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.

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  • Cards and Pirates lose. I'm OK with that.

    billybucks 3 hours 42 min ago view
  • I'm ready for the end of the Miggy era.

    Newport 5 hours 21 min ago view
  • he juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust got there...1st appearance, injury...yow

    crunch 5 hours 46 min ago view
  • b.matusz it is.

    crunch 5 hours 48 min ago view
  • Oops. Colin Rea leaves the game with injury.

    John Beasley 6 hours 7 min ago view
  • Cubs optioned Justin Grimm to Iowa after the game. No corresponding roster move announced yet, but it could be Brian Matusz. 

    Arizona Phil 6 hours 8 min ago view
  • Marlins with a quick 4 spot vs Jaime Garcia. Osuna HR the highlight.

    Cubster 6 hours 46 min ago view
  • Brian Matusz, supposedly he has attachments. Hope it's not like an email with a virus attached.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKtNcsXx_y4

    Cubster 6 hours 59 min ago view
  • One thing to remember about Chapman -- he can be magic, but his ERA is higher than Rondon's this year. 100+ mph is fun, but I'd love to see a few more sliders. I think he enjoys the crowd reaction from 103 mph.

    billybucks 7 hours 17 min ago view
  • "Diamondbacks designated RHP Josh Collmenter for assignment."

    aww...he was my 2nd favorite crapballer. his control issues are rather severe at the moment.

    crunch 7 hours 22 min ago view
  • haha

    crunch 7 hours 42 min ago view
  • Wow -- Chapman gives up a hit and everything completely caves in. I think the Cubs went into collective shock.

    Stolen base with the pitcher holding the ball, WP that should have been caught or blocked, then Russell with a 2-out error on a routine play. Cubs handed them 2 runs. Throw in a Fowler bobble and it was a mess.

    Hopefully, that is all out of their system now -- let's get a W tomorrow.

    billybucks 8 hours 51 min ago view
  • First time I've ever seen a base running slump -- he's made some poor decisions recently, but I thought it was a great idea to try to score there -- it's not like Heyward was going to get a 2-out hit against a LHP. Sliding feet-first into home is probably the safe (ugh) way to go, but it's hard to get the foot on the plate.

    billybucks 8 hours 52 min ago view
  • Yup. He got squeezed (twice) on the first walk, but, when you have one-run lead and the other team is trying to make an out -- take the out.

    billybucks 9 hours 8 min ago view
  • Wasn't fun!

    Brick 9 hours 12 min ago view
  • Clearly the Cubs need to clear out the farm and trade for another closer

    Where's Ed Lynch when you need him?

    Eric S 9 hours 14 min ago view