A League of Her Own

Off-base diary Archives

Tuesday Off-Base Diary: Thanksgiving Potpourri

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Before we delve into the fun this morning, I just want to point out that I woke up this morning to find that North Korea has attacked South Korea. What's up with that?

As is typical of the week before Thanksgiving, there is precious little news coming out of Cubdom. The Cubs' 4-game Holiday Gift Pack went on sale yesterday, and of course Cubs Con tickets are still available. And it turns out Mickey Morandini is going to follow in Ryno's footsteps and manage in the Phillies' farm system.

Over at the Mailbag, delusional Cubs fans want to know what the odds are of Greg Maddux taking over the pitching coach role. Let me help you out: ZERO. ZERO chance.

Carrie Muskat explains:

Maddux has made a lasting impression on some of the Cubs' pitchers, but he likes the flexibility of his current job as an assistant to the general manager, which allows him time to be with his family. Expect a new pitching coach to be named after Thanksgiving, and it will most likely be someone promoted from within the Cubs' organization. Among the candidates are Minor League roving pitching coordinator Mark Riggins, bullpen coach Lester Strode, Triple-A pitching coach Mike Mason and Double-A pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn.

And LOHO throws out a huge "Congrats!" to Joey Votto for winning the well-deserved NL MVP award yesterday. Even though he plays for the loathsome Reds, it's hard to argue that anyone was more deserving this season than Votto. And thank GOD someone finally beat Pujols.

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Friday Cubs Headlines: Return Of The Off-Base Diary

If you're new to LOHO, the Off-Base Diary is new to you. The Off-Base Diary is something we came up with to keep us occupied on off-days when there's no Cubs news to be had. Like today.

First up, it's the return of our old friend, Tom Dickson!

 

 

Ah, you guys! It's been so long! And there have been so many new "Will It Blends" in our absence. I forsee months of blending fun before us. Don't breathe that!

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Another One Bites The Dust: Wedge To Seattle

Per @SI_JohnHayman, Eric Wedge is headed to Seattle.

Should be fun seeing him and Milty back together again.

Ted Lilly Watch: Day 4,989

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Moi?

 I have a sinking feeling that Ted Lilly has made his last start in a Cubs uniform. And while I know there's really no option other than to trade him and get something for him, I really really hate to see him go.

But since he IS going to go, Jayon Stark has the latest on who will be the lucky team that lands him:

"

Unlike the two guys above him on this list, there's one thing we can say for sure about Lilly: He will get traded, probably any day now.

At least a half-dozen teams are still in on him -- a group headed by the Tigers, Mets and Dodgers. And the Cubs are officially in nearly-everything-must-go mode. So not only are they confident they can trade this guy, but they Cubs are also telling teams they don't have to pay any of the approximately $5.5 million he has left on his deal this year.

"They said they're going to move him," said an official of one club. "And they've got enough action where they won't have to pay any of the money."

But Lilly -- who also has a limited no-trade clause -- isn't a fit for everybody. One scout said of him: "His velocity is down and he has to go to a club with a big park, a fly-ball park. He can't pitch in a small park anymore." But an executive of one team who loves him said: "He's never been a velocity guy. He's a pitcher. And he likes the action. He likes facing tough lineups. He likes facing those tough right-handed hitters. I really don't see that decrease in velocity as an issue."

It takes only one team that agrees with that assessment. And the Cubs, in this case, have a lot more than one to choose from."

(runs from room sobbing)

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Is Clubhouse Chemistry Worth .8 Million to the Cubs?

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It seemed like a perfectly magical moment for Ryan Theriot--he had just driven in one of the biggest runs of his life to complete a dramatic 8-7 comeback against former teammates Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa and the visiting Cleveland Indians. Little did Theriot realize that almost all of the players who mobbed him in celebration would be former teammates less than a year later. Milton Bradley. Jake Fox. Reed Johnson. Rich Harden. (I can't tell if the Aarons Miles and Heilman are included in that picture.) And even though Theriot hasn't joined them in the ex-Cub club, he may feel like he's on the outside looking in after losing his arbitration hearing

The unofficial theme of the 2010 season has been clubhouse chemistry, and not the kind that Jose Canseco used to inject into his teammates' buttocks. So it seems a bit odd that Jim Hendry and the Cubs would pick this offseason for his first venture into the arbitration process over a difference of $800,000. I can't rightly say what Theriot is thinking or feeling, because he's probably going to say all the right things. And people pretty much have their minds made up about whether he should be upset about losing his case or the fact that the Cubs allowed it to go to a hearing in the first place. He is, after all, getting a 520% raise from last year. 

