Tagged: Bobby Scales

The Curse of Being a Fan

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a few days, but I’ve just been totally consumed by the Lakers.  Since they clinched last Friday, I’ve been pretty much thinking and worrying day and night about how they’re going to win this title.  They have to win.  Well, they rewarded me tonight with their second best effort of the playoffs (the closeout of Denver was still more dominating).  Apparently, the Lakers are interested again, which is good for me because I can at least sleep good the next couple of nights.  I know it’s silly, but those of you that are obsessive about your teams will understand.  I think.  One not so humorous thing about tonight.  Well, it’s something I’m sure we’ll look back and laugh about.  Tonight is the eve of our fourth anniversary, the fruit anniversary.  My wife went out and got her hair done.  Our son was staying with my parents today, so I went to pick him up and take him home.  They live 40 miles from us, so I did not get home until the player introductions for the game.  My son was cute, because he knew Kobe right away (I’ve taught him well).  Well, when I came in and put my son down, I became consumed with the game and did not notice my wife’s hair or make a comment about it. (She looked beautiful, but then again she always does).  Finally, when the Lakers started to open it up in the second quarter, I noticed.  I apologized profusely.  My wife understood.  She blamed Kobe.  I am so sorry, honey.  I did bring home a dozen roses, however.  And I did plan a great outing on Saturday to celebrate.  It still doesn’t excuse it, though.  Why do we get so consumed by a game on TV played far away by people who don’t know us?  It’s the curse of being a fan.

The Lakers success has taken some of my attention away from the Cubs.  Right now, this may not be a bad thing.  Where do I begin?  Let’s recap the rain shortened series against the Braves.
The still suspended Carlos Zambrano misses the team flight to Atlanta on Monday.  Way to go, Carlos.  Lou said he gave him a talking to.  Big Z was supposed to pitch today, but that game was rained out.  He’ll go tomorrow in Cincinnati instead.  I have a bad feeling about that.
Milton Bradley got hurt again.  Yawn.  However, the Cubs just call him day to day again and won’t put him on the DL.  They can’t say when he’ll play, though.  Are they serious?  You know, I would not care if they just cut him and ate the two years remaining on his contract.  There is a silver lining to his injury.  It means Reed Johnson will get to play more.  The Cubs are better with Reed Johnson then they are with Milton.
With the injury to Ramirez and the injury of the week to Bradley and others, the Cubs are becoming a team of Triple A players.  Andres Blanco, Bobby Scales, Jake Fox.  These guys aren’t young, either.  Scales is 31, Fox is 27, Blanco is 25.  Micah Hoffpauir is 29.  I admit, I liked the Bobby Scales story, but if the Cubs are going to depend on these three guys for a long stretch of time, they are not winning the division.  To remain in the minors until your 29 or 30 tells me there are some fatal flaws to your game, otherwise they’d be up sooner.  The other teams will figure the flaw out and exploit it.
Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg turned in a tag team effort to blow Tuesday night’s game.  Poor Randy Wells had a no hitter into the seventh inning and left leading 5-0.  Marmol gives up 3 runs in the eighth and Gregg gives up two in the ninth to force a sure win into extra innings.  In the twelfth, Heilman provided the cherry on top by giving up the winning run.
The next night, the Cubs blew a 2-0 lead and had the game go into extra innings.  Fortunately, they won this game to stay one game over .500.
Now the Cubs start a big series with the Reds, who are a game ahead of them.  Now would be a good time to start a winning streak.  OK, Big Z, your the ace.  Go and pitch like one.
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Happy Memorial Day

To all the troops, past and present, who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy, thank you.  

