Site news

First off, I got a new MacBook Air this weekend. I'm hoping this helps with keeping the blog up-to-date better as my old laptop was on its last legs and seriously annoying me so much that I didn't even want to surf the net much.

As for the site, Disqus has been a bit of a disappointment. Not quite what I thought was advertised. While there are features I like, my biggest disappointments so far are:

  • lack of new comment notifications when re-visiting site
  • lack of real-time updating
  • odd thread structure when putting in new comments

I think the "Latest Comments" sidebar helps with the lack of new comment notifications. I just go there and see what I missed, but it doesn't seem to update too quickly and I feel like I'm missing comments. Granted, things are slow right now and interest is at pathetically low levels this time of year, but when the news starts coming again in the offseason, I think it will get even more annoying.


So, I'm going to try upgrading to what they call Disqus 2012. We'll see if it's any better. This requires nothing on any of your parts, but by tomorrow morning, the comments will look a little different. We'll see how we like that after a few weeks. If I/we are still unhappy with the comments, I'll see about getting the native Drupal comment system working again.

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By my rough count - and I suppose Christian would be a better authority on it - this is the 7th major incarnation of the site. If I recall, there was its inception, then its days on all-baseball.com, then the buyout by mvp.com which is about the time I joined, then the move to a whole new mvp.com website, then the move to our own site so we could use profanities, I'm then going to count the last year when the old site design failed and I've been running the default theme for far too long and now this.

(Fancy hand gestures, lights go out, puff of smoke...lights go back on)

Voila!!!!

I can't apologize enough for how long this took, I pretty much had it ready in April and did something terribly stupid and had to start from scratch. Life and work tend to get in the way too much for me to devote the time I once did, but luckily a kind reader helped me this time around and we were able to get it going after Thursday's crash. I still have some tweaks to make and I'll share those in a bit. I've checked the site on Firefox, Safari and Chrome and seems to be all working. I don't have Internet Explorer and you shouldn't either, but if you do, let me know if you have any problems and then I'll suggest to you to try a better browser.

Enough of the boring stuff...here's a quick rundown of the new stuff and other supremely important things.

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As I've mentioned in the comments, a new site design is on its way in the near(ish) future. Ideally before Opening Day arrives so I can work out the bugs before the games start. It will hopefully be easier to navigate and more importantly to me, easier to maintain as I'm finding the time that I can spend on the site dwindling year by year.

Since absolutely nothing remotely interesting is happening, I'm going to dip into the shark infested waters and dare to ask what more or less you'd like to see from the site.

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Well I'm sure there are some bugs, but as far as I can tell everything is functioning with one minor exception. That being under the "Our Writers" drop-down menu, the links for Arizona Phil's latest (also under AZ Phil's Corner), Cubnut's latest, Dr. Hecht's latest, etc currently aren't working. Some of the code is clashing with some other code and now they're waiting for the other to apologize. I should be able to fix it down the road, but it's not particulalry vital either for the site...at least not for the moment.

As for the upgrade, most of the new bells and whistles are behind-the-scenes, but they will appear around the site as the offseason progresses. The one change you will notice is in the comments. We've added something called AJAX comments, which is basically some cool javascript code that will now post your comments without having to refresh the whole page (although it doesn't seem to work for the first comment of a post if you click "Add New Comment"...shrug). That should save on some load times for everyone. You still need to refresh the article or go to the front page to see if anyone else has posted new comments, but all your postings will load right up at about half the time. So let's say you visit the site and there are a bunch of new comments and you want to reply to a couple of them. You can do that without having to refresh the page three times and losing your place. The one little bug in that is that the comment subjects get erased after the first reply, so if you guys can stay on top of filling that in I'd appreciate it. It's always better for other users using the flat view if you type in a unique comment subject anyway.

Anyway test some things out and let me know if you come across any bugs.

UPDATE: Also, the ability to add signatures to your comments has disappeared. This wasn't a decision on my part, rather the developer that created that functionality didn't update it for this version of the software. If I can find a suitable replacement, I'll install it.

UPDATE #2: One feature that was requested awhile back was a Return to Homepage link at the bottom of the comments so you don't have to scroll all the way back up. It's there now.

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There's going to be an upgrade done to the site sometime over the weekend, so apologies if it's down when you try to escape your in-laws . This could last anywhere from late Thursday night through Sunday(the upgrade and avoiding your in-laws) and I'm sure it's a guarantee that the Cubs will pull off some big news event just to mess with me.

See everyone on the other side and enjoy the holiday break.

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- Cubbery at its finest:

As Lee and Baker were mobbed by teammates in the dugout, relief pitcher Angel Guzman
slapped the side of Lee's helmet, causing Lee to experience neck spasms
that forced him to come out of the game for defense in the bottom of
the ninth.

- Rich Harden is shutting it down for the year, a mutual decision between him and the club. The tone of the article sounds like there isn't much interest by either party in reuniting beyond this season. Fine by me, but will the Cubs offer arbitration?

- Wittenmyer has a rundown of the Cubs rotation down the stretch.