But a lot of questions still remain. If this does hurt the clubhouse chemistry, what kind of effect might it have? Why in the world should we tolerate the mood swings of millionaire athletes? Is clubhouse chemistry a cause or a byproduct of winning?
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Summer Fun At LOHO: Meetup/Fantasy Baseball Time!

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It's that time of year again, kids, when baseball and 4 feet of snow are in the air. The madder people get about the snow, the closer we are to baseball season. That means it's time to plan our annual fantasy baseball league(s) as well as our LOHO Meetup/Get-Together.

Judging from the poll on Monday afternoon's diary, it looks increasingly like Saturday, June 19 is the get-together date. This means, when tickets go on sale on February 19, you need to grab yourself a bleacher ticket for that game. Some of us will grab as many as we can for those who can't get through.

There's a movement afoot to add a second rooftop game this season, possibly in April, when there's still a possibility of a blizzard and the prices are cheaper. Skybox on Sheffield has the following dates available for $75--all you can eat and drink:

April 14,15,26,27,28,29, may 18 

If you're interested, send me an email at: leagueofherown (at) gmail (dot) com. We'll need a firm headcount for this one.

Now. . . on to fantasy baseball!

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I'm AT LEAST as Big of a Headcase as Mark Prior

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 News that Mark Prior is still intent on making his big comeback ripped the scab off some old wounds this week. As a friend remarked this morning, the biggest flameout in recent baseball history is a hard one to get over, especially with Joe Mauer up there in the Great White North reminding us regularly what we could have had.

There's been a lot of blame tossed around when it comes to Prior's denouement; everyone from Dusty Baker (coughyescough) to pitching coach Larry "Rasputin" Rothschild to team doctors have come under fire for their handling of Prior. In the end though, no one has taken as much heat for the crashing and burning of Mark Prior's career as Mark Prior has.

You guys know what I'm talking about: He's a headcase, a prima dona, he doesn't want it bad enough, he's afraid to pitch through pain, yada yada yada. From time to time, I've subscribed to and even advocated some of these views. At times, I've been extremely critical of his mental toughness and desire to pitch at the big league level.

But is nothing if not a bitch, which is probably why I injured my shoulder last summer while carrying a giant bag of baseball equipment. For a couple of days, I couldn't raise my arm over my head; I wore a sling for a while because I kept surprising myself with white hot pain every time I "forgot" I was hurt and tried to use my right arm. Over the last 6 months, the pain has reached a tolerable level, but it's never gone away. And it comes back with a vengence whenever I engage in any kind of lateral movement, like . .  oh say. . .  trying to open or close my patio door because my stupid dogs have to go in and out 10,000 times a day.

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Hi, My Name Is Julie, and I Have a Problem

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It's been four years since Mark Prior last pitched in a Cubs uniform (or, I guess, pitched at all, really). So why is it I feel the stirrings of hope rising from within me each time I read something like this?

ESPN.com reports: No word on whether he's throwing a ball or a towel, but 29-year-old former Cubs ace Mark Prior is pitching off a mound in California, according to his agent, working his way back from his second right-shoulder surgery.

"Mark has been through so many timelines, at this point I'm almost allergic to the word," agent John Boggs said. "But he's out there. He's getting himself ready. And when he's ready, I'm sure you'll hear a lot about him. Then we'll invite teams to come watch him throw. And hopefully, he'll be the next Ben Sheets."

And then, after reading it, I start thinking, "Wow--maybe he really IS ready to go! Maybe this year will be the year! And maybe we'll get him back! And maybe he'll win the Cy Young and Comeback Player of the Year and Cub Most Beloved By Julie EVER!!!!!"

Please, help me.

I've hit rock bottom.

I'm Gonna Need You to Go Ahead and NOT Do This Again. . . Mmmmkay?

As we inch closer to Spring Training (and I do mean inch, bah!) I intended to write a post, directed a Jim Hendry, detailing all the potential, crappy, bottom-of-the-barrell free agents I don't want to see on this team come April. However, after reading Jerry Crasnick's rundown of the remaining free agents on the market, there are way too many for my purposes. And besides, I don't really want to remind Hendry that, for example, Kevin Gregg is out there and on the clearance rack. Or that both Adam Kennedy and Jose Contreras are still looking for work.

With that in mind, I decided that a better idea is to look back at Hendry's past signing mistakes and identify how we can avoid them in the future. We're looking at broad themes and lessons here, people. (And yes, this list isn't all that different from "Worst Cubs of the Decade" and "Most Hated Cubs of the Decade." I'm trying to give us something to talk about until Spring Training. Sue me)

Gallery sneak peek (9 images):

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My Thursday Night Just Got A Little Bit More Awesome. . .