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The Cubs are really not worth talking about right now.  I really can’t say anything about them that I haven’t said before.  The loss of Aramis Ramirez is exposing their weak bench.  Geovany Soto looks more and more like another Jerome Walton or Rick Wilkins if you want a catcher comparison.  Signing Milton Bradley was dumb.  Getting rid of Mark DeRosa because they figured Mike Fontenot could play every day was even more dumb.  You know, there’s a reason why a player stays in the minor leagues until their late twenties or early thirties.  There has to be some flaw in their game.  Over the weekend I think I saw one of Bobby Scale’s flaws.  He has no arm.  Scales played third base on Saturday and looked like he had to put everything he had and more to get the ball to first base.  Mike Fontenot and Micah Hoffpauir are both twenty-nine.  Why did they stay in the minors as long as they did?  Can the Cubs depend on Hoffpauir to be an everyday player?  He’s playing more, and his average has been plummeting.  
Derrek Lee was scratched before Sunday’s 7-2 loss to the Padres due to illness.  Watching this garbage at home is making me sick, I can only imagine what it does to you to see it up close.
Weather wise, this was one of the best Memorial Day weekends I can remember.  If Memorial Day is the kickoff to summer, then we may be in store for a great summer.  It was great to break the grill out over the weekend and enjoy the beautiful weather!  
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Maybe my 22 month old son Joshua could teach the Cubs a thing or two about hitting.
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Yeah, this didn’t happen.  I hate the Red Wings.
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A Look at the Division

While the Cubs enjoy a day off, I decided to take a look at the state of the NL Central.

Who says the NL Central is a weak division.  Right now, four of the six teams are over .500.  The top four teams are separated by 3 and a half games.  As of the end of play on May 18, here are the standings.
                Milwaukee 24-14   —
                Chicago    21-15   2
                St. Louis   21-17   3
                Cincinnati  20-17   3.5
                Houston    17-19   6
                Pittsburgh 17-21   7
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The Brewers have been red hot as of late.  In their last three series, the Brew Crew took 2 out of three from the Cubs, swept three from the Marlins, and swept three from the Cardinals.  Trevor Hoffman has been lights out, converting all nine save opportunities.  The offense has been clicking, led by the Villainous Braun and Prince Fielder.  The starting pitching has been better than expected.  Will it last?  Prince Fielder is the absolute worst defensive first baseman I’ve seen at the big league level.  Having watched a lot of bad Cubs baseball over the years, that’s saying something.  The strain he puts on the pitching staff over the course of the season by giving teams extra outs is great.  The Brewers should trade him the to AL for some starting pitching.  At least there he can be someone’s DH.  Milwaukee got some bad news today when they learned they had lost Rickie Weeks for the season with a wrist injury.  Weeks had nine homers, 24 RBI, and a .517 on base percentage.
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I really don’t know how the Cubs have the record they have considering how erratic their starting pitching has been, how dreadful the bullpen has been, and how many key injuries they’ve had.  Piniella’s team has found a way to persevere.  This does give me hope for this season. Bobby Scales and Randy Wells have been pleasant surprises thus far.  Will the Cubs be able to maintain their offense during Ramirez’s absence?  Has Derrek Lee finally turned the corner with Sunday’s big performance?  Can Marmol be lights out again?  Can the Cubs really rely on Kevin Gregg?  Will Fukudome have another second half swoon?  These are some of the questions the Cubs face.
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The Cardinals came out of the gate like gangbusters.  Their high powered offense, led by Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick, was clobbering everyone.  Albert Pujols is the best player in the game right now, but things are going to get tougher for him now that his protector in the lineup, Ludwick, has gone on the DL.  They were just swept by Milwaukee in a series where they produced little offense.  Their bullpen has looked shaky at times once again.  They don’t have a true closer.  Sorry, Dad, But I think the Cardinals are beginning their slide down the standings.  Don’t forget who they play next!
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Cincinnati was my sleeper team this year.  They have a boatload of really good young talent. Could this be the Tampa Bay Rays of 2009?  Cincinnati is finding out “In Dusty, we trusty”.
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Houston has a scary offense with no pitching.  If they try hard, they could end up .500.
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The Pirates started out strong.  It looked like their young pitchers, such as Duke, Snell, & Gorzelanny had turned the corner like Verlander & Bonderman had for the Tigers in 2006.  However, they’ve slid back down in the last couple of weeks.  They still could figure in as a spoiler for the contenders down the stretch.
Extra! Extra!
Meet Jose Ascanio, the Cubs new reliever extraordinaire.
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Here are the results of the first four batters Jose faced in Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Astros.
Batter 1 – Hit by Pitch (Hey, watch it!)
Batter 2 – Hit by Pitch (Ouch! That had to hurt.)
Batter 3 – Single to right, RBI
Batter 4 – Oops! Wild pitch, run scores
Someone actually figured out something Larry Rothschild hasn’t been able to, how to make Kevin Gregg, Neil Cotts, & Aaron Heilman look good.  Watch it now, these guys have got some competition.
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Vintage Gregg

Randy Wells has had a pretty remarkable start to his career as a starter.  In two starts this year, he has pitched 11 shutout innings.  He actually has pitched 16 and a third shutout innings if you go back to his relief appearances last year.

