A League of Her Own

Chicago Cubs Thursday Headlines: Was that a Sweep?

circa 1945:  A supervisor points to the floor as he speaks to a young janitor sweeping a hallway with a push broom.  (Photo by James G. Welgos/Welgos/Getty Images)
Young man, you just swept the Diamondbacks


It might not be a bad idea to see if the city of Mesa, Arizona will build a domed stadium for the Cubs, so they can move there permanently. After this series sweep of the D'Backs, it appears that Arizona is the only place the Cubs can hit. Barring a mid-season move or a 17-game winning streak, we got the first confirmation from inside the organization that the Cubs are likely to be sellers heading toward the trade deadline.

The screen of a lonely laptop perched in the middle of the Cubs clubhouse Tuesday night showed a popular Web site discussing major league trade rumors.

No player was seen looking at the site during the time the media was allowed clubhouse access, but if anyone had the slightest bit of interest, the latest Cubs' trade rumor was only a click away.

Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee, Mike Fontenot and Xavier Nady all have seen their names attached to trade rumors in the last few weeks, and manager Lou Piniella added to the speculation when he labeled the Cubs as probable "sellers" before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.


In case you missed it, Aramis Ramirez's day off on Monday must have helped his sore thumb. He hit another home run last night.

It may be a month or two past fashionably late, but say this for Aramis Ramirez: He knows how to make an entrance.

The Cubs' All-Star third baseman, whose bat spent the first half of the season on the back of a milk carton, delivered his third home run in seven at-bats Wednesday night, making it seven RBI in the last two games in Arizona. The Cubs pulled off their second series sweep of the season and their first since April in Milwaukee.

The three home runs? That's as many as Ramirez had in May and June combined.

''We've been waiting for our bats to come alive,'' manager Lou Piniella said after the Cubs' 8-3 win gave them 23 runs in the three-game sweep. ''Ramirez - what a difference.''


Greg Maddux wants you to know Carlos Zambrano is not a bad guy.


''The thing is, everybody has faults and everybody says things they wish they hadn't said,'' said Maddux, a four-time Cy Young Award winner and former Zambrano teammate, who works as a special assistant to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. ''Teammates are very forgiving. And we've all done it. We've all said things we shouldn't have said. We've all said things we regret saying. Unfortunately, when he did it, it was on TV.

''It looks probably a lot worse than it is. Hopefully, he'll do the things that he needs to do to get himself back on track and not only help himself but help his team.''

(snip)

''I care for him,'' said Maddux, who joined the Cubs in Phoenix for the three-game series against Arizona. ''He's actually not a bad guy, believe it or not. I would still have him over for dinner.''



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43 Comments

Teebob2000 said:

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Boy, is that a back-handed compliment from Maddux. "Believe it or not, the guy's really not an asshole!"

AndCounting said:

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I think that's just Maddux's personality. There's a little sarcasm in there directed more at the media than Zambrano.

gravedigger said:

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That's exactly how I read it, remembering the way he always did that with the media. And they /never/ seem to catch on to it.

Teebob2000 said:

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Not nice to say, but I never equated Maddux = the sharpest tool in the shed. Brilliant pitcher but otherwise... I think maybe it was the slack-jawed expression he constantly wore.

Umbra said:

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He was just fooling them- they don't call him The Professor for nothing. His stupid expression and stupider mustache was all a ruse to lull the batter into a false sense of security.

I certainly think there are different kinds of intelligence, but to me the kind of intelligence that remembers thousands of previous at-bats, thousands of batters' tendencies, pitch sequences, and outcomes is the same kind of intelligence we associate with sharp tools in sheds.

(Commencing self-congratulatory Greg Maddux nostalgia in 5...4...3...)

Teebob2000 said:

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Yeah, I know he wasn't, just have that lasting image...

plamorte said:

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Just happy to see Aramis hitting again. Hope the Cubs have a strong second half but Jim should be working the phones to get some decent prospects for Lee and Lilly (Theriot as a throw-in too)

Cubs Psychologist said:

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Agree, Trader Jim needs to be in full effect. Getting some decent prospects and cutting some payroll.

gravedigger said:

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Despite how he's sucked this year, if there's one player I do not want to see traded it is Ramirez.

Cubs Psychologist said:

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Ramirez is starting to get his swing back. I wouldn't give up Byrd either...unless a sweet deal comes along. This man is a professional. Period.

Dmband said:

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Off topic, but this is a really well written article regarding the nonsense that will take place with Lebron this evening.
http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-lebrondecision070710

baturkey said:

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I can't wait for the announcement just so I don't have to hear about again while looking at other sports stuff.

baturkey said:

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Present company excepted, of course.

Cubs Psychologist said:

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This mess is getting on my damn nerves. Just pick a damn team. I think I'm going to contac ESPN when I decide to announce which dollar menu item I'm going to order for lunch. Would anybody watch that??

gravedigger said:

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I don't watch basketball, so I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I do my best to just totally tune it out.

Umbra said:

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Self-promotion based on self-diagnosed talent and hype (instead of results like a championship) is a vice. Promotion by other people based on hype and the whims of a narrative that will get clicks should be a vice, too.

