Lineup Notes: Ump inconsistent rule interpretation is the real issue. Plus updates on Russell, Olt, and Grimm

I was pretty vocal about the poor home plate umpiring yesterday and I’ve seen some backtracking of late, but I will stand my ground here. Reducing something to whether each individual pitch was a strike or wasn’t a strike in a vacuum isn’t what changes a game.  It is the inconsistency.  It isn’t ideal situation when an umpire arbitrarily expands or contracts the strike zone, but as long as he is consistent with that zone, then he gives the players and pitchers an opportunity to adapt to the rule interpretation du jour.

Early on, that may have been the case with Sam Holbrook, who was consistently calling pitches below the knees and just outside the corners strikes.

Until he didn’t.

You can’t blame Cubs pitchers for wanting to take advantage of the expanded strike zone that was established from the very first pitch of the game, but at two key moments, that strike zone contracted again.  What would have been outs earlier in the game, suddenly weren’t and that gave the Padres a second chance.  And sometimes that is all you need. This game was played by two evenly matched teams, it doesn’t take much to tip the scales in favor of one team over another.  An extra out or strike in a key situation can make all the difference in the world.

Whenever any of us engage in any competition all we ask for is an objective interpretation of the rules and in absence of that, we just ask for consistency so that we can at least adapt to the new environment.  But when you are playing with rules that apply in one instance and not another, you are setting the stage for confusion and, eventually, frustration.  Joe Maddon had every right to be angry and whether those pitches were technically in the strike zone isn’t the issue.  The issue was that the strike zone was a moving target that changed seemingly on whim.  The umpire had far too much control of the game, it became about him and not the players.  He took the game out of their hands.

No, you cannot solely blame the umpires for the Cubs loss, but when you force a team to overcome mistakes that were not their own, you put them at a disadvantage.  And if you give good MLB hitters another chance — especially knowing that the pitcher is now going to have to adjust by coming in more toward the center at the plate, you give them an advantage.  In short, you change the dynamics of the game by artificially changing the expectations and strategies of the players from at-bat to at-bat and sometimes from pitch to pitch.  When it comes to strike zone rule interpretation, I can live with it being strict or loose, but when it comes to rules — of any kind — what can be okay to do one time has to be okay to do every time.

This all could have worked in favor of the Cubs, but that would not have made it more acceptable in the big picture.  A game needs to be decided by players under a consistent set of rules for 9 innings.  It cannot be decided by the arbitrary and randomly changing whims of an umpire.

That is all that both ballplayers and fans can ask.

Thus endeth the rant…now back to baseball for the real reason we watch it:  the players themselves.  With that, here is today’s lineup (and broadcast info).

Lineup Notes…

  • Miguel Montero and Kyle Hendricks back in the lineup so between the better framing and pinpoint command, we should see an efficient game and a lot of balls put in play.   Hendricks is going to have to locate well and limit hard contact.
  • With a fair amount of balls in play expected, especially on the ground, the infield defense becomes important.  The Cubs have the veteran Jonathan Herrera at 2B, who has shown to be a steady fielder throughout his career, but the Cubs have also gotten surprisingly good play of late from Starlin Castro, while Kris Bryant showed he is not going to be a liability at 3B.
  • I want to note yesterday that it was great to see Joe Maddon (and Dave Martinez) passionately stick up for his ballplayers, right or wrong.  That is going to build an instant trust that he has their back.  If there is a silver lining in yesterday’s game, I feel it was Maddon’s ejection.  We’ve seen the dispassionate Dale Sveum and then the supportive, but mild mannered Rick Renteria as managers, but Maddon took things to a level we have not seen since the days of Lou Piniella.

Other News and Notes…

It turns out Addison Russell will be exclusively at 2B for Iowa.  This is going to increase speculation for a call-up even more.

