A League of Her Own

Daily headlines Archives

Monday Headlines: Moving Day/Happy Birthday, Mr. Cub


It's moving day! Everyone grab a box on their way out, and take it to:

http://www.aleagueofherown.com 

If you use that URL tomorrow, it will automatically redirect you to your new digs. Don't forget to bring a housewarming gift. We're registered at Crate & Barrel.


Just because we're moving doesn't mean the Cubs have stopped making news. MLBTR broke the news last week that two Cuban players have agreed to sign.

The Cubs have reached agreements to sign a pair of Cuban players, MLBTR's Nick Collias has learned.  They'll be signing outfielder Ruby Silva for $1.2MM as well as catcher Yaniel Cabezas for $500K.

Silva, 21, is a versatile left-handed hitter who played center field for the champion Havana Vaqueros in the 48th Cuban National series.  He can play all three outfield positions and perhaps even the middle infield.  He's a good athlete who draws praise as a plus runner with a plus arm.  He could begin his pro career in low A ball with the Peoria Chiefs.

Cabezas is a catch-and-throw backstop who reminds some of a young Yadier Molina, though his bat has improved in the last year.



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Friday Cubs Headlines: We're Getting The Band Back Together!

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 Yesterday, the Cubs announced that they've signed minor league deals with Augie Ojeda and Braden Looper and have invvited both players to Spring Training.

No, I don't know why.

But with the recent return of Ojeda, Reed Johnson, Kerry Wood, and Todd Wellenmeyer, can Roberto Novoa, Jason DuBois, and Todd Walker be far behind?

One player who refuses to be foisted from his OF position by the return of Brant Brown is Tyler Colvin. He wants the Cubs to know that, just because he had his lungs pierced with a shard of wood, it doesn't mean he's not ready to go:

"It's over," he said, matter-of-factly.

During the Cubs Convention, Colvin was asked about the accident. It's something he will probably be asked about the rest of his life.

"It's expected," he said. "I hate that I have to do it, but it happened."

So, let's move on. Colvin finds himself in the same position he was going into Spring Training 2010. The Cubs have four outfielders -- Colvin, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome -- and three spots.

Cubs manager Mike Quade says he'll rotate the quartet in an effort to keep players like Soriano and Byrd fresh.

"Quade will put a lineup up there that'll win, and we'll keep it going," Colvin said.

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Thursday Headlines: Sczcur Is Not Your Everyday Samardzija

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(Photo: Cape May County Herald)

Poor Matt Sczcur (pronounced "Sczcur") has taken something of a good-natured beating from Cubs fans in the past week since announcing he's ditching his football career for a shot at being the next great home-grown Cubs outfielder. Everywhere he turns, it's Samardzija this and Samardzija that.

But apart from a funny name and the two-sports college thing, Sczcur and Samardzija don't share too much in common. Different positions, different backgrounds, etc. While pitcher-WR Samardzija spent his Notre Dame career fawned over by the national sports media, Sczcur has had something of a lower profile at 1-AA football school Villanova. Which is too bad, because it allows great stories like this to fall through the cracks:

Matt Szczur may someday patrol center field at Wrigley Field and thrill Chicago Cubs fans with his baseball skills. On Wednesday, he did something more important. Something likely to help save lives. The Lower Cape May Regional graduate came back to his old high school and helped sign up 191 people to be bone marrow donors.

Not a lot of fanfare, media, or PR junk here - just a guy working for a good cause for all the right reasons. Turns out he's got a pretty good reason to care about bone marrow donation, too.



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Wednesday Headlines: Cubs Welcome Back Another Legend





As was noted in yesterday's thread, another former Cub will be making the rounds at spring training this year. Let's all give a hearty welcome to non-roster invitee Todd Wellemeyer.

Well, spring-training mornings around Fitch Park should be fun as Carlos Zambrano walks through the clubhouse and yells, "Shoulders!" about 10 times every day. "Shoulders" was Big Z's nickname for pitcher Todd Wellemeyer, whom the Cubs are in the process of signing to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training.

One report had Wellemeyer getting $800,000. The Cubs aren't confirming that, and he'll likely get the 800 Gs only if he makes the team.

 Wellemeyer joins an already motley crew of non-roster invitees this spring.

It'll be an interesting and fun group of non-roster invitees: Scott Moore (another guy on his second tour of duty with the Cubs after originally coming from the Tigers along with Bo Flowers and Roberto Novoa for Kyle Farnsworth in Feb. 2005); Reed Johnson (ditto that on the second tour of duty); Bobby Scales; Angel Guzman and Bryan LaHair.

Has anyone seen Les Walrond?

Those, of course, are in addition to former first-round bust Luis Montanez. Maybe Kevin Millar will come around again, too.

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Tuesday Cubs Headlines: Jeff Samardzija Is Fighting For Your Love

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 We've got 22 days until pitchers and catchers report, and Cubs news  is harder to come by then ever,  So I knew you guys would be glad when I came across this article at Cubs.com about how committed Jeff Samardzija is to making you happy.

CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija is so excited about how his offseason is going and how well he's throwing that he told two reporters to come down to Arizona to watch.

This will be a key spring for the Cubs pitcher.

"I'm kind of taking a different approach to it this year," Samardzija said. "You don't want to sound selfish, but I'm taking care of what I can take care of. I'm sure the list is up to seven or eight guys trying for the starting rotation. It's the same song every year."

I suspect that the two 'reporters' were his mom and dad. Also, I'd like to point out that mostly what Jeff has been able to "take care of" the last two years has been providing multiple souvenirs for the bleacher crowd. But perhaps I'm being too harsh.

The list of candidates for the five spots in the rotation was reduced by one when the Cubs dealt Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals. This season will be different for Samardzija because he's out of options. Samardzija, who turned 26 on Sunday, is aware of his status.

"I really don't care, to tell you the truth," he said about the need to make the 25-man roster. "I'm very, very excited with how things are going and me being down there [in Arizona] since early November. How I'm working out, how I'm throwing the ball, how I'm throwing off the mound already, I'm very, very excited.

"I know at the end of the year, it'll be a different story than what it is now. A lot is to be written, but I'm excited. I feel great, I really do."

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Monday Headlines: Back to Baseball, Folks

(Photo Courtesy Chicago Tribune)


Now that the improbable playoff runs of any likable football team are over, we can get serious about the fast-approaching start of spring training. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of news out there for us to drown our tears in. Bruce Levine examined the contract situations of Carlos Marmol and Matt Garza, and what we can expect both of them to be paid in the future.

The bigger picture is whether the sides can come to an agreement on a three-year deal. A two-year contract would not be beneficial for the Cubs. Marmol has one more year of arbitration left in 2012. After that season, he'll be eligible for free agency. The Cubs would give Marmol a three-year deal if they could save some money over the average life of the three years. 

A good starting point for an agreement might be $18-$20 million. In 2011, Marmol most likely will get around $4.8 million when the sides decide to agree. Projecting next season, Marmol may get $7-$8 million, if he repeats his 2010 performance.

And for Garza?

The process of signing Garza is a bit different. The newest Cubs starting pitcher has two more years of arbitration left after 2011. As a comparison to pitchers in his class, Garza will make $5.9 million in 2011. His projected salary number in 2012 may be $10 million if he continues to put up 15 wins and throws his usual 200 innings. It may be up to $13-$15 million in 2013 if he stays consistent.

The Cubs may want to reconfigure all three seasons -- 2011-13 -- and offer something in the area of $23-$25 million.


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Wednesday Headlines: Arbitration Schmarbitration

(Chicago Tribune Photo by Brian Casella)


Remember last year when Ryan Theriot went all the way to his arbitration hearing and lost? Don't expect that to happen with any Cubs player this year. Every arb-eligible player is now signed, with the exception of Carlos Marmol.

General manager Jim Hendry took a big step Tuesday toward ensuring that won't happen when he agreed to terms with pitchers Matt Garza, Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny, who is in the process of being traded to Washington.

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Although closer Carlos Marmol filed for arbitration, Cubs insiders appeared confident the two sides will agree to terms before a hearing can take place next month. Marmol is seeking $5.65 million, while the Cubs are offering $4.1 million.

Geo Soto also signed.

The Cubs also made official their one-year, $3 million deal with catcher Geovany Soto, who also avoided salary arbitration.

And today could be the day we say our final goodbyes to Tom Gorzelanny.

Gorzelanny, who will take a physical exam Wednesday in Washington, received $2.1 million, a raise from the $800,000 he made with the Cubs last year.

If Gorzelanny passes the physical, the two teams will make official a deal that will send the left-hander to the Nationals for three minor-league prospects. Washington would then pay the pitcher's salary.



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Monday Headlines: Cubs Con Sails into Sunset

(Photo Courtesy Chicago Tribune)



The Cubs Convention drew to a close Sunday, just as everyone in Chicago was getting ready to watch the Bears. As witnessed by the boundless enthusiasm of convention attendees in the above photo, Cubs Con 2011 was a smashing success. Today's stories are filled with highlights from the Convention, so we'll take a little from here and there. First up, Mike Quade shares that he'll be benching Starlin Castro for making mistakes again this year.

Manager Mike Quade promised accountability from his players for "performance and effort," while first base coach Bob Dernier said baserunners would "concentrate, have intelligence and be accountable."

Bob Dernier can say that just by virtue of Ryan Theriot being off the roster for a full season. Quade also let us know that we won't see any dugout fireworks this year.

Those waiting for an in-your-face dugout reaction from Quade after a player miscue or perceived lack of hustle can forget about it. Quade admitted he was once that way as a young manager in the minors but realized it's not the right approach to getting someone's attention. "Did I make my point? Yeah," Quade said. "But did I make a jerk of myself? Probably. ... Lose some respect? Absolutely."

Quade prefers an open line of communication between him and his players, and won't treat veterans like Alfonso Soriano exactly the same as the kids. "Are you going to deal with 'Sori' the same way you deal with (Blake) DeWitt?" he said. "No."

Does this mean he gives Soriano the silent treatment and DeWitt spankings?

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Kerry Wood Headed To Booth No Matter What Cubs Say


Screw You, Buddy!
(Kerry Wood responds to Dan Bernstein's WSCR report.)

If you, like me, happened to tune into WSCR-AM yesterday afternoon, you probably noticed that Boers and Bernstein's topics of conversation centered around two strange premises. First, that the Bears would almost certainly lose to the Seahawks and Chicagoland would go nuts. Strange, yes, but a) this isn't a Bears blog and b) it's standard riling-up stuff for sports radio, so, y'know, whatever. Secondly, however, was that Kerry Wood - returning, conquering Cub hero - had made a SECRET BLOOD PACT with the Cubs to become a Cubs broadcaster after his retirement, whenever that should occur.

(No blockquote because, duh, it happened on the radio.)

It seemed like a win-win situation for all. Beloved Cub actually gets to retire as a Cub, a rare occurrence (see: Grace, Mark) and the organ-I-zation gets to capitalize on his popularity with the fans. Hire a mercenary radio guy for a couple years to keep the seat warm, then BOOM - Kerry Wood all up in your radio. What's not to love?

Everything, apparently, if you're the Chicago Cubs and/or Kerry Wood, who came out last night with denials on full blast. Why?


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Wednesday Headlines: The End of Koyie Hill?

(Chicago Tribune Photo)


The Cubs made a strange waiver claim Monday, adding catcher Max Ramirez to the 40-man roster.

The Chicago Cubs today claimed catcher Max Ramirez off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

Ramirez was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox from the Texas Rangers last Wednesday, January 5. He split the 2010 campaign between the Rangers and their Triple-A Oklahoma City affiliate. Ramirez played 56 games with Oklahoma City, batting .286 (54-for-189) with nine doubles, three home runs, 29 RBI and a .373 on-base percentage. In 28 games in the big leagues last year, Ramirez batted .217 (15-for-69) with three doubles, two home runs, eight RBI and a .341 on-base percentage.


Yes, the Cubs traded Robinson Chirinos last week, but still have Koyie Hill and Wellington Castillo behind Geovany Soto on the 40-man. Does a Major League team usually keep 4 catchers on the 40-man? Do the Cubs like Ramirez better than Hill or Castillo? You might have guessed that he's out-of options, as he's been claimed off waivers twice in the last week. What should we expect from Ramirez?

Before the 2010 season, Baseball America wrote that Ramirez is "a plus hitter who works the count and drives the ball to all fields" when healthy. However, the publication described the catcher as a below-average defender with below-average arm strength and well below-average running speed.

Seems the perfect foil for the light hitting Hill.


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Monday Headlines: Garza Trade Official

(Chicago Tribune Photo)



The trade to end all trades became official on Saturday, and Matt Garza didn't think Jim Hendry would pull it off, either.

"I was kind of caught off guard," he said. "My name was out there with a numerous amount of teams, and I just kept training. My job was to get ready for the season, whether it be in Tampa or wherever. Now, I'm getting ready to show up in Mesa, Ariz., in tiptop shape and ready to go for the season."

Despite the whiff of desperation emanating from this trade, Jim Hendry wants you to know he's not going all in for 2011.

"This wasn't a trade -- and I heard a few things and I read a few-- that we're trying to win right now," Hendry said. "Matt is 27; he's going to be a Cub for a while. We look at this as a great trade for the present and the future."

And though they had to include Sam Fuld, we're getting a faster version of him back in Fernando Perez.

"He's one of the fastest guys in the game," Hendry said. "He's a flyer. He was well on his way to looking like his career was going to take off after the World Series run, and then he had the severe injury to his hand and wrist. He's much healthier now that he's only hitting right-handed."

I'm sure it will be really fun to watch him run speedily on weakly hit ground balls.


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Weekend Headlines: All Things Garza

(Chicago Tribune Photo)



You may or may not have heard about a trade the Cubs agreed to yesterday. You can rest assured the Chicago media did, and we're lucky enough to have gotten the columnists involved. If you're like me, you've been dying to know what Phil Rogers feels about the Garza trade, and our wait is over. You'd expect Crazy Uncle Phil to make a bold assertion right out of the box, proclaiming this trade either the greatest trade ever or the end of the world. You'd be wrong.

For the first time since Tom Ricketts closed the deal for his family to buy his favorite team, the Cubs have taken a possibly significant step forward in trading for Matt Garza. There's something to be said for breaking a streak, but as usual, fans are advised to hold their applause until the end.

Hedging our bets are we? Sounds like cautious optimism from our dear uncle. But no amount of players involved in the trade could keep him from focusing on public enemy #1.

Adding Garza,27, to a rotation behind Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano hardly seems enough to close the gap significantly between the Cubs and the National League Central's first-division teams, the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers. But Garza has a powerful arm along the lines of Zambrano before his decline and thus has the potential to do what Zambrano did not -- develop into a reliable, long-term ace.

Phil made it about a third of the way through his column about the Garza trade before he started bashing Carlos Zambrano. If you'd like a discussion about how Carlos Zambrano's actually been better the last couple years than he was previously, please check out Doc's blog about it from yesterday. He's no Zambrano apologist, and even he agrees that Crazy Uncle Phil has some issues.


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Friday Headlines: Your #1 Source For Baltimore Sports News

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(Pic from YouTube. If you mumble it, "Bobblehead" sounds like "Baltimorehead.")

If there was any doubt that this is, ah, not The Most Exciting Offseason the Cubs have ever experienced, try this on for size: the biggest news today in the Cubsosphere (I just made that up!) is that semi-beloved former Atlanta Brave Derrek Lee is now officially a Baltimore Oriole. While I certainly wish D-Lee all the luck in the world as an Oriole (until they meet and get crushed by the Cubs in the 2011 World Series, of course), Cubs fans might cringe at this bit of information (from the Baltimore Sun, your #1 source for Chicago Cubs news):

He hasn't swung a bat this offseason, but expects to be cleared soon.
Yikes, For a guy with a reputation for notoriously slow spring starts, that can't bode well for the poor Orioles. In a division like the AL East, good luck moseying slowly out of the gate this Spring.

Here ends your regularly-scheduled Maryland current events update. Back to Chicago!

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Thursday Headlines: Obligatory Hall of Fame Post

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(Pic from MLBlogs.com)

Yesterday, a small museum in rural New York revealed it will be inducting two new members, or so I'm told. Following the goings-on of small museums ruled cruelly by old white men is not normally one of my hobbies, but if Phil Rogers thinks it's a big deal, you can bet I'm going to at least give it a look:

Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven will join long-time general manager Pat Gillick in being inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame next July. There was no surprise there, as both were near-misses in 2010.
Pat Gillick! Wow. Maybe this IS a big story, after all. Still, after the first sentence of the article, I saw no Cubs connection and was ready to move on to the huge story of the Cubs Caravan stopping in Rockford today. But then I saw this shocker:

The most intriguing development in the 2011 vote was found a lot further down the ballot. Rafael Palmeiro, who amassed 569 home runs and 3,020 hits in a career that began with the 1986 Cubs drew less support from voters than the likes of Dave Parker, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy.
Now this...well, this changes everything.
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Wednesday Headlines: Did Gordo Get the Scoop?

(Chicago Tribune Photo)


Gordon Wittenmyer's back after a month off with a bombshell. Posted at 2:32 am Central, Gordo says the Cubs are on the cusp of acquiring Matt Garza via trade.

The Cubs appear to have moved past the Texas Rangers and into the driver's seat in efforts to acquire Tampa Bay Rays 15-game winner Matt Garza -- a potential move that could put the Cubs back into the ­National League Central title conversation for 2011.

A major-league source said Tuesday the Cubs were close to trading for the power-pitching right-hander, just as the Rangers were committing a big multiyear deal to third baseman Adrian Beltre and appeared to be pursuing free-agent closer Rafael Soriano. Those efforts come after the Rangers fell short in their efforts to use the money to keep big-ticket free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee.


Gordo doesn't give us any hints as to who might be going to the Rays, though.

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Tuesday Headlines: Just Some Stuff

(Chicago Tribune Photo)



Carrie Muskat has kept headlines afloat over the holidays, but Bruce Miles is back from vacation, and has information we actually have interest in. First up, Mr. Miles says that Jim Hendry is still hot on the trail of a new starting pitcher

The Cubs still are looking for a starting pitcher, but nothing appears imminent as far as a trade or a free-agent signing goes. Either way, it could make for a lively fan session with the GM during the Saturday part of the convention program.

Lively fan session, indeed. The Cubs Con recap from Julie should be extra fun this year. Speaking of Cubs Con, all sings have indicated that the new radio color man would be hired before the convention this year. Mr. Miles isn't so sure.

I also don't expect any quick announcement on a successor to the late Ron Santo in the Cubs radio booth. There are a lot of candidates and two entities _ the Cubs and WGN radio _ as part of the process.

Sorry, Doc. It might be awhile before you get your good news.


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Monday Headlines: Back to the Grind


(Chicago Tribune Photo)



Over the holiday weekend, the Trib's Hall of Fame voters posted their ballots for scrutiny online. I figured there would be no better one to examine than that of one Crazy Uncle Phil. Phil had a tough time with this year's ballot, especially with the newcomers.

Roberto Alomar, Larry Walker (check him out -- what a complete player!), Jeff Bagwell and maybe even Rafael Palmeiro will receive votes. Add in lingering holdovers like Bert Blyleven and Lee Smith and strong candidates new to the ballot in the last few years and it is one of the toughest ballots I have tackled in the 15 years I've been voting.

I'd like to point out that Roberto Alomar was on last year's ballot. You'd think that's something he might remember. So, Phil, how are we going to handle this sticky steroids issue? In case you didn't see it, commenter FrankS made a reasonable argument for the inclusion of steroid users in the New Year thread. One I happen to agree with. Let's see what Phil thinks.

I'm not voting for players who have been linked directly to steroids, so I won't vote for Palmeiro, whose play (especially his hitting) I respect highly. I'm not going to vote for Bagwell, but that's because I feel his resume isn't quite strong enough, not because of steroid suspicion. And if I'm not voting for Bagwell, I can't keep voting for Harold Baines (most hits of any eligible player not in the Hall) after four years of support, so he's off my ballot.

So any direct link is out, innuendo is fine, but Jeff Bagwell wasn't quite good enough to spite the innuendo. I think I understand. The rest of the Trib writers ballots can be viewed from this page.

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Thursday Headlines: Super Big Announcement Day!

Chicago Blackhawks Brian Campbell, Dustin Byfuglien and Dave Bolland wave to fans during the ticker tape parade as the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate during a victory parade and rally in Chicago on June 11, 2010. The Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday to win the NHL's Stanley Cup, their first championship in 49 years.   UPI/Stephen J. Carrera.. Photo via Newscom
LOHO and the Blackhawks welcome our newest family member
Earlier this week, Julie touted the coming of a new family member. Today, we unveil Pete Gaines. Pete has written for Deadspin and SportsbyBrooks. I've been assured by Julie that he's at least 50% (but no more than 75%) as funny as me, so we should be in good hands. Should you be so inclined, you can follow Pete on twitter, @petegaines. I promised Julie we wouldn't pull that prank where no one comments on his first thread, so please make sure and give Pete a warm LOHO welcome. 

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Wednesday Headlines: Deepest Darkest Winter

Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro takes a break on first base during a Cincinnati Reds pitching change during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 1, 2010. The Reds won 3-2 in 10 innings.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

You know it's the deep of winter when I turn to Carrie Muskat to provide news for us every day. But the hardest working woman in Cubs beat writing continues to write something nearly every day, and for that I'm grateful. The Dominican Winter League is in its playoffs, and Starlin Castro continues to hit the ball.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro went 2-for-4, hitting a two-run double in the fourth, in Escogido's 5-4 loss to los Toros on Monday in the Dominican Winter League. Castro also tried to score with one out in the ninth but was thrown out at home. On Tuesday, Escogido (1-1) plays host to los Gigantes, who are 2-0 so far in the playoffs.

And some other people no one cares about are playing elsewhere.

In Venezuela, Cubs prospect Marwin Gonzalez had a hit, three walks and scored twice in Caracas' 6-5 win over Lara. Also, Cubs pitcher Jeff Gray threw 1 1/3 innings for his third save in Zulia's 6-3 win over Magallanes.


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Will The Ricketts Involve The Cubs On This Renovation Plan?

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 It looks like the Cubs have gone back to the drawing board on Wrigley renovations and are working on a new and improved idea to finance Wrigley's much-needed massive overhaul:

"the Cubs are quietly working to amend their proposal to renovate Wrigley Field. In simple terms, the team would match its previous tax payments to the city -- $16 million in 2009 -- while keeping any tax revenue above the base for park renovations and perhaps construction of the long-planned triangle building. Once the team has what it plans built, the Cubs argue the additional business will increase taxes collected.

"The plan they came up with for this renovation was a non-starter," governor Pat Quinn said Monday on " Chicago Tribune Live" on Comcast SportsNet. "It didn't have public support. They have to go back to the drawing boards."

Let's hope that this time, the Ricketts PR and financial machine decide to at least consult the Cubs, an organization that has been doing business in this town a hell of a lot longer than they have, in developing and presenting their new plan. My souces tell me that the Ricketts, who have their own PR "team," left the Cubs out of much of the last renovation plan, which turned into an unmitigated PR disaster. My guess is that they used the same 'team' that thought it was a good idea for Todd Ricketts to appear on "Undercover Boss."



 

 

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Monday Headlines: Anything Happening?




To answer the question I posed in the post title, no, nothing is happening. But the Trib did post that fantastic picture of hunky prospect Brett Jackson. They also posted an interview, which is less exciting than his photo. First, we'll see what Brett had to say about his excitement to play for a crappy Cubs team.

"You have to think that way and have that confidence as a player," said Jackson, who was 3-for-12 with five RBIs for Mesa before an infection in his foot halted his AFL season. "It's exciting to be in the Cubs organization for all of us, seeing the type of moves that have happened in the past year and seeing many of our friends reach the big leagues.

"That makes us excited about the future and what the Cubs have to offer. ... I look forward to being a part of that.

"But right now, I'm working to be ready for that next step, and certainly guys like Castro and Colvin are great role models for us all."

I eagerly await the chance to see Brett playing center field for years to come.


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Thursday Headlines: Radio Job Speculation Runs Rampant

Palestinian Christian Issa Kassissieh, dressed as Santa Claus, distributes Christian trees to Christian residents of Jerusalem outside the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, December 22, 2010. UPI/Debbie Hill Photo via Newscom

With little going on before Christmas, Paul Sullivan took the time yesterday to write about the search for the new WGN radio color man. First, the WGN radio sports director talked about the awkwardness of having to search for a replacement so soon after Ron Santo's death.
"We wanted to do this as respectfully as we could," WGN-AM 720 sports director Dave Eanet said.

"It's not something we wanted to plunge right into. But we're not too far from spring training and there is a vacant seat in the booth. Having said that, we know we're not going to replace Ron Santo."
The first list of candidates is pretty much the same one we've already seen.

Several ex-Cubs-turned-analysts fill the bill, including Mark Grace, Rick Sutcliffe, Dan Plesac, Eric Karros, Gary Matthews and Mitch Williams.

Eanet said the list of candidates will include those who have filled in for Santo in the past, but declined to address speculation on rumored candidates. Dave Otto and Keith Moreland, both of whom filled in for Santo during his absences the last few years, will be interviewed.


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Wednesday Headlines: Don't Expect Brandon Webb Under Your Tree

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 20: Christmas lights illuminate the Town Hall at La Grande Place on December 20, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)

I can't imagine you were hoping for a weathered, beaten Brandon Webb with a shiny new shoulder for Christmas, but if you were, things aren't looking good.
The Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals continued to show strong interest in Brandon Webb on Tuesday, while a third reported suitor, the Chicago Cubs, fell off the pace in their pursuit of the free-agent starter.

There's even talk of a mystery NL Central team trying to swoop in on the action. It's probably just as well for the Cubs, as Brandon Webb would likely stand in the way of Andrew Cashner making the rotation. I think we'd rather see him have a go at starting than watch Brandon Webb rehab here and go elsewhere after a year.


