A League of Her Own

There Was a Battle for Leadoff Hitter?

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Ryan Theriot in his natural state (photoshop by plamorte)

Lou announced yesterday that Ryan Theriot won the leadoff hitter battle that none of us knew was going on:

TUCSON -- Ryan Theriot has been the forgotten man this spring, rendered virtually invisible by the media's focus on the Cubs' 19-year-old rookie shortstop Starlin Castro.

But manager
Lou Piniella has taken note of Theriot's strong spring, and on Monday named Theriot as the Cubs' leadoff man.

"I would say it would be Theriot," Piniella said before Monday's 5-2 loss to Colorado at Hi Corbett Field.

That was good news for Theriot, who made no bones that he wanted to stay in the spot vacated by
Alfonso Soriano last summer.

Bruce Miles takes a look at the elephant in the Spring Training room: Alfonso Soriano:

Maybe Alfonso Soriano shouldn't wear uniform No. 12.

Maybe he should wear "8 years, $136 million" on his back.

It seems that no conversation about the Cubs left fielder is complete without reference to Soriano's contract, which enters its fourth season this year.

That's not Soriano's fault. Blame upper management in place during the long and painful dying days of Tribune Co. ownership of the Cubs.

Like it or not, Soriano is here to stay for a long time yet. While some fans cringe at that prospect, Soriano still is capable of carrying a ballclub for stretches up to a month at a time.

There are so, so many questions surrounding Soriano. Let's get to them.

What's the deal on his health? Much was made of Soriano reporting to spring training at "85 percent" after last fall's knee surgery. Soriano actually said in February that he hadn't pushed the knee to 100 percent yet.

There's reason to worry only if Soriano isn't feeling close to 100 percent by the time the Cubs break camp.

Can he stay healthy? Nobody knows. Soriano's games-played total has gone from 159 in 2006, while he was with Washington, to 135, 109 and 117, respectively, in his three seasons as a Cub.

Well, that's certainly encouraging non-news. I keep waiting for the "Hey, Soriano looks GREAT!" article, but somehow, it keeps not appearing.

However, Ted Lilly had taken it upon himself to bring us the lone bit of good news this morning:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A major part of the Cubs' pitching concerns this spring could be alleviated if the latest progress reports on rehabbing veteran Ted Lilly hold up when he returns to his throwing program this week.

Lilly, who left camp Sunday for the birth of his first child, is expected to return Thursday, and manager Lou Piniella said the left-hander could be ready to throw live batting practice to Cubs hitters almost immediately after that.

''He wants to start throwing against hitters now. So that's a good sign,'' Piniella said.

Piniella said over the weekend that Lilly was ahead of schedule, making a return to the rotation around mid-April look possible. Lilly had a clean-out surgery on his shoulder in early November.

His wife had an 8-pound, 1-ounce boy: Theodore Roosevelt Lilly IV.

And nothing but the best for our Chicago National League BallClub!

The Cubs had to scrap batting practice in Tucson Monday after their bus broke down on the way to the game against the Rockies. And this time Piniella and coach Matt Sinatro were nowhere near the team's latest travel adventure.

The team was stranded for 45 minutes alongside the desert highway until an apparent problem with a generator hose was repaired.

''There was nothing out there. Eighteen-wheelers flying by us,'' outfielder Sam Fuld said. ''But it wasn't too bad. I've got an I-phone.''

Starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano and catcher Koyie Hill caught a ride with Zambrano's cousin, who was following the bus in Zambrano's car while the others waited for the repair.

Today Carlos Silva takes the mound against the Rangers at 3:05 CT, and WGN radio has the game! Hooray!

Finally, don't forget to sign up for LOHO's March Madness Pick 'Em Contest!   The winner will get this stunning pair of Cubs Kitchen Towels!

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Remember, you can't win if you don't play!

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62 Comments

Doc said:

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Um...why do I think of the movie "Major League" every time I see anything about the bus breaking down yesterday. Was "Cubbie Express" painted on the side of that bus too?

The Ricketts family is just trying to get attendance so low that they can move the team to Florida.

JulieDiCaro said:

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this was my thought exactly, followed by an image of Aramis in a rickety hot tub powered by a generator.

plamorte said:

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Article forgot to mention that after the umbilical cord was cut, Hendry signed TRL IV to a three year deal. And that's the last time I use "TRL" because it's an injustice to Ted to use his initials in anything that might be mistaken for something Carson Daly was involved in.