I enjoyed the piece and agree with a lot of it. But I suspect that many people will read it and say, "Yeah, Lebron James is a narcissist and a microcosm of how self-centered basketball (and, indeed, America!) has become. Flesh gives birth to flesh, and David Stern's focus on superstars has given birth to superstars who have internalized the message and now focus on themselves."

If only there was a virtuous Superstar out there. Like Stephen Strasburg.

thisyearcub said:

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To me, it just sounded like that guy had a lot of pent-up anger by getting his butt scooped day-in and day-out by Chris Broussard and wanted to write a anti-LeBron column.

To me, I don't have a problem with any of this. The media fed this monster that was the free-agent frenzy, and now they're surprised at this "special?" Can't have it both ways. Plus, it goes to a good cause (I disagree that it will be "just a few foosball tables") so why not?

To me, the real thing is, even if Miami gets Bosh, Wade and LeBron, I'm still not sure that's enough to beat the Lakers.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Don't get me wrong, I think LeBron has an ego the size of Jupiter, but Bosh and Wade are the ones who hired a film crew to follow them around during the off-season.

Umbra said:

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I did not know this. Tell me there's going to be a "Shaq Vs." spinoff with Chris Bosh and Wade.

I'm still upset that they didn't get to go in ever-weirder directions with that show: Shaq Vs. YoYo Ma, Shaq Vs. Batman: The Horse, Shaq Vs. Paul Krugman, Shaq Vs. Barack Obama, etc.

The weird thing about "Shaq Vs." was how it was well-edited enough to make me think that playing h-o-r-s-e (or pick-up football) with Ben Roethlisberger seemed like a lot of fun: to me, Big Ben seemed affable and funny and cool, the sort of person you meet at a friend's party and mentally note "seemed like a nice guy".

plamorte said:

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He is a nice guy, just happens to like booze and disregards the word "no"

JulieDiCaro said:

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I'm not a fan of Bill Simmons by any means, but he wrote a (very long) column on this issue that was pretty dead on, I felt.

Here's part of it I especially liked:

7. Red Flag No. 3: Wade is 28 years old and just finishing a bitter divorce. He's earned max money for exactly three years and doesn't have a second payday looming in 2016 like Bosh and LeBron do. As we learned with Antoine Walker and Allen Iverson, "wealthy" superstars are never quite as wealthy as we think. Walking away from a sixth guaranteed year in Miami (and no state income tax) when he's battled serious injuries in the past? No way. This was his one chance to bank as much money as possible. It was always going to be Miami.

8. Red Flag No. 4: Bosh clearly wanted to emerge from this summer more famous than he was. I know this because he hired his own documentary crew. Because he made an "Entourage" cameo last month. Because someone who attended one of Bosh's free-agent meetings told me that Bosh was considerably more concerned with his camera crew than hearing the team's pitch. Because he asked his Twitter followers where he should play next year -- a slap in the face to everyone in Toronto who supported him these past seven years -- and because I attended two different 2010 Lakers games at which Bosh inexplicably walked a complete lap around the court while holding hands with his girlfriend, like someone who just wanted to be seen. And it worked. You see a 7-foot basketball player strolling 0.02 miles an hour around a basketball court, you're going to notice him.

If you want fame, then attaching yourself to Wade and/or LeBron in a major market is the way to go. That's what Bosh did. Orlando's Stan Van Gundy even hissed yesterday that Bosh followed Wade around for two weeks like a "lapdog." Doesn't sound like someone who ever seriously considered anywhere but Miami. Add those four red flags together and it's pretty clear, in retrospect, that Wade and Bosh never seriously looked elsewhere. You know, because any time you can play in a city with such rich basketball tradition, you have to do it. It's hard not to get inspired during the national anthem when you see Rony Seikaly's number in the rafters.

9. If one more person refers to Bosh as a "superstar," I'm going to scream. His résumé: seven seasons, 11 career playoff games, one second-team All-NBA selection, never played in a big game in his life other than the gold-medal game of the 2008 Olympics. Now he's fleeing frigid Toronto for South Beach, no state income tax, Dwyane Wade, max money and the playoffs … and this makes him a "superstar"? Did we really drop our standards that low?


http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/100708

Dmband said:

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BTW...laughed a LOT at "Gone Fishing"

JulieDiCaro said:

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I'm not sure who, exactly, has gone fishing? The Cubs? The standings flags? Abe?

Dmband said:

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Cj-

In my head, its the flags. Im just picturing all the flags on a pontoon boat. They are all laughing and joking around...obviously the Pirates are the one friend in the group that everyone makes fun of.

Dmband said:

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TYC-

I actually agree, Wojo did sound bitter. However, I just find it a little narccisitic (which is why Im calling Lebron "NBA Favre") to hold a one hour primetime special for a guy who has not won a championship.

I also think the Lakers are STILL the best team in Basketball.

Dmband said:

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Umbra-

"David Stern's focus on superstars has given birth to superstars who have internalized the message and now focus on themselves."

Nailed it.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Hear, hear.