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Thursday Headlines: A Christmas Miracle

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Remember the Christmas episode of The Brady Bunch when Carol was supposed to sing at the Christmas church service? She then lost her voice, and Cindy asked Santa to give Carol her voice back for Christmas so she could sing O Come All Ye Faithful. Santa came through, and Carol belted it out, giving everyone the Christmas cheer (this rendition was later reprised in spectacular fashion in the TV movie "A Very Brady Christmas").
In yesterday's headline title, I begged Jim Hendry to do something before Christmas. I'm not sure what I wanted to happen, but something beyond my wildest dreams could be happening. Last night, my twitter feed was full of Kerry Wood to the White Sox and Yankees rumors, until quite late, when John Boehner Dave Kaplan reported something no one expected. A Christmas miracle.
The Cubs, who have a major need for a veteran right handed reliever are moving towards finalizing a deal with free agent Kerry Wood. Wood, who spent the first 10 years of his major league career with the Cubs, spent 2010 with the Indians and Yankees and compiled impressive numbers down the stretch as he helped the Yankees make the playoffs.

If he finalizes his deal with the Cubs, Wood should provide tremendous support to Cubs closer Carlos Marmol and will form a very formidable back end of the bullpen with left-hander Sean Marshall.
What could any of us possibly want more than Kerry Wood under our collective tree? And before you start thinking that Kaplan's just yanking our chain, Ken Rosenthal confirmed it.

Kerry Wood could be going home.

The free-agent right-hander is working toward an agreement with the Chicago Cubs, the team that gave him his professional start, according to a major league source.

The Cubs likely would use Wood as a set-up man for closer Carlos Marmol, enabling them to move right-hander Andrew Cashner to the starting rotation.

Take it away, Carol.



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Wednesday Headlines: Jim Hendry, Please do Something before Xmas

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Fun holiday photoshopping, as always, brough to you by the fabulous @plamorte.

The Cubs are still in a holding pattern, apparently still waiting on Brandon Webb and Matt Garza.

--The Cubs continue to look at former Diamondbacks standout Brandon Webb, who has been beset by shoulder problems the last couple of years. To sign Webb, the Cubs would prefer a low base with incentives.

--Matt Garza is still very much in play for the Cubs, who are still trying to get a hand on the Tampa Bay Rays' appetite for moving the pitcher. Last week at the winter meetings, Rays manager Joe Maddon said Garza would be pitching for Tampa next year. Of course, managers say a lot of things (as we know from the last couple we've had on the North Side) based on their own self-interest. It's still a story worth following.


And Hendry seems real about dealing, with only a couple prospects off-limits.
 
--As we wrote last week, the only prospects the Cubs won't move are Brett Jackson and Chris Archer. All the others would be on the table in trade talks. That includes Josh Vitters and Jay Jackson.
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Phillies To Play Red Sox in 2011 World Series

Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee looks to the score board in between pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the third inning of game 5 of the World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas on November 1, 2010. The Giants defeated the Rangers 3-1 winning the World Series 4 games to 1. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

I didn't see that one coming either, Cliff.

The Philadelphia Phillies, who only a year ago dismayed their fans by trading away Lee in the name of organizational depth, rallied to reach an agreement with the ace left-hander and emerge with the deepest rotation in baseball, sources said Monday night. Sources indicated the deal was for five years and $120 million, with a vesting option for a sixth year that would pay him a maximum of $135 million, less than he could have gotten from the Yankees or Rangers.

The Rangers, the team Lee helped to the World Series in October, offered Lee a six-year, $138 million deal with a vesting option for a seventh year that could have hiked the deal to $161 million. The Yankees also offered six years and $138 million, with a seventh-year player option for an additional $16 million.

Operating in stealth mode through the weekend, the Phillies added Lee to a staff that already held Roy Halladay(notes), Roy Oswalt(notes) and Cole Hamels

I have basically two thoughts this morning: 1) Kudos to SI's Jon Heyman, who took a lot of abuse this week for insisting that a "mystery team" was "in hard" on Lee. Turns out he was right. 2) Hahahahaha to Jason Werth for having to face a rotation with Lee, Hallady, Hamels, and Oswalt a billion times a season.

 

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Monday Headlines: Just Stay in Bed



I posted the above video in case you hadn't yet gotten to see the amazingness of the Metrodome roof collapse. It also gives us something to talk about, as there was precious little happening in Cubs news over the weekend. Ryan Dempster was in Chicago all weekend, and the Around Town guys from the Trib got to talk to him about Carlos Pena. Dempster is sooooo stoked about Pena coming to the North Side.

"I am so excited to play with a guy who gets as excited by making a great fielding play as he does by hitting a three-run home run," said Dempster, who was spotted Saturday at the Loyola-Kansas State game.

Friday night, they ran into Jim Hendry. You'll never guess where.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry attended the Dempster Family Foundation fundraiser Friday at D'Agostino's Pizza in Lakeview and told us he expects more signings in December than the last two years.

Dempster knows how to get Hendry to commit to a fundraiser. My one question of this tidbit from Hendry: he has to mean for the league in general, right? He's not going to go buck wild with signings these last couple weeks of the year, is he?


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Thursday Headlines: Cubs Hoarding Carloses

May 14, 2010 - St. Petersburg, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - epa02157685 Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Pena reacts after striking out against the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning of a Major League Baseball game in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, 14 May 2010.
Imagine I had the skills to photoshop him into a Cubs uniform

Your Chicago Cubs introduced their starting first baseman of the future yesterday. And by future, I mean next year. The Cubs somehow managed to not completely piss off the entire fan base, and managed to get the reported one-year deal done. Carlos Pena, what have you to say?
"I think when I looked at all of my options, and the teams that were interested, I just thought this was the perfect fit for me," said Pena, who has 230 home runs lifetime, including 46 in 2007 with Tampa Bay. "And I also like the fact that this is a platform year for me, you know, to come in, be part of a great organization, have the opportunity to just go out there and play my game.

"And who knows? After a great season, then the future will look even brighter."

Scott Boras, can you get all super agenty on us?

"This contract, really, the premise of it was a lot like what we did last year with Adrian Beltre and the Red Sox," Boras said. "You have a quality organization, and they had a fit and a need, and you also had a player that had exhibited extraordinary abilities. I think everybody in the game knows that when a man can hit an average of 35-plus home runs over the past four seasons and has a lifetime average that is 40 points above what his prior seasons was, that the metrics will make the adjustment. And the average of both his power will be present and certainly with also the presence of (hitting coach) Rudy Jaramillo who worked with Carlos when he was a younger player really had all of the flavor of what we call a pillow contract.

"There's a lot of comforts. It's a one-year situation. It's a dynamic that you can't really expect the marketplace to address."


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Wednesday Headlines: Carlos Pena, Come on Down

April 14, 2010: Carlos Pena for the Tampa Bay Rays at bat during a game against the hometown Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. The Rays beat the Orioles 9 - 1.

The Cubs have finally agreed to terms with the first baseman of their dreams. Carlos Pena is primed to sign a free agent contract that will surprise you, and maybe in a good way.
The Cubs have reached a preliminary agreement with free agent first baseman Carlos Pena on a one-year deal with about $10 million, according to sources, and hope to finalize the deal this morning during a schedule meeting with his agent, Scott Boras.

I'll be as giddy as a schoolgirl if the deal turns out to be one year. All the talk yesterday centered around two to three years. But what does spending $10 million on Pena mean for the rest of the offseason?

With so much of their limited payroll flexibility now tied to one addition, the Cubs are expected to look harder at harder at trades than the free-agent market to fill the pitching needs - unless they can move a significant portion of a larger contract, such as the $13.5 million left on the final year of outfielder Kosuke Fukudome's contract.

Rampant trade speculation time!

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Cubs Tuesday Headlines: Do We HAVE Anyone At The Winter Meetings?

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Not the Cubs' GM

 I understand that the Cubs  expected to be less-active this winter than in the past.

I understand that the Cubs are trying to cut payroll and are not players for the Cliff Lees and Derek Jeters of the world.

I understand that making a move solely to keep the fans happy is not the wisest course of action.

However, I am beginning to worry that the Cubs don't understand that we are going to need someone to at least STAND NEXT TO FIRST

 

I get it, it's only December, plenty of time to make some moves, yada yada yada. On the other hand, Jim Hendry must be hiding behind potted plants for the Cubs to be  as invisible at the Winter Meetings as they've been this year. I've never seen a team so completely off-the-radar during the aptly-named "free agent frenzy."

With the Dunn, Gonzalez, and other palatable options at first base off the market., it's looking increasinglly like Carlos Pena is the Cubs' current target-of-choice to take over at first base. And even THAT race isn't looking good for the North Siders:

Carlos Pena is the most prominent available free agent who fits the Cubs' description, and Hendry will meet with his agent, Scott Boras, this week. But even with a .196 average last year for the Rays , Pena is being pursued by the Blue Jays, Nationals and Orioles, which could force the Cubs into a bidding war they likely can't win.

 

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Monday Headlines: Jerkface Red Sox Steal Adrian Gonzalez from Cubs

San Diego Padres First Baseman Adrian Gonzalez works out before the game with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park in San Diego on August 24, 2010. The Padres beat the Diamondbacks 5-0. UPI/Roger Williams Photo via Newscom

It appears as though an Adrian Gonzalez to Boston trade is all but done, meaning the Cubs have little-to-no options at first base. Or, shall we say, palatable options. The Cubs continue to think they need to sign a starting pitcher whose arm is barely attached. Their biggest fan died last week. So what's not to love about the start of the Winter Meetings?
Would-be targets Adrian Gonzalez (all but traded from the Padres to the Red Sox), Lance Berkman (signed by the Cardinals), Jake Westbrook (re-signed by the Cardinals) and Javier Vazquez (signed by the Marlins) are off the board. The Cubs either were unable to compete as aggressively dollar-for-dollar or unwilling to compete as aggressively prospect-for-prospect as the teams that landed those players.

So, what are we to expect this week?

Will free agent Carlos Pena be as good as it gets in replacing Lee at first base? Is a former Cy Young winner with a rehabbing shoulder -- Brandon Webb -- exciting enough for you?

Hendry has said that he doesn't believe he needs to make a splash. Without a lot of room to work under his payroll ceiling, he might not have a choice.


But Hendry's at his best when he's talking trade. And while Gonzalez no longer is on the market, look for Hendry to talk to as many GMs about trades as he does player agents about their clients.


Oh, good. All we have to do is hope that Hendry can make one of his miracle trades! Please let it be more Derrek Lee than Juan Pierre.

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Chicago Cubs Weekend Headlines: Funeral Arrangements For Ronnie

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Ronnie is honored at the UC last night before the Blackhawks Game. (Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune)

 Let's get through the sad Ronnie news first. Ron's funeral will be held Thursday, December 9, at Holy Name Cathedral. Public visitation begins at 4:00 pm. I plan on making my way down there, and if anyone else is game, maybe we can get a little group together for the visitation.

The memories of Ron Santo continue to pour in, and memorial pages have been set up at the Chicago Tribune, at MLB.com, and on Facebook. Of course, we've got our own "tell a great story about Ron" post going here, so make sure to stop by and listen to some of the hilarious stories (some with audio!).

If you feel the need to do something more concrete to memorialize our beloved Ronnie, consider going to JDRF's donation page and donating $10 for #10. As someone who raised $50 million for JDRF over the course of his life, I have no doubt that, if Ron could make one last request of us, this would be it. As I said yesterday, we here at LOHO are going to donate our "page clicks revenue" for December to JDRF in memory of Ron, so make sure to stop by daily and click, click, click!

 

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Thursday Headlines: Back to Boring


July 27, 2010 - Houston, Texas, United States of America - 27 July 2010: Chicago Cubs Catcher Koyie Hill.

All offseason, there's been this unspoken about dark cloud hovering over LOHO, and no one's had the heart to talk about it. We've all been worried that Koyie Hill might not be around next year. Don't fret, as according to Bruce Miles, he should be tendered a contract!

It's Dec. 1, so where's all the action been? It's one of the slowest-developing baseball off-seasons I can remember covering. Anyway, here's a small bit of news to get things started: I expect the Cubs to tender contracts to all of their players by Thursday's deadline to do so.

That means arb-eligible guys Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Baker, Koyie Hill, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto and Carlos Marmol will be offered contracts. The only questions were the first three players on that list, but you can put them down as back in the fold. GM Jim Hendry likely will try to work out deals soon for Gorzelanny, Baker and Hill to avoid arbitration. Marshall and Marmol will be in line for nice raises, as will Soto after a nice bounce-back year. We'll see if the Cubs go to hearings on either.


So we get to keep Good Old Toe Thumbs around, with the added bonus of a cheaper, better hitting backup catcher relegated to Iowa. It's a win-win.


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Wednesday Headlines: Cubs to See More of Theriot, in a Good Way

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We can give thanks today to the St. Louis Cardinals, who yesterday traded for Ryan Theriot to become their starting shortstop.

Theriot immediately alienated any of his remaining Cubs fans by opening his big mouth. He was interviewed on KFNS in St. Louis (hat tip to MillsChC for the link) and said: "I'm finally on the right side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, I think." Ryan, your love of the microphone is the gift that just keeps on giving.

And what sparkling things are the Cards saying about their presumed starting shortstop? Take it away, John Mozeliak.

Theriot projects as a traditional top-of-the-order hitter considered a defensive downgrade from Ryan at shortstop. However, the Cardinals heard similar descriptions of David Eckstein when they signed him in December 2005. The club then won a world championship with Eckstein as World Series MVP in 2006.

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Wherein My "Real" Job Interferes With Today's Headlines . . .

 
 

 

I have to head to Joliet for court this morning, so the headlines are going to have to wait until I return. Sorry, kids! In the meantime, feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Monday Headlines: Carlos Penamania

Tampa Bay Rays hitter Carlos Pena hits an RBI single in the eighth inning, scoring teammate Desmond Jennings during play against the Texas Rangers during Game 3 of their American League Division Series MLB baseball game in Arlington, Texas, October 9, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Now that the holiday weekend is over, we can get back to the excitement of the offseason. Fox Sports is reporting that the Cubs have interest in Carlos Pena.
The Chicago Cubs are showing interest in free-agent first baseman Carlos Peña, according to a major league source.

Peña, 32, is coming off a disappointing contract year with the Tampa Bay Rays, batting only .196 with 28 home runs and 84 RBI in 144 games. He also missed time because of an injured heel.

Which, of course, is who Bruce Miles told us to watch for the day before Thanksgiving.

The other name I've been keeping an eye on is Carlos Pena, the free agent out of Tampa Bay. He had a line of .196/.325/.407 with 28 homers and 84 RBI. His BABIP was only .222, which suggests a correction might be in order. Pena's groundball percentage went from 29 in 2009 to 44.9 in 2010. The flyball percentage went from 54.1 to 40.6. If those continue, the BABIP might not rise as much as we might otherwise suspect.
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Wednesday Headlines: First Base Speculation Runs Rampant


(Tribune Archive Photo)


Today's fun is brought to you by first base, as in, the Cubs' search for a first baseman for next year. Everyone's got some ideas, and they all seem to conflict. The one thing it seems everyone can agree on is that there's not much chance that Adam Dunn will be wearing a Cubs uniform next year.

It's not like the Cubs are going to be big-time players in the free-agent game. I'm not seeing Adam Dunn at all on their radar. (The Nats have offered arbitration to Dunn, by the way, not that it would affect the Cubs.)
Who will it be? Please tell me!

From talking to various people, I see the Cubs more interested in Carlos Pena at this point than they would be in Adam LaRoche to play first base. There was some chatter yesterday about pitcher Javy Vazquez, but I'm also hearing he'd rather stay out east and train in Florida. In other words, I don't see any quick strikes by the Cubs as they let the market develop. Aubrey Huff, as expected, has returned to the world-champion Giants as their first baseman.
But Carrie Muskat has her own ideas.

The Cubs are in pursuit of a first baseman this offseason and one option could be Lance Berkman. He told FoxSports.com that the Cubs are one of the teams that has talked to his agent. Berkman said the A's have been the "most aggressive" but they want someone who will DH. He would like to return to the National League, which would work in the Cubs' favor. Berkman made $14.5 million last season and would have to accept less money to sign with the Cubs.

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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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Monday Headlines: Crazy Uncle Phil Does it Again


(Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune)


Crazy Uncle Phil had one of those ideas that's so crazy it just might work. He proposed a Jim Hendry for Kenny Williams trade.

For starters, White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf (the man who was willing to allow the Marlins to talk to Guillen if they would give up the aforementioned outfielder-first baseman Morrison) should swap general manager Ken Williams to the Cubs for Jim Hendry.
This GM-for-GM switch would position both men in positions where they could have the most positive impact.

Consider that, as the White Sox's GM the steady Hendry immediately would end the organizational dysfunction that has arisen from the Williams-Guillen feud, which has arisen out of the unusual level of nepotism allowed under Reinsdorf.

The wackiness doesn't stop there, as an 11-player megadeal accompanies the GM-for-GM swap.

With the GM deal complete, the second step to a new and improved offseason for both Chicago teams is one mind-blowing mother of a trade -- specifically, the Cubs sending Carlos Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome, Jeff Samdardzija, Geovany Soto, Randy Wells and Chris Archer to the White Sox for Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Mark Teahen, Scott Linebrink and Tyler Flowers.

This 11-player swap not only would awaken the senses on both sides of town but also accomplish myriad purposes for Chicago's teams. The cash is essentially a wash, with an estimated $35 million going from the Cubs to the White Sox and $32 million going the other way. No-trade clauses could be an issue, but let's be honest -- what member of the Cubs would be desperate to stay on the North Side, and vice versa?

I don't even know what to say about this idea. I really don't.

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Friday Cubs Headlines: So Not A "Great" Week For The Cubs

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Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

Before we get into Cubs baseball this morning, LOHO wants to throw out some big ups to the Chicago Bears for being the first team in NFL history to win 700 games. The Monsters of the Midway seem to be getting their act sorted at exactly the right time. Bear down!

Unfortunately for the Cubs, who are already mired in the midst of a PR disaster over the renovation of Wrigley Field, more details continue to emerge about the way the Cubs handled the non-hiring of Hall-Of-Famer Ryne Sandberg:

Sandberg said he heard nothing from the Cubs for four days after Quade was hired, not even as much as an offer to return as manager of their Triple-A Iowa team.

"In those four days, I was going in a different direction and figuring out what I was going to do to continue what I was committed to do," Sandberg said.

Sandberg went on to say that the most anyone in the front office saw him manager was 4-5 games, lending creedence to some beat writers' claims that Sandberg was never in the running for the manager position in the first place. I wasn't someone who was convinced that Sandberg was the right manager for this team, but I will never understand theCubs'  decision to put on an elaborate show of interviewing all these managers if Quade had the job from the beginning. Stop wasting money flying all over to interview people and wine and dine them and spend on some better players.

GAWD.

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Thursday Headlines: When Is An Earmark Not an Earmark?





Did I hear you right? You want more debate about the proposed Wrigley issue? Well, we've got it for you, in spades. Jon Greenberg over at ESPNChicago.com has done a bang-up job of looking at the entire issue from all sides. It's a long article, but well worth the read. We'll look at a few bits here, starting with who's issuing in the bonds and how they'll be repaid.

As the proposal stands now, the bonds likely would be issued by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns U.S. Cellular Field, but no one's sure who would be the guarantor on the loans if they aren't repaid as expected.

"Ultimately we have to work with the state to come to some kind of conclusion that works with that," Ricketts said. "The fact is the increase of amusement tax revenues should support the bonds pretty well. To go to the markets we might need a state agency to issue them for us.

"The dollars that go to support these bonds are paid for by Cubs ticket buyers," he said later. "The state needs to issue these bonds because we can't issue them on our own behalf."

You may have heard a thing or two about old Papa Ricketts and his work to eliminate earmarks from Congressional spending bills (Check out Aisle 424's post on this). Not only is he an anti-earmarker, but he's also member of a group that doesn't want public funds paying for stadiums (stadia, if you're into Latin).

Illinois political blog TheCapitolFaxBlog.com reported this the other day, and also noted that Joe is on the board of conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, which decried funding stadiums through tax subsidies in its magazine in 2008.

But Tom doesn't see a problem in the field of earmarks vs. Wrigley Field debate.

"An earmark is something that's appended onto a federal bill which is never debated, never discussed, just thrown in," Tom said. "The fact is, what it does is it jeopardizes the integrity of the federal budgeting process. You can tell by the people in the room today this isn't a private process we're going through. We're trying to be as open as possible. This is a decision that will be made by elected officials and the people in this room."

There is much more in that article, and it's pretty dense, but well worth your time. Go check it out.
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Wednesday Headlines: Ricketts Hits the Campaign Trail

This is what Wrigley will look like next year
(Handout Photo, Chicago Tribune, November 16,  2010)


Tom Ricketts got resistance from some important people regarding his siphoning of Cubs tax revenue to fund Wrigley renovations. So he took to the airwaves to push his plan, with some unlikely allies of big business.

Flanked by representatives of unions and civic groups, Ricketts tried to dispel any suggestion that his proposal would cost the public unless they come through the turnstiles any money at all.

This is not a new tax, not an increased tax and a tax only paid by people who come to Cubs games and buy Cubs tickets," he said. "Taxpayers are being asked for nothing."

Except for expected revenue to be taken from the state budget. So why trot out union representatives?

The overall $400 million renovation plan for the 96-year-old stadium would include a major overhaul of aging clubhouses, among other things. Ricketts contends the work would create 1,000 construction jobs and those would give way to hundreds of permanent jobs, generating more than $450 million in tax revenue for Chicago, Cook County and the state over the next 35 years.


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Monday Headlines: Hendry Signals Boring Winter Ahead

A terrapin sits on a rock in the depleted Hasbani River near Mount Haramoun in southern Lebanon in this October 31, 2010 file photo. Rising temperatures have caused the river to dry up, exposing rocks and endangering wildlife who depended on the river for their survival. Reduced snowfall will hurt groundwater recharge and rivers. Snow melting earlier in spring means less water will be available in summer when farmers need it for irrigation, Lebanon's Environment Ministry said. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi/Files (LEBANON - Tags: AGRICULTURE ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)

There's probably not a single one of us who didn't expect it, but Jim Hendry assured us in a Sun-Times article not to expect anything interesting to happen this winter. 
''I'm not worried about the 'splash' factor,'' said Hendry, who might be looking at a 10 percent drop from the $146 million Opening Day payroll of 2010 once chairman Tom Ricketts gets specific with the budget in the next few weeks. ''I'm worried about getting the right guys that make us better. We've already put the fifth-place thing behind us, and we'd like to think we're going to build off the last two months [24-13 finish]. ... It's really imperative that we have two or three really good moves.''

Gordo reminds us that this might not be a bad idea, as Hendry's splash factor signings include Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley. Gordo then goes on to give us an idea of what he thinks Hendry might do. First up, starting pitching.

Look for the Cubs to explore modestly priced veteran free agents with track records for durability and consistent innings -- more in the Kevin Millwood/Javier Vazquez/Jake Westbrook mold. 

It doesn't make any sense to me that the Cubs should be searching for a fifth starter when they have so many internal, cheaper options. Can you explain to me how Javier Vazquez would be any better than Casey Coleman on a team that's not going to win anything anyway? Next, he examines first base. He assumes the big splash would be signing Adam Dunn or trading for Adrian Gonzalez.

More likely, the Cubs will look into a fairly deep free-agent pool of second-tier, lefty-hitting first basemen that includes Nick Johnson, Adam LaRoche and Lyle Overbay.

Does it worry anyone else that this is the second time Nick Johnson has been named as a possibility for first base? The final spot Gordo examines is a right-handed reliever. Of course, the splash we all want Hendry to make is Kerry Wood. Gordo says no.

More likely, the Cubs will go after somebody such as Tampa Bay Rays free agent Grant Balfour or Toronto Blue Jays free agent Jason Frasor to supplement a bullpen that returns back-end forces Carlos Marmol and Andrew Cashner, along with plenty of left-handed options.

Once again, why not fill in with one of the young guys rather than pay a free agent (even a no-name free agent) a million or two per season?

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Chicago Cubs Weekend Headlines: All Cracked Up

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Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

 The Cubs continue with the unintentional metaphors for the 2010 season, having cracked the beloved Harry Caray statue in the prep for the Big Northwestern/Illiois game:

First came the move of his statue, and now comes the news that the Cubs accidentally damaged it while making over the ballpark for the Nov. 20 Northwestern-Illinois football game.

As Caray would say: "Boy, oh, boy."

Less than three months after moving the Caray statue from the corner of Addison and Sheffield to outside the bleacher entrance at Sheffield and Waveland, the base was severely damaged, with a y-shaped crack that runs diagonally from the lower left corner to the upper right corner.

The Liberty Bell-like crack goes straight through the inscription, "Dedicated by the Chicago Cubs, April 12, 1999," running through the "H" in "the" and the "L" in April.

It's really a shame this didn't happen during the filming of "Undercover Boss."

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Friday Morning Headlines

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 10:  Moises Alou #18  of The Dominican Republiclooks on against The Netherlands during the 2009 World Baseball Classic Pool D match on March 10, 2009 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
So much to talk about, so little reason to get excited. As Julie discussed yesterday, Tom Ricketts wants to borrow a jillion dollars from Illinois. I admire his resourcefulness, and I agree Wrigley needs a Wrenovation, but it's kind of like asking me for $300 million. Do I look like I have that kind of money?

Personally, I'm still hoping the Cubs can purchase the buildings across the street in the outfield, because it would open up a whole world of potential revenu streams from better-constructed seating to a Jumbotron, or maybe even a miniature school for children who can't read good. Or Cliff Lee. Whatever.

In other news, Starlin Castro is headed to the Dominican Winter League where his General Manager will be none other than Moises Alou. The Cubs aren't restricting Castro whatsoever, hoping he will break the record for games played in a 365-day period. His next will be number 7,000 . . . give or take. Here's Starlin's rather verbose take on his goals for winter ball:

"I came to work on my defense, primarily on my throw to first base."