At some point tonight, probably around 10pm CST - although it could be later, could be sooner - we'll be doing a small software upgrade and the site will be down for however long it takes to get done.

If you're still parachatting these days, you can load the link before the upgrade kicks in and keep it open. Once it connects to Parachat, it shouldn't need to access our site, unless you get booted out and have to log-in again.

Lineup for tonight is Fukudome, Blanco, Lee, Hoffpauir, Fontenot, Baker, Hill, Colvin and Dempster versus Brad Penny.

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Sorry about the rather epic error message at the top of the site, working on trying to isolate the problem which seems to be somewhere on line 174 of the database. Considering I haven't changed anything recently, not sure what's going on and unfortunately I've got a full day planned around the Cubs game and the Angel Fan Wife's birthday. I hope to get it fixed by tonight.

UPDATE 7:47 PM: I think it's fixed.

UPDATE #2 7:48 PM: I'm done with this season.

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I'm off for a few days, a little family trip down to San Diego. An easy $500 (if not more) to build Legos and see some fish. Next year, we're just going to Toys 'R Us and the pet store.

Try not to ruin the place while I'm away, but if you do throw a party, ask this kid to organize it for you.

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The Cubs open a three game set in Phoenix tonight against a team battling their own set of injuries. For the D'Backs, it's Brandon Webb and Stephen Drew on the disabled list, although Tom Gordon should be activated for the series. So far on the season, the Snakes have scored the second least amount of runs while allowing the fifth most. I guess no better time to play them short-handed.

The Cubs go in with a two-man bench with Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley all sitting, and its unclear if any of them can even pinch-hit. The lineup, according to a Wittenmyer tweet, is Soriano, Theriot, Fukudome, Reed Johnson (yep, batting cleanup), Hoffpauir, Soto, Fontenot, Miles and Lilly. They'll try to scratch some runs against Dan Haren and his 1.38 ERA.

In good news, Carlos Marmol's bullpen session today went fine and should be available tomorrow. Aramis, Milton and possibly Lee could all be back before the end of the series Speaking of Lee, Bruce Levine wrote earlier today that Lee has been suffering from a bulging disc that results in upper-neck and lower-back pain...a result of a home plate collision sometime within the last 3 seasons. I can't recall the incident myself, so any Encyclopedia Brown's out there that can uncover when this happened, I'd like to know. Levine then wastes a few paragraphs explaining how Lee is a warrior for trying to play through the pain while Bradley sits through his groin issues. In the same paragraphs, he says how the neck and back injuries are basically contributing to Lee's poor performance. So Levine is basically advocating that Bradley play through the injuries to hurt the team. A grand plan indeed.....


On the top right sidebar, in the "Game Results" block, there's a link now for "Organizational Results". It'll take you to FirstInning.com and the boxscores from all the Cubs' affiliates from the night before.

Ted Lilly's first start of the season and him and the TLFC are all amped up to try and take the first series of the year.

"It's the biggest game of the year," Lilly said.
 

Wow.
Ted's Intensity (aka Tedtensity) just made us punch through the TLFCHQ
Italian Granite counter tops... and our hand doesn't even hurt. Damn
right it's the biggest game of the year, Ted continues,

"Because
it's the first one," Lilly said. "They're all important. Every one I'm
starting is the most important, and that's the mentality you have to
have."
 
Here's the lineup courtesy of Wittenmyer's twitter feed: Soriano,
Fukudome, Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Fontenot, Theriot, Hill, Lilly

Some minor site news after the jump...

Not much going on in Cubsland, but the Reds are done putting the finishing touches on their 2009 World Series team. Today, they added Cubs scraps Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward on minor league deals. They'll join Arthur Rhodes's neck, Willy Taveras at the top of the lineup (snicker) and Ramon Hernandez. This was the plan to overcome a 280 run difference and 23 games.

As for the Brewers, Ben Sheets is going to have surgery on a partially torn flexor tendon that will keep him out 4-6 months. Why don't we just just go ahead and count out 2009 in its entirety? The Brewers were counting on two draft picks from a team signing Sheets and already got screwed on a first round pick when the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, which forced the Brewers to take the Yanks second round pick for signing Sabathia.  I'm not sure of the rules on free agent compensation if Sheets doesn't sign until mid-season or possibly next offseason (but I'm sure Arizona Phil does). They also recently announced they were done for the offseason and perfectly content with a rotation of Yovani Gallardo, Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan and whomever else they can pull out of line from a brewery tour.

The Astros big moves were to add Jason Michaels, Aaron Boone and Mike Hampton and cut ties with one of their better hitters from last year - Ty Wigginton. Ed Wade, you're a sly one.

The Pirates added...fuck, who cares....

The Cardinals added some relievers and Khalil Greene. Troy Glaus is likely to miss some part of the beginning of the season after shoulder surgery in January. If Chris Carpenter is healthy and back to form, well they could be interesting. They were a pretty good offense last year, added Greene to it and tried to address some bullpen woes. Carpenter would only make them better, but his health is one helluva of an if. 

