This is probably best placed below the fold, so as to protect tender eyes.
Cubs fans, an opportunity presents itself that we cannot afford to ignore. The starting middle-infielders on our team are:
- Teammates since college
- Own last names that rhyme with each other
- Are generally just sort of adorable
And, someone surprisingly given Hendry's penchant for gathering unto the Ark two of every no-hit utility man, these guys are, most importantly
- pretty good baseball players!
It's time to give Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot their own nickname. Something that, after the Cubs win the World Series this year, will echo throughout the marbled halls of Cubs lore like "The Daily Double."
More important, it should be something we can slap on a T-shirt and hawk outside of Wrigley, allowing the yet-unknown Adam who names this new creature in the Cubs garden to take home a generous 3% cut of TCR's profits on the venture.1
Of course, there already is a nickname in circulation, "The Cajun Connection." That nickname however
- is the name of several businesses
- sounds like it could be a Sourthern escort service
- is a bit of a mouthful
- seems to have first been used by Paul Sullivan in a 2007 article
- hasn't yet caught on to the point where it's cemented as their nickname
Follow me below the fold, wordsmiths, to discuss nicknames for our mighty middle infielders.
I'm worried that our best hitter and best pitcher are two of the most injury-prone players in the game
I'm worried that we signed Dempster back before the economy completely tanked, and wound up over-paying.
I'm worried that the Dempster overpay caused us to trade away DeRosa, which, I worry, has greatly weakened our bench.
And, I worry, has greatly weakened our chemistry, whatever the hell that is.
I'm worried that Carlos Marmol will tire of his experiment living
amongst humans, and decide to return to his normal, alien form, go back
to the mothership, and report to the Martians that no, the earthlings
do not offer any worthy baseball competition. Marmol the Martian will
then leave us as he explores other worlds in search of competition.
I'm worried that Carlos Zambrano is on the Livan Hernandez Career Arc.
I'm worried that you, gentle reader, won't follow me below the fold...
Time for that Player A, Player B, Player C contrivance, using the average of the five different 2009 projection systems available at FanGraphs.
Player A also has 13 Gold Gloves, 12 All-star Game appearances, an MVP award and a World Series ring.
Player B also has... well... uh... A Funny Middle Name. He's 7 months younger than player A, too.
Player C also has... well... uh... A Funny First Name. And middle name. He's hurt just a bit in this comparsion because he's so incredibly anonymous that he didn't get included in Bill James' projection system, which usually has a tick or two higher offensive projections than the other four projection systems.
If you haven't figured it out yet...
Perhaps you have run into "word clouds," a visual device that represents how frequently different words appear in a text. As a historian I love it, as I can do fun things like compare Obama's 2008 Democratic National Convention nomination acceptance speech with McCain's from the Republican National Convention.
That's useful stuff. I can show word clouds like those to my students, and ask them what the clouds do (and do not) reveal.
But who cares about utility. Let's use some word clouds to navel-gaze, and check out our favorite baseball-related websites.
W - Wood (3-2), History. Fastballs over the outside corner. Generous outside corners.
L - Reynolds (2-3), any losers who didn't see this game live because they were out in the rain and cold shooting a bad round of golf. Trying to come up with an adequate term for that freaky breaking pitch of Wood's.
Things to Take from This Game
1. Wood Strikes Out 20, Two Batters Reach in Complete Game Shutout
From the first few pitches of the game it was clear that Wood had a potentially history-making fastball and breaking stuff working today. Wood K'd his first five,and gave up his only hit on a grounder by Gutierrez off of Orie's glove. This won't make me the most popular guy around here, but yeah, it was a hit. It also was a play that Orie probably makes more often than not. Tough luck for everyone involved. The only other runner came on a curveball that got away from Wood and beaned Biggio. The performance is every bit as dominating as the box score will indicate. Almost without exception, the Astros looked completely helpless.
2. Cubs scratch out 2 runs against Reynolds
Reynolds threw a complete game gem, himself, with 10 Ks and 1 ER in 8 innings. The Cubs' scores came on a Grace "double" in the second, on an incredibly generous ruling where third-baseman Howell got completely devoured by a bouncer. Grace then advanced to third as left-fielder Dave Clark throws away the potential play at second base. Oh Henry! drove him in with a sac fly to Alou in deep center field. They added another for good measure in the eighth; Morandini and Grace singled, with Morandini scoring on an attempted 5-4-3 double play that was too slowly turned and resulted in a fielder's choice.