I think we're all in agreement with your focus, Starlin. Although I wouldn't object to some tagging drills at second.
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Thursday Headlines: Headlines as We Go!

Heinz-Christian Strache, head and top candidate of Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) yawns next to Michael Haeupl, Vienna's Social Democrats (SPOe) provincial governor and top candidate during a television interview after provincial elections in Vienna October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner (AUSTRIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
These guys look like I feel. Thanks for letting me sleep in.

We'll start today with a look at Bruce Miles' continuing series on the Cubs roster. Today's bit is on fan favorite Carlos Silva. He had quite the year, coming to a new team, having his mother in the US for the first time, and some other stuff.
From the very beginning, things were interesting. Lou appeared miffed at the beginning of spring training when Silva showed up in what Lou deemed to be not the best of shape. Silva soon rounded (bad choice of words, I know) into shape and began the season 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA through June 7. At the time, there was serious talk that Silva belonged on the NL all-star team (he didn't make it).

The ride ended with Silva finishing at 10-6 with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP, with 113 innings pitched. He had 13 quality starts. Seventeen of Silva's 21 starts came before the all-star break.

The good news for the Cubs this year is that it's the final year of Silva's contract. Maybe he'll start strong again, then Hendry can trade him before his regression to the mean. 

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Wednesday Headlines: Are You Randy?

Chicago Cubs pitcher Randy Wells delivers against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 22, 2010.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

Remember all the talk last spring from Randy Wells about there being no sophomore slump? Then remember how he pitched during 2010? April started off fine, then he went to slump town.
But after beating the D'Backs on April 30, Wells did not record another victory until July 3, even though he did post a pair of 8-plus-inning quality starts along the way.

The killer was the first inning: On May 6, he gave up 5 runs in the first at Pittsburgh; On May 28, he never retired a batter, and the Cardinals scored 5 runs on 6 hits in the top of the first at Wrigley. On June 6, the Astros scored 3 in the first at Houston. By that time, Randy no longer would address the subject of his first-inning blues.

After putting up that nice record in April, he was 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in May and 0-3 with a 6.14 ERA in June. The ERA was 1.83 in July, and by then, Randy was talking about the sophomore jinx or whatever you want to call it.

So, Bruce Miles, what do you see from Randy Wells in the future?

At his best, Wells looks like a nice No. 4 or No. 5 starter, a guy who doesn't have the greatest of stuff but who can throw some innings. After pitching 165 big-league innings (plus 26 at Iowa) in 2009, Wells almost cracked the 200 mark this year, pitching 194.1. He turned in 18 of the Cubs' 96 quality starts.

Any Bill James projections?

Fangraphs now is running the Bill James projections for 2011. James projects Wells at 11-12 with a 4.12 ERA in 201 innings pitched.

I can live with that.
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Monday Headlines: Rick Morrissey Lets Us Have It

Jul 9, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Photo via Newscom


He was a few days late to the party (maybe it took him that long to write the column), but Rick Morrissey finally weighed in on the Ryne Sandberg situation. 
Cubs fans cling to the past as though it's going to bolt at the first opportunity. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

I'd like to offer some advice:

Let go.

The energy that people continue to expend on Ryne Sandberg would be better used questioning how ownership is going to turn around a fifth-place team. You're furious that Sandberg isn't the Cubs' manager when you should be furious that Alfonso Soriano is the Cubs' left fielder.

Actually, that's not insane. Has he been taking his meds again, or did he just have a single moment of clarity? I'm voting for a single moment of clarity, because this is just a couple paragraphs down the road:

While the owners are busy looking ahead, they should introduce a JumboTron to Wrigley Field. That probably upsets the nostalgia junkies, who prefer 1950, bathroom troughs and butter churns.

So anyone who doesn't want a JumboTron is an Amish Luddite? Maybe he's right, with this convincing argument on his side:

Change is good, which brings us to Wrigley. The Cubs are asking fans whether they would be open to the idea of a JumboTron in or just outside Wrigley. The reaction on message boards has been mixed. But we've all become so used to watching replays in our living rooms that the absence of them in the ballpark is noticeable.

So the JumboTron would be good not as another source of revenue, but because we all want to see replays at the ballpark? Not buying that one. Maybe it's because I don't watch all that many games on tv, but I don't miss a JumboTron when I'm at the game. Sorry, Rick.


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Cubs Weekend Headlines: It's That Time of Year. . .

wrigley-NU.jpg

Photo courtesy of Lake The Posts

No, not that time of year when Wrigley Field gets turned into something else. The time of year when there's not enough to Cubs news to fill an entire  weekend. Until further notice, LOHO is moving to weekend posts ratther than individual posts for Saturday and Sunday.

So okay. . .  let's see . . . Cubs news. . . Cubs news. .  Cubs news. . .

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Friday Cubs Headlines: Sparky, Ricketts, and Chavez

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 First up this Friday, LOHO tips its collective cap to everyone's favorite big league manager, Sparky Anderson, who went on to the big All-Star Game in the sky yesterday:

Reds fans were taken aback when Sparky Anderson showed up for his first day as a big league manager, an unknown taking over baseball's first professional team. Most had never heard of him.

By the time he was done, he was an icon. The sentence-twisting manager with the white hair and schoolboy nickname would win three World Series titles-- including championships in both leagues--and make it to the Hall of Fame.

Anderson directed the Big Red Machine to back-to-back championships and won another in Detroit during a managing career that spanned three decades. He died Thursday from complications of dementia in Thousand Oaks, Calif., at age 76.

RIP, Sparky. Give our regards to Harry and Jack.

I know a lot of you have been waiting with baited breath for Todd Ricketts' appearance on "Undercover Boss." Well wait no longer! Todd's episode will air this Sunday

Shedding his standing as a member of the family that acquired control of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field a year ago from Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co., Todd Ricketts grew a beard, donned fake glasses and, for a late-season nine-game homestand, took on the identity of a job-seeking roofer with a name cobbled from those of former Cubs stars Mark Grace and Andre Dawson.

The idea was to go as Mark Dawson where few pro sports owners have gone, and even fewer would enjoy. And, as viewers of the CBS reality series "Undercover Boss" will see Sunday, it turns out he wasn't quite major-league material.

Ricketts got fired from his maintenance job, merely struggling in a variety of other roles with the team while showcasing and amplifying the voices of the people who actually do the vital work many baseball fans may never consider.

 

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Real Thursday Headlines: Happy Trails, Ryne Sandberg

NEW YORK - JULY 14:  Ryne Sandberg, formerly of the Chicago Cubs, attends Vitaminwater's 'Homers on the Hudson' contest at Chelsea Piers Lighthouse July 14, 2008 in New York City.  (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
So long for now

Jim Hendry announced yesterday that Ryne Sandberg had broken up with the Cubs. Hendry wanted Ryno back, but only as manager of Iowa. 
"I don't think that was ever in his plans, to be in the minor leagues after this year," Hendry said. "Whatever other opportunities he looks into, he always will be welcome here. He knows that. If he chooses that he wants to come to spring training, that would be great. If he wants to pursue other opportunities with somebody else, that would be up to him.

The decision was totally his. I never got the sense that if he wasn't the (Cubs') manager he was going to go back there. We left it entirely up to him. ... That's the decision he made. He always will be a beloved Cub, and hopefully we'll hook up in the path that he feels is appropriate in the near future."
The same day that the Cubs bid farewell to a legend, they brought another legend back into the organization.

During a conference call from Mesa, Ariz., where the Cubs are holding their organization meetings, general manager Jim Hendry and field boss Mike Quade praised new bench coach Pat Listach and new staff assistant Dave Keller.

(snip)

Listach, 43, returns to the Cubs after two years as the third-base coach for the Washington Nationals. He previously worked as a manager and hitting coach in the Cubs system.

Keller, 51, has been the Cubs' minor-league hitting coordinator for the past seven years. In his new role, he will be in uniform before games to help during batting practice and other drills.


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Thursday Headlines: Mesa Chooses the Cubs

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 30: Florida Democratic Senatorial candidate Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) casts a shadow on an American flag as he speaks during a campaign rally at the Tampa Letter Carriers Hall on September 30, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. Meek is facing off against Republican candidate Marco Rubio and Independent candidate Florida Governor Charlie Crist. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


I know that all of us cared deeply about the Cubs staying in Mesa for spring training. The voters of Mesa felt the same way, and approved the funding initiative that will help pay for a new Cubs spring training complex.
Voters in Mesa have approved funding for construction of a new spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs.

With nearly all the ballots counted Tuesday night, the proposal was leading by 21,000 votes out of 86,000 cast.

The city will provide up to $99 million to construct the complex two miles southwest of the Cubs' current facility at Hohokam Park. Any additional funds and upkeep of the new park will be financed by the Cubs, who plan to develop a shopping and entertainment area near the ballpark.

Just as the funding for a new facility falls into place, the organization turns their focus towards spring training. Two topics of conversation will be pitchers Chris Carpenter and Andrew Cashner.

One of the players the Cubs will discuss at the org meetings is pitcher Chris Carpenter, who, according to reports, has tickled 100 mph on the radar gun as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League. Carpenter spent most of this year at Class AA Tennessee as a starter, getting a brief call-up to Class AAA Iowa. He could be on an Andrew Cashner type of early career path. Speaking of Cashner, the Cubs figure to debate his future aplenty at the org meetings as to whether he should remain in the pen or go to camp as a starting pitcher. As I pointed out in the notes, that could determine whether the Cubs take a look at a free-agent pitcher such as Kerry Wood for the pen.


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Tuesday Cubs Headlines: Next Year Is Here

 

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone. -- Bart Giamatti

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Monday Headlines: Wackiness Ensues



Josh Vitters wants to be the next Starlin Castro. I'm not sure why, but I keep expecting the next Kevin Orie or Gary Scott.

"I want to be there next year," said Vitters, who is currently getting more at-bats by playing for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. "This is my new goal. I want to make it there at some point next year. Whether it be the halfway point or in September, I want to be there next year."

While Vitters isn't exactly tearing up the AFL, he sees hope in the crappiness of the Cubs' current roster.

Vitters said he is close to regaining full strength in his hand after initially feeling some stiffness. Through 12 games, he was 12-for-50 with a home run and eight RBIs.. He plans to remain in Arizona after the AFL season to continue working out with Cubs strength coach Tim Buss.

"The future of the Cubs is definitely the young guys in the minor leagues, along with guys like (Starlin) Castro and (Darwin) Barney," Vitters said. "It's very exciting to know we have a bright future with the team."



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Friday Headlines: World Series, Dempster, Prospects

Texas Rangers C. J. Wilson throws to the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the fifth inning in game two of the World Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco on October 28, 2010. The Giants obliterated the Rangers 9-0.  UPI/Terry Schmitt Photo via Newscom



Game One's starters were a disappointment. Matt Cain wasn't.

Cain is 3-0 and his ERA is, let's see ... zero. He did allow a run against the Braves, but it was unearned, so that's 21 1/3 innings this October with a 0.00 ledger. You'd say "and counting," except the way the Rangers have performed over the first two games here, you wonder if the World Series just might end in Texas.

Nearly as impressive as his pitching is his modesty.

"Buster (Posey) has done a great job of really pushing me to throw different pitches on different counts, so I owe a ton of credit to him," he said. "I feel like I've improved, but a lot of that has to do with the guys around me. Guys have really stepped up this year."


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Thursday Headlines: World Series, etc.

Singer Tony Bennett performs in the seventh inning during Game 1 of Major League Baseball's World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers in San Francisco, October 27, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)



Entering last night's game, everyone was wondering just how many hitless innings the starting pitchers would go. Would it be 5, 10, 20? Two of baseball's best starters dueling in a pitchers park yielded an 11-7 final score.

If 43,601 had not crammed into AT&T Park to witness the tale the Giants penned in Game 1, few would have believed it. They hounded and pounded Lee off the mound in a six-run fifth inning that shot them to an 11-7 win against the Rangers, the "hitting team" in this series.

In addition to the Giants winning, Tony Bennett apparently tore it up with "God Bless America".

Tony Bennett took the field for the first 7th inning stretch of the 2010 World Series on Wednesday night, delivering a rendition of "God Bless America" that had fans singing along in serious fashion while the San Francisco Giants took the Texas Rangers 11-7 at home.

In other news, I once saw Tony Bennett standing outside a hotel on Central Park West in New York. I'm sure you're all pretty impressed.

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Wednesday Headlines: Quade Cleans House

September 1958:  An employee of  the 'Housewives Help Service', an agency set up by two ex-army officers to supply male home help for busy career women, empties the rubbish in the back yard of a client's house.  (Photo by Frank Martin/BIPs/Getty Images)
Quade takes out the trash


Cleaning house, taking out the trash, bidding good riddance to bad rubbish. Mike Quade's had all he can take and he can't take any more of Alan Trammell or Mike Sinatro.

Bench coach Alan Trammell is leaving to take the same job with manager Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Special assistant Matt Sinatro, who came in as a coach with manager Lou Piniella in 2007, also will not be back.

We read yesterday that Ryne Sandberg would be considered for the bench coach position. Today you'll read that Ryne Sandberg won't be considered for the bench coach position.

Ryne Sandberg, who lost out to Quade for the manager's job, is not a candidate for the bench-coach position. General manager Jim Hendry has spoken with Sandberg, and Sandberg is welcome to return to his job as manager of the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa farm team. It's possible Sandberg could take another job somewhere in the Cubs' system.

Had Sandberg been named manager, it's unlikely Quade would have remained on the coaching staff.

The plot thickens...


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Chicago Cubs Tuesday Headlines: Chiclone 2010!

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If the headlines seem a bit disjointed this morning, it's because I've been distracted all morning by trying not to DIE. I woke up to tornado sirens going off, and have been busy ever since counting the number of cows that fly past my window.

I'm sure you understand.

Speaking of Chiclone 2010, mad ups to LOHO reader It'sJenJen, who first coined the phrase on Twitter She's famous!

First up today, a reminder that Cubs Con 2011 is coming up quickly (January 14-16), and there's really no better opporutnity to get drunk and scream at management. . .  at least during the off-season. Individual tickets go on sale November 3, but you can reserve your room at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, complete with up to  4 Cubs Con passes, now. Most importantly, you don't need a Cubs Con pass to hit up the Cubs Fan Mid-Winter Tweetup at Kitty O'Shea's! Get details and RSVP here.

So. . . uh . .  let's see. Cubs news. Cubs news. . . um. .  oh! Here's something!

Todd Ricketts apparently got himself fired from a Cubs maintenance job when he attempted to secretly work for the ball club his family owns for the CBS show "Undercover Boss."

CBS, which announced Monday that it plans to air the Ricketts episode on Nov. 7, said he fights for the chance to redeem himself after getting canned on his second day on the job.

Ricketts also fears his secret has been exposed when a friend recognizes him parking cars, the network said.

Which is probably a surprise to Cubs fans who never knew the team had anyone parking cars.

 

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Monday Cubs "Headlines": Few and Far Between

Aramiswatch.jpg

 We've gotten to that time of year when Carl and I are turning over rocks and digging behind old storage boxes in the basement for Cubs news. There's not a lot going on out there right now, what with everyone gearing up for the World Series on Wednesday, but here we go anyway.

In case any of you had plans to go all TMZ paparrazzi on Mike Quade, he wants you to know that he's a "regular guy," and he wants to stay that way:

"The celebrity end of this..." he said, before pausing and realizing he'd referred to himself as a celebrity.

"I hate that term," Quade continued. "I live three blocks from the ballpark, I walk around the neighborhood -- (seeing) dogs, kids and young families. To walk to the ballpark is good. Even before I got this job, I'd walk by Bernie's, and it'd be, 'Hey, coach, good luck today,' and that'd be when we were struggling. Every so often, I'd go by Bernie's and someone would yell 'Hey, don't get anyone thrown out today.'

"It's all good. That's all good to me. That part of being at
Wrigley Field, coaching or managing, I do like it. But too much of it? It's a job. I'm thrilled to have it, and it's high profile. I get it all. But I still want to be able to ride the train and hang around town and do the regular things I do, that I've done all my life."

The last Cubs manager to regularly take public transportation was Jim Riggleman, who started out taking the "L" to games when he took over in 1995. At first, he blended in with the rest of the "L" riders.

"I'm 5-11 and medium build," Riggleman told the Tribune in '96. "They don't know who I am, but I hear fans talk about the game. Yes, they sometimes criticize the manager."

Maybe it's his unique look, but I have a feeling Mike Quade is going to be a lot easier to spot on the El than Jim Riggleman.

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Please Stand By . . .

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Due to the fact that Carl is passed out somewhere on Bourbon Street and Julie is currently stuck in court on an emergency custody matter, LOHO is experiencing technical difficulties this morning.

If any of you intrepid souls are ambitious enough to fill this space with headlines, feel free to knock your socks off. Otherwise, you'll have to wait for your headlines until Julie is out of court.

Here, I'll give you a topic to keep you occupied: The downfall of Western civilization can be traced directly to the first season of "Survivor."

Discuss.

And a most important topic number two . .

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Wednesday Headlines: Quade Next Future Ex-Manager

Mike Quade and Tom Ricketts
Tom Ricketts wears the uglier tie so as
not to upstage Quade's finest moment
(Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune)


Unless you're Amish, you've probably heard by now that Mike Quade is the new manager of your Chicago Cubs. The only question now is, why? Did Quade blackmail Cubs management? Was Tom Ricketts afraid to have a manager that's better looking than him? Pact with the Devil? Jim Hendry says none of the above.

"The record is nice, Hendry said. "And winning never hurts you. But it's what he did behind the scenes and the way he ran the game and the way he handled the players, the way he controlled a lot of issues that could have snowballed ... I don't think that anybody here didn't write that at 5-20 before Mike took over that we were an abysmal Triple-A club playing it out and that we'd probably lose 100 games.

"The record was not just the winning and losing. All the things that he did really made the record."

One of the things he did included bringing in baked goods for the front office regularly. Tom Ricketts wanted a manager who didn't just sit on the bench and spit sunflower seeds.

"No. 1, we wanted a manager who wanted to be a coach," Ricketts said. "Anyone who has seen Mike on the field working with the younger guys and know his history knows that Mike is just that.

"Secondly, we wanted a manager who knows what it's like to be a Cub. Mike grew up in the area. He grew up as a Cubs fan. He's been with the organization for eight years.

"The third thing we were looking for was someone who is committed to the organization for the long haul. Mike has proved that he's got a focus on winning today and to building our organization for the future and over the long run."



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Tuesday Headlines: Same As Yesterday

First graders yawn as they take part in a festive ceremony to mark the start of another school year in Kiev, September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich (UKRAINE - Tags: EDUCATION SOCIETY)
These children are Cub fans



Julie posed an interesting question when we learned Eric Wedge was to be named manager of the Mariners. How much fun would he and Milton Bradley have reuniting?

Wedge made it clear to Seattle management that he had moved past the incident, however, and it appears that Bradley also wants to move on.  Stone heard from a Mariners official who revealed two texts sent by Bradley praising the club's hire: "Whatever took place was six or seven years ago and I'm over it" and "[Wedge] was a disciplinarian and I felt our team lacked discipline last year. Hopefully, he instills some of that.''

This could be a fun side story to watch in Seattle whenever next season goes south for us.


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Monday Headlines: Waiting for Scraps

circa 1955:  Domesticated boar, 'Ginger', hangs around the family dining table at meal times for scraps and treats.  (Photo by John Titchen/Three Lions/Getty Images)




I didn't expect it to happen like this already, but here we are, waiting by the table like the boar in the picture, waiting for any little scrap of information about the Cubs to be handed or dropped to us. Today's headlines will be full of little bits of information I could find anywhere about our beloved/reviled Cubs. We'll open today with a final goodbye to Ted Lilly.

7:35pm: Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times reports (via Twitter) that the two sides have agreed to terms, and the only thing left is a physical.

7:25pm: The Dodgers and Ted Lilly are close to agreeing on a three-year contract, tweetsKen Rosenthal of FoxSports.com. An announcement could come as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

Los Angeles acquired Lilly from the Cubs at the trade deadline this summer, and watched him post a 3.52 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in dozen starts (76.2 innings). He also threw his first complete game shutout since 2004 while in a Dodgers' uniform. Lilly just wrapped up the four year, $40MM contract he signed with Chicago before the 2007 season. 


I'll continue to miss Ted Lilly, but I'm glad it's not the Cubs giving out three-year deals to 35 year old pitchers. Yet.


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Sunday Headlines: Blue Jays Flirting with Ryno?

CHICAGO - JANUARY 01:  Former Chicago Cubs second baseman and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg waves to the fans during pregame festivities prior to the Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Ryno shows off his winter best to impress Toronto



The Toronto Sun is reporting that Ryne Sandberg is on a list of candidates to be interviewed for the Blue Jays' managerial opening. Will our friends to the north swoop in and make the Cubs' decision easier? Before you Ryno fans start hyperventilating, read the fine print:

Citing sources and telephone calls with candidates, the paper listed 14 candidates who already have gone through an interview process, although it is not known how formal some of those talks were. Among those names is Don Baylor, the former Cubs manager and recently freed as hitting coach by the Rockies. 

And we thought the Cubs' process was exhaustive. 14 already interviewed - but there's more.

Seven names are on the "to be interviewed" list, including Sandberg and Cora, as well as Tampa Bay bench coach Davey Martinez, the former Cub.

I hope they don't book Sandberg's and Martinez's interviews back-to-back. Could you imagine what an awkward waiting room situation that would be?


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Saturday Headlines

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi watches during Game 1 of their Major League Baseball ALCS playoff series against the Texas Ranger in Arlington, Texas, October 15, 2010. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Was this photo taken by Reuters or Tom Ricketts?




Eric Wedge is now gone to the Mariners, and all that remains to be seen is whether the Cubs pick Mike Quade or Ryne Sandberg. Or is it?

With Cubs candidate Eric Wedge getting the Seattle Mariners job, according to multiple reports Friday night, only in-house candidates Mike Quade -- the presumptive favorite -- and Class AAA manager Ryne Sandberg remain among the finalists brought in for interviews with chairman Tom Ricketts.

The Cubs continue to look for indications from the Girardi camp that the Peoria native has interest in returning to the organization that originally drafted him as a catcher.

It's a process, cautioned one source, that could push a decision past the World Series.

Girardi has conspicuously left the door open to interest in the job he sought four years ago. He remains non-committal publicly -- and privately through back channels, insiders say.


My suspicions lead me to believe that it might be until Spring Training before the Cubs have a manager hired. 


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Chicago Cubs Friday Headlines: Interactive Friday

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If you missed all the fun yesterday, a brief recap:

Around 2:00 yesterday afternoon, Will Carroll (formerly of Baseball Prospectus) tweeted that  Mike Quade was about to be named the next Cubs skipper, with our beloved Ryno by his side as bench coach.

The story kicked around for a while, eventually being picked up and reported by NBC sports via msnbc.com.

A fewbeat reporters and some self-important bloggers, no doubt reeling from the fact that this "breaking" story came from someone outside of Cubdom, begin passively-agressively tweeting veiled shots at Will, saying, in not so many words, that they don't believe him.

Mystery ensues.

Seriously.

That's it. Nothing new to report.

Alas, don't despair. In order to keep you distracted from all the gossip and innuendo flying around, LOHO is kicking off interactive Friday in style!

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MSNBC.com Reports Quade Has It . . .

Hmmm.

Will Carroll is hearing from sources that Mike Quade is going to have his interim tag removed and will be named the Cubs' next manager.

Triple-A Iowa skipper Ryne Sandberg is going to promoted to the position of Cubs bench coach, according to Carroll, and will probably serve as a kind of successor to Quade. The 53-year-old former third base coach led the Cubs to an impressive 24-13 record down the stretch. Carroll, formerly of Baseball Prospectus, says an official announcement could be made by next week.

We'll keep watching this one.

Thursday Headlines: Manager Selection Soon?

Shantanu Srivatsa (L), of West Fargo, North Dakota, and Anamika Veeramani, of North Royalton, Ohio, wait to spell in the 8th round of the Scripps 2010 National Spelling Bee in Washington on June 4, 2010. Veeramani won the Spelling Bee after correctly spelling stromuhr in the 9th round. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn Photo via Newscom
And then there were two



 
Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald seems to think the Cubs could announce their choice for manager soon. As in, today or tomorrow soon. Any reason why, Barry?

It's been apparent for about a month that Mike Quade has been the Cubs' top choice for manager, with Ryne Sandberg second.

We've also heard for weeks that the Cubs wanted to make a decision by about the middle of October, and there's a break in the baseball schedule now with no LCS games until Friday night.

MLB doesn't like these announcements distracting from postseason games, so if indeed it's that simple, the Cubs ought to just make the call and get it done immediately.

 

But Barry, it's precisely because it should be done immediately that it won't. I think Gordon Wittenmyer understands the Cubs' front office better than Barry Rozner.


But the Cubs are in no rush to conclude the process for at least two reasons.

For one, they don't have to. As the most attractive of the seven remaining teams with jobs open, the Cubs don't face any significant competitive heat for their top candidates, especially considering that two of the leading candidates are in-house (Quade and Class AAA manager Ryne Sandberg).

The other reason for the deliberate pace, of course, is New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. A source close to the process said the Cubs continue to monitor potential signals that Girardi, whose contract expires when the Yankees' season is done, might be interested in the job.


 

That sounds more like it. Let's wait till Girardi might be available, then when he isn't, piss off Quade and Sandberg for making them feel like second fiddle.