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 By now, I'm thinking most of you know that I'm going to be hanging out talking Cubs baseball tomorrow night at Rockit Wrigley. But this afternoon, I got a little sneak preview of the rest of the crowd. In addition to dragging Alex Quigley of the ChicagoNow blog "All Q'd Up" with me, I'll be joined by Marc Silverman and Jason Beleke from ESPN, Ryan Chiaverini from ABC7 Sports, and . . . wait for it. . .  POSSIBLY JAY MARRIOTTI (ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease let this come true).

 

I would love to stay and chat, but I'm far too busy trying to convince Billy Dec that he needs to also get Roger Ebert and Ozzie Guillen on board for tomorrow night's events. I think Ozzie would blend in smashingly on Cubs-Aholics Anonymous nights. He could give us a dose of the tough-love we so desperately need. And, of course, there would be the . . . uh . .  . entertainment of having Jay and Ozzie in same room. Would Ozzie wind up back in sensitivity training? Only time would tell.

At any rate, Ozzie or no Ozzie, I hope those of you in the Greater Chicagoland area will stop by Rockit Wrigley tomorrow night around 9:00 pm for great food, fabulous drinks, Cubs trivia, merchandise giveaways, and a fantastic time with a bunch of Cubs fans, who are also counting down the minutes to Cubs baseball.

In some ways, this is the most painful time of the off-season. The holidays are over, Cubs Con has come and gone, the free agent frenzy is winding down, and those of us who live and die for baseball really have nothing to do but count down the days until spring training. Personally, I try to go to as many Cubs-related events this time of year as possible. It somehow make Spring Training seem  . . . not so far off. 

Come. Let us help each other through our pain.  

I hope to see many of you there!   

 

Most Hated Cubs of the Decade: A LOHO Album

I originally thought I would alternate good lists and bad lists, so as not to drive the fan base too deep into a winter-in-which-we-do-nothing-to-improve-our-team-related depression. However, after much relflection, I think we'll get all the angst out of the way right from the beginning, leaving the "best of" lists for last. Like I said, LOHO's intent is to force you to deal with your Cubs issues, leaving you free to start the New Year in a peaceful and enlightened state.

Enjoy.*

* Due to the unusually high-volume of hated Cubs in the 2000s, I'm sure I have forgotten someone, if not someONES. Please feel free to add to the list in the comments.

Gallery sneak peek (17 images):

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Friday Cubs Fan Reality Check

To be honest, a lot of the chat on Twitter right now is making my head explode. I know a lot of us are hopeful with the Winter Meetings starting next week in Indy, so let me take a moment to crush your spirit in advance.

Trust me, you'll thank me for this later.

A gallery of the players we won't be getting this off-season:

 

Gallery sneak peek (6 images):

View the gallery...
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League Supremacy: Is the AL Better, and Why?

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Which league is better? It's time for the AL and the NL to throw down once and for all. Or at least once and for now.

The end is near. Last Week, the Chicago Tribune reported that Bud Selig rebuffed the advances of several owners who wanted him to stay on as commissioner of Major League Baseball beyond his planned retirement date of 2012. Forgive me if I don't brace myself for the end of the world. 

But it will be the end of the most dynamic era in baseball history. Not since Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers has there been this much change to the league--and although the changes haven't been nearly as important on a social scale, the face of the game itself has undergone more reconstruction than Lara Flynn Boyle's

I don't want to focus on Selig's legacy, though he is the unquestionable author of the competitive imbalance I do want to discuss--not small market vs. Yankees, but rather National League vs. American League.

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Really, Tiger Woods?

2009 Australian Masters - Day 4

So yeah, I'm a criminal defense lawyer, news junkie, and general loudmouth, so you knew it was only a matter of time before I had to weigh in on this one. Here goes.

On Friday night, Tiger Woods was leaving his home in Rich People, Florida, when he inexplicably drove into a fire hydrant and then a neighbor's tree. Though he was driving slowly enough that his airbags didn't go off, he was reportedly unconcscious upon police arrival and was taken to the hospital with "serious" injuries.

WARNING: The next few paragraphs of this post are going to be rank with speculation, so if you're the kind of person offended by people being able to make logical deductions from evidence, stop reading now.

My first thought when I heard the news about the crash was that it was a DUI. After all, who leaves their house at 2:30 am and manages to not even make it out of their driveway without hitting stationary objects they've presumably driven around before? When the police stated to the press that "alcohol was not a factor," I assumed that meant they were still waiting for the results of the drug tests.

