I suppose many of you have seen the reports that Florida Marlins manager Joe Girardi got into it with the Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria over the weekend. The story goes that Girardi told Loria to basically shut it when Loria decided to heckle an umpire over some questionable balls and strikes calls. Of course you have to believe there's been some tension leading up to that point as that hardly seems enough to warrant what supposedly happened afterwards. The story goes that the discussion got even more heated after the game and there's a rumor floating that the Marlins were ready to announce Girardi being fired as the press room they use for such things was being set-up in anticipation of the announcement. Of course no announcement came, but the conspiracy theorists out there will certainly speculate that Girardi could be on a path to get himself fired in anticipation of taking over the Cubs this off-season. Well Girardi was happy to squash those rumors today, saying that he loves living in Florida and has no desire to leave for the Cubs right now.
''I am still the Marlins' manager, [and] I plan on being the Marlins' manager for a long time. People like to speculate that I am going to Chicago." ''If I was going to go to Chicago, I wouldn't have sold my house [in the north suburbs]. I have property there that we've kept there for a long time. I don't have a house there; I sold my house, my kids are enrolled in school in South Florida. I enjoy jumping in my pool every day. It's a nice life.''
Well maybe there's an out clause or a super-secret blood oath handshake?
''There are no outs. I have a three-year deal. No handshake agreement, no elbow rubbing, no kissing, nothing. Why would any club hire someone who had a handshake agreement that they could get out? Because you would know their heart's not in it. I think the one thing that you know about my heart is that it's about winning.''
Well there you have it, of course getting yourself fired might solve all that. Some other quick notes after the jump...
First, the moron(s) who started the wave at Wrigley on Sunday need to be shot, along with every fool who followed along. I suppose Hot Dog Races sponsored by Vienna Beef will be coming soon. Today is the day that we get to watch Carlos Marmol walk a bunch of guys and hope he can pull a Houdini out there. Sometimes it works for him and then other times he drowns in the glass tank with the straight-jacket still on, the handcuffs still around his ankles and the shark ripping off his limbs....much like his last start versus the Diamondbacks. It looks like Dusty has finally settled on an almost everyday lineup. That's kind of refreshing. Go Cubs!!! GAME ONE HUNDRED-TWELVE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (47-64, (Div) 5th - 14.0 GB; (Wild Card) 12th - 9.5 GB) AT MILWAUKEE BREWERS (52-59, (Div) 4th - 9.0 GB; (Wild Card) 8th - 4.5 GB) Miller Park, 7:05 pm CDT Weather: 72 degrees, Clear, Wind L to R @ 8mph TV: CSN, DirecTV 742 Radio: WGN, XM 184
Tomo Ohka, RHP 3-2, 3.57 ERA, 58 IP 36 K, 21 BB, 5 HR 255/324/366 againstCarlos Marmol, RHP 4-5, 5.09 ERA, 58.1 IP 48 K, 43 BB, 8 HR 233/370/457 against

*Juan Pierre, CF #Cesar Izturis, SS Michael Barrett, C Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF *John Mabry, 1B Ronny Cedeno, 2B Carlos Marmol, P *Gabe Gross, CF Tony Graffaninio, 2B *Prince Fielder, 1B Kevin Mench, LF Bill Hall, SS *Geoff Jenkins, RF David Bell, 3B Damien Miller, C Tomo Ohka, P