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Wednesday Headlines: Eric Wedge Strikes Again

WINTER HAVEN , FL - MARCH 3:  Eric Wedge, Manager  of the Cleveland Indians, sits in the dugout before a Spring Training game against the Houston Astros on March 3, 2005 at Chain O Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Florida. The Indians won 7-3. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

 


I can't tell you why, but Tom Ricketts interviewed Eric Wedge yesterday for the Cubs managerialopening. The only interesting thing I find about Eric Wedge is that he resembles the Zach Galafianakis character Seth:

 


As for the interview, no one is commenting on the substance:

Sources said Wedge met Monday with Ricketts in Chicago and that second interviews already have taken place with Quade and Sandberg. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has interviewed former big-league manager Bob Melvin, and Melvin also may get a sit-down with Ricketts.

 

Bob Melvin? Really? Can't we all just agree that Quade or Ryno should get the job?

Of Wedge, Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted: "A friend of Eric Wedge says this about his meeting with Cubs' owners: 'He is a very convincing guy, so this can only help his chances.'
 
"Very convincing" sounds a bit too much like "an offer you can't refuse" for my taste. Is Wedge blackmailing or threatening Ricketts?
 
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Tuesday Cubs Headlines: Big Doings In the Cubs Manager Search!

Jim Hendry

BREAKING NEWS* BREAKING NEWS: Pat Listach is out! I repeat, Pat Listach is out! BREAKING NEWS* BREAKING NEWS

Breaking details:

MLB.com reports: Pat Listach, the Nationals' third-base coach and a former manager in the Cubs' minor-league system, no longer is a candidate for the Cubs' managerial job, according to a baseball source with knowledge of the situation.

Although no reason was given as to why Listach is out of the running, Listach reportedly is on a long list of candidates being considered to replace Cito Gaston as Toronto's manager
.

If my calculations are correct, this leaves only Ryne Sandberg, Joe Girardi, Mike Quade, Eric Wedge,  Bob Melvin, Patrick Kane,  Anderson Cooper, Cher, Elizabeth Hasselback, Larry Potash, my next-door neighbor, Carl, and Snooki in competition for the open managerial position. 

More on this breaking story as it. . . breaks.

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Monday Headlines: NL Central Loses Again

Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker walks off the field after talking with the umpires following a home run by Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley during the fifth inning in Game 3 of the MLB National League Division Series baseball playoffs in Cincinnati, Ohio October 10, 2010. REUTERS/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)



The Reds, in not-so-stunning fashion, got swept by the Phillies last night, marking the fourth straight year the NL Central champ has been swept in the divisional round.

The Phillies won three games in five days and had just four extra-base hits in three games. The Reds made seven errors. Cincinnati had just 11 hits, tying a new low in a division series.


Good work, NL Central.

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Sunday Headlines: Better Luck Next Year

Minnesota Twins batter Jim Thome (R) walks back to the dugout after striking out to end the second inning as New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada leaves the field in Game 3 of their MLB American League Divison Series baseball playoffs in New York October 9, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)




The Twins were swept out of the playoffs again. 

The Yankees turned the Twins into a postseason puddle again, getting a brilliant performance from righthander Phil Hughes in their 6-1 Game 3 victory to complete another Division Series sweep.

On Sept. 21, the Twins became the first major league team to clinch a postseason berth. They were also the first team to get bounced from the playoffs.


Next year, I think the Twins should be disqualified from any of LOHO's rooting interest lists.

15 Reasons We're Cheering For The Twins!

New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez hits a solo homer in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York City on September 25, 2010. The Red Sox defeated the Yankees 7-3.  UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

(I did an interview with the NYT yesterday, and now I may or may not be in a feud with Billie Jean King. More details as they develop.)

To: LOHO

From: Julie

Date: Friday

Re: Postseason

 

I am aware that we haven't witnessed a playoff win since2003.


I am aware that this is the second year in a row we've cheered for the Twins, who have yet to win a postseason game under our patronage.

I am aware that many of you are attributing the Twins' unfortunate performance thus far to what is now being termed "The LOHO Curse."

I am aware that some of you attribue this curse to me and the fact that i've been accused of being a witch.

But hey kids, it's not over yet! Thw Twins were above .500 on the road this season, and there's no reason they can't walk into Yankees stadium and take at least one game to ssend this thing back to the Cities.

As a special treat, and to keep everyone fired up for this series, let's take a look at some reasons we all love Minnesota!

Gallery sneak peek (15 images):

View the gallery...
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Thursday Headlines: Yankees Ruin Everything Again


Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire (R) comes to the mound to pull starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) as first baseman Michael Cuddyer (L) and catcher Joe Mauer look on during the sixth inning of Game 1 of their MLB American League Divison Series baseball playoff against the New York Yankees in Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 6, 2010. REUTERS/Andy King (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)



Things were looking good for the Twins last night through the fifth inning. Too bad there wasn't any rain, as everything fell apart in the sixth.

Liriano allowed four runs, giving New York its first lead, and right after the Twins tied the score against Sabathia, the Yankees struck again.

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer off Jesse Crain in the seventh, and the Yankees' bullpen held on for a 6-4 victory in Game 1 of the best-of-five American League Division Series.


The Twins are back at it tonight, hopefully with a better result, as neither Twins fans nor us can take another loss. Lest you think it our fault the Twins haven't won a game since the beginning of our fair-weather fandom, it goes back farther than that.

It was the Twins' 10th consecutive postseason loss, and their ninth in a row at home.

"I think our guys are fine," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Disappointed right now. Had a ballgame and it got away from us."

(snip)

Last year, the Twins led all three games in the Division Series -- twice in the sixth inning or later -- and still got swept.




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Cubs Monday Headlines: 2010 is Mercifully Put Down

Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade (R) argues a call in the ninth inning with home plate umpire Greg Gibson during their MLB National League baseball against the San Diego Padres game in San Diego, California September 27, 2010.  REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Even this guy knows I should be manager


The Cubs couldn't manage a win on Sunday, relegating them to fifth place status in the NL Central. Now our attention turns fully to the search for a manager. Mike Quade, how do you feel about your chances to get the job?

"Good, good," he said. "I think I said yesterday maybe the most important thing for me was I feel good because in spite of believing you could do this and in spite of training to do this and everything else, guess what? Now I've got to do it. I've been comfortable doing it. It's exactly what I thought it would be."

Mike Quade still has to be interviewed (!?) as do at least 39 more managerial rejects.

However, Hendry did say he's ready to begin the second phase of the managerial search. This weekend in Houston, Hendry interviewed former Mariners and Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin. Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, the manager of the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa farm club, has interviewed, as has former Cleveland manager Eric Wedge.

Other names speculated on are Washington coach Pat Listach and former Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu.



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Sunday Headlines & Game Thread: Farewell 2010 Cubs





Last night in Houston Carlos Zambrano continued his magical winning ways in an 8-3 Cubs victory. Bobby Scales committed an error and a misplay, trying to send Big Z into a tailspin, but it didn't work.

When manager Mike Quade came out to get Zambrano, it was a tense handoff of baseball from pitcher to manager.

"I didn't see that," said Quade, who is 24-12 as Cubs manager and who has lifted the team into a fourth-place tie with Houston. "I would like him not to (react poorly), but all I saw was a guy that was irritated, and when he handed me the ball, he was mad, and I'm OK with that. I didn't see anything that happened after that.

"I wish after the mistake he would have been able to get some people out. He didn't, so the bullpen picked us up. You know when you're going to go get the ball from him in a situation like that, he's not going to be happy to come out, and he's not going to be happy about what's taken place."

Let's hear from Big Z on his last start of the year:

"I was a little upset because I knew that if I threw to two more hitters and got two more outs, I wound end up with 130 innings," he said. "I was a little tired already. He took me out of the game. The most important thing was we won the game, and that's what counts.

"I came back strong off of the suspension and did what I had to do to come back and be ready and finish the season strong the way I did. It was pretty nice."

And Big Z had some final words, these aimed at Jim Hendry. No word on whether or not Julie and Carlos are in cahoots on this.


"I think we need another good hitter to protect (Ramirez) and Marlon," he said. "I think you know which one I'm talking about. I want (Dunn) here. I want that guy. He wants to play for us, not only this year, but two years ago, he told me he wants to play at Wrigley Field. When you see a guy who wants to play for an organization and he wants to give everything he's got for that organization, that says a lot."




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Cubs Saturday Game Thread: And Then There Were Two

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 Two more games to go, kids.\

Two more games until we're relegated to watching other people's teams play in the postseason, staring out the window, and counting the days until Spring.

What's more, Big Z will make his final start of the season tonight. I know the new Z is all about talking about his feelings and writing in his anger management journal and all that, but I still maintain that., when Z is pitching, there's always a chance something fun could happen.

If you still need a reason to watch, I'll mention that out baby Cubs, led by the likes of Brad Snyder, Starlin Castro, and Dawin Barney, are playing some pretty darn good baseball thses days.

Speaking of good baseball, let's have a Mike Quade update:

HOUSTON -- Mike Quade has three games left in the 2010 season before the waiting game begins.

The Cubs will pick their next manager before the organizational meetings begin the first week of November, and Quade has moved from longshot to probable favorite in a matter of weeks.

General manager Jim Hendry won't talk about the interview process, and Quade said he doesn't know when his interview with Hendry will take place.

"No I don't, and I really am in a day-to-day mode," he said. "I'll manage here these three days and finish up. I'm in no hurry to leave Chicago. I do want to catch a fish, but I'll be there for several days. I've talked so much about the process, that process will take care of itself, too. I'm flexible as can be.

"When that conversation happens, if anyone needs me, I'm always available, whether I'm in Florida or whether I'm in Chicago. To be honest, I haven't concerned myself with that."

Uh. A couple of things:

He's been coach for something like 35 games. I thought that WAS the interview?

Secondly. .  when exactly is Hendry planning on interviewing all these guys? Oh right, after all the other teams have hired them and there's no one left. How silly of me.

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Cubs Thursday Headlines


Chicago Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukudome (R) steals third base on San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley in the first inning of their MLB National League baseball game in San Diego, California September 29, 2010.  REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)



The Cubs may have lost last night, but the team has been lining up in support of the Mike Quade for manager campaign. The unofficial spokesman in Ryan Dempster.

''He's done a great job, and I hope he's here longer than just this year and managing for us next year,'' Dempster said. ''I hope he's managing for us next year because he deserves it. He's done everything they've asked, and everyone in here really likes him.''
Other players, in fear of recrimination from Dempster, are following his lead.

Veteran center fielder Marlon Byrd echoed Dempster's comments a few moments later, and several others, including catcher Geovany Soto -- and Hendry -- have raved in recent days about how Quade has handled the club in the five weeks since taking over for Lou Piniella.



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LOHO Votes- Day 1 of Democracy In Action: The Texas Rangers

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In an on-going effort to make baseball palatable for LOHOers as long as possible, we will, once again, be choosing a post-season team.

Unlike last year, when we merely let the almighty dollar sway us in the direction of the Minnesota Twins, this year we let democracy run its course.

Beginning today, we wll have a presentation from a "foreign" blogger each day, expounding on why (or why not) we should root for their team in the post-season. The day before the post-season starts, we'll vote on which team has earned our undying, though time-constricted, devotion.

In short, I thought it would work wonders on our self-esteem as fans to feel like decent teams are fighting over us.

Dig?

Our first presentation this season comes from baseblall blogger and Rangers chick extraordinaire Micah Chaplin of the fabulous Baseball Is My BF.

Wow us, Micah.

I was raised in central Iowa a fan of the Iowa State Cyclones and Chicago Cubs. I later chose to cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Texas Rangers, but those early sports allegiances made me the patient, loyal fan I am today. My parents are still Cubs fans, although they've sort of adopted the Texas Rangers as their American League team.

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Cubs Tuesday Headlines: Yes, the Cubs played last night


Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano (38) points to a pop-up off the bat of San Diego Padres third baseman Oscar Salazar in the seventh inning during their MLB National League baseball game in San Diego, California September 27, 2010.  REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)


The Cubs did indeed play last night, and they even won. The story last night was pitching, and Carlos Zambrano continued his inhuman run to the end of the year.

Zambrano improved to 10-6 and is now 7-0 with a 1.07 ERA since Aug. 14, the second-best ERA in baseball over that span, trailing only behind the Mariners Felix Hernandez (1.06).

The game was scoreless into the seventh when Alfonso Soriano doubled with one out off Padres starter Tom Stauffer. Blake DeWitt followed with an RBI single to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

Manager Mike Quade record is now 20-11, the second-best record in baseball since he took over the team on Aug. 23, behind the Phillies' 24-10 mark.

What inspired Big Z to pitch so well last night? It could've been his mother, who got to see him pitch for the first time.

"I knew she was there and she inspired me," Zambrano said. "I've been pitching here for nine years without my mom and today was special. It was good to see her in the stands and good to get the win."
Did he hear her at all during the game?

"She's totally the opposite of my dad," Zambrano said. "My dad can be in the stands and you'll know it. My mom is quiet and she's more calm. If I had a son, I'd be in the stands clapping and doing all kinds of things for him."


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Cubs Monday Headlines:


Tribune Photo by Jose Osorio


The Ricketts family showed up at Wrigley yesterday to thank everyone for spending so much money on such a horrible product. Tom wants you to know that he knows they're horrible too. You don't have to tell him.

"Obviously, we're very disappointed in the record," said Ricketts, whose club fell to 70-85 with an 8-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wrigley finale for this season.

"The players are disappointed. The fans are disappointed. Obviously, the family is disappointed. There's that, first and foremost."


Quite a bit of disappointment floating around these parts, eh? But disappointment isn't going to sell seats for next year, so Tom has another message for you.

"But behind that I think there's some really encouraging things going on. Obviously, we're playing up to our potential now, or at least closer to our potential, and that's been very encouraging.

"I think that from the baseball standpoint, how the organization has been doing this year is very encouraging. So I think that while this season wasn't our best on the field, I think we're really building a great foundation for the future."


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Cubs Live Game Thread: Farewell, Old Friend

empty_wrigley.jpg

Until next year.

When you think about it, it's pretty fitting that Jeff Samardzija is closing out the home season at Wrigley.  After all, some of us started the season with such high hopes. And what have we been reduced to? Considering Jeff Samardzija for the starting rotation.

It's such a perfect way to sum up the entire season. And what we've all been reduced to.

What's more, for those of you who were on board the "Bob Brenly For Manager" express (I'm looking at you, Alex Quigley), your bus has been impounded

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Saturday Headlines & Game Thread: Cards @ Cubs, 12:05 CDT

A man instpecting the remains of the Snowdonian Mountain Railway engine 'Ladas' which derailed and crashed at the bottom of a precipice on the opening day of the service, Llanberis, Wales. One person died in the incident and the railway was closed for a year. Original Publication: Illustrated London News, 18th April 1896. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Has the Quade Express derailed?


After becoming the greatest Cub manager ever, has the team quit on Mike Quade? They've now lost 3 of 4 at home after yesterday's 7-1 loss to the Cardinals.

"We're not an offensive juggernaut to begin with," said Quade, who is 18-10 as manager. "Now you run into good pitching. We're missing a few players and all the rest of it. This ain't the yellow-brick road, I'm telling you right now. This is going to be a tough task these next few days with the clubs we're playing and the pitching. San Diego's going to run stuff at us that's really good. The veterans know, and the kids are going to find out."
Quade's setting us up for a disappointing run to end a disappointing season. In the visitor's clubhouse, the Cardinals still seem to have an alcohol problem. Here's Adam Wainwright after the game:

"My team gave me a beer shower after the game," he said. "The team continues to impress me, continues to make me feel wanted, make me feel at home. There's not a better bunch of guys to share this with.

"It's fun to pitch at Wrigley, always. To beat the Cubs for your 20th win is an extra treat, no doubt."




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Chicago Cubs Friday Headlines: Wow Me, Please

Thumbnail image for ozzieface.jpg

You guys, I'm so bored.

Even the "manager race," which seems to involve everyone with who has ever touched a baseball, is boring me beyond belief.

Even the growing movement to bring Ozzie to the North Side bores me to tears.

Oh yes, you heard me correctly:

If Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams really don't want to If Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams really don't want to employ those who don't want to be there, they should grant Guillen his wish and let him skate with a year remaining on his deal. A risky move to afford Guillen a chance to stick it in the Sox's ear just eight miles north?

It pales in comparison to letting the Twins zoom in and scoop up
Jim Thome at a relatively modest wage. Barring the six times they play each other, the Cubs shouldn't enter into South Side thinking. Ever.

So would the Sox, who always have resented the attention the Cubs have garnered, let Guillen go if they knew the destination was
Wrigleyville?

"Yes," Williams told the Tribune. "For compensation, just like anyone else under contract."

Brothers no more. The strained relationship between the general manager and the skipper has reached the point of diminished returns.

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Cubs Thursday Headlines

Chicago Cubs pitcher Randy Wells delivers against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 22, 2010.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom
This is what Randy Wells might have looked like
 last night, only with less light.



Randy Wells is doing all he can in September to erase his sophomore slump. He's going to look back on this year with his children and say, "See? I didn't have a sophomore slump! Look at that ERA!" He's managed to make it look like he's had a respectable year, even though we know the truth.

On the heels of working 8 innings of 1-run ball against the Cardinals last week, Wells followed that with 72/3 innings of 6-hit ball as he improved to 8-13 with a 4.28 ERA.

It's too little, too late, but the Cubs are trying to make something out of the final two weeks of a lost season.

"We're playing some good ball right now," Wells said. "Everybody's loose. Everybody's having fun. You wish it wasn't too little, too late, but try to build for next year and see what we've got, and everybody's responded well."



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Cubs Wednesday Headlines: Ho Hum

Chicago Cubs third base coach Mike Quade looks out onto the field against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 22, 2010. The Cubs announced that Quade would be taking over as manager after Lou Piniella stepped down Sunday,   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom



Since last night's game was a real yawner, we'll start out with something different today. The Cubs are recognizing their faithful twitter minions at three separate dates during this last homestand. Were I in Chicago, I'd make an attempt to go.

The Chicago Cubs are hosting three "CubsInsider FollowFest" events to reward fans for following the team on Twitter. These events will take place Wednesday, September 22 at 6 p.m. CT at Captain Morgan Club (1060 W. Addison St.); Friday, September 24 at 12 p.m. at John Barleycorn (3524 N. Clark St.); and Tuesday, September 28 at 8 p.m. at The Stretch Bar & Grill (3485 N. Clark St.).

 

Fans in attendance will be eligible to earn prizes like hats, t-shirts and other Cubs gear while supplies last by simply showing Cubs staff they are following @CubsInsider and/or @Cubs on Twitter. Attendees will also receive the opportunity to enter a drawing for additional prizes, which will be revealed by @CubsInsider on Twitter leading up to the events. Fans who are interested in following the team on Twitter can sign up on-location. A @CubsInsider "tweep" will be present to talk social media and listen to ideas from followers. Everyone is encouraged to stay to watch the Cubs' games against the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres, respectively.

I know there's a lot of love and hate here for twitter, but it's nice for the Cubs to be showing interest in social media and their fans who use it.

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Wrigleyville Draws Ire of Really Bored, Bad Terrorist

Bomb with Lit Fuse

In a season that has seen anger management diaries, giant noodles, and players being impaled by shards of flying debris, we now have a failed bomb attempt.

Welcome to the Cubs, Ricketts family!

Sami Samir Hassoun carried what he thought was a bomb -- fashioned from a paint can and hidden inside a shopping bag -- on a street near Wrigley Field more crowded than usual Saturday night after a festive concert by the Dave Matthews Band, authorities say.

Moments before, the Lebanese immigrant had allegedly instructed his cohort to dial down the timer to detonate in 20 minutes, saying half an hour was too long.

Hassoun dropped the device in a trash can just feet from one of the neighborhood's popular bars, turned and headed back toward the vehicle when a swarm of
FBI agents and Chicago police arrested him.

But wait, lest you think that Sluggers was the only thing this guy planned on taking out:

He talked of tainting the water supply, assassinating Mayor Richard Daley and attacking the city's hot spots downtown and on the North Side, according to a federal complaint filed Monday. And to rattle the city's nerves, he'd explode or ignite car bombs over and over, authorities said.

But the best part of the whole article is here:

Hassoun's Facebook page listed him as a graduate of American University of Beirut and said his favorite shows on TV included "Seinfeld" and "Scrubs."

Awesome.

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Cubs Monday Headlines: Get Well Soon, Tylermania!


Chicago Cubs Tyler Colvin takes his home run trot after hitting a three run home run in the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on September 15, 2010. Chicago won the game 7-3. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom



By now, you should've heard about Tylermania nearly being impaled by a bat shard. If you haven't, scroll down and read Julie's thread from last night about it. And the video was still up as of 6 AM Eastern, so it may still be there. If it's not, I know that it's on ESPN Chicago's recap of yesterday's game.

The rest of yesterday's lineup looked pretty sad, so if I told you the final score of the game was 13-3, you wouldn't be surprised. You might be surprised if you found out that the Cubs were in fact the victors.

Fielding a lineup that included seven starters who spent most of the season in the minor leagues -- including three players without a big-league hit this year -- the Cubs still beat the Marlins 13-3 to extend their winning streak to a two-year high of six.

''Is that fun or what?'' said Quade, who was surprised to learn that at 17-7 he has the best 24-game start for a Cubs manager since 1932, when Charlie Grimm -- the last manager to have the Cubs in a World Series -- started 19-5 after replacing Rogers Hornsby.

There's simply no stopping Mike Quade. He will not be denied.

Sunday was Quade's last chance until the last weekend of the season to face a team out of contention, so he used it to play the young guys. It worked well enough to finish off an 8-1 road trip that was the best in Cubs history for a trip that long -- another fact that surprised Quade.

''You mean that dude in '32 didn't do that?'' he said.

Even he didn't do it, Mike. But you're a little old to be using dude.



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Cubs Sunday Headlines & Gamethread (@ Marlins, 12:10 Central), Bears Gamethread (@ Cowboys, 12:00 Central)

Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade talks with coaches in the dugout before a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on September 14, 2010. Chicago won the second of three games, 7-2. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom
Whay you talkin' 'bout, Trammell?


The Mike Quade-led Cubs just keep on winning. Last night they won their fifth in a row for the first time this year. Just when you thought this season would spiral down into a high draft pick, they've won with consistency.

Only two teams in the majors have a better record than the Cubs' 16-7 since Quade took over (Colorado at 19-6 and Minnesota at 17-7).

''I'm aware,'' he (Quade) said of the century-drought burden Ricketts mentioned. ''And the challenge of being involved with a group of guys that changes that -- my God, what a great thought that is. But that's the result, to me, not the process by which you're going to go about hoping to change that.''

And in case you needed one more reason to watch football over the Cubs, here it is.

For the next year or so, the process will include younger teams than the Cubs have had in recent years, regardless of who the new manager is. Ricketts said as much.

For an extreme preview, watch today. With contenders on the schedule for 10 games in a row after this series, Quade plans to empty his bench of young guys for the finale against the Marlins.



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Saturday Cubs Headlines/Live Game Thread

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I'll be real honest here.

 By the time the game rolled around last night, I was about a bottle and a half of wine into my evening and in no shape to be allowed anywhere near a computer. So for those of you who were disappointed by the lack of a game thread, I apologize. It will make you feel better to know that I am paying for it today.

But hey! It looks like we won!

Dempster threw seven shutout innings for the second straight start, allowing four hits in another sterling performance. He earned his 14th victory, and likely has three starts remaining to give him a chance to tie his career high of 17 in 2008.

The Cubs' starting pitching has been on fire during the first seven games of the nine-game trip, allowing three earned runs over 48 1/3 innings for a 0.56 ERA.

"The mix has been good," manager Mike Quade said. "The veterans have done a nice job, the kids, I think, have gotten better, especially the kids in the middle of the bullpen. I can't pinpoint any one thing, but we've pitched really good on this trip and there's no better place to start when you're going to win ballgames than on the mound."

There are a lot of other boring headlines today, like "Barney Showing He Can Play" (zzzz) and "Cubs Counting on Castro, Colvin, Cashner" (duh). So let's not bother with those.

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Cubs Thursday Headlines: Sweep!?


Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano pumps his fist after getting out of a bases loaded second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on September 15, 2010. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom



The Cubs managed their first sweep in St. Louis in over 22 years last night with a 7-3 victory over the Cardinals. The tandem of Big Z and Tylermania! proved too much for the Cards. Big Z was chatty after the game, reiterating his wish to retire at the end of his current contract.

"Like I said, I don't think I will be playing any more after these three years, and I will enjoy any moment, any situation, anything that I can enjoy in the big leagues," he said. "A friend of mine told me any time I'm batting I look excited, I look happy, more than when I'm pitching.

"So I want to mix it up. I want to have 50-50. When I'm pitching, I want to have the same enjoyment, the same motivation I have when I'm hitting, what I'm doing right now."


More Cubs veterans were chatty yesterday, including Ramirez and Soriano, who feel ready to be good again.


Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez say Cubs general manager Jim Hendry should feel free to spend whatever payroll room he has on pitching this winter because they're ready to reclaim major roles in a lineup they say should be good enough to contend next season as is -- even without filling the gaping hole created by the departure of No. 3 hitter Derrek Lee.

"We can do it,'' said Soriano, who reaches the midpoint of his eight-year, $136 million contract in about two weeks. ''With Marlon [Byrd], Rami and me, we can do it. And with the young talent.''

Said Ramirez: ''[Rookie Tyler] Colvin's going to be better. [Rookie Starlin] Castro's going to be better. Hopefully, the veterans, we'll all stay healthy. I'm talking about me, Sori, Marlon. If we're all healthy and we all do what we're supposed to do, and the pitching [improves], we should be OK.''



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Cubs Wednesday Headlines: Who is this Team and What Have They Done with the 2010 Cubs?


Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade (L) congratulates Tyler Colvin in the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on September 14, 2010. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom



A second consecutive night of disparaging a Cubs starting pitcher in a game thread has yielded results. Only this time, Randy Wells pitched well (8 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 ER). And the Quade Express just keeps on chugging away.