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                                      Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 16, 2009

Despite his success, he has no record this year.  In both of his starts, he left the game with the lead only to see the bullpen lose that lead.  Yesterday, the Cubs led 4-0 going to the top of the ninth.  One would figure Wells would get his first big league win.  One would figure that.  Enter Kevin Gregg.

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                               Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 16, 2009

Let’s recap yesterday’s ninth inning.  For those of you not familiar with the work of Kevin Gregg, yesterday was “Vintage Gregg”.

Lance Berkman – Home run to right center field.
Carlos Lee – Home run to left field.
Miguel Tejada – Single to left.
    Pitching coach Larry Rothschild comes out to have a “chat”.
Hunter Pence – Single to center that was deflected off of Gregg.
Geoff Blum is hit by a pitch.

Five batters, four hits, one hit batter.  Cubs lead is cut to 4-2.  Bases loaded.  None out.  Gregg’s looking better each outing.

Gregg exits stage left.  Aaron Heilman to the rescue!

Ivan Rodriguez singles to left scoring Tejada and Pence to tie the game.  Two on and no out.  What a game!

Heilman gets Michaels and Matsui both the fly out to Fukudome.  What, is Aaron Heilman auditioning for the role of a relief pitcher?
Heilman walks Michael Bourn to load the bases.  Maybe not.

Heilman exits for Sean Marshall who gets Lance Berkman to ground out with the bases loaded.  The Cubs escape complete disaster.

In the ninth, Soriano bails out the Cubs with an RBI single scoring Bobby Scales with the game winning run.

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                              Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 16, 2009

And there was much rejoicing!

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      Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 16, 2009

I think that Alfonso Soriano needs to take Kevin Gregg out to dinner at Gibson’s just to thank him.  Hey, if Gregg wasn’t the worst closer in the National League, Soriano wouldn’t have all these chances to be the ninth inning hero.

The Cubs will have a decision to make when Carlos Zambrano comes off the DL and goes back into the rotation.  I think that they should consider keeping Randy Wells in the rotation as the fifth starter and move Sean Marshall to the bullpen.  Marshall’s had success out of the pen before.  He would give the Cubs another lefty arm out of the pen.  Marshall could also act as a long reliever on those days when Rich Harden can only pitch three innings or when Carlos Zambrano has to leave in the second inning because he decided to slide head first into first base or something.  Just something to think about.

The good news is the Cubs have won five in a row!  Today, Rich Harden will try to bring hom
e a series shortened sweep of the Astros.  I’m thinking that Alfonso Soriano may be secretly hoping that Kevin Gregg gets to pitch the ninth inning again.

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Precision Scales

Bobby Scales is making Cub fans forget about Aramis Raimirez, for now.  Scales hit a pair of two run doubles to top off his best day in the majors in leading the Cubs to an 11-3 win over the Padres.  Bobby is now tipping the scale at .444.  Pun intended.

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Phil
Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 14, 2009 
    


Not bad for a 31 year old rookie who spent 11 long years paying dues in the minor leagues.  Am I wrong, or do I hear Disney calling?

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It’s funny how things work in baseball.  At the beginning of the season, I was not really aware of Bobby Scales or Randy Wells (tomorrow’s starter), but they may end up playing a big role for the Cubbies this year.  You never know where your next hero is going to come from.

The Cubs completed a much needed three game sweep of the struggling San Diego Padres.

Hey, it doesn’t make up for 1984, but any time the Cubs can beat the Padres, I feel a little bit better.  Like, maybe Leon Durham really did field that ground ball.

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A little revenge for 1984 and all those “Cub-Busters” T-Shirts!

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Remember these?

The Cubs are on a roll right now.  They’ve won 4 in a row and find themselves knocking on the door to first place.  Not even a little thunderstorm on Wednesday night could trip them up.