  • The Cubs continue to insist that Russell is a SS but it appears the opening for him, at least for this season, will be at 2B.  The Cubs probably feel he is polished enough to move back to SS without any need for a transition period, so we don’t want to read too much into it, but it does seem to indicate some preparation for the short term.   Another advantage to this is that it would seem to make Javier Baez the full time SS when he returns, thereby increasing his own value.  Tommy Birch, by the way, is a good Twitter follow for Iowa-related news.
  • Mike Olt is in a full cast with a hairline fracture of the wrist and will be out 4-6 weeks before rehabbing.  See picture and tweet here.
  • Theo Epstein said today that Justin Grimm is rehabbing at Iowa and doing well.  He may be ready for a bullpen session soon.  It doesn’t appear to be as serious as we once feared and his early return could help alleviate the need for bullpen help outside the organization.

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  • Good news on Grimm. Too bad for Olt. Sounds like close to the all star break for him. I was hoping he could establish himself a little more, if only for trade purposes.

    Lets get the W flag flying today.

  • This is a billion dollar game and umpires need to go. We can see on TV immediately if it's a ball or strike in most cases.

    Can't a billion dollar game come up with a technology that could do this automatically for each batter? Have a machine "set the zone" before they step into the box based on their height and stance?

    I think umpires are archaic and detrimental to the truth of the real outcomes of the games.

  • As a side note, it's very possible a drone above home plate could accomplish this.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Bring on the robo ump!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I have been disgusted with the umpires for years. They arbitrarily redefine the strike zone every game and every ump.The zone is defined by MLB and the officials must abiide by the rules. consistancy is only a part of the problem any pitch above the belt is likely to be called a ball. They seem to understand the zone from inside to outside, but totally ignore it up and down. Thi sis to aay mnothing about the imaginary new rules about speeding up the game. They are completely ignored. The missed strike three call leading to the game winning hit was simply an arbitrary decision by a guy who has no business in the major leagues. I hate them all and can't wuit for a robo ump. I have less trouble with the bases. At least there is athere a replay option..On the whole, I think they do a decent job except behind the plate. Officials in all sports ought to be no more than a part of the playing field.. In roundball it is even worse It is almost impossible to be called for to be called for a charge.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    I am in full agreement with you. My father and I always have that discussion. He has been for the robo ump for years, I am fully aboard now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    But then we wouldn't have had the pleasure of watching Maddon's ejection.

    Seriously, I would miss that.

    Many of my fondest memories of watching minor league baseball while growing up in Clinton, Iowa was seeing the manager Don Bacon getting ejected from games and then building a mountain of dirt on home plate while the home plate umpire watched. Great theatre! Better than most movies!

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    John, I didn't see the game. Do you think Montero or Ross get those borderline pitches called strikes with their ability to frame better than Castillo?

  • In reply to Jeff Minick:

    Maybe the low two seamer Schlitter threw, that is where Castillo struggles to frame well. But that goes to show how one frame and/or bad call can change the course of a game. I wish framing wasn't necessary -- and I have a hypothesis that it isn't just framing, but catcher like Montero who are assertive and constantly lobby the ump have an impact on strike calls -- but they are factors as long as we have a fallible human ump who can only catch so much.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with the impact a guy like Montero makes. His "framing" is not limited to pitch selection, it also has to do with constantly checking with the umpire on the zone so the zone becomes even more set in the umpire's own mind.

    An umpire is human, could get distracted by a pretty girl in the crowd like all of us, and then miss what could become an important strike or ball. Maybe a pigeon flies over his head and he sees it out of the corner of his eye and distracts him. I think in the absence of our robo drone, having a catcher who (like hitters) keeps asking the ump about the zone, in my mind, forces him to focus on it more.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Exactly. Well put.

  • In reply to Jeff Minick:

    Is it also possible (think about it) that "framing" also indirectly results in bad calls?

    Umpires know who the framers are and aren't, and might they sometimes subconsciously battle against those who try to change the strike zone on close pitches?

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    In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    My initial reaction is, "Probably not" for a simple reason:

    Professionalism: If they did that it would implicitly admit that they are affected by framing. They are unlikely to do this.

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    John - Your rant was a 100% on the money.

    Also, with the table already tilted in the pitchers favor these days, don't you think the league would instruct their umpires to call a tighter zone? The wider zone especially puts hitters at an even greater disadvantage.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    If the league did, you vcan rest assured that it woukld have absolutely no impact on the pima donna SOBs who consider thenmselves the most inmportant and enabled people in the game.When we were kids playing, we managed to officiate ourselves.