Not only are the Cubs winning with Mike Quade at the helm, but a report surfaced Tuesday that former Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez has turned down a chance to interview with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.

Quade, who has been managing the Cubs since Lou Piniella resigned last month, ran his record to 13-7 Tuesday night as the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-2 at Busch Stadium.

Randy Wells added two RBI in his first career start in his hometown.


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Tuesday Cubs Headlines: Samardzija Tries To Lose, Fails

jeff-samardzija-cubs_nc.jpg

Can't you do anything right?

Sigh.

The former Notre Dame football star pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings on Monday in a 5-1 win over St. Louis, pushing the Cardinals seven games behind the Reds in the National League Central race.

With Cincinnati's win, however, the Cubs were mathematically eliminated from the postseason, officially extending their long-running championship drought to 102 years.

I know what you all are thinking. 6 shuout innings? That sounds like a good night for ole Spellcheck!

Trust me, it wasn't all that great. His line:

5.2 IP/6 H/0 R/4 BB/1 K/7.00

See what I mean? And this is leaving out the fact that he loaded up the bases a couple of times and did his damndest to give up a grand salami which, regrettably, wound up a few feet short.

Oh, but he did bean Pujols, so that was fun.

Hee.

See, here's the thing. I know you all think I just hate Spellcheck, And heck, he seems like such a likable young man with the football and the hair and everything. But look people, this is a guy who once gave up 157 hits in a game and said he "felt strong" out there. This is the guy who showed up at college parties in a Von Dutch hat and no shirt. This is a guy who has been chased back to Iowa so many times that he exchanges holiday cards with the Greyhound bus driver.

And if he doesn't start living up to his legendary suckitude soon, he's going to wind up in our starting rotation.

Mark my words. 

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Cubs Monday Headlines: At Least Everyone's Happy About the Bears

Aug. 12, 2010 - San Francisco, California, U.S. - Chicago Cubs Pitcher CASEY COLEMAN  watches play action from the dugout against the San Francisco Giants.
Thanks for ruining the shutout streak


The Brewers' offense stunk, but the Cubs' was worse. My hope of a scoreless rest of the year was squashed on Sunday in a 2-0 defeat to Milwaukee.

After blanking the Brewers in the first two games of this series, the Cubs fell victim to Yovani Gallardo, who stymied the Cubs for 7 innings. The Milwaukee bullpen did the rest, the Brewers salvaged the finale 2-0.

The Cubs got a pretty fair pitching performance from their own starter, with manager Mike Quade finding little fault with rookie Casey Coleman.

Coleman gave up doubles to Gallardo and Ryan Braun in the fifth and wound up working 6 innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball.


Mike Quade was so proud of the little guy.

"Better than creditable," Quade said of Coleman's game. "You just run up against Gallardo, and it's just a tough day. He did fantastic. Kind of strange, a pitching dominated series with these guys. I don't know if we've seen too many of those.

"Good series today. The kids battled today. Gallardo's tough. We've got to give him his due."

Quade added, "I don't know if we've seen too many of those because I never paid attention to the games before I became manager."



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Sunday Headlines and Live Game Thread: Cubs @ Brewers, 1:10 Central

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster delivers a pitch to the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on August 15, 2010. St. Louis lost the game 9-7.  UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom
A noble spirit embiggens the smallest Canadian


It finally happened. The moment we've been waiting for all year came to pass. Ryan Dempster didn't suck like he had in his last two starts and finally got his 100th career win. He became the fourth Canadian in MLB history to get 100 wins. How does it feel to be a living legend, Ryan?

"It's a weird feeling," he said. "Just to get to the big leagues is one thing. To win 100 games, it's a special thing, it really is. It means a lot, especially coming from Canada.

"There's not a lot of people who've done it. Really, it gives me a greater appreciation for those guys out there that have won 300 games.

"I feel like I've been pitching for a long time, and I got 100 wins. It really does give you a sense of appreciation for the people who have done it year in and year out and accumulated that many wins."


Now that Dempster's 100th is out of the way, the only question that remains for the Cubs is can they continue to shut out every opponent for the last 20 games this season?



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Cubs Friday Headlines: No News is Good News


Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella stands for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before the game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 22, 2010. Piniella announced Sunday that the game would be his last game as manager.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom



Because the Cubs are awful and yesterday was an off day, no one is writing anything about them. First we'll turn to Mike Quade, who knows this won't be the only managerial job available, but it's the only one he wants right now.

''I'm not oblivious to the fact there'll be job openings,'' he said. ''There are every year. It's so funny; every year you find yourself saying, 'Well, it's going to be an interesting winter.' Now, because I've been given this opportunity, this may make my winter even a little bit more interesting.

''But like anything else I do, the focus is here and now, on this job, this organization. And the fact that [other teams] get a chance to see me manage, maybe that does open other doors. But the only door I'm interested in walking through right now is this one right here.''


If Quade doesn't end up with the Cubs, do you think he'll get opportunities elsewhere? He's only 53, but doesn't he look much older?

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Cubs Thursday Headlines: Undercover Ricketts

Apr. 12, 2010 - Chicago, United States - epa02114000 The new owner of the Chicago Cubs Tom Ricketts walks on the field before the game between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukkee Brewers in their Major League Baseball season-opening game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA 12 April 2010.
Tom sent Todd to do the dirty work


The first I heard of a possible "Undercover Boss" being filmed at Wrigley Field yesterday was on Paul Sullivan's twitter feed. So you can imagine that I was skeptical about it. But now we have confirmation from none other than Dave Kaplan.

I have learned that Todd Ricketts just completed nine days of shooting today on an episode of the popular CBS show "Undercover Boss" at Wrigley Field. Ricketts was in complete disguise including a beard and was not recognized by any Cubs employee as he performed a variety of jobs including hot dog vendor and security guard.

The family looked at this as a great way to learn the inner workings of the business from the ground floor up, despite the poor season. We hear that Ricketts really connected with his "fellow employees".

It's probably the first time since high school that Todd has spent with anyone making less than $100,000 a year. Someone from CBS said that it might be the best "Undercover Boss" ever! And now that the Rickettses know how everything works, we can expect nothing but good things to come.
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Cubs Ruin Billy's Big Night By Calling Up Jeff Samardzija

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Billy poses in front of a statue of Mike Schmidt (Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune)

Last night, the Chicago Cubs honored me by giving my favorite Cub of all-time his own statue:

Billy Williams was surrounded by family, friends and longtime former teammates as a statue of the likeness of the Cubs Hall of Farmer was unveiled during a ceremony Tuesday at the corner of Addison and Sheffield, just outside of Wrigley Field. 

Former teammates Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley and Ron Santo were in attendance as Williams' wife, Shirley, four daughters and grandchildren watched the long-awaited depiction of Sweet-Swinging Billy Williams from Whistler, Alabama. 

 

 

Awwww. Congratulations, Billy! How ya feelin' these days? Good? Ever spent any time at 1st base? How do ya feel about giving it a shot next season?

 

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Cubs Manage a Come-From-Behind Win. No, I'm Not Kidding

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Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune.

I think we've finally figured out the key to a winning season for the Cubs: no one can watch.

The less people watching a game, the better they seem to play. Take yesterday for example. Many of us didn't even know there WAS a game, and the Cubs manage a rare come-from-behind win to steal one from the Astros:

Geovany Soto's solo home run in the eighth off reliever Wilton Lopez gave the Cubs a 5-4 win, with Carlos Marmol saving the game for Andrew Cashner.

After allowing four runs in the second, Coleman wound up not allowing another run in a six-inning stint.

Coleman got off to a bad start before settling down, giving up four runs on four hits and two walks in the second inning. The Cubs answered back with three in the third, including a two-run homer by Marlon Byrd, and tied it in the fifth on Jeff Baker's RBI double. 

The Astros came in 8-4 against the Cubs, and had a respectable 47-38 record since June 1, after starting out the season 17-34.

I know it's hard to believe this team is 9 games over .500 since June 1, but apparently that's the case.

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Labor Day Headlines & Game Thread: Astros @ Cubs, 1:20 CDT


Tribune Photo by Scott Strazzante


I'm not sure what to say about yesterday's game, so I'll just turn it over to Mike Quade.

"Tough day," said manager Mike Quade. "Win a series and feel lousy. Demps had a tough day, obviously. Still, he's an out way from keeping us in the thing. One of those days, and then it got away from us and got sloppy after that. - The mistakes of youth showing up again. I've said before, it's not a straight line. There are going to be relapses. There's going to be trouble. The kids have done a good job, but you're going to have days like this."

Quade went on to finish: "There'd be days like this my mama said."



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Cubs Live Game Thread: Goodbye, Bagels. It's Been Nice

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Stupid Cuibs. You spend the whole summer losing, and then when there's finallly something in it for me, you decide to start playing baseball.

As the result of the Mets appearing to b e worse than the Cubs (at least for one series), my Throwing Like a Girl podcast partner and Metsgrrl blogger, Caryn Rose, has won herself a Due's pizza.

As for me? I get a big fat pile of nothing.

Thanks a lot, stupid winning Cubs:

Manager Mike Quade improved to 8-3 since taking over for Lou Piniella, which is the best start since the ill-fated regime of Jim Essian in 1991.

And the new, improved
Carlos Zambrano improved to 4-0 with a 1.98 earned-run average in six starts since undergoing anger management counseling.

So you know how Carlos is supposed to be writing down his feelings in a journal when he gets angry? I am willing to pay HANDSOMELY for a copy of said anger-journal.

Just sayin'.

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Chicago Cubs Saturday Headlines & Game Thread: Mets @ Cubs, 12:05 CDT

Apr. 16, 2010 - Chicago, ILLINOIS, UNITED STATES - epa02120370 Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano hits a double to left field to drive in Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd for a score against the Houston Astros in the seventh inning of their Major League Baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA 16 April 2010.



The Quade express just keeps on rollin'. With a 7-6 victory over the Mets, Mike Quade is now 7-3 as manager of the Cubs. Each win pushes the Cubs away from a higher draft pick. Yesterday's win also put Julie one win away from having to send Chicago pizza to Metsgrrl. Maybe Tom Ricketts will pay the shipping?

Have Mike Quade's magical powers infected the clubhouse, passing on great baseball skills to the entire team? Almost the entire team, anyway?

Wells ended up with a no-decision, as his record remained 6-12 while his ERA rose to 4.56. It's quite a different season from his rookie year in 2009, when he was 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA.

"That sophomore jinx or whatever they talk about where guys struggle a little bit the second year, that's not the jinx; there are reasons for that," said Quade, who is 7-3 since taking over for Lou Piniella. "He's shown some resiliency this year, fought through some tough outings.

"It's a command thing with him, and he's just got to keep on doing that (working). He's a big old guy, a big horse. He's a converted catcher. He's still learning."

Remember how adamant Randy Wells was all spring about not suffering through a sophomore slump? Yeah, me too. Quade wasn't making excuses about Blake DeWitt, though. In fact, after DeWitt's game-winning home run yesterday, we learned that Quade's had his eye on him for quite some time.

"I saw him in the minor leagues," Quade said. "You're looking at a guy that I projected out 15-ish, maybe a few more, homers. He's still learning. He swings the bat well. I still would think he'd make more consistent contact and be able to drive the ball. He's a blue-collar guy. He's a baseball player."


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Pizza and Bagels and Mets. . . Oh My!

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It's a race to the bottom between the Cubs and the Mets this weekend. If we're lucky, the Cubs will drop every game in the series, thus improving their draft pick AND bringing a little bit of sunshine to my life. 

Why, you ask?

Because, as everyone knows, my Throwing Like A Girl podcast partner, Caryn Rose of Metsgrrl, and I have a little wager going as to whose team is worse: Cubs lose the series, she has to send me real, honest-to-god New York bagels. If the Mets drop the series to the Cubs, she gets a genuine Chicago-made deep dish pizza delivered right to her doorstep.

Looking back, it's clear that we were hungry when we made this bet.

In news that is far less happy than pizza and bagels, it looks like the human target, Tom Gorzelanny, has a fracture after all:

Cubs pitcher Tom Gorzelanny will miss at least one start because of an incomplete hairline fracture and swollen left hand after being hit by a line drive during the team's 5-3 victory Wednesday over the Pirates.

A CT scan Thursday revealed the small, incomplete hairline fracture underneath the fingernail of his left little finger, which is stable. But it is his swollen palm that will keep Gorzelanny from making his next start. How long he misses will be determined after the swelling subsides.

No starter has been named to take his place next week, but Carlos Silva could be activated by then. He has been on rehab assignment (irregular heartbeat) at Class A Peoria.

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Chicago Cubs Thursday Headlines: Nyjer Morgan Upstages Ricketts


Trib Photo by Phil Velasquez


Tom Ricketts was busy looking like that and the Cubs won a series against the Pirates. Yes, the Pirates. But none of that compares to Nyjer Morgan's day yesterday. At bat against the Marlins, Morgan had a fastball thrown behind his back. He thought it would be a good idea to charge the mound. Just as he gets to Chris Volstad, Gaby Sanchez comes out of knowhere. Please click on that link to watch the video, as MLB won't let people stream video like any other site on the web.

As for the game, Tom Gorzelanny got hit by the 27th line drive of his career. This time it hit him in the right hand.


Gorzelanny was knocked out in the third when Jose Tabata lined a shot off his right hand. The left-hander, a former Pirate who is a native of nearby Evergreen Park, Ill., departed for X-rays.

"That was very scary," Tabata said. "I saw the ball and I thought it was his face. In the moment I froze. I hope he's better. I feel bad for that."

After Gorzelanny left, five Cubs relievers combined to allow four hits the rest of the way.

X-rays were negative, but inconclusive. He's scheduled to have a CT scan today.


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Chicago Cubs Are Who We Thought They Were


Chicago Tribune Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo


Monday night the Cubs came through in a big way on Andre Dawson night. Last night was Harry Carry relocation night, and the Pirates came through in a big way, beating the Cubs 14-7. Where was Jim Hendry amidst all this madness? In Albuquerque, interviewing Ryne Sandberg for the managerial opening.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was in Albuquerque on Tuesday, and it wasn't only to watch the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa team as they try to make the playoffs.

Hendry also was there to talk with Iowa manager Ryne Sandberg about the Cubs' managerial job.


You might remember that Hendry interviewed Eric Wedge in Cleveland last week. Are things so bad that Hendry's just finding random people to interview so he can get out of town, even if it means going to Cleveland and Albuquerque?


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Mike Quade: Great Manager? Or Greatest Manager?

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Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

As it if werent enough that Mike Quade led the Cubs to their first sweep in 137 years, inserted guys with the best OBPs at the top of the lineup, and got Tylermania back in the game, now he's managed to beat the unbeatable Pirates and possibly cure Big z's nephew:.

"The Cubs treated Dawson to a lopsided win, as Aramis Ramirez drove in four runs with two of their nine doubles, and Carlos Zambrano homered while evening his record at 6-6.

"Everything now is heading in the right direction," manager Mike Quade said.

Zambrano is 3-0 with a 1.84 earned-run average since being put back in the rotation following his stint on the restricted list. He was as buoyed by the fact his 11-year-old nephew in Venezuela, who is in a coma with a bacterial infection, is doing much better after a grim prognosis last week.

"My nephew is getting better every day," he said. "It was a miracle in my family. He's not out of intensive care yet, but he's much better than 4-5 days ago when he was diagnosed with a 5 percent chance of (living)."

But even though he's rivaling Annie Sullivan in the miracle department, Quade doesn't expect anyone to hand him the manager's job:

"I hope the overall picture is taken into account, but I'm not doing the evaluation," he said. "Some of that I'm sure will be in the mix. Look, there are a lot of good baseball people out there and I get a chance to do this in front of people. We're going to try and win every ballgame obviously, and I'm sure wins and losses will be a part of it. To what extent, that's for the people evaluating me to answer."

Quade took a moment to look around the ballpark during the national anthem, thinking about how fortunate he is to have finally reached this position. It has been a long road to Wrigley, but the wait was worth it.

"It's not just about being here," he said. "But it's about where I've been, and I've been damn near everywhere, so this is a pretty good place to end up right now."

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Cubs Live Game Thread: Here Comes The Hawk!

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 There are a lot of things in Andre Dawson's life that I consider to have sucked. Playing 80% of his career on astroturf and having to have both knees replaced.  Being named MLP on a last place team. Working for the Marlins.

But I'm not sure anything that has happened to him thus far in his career will suck as much as being "honored" by the Cubs in a meaningless late August game against the unbeatable Pirates. How about Opening Day? What major-leaguer doesn't want to be honored on Opening Day? Or how about August 8? At least we were playing the first-place Reds on the date that most closely corresponds to his number.

Alas, it appears Andre has, like so many others, fallen victim to the attendance drought the Cubs are suffering lately. Too bad he doesn't work in the booth, or we could honor him a couple of times a year, like we do with Santo.

But I digress.

Tonight Andre will "get" to witness the Cubs taking on the unbeatable Pirates. Even though they're behind us in the standings, the Cubs are 1-564 against them this season. Maybe tonight's our lucky night?

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Cubs Monday Headlines: Triumphant 4-2 Road Trip Finished


Apr. 16, 2010 - Chicago, ILLINOIS, UNITED STATES - epa02120332 Chicago Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukudome (L) and Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd (R) nearly collide as they both chase and miss a fly ball hit by Houston Astros right fielder Hunter Pence in the fourth inning of their Major League Baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA 16 April 2010. Byrd was charged with an error on the play.



Mike Quade can ride his chariot back to Chicago with his head held high, the owner of a 4-2 managerial record. It looked like the Cubs had a good chance at 5-1 after heroics by Kosuke Fukudome. Unfortunately, Fuky also decided to not be heroic.

Kosuke Fukudome hit a 2-run homer in the top of the eighth inning to tie Sunday's game at 5-5, but a tough throwing error by Fukudome enabled the Reds to score 1 of 2 runs in the bottom of the inning as Cincinnati won to open a 5-game lead over St. Louis in the National League Central.
I'd like to introduce our new regular feature here at LOHO: Quotes from Quade:

"Ah, man," Quade said. "Like my first-base coach (Bob Dernier) likes to say, a good fistfight. We didn't end up winning it, but God, they played like a son of a gun.

"We did leave some people on base (10). We pounded on the door all day. We've gotten some big hits on this road trip, and it's been wonderful.

"We got a few today, but we just needed a couple more. I happen to be greedy. You get locked up in the seventh or eighth inning with a club. Whatever the 4-2 was, 5-1 would have been better."

No word on whether or not Quade uses compound sentences. Not only is Quade returning to Chicago a hero, his family will be there to greet him.

"My folks are coming in (from Florida). They'll be in the middle of the week. It'll be very exciting for a lot of people."

Probably millions of people.



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Cubs Sunday Headlines & Game Thread

Chicago Cubs batter Kosuke Fukudome hits a RBI double in the fourth inning of their MLB National League baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis, Missouri, August 15, 2010. REUTERS/Sarah Conard (UNITED STATES- Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)


Kosuke had the game winning RBI last night with a two-run homer. But the bullpen helped out, too.

Never mind the auditions for next year. The temperature's also rising with each outing for some guys just to stay in the auditions with a squeeze coming on available starting slots down the stretch.

''I don't know how you approach it any other way,'' interim manager Mike Quade said after starter Randy Wells pitched well enough to snap a six-start skid, and rookies James Russell and Andrew Cashner were powerful in relief in a 3-2 victory Saturday over the first-place Cincinnati Reds.

 

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Cubs Live Game Thread: Mike Quade's Reign of Terror Is Over

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With the Mike Quade era in tatters, Cubs fans everywhere clamored for  a change in Cubs management.

Jay Bruce wound up with three home runs and Johnny Cueto improved to 12-4 with eight solid innings as the Reds put on a show for the Fireworks Night crowd of 36,219.

The Cubs fell to 3-11 against the Reds as Tom Gorzelanny fell apart in the fifth inning when he gave up a first-pitch, three-run homer to Bruce and then a solo shot to Chris Valaika. The Reds quickly had a 6-1 lead to put the game out of reach.

"I refuse to make any kind of excuses for anybody," Quade said of Gorzelanny. "He was fresh, felt good, and just made a couple of mistakes they didn't miss."

I know what you're saying: it's only one game. But what about when they lose the NEXT game under Quade? And the one after that? Next thing you know, we have a manager dogged by losses.

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Cubs Don't Lose Thursday; Continue Unbeaten Streak

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 Far be it for me to rain on anyone's Friday, but the name "Jeff Samardjiza" is starting to pop up a little too often for me to be comfortable:

Samardzija is pitching for the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa team, and he's working again as a starter after opening this season in the big club's bullpen.

Heading into Thursday night's start at Omaha, Samardzija was 10-2 with a 3.14 ERA in 32 games, 12 starts, in the minor leagues.

When he went to Iowa on April 14, he wasn't happy, and he went back as a reliever. Things have settled at long last, and if all goes well he could get a start or two for the Cubs in September.

Good Lord. Can't we just leave him at Iowa, marvel at his success, and be happy? Why do we have to call him up and ruin it?

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Cubs Thursday Headlines: Cubs Sweep by Nats in Wild Card Race

July 11, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez  at bat in action during the Major League Baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium July 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California..The Dodgers defeat the Cubs 7-0.Louis Lopez/CSM.



The Mike Quade-led Cubs continued their undefeated march to the playoffs with a series-sweep-completing win over the Nationals last night. Despite the win, was last night the first chink in the armor of the great new manager of the Cubs?
Quade did it his way Wednesday night, lifting Dempster for a pinch-hitter in a scoreless duel against Jason Marquis in the eighth inning. Dempster had thrown only 79 pitches and seemed to be upset.

"He wanted no part of coming out, and he wasn't happy about that," Quade said. "And that's OK. I don't want guys happy (to leave). ... I couldn't live with myself if we're tied in the eighth we don't try and do something to win the game. It wouldn't matter who (is pitching), but it's always more difficult when it's somebody who's giving you a heck of an outing."
But in the end, who was right?
But pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin drew a leadoff walk off and eventually scored on Starlin Castro's RBI single off Tyler Clippard.

Aramis Ramirez soon followed with a two-run homer and Alfonso Soriano added a solo shot in the ninth. Relievers Andrew Cashner and Carlos Marmol finished it off.
Ryan Dempster, I want to hear you say who was right.
"That's his decision as a manager, and I stand by that as a player," he said. "I'll do whatever the manager tells me to do. Do I want to come out of the game? No. He knows that. Everybody knows that. But there are way too many positive things that came out of today to worry about that."

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Tuesday Cubs Headlines: All Quade On The Western Front

 

 

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Photo Courtesy Chicago Tribune

Striking a blow for Uncle Fester fans everywhere, last night Cubs Manager Mike Quade extended his unbeaten streak from none games to one. And don't think he doesn't know we're all watching:

WASHINGTON -- Mike Quade isn't going to pretend he's not auditioning for the Cubs job in 2011.

"I guess," he said. "The thing to say is, 'Oh, no, no, no. But, no, it probably absolutely is. And for me, the thing you've got to be careful about is you've got to do what you've got to do. It's a generic statement, but it really is (true). I know what I've done in the past and how I've gone about it. And I've been around so many good people. You have to be yourself. You just have to approach it and do it my way and whatever happens happens.

"But in some way, shape or form, it absolutely is an audition."

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Cubs Monday Headlines: I Will Always Love Lou

 

Trib photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo

 

With Sunday came the news that Lou Piniella's retirement would be moved up, effective after yesterday's game. The only tribute the team could throw together in that amount of time was a 16-5 loss to the Braves. If you're up for a tear-jerker, dare to watch the last press conference of Lou's managerial career.

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Cubs Live Game Thread: Lou Will Manage His Last Game Today

Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez flies out to center field in the fifth inning against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 18, 2010. UPI /Mark Cowan Photo via Newscom



After the bullpen nearly ruined another good start, the Cubs managed to hold on and break their eight-game home losing streak yesterday.

Gorzelanny (7-7) tossed 7 innings of 1-run ball, equaling his longest outing of the season. His 9 strikeouts were 1 shy of his career best, which he set May 2 against Arizona. He walked a pair.

The Evergreen Park native wouldn't say it was the best stuff he's had all year.

"No, I wouldn't," he said. "I think I've had maybe a couple of better games. It was one of the games where I was pounding the zone and attacking hitters. It was the game plan I want to do every time out. Sometimes I don't. I'm not able to do it."

Fukudome continues to hit well in his "look at me, I'm tradeable" tour.

Getting a chance to play, presumably as a showcase, Fukudome is hitting .340 in August with two homers and seven RBIs, compared with a .162 average in June.

 

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Cubs Friday Headlines and Game Thread: The Return of D. Lee: Braves @ Cubs, 1:20 PM CDT

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella pulls starting pitcher Casey Coleman in their game against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 18, 2010. UPI /Mark Cowan Photo via Newscom



Another day, another loss. This play says it all.

With Justin Berg pitching, Chris Denorfia bounced the ball to third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who tossed to catcher Koyie Hill at home. Hill ran baserunner Chase Headley back to third, tagging him out.

It looked like Hill tried to call timeout, but the umpires didn't acknowledge it. As Hill walked toward the mound, Venable took off from third for home. Hill threw, but first baseman Xavier Nady, coming down the line, could not beat Venable, and the Padres had their fourth run of the inning.

Fortunately for us, Koyie Hill took the blame and won't play again this year.

"What's frustrating is that it wasn't lack of concentration. It wasn't just cluelessness. It just happened. I don't know how to explain it. I felt like I asked for timeout with the same gesture I always use for timeout. Ultimately, it's the player's responsibility. And so far as being accountable, no doubt, I'll be accountable right there."

On a bright note, Big Z wasn't great, but he only gave up one run.

"It was kind of like my earlier games in the big leagues," Zambrano said. "I walked a lot of guys but I was able to command myself when I had to. I walked the first guy (in each of the first two innings), and I was able to get a groundball or a flyball. With men on base, I was able to be more aggressive.