Doc said:

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ok...I'm really disturbed by the picture of Octomom that is being displayed in the "More from around the web" area here on ChicagoNow. Ugh! That's almost as disturbing as Carlos Silva pitching.

AndCounting said:

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I particularly dislike the Bears Have More Work to Do headline paired with some kind of close-cropped Victoria Secret picture. What the hell?

MN Pat said:

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I've got the National Fair Housing Alliance with Victoria's Secret. So everyone deserves to have a home and a lacy bra?

Doc said:

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Well, duh!

Doc said:

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This place is messed up.

AndCounting said:

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I think Ted Lilly is determined to prove his Ted = Chuck Norris meme true.

Also, the complaints about Soriano's contract neglect to account for the fact that he made less than he was worth for the first two years of that deal, and the savings allowed the Cubs to sign Ted Lilly, Mark DeRosa, and Jason Marquis. It might be biting the Cubs in the bubble butt now (or he might have a resurgent year) but that contract gave the Cubs a legit shot at the World Series two years in a row. To me, it was worth it, but I know I'm in the minority.

flyball said:

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maybe it would have been worth it if the gamble had paid off and they had actually won, but they didn't

long contracts and back loaded contracts make me so annoyed, but I'm also against large contracts in general since I think they are difficult to live up to

AndCounting said:

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But then you'd have to say that about every contract ever signed--if it didn't result in a World Series, it was a bad contract. The fact is, signing Soriano played a major role in giving the Cubs a legit shot in 2007 and the best shot they can reasonably expect to have in 2008.

I look at the length of the contract like buying a house. People are willing to sign on to a 30-year mortgage (that usually triples the amount paid in the long run) in exchange for the immediate financial flexibility it affords you by breaking your payments into manageable increments. Yes, you pay more for the house, but the mortgage allows you to pay for your car, groceries, utilities, etc.

On a baseball level, the Cubs really couldn't have hoped for a much better team than they had in 2008, made possible by Soriano AND his backloaded contract. But as far as it being worth it on the business side, the Cubs have filled Wrigley at or near capacity for almost every game since Soriano signed. The guys who made the deal were also able to sell the team for almost a billion dollars during the worst economic hole in recent history. I doubt anyone responsible for the deal regrets it at all.

flyball said:

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a decent analogy, except I think its more like student loans, where the payment increases after 5 and 10 years, assuming that you're going to be paid more money, except that you don't and it eats up more of your monthly income, sure you got to be [fill in whatever profession you want] but you're paying it off for 20 years (or 15 under the new laws if you work for the public sector)

so now they took the money they made in 2008 and bought the proverbial house, but now have to take on a second job (aka charge fans more money) to pay for the increased student loans AND mortgage

AndCounting said:

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That's a much better analogy, yes. But I still think it pays off. Granted, they expected Soriano to be useful much longer than two years, and I really hope he has a comeback this year that will make the final years seem less of a ripoff. But they can still afford it.

I would also argue that they don't HAVE to charge fans more money because of his contract, but rather they CAN charge fans more money because of the fan interest and devotion he helped generate for the team in 2007 and 2008. If they were paying Soriano $3.50 an hour, they'd still be charging fans the same amount we're paying right now.

flyball said:

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but won't you agree that in the second half of his contract he'll be probably be getting paid more than he's worth at that time, and will negatively affect how much money they have and who they can sign?


AndCounting said:

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Definitely. But the degree of that impact shouldn't be insurmountable. I'm just saying that the way the front end of the contract worked out tempers my disappointment in the back end.

flyball said:

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fair enough

really short World Series sweep, or Soriano being the MVP of back to back years I would be complaining about this contracts, we just start from 2 different places on this subject

baturkey said:

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I don't think you can judge gambles by the result, necessarily. If I went all in with a four of a kind and someone made a straight flush on the river, I would still go all in with a four of a kind later on.

berselius said:

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LOL. That photoshop is pure win plamorte

plamorte said:

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All a product of Julie's thoughts! Thanks!

gravedigger said:

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I was actually debating if it was real or not

AndCounting said:

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It really is a testament to you both. I kind of got where she was going with the musketeer thing, but the flawless image reveals the true genius of her imagination.