Cubs vs Ohka: Juan Pierre: 16-41, 390/390/415, 1 K, 0 BB, 1 2B Neifi Perez: 5-15, 333/375/333, 0 K, 1 BB Aramis Ramirez: 2-15, 133/278/400, 3 K, 1 BB, 1 HR Henry Blanco: 1-14, 071/071/071, 1 K, 0 BB Brewers vs. Marmol: No Brewers with more than 10 Ab's
Wow, Neifi is batting 333 versus an opposing pitcher and doesn't make it into the lineup. A lover's quarrel?
With the Cubs season not going too well, I just can't help but look forward to the 2006 Arizona Fall League. There is nothing like consortium baseball to get the juices flowin'!
GAME FIFTY-ONE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CINCINNATI REDS (28-23, 2nd, 5.0 GB) AT CHICAGO CUBS (19-31, 5th, 13.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 7:05 PM CDT Weather: 78 degrees, cloudy, wind variable @ 8 mph TV: CSN, DirecTV 743 Radio: WGN, XM 188
Greg Maddux, RHP 5-4, 4.28 ERA, 61.0 IP 41 K, 16 BB, 5 HR 272/316/414 againstBrandon Claussen, LHP 3-5, 5.25 ERA, 58 1/3 IP 44 K, 18 BB, 12 HR 296/357/511 against

# Felipe Lopez, SS *Scott Hatteberg, 1B *Ken Griffey, CF *Adam Dunn, LF Austin Kearns, RF #Javier Valentin, C Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Ryan Freel, 2B Brandon Claussen, P*Juan Pierre, CF *Tony Womack, 2B Matt Murton, LF Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Todd Walker, 1B Ronny Cedeno, SS *Jacque Jones, RF Henry Blanco, C Greg Maddux, P
Reds vs. Maddux: Javier Valentin: 6-12, 500/538/1500, 4 HR, 1 BB, 2 K Ken Griffey: 9-21, 429/538/762, 2 HR, 4 BB, 7 K Ryan Freel: 6-19, 316/316/579, 1 HR, 2 K Austin Kearns: 7-24, 292/292/458, 1 HR, 6 K Jason LaRue: 5-17, 294/368/333, 1 BB, 4 K Adam Dunn: 4-28, 143/226/464, 3 HR, 3 BB, 8 K Rich Aurilia: 8-39, 205/205/410, 2 HR, 5 K
GAME 50 RECAP
CUBS 7, REDS 3
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Kerry Wood (1-) L: Elizardo Ramirez (2-4) S: Ryan Dempster (9)
It had been so long since we'd seen the W flag that I was afraid we'd lost the rights to it. But there it is, in all its glory. I didn't see the game -- I was at a barbecue watching The No Longer Tiny Baby splash around in a wading pool in the 90-degree heat -- but apparently Kerry Wood looked good, and the best thing about the box score was seeing that Todd Walker went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. Also nice: the Murton-Cedeno tandem going 4-for-8. Not so nice: Tony Womack going 2-for-5. I mean, I'm glad he's not a giant sucking chest wound in the #2 hole, but I cringe every time he gets a hit because that means he's going to play even more. On Sunday I was bemoaning the Cubs to The Lovely Wife, as I am wont to do, and she said she thought this same thing had happened last May, or maybe the May before. So I went and looked, and sure enough, the Cubs started last May with a seven-game losing streak, which led to the TCR authors banning the use of the letter L. Not only that, but in the middle of last May I reached back into the TCR archives of May 2002, when the Cubs had a nine-game slide. Three out of the last five Mays have been painful for Cubs fans. Of course, in both '02 and '05 the Cubs would go on to have even worse months later in the year, and they finished 21 and 30 games out of first in those two years. So it's not like it's a cloud with a silver lining; it's more like a cloud filled with grapefruit-sized hail. Man, I can't even make a column about a win come out sounding happy. As Bushwick Bill once famously said, "times is hard."
from reaching .500. There's always a bright side. We're a long way away from that 16-7 trouncing of the Reds on Opening Day. And don't forget the 5 error (3 thanks to Edwin Encarnacion), 4-1 win just a week later. Good news is we miss Bronson Arroyo's bat this series. Bad news is we're the Cubs. GAME FIFTY IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CINCINNATI REDS (28-22, 2nd, 3.5 GB) AT CHICAGO CUBS (18-31, 5th, 13.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 1:20 PM CDT Weather: 88 degrees, partly cloudy, Wind out to LF @ 10 mph TV: CSN, DirecTV 736 Radio: WGN, XM 188
Kerry Wood, RHP 0-1, 6.30 ERA, 10.0 IP 9 K, 5 BB, 4 HR Elizardo Ramirez, RHP 2-3, 3.72 ERA, 29 IP 21 K, 11 BB, 4 HR