"Larry (pitching coach Rothschild) told me if I want, just send the leadoff hitter to first base and start pitching like that. Otherwise, I felt good the whole game."

 

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So Long, Derrek: Colin Says Farewell To His Hero

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What does it feel like to be 7 years old and have your hero traded away? Kind of like this:

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Colin in happier times.

Tonight I am very sad because my mom told me that Derrek Lee got traded from the Cubs. Derrek Lee has been my favorite player since I was born. I don't know why the Cubs traded Derrek Lee, but I think they shouldn't have done that. I feel sad and like I want to cry because Derrek Lee doesn't play for the Cubs anymore. Even my ice cream didn't make me feel better. I am going to the Cubs game on Friday and I hope that I will get to see Derrek Lee and he will give me his autograph. I have tried to get Derrek Lee's autograph every year on my birthday. I hope that this year he will give it to me because I will probably never see him again.

--Colin, Age 7

P.S. Friday is my birthday.

I think Colin has done a smashing job of summing up the feelings of 95% of Cubs fans out there. After checking my Twitter feed, I was worried that we were going to have to check some people into a rest home for their own safety yesterday. And Cubs fans aren't the only ones having a hard time saying goodbye.

If you missed it, check out his farewell presser here:

 

 
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Cubs Wednesday Headlines: Yawn


Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella listens to writer's questions during pre-game in the Cubs dugout at Coors Field in Denver on August 10, 2009. UPI/Gary C. Caskey... Photo via Newscom



You know things are getting bad when the Trib won't even send a staff photographer out to cover a Cubs' home game. So there aren't any exciting game snap shots. Though, to be honest, I'm not sure there would've been even had a Trib photographer been there. But at least Randy Wells wasn't awful last night.

"When they traded Teddy (Ted Lilly), I put that on myself to step up and show the organization I could take a bigger role and be a guy who can give them good innings and good games and give ourselves a chance to win.

"For the most part, I've been subpar. Take these last 8 or 9 starts and push forward and try to bring some positives out of a down season."

Wells's record fell to 5-11 with an ERA of 4.44 in his second full season in the big leagues. He was 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA last year.

As for the offense, the zero runs tells the story.

As far as the Cubs' offense goes, it was the same old story against former White Sox pitcher Jon Garland (12-8). The Cubs were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They hit into 3 double plays, and it looked like anxiousness hurt them several times, with first-pitch swings for outs.


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Hey Cubs Fans: What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?

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What's that? Pizza, you say?  Left-over Chinese? A Bologna sandwich?

Guess what the under-acheiving, leaving-everyone-on-base, 10,000-games-under-.500 Cubs had?

Caviar.

Now, while I will grant that caviar is about the grossest food product out there, both in theory and in actual taste, it is my understanding that caviar is something that people use to celebrate special occasions.

So um. . . what is it exactly that we're celebrating?

The Cubs have the highest average ticket price in baseball, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that the team served caviar in its pregame spread before Monday night's game against the Padres at Wrigley Field.

Manager Lou Piniella joked about the expensive delicacy to clubhouse man Tom Hellmann before the game, saying: "Hell, if we were in first place, we'd have a chef from France in here."

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Cubs Monday Headlines: Beating the Cards Makes It All Worthwhile

Chicago Cubs Xavier Nady (22) and Marlon Byrd congratulate one another after scoring on a double by Koyie Hill in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on August 15, 2010. The runs were part of a six run inning as Chicago went on to win the game, 9-7.  UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom



The Cubs came into St. Louis limping so badly they seemed in need of a Hoverround just to make it to the on-deck circle. They leave proud owners of a two-game winning streak, and they're only 17 games out of first place. Suck on that, naysayers. Of course, the bullpen had to make things interesting on Sunday.

No doubt Piniella made a few mental notes about this one. He did not use hard-throwing reliever Andrew Cashner all series. He opted for Marcos Mateo to finish the eighth, and the rookie got two quick outs.

However, Mateo gave up a homer, 2 singles and a walk before Piniella turned to James Russell, who struck out one and walked one before Marmol had to face the final four batters of the inning, as the Cardinals sent 10 men to the plate.

Lou Piniella dispensed some wisdom after the game. He's much more quotable than Alan Trammell.

"I guess it's a learning experience for these kids," Piniella said.

When asked if it was a learning experience for him, he replied: "I think I've learned enough. I don't want to get too smart in my old age. But, look, it's a good series for us. We won two ballgames."

And there's nothing like a little overoptimism from Ryan Dempster to make the rookies feel good about the team.

"We had a good road trip," he said. "We went 1-3 in San Francisco and had a chance to win every single game there. We came here and won two of three against really tough team.

"We've just got to keep on playing like this and playing some really good baseball and go out there and end the season as strong as we can."

Almost winning is just as good as winning!


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Cubs Sunday Headlines & Game Thread: Cubs @ Cards, 1:15 PM CDT

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano points skyward following the end of the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on August 14, 2010. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom
It was a hot day in St. Louis. Carlos Zambrano took the mound and gave up a first-inning run. All of Cubdom was ready for a spectacular implosion. But cool, calm collected Carlos showed up at Busch Stadium yesterday, and the Cubs won a one-run game.

Zambrano was sharp, as he used three or four different pitches and kept his walks total down to two after walking seven his last time out.

"Every time I go to the mound, I expect to win," said Zambrano, who is 4-6 with a 5.27 ERA. "Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't happen, but today I got blessed by God. Thank God everything was working today against a tough lineup."

Zambrano gave up a two-out run in the sixth, when Mateo finished the inning. After undergoing anger-management treatment, Zambrano was the picture of calm and cool on a hot day in a tense game.


It wasn't enough just to win the game though, Carlos went ahead and dispensed wisdom on not being angry.

''It has to be; it has to be,'' he said. ''We learn from things that happen in our life. Obviously, we also learn from things that happen in baseball. I've learned the lesson. Now I just have to be in control of what I can do. Whatever [teammates] can do, I understand, and I'm OK with that. They try their best and try as hard as I do, and they're human, too.''

And a bit more on what he can and can't control:

"Today I was calmer and just went out there and had fun," Zambrano said. "Just throw the ball, and whatever happens. I have the control to dominate the ball before I release it. After I release it, I don't have the control of what they do."

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Cubs Saturday Headlines & Game Thread: Cubs @ Cards, 3:10 PM CDT


Chicago Cubs third baseman Blake DeWitt fumbles the ball for an error which makes the St. Louis Cardinals batter Jon Jay safe at first base during the seventh inning of their MLB National League baseball game in St. Louis, Missouri, August 13, 2010.  REUTERS/Sarah Conard (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)




The rookies keep playing, and for most of them, my only thought is, "Don't we have any better rookies?" Thomas Diamond  once again showed why he didn't make the team when the roster had decent pitchers.

On the mound was Thomas Diamond (0-3), and it was another short night for the big right-hander, who lasted 4 innings, giving up 6 hits and 4 runs.

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a double by Marlon Byrd, but Diamond ran his pitch count to 86 over his 4 innings.

Albert Pujols homered in the first for the Cardinals. It was his 29th homer. The Cardinals scored twice in the third and once in the fourth.

"The first couple innings were all right, and just from there, location went out the window," Diamond said.

Lou Piniella wasn't impressed, either.

"He wasn't really sharp," Piniella said of Diamond. "I expected him to pitch better today. St. Louis is a good ballclub, and they have a good lineup. He just wasn't sharp. Behind. Wasn't locating well. We'll see. No decision's going to need to be made today."



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Friday Morning Headlines: Rob Dibble Sucks At Life

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Yes, I know I keep using this image over and over. But it's kind of an on-going theme for this season, don't you think?

Hey, I'm headed downtown in a heat index of 103 for court his morning, so this is going to be an abbreviated headlines. In this increasingly do-it-yourself world, I know you guys won't mind less product from me and more effort on your part. Just think of LOHO like an airline. We are now charging for teeny, tiny pillows.

Before we get to the disaster that IS the Chicago Cubs, please take a moment this morning to understand and acknowledge what a giant douchebag Rob Dibble is:

 "Those ladies right behind there, they haven't stopped talking the whole game," Rob Dibble said in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's Nats broadcast. "They have some conversation going on. Right here," he said, circling the offenders. "There must be a sale tomorrow going on here or something....Their husbands are going man, don't bring your wife next time."

Get it? It's funny because women don't like sports, and so when they accidentally wind up at a baseball stadium and deign to open their mouths, they have to be talking about something that women are interested in. Like sales. Probably on clothes or shoes or maybe makeup, though that wasn't specified.

"All right Bob, now they're back there, they're eating ice cream and talking at the same time," Dibble noted in the top of the eighth.

"I just got an e-mail that said there's a lot of women who come to the games -- while their husbands are the ones at home -- because they love this game," Carpenter noted, briefly touching base with the 21st century. "Tread carefully, Mr. Dibble."

"My wife loves to come to the game, but they're right there, still talking," Dibble countered.

Did you hear that, guys? Don't bring your wife to baseball games! She might talk through the whole thing, which she probably doesn't understand anyway, and like, spend all your money and stuff!

Thanks for the warning, Rob. It's a good thing all the MALE corporate jerkoffs I see at Wrigley yakking on their Blackberries talk about nothing but OBP and the minor leage draft, right? Hey, it's a good thing they don't let women work outside the home or drive cars or anything--imagine how much they've have to talk about then!

I can only imagine the outcry if Dibble had made a similiar comment about a racial or religious minority. Can you imagine if he'd said "Hey, look at those black guys behind homeplate? They've been on their beepers the whole game--probably checking out the latest gangsta rap or looking to buy some weed. Fella's don't bring your black friends to the ballgame!"

I know that Rob Dibble has the intellect of a grapefuirt, and therefore I should consider the source and laugh it off, but it's hot and I'm in a bad mood. But if the Nats don't want to alientage their entire female fanbase, which is rather large, I would consider making Dibble issue on apology.

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Cubs Thursday Headlines: Cubs Not Even Tops At Implosion

krod.jpg

This man is more entertaining than all of the Cubs put together.

The Cubs may be 18 games under .500, but when it comes to a team completely falling apart and leaving the fan base with their mouths hanging open, they've got nothing on the Mets.

"NEW YORK (AP)--New York Mets closing pitcher Francisco Rodriguez of Venezuela was charged with third-degree assault late Wednesday night after scuffling with his father-in-law at Citi Field, police said.

Rodriguez was arrested and being held at the ballpark early Thursday, police said. His father-in-law was in a hospital with a scrape on his face and a bump on his head.

"There was an incident at the ballpark between Francisco Rodriguez and his family. He was questioned by police and all other questions pertaining to this matter can be addressed to police," Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said.

Several security guards, along with some women and children, were seen around the Mets' family lounge near the clubhouse after New York's 6-2 loss to Colorado. Rodriguez's father-in-law had swelling above his right eyebrow.

Rodriguez has had previous confrontations with a team official, a coach and an opponent in his 1 1/2 seasons with the Mets, though none of them reached this level."

Before you poo-poo this as just a minor incident between relatives, let me point out that K-Rod's father-in-law was taken to the ER ON A STRETCHER. . .  FROM THE FAMILY ROOM.

This all went down after K-Rod went unused last night, prompting one of the great disgruntled fan tweets of all time:

" @howardmegdal Infuriating. Jerry could have used K-Rod tonight, if he's getting an off day tomorrow."

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Chicago Cubs Wednesday Headlines: Cubs Beat Lincecum. Yes, Really


Chicago Cubs Kosuke Fukudome (L) hits a two-run home run as San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey looks on during the first inning of their MLB National League baseball game in San Francisco, California August 10, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)




The story was all wrong. The Cubs were going into a pitchers' park to face the winner of the last two Cy Young awards. And they knocked him out in the fourth. With Hoffpauir, Fukudome and Hill in the lineup.They also managed not to blow a big lead, and won 8-4.

Rookies Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro opened the game with consecutive singles, and Kosuke Fukudome capped the big inning with a two-run home run he splashed into San Francisco Bay beyond right field.

Castro's two-run single with two outs in the fourth saddled Lincecum with a season-high-tying six runs allowed and helped end his shortest start of the season. (He was done after needing 89 pitches to get through four innings.)

Alan Trammell isn't quite the quote machine that Lou Piniella is, but he succinctly states just what it is that the players have to play for as this horrid season crawls along.

"The fact of the matter is -- and let's be quite frank -- when you're having seasons like this, there are going to be X amount of players who aren't going to be back," acting manager Alan Trammell said. "There are scouts up there writing reports. If the guy is hustling, he's going to write it down. If this team is struggling and he's busting his tail, he'll write that down. That's the same message I've passed down to numerous players. It comes down to being professional."



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Chicago Cubs Tuesday Headlines: It Could've Been Worse


Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning of their MLB National League baseball game in San Francisco, California August 9, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)




Remember the ill-fated "It's a Way of Life" campaign the Cubs unveiled this year? Wherein the W in Way is the W flag? Smart bloggers managed to figure out that this year's version was much better suited with an L flag in place of the L in Life. But another slogan came to me this morning: It Could've Been Worse. And last night when Big Z made his triumphant return as a starter. It wasn't great, but it could've been worse.

Zambrano was throwing more balls than strikes in the early going. He walked seven in his 5 innings, including 3 in the second.

A pair of double plays helped Zambrano emerge unscathed as the Cubs grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first and held it through four innings before the Giants tied it at 2-2 in the fifth. The Cubs went ahead 3-2 in the sixth.

Oh, and the Cubs lost 4-3 in 11 innings.


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Monday Morning Headlines

Labrador puppy

awwww....now keep that happy feeling while reading the rest of this

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Sunday Headlines & Game Thread: Reds @ Cubs


Tribune Photo by Chris Sweda


Another day, another loss. I think LOHO poster FrankS put it best in yesterday's thread:

Wow, another typical Cubs loss. A quality start by the pitcher and a one run loss. Glad I slept through this one. Year One!
I slept through the first part and drank through the rest. But, we're at it again today. Rookie starter Thomas Diamond (0-1, 4.50) will take the mound for his second start today against Travis Wood (2-1, 2.42). I expect another disappointing loss. Game time is 1:20, available on WGN tv and radio.

Chicago Cubs Friday Headlines: Stupid Questions edition

Elevated view of men and women standing to form a question mark
What's going on?

We've all got questions about the rest of this season.  Are the Cubs ever going to win another game?  When will the fire sale start?  Is Hendry's obsession with donuts a coping mechanism, or does he really like the taste?  How long before Lou starts swigging from the vodka bottle in the dugout?

While we might not get the answers to these burning questions, we do have a new edition of Ask Paul.

When is Jeff Samardzija going to rejoin the Cubs? He's been in Iowa so long that I've forgotten how to spell his name. What is causing the Cubs to self-destruct? Jaime Goldman, San Antonio, Texas

I corrected your spelling of Samardzija since I've written about him so many times I've finally figured it out. He should be up in September. What is causing the Cubs to self-destruct? It would take too long to explain, but the Cliffs Notes version can be read in one sentence: The Cubs are last in the National League with a .248 average with runners in scoring position.

After last season, Carlos Zambrano said if he had another season like 2009 he would retire. Isn't it time someone held that up to him. Or is he just looking at the money and not his lack of ability anymore? Richard Smart, Carpentersville, Ill.

When Zambrano told me that last September in San Francisco, I told him I didn't believe him. He's had another bad season, but I don't think anyone really expected him to follow through on that boast. He'd be nuts to retire after this nightmarish season. But I saved the audiotape just in case he ever denied saying it, which he hasn't.

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Chicago CubsThursday Headlines: Cubs Remember How to Hit, Next Run to Be Scored Monday


Trib Photo by Phil Velasquez


The Reds are probably breathing a sigh of relief at the moment. They won't have to worry about the Cubs scoring any runs this weekend as they blew through their weekly run allowance yesterday in a 15-3 defeat of the Brewers.

The Cubs finally broke their pattern of failing to hit with men in scoring position as they went 8-for-12 in that department.

In the 6-run sixth, they chased Brewers starting pitcher Manny Parra by bating around. They got RBI singles from Geovany Soto (5 RBI on the day), Blake DeWitt (4 RBI) and Jeff Baker before Aramis Ramirez capped the inning with a 3-run pinch homer off Todd Coffey.

I know we're all more than thrilled the Cubs won yesterday, because we still care with such fervor about the rest of this season. One more fervor-building announcement was made yesterday.

Manager Lou Piniella announced Wednesday that Zambrano will start Monday night in San Francisco. It will be the 29-year-old right-hander's first start since June 25, when a dugout tirade at U.S. Cellular Field landed him a suspension and into treatment for anger-management issues.

I'm sure you're all wondering how Big Z is feeling about this.

"I feel good," he said. "It's time to do some work, man, believe me. Like I said before, I've been hard on myself and I've been dedicated this last month to come back and be the best again, be one of the top in the National League. I'm working on that. Hopefully, everything comes through, and I pitch good."

Zambrano threw 53 pitches Sunday in a 2-inning relief appearance at Colorado. He pitched 1 inning out of the bullpen Wednesday.

The zip looks to be back on his fastball.

"Very good," he said of the way he feels. "It's not the same when you can challenge people with 95 (mph) than with 89. When you throw 95, when you throw 96, you have a little advantage. My arm feels good. My body feels good. I lost a little more weight, and I think that will help me."



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Chicago Cubs Wednesday Headlines: They Almost Didn't Lose


Tribune Photo by Chris Sweda


Rah-rah Carl is still sleepy, so no pep talks from me this morning. The Cubs didn't win, but they only gave up four runs and Thomas Diamond didn't embarrass himself. That's really all we can ask for at this point, right?

Diamond joined one exclusive club by recording 10 strikeouts in his 6 innings of work. He became the second Cub in 90 years to reach double digits in his major-league debut. The other was Mark Prior, on May 22, 2002.

The not-so-exclusive club is that of Cubs pitchers who throw a quality start this year and don't have a win to show for it. Diamond gave up 7 hits and 3 runs, becoming the first Cubs starter since Ryan Dempster on July 25 to record a quality start.

Another good thing is that Lou Piniella is back from his uncle's funeral, and full of things to say.

"Positives out of a loss?" said manager Lou Piniella, whose team is 46-61. "We played hard and made some nice plays. Again, we get people on, and we just don't get them in. That's been a reoccurring theme. Outside of that, our bullpen did a respectable job, and we competed well."

Those are moral victories, and Piniella said he doesn't want any part of those.

"I'm not into moral victories, I'll be honest with you," he said. "Moral victories are good on Sunday. I like the real wins, you know? It's good to go out there and be competitive, but moral victories? I think that's OK for a Little League coach."



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Chicago Cubs Tuesday Headlines: Afternoon Edition


Welcome to the Cubs, Blake
Tribune Photo by Scott Strazzante



I'm not even sure where to start on today's headlines. You may have heard that our record-setting 2010 Cubs have struck again. Over the weekend, it was 11 straight hits allowed (first time in MLB history), last night they aimed a little lower and just tied a Cubs record (26 hits allowed in a 9 inning game). At least the Brewers didn't bat around twice in an inning last night, right? Where did things go wrong, Randy Wells?

"It's pretty unexplainable," Wells said. "I kind of felt really good today. I was throwing the ball well. A couple balls found some holes, and I made a bad pitch to McGehee. He did what good hitters do with them. Even after that, I let the inning get away from me."

The Brewers weren't through. They sent eight men to the plate in each of the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

"It's pretty tough," left fielder Alfonso Soriano said. "It's embarrassing the way we play the last couple days. - I'm very angry, but nothing to show. I just want to go home and try to forget today and try to come back with more energy and try to win the game tomorrow."

In the spirit of Adambuckled, we'll just say: "Keep on trying, Cubs! Everyone gets a sno cone after the game, no matter what!"

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Chicago Cubs Monday Headlines: Goodbye Denver


July 11, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Carlos Silva of the Cubs in action during the Major League Baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Dodgers defeated the Cubs, 7-0..Josh Thompson/CSM.


The Cubs had a bit of a scare Sunday afternoon when Carlos Silva left the game after just one-third of an inning.

The Cubs had more than a five-game losing streak to worry about Sunday during an 8-7 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

Their starting pitcher, Carlos Silva, went to the hospital after coming out of the game in the first inning with an abnormally high heart rate.

The Cubs described the ailment as PSVT, or paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, which has as it symptoms palpitations, or a rapid heartbeat.

The 31-year-old right-hander retired the first batter he faced, but after he walked Jonathan Herrera, assistant trainer Ed Halbur paid a visit to the mound. After the next batter, Carlos Gonzalez, singled, head trainer Mark O'Neal came out, and Silva was taken out of the game.

The Cubs said paramedics stabilized Silva on the way to the hospital and that he's fine, but he'll be kept overnight for observation and that his status to pitch on his next turn is up in the air. It's the first known episode of this condition to the Cubs, they said.


As for the rest of the game, the Cubs got down then came up just short in a comeback, adding to their Major League-leading one-run loss total.


Despite strong comebacks each of the last two games, the Cubs wound up right where they've been all season, with two more one-run losses to add to a major-league-leading total that stands at 24.

So much change on the six-game trip. So little difference.

And 57 games left.

Can they keep the season from tailspinning to the end?

''I don't know, man,'' said Soriano, who homered in the eighth to cut the deficit to 8-4, then missed another by inches in the ninth when center fielder Dexter Fowler robbed him at the wall -- leaving him with a sacrifice fly that made it a one-run game.

''We come close to winning games, but at the last minute we can't win,'' Soriano said. ''But everybody here is fighting.''


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Chicago Cubs Sunday Headlines & Game Thread: Cubs @ Rockies, 2:10 Central

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella watches the Colorado Rockies score three runs during the third inning at Coors Field on July 30, 2010 in Denver.     UPI Photo/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom


The Cubs lost in spectacular fashion once again last night, by allowing a cycle-completing game-ending home run to Carlos Gonzalez. But there's much more interesting news than the result of last night's game. First, we'll highlight the return of Carlos Zambrano.

The game marked the return of pitcher Carlos Zambrano from more than a month away for anger-management treatment. Zambrano worked two-thirds of an inning in the seventh, creating some trouble for himself but leaving the bases loaded. True to form, he said he could start again, and soon.

"I'm ready," he said. "I'm ready to pitch Tuesday, Thursday, whenever they want me to pitch. I'm ready to go back in the starting rotation if they want me to go back into the starting rotation."

There was something of a big trade yesterday, too. Jim Hendry got an assist from one special assistant in evaluating some talent.

if Greg Maddux ever becomes a major league general manager, he can look back on Blake DeWitt as his first move.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry gave Maddux some credit for the decision to acquire the Dodgers infielder in the Ted Lilly/Ryan Theriot deal.

"We've certainly liked him for years," Hendry said. "He's a tough kid. He's 24 years old, so his better days are way ahead of him. ... He has a chance to be a complete player. He has to be better offensively. Greg spoke highly of him, when Greg pitched for the Dodgers, and in my discussions with Greg about him a few weeks back.

"He's a guy we've always had our eye on and have asked about him in the past."


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A 2010 Cubs Rant: By Aidan, Age 9 (Plus the latest trade rumors)

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for aidan&colin.jpg

The author in (slightly) happier times at Wrigley Field (shown here with younger brother, Colin)

(with typing help from cubbiejulie)

This season for the Cubs is going really bad. I don't think they're even going to make it to the World Series. I've seen worse out of every player than ever before.

Last night's game was probably one of the worst games they've ever played . .  .this season. Tyler Colin was probably the only one out there doing what he was supposed to do.

The big question (that I have to say) is why do the Cubs screw up every game? 

I see the Rockies might have a chance, after that last game with the Cubs, to go to the World Series. I don't see how the Cubs are going to make it to the World Series at this rate. I've seen them do better in different years, but this one has to be one of the worst years ever. If I'm not mistaken, I don't know WHY it is that no one has take Derrek Lee off our hands yet. Derrek Lee has had a horrible year this year. I almost thought the Angels were going to take him off our hands, but I guess we're stuck with him.

I can't even LOOK AT the Cubs this season. That's all I have to say about the Cubs this horrible year.

Sincerely, Aidan, August 1, 2010

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Chicago Cubs Friday Headlines: Just Make a Trade Already

Jul 9, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs starter Ted Lilly (30) pitches during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Photo via Newscom
Whither Ted goest?


We've got one day left before the deadline, and every other major league team has made at least four trades. The Cubs have made none. But we do have a new rumor.

The Dodgers are talking to the Cubs about a trade for both left-hander Ted Lilly and second baseman Ryan Theriot, according to a major-league source.

It is not known whether a deal is close. The Cubs almost certainly would need to include cash to cover part of the nearly $5 million combined that Lilly and Theriot are owed for the rest of the season.

I hope Ted doesn't have to go with Theriot. It's probably the most appealing thing about leaving the Cubs (other than not playing for a horrible team). As of now, this looks to be the most likely scenario, as the Twins, Tigers and Mets appear to be out on Lilly.



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Chicago Cubs Thursday Headlines: Lee Just Says No to Anaheim


Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee walks out ont the field at the beginning of the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 1, 2010. The Reds won 3-2 in 10 innings.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom



At this point, it doesn't matter if the Cubs win or lose. But we could've had something really exciting happen. Except it didn't.

Rested by Lou Piniella alongside Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd, Derrek Lee had no choice but to sit and think about the future throughout the long afternoon, which turned dreary after Randy Wells was lifted in the sixth inning.
Afterward, Lee told reporters he discussed the possible trade with the Angels -- it would have brought prospects to the Cubs -- for about 24 hours before telling Hendry no thanks. He contacted friends who play for the Angels, he said, and had long talks with his family members.

It was an "agonizing'' process, he said, but he is comfortable with the decision to ride out this season.

"I just decided that for me and my family, the best thing to do is to stay here,'' Lee said. "That was the decision I made. Jim and I had good conversations about it. He has been great about it."