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    Don't read too much into it: that's not my MO! I see the Russell hug game happening Wednesday or Thursday, and he'll man second for the Cubs vs. the Reds on Friday. Yes, Baez at short definitely boosts his value. Hope he rights the ship.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    You see the Russell hug happening Wednesday or Thursday. I see Russell spending at least 2 months acclimating at 2B in Iowa. I like reading your posts. It gives me a different perspective. :-)

  • Very good to hear about Grimm's progress. A good BP is a very nice asset.

    Go Kyle pitch well today and get a W.

  • You missed the point then, because inconsistency and rules that change randomly within the ballgame is simply not acceptable. No need to coddle umpires and make excuses for them, they need to be held accountable just like anyone else. No special rules for them just because they represent authority figures. They are not above the rules of the game. And if you don't think these umps have huge egos, think again. They have egos that are just as big as the biggest stars in the game. They can be every bit about themselves as the players can be. They can dig their heels in and choose might (and their own pride) over right -- which is exactly what many do, including and especially Holbrook yesterday.

    And you as a reader can stick to the second part of the article if you want to coddle umps and willfully ignore when they act incompetently, but don't tell me what I should stick to. I'm not afraid to speak up when something was done wrong. You do have the right to not read it if you don't like it, but you have no right to tell me what my opinion should be or what I should write. I don't even tell our own writers here what to write. But if you still insist on dictating what people should write, then start your own blog and dictate yourself.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    This is about my opinion on my blog. This is a country with freedom of press and I can write whatever I like. If you don't like it, just don't read. You can certainly state your disagreement but never presume you have the right to tell me what I should write. That is well outside your scope. As I said, we don't even do that with our own writers here, yet you are trying to dictate to me what I should and should not have an opinion on. Like I said, if you feel a strong need to dictate, dictate yourself. Write your own blog.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It is not a card, it is a direct response to you trying to dictate what I write. If you attempt to confront me on that level, I am not going to back down, so don't back pedal...because I won't. I have no respect for people who say something and then can't stand by it and try to weasel their way out by reframing. And yes, I will mock people of that ilk on Twitter. At least have the courage to admit what you said, especially when your words are still there for me to see...

    "Stick to the second part of the article", you said. That is a direct statement about what I should write and what opinion I should have. Nothing ambivalent about it. stick to the second part of the article. Just don't read it. Or read it and feel free to disagree. Either way, I don't care. But I will stick to writing whatever I want. End of story.

    And I have had the answer since I started writing: Robo umps. Take HP umps out of the balls/strikes part of the equation.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That is your back pedal statement you are hiding (not standing) behind. That's fine, trolls usually fold like lawn chairs and back off original statements when confronted. You are no different. Says a lot about you that you willfully ignore your original statement and can't own up and be accountable. We all know what you said, so be accountable for it or go crawl back under your rock.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Doesn't make sense to anyone who refuses to be accountable for what they said. It didn't go away, your original statement is still there, you just think I will believe your modified statement was the only one you said.

    I don't care about what you said the second time around, I called you out on your original words and you are backing off from it. No courage to stand by your original words, so you have to modify them to avoid having to own up. Typical.

    This is going nowhere. You've hijacked this thread long enough. It either ends right here or I will end it for you.

    And unlike you, I stand by my words.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're on treacherous ground right now. That's said trying to be helpful.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's why it's so hard to get in a little argument online. Because it could end amicably or it could turn into fireworks.

    Let's get some runs Cubs, and a Bryant hit. This is not how this weekend is supposed to play out

  • As an umpire (NFHS & NCAA - not MiLB or MLB) and a former catcher; I can see both sides of the robo ump. I'm in favor of using technology for the balls/strikes. We have it, why not use it? While I'm sure they do their very best, and this is "supposed" to be the very best at the MLB level, there is still way too much inconsistency.

  • It is not supposed to be part of the game, and that is a problem. The job of the officials is to enforce the rules, not to make them.If they can't do that, they should look for another line of work. It would all go away if just one got fired for making his own rules.

