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From the TCR E-mailbag

Well, it's time once again to dip into the mailbag and answer questions submitted by you, the fine readers and commenters at TCR. Let's see what's on your mind, and what I can do about it.

Dear Transmission,

For the last three and a half years, I was involved in an emotionally intense relationship with another man. You could cut the tension between us with a knife, but we always made it work, thanks to some wild but truly epic games of pitch and catch. In the last few months, however, well, it wasn't so good anymore. He'd go out when I'd want in, or I'd go down when he was expecting up. Things came to blows a few weeks ago, and while I've always had a temper, this was the first time that I ever hit him! I feel horrible about what I've done, but now, I'm afraid that I've driven him away for good. I think I've even driven him to "switch teams." Please help me, Trans, I'd do anything to get him back.

Buddy Is Gone, i'm a Zero.

Dear "BIG Z,"

TCR Poetry Corner - The Billy Goat

(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?"

 

Derrek Lee/Chris Young Brawl Recap, and other Game 67 Cubs/Padres things

Photos, Play by Play, Box Score, Recap, Game Center

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...

Fan Interference

Can't do a full recap today, but as you probably know, there were a couple cases of fan interference in the OF bleachers today. In the first case, Lee hit a ball to the point in LF where the "well" begins, and the home run basket sort of goes upward and back, at an angle. A fan grabbed hold of a railing, leaned out, and caught what he clearly thought was already a HR, on its way into the basket.

Game 65 Recap: Cubs 5, Mariners 4

Unlikely Heroes

Game Center, Play by Play, Box Score, Photos

W- Howry (3-3), the Cubs Bullpen, light-hitting shortstops L- Morrow (3-1), finger-wagging Things to take from this game 1. Good Bullpen Work Marquis pitched well enough through 5, got in trouble in the sixth, and wound up getting pulled after Ibanez hit a three-run double. Wuertz, followed by Marmol, Rapada and Howry, slammed the door, allowing the Cubs to come back late. Howry, in particular, looked very good in the eighth and ninth 2. Scoring early, scoring late We scored three in the first off of Weaver, featuring extra-base hits by Soriano, Pie and Fontenot, as well as a Floyd single. The big play of the game, however, came in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out, down by 1, Izturis (yes, Izturis) hit a two-run, go-ahead single. Howry made it stick. 3. Odd dust-up between Jose Guillen and Tim McClellan You can read the details, below. Gotta run!

Game 61 Recap: Cubs 4, Braves 5

Wolf vs. Lilly: Take a Guess at Who Won.

Game Center, Photos, Box Score, Recap, Play by Play

 

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.

Game 60 Recap: Cubs 5, Braves 9

Short Starts

Game Center, Play by Play, Box Score, Photos, Recap, Game Chart

W -Moylan (2-1), over-umpiring.

L - Marquis (5-3), equal-opportunity plunking.

Things to take from this game

1. 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.

Game 54 Recap: Cubs 10, Braves 1

And now, for something entirely different...

Game Center, Play by Play, Box Score, Photos, Recap

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.

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  • I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.

    Tito 40 min 8 sec ago view
  • I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.

    And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.

    When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.

    VirginiaPhil 44 min 12 sec ago view
  • Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.

    billybucks 49 min 40 sec ago view
  • I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.

    Tito 52 min 39 sec ago view
  • Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.

    My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 5 min ago view
  • Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.

    VirginiaPhil 1 hour 9 min ago view
  • HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.

    Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 14 min ago view
  • Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?

    Hagsag 4 hours 59 min ago view
  • It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.

    Still impressive.

    John Beasley 5 hours 1 min ago view
  • Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.

    He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.

    billybucks 11 hours 55 min ago view
  • Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.

    Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.

    billybucks 12 hours 8 sec ago view
  • 101 wins...most since 1910 (104).

    neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.

    crunch 12 hours 15 min ago view
  • Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?

    billybucks 12 hours 18 min ago view
  • Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump

    jacos 12 hours 22 min ago view
  • Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.

    billybucks 12 hours 27 min ago view
  • j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.

    felix pena, your turn.

    crunch 12 hours 28 min ago view