Padres catcher Rob Bowen, Lee starts walking towards first, but well on the infield grass, several feet in fair territory. He and Young start jawing. Early speculation from parachat suggests that Young was telling him to just take his base, and they were arguing over whether or not Young was deliberately pitching high and tight to Lee. Young appeared to laugh and motion at his cup (from my view of the replay) and Lee charged him, threw a haymaker right, missing. Young also missed with his haymaker (is there no ballplayer, today, who knows how to throw a real punch, not of the haymaker and sucker variety?) and like that, both benches clear. Marcus Giles was the first to arrive, sprinting in when he saw what was developing. Giles, all five foot three, ninety pounds of him, tries to tackle his own pitcher, the seven-foot five Young, very much Farnsworth-to-Wilson style. Instead of a tackle, Giles just manages to back Young off from the fray. LouPa was right behind Giles to the scene, and used his ample posterior to box out Lee. Lou might have a future in a senior basketball league. Zambrano came out, I'm told with his uniform undone and belt off, probably due to being, ah, back in the clubhouse. Peavy also came out, and Jake got ejected for his participation in the brawl. So did Gerald Perry. I have not yet seen footage of Z's, Jake's or Gerald's role in the fight. We continue with so much more, below...
[update] this form appears to be the best place to go to register your disgust with the guest conductor situation.
Wolf vs. Lilly: Take a Guess at Who Won.
W- Paronto (3-1), Jim Wolf's 15 minutes of fame. ESPN's microphone crew. Lou's anger-management program. Honarable mentions to Mike Fontenot and the Cubs' Bullpen, for both coming up just short of heroic.
L- Dempster (1-3), Ted Lilly, Professionalism amongst umpires, my burning disdain of Joe Morgan, my curry, the gap separating MLB and Pro Wrestling, rested bullpens, retributive justice, Mike Fontenot's nose, my hopes of ever being hired by MLB, the notion of the Braves being a "classy" and "professional" ballclub.
S - Wickman (11)Things to take from the game: 1. Jim Wolf reads minds, sees the future. For anyone that missed it - As you can read below in all the detail, Lilly got thrown from the game with two outs in the first, for hitting Renteria. There was no advanced warning to the teams, but home plate ump Jim Wolf judged the pitch deliberate, and therefore ejected Lilly. As we learn from the microphone ESPN strategically placed on Wolf, he tells Lou that he knew it was deliberate, because he knew something like this was going to happen, before the game started. While Jim Wolf's powers of prognostication and telepathy are debatable, the results were quite real: Cubs relievers need to get 25 outs, a day after they had to record 22 outs. 2. Edgar Renteria is a chump. After being hit on the hand (a glancing blow, as he had taken his hand off the bat in order to protect his face), Renteria steals second, and gives Fontenot a People's Elbow, a Tomahawk Chop, or whatever you care to call it. He barely tried to slide. Think Robert Fick in the 2003 series. Renteria later left the game with a "contusion" on his left hand. Unclear if it was from being hit, or from doing the hitting. And due to Lilly's ejection, there's no practical way for one of our relievers to retaliate. 3. The Cubs showed some resiliancy The Cubs came back from a 2-0 deficit and loss of our starting pitcher to go ahead 4-2, courtesy of home runs by Barrett and Fontenot, a Fontenot triple, and a Soriano sac. fly. Marmol struggled a bit, but between him, Ohman, Wuertz, and Howry (who looked a whole lot better, tonight), the Cubs made it to the 8th with a 4-2 lead 4. The Eighth Inning Cubs loaded the bases in the eighth with no outs, but failed to score. Fontenot hit a sharp bouncer to the drawn in third basemen, who went to home and then on to first for the DP. Izturis then grounded out. Dempster came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth (as Howry had gone two innings, and Eyre and Gallagher were the only people left in the pen, and they'd thrown 35 and 54 pitches the prior night, respectively). Dempster struggles (perhaps holding back as he knows he has to pitch 2 innings?) and gives up the lead. 5-4 Braves. Wickman then made sure Dempster wouldn't need to pitch that second inning. There are a lot of frustrated Cubs fans, tonight. But seeing as how the deck was stacked against us, I'm glad that we at least went down fighting. Jim Wolf and the rest of the crew did a disservice to their profession, tonight, and the MLB policy on bean-balls is not working. The blow-by-blow details of the mayhem, below.
W -Moylan (2-1), over-umpiring.
L - Marquis (5-3), equal-opportunity plunking.
Things to take from this game1. The First Pitch Hudson drilled Soriano with a fastball in the armpit, which more likely than not was purposeful. Tim Tschida immediately issues a warning to both teams, and the game progresses without incident. (Other than Lou getting a bit worked up when Sean Gallagher gets hit with an errant curveball) 2. Quick exits Marquis got the quick hook after 1.2 ineffective innings. Hudson left the game after 2+ equally poor innings, but in his case due to taking a line drive off the foot. 3. The Relievers Basically, their crew was better than ours. Gallagher pitched well in his first MLB performance, save an opposite field wall-scraping HR by Renteria. But Peter Moylan shut us down for 3 innings, and three others contributed for a scoreless inning each. Eyre pitched a couple of innings as he continues to try to work out the kinks. They need some more work, as he didn't have much control. The long-awaited resumption of observational goodness, below.
And now, for something entirely different...
W - Marshall (1-2), peace, tranquility, serenity and harmony
L - Cormier (0-1), discord, strife, turmoil and conflict
Things to take from the game:
1. No ejections, fights, ugly fan behavior, beanings, plague, pestilence, blown calls, or anything. Nothing.
2. The first inning
The Cubs half of the first featured a couple of typical Cubs plays. On a base hit to ride, Quade held Pie at third instead of testing Francouer's arm, which seemed unfortunate when Francouer then bobbled the ball. Then, Jones hit a bouncer that appeard headed for right field and an RBI, when the ball bounced into Aramis as he attempted to hurdle it. There's one we haven't seen yet, this year. Dead ball, Aramis out, Pie has to stay at third.
Any other day, this would have been another wasted inning. Today, however, DeRosa picks us up with a two-out Grand Slam. By the third inning, we were on the good side of a blowout.
3. Marshall continues to pitch well
Very well. Lots of first-pitch strikes, a sharp curve, good fastball, and really no trouble at all until the seventh, his final inning. 8 K and 1 BB.
4. The top of the order
Soriano had a homer and a triple. Pie went 2 for 5, including an all-speed double. Lee went 3 for 5 with a HR. Between then, they scored 7 runs. Ramirez and Jones also had a couple of hits, to boot.
All the happy details, below.
One to forget on Memorial weekend
W -Billingsley (3-0), finding ways to lose
L -Guzman (0-1), finding ways to win
Things to take from the game
1. Second Guessing
It's been a good day for the armchair managers. Let's see:
- Lou pulls Hill, who has thrown 66 pitches in 6 shutout innings, so that Ward can pinch-hit with a runner on second and two outs in a 0-0 game. Doesn't work.
- Lou asked Barrett, hitting fourth and with no sac. bunts on the year, to bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out in a 1-0 game in the eighth. Doesn't work.
- With the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, Lou pinch hits Aramis Ramirez for the hot-hitting Pagan, a move that requires Jones to enter the game as a defensive replacement. Doesn't work.
- Lou pulls Wuertz, after an effective seventh, for Eyre, who hasn't pitched in a week, to start the eighth. Doesn't work. (Eyre gives up HR to Ethier, tying the game)
If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.