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    It was both. Inconsistent and off. I think it's imperative MLB enforces a set strike zone. A strike or ball should not be an opinion. I know human factor will never make it 100%. I can live with a missed call here or there so long as it's close, but to consistently mess up the strike zone is and should be unacceptable. There needs to be a more stricter policy in place with some severe consequences for not performing well as an ump. In baseball if you don't do the job as a manager, coach or executive you get fired. As a player you get sent down or released. Umpires have no fear factor and that needs to change.

  • In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    They are not held accountable -- at least not publicly, just as any other figure in the game is.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Think about it this way, if Maddon had said anything more severe than what he did at the press conference, HE would be fined or suspended. That's just crazy. And this was just one game. His F-up in the Wild Card game cost the Braves their season. Baseball is wiling to have a lockout to reduce draft spending but just tolerates horrible umpires. Priorities are 180 degrees out of phase.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It's crazy. Everything else is in play but the question of proper rule enforcement comes up and people just throw up their hands and go, "Oh well, that's just part of the game". I just don't get why people are satisfied with anything less than calling the game objectively and correctly.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It's just strange to see umpires given so much power and authority. It boggles my mind. One more question for you John. What's the word on Ramirez? Do they have an MRI set up, did they have one and I missed it somehow, is there a timeline on his IR stint, etc.?

  • In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    He had an MRI and it showed no structural damage. All things considered, great news.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Imagine the consequences if umpire ratings were made public. They are constantly reviewed and held to standard. However making their ratings public would create chaos with rabid fans. And, if framing no longer has any value, would the Cubs have added Montero at $12M which is $10M more than Castillo?

    Unless someone can show a decided bias on the part of an umpire, it's something that averages out over time similar to babip. Like life, there are times when someone gets the short stick. I prefer to see the players and team deal with it rather than insert robocalls. into the game.

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    In reply to tharr:

    The issue is nothing happens as a result of those rankings, except for "bonus" pay for ASGs and the playoffs. Terrible umps like Bucknor and Holbrook need to be fired. The union -- believably -- resists that at every turn, but this is a fight more important to the health baseball than strict draft slotting and an international draft.

  • In reply to tharr:

    True. It is complicated and I am sure they do it the way they do it for exactly the reasons you mentioned. But I still prefer robo umps. Why deal with error that can change a game if you don't have to? What is the reason for keeping umps? Why should players deal with it? How does it benefit the game? Skip the review process and go straight to robo ump.

  • As a strong and consistent defender of umpires(especially home plate), I have to say yesterday's game and this column is giving me pause.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I hear you. And I understand the argument for keeping them -- but to me nothing consistently changes the course of a game more than balls and strikes. I'd be okay with keeping all 4 umps, perhaps with one extra in the field that also acts as the head umpire, similar to referee in football.

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    It def seems like they are not held accountable ( the umps) but not many of us know what really goes on behind the scenes.

    We can point to the umps as for the reason we lost the game, but it was more then just that. Poor execution on offense. Why Is Schillter even in the game ( yea I understand the get him some confidence ) but this was a big game to win and w a 2 run lead, we need to close out the " Kris Bryant " day w out "A" relievers m( strop for 4 outs, am I crazy to think that? )

    Let's hope the bats are up for a real challenge today. ( Tyson ross )

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Agree that strop should have been in the game.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    You're right in acknowledging that we don't know what happens to MLB umpires behind the scenes, but what we do know is that many umpires who regularly stink at calling balls and strikes are still umpires in the big leagues. When a player can't perform up to expectations he finds himself either demoted or unemployed. I know the umpires have a contract, but I would insist that future deals include a performance clause that would allow demotion or termination of umpires for repeated poor performance.

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    In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    I agree w everything you wrote. The problem is I believe they are a union, and once your in a Union, it's almost impossible to get you out.

    Prediction for the game. Bryant much better w the bat, probably worse w the glove though ( he was great yesterday ). Hendricks doesn't fool the professional padre hitters, and if the Cubs don't get some big hits w risp and a few breaks, they lose 5-1

    Those who haven't seen Tyson ross yet are in for a treat.

