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All Wet GameCenter, Recap, Photos, Box Score, Play by Play W - Sosa (3-0) L - Hill (4-3), Mother Nature, every Cubs fan who stayed up to watch, everybody who now goes out and picks up Sosa in their fantasy league. Things to take from this game 1. It got played.

Three hours and seven minutes delayed by weather, the game finally started around 10 eastern time. Maybe 2000 people stayed for the start of the game.
2. Jorge Sosa
We got one-hit through 7+ innings by Jorge Sosa.
I will let that set in for awhile.
3. Did I mention that Jorge Sosa one-hit us? 4. Reyes tweaked something.
Running out of the box in the bottom of the eighth, Jose Reyes came up limping. Not sure why, yet.
5. Hill's start
Hill was a bit wild, with four walks, but really only looked bad on the HR to Easley. Still got a lot of strikes with the big bad curveball. Certainly not his best performance, but also probably not as bad as his line might indicate. In a game of Hill against Jorge Sosa, you really expect to win, even if Hill is having a bit of an off night. Tough game to lose so thoroughly.
The full run-down follows. I can't believe I stayed up for this.

A Laugher. (And we were the ones laughing!)

GameCenter Play by Play Box Score Photos Game Chart

W - Zambrano (4-3 ). The fight against high-blood pressure L - Maine (5-1) Important things to take from this game. 1. The Latest Lineup: For two days in a row, Theriot leads off and Soriano hits third. 2. Fontenot's 2007 debut : While I'm sure he is too esoteric of a player and the move too inconsequential for anyone here to have an opinion about it, nonetheless I will point out that he stroked a double in his pinch-hit appearance. 3. Like the title says: It's been a long time since we had a game that was over, early. Let alone, in a good way. 4. Z's return to form. Z had several dominating innings, and several more innings where he successfully avoided potential disasters, the sort of one-bad-inning-to-ruin-a-good-start events that we've seen from him before. He only struck out 3 through 8, and gave up a couple of shots to Shawn Green. But still, it was a great improvement. 5. Ramirez's mammoth grand slam. Aramis hit a tape-measure grand slam to blow the game open in the sixth. You'll be seeing it on the sports highlight show of your choice. And now, for what you really came here for....

An avoidable loss

GameCenter Recap

W - Heilman (4-2), (A win with only one pitch thrown!)

L - Wuertz (0-2), the Strike Zone

Important things to take from this game

1. The Lineup: With Lee out, DeRosa took over at first. Additionally, Blanco spelled Barrett for the night. With the lefty Glavine on the mound, Pagan played CF in place of Jones. Finally, Soriano got dropped to third in the lineup, with Theroit leading off and Izturis hitting second. 2. The Early Offense: The Cubs Offense (read, Marquis) staked Marquis to 4-0 lead after two innings. A combination of some shakey OF defense, balls dropping in, and a 2-run single by Marquis, and he had room for error, early on. 3. A Very Ugly Play: Bottom of the fifth, Endy Chavez lays down a great bunt. Ramirez gets out of the way just in time for Marquis, who then nearly hits Ramirez with the throw. The throw sails wide, into the basepath, and Chavez collides with DeRosa, hitting DeRosa's exposed throwing hand. Everyone stays in the game, but it looked really bad. 4. The Middle Relief: Marquis never really had it tonight, but held things together through 5+, exiting with a lead (and just 87 pitches thrown) but also with the tying runs on base and nobody out. It's times like this where you really need a knock-out performance from a middle reliever. Ohman in to face Green, overpowers him for the strikeout. Cherry in for the next batter, LoDuca, who doubles to score a run. Easley gets a sac. fly, and the game is tied at 4. Nuts. 5. From Bad to Wuertz. In the bottom of the 9th in a tie game, Wuertz gets two easy outs, then gives up a single to Reyes, a stolen base, and then totally loses it. 9 straight balls to load the bases. Facing Delgado withthe bases loaded, he goes to a full count. One pitch determines if we lose, or live to fight out the tenth. Two more foul balls later, and Wuertz walks in the winning run. Stunning how quickly he lost control of what looked like an easy inning. Mets win. The comedic relief is below.

A Lilly for Mother.

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

W - Lilly (3-2), Mom. L - Lieber (1-2) S - Dempster (8) Important things to take from this game: 1. Lee's pain in the neck. Derrek Lee wasn't supposed to start today, due to a sore neck. He talked his way into the lineup, but then left after the end of the first inning. For the day, he was 0-1 with a GIDP. Daryle Ward came in to replace him at first. Early report from Len is "neck spasms, day-to-day." 2. The great starting pitching. Lilly was absolutely dominant, allowing one hit (which should have been an out) through seven. He got several called strike-threes on the Lilly-hammer. Lieber was hitable, but succeeded in pitching out of a few jams (with some help from the Cubs.) All told, it was a crisp, clean, refreshing game through seven. With that choice of adjectives, I feel the need for a cheap domestic "beer." 3. The Eighth Inning. With a 2-0 lead, 94 pitches thrown and only one hit allowed, Lilly comes out to start the eighth. Helms singles, Nunez singles, and runners are at first and third with no outs. Ruiz lines one to Ramirez, who catches it but then tries to double the runner off of first. It was ill-advised to begin with, before accounting for Ramirez's wild throw. The runner on third scores, the runner on first advances to second, 2-1 Cubs. A soft fly-out gets the second out. A line out to Soriano, and we escape the inning. Should have been scoreless, but could have been much, much worse. 4. The Ninth Inning. The Cubs load the bases with one out, and Ward up. Fabio Castro comes in to face Ward, Cubs respond with DeRosa off the bench. DeRosa is among MLB leaders with 4.33 pitches faced per AB. That percentage will be a bit lower, after walking on four pitches, for a much needed insurance RBI. Another run scores on a Ramirez FC, which should have been an inning-ending DP. Dempster pitches an effective ninth, with two ground balls, and an Utley single that ended with a Soriano assist, as he tried to stretch it to a double. My more extensive write-up is below.