# Felipe Lopez, SS *Adam Dunn, LF *Ken Griffey Jr. CF Rich Aurilia, 3B *Scott Hatterberg, 1B Austin Kearns, RF Brandon Phillips, 2B Jason LaRue, C *Elizardo Ramirez, P*Juan Pierre, CF *Tony Womack, 2B Michael Barrett, C *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF Ronny Cedeno, SS Kerry Wood, P
I'm running out of ways to complain about this team. I actually have the time to watch the game today, which is pretty rare on the weekends, I'm just not sure I want to waste the 3 hours. Although with a Smoltz/Ryu matchup the game could be done very early. Good luck Cubbies, even the worse teams win once in awhile. GAME FORTY-NINE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ATLANTA BRAVES (26-23, 2nd, 3.5 GB) AT CHICAGO CUBS (18-30, 5th, 13.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 1:20 PM CDT Weather: 83 degrees, sunny, Wind out to CF @ 10 mph TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 189
Jae-kuk Ryu, RHP 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 1.0 IP 2 K, 2 BB, 0 HR John Smoltz, RHP 4-2, 3.12 ERA, 69.1 IP 57 K, 16 BB, 6 HR

Marcus Giles, 2B Edgar Renteria, SS #Chipper Jones, 3B Andruw Jones, CF *Adam LaRoche, 1B Jeff Francoeur, RF *Ryan Langerhans Todd Pratt, C John Smoltz, P*Juan Pierre, CF *Tony Womack, 2B *Todd Walker, 1B Michael Barrett, C Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF #Neifi Perez, SS Jae-kuk Ryu, P
...and by "everyone" I mean whatever percentage of the country is getting this game on Fox instead of Mets-Marlins or Dodgers-Nats. It seems like the Cubs are finding new, creative ways to lose just about every day. How will it go down this afternoon? Here are a few possibilities: * Sean Marshall duels with Horacio Ramirez for 9 hitless innings. In the top of the tenth, the Braves score on a walk, a stolen base, a balk, and a sacrifice bunt. Ramirez strikes out pinch-hitters Freddy Bynum, Neifi Perez, and Tony Womack in the bottom of the 10th. Braves win 1-0. * With the wind screaming out to left field at 30 mph, neither starting pitcher makes it out of the first inning, though Horacio Ramirez does hit a home run in the Braves' seven-run first. After one inning, the score is 7-6, but the Braves add ten more runs by the fourth inning. The Cubs battle back to tie the game 22-22 in the 8th behind three home runs by Aramis Ramirez. In the 10th inning, pinch-hitter Tim Hudson hits the 12th home run of the day. Braves win 23-22. * Sean Marshall walks five Braves in four innings, all of whom eventually score. In the 9th inning, down three with none out, two on and the tying run at the plate, pinch-hitter Neifi Perez bunts into a triple play to end the game. Braves win, 5-2. * Tony Womack comes in as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning of a tie game. Chipper Jones hits a ground ball to him, but as Womack goes to throw the ball to first, a meteorite lands on him, knocking him unconscious. As Ronny Cedeno descends into the crater to look for the ball, Jones circles the bases. Braves win, 3-2. * Nothing really spectacular happens -- the Cubs get a bunch of guys on base but can't bring them in, draw no walks, and bunt a lot. The Braves take a number of walks, capitalize on scoring opportunities, and score a few runs. Braves win 4-1. GAME FORTY-EIGHT IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ATLANTA BRAVES (25-23, 2nd, 3.5 GB) AT CHICAGO CUBS (18-29, 5th, 12.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 12:20 PM CDT Weather: 73 degrees, partly cloudy, Wind from right to left @ 10 mph TV: Fox Radio: WGN, XM 189
Sean Marshall, LHP 3-2, 5.29 ERA, 47.2 IP 36 K, 24 BB, 4 HR 214/320/324 against Horacio Ramirez, LHP 0-0, 15.00 ERA, 3 IP 3 K, 1 BB, 0 HR 571/556/643 against