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Chicago Cubs Wednesday Headlines: Thanks for the Memory, Ted




Is there a more fitting goodbye to Ted Lilly than for him to pitch a scoreless game, see the offense go scoreless, then watch the bullpen blow it? I think not. But thanks for the memory, Ted.

Once again, the veteran lefty was the victim of extreme nonsupport as the Cubs fell 6-1 to the Houston Astros and their starting pitcher, Brett Myers, who tossed a complete-game 4-hitter.

Lilly did his part and was not charged with the loss, if that's any consolation.

The loss went to rookie reliever Andrew Cashner (1-4), who got roughed up for 6 runs in the seventh inning. The scoring ran the gamut that inning, with the Astros getting a run on Angel Sanchez's squeeze bunt and 4 more on a grand slam by Lance Berkman.


Lou Piniella lavished words of praise on Ted as he prepares to say goodbye.

"He's been a model of consistency," Piniella told reporters before the game. "He gives you a very reasonable chance of winning a baseball game when he goes out there. He gives you innings and he had a nice winning record here. It was a real nice sign."


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Chicago Cubs Tuesday Morning Headline; I'm very very very sorry

No Apology Necessary

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Chicago Cubs Monday Headlines: Let the Fire Sale Commence!


Insert dirty caption here
Tribune Photo by Scott Strazzante



I never want the Cubs to lose, but sometimes a loss can be a good thing in the long run. Had the Cubs won last night, they'd be 8 games out, dreaming of rejoining the playoff race. That kind of delusion can only lead to heartbreak and the same disappointing team next year. Even Ryan Dempster seems resigned to this fate. Bring on the fire sale!

The Cubs have kept the faith, but even they're finding it hard to believe this team will stay together as is.

"I love our team, and I love the guys in that locker room," said pitcher Ryan Dempster, who started Sunday and worked 7 innings. "I think we've been playing a lot better. Unfortunately, we dug ourselves a big hole, but since the all-star break, we've been playing really good baseball. We've been scoring a bunch of runs. For the most part, we've been pitching well.

"But I understand there's a side to everything. There's a trade deadline coming up. Whatever it ends up being, it ends up being, but I like what we got in there right now. Whatever it ends up being two weeks from now is just fine, too."


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Chicago Cubs Sunday Headlines: Cubs Inciting Further Delusion


Tribune Photo by Phil Velasquez


The Cubs won Saturday, but they may have lost their manager to heat stroke.

Whatever the reason, Cubs manager Lou Piniella raised a few eyebrows after the game when he was asked what he would suggest to general manager Jim Hendry regarding the upcoming trade deadline and whether the Cubs should be buyers or sellers.

"Look, that's going to be Jim's call," Piniella said. "My response would be: let's give this a longer period of time.

"Nine games (out of first) is a lot, but it's not that much. You can't make it up obviously in a week or 10 days, but over a period of time picking up a game here a game there, you'd be surprised ... you could be in the pennant race, playing good baseball by the middle of August."

How did they manage to win? With a little help from the rookies.

It began with Colvin's second straight leadoff homer in the series. He is the first Cub to hit a leadoff homer in consecutive games and days since Alfonso Soriano did it May 13-14, 2008, against San Diego.

(snip)

It continued with Castro, who blasted his third of the season on the first pitch in the third inning to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead. The rookie shortstop added a single and a double to up his average to .308.

And it ended with a clutch performance from an ailing Cashner, who inherited a two-on, no-out scenario with Cards slugger Albert Pujols at the plate in the seventh, but the strong-armed Cashner and his 100-mph fastball got the big guy to hit a relatively harmless sacrifice fly for the only run of the inning.


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Chicago Cubs Thursday Headlines: Reversion to Mean Successful


Tribune Photo by Phil Velasquez


Let me know if this sounds familiar. The Cubs get a good starting pitching performance, leave a ton of men on base, and lose. I thought I'd heard that one before, too. Once again, Ted Lilly was the benefactor of an offense that forgets how to do much of anything except strike out when there are runners in scoring position.

Such was the case again Wednesday, as the Cubs dropped a 4-3 decision to the Houston Astros in 12 innings. One day after scoring 14 runs, the Cubs left 16 on base including 10 over the last five innings
Might that have been the last time we'll have seen Ted in a Cubs uniform?

As far as Lilly goes, he may have made his last start as a Cub in Wrigley Field. Despite a record of 3-8, he has a record of 3.88 and is one of the few commodities general manager Jim Hendry can move without having to worry about a bad contract.

Lilly entered the game having received just 2.51 runs of support, the lowest mark in the major leagues. He took a 1-0 lead into the eighth before giving up a pinch homer to Pedro Feliz that tied the game.

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Cubs With Huge Comeback Win In Honor Of Carl's Birthday

 

I like to call Carl "Mr. President" when we're alone together.

The Cubs celebrated Carl's birthday in a big way: first with Lou announcing his retirement, then with a huge comeback win against the hapless Astros who, for the first time this season, looked hapless against the Cubs.

First, let's talk about Lou:

Piniella officially announced Tuesday he has decided to calls it quits on his managerial career at the end of season.

The news wasn't as surprising as the timing, with the Cubs playing out the string and 68 games remaining. Piniella made the decision last week, but the news leaked out from his agent early Tuesday afternoon before he could get a chance to inform his players and coaching staff.

"I've been extremely appreciative of my four years here with the Chicago Cubs," Piniella said. "It has been a wonderful experience, a wonderful city, wonderful fans. ... But at the end of this year I turn 67 and it's time for me to get on with a new phase of my life."

Piniella said he wanted to spend more time with his family and made the announcement now instead of at the end of the season because he didn't "want to mislead anybody" about his intentions.

 

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Cubs Tuesday Headlines: Cub Fandom, Carlos, and Conte

Check out the latest video from my buddies over at Cubs Fan Report:

 

Andrew at Cubs Fan Report sent me that video a few days ago, and I watched it for the first time yesterday morning. Then, in a weird twist of fate, I wound up having lunch with Justin Kaufmann, the "Cubs fan" in the video (who is actually a White Sox fan). So. . .  that was a weird day. 

Also, Doug Glanville, if you're reading this, I'm TRYING to help you promote your book, which is awesome. Please respond to my emails.

So, the Cubs pretty much stunk it up last night. And, while I usually joke about the "big comeback," when we're down 8-1 in the early going, last night a big comeback was eminently doable.

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Chicago Cubs Monday Headlines: Cubs Only 9.5 Back!!!!!!!!!



Tribune Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo


Lou Piniella shuffled the lineup on Sunday night against one of baseball's best starting pitchers. It worked.

Rookies manned the Nos. 1 and 2 spots in the batting order, with right fielder Tyler Colvin moving up to the leadoff spot and Starlin Castro batting second.

The moves had Piniella looking good and everybody smiling after the Cubs' 11-6 victory, giving them three of four in the series.

Colvin was 3-for-5 with 2 runs scored, and Castro raised his batting average to .294 by going 3-for-4 with a run.

Suffice it to say that the two kids gave the Cubs a spark for at least one night.

"They really did," said Piniella, whose team is 42-51. "Both of them swung the bat well. They got on base and let the middle part of the lineup work. We swung the bats really, really well today against a good pitcher."

Not only did the Cubs win, Marlon Byrd continued on his record-setting pace as a human baseball magnet.

Marlon Byrd was hit by pitches in the second and sixth innings. Those were the 15th and 16th times he has been hit this year. He became the first Cub since Frank Chance in 1905 to be hit with pitches at least 16 times.


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Sunday Headlines & Live Game Thread: Phillies @ Cubs, 7:05 Central





It was almost a dramatic victory. Then it turned into an ugly defeat.

• Marmol retired the first batter of the ninth but wound up walking five, one intentionally.

• On one of those walks, Marmol uncorked a wild pitch to allow a run to score.

• The game looked to be over and in the books as a 1-0 Cubs victory when Placido Polanco singled to left field with two outs and runners on first and second. Tyler Colvin's throw to the plate came in on one hop, but catcher Geovany Soto dropped it, even with time to get the slow-footed Brian Schneider coming to the plate.


Both Marmol and Soto wanted to take the blame:

"Nothing to say, no excuses," Soto said. "Nobody's responsible for this game other than me."

"That was my responsibility," Marmol said. "If I hadn't walked those two guys..."

In case you were wondering the last time a Cub pitcher walked that many in an inning, you've got an answer:

The last Cub pitcher to walk five batters in less than an inning was Speed Martin on June 11, 1920 at Philadelphia. The last Cub reliever to walk five batters in an inning was Johnny Vander Meer at Philadelphia June 27, 1950.


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Chicago Cubs Saturday Headlines & Game Thread: Phillies @ Cubs, 12:05 Central


Ted Lilly practices the cha cha for his Dancing with the Stars
turn and gets an RBI in the process



Watch out, NL Central, the Cubs are back!  Now only 9 games under .500 and 9 games behind first place Cincinnati, the scorching Cubs have won two in a row against the mighty Phillies to return themselves to playoff contention. Ted Lilly drove in a run and pitched 7 good innings, and we're all ready for delusions of grandeur.

An impending free agent, Lilly's name has been out there as possible trade bait for a contending team. Like the rest of the Cubs, Lilly hasn't given up on the Cubs being a contender despite a 41-50 record and an 81/2-game deficit in the standings before Friday night's action.

"I would like to be a part of that here," he said. "That's my thought. I'm pretty optimistic. I know that we have a long way to go to make something like that happen. But we do have some talent. I'd certainly like to win a division here.

"We're trying to do something crazy here, like come back from 9 games or whatever."

The real Aramis Ramirez has returned, and he pitched in with the game-wining homer in the 8th.


Speaking of crazy, Ramirez has been crazy good of late. He was 3-for-4 Friday and has hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games, going 24-for-64 (.375) in that stretch. During July, he's batting .400 with 5 homers and 14 RBI.

His game-winning homer came on a 3-2 pitch from reliever Ryan Madson.


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Chicago Cubs Friday Headlines: Offensive Juggernaut Awakes, No Timetable on Return to Slumber






Don't look now, but the Cubs are only 10 games under .500 and only 10 games out of first in the NL Central. They put themselves in this prime position with a 12-6 win over the Phillies last night. They hit well, they pitched well (except Bob Howry) and they ran the bases well.

They managed to couple a good pitching performance from Ryan Dempster along with 16 hits, including 3 homers as they got the unofficial second half of the season started with a bang.

"This is what we hoped for," said manager Lou Piniella, whose team improved to 40-50. "This is what we talked about. We got it tonight. Lot of hitting, the longball, extra-base hits. Good ballgame for us."


In between all the homeruns and doubles was the Cubs' first straight steal of home since 1996 by Brian McRae.


There was more than just power. The Cubs got a single, a double and a triple from rookie shortstop Starlin Castro, who also stole home in the second inning on a failed suicide-squeeze attempt by pitcher Ryan Dempster.

That was a first for Piniella.

"I never have in the second inning," Piniella said of calling that play. "Never have. It wasn't hunch. We figured we'd try a few things different. No, I never have. Hopefully, I never will again."



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Chicago Cubs Thursday Headlines: Back to the Grind

Chicago Cubs fans celebrate in the bleachers after their team beat the Milwaukee Brewers during their opening day MLB baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago April 12, 2010. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)



As we enter the second half of the season, many questions continue to surround this team. But the only important one is, when does the fire sale start? Or, will the Cubs show just enough life that we'll have to suffer through this same team through August and September, too? The players are all ready for the big turnaround, starting with Geovany Soto.

"We got all the guys," said catcher Geovany Soto, who has been on-base at a .407 clip this year but who inexplicably has found himself on the bench at various times. "We've got all the ingredients here. We've got a great lineup here. We got pitching. We've got bullpen. It's just a matter of putting it together. We still got a whole second half left, and see what happens."
I'm pleased that the team hasn't given up publicly, but even the most crazily optimistic among us believes this team will do much of anything in the second half. What are the odds that we'll see some interesting trades?

More important, though, is that few Cubs have done anything on the field that would entice another general manager to take players off GM Jim Hendry's hands.

Lilly is arguably the Cubs' most valuable trading chip, and he is coming off a couple of rough outings.

The Cubs would love to move right fielder Kosuke Fukudome to create a full-time spot for Tyler Colvin and plan ahead to next year, when outfield prospect Brett Jackson might push for big-league playing time. But Fukudome has no-trade protection and one-plus years left on his four-year, $48 million contract, which may force Hendry (or a possible new GM) to come up with a creative trade package in the off-season.

Theriot's on-base percentage is just .317. It's possible the Cubs could move outfielder-first baseman Xavier Nady or pitcher Carlos Silva, who didn't look interested in pitching before getting kicked out of Sunday night's start at Dodger Stadium.

That doesn't sound too hopeful.


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Chicago Cubs Wednesday Headlines: NL with Biggest Upset Since American Revolution


National League's Marlon Byrd, of the Chicago Cubs, scores past American League catcher John Buck, of the Toronto Blue Jays, on a three-run double by Brian McCann, of the Atlanta Braves, during the seventh inning of the All-Star baseball game on July 13, 2010, in Anaheim, Calif. The NL won 3-1.  UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom



Maybe you're un-American and didn't watch the All Star Game last night. If you didn't, you missed the first National League win since the Grant administration. You also missed the Cubs' lone representative making key plays on offense and defense to help the NL to victory. Last night, Byrd was indeed the wyrd.

Byrd had extended the seventh inning when he escaped an 0-2 hole against Matt Thornton to walk, loading the bases with two outs for McCann. He charged around the bases to score on McCann's liner over first baseman Paul Konerko's head, then made the play of the game in the ninth.

David Ortiz had greeted Broxton with a single. Adrian Beltre struck out but John Buck then lifted a soft fly toward right field. Playing deep to cut off doubles, Byrd couldn't quite get to the ball. But he mortified Ortiz as he played the ball on a hop and fired it to shortstop Rafael Furcal in time to force Ortiz at second base.

This was the kind of play you see in Little League, but Byrd said he twice made it while playing for the Rangers. He said Ortiz's lack of speed was not the central issue on the play, as any runner would have had to hesitate as he waited to see if the ball could be caught.

Since MLB doesn't allow video embedding, you can check out Byrd's defensive play here

Should you like to see him scoring on McCann's double, look here. One bonus to this highlight is when you hear Tim McCarver say "McCann with the biggest hit for the National League in 13 years." The NL last won the ASG in 1996.


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George Steinbrenner Dead At 80: RIP Boss

 

Love him or hate him, he was endlessly entertaining. And he changed baseball.

Known as "The Boss" for his tempestuous style, Steinbrenner was loved by Yankees fans and hated by his rivals. He resurrected the most successful franchise in U.S. sports from a period of decline, returning it to glory in the 1970s.

His family and baseball club announced his death but did not give a cause. Media reports said he suffered a massive heart attack at his home in Tampa and was rushed to hospital.

Steinbrenner demanded results and got them as the Yankees won seven World Series titles and 11 American League pennants since he bought the fabled club in 1973.

He was twice suspended from baseball--once for making illegal campaign contributions to President Richard Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign and then for hiring a private investigator to dig up information on one of his players.

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Chicago Cubs Monday Headlines: Fans Rejoice for Three Day Reprieve


July 11, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Sean Marshall  pitches in action during the Major League Baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium July 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California..The Dodgers defeat the Cubs 7-0.Louis Lopez/CSM.



If you didn't watch last night's game, the specifics aren't that interesting. Carlos Silva got ejected in the second for arguing a call at first base, the offense didn't score, etc. There was one thing, though...

Rookie Andrew Cashner received high fives from everyone in the Cubs' dugout Sunday after a fastball "slipped" from his hand in the eighth inning and plunked the Dodgers' Blake DeWitt, prompting an umpire's warning to both teams.

Marlon Byrd got hit in the seventh, and suspected it might have something to do with comments he made last year when Padilla got released by Texas.

Byrd called Cashner a "great teammate" lauding his "pinpoint accuracy." Cashner said he was "a little excited coming into the game" and that the ball "slipped."


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Chicago Cubs Sunday Headlines & Game Thread: Cubs @ Dodgers, 7:05 Central


Jul 10, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd (24) eludes the tag of Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis (17) to score in the second inning at Dodger Stadium. Photo by Image of Sport Photo via Newscom



The Dodgers scored two runs on another Keystone Cops play by the Cubs' defense on Saturday. Were that the only bit of the game you'd seen Saturday, you would've expected another 14-3 loss. Instead, that was the only costly blemish the Cubs made all day in a 7-2 victory.

Tom Gorzelanny pitched 6 innings to run his record to 4-5, and the Cubs got home runs form Geovany Soto and Aramis Ramirez as they improved to 4-2 on the road trip with one more game to play before the all-star break.

A little more of this over the first 21/2 months of the season and maybe the record wouldn't be 39-49.

"That's the way you put it down on paper," said manager Lou Piniella, who watched the second half of the game from the cool and comfort of the clubhouse after being kicked out after the fifth inning for arguing a call on the bases.

Unfortunately, Lou didn't go out in a blaze of glory. But he did give us a play-by-play after the game:


"It was a continuation on the play," Piniella said after the Cubs' 7-3 victory. "I had a pretty good view of it from the dugout. The baserunner was out, and Jerry convinced me he wasn't until one of my coaches saw the replay. He sort of baited me out there, but it's all right.

"I told him, 'You missed the call.' He said, 'I can't hear you. I can't hear you.' Some guys have better hearing than others, I guess."

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Saturday Cubs Headlines & Live Game Thread

As if facing the prospect of getting swept by the lowly Dodgers wasn't enough, it looks like we're going to end up with these two idiots calling our game today:

timandjoe.jpg

Tweedle Dee And Tweedle Dum

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Friday Chicago Cubs Headlines: I Hate Everything About You

August 02, 2007 - Los Angeles, CA #15 Rafael Furcal at bat during the Giants Dodgers series Photo via Newscom

As if it wasn't enough that Rafael Furcal stuck us with Ryan Theriot over a measley $300k and broke our All-Star first baseman's wrist, he had to go and stomp on our winning streak, too.

Rafael Furcal's two-out, two-run home run off Randy Wells in the seventh inning launched the Dodgers to a 3-2 victory over the Cubs, leaving them 10 games below .500.

Wells took a 2-1 lead into the seventh when Russell Martin's leadoff single, a sacrifice from pitcher Clayton Kershaw and Furcal's line shot just inside the right field foul pole turned the game around.

Alfonso Soriano homered for the Cubs and Geovany Soto added a run-scoring single in the fourth, but Kershaw put the clamps on them the rest of the way.

I hope Mr. I-Spent-21-Days-In-Jail-For-Two-DUIs-In-A-Month goes 0 for the rest of the season.

Speaking of 0-fers, LeBron James is 0-for-Tom-Gorzelanny:

At least one Bulls fan at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night wasn't at all upset over James' decision to play for Miami instead of Chicago.

"The whole hype thing was a little overblown," said Cubs pitcher Tom Gorzelanny, who grew up on the South Side. "He's a great player and would be unbelievable to have him on our team. But all through the process, everybody said the best chance for him to win would be (with) the Bulls."

You hear that, LeBron? Even South-Siders are capable of making better decisions than you are.



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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.


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Wednesday Chicago Cubs Headlines/Live Game Thread: OMG OMG OMG!

Thumbnail image for ramiHR.jpg

Our hero.

 Don't look now kids, but THE CHICAGO CUBS HAVE A WINNING STREAK!

PHOENIX -- The Cubs beat Arizona 6-4 Tuesday night for their first back-to-back wins since June 16-17 against Oakland.

Two home runs by Aramis Ramirez paced the offense, while Carlos Silva pitched six strong innings to improve to 9-2. The Cubs clinched a road series for only the third time in 2010, and won back-to-back road games for the first time since May 22-23 at Texas.

 

So what if the Bulls are going to miss out on LeBron, Wade, and Bosh? ARAMIS RAMIREZ HIT TWO HOMERUNS LAST NIGHT!!!! Although, to be fair, one of the, was against Aaron Heilman, so I'm not sure that it really counts. Alas, while we wait to see Aramis hit against a real pitcher before passing judgment on his "backness," Aramis sounds more confident:

"Of course," he said. "I've never been that bad in my life. I don't think I'm that kind of hitter. I think I'm a decent hitter. I've been good through the years. Hopefully I take this game and just take off."

Ramirez had his first two-homer game since August 23, 2008, driving in four runs in the Cubs' 6-4 win over Arizona. He said he swung the bat better on Monday, when the D'Backs outfielders robbed him of a pair of extra base hits.

"I just got better results today," he said. "But I got four good at-bats (Monday)."
The sore left thumb still hasn't improved, but Ramirez said he plans to play through it for the rest of the season.

 
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Chicago Cubs Tuesday Headlines: Cubs Take First Series Opener Since 2007

Kosuke Fukudome
I'm sure by now most of us have forgotten how to react to a series-opening win, especially one in which the Cubs won by five runs. While the Cubs managed to kick the D'Backs when they were down, it's better than being kicked.

So unusual was the early and persistent hitting from all parts of the lineup that catcher Geovany Soto called it ''refreshing.''

''It was fun today,'' he said. ''Put it that way.''

Whether the fun extends long enough to win one more game before they leave Arizona to win a series for the first time since the middle of last month, they at least have a series opener to enjoy for the first time in 12 tries -- even if it came against a team that was four days removed from firing its manager and general manager.

And maybe, just maybe, a certain outfielder pictured above opened someone's eyes to what a special, valuable addition he could be to a team looking for a  left-handed bat.

Instead, the guy who got it started Monday -- Kosuke Fukudome with a homer leading off the game -- has looked more like a fourth outfielder who might have nudged his trade value by reaching base four times from the leadoff spot Monday.

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Chicago Cubs Monday Headlines: The Day After


Tribune Photo by Jose Osorio


What is there to say this morning? Precious little. The Reds beat Tyler Colvin yesterday, 14-3. Let's look at some not-so-fun facts from yesterday's game.

When Corky Miller can find the jet stream and Drew Stubbs can single-handedly outhomer the entire Cubs team, something strange is happening.

Yes, that Corky Miller, the one who has all of four home runs the last 10 years.

(snip)

So while Miller was putting the ball in the seats, all the non-Colvin Cubs were making only three outs caught by outfielders.

(snip)

On Friday the Cubs lost to the Reds by allowing nine runs on three hits in an ugly seventh inning. On Saturday they won despite leaving a nine-inning franchise-record 17 runners on base.

And on Sunday, they allowed eight or more runs in an inning for a second time during one series for the first time ever at Wrigley Field, according to Cubs historian Ed Hartig. Wrigley opened in 1916.

At least Lou isn't suicidal:

"I'm fine. I am," Piniella said. "I don't like to lose, I don't think anybody does. But what am I going to do, jump off the Hancock building?"


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Chicago Cubs Independence Day Headlines & Game Thread: Reds @ Cubs, 1:20 Central





The Cubs looked primed to disgust us once again, when a miracle happened. They scored three whole runs in one inning.

Not until the bottom of the sixth, when the Cubs loaded the bases for the third time, did Alfonso Soriano end the drought with a bloop single to left that scored Tyler Colvin. Soriano clapped his hands triumphantly, and the crowd of more than 40,000 cheered as though a series had been won.

''Finally I got a hit with a runner in scoring position,'' a relieved Soriano said after the Cubs' 3-1 victory ended a three-game losing streak. ''We had runners in scoring position the whole game. Sometimes you hit the ball so hard, and you just get outs. Then you get a bloop hit. That's baseball.''


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Chicago Cubs Saturday Headlines/Game Thread: Reds @ Cubs, 12:05 PM CT


Tribune Photo by Phil Velasquez


After such a horrible loss, I'd normally turn to Lou, who would have something funny to say. But even Lou has his limits, and it seems as though he's in a funk, just like the players. Instead, first we'll turn to Ryan Dempster:

"Things can happen in a hurry, especially when you put guys on," Dempster said. "It's unfortunate. The game was closer than the score dictated. It turned what could have been a good game into a terrible one."

Dempster's take on keeping things together: "Guys are working hard. Guys aren't showing up a half-hour before they have to be out there or not putting the work in. They continue to put the work in. Hopefully, that will get the results."

I'm not sure the world's best PEDs could get this team results right now. Up next, Koyie Hill:

"A little adversity never hurt anybody," said catcher Koyie Hill. "You can trust guys' character a little bit, the team's character. We've got a strong group in here. We've got a strong bunch of hearts. Guys are going to come in tomorrow with their heads held high, with confidence. In the long run, when it turns around, we're going to feel good about it, battling through it."

Was Koyie dehydrated after the game? He seems delusional.

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Chicago Cubs Thursday Headlines


(Tribune Photo by Phil Velasquez)


You might know by now that the Cubs lost yesterday. It turned out to be another one of those microcosm losses, where the Cubs got good pitching, lousy hitting and poor defense. Or at least just enough poor defense to lose it. But have faith! Tom Gorzelanny has words of hope.

"There's always time. We need to win some games here," Gorzelanny said. "There's no reason for us to panic or worry.

"We're a good team. We still feel good about the will that we have. We need to break out and get on a good run. We all believe it's going to happen. This team is way too good to be playing like that."

But after what should've been a cakewalk against the Pirates, the Cubs have to see Dusty and his division leading Reds come to town. Lou Piniella doesn't sound quite as confident as Gorzy.

"I'll tell you what," he sighed, "Pittsburgh was tough enough."


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The Chicago Cubs: Even Crazier Than Carlos

zscared.jpg

Someone please tell me what I'm missing here.

Carlos Zambrano will be placed on the restricted list, undergo a treatment program and will not return to the team until after the All-Star break, the Cubs said Monday.

 

In the aftermath of Zambrano's dugout tirade Friday, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry spoke Monday to representatives from Major League Baseball and the players union, as well as to the pitcher and his agent, Barry Praver.

Zambrano's indefinite suspension will be limited to three games and end Tuesday, when he will be placed on the restricted list. He will receive full pay and benefits while on the restricted list, though he was not paid for the three days he was suspended.


