A Double-Dare to the Baseball Gods

It's official. I've double-dared (if I were Ryan Theriot, it would be a single dare) the Baseball Gods to invoke their wrath. All I can hope for is that they won't think about reversing reverse psychology.

My spouse loves to travel. I love baseball season. This has lead to 30 years of negotiating the avoidance of travel during just a few parts of the year. Early April and September-October.

I'm serious losing this battle. Last year we took a 3 week trip to China, breaking my string of being at Wrigley Field for opening day, a streak of over 30 years (I've been back in Chicago since college days).

The one absolute taboo was that we wouldn't take a major trip in September or October because that was the wrapup of the baseball season and playoffs. Her argument was September/October is the best weather for travel to many of her favorite places. For years, she checks in every so often asking that if the Cubs were out of contention, could we take a trip in September or October.

After taking this seasons beatings and holding out hope as long as I could, I've given in. The plane tickets are booked to southern France and I'm daring the Baseball Gods to beat me up, invoking the 1935 Cubs as my lesson on what I'm about to miss...

What's So Big About Z?

He said he would meet the press on Wednesday afternoon but word was he jetted back to Chicago instead. Then the plan was to talk with media types after a pitching cameo Thursday night. He pitched a little but didn't talk at all, using the Iowa Cubs media relations people the way bigshot execs use secretaries to dodge phone calls. The enabling continues.

To his credit, Carlos Zambrano took it upon himself to scribble a few marks of Zorro for unaccountably adoring fans before last night's game in Des Moines. The biggest crowd of the year, nearly 13,000, had assembled, but Zambrano wasn't the only attraction. It also happened to be Casey Blake bobblehead night and Casey Blake is big in these parts. He hails from Indianola, a village not too far south of town.

On Z's Return, Lilly's Exit, and Girardi's No-Comment

— A season-high crowd of nearly 13,000—more than 5,000 above than the I-Cubs' average—was on hand for Carlos Zambrano's rehab appearance last night in Des Moines. 

Zambrano threw a bumpy but scoreless inning in which he got 10 of 15 pitches over the plate, but allowed two singles and was saved from a third hit by Sam Fuld's catch against the center-field wall. (See Mike Wellman's full account here.)

 

Current plans are for Zambrano to pitch in Round Rock over the weekend and then in Albuquerque on Tuesday before rejoining the big club in Colorado.

When the Cat's Away El Mouse Will Finally Play

After getting stood up at a mid-day press conference with a once angry pitcher in exile from the big leagues I went home after work to change into shorts and sandals and then headed back to the ballpark. Last night I pulled my first shift of the summer in the "Ryne Line," the nightly queue that forms in the stands to get a brief audience with the only HOF'er currently at work in baseball's minor leagues.

Since I was there alone I was left to pass the wait by watching the Oklahoma City Redhawks take BP before the grounds crew painted the infield a dark red and bright white. I couldn't help but eavesdrop on some of the conversations going on around me. One guy a few spots back remarked that he can't stand the Metrodome and doesn't plan on going to a Twins' game again until or unless they get an outdoor stadium. Good luck with that, pal!

Eventually I got the manager of the first place Iowa Cubs to sign a PCL ball and one of the cards they were passing out at the Wrigley Field turnstiles on the day in 2005, about a month after his induction at Cooperstown, when his #23 was retired and hoisted up the foul pole.

I don't know enough about big league baseball or Ryne Sandberg to know what kind of a manager he would be at that level. I do think he has grown into his role as a manager at this level.

Don't Underestimate the Cubs: They Can Make a Mess of Anything

After all these years, I should know better than to underestimate the Cubs' ability to screw things up, but each time they do, I am somehow sickened anew. This 10-week, all-expenses-paid farewell tour of the National League granted to Lou Piniella is just the latest example.

Let the Lou Piniella Farewell Tour Begin

After 23 years as a manager and many, many victories, though not a single one of them in the post-season as the manager of the Chicago Cubs, Lou Piniella is retiring at season's end.

Piniella, Jim Hendry, and Tom Ricketts are scheduled to meet with the press at about 4:15.

More to come later on.

Big "Z" Returns to The Game

Carlos Zambrano got into his first game action since his infamous dugout meltdown at U. S. Cellular Field on June 25th, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 second inning (12 pitches - 10 strikes) at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.