3. Greatest Game Ever?
A traditional recap can not adequatly contextualize this game. The central question at this moment, just minutes after witnessing this gem, is not "what do we take from this game?" but "where will this game place among the all-time great games ever pitched?" Larson's perfect game came in a far more important context. Haddix's perfect game through 12 innings kept more hitters off base for longer. Clemens has two 20-K games to his record, but as I thumb through the pages of my favorite baseball encyclopedia, I see that Clemens gave up five hits in his 1996 gem, and a run on three hits in 1986. The 1996 Tigers and 1986 Mariners, furthermore, were no 1998 Astros. IS this the greatest game ever? If only we had some sort of pitcher's in-game dominance statistic, and a place that compiled every statistic from every game ever played. Then we might have a more objective idea of where this game ranks on the list of all-time great pitching performances. In the meantime, here's hoping that Wood's career is as successful and distinguished as the Rocket's.
4. Looking to the Future... All the way to the Year... 2000...
This has to portend well for the Cubs. If Wood can stay healthy and anchor a rotation with Trachsel, and another talented young arm like Geremi Gonzalez or Terry Adams or Telemaco emerges as a compliment, we could have a dominant rotation for a decade to come. We just need Wood's health to hold, and though we know he was worked hard in high school, he seems to be a very well built young man, and hopefully can keep his strength up. The Cubs winning a world series may be about as likely as a black president or a second Great Depression, but Wood may have the arm to get us there.
The if-this-is-his-rookie-year, just-imagine-the-things-to-come details, below.
I was meaning to write a nice update of spring training storylines like Rob has done in the post below, but I'm too busy
reading rejection letters from Universities being chased by spurned Valentines to scour the globe for the informative content that you, the reader deserve.
Then I remembered that it's spring training, and the stories write themselves.
So here are your Mad Libs that need filling in. The story itself is below the fold. (No peeking until you've entered your words!)
1. A Cubs Player
2. A number
3. A celebrity
4. A food
5. A gerund (a verb + ing)
6. A noun
7. A Cubs Player
8. A body part
9. A medical procedure
10. A number
11. A roster position
12. A Cubs Player
13. An adjective
14. A Cubs Player
15. An Adjective
16. A player from another baseball team
17. A sports reporter
18. A retired player
19. An adjective
20. A roster position
21. A feature of Wrigley Field
22. + 23. Two corporations
24. An occupation
25 + 26. Two Celebrities
27. A tragedy
28. A Cubs Player
29. A noun.
Yeah, but he kills lefties.
wow...instant hardcore rain.
it was massive...hit off the bottom of the LF scoreboard.
Projected at 461 ft, with a 108 mph exit velocity - longest Cub HR this year by 20 ft (I think Arrieta had the longest?)
this team is full of horrible walkup music...rizzo uses 'marky mark and the funky bunch' more than he should...which is any at all.
d.ross uses alphaville 'forever young' because lulz.
lastella was using (still might be) 'oh what a night' by the four seasons.
turrible turrible stuff.
cubs lead 1-5, bottom 4.
Just noticed that Baez's current walk-up song is "Informer" by Snow. Dear God. That's world class bad.
Hey Lester is left handed!
Probably a good idea to give Rizz a couple of days off (slumps happen to the best -- Harper just broke a 4-for-33 with a HR yesterday). Never been a big fan of an all-RH lineup. The pitcher has the same look and same target for every hitter. At least, as a mediocre HS pitcher, facing a mixture of LH/RH hitters messed me up. A lack of talent and weak-ass stuff may have also been contributing factors.
Would you say Brooks doesn't have any upside going forward? Seems like he could be one of those hybrid starter reliever types maddon seems to like having in his bullpen. But I haven't seen a ton of him, and he got hit around pretty good last year in mlb
I've been wracking my brain to work a "Room With a View" reference in there but I just haven't gotten it to work.
Bryant might be playing SS during an infield shift, no? Usually he is moved to 2B but it could happen.
I won't really be happy until I see Bryant at shortstop.
Yeah, Underwood impresses the internet scouts more than the opposing hitters. Blackburn and Williams have pitched well but they would be more interesting if they missed more bats.
Myrtle Beach has a couple of guys--Trevor Clifton and Jake Stinnett--worth keeping an eye on.
South Bend has the best record in the Midwest League but it's more about their bats than their starting pitching.