Game 106 Thread / Cubs @ Brewers (1 of 4)...how's that for a good bluff, Rob?
John Winger (Bill Murray): C'mon, it's Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick 'em up, we zip right out again. We're not going to Moscow. It's Czechoslovakia. It's like going into Wisconsin.
Russell Ziskey (Harold Ramis): Well I got the shit kicked out of me in Wisconsin once.
After a glorious 6-4 win in the opening game of this key Milwaukee series, I wanted to take a minor detour and reflect on my recent travails, aka, life following the Cubs in central Europe including the Czech Republic.
I've been to Europe several times and remember the days before mlb was so accessible on the internet. In Med School, I was in London and Paris "studying" for 6 weeks toward the tail end of my senior year and remember following the 1984 Cubs via newspaper info only. The International Herald Tribune was about my only daily source and the info was usually 48-72 hours old. Their friday edition was actually friday-saturday-sunday, so there would be no scores for 3 days and the monday edition often didn't have any of the sunday results yet. So on my recent vacation just for grins I looked at the "sports section" of the IHT and nothing has changed. MLB Standings and 2-3 day old results with a minimal top news story often about bicycling or tennis.
I needed to travel light on this trip so no laptop computer, just my iPhone set up with an extended data package for what is fairly pricey internet access. I did have the new mlb at-bat application, which is essentially mlb's gameday for cell phones. Apple had just upgraded their software the morning I was leaving for Europe. Given the glitches at Apple that morning with everyone trying to download the new software, I got a bit lucky getting the download completed with 15 minutes to spare. I was panicking an hour before leaving home as the software upgrade wasn't happening and I couldn't go back to the earlier version without losing my phone software. Visions that I might be going back to the days of IHT hell danced in by brain. Fortunately the download completed and I might have been the first Chicagoan to have the iPhone 2.0 software. Alas, no slingbox this trip, which is the ideal way follow from afar if you have wi-fi (but that's another story).
The first hotel we stayed in (Munich) had free wi-fi and computer access in the lobby (but not in the hotel room). Given the time being 7 hours ahead, that first evening in Munich, I was following the Saturday noon start game against the Giants, Rich Harden's debut. As you recall he left with a 7-0 lead and as it was almost 9pm, I headed back to the room to crash with that secure feeling of having a game in the W column. You know the rest but since I was messed up from Jet Lag, I woke up around 3 am, couldn't get back to sleep and went back down to the hotel lobby to check out the other final scores. Two hours later...after trying to sort out what the hell happened, I was finally able to crash. Welcome to the Cubs, Rich Harden. Oh, and in Munich don't miss the Viktualienmarkt, where you can have the popular Frühstück of Weisswurst (white sausage) and sweet mustard (Weisswurstseif), sauerkraut with a pretzel and a Pilsner for breakfast although it was really more of a late night snack, Chicago time.
The trip was planned so I could miss the fewest games during the season, so it was a premeditated act to relinquish the all-star week for this vacation. I did follow some of the mid-season classic, using the gameday feed as Dempster finished the 9th. It was tough to follow much beyond that for it was the wee hours of the early Vienna morning. My Cubbie paranoia had me figuring that it would end about the 12th inning with Marmol blowing the game, permanently ruining his confidence and forcing him to enter the land of Steve Blass disease. Fortunately, Marmol was great in his inning of all-star glory and we get to forever kick Dan Uggla and Brad Lidge around instead. In Vienna, we loved the Leopold Museum and don't miss the pastries although you can get them in Chicago right here.
We were in Prague after the All-Star break and the night games were tougher to follow closely as by now I was adjusting to the time zone and an 8 pm start translated to 3 am in Prague. I did gameday watch the 5 run ninth inning in the game Dempster pitched a complete game shutout to avoid a sweep in Houston. On the last morning on the trip, I awoke about 4 am to catch the last 4 innings of the Randy Johnson vs. Rich Harden game with his almost a no-no. It must have been a very depressing game to watch in real time let alone on a cell phone at 4:30 am in a hotel in the Czech Republic. Ah, Prague. Wonderful city of Bohemian Crystal, Czech deep red garnet jewelry and Smažený sýr (a local cheese dish)...yep, it's just like going to Wisconsin.
See you at Miller Park tuesday night, it's Little Cubster's 23 birthday party! We're rooting for WeissWurst in the sausage race.
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.
Phil, historically this front office has been patient with their prep pitchers keeping their IP low and moving them one level at a time. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, and you may not be able to formulate an opinion on this, but you've seen a lot of pitchers over the years, so...
also, after tonight's loss, STL is 13-14.
also also, the wsox are 19-8.
Win tomorrow, and the Cubs would have a 6-game lead. On May 4.
Fully agree on Addy -- hope he is our SS for a long time. I'm just surprised he has 4 errors already -- the last 2 on routine plays.
Guess how many Carlos Correa has?
I would still rather have Russell, right now, than any shortstop the team has had in many years. The future is bright enough to wear shades.
EDIT: Gonzo WOULD have been my favorite, 'cepting a certain error of a double-play ball...
Hi Phil, made it home tonight safely. Looks like Cease is getting better each outing. I see Crow did ok today too. I will be reading your write_ups everyday. Great seeing you while there!