Author Archives

On Monday, June 28 I watched the Cubs snap the Pirates’ 17 game road losing streak from the vantage point of Bob Uecker seats in the last row of section 506 at Wrigley Field. They didn’t look any less ugly from there than they would have up closer.

Five days later was my maiden voyage at sparkling new Target Field in the Twin Cities. What a contrast of premises AND tenants.

Is it just me or has the number of good old fashioned slugfests at Wrigley Field dwindled in recent years? Even throwing out the fact that this year's Cubs couldn't hold up their end of one, my sense is that there are lots less of the 10-9, 11-7, 14-10 type scores that used to tax the old green abacus on a regular basis once the summer wind started to blow out of the south.

Who else listened to or saw the Cub-Phillie classic that I think was 8-7 after one and ended 23-22? I remember moaning that the Cubs were the only team that could put up 22 and still get beat.

Maybe Jim Hendry just came to Des Moines to escape the heat of the Chicago media. Maybe he dropped in to chat behind closed doors with the trim and ambitious Ryne Sandberg, though if/when Chicago comes calling Ryno back, the call probably won't come in the person of Hendry. In any case, big Jim's reason for being here almost certainly isn't to get a closer look at Sam Fuld, the scrappy leadoff hitter and center fielder. Hendry's mind is made up about Fuld, I imagine, which is tough luck for Sam.

He'd run into, if not through, a brick wall for the chance to stick in the big leagues. The problem is he's about the same height as Hack Wilson [listed at 5' 10" which means Eddie Gaedel wasn't a dwarf after all] without the pipes and the power.

Two nights ago he ended consecutive innings by throwing a tagging runner out at the plate and making a circus catch. Both times he trotted in to standing ovations.

Last night he went 4-4. Did you see that, Jim?

Plus he's smart. The guy holds an economics degree from Stanford. Maybe he could help the front office out with some payroll reduction strategies and cost-benefit analyses.

I want there to be a spot for players like Fuld. He plays at full tilt, like a winner. He's Fukudome without the bloated contract and personal hitting coach in many respects, except that he would have been hustling on the bobbled grounder that Kosuke trotted out yesterday.

Any team can use what Fuld supplies. Especially the one that flew over Des Moines on its way from Seattle to Chicago last night.

Saturday night I watched 14 innings of baseball at Principal Park, the same number it took the Iowa Cubs to sweep a doubleheader earlier in the week.The I-Cubs were down to their third-string first base coach by the time this one ended on a walk-off play at the plate with lightning crackling in the distance. Until then the highlight was my leaping grab of a hot dog burped up by the bazooka that scoots around the perimeter of the field on a golf cart between innings. I say burped because we were seated in the front row between the visiting dugout and the visiting bullpen. Maybe bunted would be a better verb.

The game broke from the box quickly before settling into a pitching duel. Sam Fuld played a first-inning single into a triple going for another highlight reel catch. Then in the bottom of the first he was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single. He plays like a kid and I enjoy watching him. The second out of that frame was a tag play at the plate after Ryne Sandberg appeared to change his mind from stop to go in the third base coaching box. Albuquerque seemed on their way to a 27- hit shutout.

The Iowa Cubs swept the Round Rock Express last night behind the strong starting pitching of Casey Coleman in the opener and Jeff Samardzija in the nightcap.

Coleman retired the last 21 men he faced after the first two got hits in going the route [PCL doubleheader games last only seven innings].

Samardzija ran his record to 5-0 with five scoreless innings in game two. It was his second straight start after pitching out of the I-Cub bullpen since his demotion from Chicago in April. His return to the rotation was brought about by the brief promotion of Mitch Atkins who's now been returned to Iowa in exchange for John Grabow.

The I-Cubs are supposed to play at noon today, but I wouldn't count on it. It's been raining for hours and isn't supposed to stop. So I thought I'd rummage through the fridge and throw something together while waiting for the draft to resume.


My wife and I went to the I-Cub game tonight with friends. Free general admission for a donation to an organization that provides those in need with the "basic essentials." We got in for a can of shaving cream, a couple bars of soap, a toothbrush and a disposable razor.


It was a beautiful night with a breeze whipping out of the south @ 20-25 mph. A misty spray from the grounds crew hosing down the infield carried all the way to our seats behind the Iowa bullpen down the third baseline. My buddy and I agreed that a slugfest was in store.


The  I-Cubs are off today and on their way home to begin a binge of games in Des Moines over the next six weeks after a junket to Nevada where they cleaned up by going 7-1 in Las Vegas and Reno. Seems like a good time to check up on them.

What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay there but it’s no secret what Andrew Cashner’s been up to so what the hell… Last night the ladder-climbing right-hander pitched the Iowa Cubs to a 6-1 victory in his first start at the Triple A level, working six innings of one-run ball while surrendering five hits [four singles and a double] and a walk to go with six strikeouts [four of them swinging]. Cashner threw 89 pitches and most impressively retired the last seven hitters he faced after giving up his only run to tie the game at one in the bottom of the fourth. He left runners at second and third in that frame and then breezed through his last two innings. The win was Iowa’s third straight and the second consecutive that included a three run homer by the awakening Micah Hoffpauir. Sam Fuld and Darwin Barney have gotten hot at the top of the order and boosted their BA’s over .300. Chad Tracy went hitless last night after getting six hits in his first two games with the I-Cubs, but still drew a pair of walks and scored twice.


So what happens with Cashner? Starting pitching hasn’t exactly been the problem in Chicago. Does he settle in for a summer in Des Moines or will they start shuttling him between there and Chicago and the rotation and the bullpen a la the deep threat, among so many others?


The organization appears to be in transition in more ways than who signs the checks. Will a deadline trade of Lilly, for instance, open a spot in the rotation for Cashner. Are head games being played with Not Quite So Big Z to get him to not only waive his no-trade, but in fact demand a trade?

Iowa Cubs skipper Ryne Sandberg got tossed from the game for arguing a called third strike in the top of the 9th inning of his team's 2-1 loss in New Orleans last night.


Right now the top two layers of the Cub organization could be peeled and tossed like a rotting onion. Maybe Castro and his band of Smokies should all come north together. Things are at a low ebb.


 

Pages

X
  • Sign in with Twitter