    I wonder what it will take to get his brother !!

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Jim, I am pro-union, but not pro umpire union. They are too powerful, kind of like the NRA. One sad thing is, I believe I remember either Joe Torre or maybe it was Tony LaRussa saying they'd never support going to automated ball-strike calls. Since we all know that Tony thinks he knows everything, that could be a problem for progress on this matter.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:


  • I think there is a pecking order with umpires. The supposedly good teams get calls. The supposedly bad teams do not.

  • In reply to cubsker:

    I do think they are influenced subconsciously by reputation -- more individual players than teams, in my opinion. They're human. They will give the Frank Thomas's and the Greg Maddux's the benefit of the doubt on the same pitch they would probably not give to an aggressive player like Starlin Castro.

  • In reply to cubsker:

    Kind of like beating the Heavy weight boxing champ. One can't just out point him, but must knock him out.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    Great example. If manny wants to beat mayweather, he better knock him out. ( minimum knock him down a few times )

    UFC is the same way. You can't take the Title in a close decision

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    I lived in south Florida for 14 years, and then coming to this cold was a little shock. I just walked my dog in shorts and a sweatshirt. No it's not warm, but mask cold ?

    Where does Soler think he's playing ? Antarctica ? Or maybe he's Zartan from those old GI. joes

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    This could be the ball game for the Cubs

    1st two on, soler up w no outs in the 5th

    Cubs need to break thru here if they want to get Hendricks a W

  • Geeez! Soler has been carved up like a turkey today! 3 ABs and 3 KOs and he's looked terrible doing it.

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    In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Yup, that was our chance to get back in this game

    Least we know what solers weakness is......get ahead of him, make him believe it's 30 degrees outside and throw him some junk low and away

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Soler's a young player and hasn't had good pitch recognition since that two homer day.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Castro hasn't looked so great the last two ABs either. Ross's slider was killing them.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    My concern is that Soler becomes Baez Part Deux. Has hit a couple bombs, made a couple good D's but is as lost as Alcantara--who by the way needs a trip back to Iowa to get himself straightened out.

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    Let's just be happy that we are tied right now. It's anyones game now folks. Let's get 2 or 3 more and that should be all she wrote. ( unless Maddon wants to build up schiltters confidence again )

  • The last few games have been troubling to watch. Apart from Bryant's Baez impersonation yesterday and the first couple of pitches of today's first AB, I've noticed that Soler's mature plate approach has seemed to disappear lately. I've also noticed that "Respect 90" seems to have stayed in AZ. It's frustrating to watch all the non-chalant jogging to first base. At least put just a little bit of pressure on the fielders to get that throw over there. We've seen how just a little bit of pressure can lead to throwing errors.

    I'm sure Joe and staff will be preaching these things, I guess it is just a bit of a surprise that these things didn't come north from AZ with the Cubs.

    End of my rant.

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    Huge huge knocks......2-2 prediction still has a shot

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    HR montero and the Cubs have the lead 3-2

    Cards look like they aren't going to lose so let's keep the pressure on ( early or not )

  • John, absolutely a great article, thank you, this has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time now. And it seems so many of the denizens have similar thoughts.
    I would like to add two points. Baseball is concerned about the length of the games, and declining offense. Well, IMO, the inconsistent ball-strike calls contribute greatly to both issues. If pitches were called by lazer, and accurately and consistently, pitchers 'couldn't' nibble as much, hoping to get a favorable call on 1 of 2, and changing the batters mindset, to get more defensive in the AB.
    If the pitchers had to throw actual strikes, they would have to get the ball over the plate more often, and consequently we'd see faster games and the batters would see better pitches.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Thanks. Appreciate that. I did try to make it clear that it would not have been any more OK had it benefit the Cubs instead. I mean, I probably wouldn't have been as frustrated, but I would have not liked the inconsistent zone on principle.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I understand, and I agree, it sure wasn't because of yesterdays game when I first formed my opinion. Umpires union has a high ego too, of their own self importance, to ever give in too easy on this point of automating ball-strike calls. It's a shame.