But when world came down that Tiger's wife, Elin, smashed the back window of Tiger's SUV in a heroic effort to get him out, my response turned to "Oh, so she was chasing him out of the house with a golf club, smashed his back window, causing him to crash the car." (Note: Allegedly) 

Spend enough time in Domestic Violence Court and you learn to spot a domestic dispute at 100-yards. And given that Elin has supposedly changed her story, and the fact that I find it really hard to believe that a slow-motion crash rendered it necesssary to drag someone out through the back window of  their car, this is looking more and more like your typical ghetto domestic fight. (see the photos of the crashed car, with the doors that sure look like they function here). 

Except for one thing.  

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Saturday Morning Off-Base Diary

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As always on Saturdays, I was awake hours ago, scouring the internet for Cubs news for your enjoyment. Unforutnately, today I came up completely empty. I can't find a single Cubs-related item on any of the interweb tubes that hasn't already been posted, discussed, and dissected to within an inch of its life on LOHO.

 So, rather than just give up, I decided to valiantly push forward. Today, I'm just going to post a bunch of funny things I found on the internet.

The above photo is both funny and disturbing. I don't know where Manville is and, frankly, I'm not sure I want to know if there guys there look like that dude. For more hilarious tattoo mughsots, head on over to Fresh Ink, ChicagoNow's great tattoo blog. Though I have to be honest, I'm not sure any mug shot EVER will top these two guys: 

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Top 5 Most Annoying Fans In Baseball

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Typical Cards fan at a Morans vs. USA game.

After two days of Tweets from insufferable Yankees fans, it was inevitable that this topic would come up.

I can think of a lot of obnoxious fans in sports. Packers fans come immediately to mind. NASCAR fans are up there for sure (do they cheer for specific drivers, or just for NASCAR in general?). Minnesota Vikings fans, who conveniently forget that they've never won anything, would have to be on the list.

But in order to keep this list manageable, let's restrict it to baseball fans.

If you cheer for another team, you probably think Cubs fans should make the top 5. Ha! Wrong. Why would I call myself annoing? If you want to rip on Cubs fans, get your own blog.

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We're out of cheese and revenue!

5. Milwaukee Brewers fans:

They would be higher on the list if they weren't so harmless. Despite the fact that Milwaukee is the 23rd biggest city in America, bigger than Denver, Seattle, Washington D.C, Kansas City, Cleveland, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Cincinnati, they continue to blame their inability to win at baseball on a being a "small market team."  And the fact that America doesn't appreciate cheese-filled sausage and Ryan Braun. Cry me a river, Cheeseheads. You gave baseball Bud Selig, I hope you continue to lose until Brett Favre's kids are waffling about retirement.

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I Know The Cubs Are Out of It, But. . .

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If you aren't following this Twinks/Tiggers saga, you're totally missing out.

Here's where we are: Just two days ago, it looked like the Twinks were finished at 3.0 games back in the AL Central. But the Tigers have since lost 2 in a row to the Twinks and the lowly Chicago White Sox, cutting their lead to 1 game with 2 left to play.

Today Nick Blackburn took on Zack Greinke in the game of his life. When Blackburn (recently declared by me to be the cutest thing EVER in the AL Central--I'm a sucker for great facial hair) left the game after 7, the score was 4-2 Twinks, thanks to a Delmon Young 2-out RBI. The Twinks, thinking this game was in the bag, pulled Blackburn and put in Mijares, who promptly gave up 2 runs. It's now 4-4 in the 8th.

The Tigers can clinch tonight in Detroit, but they're running rookie pitcher Alfredo Figaro out there against Freddy Garcia and White Sox team with a chip on their shoulder. Long story short, this race could be all even by the end of the night.

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Chicago Cubs Live Game Thread: So long, Grumpy

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Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

This is what I've been afraid of all along.

As you've probably heard by now, Milton Bradley was suspended by the Cubs for the rest of the season following a couple of incidents over the last few days.

No doubt, there are many people out there blaming the fans, the Cubs, and the media for Bradley's failure. In their eyes, everyone was out to get Bradley from the start, he was never given fair shake, and this is just more proof of the inherent idiocy and racism in Chicago sports fans.

Several weeks ago, LOHO did a podcast on Cubs fans and racism. Anticipating the "Milton deserves a second chance" and "How come fans don't get as down on Zambrano and Lilly for the same kind of thing!" arguments, I prepared the following. It's a history of Milton's time in professional baseball.

I in no way intend this to further dismantle Milton's already very tarnished reputation, but rather to make the point that, rather than being a victim, Milton is a person who has had far more chances in life than most of us simply because he can hit a baseball.