Marcus Giles, 2B Edgar Renteria, SS #Chipper Jones, 3B Andruw Jones, CF Jeff Francoeur, RF Matt Diaz, LF Brian Jordan, 1B #Brayan Pena, C *Horacio Ramirez, P*Juan Pierre, CF Jerry Hairston, 2B *Todd Walker, 1B Michael Barrett, C Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Sean Marshall, P
Cubs vs. Ramirez: Juan Pierre: 7-22, 318/348/318, 3 K Michael Barrett: 2-15, 133/188/133, 1 BB, 4 K
GAME 47 RECAP
BRAVES 6 BAD-NEWS BEARS 5
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Mike Remlinger (2-2) L: Ryan Dempster (0-3) S: Kenny Ray (1)
So I decided that I'd keep a chronology of today's game, from start to finish. Little did I know that it would be a chronology of one of those games that is emblematic of what it means to be a Cubs fan, or to play Cubs-style baseball. At least it was an entertaining loss, which is more than what can be said of the other Cubs losses, of late. The rest is below the fold.
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I'm not sure I have the energy to even complain about today's lineup. The only thing that surprises me is that Blanco isn't making an appearance. Woeful. Pathetic. Insert adjective. Good luck Z, you'll need it. GAME FOURTY-SEVEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ATLANTA BRAVES (24-23, 3rd, 4.5 GB) AT CHICAGO CUBS (18-28, 5th, 12.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 1:20 PM CDT Weather: 75 degrees, Sunny, Wind from left to right @ 12 mph TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 189
Carlos Zambrano, RHP 3-2, 3.53 ERA, 63.2 IP 71 K, 38 BB, 9 HR Tim Hudson, RHP 4-3, 3.95 ERA, 66 IP 45 K, 21 BB, 4 HR

Marcus Giles, 2B Edgar Renteria, SS #Chipper Jones, 3B Andruw Jones, CF *Adam LaRoche, 1B Jeff Francoeur, RF *Ryan Langerhans, LF Todd Pratt, C Tim Hudson, P*Juan Pierre, CF #Neifi Perez, 2B *Todd Walker, 1B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Freddie Bynum, LF Ronny Cedeno, SS #Carlos Zambrano, P
Braves vs. Zamrbano: Edgar Renteria:10-23 435/536/565 1 HR, 5 BB, 6 K Chipper Jones:4-14 286/444/500 Andruw Jones: 2-13 154/333/385Cubs vs. Hudson: Jacque Jones: 9-29 310/310/517 2 HR's Todd Walker: 4-17 235/278/353 John Mabry: 4-16 250/250/250 Neifi Perez: 4-12 333/333/333

The long arm of MLB law reached out Friday and handed Michael Barrett a ten game suspension and an undisclosed fine. The only other player suspended for the fracas was White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson. Barrett rightfully appealed the suspension and will play in today's game versus the Braves. Hopefully MLB won't get around to hearing the appeal until Lee is back and hopefully MLB will reduce the suspension to a more appropriate 7 to 8 games. And if you want to be really annoyed by Andy McPhail, feel free and read this interview with the Trib. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy the 3 day weekend, just avoid that link. [UPDATE:] Tony Womack called up, Ryan Theriot sent down. I don't even have a joke here, actually I do, it's the previous sentence.
Excellent advice for an off-day from TCR reader Dr. Johnson. I'd call it a prescription, but I don't know if he's a real doctor. GAME FORTY-SEVEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] DETROIT TIGERS (32-14, 1st, +1.0) AT KANSAS CITY ROYALS (10-34, 5th, 21.0) Kaufmann Stadium, 1:05 PM CDT TV: None (MLB.tv only) Radio: WXYT, WHB, XM 181
Mike Maroth, LHP 5-2, 2.45 ERA, 47 2/3 IP 22 K, 15 BB, 5 HR 269/327/403 against, .283 BABIPDenny Bautista, RHP 0-2, 3.75 ERA, 24.0 IP 16 K, 10 BB, 1 HR 250/340/352 against, .296 BABIP