The AZL Cubs lost the game 2-1, as the AZL Royals scored two runs in the top of the 6th off RHP Luis Liria (4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 6/4 GO/FO, 58 pitches - 37 strikes) to overcome a 1-0 deficit.


box score


Iowa Cubs RHP Jeff Gray (groin strain) got the start for the AZL Cubs, throwing one inning (12 pitches - 9 strikes) in what was his second rehab outing in three days (he threw an inning for the AZL Cubs this past Saturday night also). Gray struck out Cameron Connor (swinging) to lead-off the game, before surrendering a one-out single to Daniel Mateo. Gray then got out of the inning when Michael Antonio grounded into a room-service 6-4-3 DP. Gray has been on the I-Cubs DL since May 31st, and looks to be about ready to return to Des Moines.


There wasn't much Cubs offense tonight, as Royals pitchers limited the Cubs to just one run on four hits, retiring 10 of the last 11 Cub hitters. The Cubs scored their lone run in the bottom of the 4th when Albert Hernandez and Ryan Cuneo singled, advanced a base a piece on a well-executed double-steal, before Hernandez scored on a WP.


Here is Zambrano's inning, pitch-by-pitch:


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Recent comments

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  • I think with Hammels and Hendricks struggles the 2nd half we forget how dominate of 1st halves they had and how many games they won us as the offense was struggling. We also forget they are back of the rotation guys and we be expecting ace quality there.

  • Maybe it's just Werth & Ross I'm noticing. Weird.

  • CRAIG: Jose Albertos is not chunky like Fernando. He's built more like Dylan Cease. Exact same body type. And his delivery is free & easy. He's definitely not a "max effort" guy.   

  • Hendricks after 50 MLB starts: 17-11, 3.45 ERA, 1.12 WHIP. Not bad for a #5 starter. He may be a 6-inning max guy, but, if he can keep those stats up, I will gladly take it.

    Speaking of WHIP -- last year, he was tied for 11th in the NL. Tied with Hammel.
    Last year's NL rank in WHIP: Arrietta 2nd, Lester 9th, Haren 10th, Hammel T11th, Hendricks T11th. Wow.

  • I went to a Nats game in DC two years ago while looking at colleges with my son -- it's a fun park, worth a visit if you are in the area.

    I also saw the "slowness" thing -- particularly Werth, who would mosey out of RF about 5 seconds before the inning started.

    Weird.

  • It's Dusty's fault. It'll be the end of them.

  • Speaking of how teams "look", my take on the Nats- It's really weird, but the pace of the entire team seems slow. Slow walking to the plate, slow on the mound, even on some routine groundouts, it looked as if there wasn't a ton of hustle. Don't get me wrong, when the ball is hit to their outfielders, they get after the ball, I'm really referring to non-critical action- they mosey around. It's kind of odd. Maybe that "calm power" is part of the Nats ethos, idk.

  • My favorite moment of Hendricks' performance last night was the last strikeout he rung up- the cajones it took to throw a high, 86MPH fastball to Zimmerman on a 0-2 count. And he swung the bat like it was a 96MPH heater. I literally laughed out loud.

  • In listening to Maddon's post-game, he is interested in how these other teams "look" to him. He is assessing for today...and tomorrow. I love this guy.

    One observation from last night: Joe Ross is incredibly slow. 20-30 seconds between pitches at times. Hendrix had a nice, peppy rhythm which is great to see.

    I know there are plenty of purists here which I applaud, but the game just will not sustain itself unless change of pace rules come into play. Pitch clock, improve the shit-ass reviews, mound visits (there is a clock for this), batter time outs, etc.

  • Thanks, Phil. Albertos at 17, and having gotten a good signing bonus ($1.5, even though as Mexican prospect I think his team gets half of that?), throwing in the 90's and showing some command of a curveball sounds pretty interesting, even if that control is only for a dozen-pitch sample.

    What kind of a frame does he have? Is he on the stocky and short-ish side (I'm recalling Fernando Valenzuela!), or somewhat taller? A lot of 17-year olds have projection, "when he fills out" projection. Would that apply at all for Albertos?

  • A-Team

  • Ha

  • I definitely hang around here looking to reply to your comments as noticed by my nearly year long absence.

    there's a fine line between posting something relevant, useful or at least humorous versus posting something irrelevant, useless or unfunny...actually it's rather quite a thick line and easy to see for most people not named crunch.

  • I certainly am digging the RISP machine Zobrist version.

  • Cubs are taking advantage of bad D by their opponents -- did it a few times in PIT and the Nats botched 2-out rundown leads to 3 Cub runs in the 8th. Which were nice to have.

    I hope Kyle had fun at the dance party -- he was terrific.