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Scott
Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / May 13, 2009 
 

This weekend should be good for the Cubs because they play the lowly Astros at Wrigley, while the Brewers and the Cardinals are set to slug it out.  St. Louis has a lot of injuries right now, so look for both the Brewers and the Cubs to pass the Cardinals after this weekend.  The NL Central is shaping up as one of the more competitive divisions in baseball.  

When will my father start trash talking about Ryan Theriot and his “sudden” home run binge.  In the wake of the whole Manny Ramirez thing, I’m sure he will give me some grief about it.  So, he only hit seven home runs in his career before this season.  The Riot hit two more homers Wednesday night giving him five so far in 2009.  Well, dad, I’m sure he is legit.

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Scott
Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / May 13, 2009


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Lakers, Hawks, & Cubs

As I write this, my Lakers are pasting the Rockets by 39 points in the fourth quarter.  Big deal. This is what they should have done to Houston on Sunday.  Do the Lakers need a smack in the face to get motivated?  Not good.  Totally unacceptable.  They’ll end up getting past Houston, but they will definitely be the underdogs against Denver.  Yeah, I said it.  I don’t care about home court advantage in this next series.  I’ll go with the hot team.  The Lakers need to prove me wrong.

The game just ended.  Lakers 118, Houston 78.  Good for you, Kobe & company.  Now quit playing like chumps and close it out on Thursday.
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Robert
Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Kobe needs to take command.  Who cares if someone calls you a ball hog.

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Wally Skalij
/ Los Angeles Times

Quit dancing and learn how to make a free throw.

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Robert
Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

You need to play better.      
Lakers, take a cue from the Blackhawks.
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Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / May 11, 2009

These guys know how to close out a series.

Look Who’s 4-1

Don’t look now, but Rich Harden is now 4-1.  Harden beat the Padres tonight with the help of a two run homer by Milton Bradley.  It was good to see the bullpen hold a lead once again.

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Charles Rex Arbogast/AP


Way to go, Bobby!

Congrats go out to Bobby Scales on hitting his first career home run Tuesday night.  It was greatly appreciated.


Opportunity Knocks

The Cubs have five more games to go on this current home stand, two more with San Diego and three with Houston.  These teams are struggling right now.  The Cubs need to be opportunistic and sweep both of these series.  It looks like the Cardinals offensive machine may be slowing down.  The Red Birds lost Tuesday to the Pirates, 7-1.  Being just 1.5 games out of first right now, the Cubs need to put themselves into position to take back the division lead from the Cardinals when they play them again next week.  Are you ready for round three, Dad?


Photo Credits:


http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-lakers-rockets13-2009may13-pg,0,4064474.photogallery

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/hockey/blackhawks/chi-chicago-blackhawks-playoffs-photos,0,2877113.photogallery

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/wrap.jsp?ymd=20090512&content_id=4687430&vkey=wrapup2005&fext=.jsp&team=home



Four in a Row!

On Friday, I’ll be making the trek over the Cheddar Curtain with my cheesehead friend Packer Pete to see the Cubbies demolish the Brew Crew.  Packer Pete said he’s bringing the Brewers goat, but that won’t have any adverse affect on the Cubs.  The Cubs are cursed because of a goat they wouldn’t let in to Wrigley, not some stupid stuffed animal wearing a Brewers jersey.  I’m confident of a Cubs sweep this weekend, even if they will be pitching a rookie on Friday night.  The Cubs will make Swiss cheese out of the Brewers.

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There’s something not right about wearing this on your head. 

The Cubs are likely to pitch Randy Wells from Triple A Iowa on Friday because they’ve placed Carlos Zambrano on the 15 Day DL.  Big Z strained a hamstring yesterday.  Until Friday, the Cubs have called up third baseman Bobby Scales from Iowa.  Scales, who has been in the minors for 11 years will finally get a chance to play in the big leagues.
How about Ryan Theriot?  Another home run!  Theriot has hit 3 home runs in the last four games.  He now has tied Lee and Fukudome for the team lead in RBIs with 15.  Way to go, Ryan!  By the way, the Cubs have now won four in a row after the 4-2 win over the Giants!
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Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
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