Let's take a look:

  •  April 1, 1999: While playing in Montreal's minor league system, Milton was suspended after he spit on an umpire following an ejection for charging the mound.

  • July 19, 2000: Milton's MLB debut with the Expos

  • July 31, 2001: Milton traded to Cleveland after one year with the big club

  • Sometime in 2002: Milton is  removed by police from a Cleveland Restaurant after he refuses to leave, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

  • During the 2003 season, Bradley has "run-ins" with Paul Lo Duca and Jason Giambi, and reportedly had baseball cards of them taped above his locker in Cleveland

  • During the 2003 season, Bradley reportedly tossed his helmet and bat in the direction of Bruce Froemming.

  • September/October, 2003: Milton is pulled from a game afteran altercation with manager Eric Wedge, stemming from Wedge's allegation that Milton failed to run out a pop-up.  

  • February, 2003: Bradley is sentenced to 3 days in jail for yelling at and then driving away from a police officer who was attempting to give him a ticket for speeding. 

  • March, 2004: Milton is barred from Indian's training camp after Wedge again pulls Milton aside and tells him he failed to run out a pop-up. While all sides state the exchange was not heated, the Indians claim the disrepect Milton showed to Wedge in front of his teammates was the last straw

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2009 LOHO Cubs Party Mix

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It's a cloudy, lazy afternoon here in Chicago, perfect for ruminating on all the things in life currently contributing to your depression. Of course, the Cubs are right up at the top of the list.

But if there's one thing that can make despair a little easier to bear, it's wallowing along with a good song; one where you know the artist feels your pain. Personally, when my misery is in need of a little company, I lean towards Iron and Wine, Damien Rice, and The Mountain Goats. And, of course, no one is better at fleshing out every nook and cranny of your pain than Johnny Cash.

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10 Things I Hate Less Than This Cubs Team

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Quit playing with the wildlife and do your damn job. (Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune)

I'll be honest. This team has been hard to love from the beginning.

I tried, I really did. But it was hard from the get-go. We kicked off the season by saying goodbye to two of the most popular athletes in Chicago (thus rendering my "I got to second base with Mark DeRosa" t-shirt irrelevent), and welcomed in the perpetually grumpy Uncle Milty, a wee former Cardinal who is bad at baseball, and some closer who looks like the guy who tutorued me in Calc in college.

It only got worse from there.

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Suck On That, Haters!

Red Sox vs. Orioles

 

I just want all of you haters, who couldn't WAIT to run him out of town, to know that my beloved Felix Pie just HIT FOR THE CYCLE against the Angels.

That is all.

In Defense of Cubs Fans/Update: The Beer Tosser Turns Himself In

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Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune.

By now, everyone has seen, heard, and commented on the Wrigley Field "Beer Baron." To recap, an extremely toolish young man, clad (undoubtedly) in pants revealing his underwear, stupid sunglasses, a wristband (what is the purpose of the wristband, anyway?) and a Cubs hat cocked jauntily to one side, tossed a beer on Phillies player Shane Victorino last night.

I think we all agree that this is an action of unmitigated douche-i-ness that reflects poorly on Cubs fans as a whole.

Uncle. We all get it.

What has bothered me today, far more than the idiot who thought it was a good idea to dump his beer on an opposing player (and then had the termerity to point at someone else. . . in the age of DVRs, no less), is how in vogue it's suddenly become to bash Cubs fans. Who is doing the bashing you ask? Why, other Cubs fans, of course.

 

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LOHO IDOL: The Search For The Next LOHO Editor

 

Wanted: New LOHO Editor to be enirely at my beck and call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Love of baseball and bizarre sense of humor a must. Photoshop skills a plus. Outside life will be considered a negative.

In all seriousness, I have a lot of help running this site. From Carl doing headlines almost every morning to the editors who jump in at a moment's notice and put up a game thread or post on breaking baseball news, it takes a village, people. From the inception of this site, we've sort of had a revolving staff of editors. People contribute when they can, and when life pulls them in another direction, someone else steps in. Right now, we have a lot of editors being pulled in other directions, and LOHO is requiring more work than ever, especially with the explosion of FB and Twitter. For that reason, we're looking at add one (maybe two) new editors to the LOHO staff. If you're interested in helping out, please email me at leagueofherown (at) gmail (dot) com. Lurkers are welcome to apply.

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Thursday Off-Base Diary

I know I've mentioned this before, but I think this might be my favorite commercial EVER:

 

We haven't had an off-base diary around here for a while. For those of you new to LOHO, this is something we used to do over on the old LOHO to kill time on off-days or while waiting for night games. Here we go:

We start today over at The Heckler, where truer words have never been spoken:

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