JulieDiCaro said:

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just wait until you see what pat and i have coming up later in the week. . .

plamorte said:

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suspense!

gravedigger said:

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Soriano's contract was like 8 years too long.

Doc said:

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it was more like 10 years too long...because those last 2 years are going to seem like 4.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Great discussion over here about MLB making stupid things for women to wear:

http://metsgrrl.com/index.php/site/comments/45-of-the-total-fanbase/

Thank God for Alyssa Milano's "Touch" line, pretty much the only thing I wear to Cubs games!

Doc said:

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um...the only thing?

JulieDiCaro said:

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oh, shut up.

Doc said:

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you are the one that said it and you are telling me to shut up. Geez.

DustyBaylor said:

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Hmm..so what else is worn to the games? Lecherous Cub fans need to know!
Or something...lol.

JulieDiCaro said:

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ha! you'll just have to get a ticket to the June 19 game and find out!

Karen said:

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Can't reply at work...damn CN. Anyway, I agree that they have to come up with something better for us female fans to wear. The stuff I have is mens, and incredibly masculine. Everytime I see someone wearing something nice in the stands, I get so frustrated, because the closer you get, you realize it's all bedazzled. "Touch" just doesn't have enough selection for me.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I'm reading a lot of girls over at Caryn's blog don't like "Touch?" I looooooove it!

But I agree. Over at the "old" LOHO, we used to make fun of Debbie Clemen's Baseball & Butterflies boutique, because she took a bunch of Astros jerseys, made them pink, and then bedazzled the holy hell out of them. I feel like this is the standard MLB is using to design apparel for 45% of the fan base.

Either that, or they've got Paris Hilton back there designing stuff.

Karen said:

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I took a look at her website...after going to the Mets site. That's a lot of crap and they definitely used every fake rhinestone in Texas to make those hats. "Touch" is nice, some awesome hoodies, but I guess I just want the selection they have for men **she says stomping her feet and pouting"!

JulieDiCaro said:

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I think I hate the new "Share" toolbar. It looks like it's from 1982 and it's non-functioning.

gravedigger said:

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I should quit complaining about CN. Nobody responds, unless it is to say what a great, world class sytem it is.

AndCounting said:

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It sucks ass. It only works if you're on the story main page. If you click on "comments" or "read more" it loses all functionality. Even then, it sends you off the page. Whatever brain-dead, crap-eating mollusk came up with that idea should be . . . no, wait a minute; whatever brain-dead, crap-eating, middle-managing, propaganda-humping virus decided to stick with that idea after seeing it deserves to be killed with a squirt of hand sanitizer.

Doc said:

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I refuse to add that bar...I hate all that added clutter at the top of my browser.

Nope...I'll just share LOHO on twitter the hard way, thank you very much.

DustyBaylor said:

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Wait...is the June19th game the rooftop game or the bleacher game? I remember seeing how to get the tickets..

JulieDiCaro said:

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June 19th is the bleacher game. We're going to start off at Rockit Wrigley and then head over. All you have to do is get yourself a bleacher ticket for that day!

The May 18th rooftop game is officially sold out, though if you call today, there may still be a few tickets left for our group. They held a bunch of spots for us because the game was sold out.

DustyBaylor said:

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Excellent..June 19th.....perfect. Now I just need a 10 gallon drum of sunblock...

JulieDiCaro said:

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no way. i HATE pie. give me yellow cake anyday.

LostinFla said:

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Theriot at leaoff. Ugh. Theriot anywhere. Ugh. He added a whopping 10 points in SLG% last year over 2008 (a Ruthian .369) at the expense of 40 points of OBP. Against RHP he was at .339 OBP and .690 OPS last year, his SB success rate is on the wane (87% in 2007 vs. 63% in 2008 and 68% in 2009), and he had almost twice as many K’s as walks last season.

Having him bat leadoff full-time is pure win. Good to see Piniella thinking so far outside the box!

gravedigger said:

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Also, thanks to CN for the NSFW pics on the side that are likely to end my ability to access LOHO from work.

FUCK YOU ChicagoNow.

Doc said:

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Yeah...that picture of Theriot is a bit over the top.

Dmband said:

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RE: Girls attire at games

There is simply nothing hotter than a girl wearing a mini version of a jersey. Specficially football, but also baseball.