The Tigers have been the biggest surprise in baseball so far this year. They haven't finished above .500 since 1993, and a succession of uninspiring managers (Buddy Bell, Phil Garner, Alan Trammell) has helped erode the fan base to the point where even a new stadium (Comerica Park, opened in 2000) couldn't pull the team's attendance out of the lower depths for more than one season. This year, though, things have been different. A new manager (Jim Leyland), a couple of breakout players (Chris Shelton, Curtis Granderson, Justin Verlander, Mike Maroth), and good numbers from a couple of veterans (Magglio Ordonez, Ivan Rodriguez, Kenny Rogers, Todd Jones) has added up to the best record in baseball over the first quarter of the season. On the other side of the ball, we have the Royals, otherwise known as "the Cubs on the cheap." They're currently on a 12-game losing streak, their second double-digit skid of the year. They have the worst record in baseball, are near the bottom of the majors in just about every offensive category, have an injured first baseman (Mark Sweeney), a young pitching prospect who has yet to pitch this year (Zach Greinke), and a general manager (Allard Baird) under fire after the misguided decision to bring in mid-level free agents (Mark Grudzielanek, Doug Mientkiewicz, Scott Elarton, Mark Redman) in the off-season. It's like looking in a mirror sometimes.
So is it a bad sign when you barely even notice blowing a one run lead in the bottom of the ninth? I was listening to the game on XM radio on the drive home and let's say I was less than shocked when the Marlins came back to win. No angry tirade, no profanities, just a simple turn of the dial to the rest of the Heat/Pistons game. Sad. I do want to note that Marlins manager Joe Girardi is capable of the same stupidity as Dusty Baker. With his best hitter coming up next (Miguel Cabrera), he bunts with Dan Uggla essentially making it a no-brainer to walk Cabrera. Taking the bat out of your best hitter's hands isn't a really sound strategy in my humble opinion. Mike Jacobs saved the day for him though. Maddux goes for win number six today and about the only thing I have to look forward to this season beyond who the Cubs are going to be willing to sell come the trade deadline is how far Maddux will climb the wins ladder. If getting swept by the Marlins isn't the final nail in someone's coffin (I'm not even going to speculate who), then there's some serious lack of accountability going on over at Cubland. GAME FORTY-SIX IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (18-27, 5th, 11.5 GB) AT FLORIDA MARLINS (13-31, 5th, 14.0) Dolphin Stadium, 12:05 PM CDT Weather: Partly Cloudy, 86 degrees, Wind 8 mph in from CF TV: CLTV, DirecTV 734 Radio: WGN, XM 183
Brian Moehler, RHP 1-4, 7.29 ERA, 42 IP 18 K, 13 BB, 8 HR 333/382/559 against, .338 BABIPGreg Maddux, RHP 5-3, 3.76 ERA, 55.0 IP 37 K, 14 BB, 4 HR 266/309/391 against, .307 BABIP