So while many lament about the Cubs taking a few steps back this offseason or just treading water; (I'm in the treading water camp and when you won 97 games, that's perfectly acceptable. Also, after all these years of online chatting, I often find myself wanting to invoke parenthesis in the middle of an actual conversation with a live human being. But I fear they don't share my same addiction to chatting with anonymous online people...plus drawing parenthesis with my hands in the air looks weird) the rest of the NL Central seems to have accepted the Cubs as their dark overlords.

Also, our twitter page that I mentioned yesterday should now get automatically updated with the title of the post and a link back to the story. I also moved and added some things to the menu bar up top, should hopefully make things a little easier to find. TCR Junk Drawer is gone and has been replaced by Wiklifield and Arizona Phil's Corner. If anyone has a better name than "TCR Social" for links to our RSS info, facebook and twitter pages, I'm all ears. Finally, with the addition of an RSS feed to comments, you can now read comments from our mobile site. I'm hoping for a more functional mobile site by the end of the year, but at least it's something.

- The Cubs purchased the contract of catcher Shawn McGill from the Lincoln Saltdogs of the (cutting and pasting) American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. McGill will be at spring training as one of the extra catchers around to help with all the extra pitchers around.

- Cubs.com with an article on some of the Korean players the Cubs have signed.

- Individual game tickets for 2009 games at Wrigley Field go on sale on February 20th. Our readers say skip the virtual waiting room and just call.

- Cubs special assistant Gary Hughes inducted into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame.

- Matt Murton traded to the Colorado Rockies for minor league infielder Corey Wimberly. Good luck to Orange Guy.

- New York trades Wright to the Brewers...give it a sec....then give reader John Beasley credit for that one.

- Don't mess with Edinson Volquez.

-  Ken Rosenthal doesn't believe the new owner in San Diego will change the Jake Peavy situation too much.

- Aramis Ramirez is going to sit out of the WBC because he doesn't want to back-up A-Fraud.

-  An interview with Cubs radio play-by-play man Pat Hughes at Chicago Cubs Online.

-  A little site news, at the bottom of each story below the comment box you'll see the RSS icon , you can now subscribe to comments to an individual post. You can also add this link to your favorite RSS reader for site-wide comments. They only show up in flat view, so no threaded comments and it doesn't seem to update too frequently in my Google Reader so far, but it's available.

Also, we have a Twitter page too thanks to Cubnut (there's a widget on the sidebar as well) and we've had a Facebook page apparently since last year thanks to Ruz. Anyone know of a Twitter widget that will display all the feeds of the people you're following?

Since season's bitterly abrupt end I have been busy putting finishing touches on my first book, Far From the Trees: The Troubled Sons of an American Neighborhood. If nothing else the gang hereabouts should like the cover design. You can check that out without even buying the book, though it goes without saying that I hope you do both.

Copies can be ordered through either Amazon or Barnes & Noble online; hopefully a wider distribution is forthcoming - the book has gotten off to a tremendous start here in Des Moines. The local independent bookstore where we held a launch party immediately sold out of its hundred copies and has a waiting list of more than 200 and counting in anticipation of their next shipment. Amazon quickly sold out of its first batch.

Far From the Trees is a composite memoir from the neighborhood where I grew up; sort of a before/after the wild '60's seasoned with Cub angles throughout - forgive this shameless self-promotion offered for your consideration.

Happy holidays everybody - here's to a healthy 2009!

MW...

There is a new rookie in the TCR bullpen and as a result, I've picked up my Dora the Explorer backpack and have assumed the position. Hmmm, perhaps that didn't come out right. All kidding aside, I wanted to take a minute to mention just a few things I do and do not bring to the table.

I bring.....

  • A strong distaste for Derrek Lee and maintain that he is the most overrated first baseman in all of baseball.
  • A love of the farm system, though not nearly as much as the farm crazy AZ Phil has. He's my idol. I hope to one day be able to be half the man he is.
  • A heavy heart over the loss of my favorite Cub, Kerry Wood. I can still remember the day I skipped work for no other reason than to watch him pitch in his rookie year. What game was it? None other than the 20 K game. From that point on I was in love.
  • A hatred of Bleed Cubbie Blue and all the smug attitude emitted Al. Long ago I was told not to mention this, but what the heck? True story, Al was not their first choice: I was. I turned it down.
  • A strange list of favorite Cubs over the years that includes Rey Sanchez, Frank Castillo, Steve Trachsel and Joe Girardi. For some reason I never liked the good players.

I don't bring....

  • The ability to kiss Jim Hendry's butt when he makes a poor decision. He's been given the resources and it's time to get it done.
  • The patience to wait till I'm 80 for a championship.
  • The language in my posts that caused TCR to move from MVN, but I can still be ok, right?
  • A love to go to Wrigley Field. Call me crazy, but it's gotten frustrating to spend $100 and be surrounded by way too many drunks. If the stadium was filled with sane people throughout, I could rationalize it. It's TV all the way for me, though watching a drunk in any other circumstance for free is a fun assignment.

Hopefully that will give you an idea of who I am. I'll do my best to be active in the comments, so feel free to fire off questions. I'll submit to the grill. Roast away.

 

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