Girls jersey+tank top underneath=hot....

That is a scientific fact.

JulieDiCaro said:

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but here's the thing that you, Dmband and MLB don't understand, I don't go to a game to look hot. I go to a game to watch baseball. Hence, I do not want to look like a pre-teen hooker, in pre-teen-sized clothes.

Sure, all girls want to look cute, but more than that, we want to be comfortable and able to wear something to support our team that doesn't involve the color pink or rhinestones.

Again, I point everyone to Alyssa Milano's site. She understands how women want to look at sporting events.

Karen said:

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Unfortunately, Dmband, not all of us are 18. I'm a 43-year-old suburban mother of 3, and I don't want to look like a hooker at a game...

AndCounting said:

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I guess I don't really understand the outrage. I agree, there aren't a lot of really stylish choices for women, but I would say the same thing about the choices for men. I wear Cubs apparel because of my affinity for the Cubs while acknowledging they usually make me look like a bit of a dork. I don't find it to be as much of a gender issue as a lost fashion cause in general. Most of the options are stupid, even the expensive ones. I don't begrudge the hookers for finding a look they can live with.

I never thought I'd type that sentence, but I'll go ahead and leave it as is.

JulieDiCaro said:

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my issue isn't so much with the baby-ts as it is with all the pink shit. like someone said over a caryn's blog, it's like they think you need to compensate for liking a "guy" sport by making everything pink and sparkly. or slapping a teddy bear on it.

i'm not 4 years old.

AndCounting said:

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I would understand it being a silly decision to make and sell the pink stuff if the only place you saw them was on the rack at the store. But they're obviously selling a ton of it, too. I guarantee, no one thinks pink t-shirts is the only option female fans are interested in, but they've probably found it to be the most popular one. Maybe not among serious fans, but among the market in general. I know a lot of women who hate the color pink. I know a lot of women who love it. The one's who don't like pink strike me as more likely to like baseball. The ones who do like pink strike me as more likely to buy cute pink shirts with team logos regardless of their degree of interest in sports.

I'll put it this way: my sister-in-law's love of pink and cute rivals my love for the Cubs. And her dislike of baseball rivals my disdain for pink clothes. I will never buy a pink shirt, but she has, I believe, three pink Cubs shirts and is proud to go to any baseball game that affords her the opportunity to wear them cutely. I fail to see how selling pink merchandise is any sort of marketing failure whatsoever if it gives pink-loving nonbaseball fans a chance to spend money on baseball.

I definitely see the point that the lack of more authentic baseball gear for women is a failure, but anyone genuinely passionate about its merits could start a clothing line to take advantage in the gigantic hole in the market. I just don't know if the appeal is as great as you might expect.

The Dugs said:

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It's refreshing to hear some more anti-pink sentiment. Pink is not a Cubs color. Why would you want to wear pink?

Ok, you can wear pink if that's included in the colors your team normally wears. But if that's what your team normally wears, you're probably losing at whatever you do. By a lot.

Eric From The Dugs said:

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Excuse this test... I logged in under my individual name, posted the above comment, and it still got posted under the name we use for the blog...

Let's see if this works.

JulieDiCaro said:

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seem, and here's the thing: i LOVE pink. i LOVE Hello Kitty. In general, I like things that are pink and sparkly.

I just don't want it on my body.

flyball said:

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I just don't like that they assume we want pink and sparkly, I look ridiculous in pink and sparkly (and ruffles, whats with all the ruffles lately?)

also shirts that are short, whats up with that, can we get a cut thats kind of normal?

all this said I got an awesome Cubs shirt recently, I forgot who makes it, but finding it made me extremely happy

DustyBaylor said:

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Wait....no rhinestones? Aw man....I'll have to return my Augie Ojeda rhinestone studded jersey...

Karen said:

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AndCounting just came up with my new career. Perfect timing since I get laid off on the 31st. Love getting outsourced to Manila, Phillipines

AndCounting said:

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That stinks, Karen, I'm so sorry you have to go through that. If I wasn't dirt poor, I'd invest in your "Real Women Wear Real Gear" line right away.

Karen said:

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You can invest by buying a non-pink shirt for your sister-in-law!

itsjenjen said:

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I entered the NCAA thingy. Not because I know anything about college basketball, or even care at all about it. I just want to win the towels.

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