And for the record, I adore Shaq. Mostly, I think, because he does all the self-agrandizing with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. He reminds me of Muhammad Ali in that he doesn't take himself 100% seriously. I can't stand people who take themselves too seriously.

jtbwriter said:

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Morning from still cool So Cal...where we still do not care where Lebron plays.
I wish the Cubs could have enjoyed the sweep over the D'backs-but just maybe a few wins in LA (sorry, Mom) could make a difference. I don't mind if Theriot is gone-but I still don't see the Cubs getting a difference maker in trading Lee. Doesn't he have a no-trade?

Dmband said:

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Cj-

For the record, LBJ also was going to do a documentary on the process and his "tour around to various cities" but the word was the planned changed after his rather embarassing exit from the playoffs. They also cancelled the "tour" and instead had everyone come to ohio.

Umbra said:

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I just hope whatever videogame LBJ makes will be better than Shaq-Fu. I seriously want to see the movie/videogame/pop-music album where you have to save the world using Lebron James' basketball moves.

Teebob2000 said:

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I don't understand who'd even want make a video game about LBJ. I mean, do you get points for cursing at cabinet meetings and showing your old surgery scars?

Umbra said:

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Press and hold the 'X' button to be a complete badass all the time.

My favorite apocryphal LBJ story is the one where a reporter asked him if he was born in a log cabin.

"No. You have me confused with Lincoln," LBJ replied, "I was born in a manger."

JulieDiCaro said:

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I guess I don't like this whole '1-hour special' thing for the same reason i don't like a lot of rap/hip hop out there over the last 10 years: it's all become "look at me! look how great I am! i'm the best! I'm rich, i'm hot, i'm AWWWWWWSOME!"

I know I'm old-fashioned and midwestern and all that, but it's just to grating to me. It's so self-centered and conceited and self-agrandizing. I really can't stand it. Jordan and Magic and Byrd never acted this way. I can't imagine Jordan (or even Kobe) calling himself "King." Especially when he hasn't won a freakin' champsionship yet.


What I can't stand even more are the rapidly-approaching middle age guys who WORSHIP these jokers because they're rich and can play basketball. It's pretty pathetic.

JulieDiCaro said:

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and yes, i'm aware i spelled "awesome" wrong.

also, every time i see stuff like this: the completeing immodest strutting of young celebrities, it makes me think of this sociology video i saw not too long ago that talked about how the members of society with typically the least amount of power are the ones most concerned with "fronting" and looking tough, cool, and rich. This is why you see so many african american rappers in videos with guns, money, and 50,000 scantily-clad women. to them, all that = power.

the exact same thing comes to mind with so many athletes today. yes, you're rich. congrats, you can play a sport better than 99.999999999% of the population. isn't that enough? why do you have to have everyone fall down at your feet and worship you, too?

now if you'll excuse me, I have some kids to go chase off my lawn.

PsyMar1 said:

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I'm 21 and I agree with everything you said; can I stay on the lawn? Although I do, in retrospect, like "U can't touch this". But that's about it as far as rap that I like, if you don't count Weird Al.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I actually love rap & hiphop. I just love rap before it got all "This Is Why I'm Hot." I freakin' hated that song.

sloan peterson said:

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The comparision of basketball to rap really holds up and here's why:

1. Rap was an undergound art form starting in the East Coast spreading to the West Coast and into the South. There were several styles of rap in the beginning-there was political rap, rap that tried to raise peoples awareness,comic rap, and the original "look at me" rap. One by one, all but "look at me" rap has disappeared from MTV,BET,Etc. The same thing in basketball- Byrd,Magic, and the original superstar basketball players used their fame to spread awareness, encourage tolerance, and in Magic's case to actualy create jobs and improve things in the African-American community. Now, its all about creating a "brand",making $$$, getting tons of groupies pregnant, paying a ton of child support to kids they will never bring up, and ending up broke...

Umbra said:

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Um, Michael Jordan was like the epitome of self-promotion and an unbalanced ego. It takes two to sell shoes (and burgers and shirts and 'Space Jam' and...)

JulieDiCaro said:

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Michael Jordan was, but he didn't come off that way. He was the world's the biggest trash talker, but he did it on the court, not to the general public. Even his "unretirement" was just him walking into the Berto Center and saying "I'm back."

I'm not saying that, if Jordan were a free agent today, it wouldn't be different, but I think Michael understood that a huge ego was off-putting to a lot of his fans.

I guess the bottom line for me is that I understand why guys feel the need to pump themselves up on the way to the top (think Rod Tidwell in 'Jerry McGuire'). But once you've made it to the top, shut the hell up and let your play speak for itself.

AndCounting said:

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This is only loosely connected to the discussion, but I'm just curious as it relates to image:

Whose silhouette is more popular: Jerry West's or Michael Jordan's?

JulieDiCaro said:

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I would guess Jordan, by a country mile. Also, I wonder how many people even realize that's Jerry West.

Dmband said:

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knowing Hollywood, they are already shopping the movie rights to a funky hip hop remake of 'Kazaam' starring LBJ...probably incorporate tween vampires into the mix and they will do 150 million opening weekend.

PsyMar1 said:

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I wish Mr. Frohman would update the standings -- the Cubs are now in third!

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