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Good grief, you guys are verbose. Just for the sake of refreshing things, here's a new thread. Some random questions you can ignore, below...

Season-changer?

Game Center, Play by Play, Box Score, Photos

W- Howry (4-4) Wrigley security workers. Former LSU tigers. Soriano. Derosa. Pagan. Saving potential scapegoats from scapegoatdom. Fans who stayed for the bottom of the ninth. Darn near everyone.

L- Fuentes (0-2 ) Doom and Gloom. Loser fanatics who think being famous and tough is all about trying to blindside a pro athlete in the middle of game.

Things to take from this game Where to start..... 1. The 9th inning. (part 1) 8 runs crossed the plate in the ninth. Six of there were for Colorado, but the final two to cross were the ones that mattered most. In a questionable effort to relieve a strained bullpen, Eyre came out to start the ninth, up 8-3, after pitching an effective 1.1 innings. The first three batters reached,Howry came in, three more batters reached, capped by a go-ahead home run by Troy Tulowitzki. Six batters, six runs, without an out registered. 2. The Ninth Inning (part 2) Some jackass got within a couple feet of blind-siding Howry with a full head-on sprint, after the home run. Some member of the Wrigley security crew earned his paycheck, spearing the clown at just about the last possible moment. Len reminds us it's a felony charge, not to mention, I presume, permanent banishment from Wrigley. 3. The Ninth Inning (part 3) They weren't rockets, but Derosa and Koyie Hill singled. By the time we exchanged pinch runners and runners forced, you have Jacques Jones standing on second, Hill on first, with two outs. Theriot hits the game-ending grounder to second, which Kaz Matsui boots into a game-continuing error. Bases loaded for Soriano, who delivers the come-from-behind, game-winning, two-run single. 4. That Scrappy LSU Middle Infield and other Heroes. Fontenot went 5 for 5 and now has hits in seven consecutive at bats. Theriort, entering the game on a double-switch, went 2 for 3, with the one "out" being the Matsui boot. They also turned a nice double-play. They scored 4 runs, total, while Derosa scratched out the ugliest 3 RBI you could hope to get, and Angel Pagan smoked a three run HR, back when this looked like it would be an easy victory.... 5. The Response The fans booed Eyre as he was pulled in the ninth, unfortunate given that he'd had a solid outing, until being left in for another inning. By the time Howry was done giving up the lead after that, the mood was predictably glum. But wow, the reaction when Soriano hit that single.... The comedy-free details, below!

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,"

Word has been slowly leaking out all morning, and now the news has just crawled across ESPN News, so we'll run it, here: Beloved relief ace and former Chicago Cubs pitcher Rod Beck has died at the age of 38. No cause of death has yet been reported. Rod arguably is the most popular Cubs player to have spent less than two full seasons on this team. In 1998, he and Terry Mullholland seemingly pitched every day of August and September, helping the Cubs into the playoffs. For instance, he appeared on August 30th, 31st, September 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th, recording a save each time. He then pitched September 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, and17th, with two wins and 4 saves. 35 times that year he pitched on no days of rest. He led the league in appearances that year, his 51 saves were a career high, although only good for second that year in the NL. He also led the world in grit-per-pitch. His 51st save was on September 28th, the 163rd game of the season, sending us to the playoffs as the NL Wild Card representative. Rod attempted a comeback with the Cubs in 2003, but failed to make the major league team. He spent April and May with the Iowa Cubs, living out of his camper trailer, which he parked behind center-field and from which he would host fans after the game. The Cubs released him at the end of May; he quickly signed on with the Padres, who had lost Trevor Hoffman to injury, and proceded to save 20 games with a sub-2 ERA. It proved to be the last in a seemingly unending series of improbable escapes and comebacks. On a personal note, Rod was my favorite Cubs player of the 1990s and beyond. From 2002 onward, my fantasy baseball teams and leagues have all used his name. As a guy who has never quite fit the mold myself, I loved the wild mullet from the Giants period, the fu manchu, the right arm dangling as if dead, swaying like a pendulum at his side when he stood on the mound, the beer belly, and his unending ability to reinvent himself as a pitcher, in order to continue to get batters out. The best eulogy you could hope to read about Beck comes from a lengthy ESPN article done during his Iowa Cubs period. Read it, here. Please humor me, and save the usual TCR game-related fodder, at least for awhile, to the game thread below this one.

(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?"

 

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...
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. The umpire ruled, however, that the ball was still in play when the fan touched it and since it wasn't interference with an on-field defensive opportunity, it was declared a double. Upon further review (and it took several reviews, and a blown-up image), the umps made the correct call. The ball was going to fall into the field of play, it wasn't a HR. The interference didn't hurt the outcome of the play. (Although conceivably, if he had managed to make the catch, perhaps the umps could have been fooled into calling it a home run, a la Jeffery Maier?) (Now that I look, Cubster has already nailed this, in the message board of the previous thread. But it's worth putting on the big board.) For his efforts, the fan was removed from the game. The more important interference came a half-inning later, on a high fly ball to the RF wall. With Cliff Floyd settling under it in an effort to make a leaping catch, another fan leans out, knicks the ball, deflecting it enough to foul up Floyd's effort to make the catch. The Umps miss this one.   Adrian Gonzalez gets a triple (a run-scoring one at that) in spite of protests from Floyd and Piniella that he could have made the catch without the fan interference. The ushers make the right call, at least, and eject the guy. (With a little help from his "friends" who happily point him out.) And a half inning after THAT, Fontenot hits a HR into the Basket. Once more, a fan makes a lunge for it. Hooray for crocodile arms, as the guy misses, and it clearly bounces in and out of the basket. Conclusions:
  1. Seeing a baseball come near you short-circuits the reasoning process in most all fans
  2. Therefore, run an electric current through the HR basket.

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!

[update] this form appears to be the best place to go to register your disgust with the guest conductor situation.

Dear Chicago Tribune and Chicago Cubs Upper Management Suits, Somewhere, about three or four years ago, your guest conductor idea degenerated from a nice way to commemorate Harry Caray, into a crass publicity gimmick. In the last two nights, it has further devolved into what can only be described as a complete travesty. Ditka, at least, has some Chicago roots. Ozzy and Mongo amused me in the way that watching COPS or Springer amuses me. But Jeff Gordon, two-bit politicians, no-talent "comics" and now, Kellie Pickler, are just complete embarassments. They reflect badly on your product. If you're going to continue presenting us with faux-celebrities who proceed to embarass themselves, your brand, and your brand's most loyal customers, at least find ones who don't need to have the outfield pointed out to them. May I propose offering the following test. Anyone who scores less than 8 out of 10 needs to stay out of my ballgame.
1. What is the name of the building in which you are singing the seventh inning stretch? 2. Since 2000, how many World Series have the Cubs won? 3. Name two players currently on the Chicago Cubs' 25-man roster. 4. Write out the lyrics to the 7th inning stretch. 5. List one thing you plan on talking about in the broadcast booth, other than your career. 6. How many outs are there in a half- inning? 7. What do you call a "point" in baseball? 8. What is the name of the position located in the center of the outfield? 9. What job does that older gentlemen in the Cubs dugout have, the man wearing the uniform with the name "Piniella" on the back? 10. List one thing that you have done to improve the city of Chicago, unrelated to your use of the city as a source of income.
Again, 8 out of 10. Your loyal fan, Trans.

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.

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