Game Center Play-by-Play Box Score Game Chart Photos

W - Alfonseca (2-1) L - Howry (0-3), Humanity Important things to take from this game: 1. Guzman's return. Other than the second inning, Guzman basically pitched well. He only walked one, struck out six, and had a few dominating innings. Still, he needs to work quite a bit on his command. 2. Soriano's running: On a play at the plate where he was tagged out, Soriano either lolligagged around the bases (if you believe Tim McCarver and Pat Hughes) or was limping a bit, perhaps from a tweaked hamstring (if you believe most of Parachat). The trainer came to check with Soriano in the dugout after he was called out at home, and Soriano also seemed to be going half speed in the OF on a Nunez triple, a few innings later. Stay tuned. 3. The Cubs Comeback. Down 5-1 and looking totally out of it, the Cubs rallied in the top of the 7th, led by a 3-run, pinch-hit HR by Matt Murton and super-clutch go-ahead double by Jacque Jones. 4. The weather. With the Cubs rallying and Geoff Geary struggling, the rain came down in buckets, delaying the game. The Cubs continued their rally after the return, but the rain then came down again in the ninth, when the Cubs again were trying to mount a rally. 5. The "relief" corps: Eyre couldn't strand the runner he inherited from Guzman. In the bottom of the seventh Ohman got the first two outs, before giving up hits to Rowand and Utley. Howry couldn't get Burrell or the Unstoppable Greg Dobbs out, or noted slugger Carlos Ruiz. With two outs, the relievers let in six runs. That made for a seventh inning where each team scored six runs. Game over.
Below is my more extensive run-down, written as the game progressed.
The Tribune is now reporting that Pie will lead off and play center for today's game in Chicago. As of this hastily written post in response to the briefest of announcements at ChicagoSports.com, there is no explanation of how the roster will be worked to fit Pie. Soriano reports he is feeling much better, and the MRI is negative. (No indication of a torn hamstring)
Since the Cubs are snowed out, what say we congregate in Parachat and discuss the game airing on ESPN 2? Seattle's much-hyped pitching phenom Felix Hernandez faces the Red Sox, tonight. His counterpart on the Sox seems to be garnering a fair bit of attention, too. - update - King Felix has an Interesting Statistical Event going, through 7 IP.  come join us.

The First of our 97 Wins

Game Center Box Score Play-by-Play Box Score Game Chart Photos W - Lilly 1-0 L - Arroyo 0-1 S - Dempster 1 Not much to report here. If you missed the game, Lilly looked every bit as dominant as his box score suggests. 7 IP, 1 run, 1 BB and 9 K. To my untrained eye, he seemed to be throwing both a hard and a slow curve, each one with excellent control, while mixing in a fastball, also with terrific command. He started to labor a bit in the seventh, but even the obnoxious-even-by-MLB-Broadcaster-standards Reds' announcers had to credit Lilly with a masterful performance. Dempster looked shakey in the 9th. After walking Encarnacion with one out and going ball one on Griffey, we had our first Lou Piniella Moment of the season. LouPa stormed out of the dugout, barked about five words at Dempster, and stormed back to the dugout. As best as I could tell, the remarks ammounted to (translating, since we're a family-friendly blog) "Gentle fireman, if I might be so humble as to suggest, would you please consider directing the baseball over home plate, with your next toss? Thank you, kindly." Ryan then threw the next pitch (another ball) before Lou had made it back into the dugout, before settling down (somewhat) for the save. Offensively, the middle-infielders provided the pick-me-up, with run-scoring singles by Izturis and DeRosa. With the Cards dropping their third straight to the Mets, the Good Guys are already one and a half games up on the pre-season favorites. Life is good. Reminder- early game time tomorrow, 11:35 AM Central

Longtime Employee Present at Defining Moments in Cubs History

I am saddened to report that one of the most historically obscure, yet significant members of the Chicago Cubs family has passed away. Although very few are familiar with the name, Heinie Massman held a unique place in Cubs history, with an up-close view of some of the defining moments in Cubs lore. I had the distinct privilege of interviewing Heinie last summer, at his home in Bluffs, Illinois (population 748). Due to his position inside the Cubs organization and the sometimes remarkable nature of his claims to Cubs fame, he asked that I not release the content of his interview until after his death. That interview, along with the press clippings he saved from the now defunct Bluffs Sentinel and Belgium Standard newspapers, are testimony to a life intertwined in almost unbelievable ways with Cubs history.

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Goat Riders of the Apocalypse held a terrific roundtable concerning the relationship between sports bloggers and sports journalists earlier this month, featuring Paul Sullivan, Bruce Miles, Will Carroll and Paul Lukas.

GROTA invited me, Al Yellon, Joe Aiello, and Chuck Gitles of Bleed Cubbie Blue, The View from the Bleachers, and Ivy Chat, respectively, to contribute to the follow-up round table, which you can now read, here. It's more serious than entertaining, but I have to say, I was pretty proud of these two lines:

Looking for good reporting in the sports blogosphere is like when you played spin the bottle with the high school band: You might get the hot saxophonist, but more likely you get stuck with one of the woodwinds.

and

Regarding some of Paul Sullivan’s comments: I’ve already discussed at length his remark about how “most newspaper reporters have to actually go to college and get a degree” and pay their dues, and so forth.

But I wonder if Paul is aware that he split an infinitive in his sentence about the necessity of getting a college degree? ~grin~

My previous TCR commentary on the state of sports blogs and sports journalism can be found here.

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