"We've obviously had a lot of transgressions in the past with Carlos," Hendry said. "So I think we all agree it's time he got help and then maybe address the apologies later."

 


Hendry added Zambrano will not "formally travel with the team before the (All-Star) break. "

 

Sooooo throwing a fit in the dugout because you're sick and tired of your team playing like geriatric zombies = psych evaluation.

 

All right then.

 

Look, your employer can force you to do whatever they want, But as a former public defender, I can tell you that even REALLY crazy people don't get ordered to psych evals all that often. And frankly, it seems like the time to evaluate Z's sanity would have been after he punched a teammate in the face, rather than after he went into the dugout screaming at the wind.

 

I've watched the replay of Carlos' tirade over and over, and I still maintain that, while he might have been yelling things ABOUT his teammates, he certainly wasn't yelling at them. At least until Derrek Lee decided to pipe up with his helpful advice to "shut the f*ck up."

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Monday Moning Headlines


photo: José M. Osorio
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Cubs Crosstown Game Thread: Now With Live Crosstown Chat!

mikeypunch.jpg

One in a row! One in a row! One in a row!

So we haven't won NINE in a row like the hotshots on the other side of town. Like WE couldn't win 9 in a row with Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin on our team. I'd like to see them do that with Ryan Theriot and Koyie Hill in their starting lineup.

Jerks.

Lots going on today, kids.

Of course, we have the backend of the Crosstown Series kicking off this afternoon at 3:05 pm CT. Julie & Alex's Excellent Sports Adventure  (featuring Rock Mamola) comes on at noon, followed by Wrigley Talk Friday at 1:00 pm CT.

Annnnnnnd. AND. We're also going to enter into a friendly wager with my idiot White Sox fan friend, Rock Mamola. Finally, we'll have a live game chat with White Sox fans (eeeewww) going on during the game.

To wrap it all up, I'll be on WGN radio tomorrow morning at 11:00 am CT, talking Crosstown baseball.  Come on Cubs, don't make me look bad.

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Thursday Morning Headlines: Fail Edition

Hand with thumbs down
What I'm about to say shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.  The Cubs are bad at baseball this year.  How bad?  They lost 8-1 to the Mariners last night.  The real question is, will any of the players talk to Milton's fragile ego?

"If he says hi to me I will say hi," Aramis Ramirez said. "But I'm not going to go shake his hand if he doesn't."

Asked if he felt any sympathy for Bradley after hearing him admit he had personal issues, Ramirez shrugged.

"Not really," he replied. "He has been with eight teams, so he has to look in the mirror and say 'Eight teams can't be wrong.' Something is going wrong with him. Hopefully he figures it out before it's too late."


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Chicago Cubs Tuesday Headlines: Seattle Slays Sleepy Sluggers

dempster_complete_game_loss.jpg

Hey Ryan, do you think giving up 2 runs in a complete game will get you a W? Don't hold your breath. (Otto Greule Jr, Getty Images / June 23, 2010)

Ryan Dempster learned a familiar lesson in last night's 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners: one mistake is one too many.


"We wasted a good pitching performance on our side," manager Lou Piniella said. 
Dempster was on his game, but he was outpitched by Jason Vargas, who shut out the Cubs through seven innings. 
"He got ahead of everybody and kept the ball down, and I was the one who made the mistake. . . . [We've] got to keep plugging our way through it," Dempster said. "Tough times. Sometimes some of the greatest opportunities are disguised as overwhelming obstacles. Great opportunity to bounce back tomorrow. Coming off a good 'W' at home and had an off-day and we just didn't get the job done tonight."
Tuesday night also marked the long-awaited reunion with mercurial recalcitrant doo-doo-head the king of the superfluous adjectival lead-ins, Milton Bradley. The response was typical.

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Chicago Cubs & All-Star Voting: An Offer I Can't Refuse

fatony.jpg

I don't get mad. I get stabby.

The five families met. A deal has been brokered. Steps must be taken.

Promises must be kept.

Actually, there weren't five families, just a couple of bloggers.

Okay, actually it was just me and Caryn.

I know it's hard to get fired up about all-star voting when your team can't beat the Pirates and starts the White Sox off on winning 9 of their last 10.

But, if there's one thing we can take comfort in this season, it's the play of one Marlon Byrd. I was terribly and embarrassingly outspoken about how much I DIDN'T want Marlon Byrd on this team. Today, I'm here to say I was wrong.

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Chicago Cubs Monday Headlines: Great Cubs Victory or Greatest Cubs Victory?


Chicago Tribune photo by Scott Strazzante


Awkward outfield hugs for all! One day after making me feel like this team might not win again this year, the Cubs went out and hammered the Angels. They also reawakened that irrational part of my brain that makes me think they'll win 12 in a row and take their rightful place as kings of the NL Central.

"The key was scoring runs and taking leads in the game and then adding on to it," said Piniella, whose team improved to 31-38 after a disappointing 4-5 homestand. "But I saw a lot of good things out there today. First of all, Carlos. This was his best game since we put him back in the rotation.

"And (Ryan) Theriot, this is what we've been waiting to see for a while. He drove the ball hard to left field. He had good, solid bats. Derrek Lee had a real good game offensively."

Despite having 40 errors in the last 7 games, the Cubs haven't given up yet this year.

"We're very optimistic," Byrd said. "There's no give-up on this team. We've shown that. We could have rolled over today and come out (and gone through) the motions. We came out and played baseball the way it's supposed to be played."

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Chicago Cubs Father's Day Headlines and Game Thread: When Can We Expect the Fire Sale?


Chicago Tribune Photo by Chris Sweda


First up, I'd like to wish all those dads out there in LOHO land a happy Father's Day. Hopefully the Cubs won't ruin it.

We've probably all wondered what depths this Cubs team can plumb. Yesterday, several LOHOers got to see first hand just what depths the Cubs can plumb. Yikes. Ted Lilly went from no-hit form to yes-hit form.

Lilly didn't allow a hit to the White Sox last Sunday until the ninth inning on his 108th pitch, but the left-hander was battered by the Los Angeles Angels Saturday for 8 runs (6 earned) on 9 hits in 104 pitches. He didn't make it out of the sixth inning of a 12-0 loss in front of 40,008 restless fans at Wrigley Field.
The offense and defense were bad, too.

The offense managed only 2 hits against Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver (7-3) and reliever Scot Shields, and the defense committed 2 more errors. The Cubs have made 11 errors in their last five games and 5 errors in two losses to the Angels
And Lou Piniella's at the end of his rope.

"I can see us struggling with the bats, but we just can't catch the ball all the sudden," Piniella said. "I mean, that's something you should be able to do at the big-league level is catch the ball with consistency.

"What am I supposed to do, yell and scream? Criticize people? That doesn't do any good. You've got to go out and play on the field. That's all you can do, play on the field. And if not, you're going to get embarrassed like we did."

The Cubs skipper said he's out of ideas as to how to spark this team.

"We've tried everything we have here," Piniella added. "We've pitched everybody, we've played everybody, we've changed lineups. We've done everything that I can humanly do to get this thing turned around. That's all I can do."

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Happy LOHO Meetup Eve, Everyone!

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In approximately 27 hours, LOHOians for all corners of the globe will assemble at Rockit Wrigley in order to (cough) prepare for the day's festivities. Subsequently, we will march, solemnly yet determinedly, towards the hallowed bleacher of Wrigley Field to observe the Chicago National League Ballclub in their quest to defeat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Near That One Denny's Off the Freeway. Don't have a ticket yet? Why the hell not? They're down to $50 on Stubhub.

I'm going to be out and about today, between the USA-Slovenia game, multiple podcasts, and something fun that I might be able to tell you about in the near future. Lo, unless someone else wants to post one, we'll use this as the game thread today as well. 

 

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Chicago Cubs Thursday Headlines: Cubs Resemble MLB Team


I'm not quite sure what's going on here
(Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune)



You heard it right! Last night, the Cubs played like a bona fide Major League Baseball team. Good pitching, good hitting, good fielding. Is this one of those games that turns things around, or is it one of those games we point to as maddening after another four-game losing streak to the Pirates? Let's find out where Jim Hendry stands on the issue.

"We need to start playing good baseball the next two or three weeks. Fortunately, as poorly as we've played the last couple weeks, you're still 71/2 games behind. If you just have a good two or three weeks, you can find yourself 31/2-4 back in two weeks.


"Things change fast in this game, but we need a good two or three weeks to get it going. It's not early anymore. It's not disastrously late, but it's time to play better baseball. You can't play baseball like we have the last two weeks and think you're going to be a contender."

If Jim Hendry still has hope, then by golly, we should too!
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Chicago Cubs Wednesday Headlines: Cubs New Anthem "Yakety Sax"

Imagine I'm much more proficient at video manipulation and could put some of last night's game to music. Instead of a man, it would be the Cubs, instead of a dog it would be the ball, and instead of cows it would be the A's.



The pitching wasn't horrible and the offense scored five runs, but the defense was lousy. Derrek Lee wants you to know it was his fault.

"Tonight is not a big-league game; we played like a Single-A team," said Lee, owning up. "I set the tone. If I make the plays, we get out of the inning, and it's a whole different ballgame. Tonight's on me. It's unacceptable."
I have a feeling some of the Cubs' Single-A players might be offended by that statement. You might be wondering why Koyie Hill started in Soto's place again. Lou has an explanation.

"We're going to face two left-handers tomorrow and the next day, so Soto will be there," Piniella said. "We're going to face a couple left-handers over the weekend against the Angels. We're just trying to win baseball games right now."

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Five Things The Cubs Must Do To Keep Their Fans From Walking

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 It's not unusual for early June to feel "late" for Cubs fans. In fact, we're accustomed to being 12.5 games behind the Cardinals by this point.

But this year, everything feels different.

Mathematically, the Cubs aren't close to being out of it, yet this June has a decidedly September-like feel to it, and not the kind of September when we're all on the edge of our seats hoping the Cubs can hold off the Brewers long enough to clinch the Wild Card. This September feels more like the pre-2003 Septembers; the ones where we grumbled through a final homestand against another bad team, trying to hold on until we could officially put the season to bed and try again next year.

The general feeling of malaise that's descended upon Cubdom is easily identifiable by the numbers of empty seats visible at Wrigley for the first time in many a year. Sure, it's in part due to the success of the Blackhawks (who wants to watch Aramis Ramirez strike out for a month when you can watch Jonathan Toews putting them between the pipes with crazy regularity), and in part due to the economy. But it's also something more.

The Cubs are bleedings fans.

 

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Cubs Monday Headlines:

Tribune Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo


What might one expect when two bad offensive teams face each other on national television? That's right, two potential no-hitters.

For almost seven innings, the men on the mound -- Cubs lefty Ted Lilly and White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd -- matched each other in not allowing a hit. Floyd's bid ended in the seventh when Alfonso Soriano doubled with two outs and then scored on Chad Tracy's single. He gave up only one other single.

Lilly's ended with more suspense in the top of the ninth when Juan Pierre, hitting for Floyd, singled up the middle.

But Lilly (2-5) came out with the victory when closer Carlos Marmol made the 1-0 margin stand.

Why does it always have to be someone like Juan Pierre? Let's hear from Ted about Sunday:

''It was unbelievable,'' Lilly said. ''The Blackhawk guys coming here, there was so much energy. I can't remember that much energy. I guess I'd have to go back to 2001 and the World Series to get that feel. It was awesome, really special.

''I was definitely aware of what was going on and determined to get it down. Unfortunately, I made a bad pitch. Situations like that, there's a tendency for me to second-guess my pitch selection.''


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Chicago Cubs Sunday Headlines & Game Thread: Sox @ Cubs, 7:00 PM


Tribune Photo by Phil Velasquez



The Cubs got another good start from Carlos Silva, but the offense didn't give him the run support to which he's become accustomed. And he was a bit grumpy after the game.

Silva got help from neither his offense nor his defense. The Cubs were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and they stranded 10 runners.

"I don't know," Silva said. "You can ask that question to Rudy (hitting coach Jaramillo). He's the one working with them."

Lou didn't sound much better:

The Cubs are a season-worst eight games under .500 at 27-35. And it's getting late.

"Let me tell you this: We're not going to quit," Piniella said. "That I can tell you. But you just can't continue to lose these types of ballgames. You just can't."


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Cubs Live Game Thread: Don't Tread on Me! (Why Every American Should Love Soccer)

Before we get to the Cubs/Sox game today, I want to take a moment to talk about a much, MUCH bigger game about to kick off this afternoon. The USA will play England in the first round of the World Cup at 12:30 pm CT on ABC. It's hard for me to describe the beauty of this game, or the passion it invokes in its fans to Americans who have never played, or don't understand the game. This has been a source of frustration to me since I started playing soccer as a small child.

During the last World Cup, Bryant Gumbel ranted about the World Cup and said, I think, what every footy fan wishes they could say:


 "Finally tonight, a few words about World Cup soccer. Please spare me the stifled yawns and typical American gripes about how boring the sport can be. For God's sake, we're a nation that venerates one-nothing baseball games, watches cars make endless left-hand turns and televises people playing poker and dominoes.

 
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Cubs Friday Headlines: Happy BP Day, Everyone!

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Dear Chicago Cubs,

Having an oil company sponsor the crosstown series was a bad idea BEFORE they dumped 2million barrels into the Gulf. Does any other inter-league series have a sponsor? And how come all these corporate sponsorships aren't doing anything to lower our ticket prices?

 

So we've got a lot going on today, kids. World Cup 2010 kicks off. The streets of Chicago are already 20-deep waiting for the Hawks parade to start. And, of course, we have the crosstown series, which will, once and for all, determine which team has bragging right to say they make less stupid  mistakes than the team on the other side of town.

ARE YOU AS FIRED UP AS I AM?!?!?!?

 

ADDENDUM, via abe frohman:

Ladies and gentlemen, the Stanley Cup:
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Chicago Cubs Thursday Headlines: This Time, Lou Really Means Business

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 09:  Niklas Hjalmarsson  of the Chicago Blackhawks hoists the Stanley Cup after the Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime to win the Stanley Cup in Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Congrats to the Chicago Fire on their MLS championship


Yesterday, Lou Piniella had meetings with all the hitters. His message? Those who hit will play (I think we've heard that before). How did the lowly Cub offense respond?

The Cubs went with a right-handed hitting lineup against lefty Randy Wolf, and they tagged him for 5 homers: 2 each by Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto and 1 by Derrek Lee.

"All we're trying to do is create a little sense of urgency here," Piniella said after the game as all TVs in the clubhouse were tuned to the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup celebration. "OK? We've got keep grinding. That was the purpose (of the meetings). But these guys swung the bats tonight."

Frankly, I'm more interested in seeing who's in the lineup today, and how they hit today. Pat Hughes said on the radio that it's been two weeks since the Cubs have won back-to-back games. Blech.

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Chicago Cubs Wednesday Headlines: Ugh


June 08, 2010- Milwaukee, WI. Miller Park..Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ted Lilly  pitched for 8 innings giving up 1 runs and 4 hits to the Milwaukee Brewers..Milwaukee Brewers won over the New York Mets 3-2..Mike McGinnis / CSM.



Last night the Cubs got good pitching and just enough situational hitting. Unfortunately, the bottom of the ninth didn't go as planned.

Marmol hit Weeks, and just when it looked like he'd get himself out of trouble, Marmol later gave up a game-winning 2-run single to former Cub Casey McGehee for a 3-2 Milwaukee victory Tuesday night.

McGehee's ball wasn't hit hard, but it got past Marmol and skittered off the second-base bag, scoring Weeks and Prince Fielder.


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Chicago Cubs Headlines: Community Project (X 2)

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It can be yours for the low, low price of however much a ticket to the June 17th game costs!

 Commun ity Project Number One: Operation grab as many of the Ryan Theiout bobbleheads as possible. This BEST THING GIVEN AWAY AT ANYTHING EVER will be available to those attending the June 17th Cubs game.

First, I can't believe we set LOHO day for TWO DAYS AFTER they're giving this thing away. Marketing Gods, why do you hate me? Second, if I had a ticket for this game, I would be camping out at Wrigley to get in line for that thing--something I haven't done since I got up at 3:00 am to stand in line for Bon Jovi tickets when I was 14.

I won't lie--I want one of these for myself. But then, I want many, MANY more of them so we can a) give them away and b) torture them as the situation my warrant. Get your hands on any of these for LOHO, and you'll be my new BFF.

Also, I think I coined a new nickname for The Riot last night and Twitter, and I didn't feel right not sharing with you guys. I called him Ryan "Theriout!" Funny, right?

Community Project Two: Everyone post a headline. Sorry kids, I've got a client meeting this morning, and won't be back around until closer to 11:00. But look, I'll get you started!

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Chicago Cubs Monday Headlines: Will They Ever Win Another Series?

UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1950s:  Portrait of young girl crying.  (Photo by George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)
Me while thinking of the Cubs


At least the Blackhawks won, right? The Cubs lost another series to another craptacular team over the weekend. Randy Wells allowed the Astros to hit around three times in the first before recording an out. Is anything going right?

The bright spot for the Cubs was rookie reliever Andrew Cashner, who relieved Wells and worked 12/3 perfect innings, reaching 98 mph on the radar gun. He soon could see eighth-inning duty.

"Yeah, we're going to put him in that role in the back end," Piniella said. "It looks like he's comfortable out there. He's throwing the ball good. We haven't had too much of that (high velocity). It's nice to get a good young arm. He's gotten some experience. Next time out, we'll put him back toward the end of the ballgame."

Not only did Andrew Cashner pitch well, Lou said a dirty baseball phrase: "... that role in the back end." Tee hee.


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Chicago Cubs Sunday Headlines and Game Thread: Cubs @ Astros, 1:05 PM Central


MLB: Brewers vs Cubs APR 25



Tyler Colvin has been taking his vitamins and saying his prayers in the hopes that Lou Piniella would see fit to unleash Tylermania! Last night, he got to play and made good.

In the seventh, Colvin homered into the upper deck in right with a man on against Oswalt. One day earlier, Piniella said he was going to start playing Colvin more.

"That was great; it was good to get a win and put some runs on the board," said Colvin, who is batting .300 with 6 homers. "I'm not going to hit too many home runs. I wouldn't get too excited about that."

As far as playing time, Piniella may find it hard to keep Colvin out of the lineup.

"Colvin, we're going to play," Piniella said. "I'm just going move him around. I'm going to be fair to everybody, but Colvin will be in the lineup most of the time."

Though the Cubs' eight-run outburst may have had more to do with the awakening of two middle-of-the-order bats that have been slumbering.

Aramis Ramirez homered and knocked out three hits and Koyie Hill made another step toward becoming the starting catcher with two hits.

Ramirez and Derrek Lee had multi-hit games in the same game for the first time this season.

And even Ryan Theriot got in on the action.

And on they day of the Belmont Stakes, Ryan Theriot coaxed his first walk since May 1, the date of the Kentucky Derby.

"Let's hope the next one is not the Arlington Million," Piniella said with a laugh.


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Chicago Cubs Saturday Headlines and Game Thread: Cubs @ Astros, 6:05 PM Central


Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano throws a pitch to the New York Mets in New York


That didn't quite work out as planned. Big Z returned, but the Cubs once again turned in a lackluster performance in a loss. Lou Piniella says changes have to be made.

"We'll make a couple changes tomorrow," Piniella said. "I'm going to get Colvin into the lineup and let the kid play. I've been patient enough watching. I'm going to let the kid play and see what he can do, give us some energy. So we'll have him in the lineup.

"I'm probably going to put Hill behind the plate, too. We're not scoring any runs. We need somebody that keeps the other team from running. We'll do that tomorrow and see what happens. I know these guys are trying. I know they're trying. But, boy, I tell you what, we see the same thing every day, day in and day out."

And despite not necessarily getting the results he wanted, Zambrano felt good in his return.

"I felt good today," Zambrano said. "The most important thing was my fastball was good today. My sinker was good today. We're just not hitting good. We need to score more runs. Sometimes we don't pitch good and we hit. Sometimes we don't hit and we pitch good.

"Just execute better on my pitches next time, and with the knowledge that I have and the experience that I have in the big leagues, it will turn around."

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Chicago Cubs Friday Headlines: Little-to-Nothing to Report


Soupy Sleeper


Here we are after another day off, with little real news to report. One thing we know is that Big Z will be starting tonight. Unless Mother Nature decides to be a big jerk again.

Lou Piniella named Carlos Zambrano as his starter for Friday night's game at Houston, while leaving the next two spots open.

Piniella said after Wednesday night's postponement in Pittsburgh that he would prefer to let Zambrano start Friday. Zambrano didn't warm up Wednesday night, playing catch instead as the team waited to find out whether the game would be played.

Carlos Silva and Ryan Dempster were scheduled to pitch Friday and Saturday. The two could be pushed back a day or Piniella may insert Ted Lilly in Sunday's spot to avoid pitching him against the Pirates again in Monday's make-up game.



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Chicago Cubs Thursday Headlines: Mother Nature Foils the Return of Big Z


Lightning streaks across the sky in Buenos Aires during a thunderstorm



A rainout in Pittsburgh last night ruined the big night for Big Z. That coupled with an off day today means a giant two day snoozefest for Cub fans. As for the rotation going forward, Lou Piniella's not quite sure what it'll look like now.

"We'll sit down on the airplane and try to figure this thing out," Piniella said. "But we're caught in a little ways because (Ted) Lilly has had 3 starts against this team (Pittsburgh) and (Randy) Wells just pitched against them. So we're going to see if we can juggle this thing around so we can pitch somebody different here on Monday."

Zambrano will pitch one of the games in Houston. The original rotation for Friday-Sunday for the Cubs was Carlos Silva, Ryan Dempster and Wells.

In bullpen news, Lou's not going to rush Andrew Cashner into the late-inning role.

"Our bullpen is fine," Piniella said. "I've got to get Cashner broken in the right way. I don't want to run him out there with the game on the line immediately. We did that with Marmol when he first came up here three years ago. The difference then was we were scoring more runs so it was much easier to do.

"Now, with the scarcity of runs, every game is tight, and I don't know if we're going to have that luxury or not, but I would like to get him out there a couple times when he can relax and just throw the ball and not have a game on the line. I'm hoping that's what we can do. I think that'll be much better long term for the young man and long term for us."

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Cubs Tuesday Headlines

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It's a tough time to be a Cubs fans right now, kids.

On the other hand, I'd rather watch the Cubs lose to the Pirates every day of the week than watch Jason Alexander dance around in his underwear in his Jenny Craig commercial; so there's that.

Those of you who live in areas that enjoyed sunshine yesterday, count yourselves as lucky. Those of us in thunderstormy Chicago were stuck inside watching the Cubs' poor effort until the Hakws game kicked off at 7:00 pm CT.

 

After a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh left them with a 13-15 record in May, Piniella was officially out of answers.

He benched Ryan Theriot on Monday and said he'd give Derrek Lee a day off Tuesday in favor of Xavier Nady.

But other than that?

"I don't know," he said. "I don't know. I don't know. I really don't know. I'm going to be honest with you. I wish I had some answers. But I just ...

"You would think sooner or later that this offense would wake up and start scoring a sufficient number of runs just to win baseball games. I mean, the last three games we've won, we've shut out the opposition

.

Lou, on the one hand, I really feel your pain. On the other hand, I'm not the one who put ARamis and his .164 average in the 4-hole.

 

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Chicago Cubs Monday Headlines and Game Thread: Happy Memorial Day/Cubs @ Pirates, 12:35 Central


U.S. Flags Are Placed At Graves At Arlington National Cemetery


I think it's worthwhile every Memorial Day to take a few moments to appreciate that so many have sacrificed their lives to build this great nation in which we live. I'd rather more people focus on that than on boating and grilling, but we all have our own thing.

I'm not going to mention yesterday's game, so we'll just jump to the exciting news. Our newest minor league prospect savior is on his way. Andrew Cashner will join the team in Pittsburgh.

Asked if the Cubs planned to make a roster move to balance out the bullpen with Carlos Zambrano returning to the rotation, Lou Piniella said Andrew Cashner, the organization's top draft pick in 2008, would join the team before the Pittsburgh series.


However, general manager Jim Hendry later sent word through the Cubs' media relations department that Cashner would likely join the Cubs at some point during the Pittsburgh series, not necessarily today.

The right-handed rookie would bring balance to the bullpen as far as matchups. With the left-handed Gorzelanny joining the bullpen in place of the right-handed Zambrano, the Cubs would be carrying four lefty relievers and only two right-handers, not including closer Carlos Marmol. A corresponding move to clear a roster spot will follow.


As you may have heard, this Cashner kid seems like the real deal.

Cashner has enjoyed success in the minors this season. He began the year at Class AA Tennessee, where he went 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 6 starts. In 5 appearances with Class AAA Iowa in May, the 23-year-old went 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA in 21 innings with 17 strikeouts and 2 walks. Cashner's last 2 appearances at Iowa were in relief. Piniella did not specify Cashner's immediate bullpen role.

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Chicago Cubs Sunday Headlines and Game Thread: Carlos Silva Still on Cy Young Express


Tribune Photo by Phil Velasquez


Remember the Carlos Silva that we didn't want anywhere near a pitching mound after the Milton Bradley trade? Me neither. Sure, I know that he's due for a regression, but Saturday's game was nothing short of a pitching clinic, and he's now 7-0 with a 3.12 ERA.

Talk about a quality start. Yes, Saturday's was just that as the big right-hander went 7 innings and finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts while allowing only 2 hits and no walks.

No, here's the quality start that's really impressive: Silva is the first starting pitcher to begin his Cubs career with 7 victories since King Cole in 1910. And that's long before anybody knew anything about quality starts and everybody was throwing them.

"Today, I didn't throw any pitch just to throw it. Every single pitch had a purpose," Silva said. "I threw very good, very good."


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Chicago Cubs News: Casey Blake Is a Crybaby and Country Joe Gets His