*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 2B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF #Neifi Perez, 2B Greg Maddux, PHanley Ramirez, SS Dan Uggla, 2B *Mike Jacobs, 1B Miguel Cabrera, 3B #Joe Borchard, LF *Jeremy Hermida, RF Reggie Abercrombie, CF Miguel Olivo, C Brian Moehler, P
Cubs vs. Moehler: Todd Walker: 7-18, 389/421/778, 2 HR, 1 BB, 4 K
God, this team sucks. I was talking with The Lovely Wife about it last night and I realized that, right now, I just plain don't like this team. I'm trying to figure out what it means to be a Cub fan when the team is like this -- I don't get any enjoyment from following them, and if that's the case why do I bother? I want the manager, the general manager, and the pitching coach gone, but also realize that unless Andy McPhail is removed from the chain of command, it won't matter who the coaching staff is. When I look at the players on the field, I feel like several of them are actively hurting the team. On top of that, I flat-out don't like some of the players on the team, and two of the players I really like are injured (Prior) or continually getting jerked around by management (Walker). Offensively, this team is offensive. ESPN.com lists 11 team offense categories, and the Cubs are last, or second-to-last, in nearly all of them. Not last or second-to-last in the NL; last or second-to-last in the majors. The bottom three in just about every category is occupied by the Devil Rays, the Royals, and the Cubs. That is beyond sad. In other cities, when your team sucks like this, you look to the youngsters and into the minors for hope. There are a few bright spots among the youngsters on the team (Zambrano, Murton) and in the minors (Pie, Patterson) but because of management's track record, I don't get a sense, like fans of some teams, that the kids will get a chance to play. Thanks to the big Jacque Jones contract and the presence of guys like Neifi Perez, Juan Pierre, and Tony Womack (he's not here yet, I know, but he will be), I feel like we're going to be stuck with a particular type of team for the forseeable future, a type of team that doesn't play the sort of baseball I enjoy. Not only that, but because of the way the team is built, there's no "quick fix." There's no "if they could just trade for that guy, they'd be back in the playoff hunt." I think the team is broken (though some may disagree), and it's broken in too many ways for a Band-Aid to do any good. So the team isn't contending, it isn't one player away from contending, it isn't rebuilding. I don't know where it is in the success cycle, and I don't think *it* knows where it is. As a fan, that's a really frustrating place for your team to be. The Lovely Wife suggested that how you feel about your team is similar to how you feel about your family. You might not always like your family, but you always love them. When someone in your family is off doing something stupid, or dangerous, or self-destructive, it makes you sad, and mad; you do what you can to help them, but if, at a certain point, the behavior continues, you eventually have to detach for a while and hope they can figure things out for themselves. All the while, you pray they can get their act together, and you're there to help when they ask for it, and there to give encouragement when they make tentative steps in the right direction. But sometimes it becomes too painful to watch every day, and you have to disengage. I think that's where I am with this team. It doesn't mean I'll stop paying attention, and it doesn't mean I'll stop posting. But it does mean I'll being doing less of both of those things, and trying my best to care a little bit less about what's happening between the lines. I don't know how long it will last, but at least for the near future I have to unplug a little bit.
Nice job, Michael Barrett. You let yourself get suckered into sucker-punching one of the smartest jerks in the game. I figure that punch is worth at least a five-game suspension and maybe more, and those will be games where the Cubs offense is even more anemic than it has been up to this point. There are very few people in the game who are better than A.J. Pierzynski at getting under the skin of opposing players. Did he have to bowl into Barrett? No. Did he have to slap the plate after he scored? Of course not. That's a straight-up dick move. But you damn well better believe he knew exactly what he was doing. I'm sure he didn't want to get punched in the head, but I imagine he probably didn't mind all that much, especially once he realized it took one of the Cubs best (only?) hitters out of the game. I'm already hearing how maybe this will be the thing that will fire up the Cubs and get them back on the winning track, but I have no idea how extra Henry Blanco in the lineup is going to do that. You know what will get the Cubs back on the winning track? Winning. Timely hitting. Any hitting. Taking the occasional walk. Not bunting in the first inning. Not bunting with two outs in the ninth inning. Getting more than two hits in a game, and when they do, not leaving those guys on base. Those sorts of things, not punching people in the face, even if they might deserve it. Barrett ought to be ashamed of himself.

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