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    Castro saves the day

    I love this team

    Now let's get greedy......just 1 more run so Rondon can have a nice easy save for my fantasy squads

  • Bryant is the poster child for OBP today. Three walks now!

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    This is déjà vu if the Cubs lose this game today

    They should have at least 4 runs

  • Seen enough of Coghlan in the 5 hole. He is a liability.

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    Who says montero can't hit lefties ?

    Cubs over 7 = $$$

    Cubs should = $$

    Now need the the Bulls to come thru for the all Chicago parlay , sox, sox over, Cubs, Cubs over, and Bulls ML

    Is there anyway the Bulls lose tonight ?

  • Yesterday was very frustrating. Don't know what bother me the most the umpiring or the channel 7 swish every time they showed the pitch location.

  • Great article John and I can't agree more about the consistency. If the players know what to expect they can adjust. The players are out there putting in the effort to become good ball players but it seems some of these umps don't want to put in the same effort.

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    Anyone else a little nervous ?

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    We will be lucky to be tied heading to bottom of the 9th

    I will take it

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    Big out, kept runner at they still need a hit

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    Wow, Derek Norris w an infield hit. The wheels have officially fallen off

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    What at at bat.....damn you coke and damn you Rondon

    Well the 2014 Cubs always lost these kind of games. Let's show everyone that this is the brand new 2015 Chicago Cubs

    Poor kyle hendricks

    I would have never guessed a 4 run lead wouldn't be safe. Guess we have to go a little bit before we are royals /yankees quality

    Lot of pitches for Rondon so he Prob won't be available for tomorrow

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    This umpire hasn't been very nice to Rondon either

  • Theo keeping Jackson on the roster is costing us games.

  • In reply to bogo:

    But not today's game!

  • Wonder if a roster move is made to bring up James Russell tomorrow. Someone could be put on the 60 day DL.

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    Jackson is going to save us.....going to throw 4 shutout innings 14,15, 16, and 17

  • Bryant has shown great discipline, but I'd like to see him hit a ball HARD.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    at this at bat

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    Now can someone get in a runner home from 3rd w less then 2 outs

    This is what good teams do

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    He needs to just poke one into rt and win this

  • Okay, still waiting for him to hit one hard but I will so take it.

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    Get Ross a cricket bat so he has a chance to make contact

    The 5 million dollar man has a chance to quiet all his doubters

  • I know it's early in the season, but man would this be a good game to WIN.

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    How about a grand slam so people can remember what our present n future shortstops name is

    Starlin Castro Is his name folks, don't forget it

  • Cubs win, Cubs win, Cubs win !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Off of Craig Kimbrel.......can u say HUGE

    We should be going for the sweep tomorrow, but another series W is fine w me

    What a great game. Now let's hope this effort has fired up our Bulls

    Make this championship city, first Hawks win the cup, then Bulls win the trophy, and the Cubs cap it all in october with the WS

  • Well the Umps gave us one back: Bryant should have rung up on the pitch Rizzo stole on. Wasn't even close to being a ball.

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    In reply to Oneear:

    Your a 100% right on that. I am glad we have a few open minded Cubs fans on the site.

    Still not as obvious as the ones yesterday due to the runner stealing the base.

    Moral of the story, you can't give MLB players 4 strikes regardless of the age/talent of the hitter against a dominant or bum pitcher.

    Let's go Bulls. Please take these bums serious and don't sleep walk thru the 1st quarter. Put these clowns away early !

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Good point. I thought it was he was out too. That evens the score a little..but just as soon hope it doesn't happen on either side.

  • The Cubs hitters saw Jack Links warming up and decided they'd better win this game now.

  • I am in the camp of using technology to call balls & strikes to provide consistency and accuracy. While I don't believe a change will occur in the near term at the MLB level, I don't anticipate the same potential degree of resistance if same was applied, particularly at the lower levels A and below.

    In fact, I think such a change could become very useful in player development as both pitchers and hitters would or at least could become accustomed to what a ball and strike really was. Furthermore, establishing such a system would provide actual data/experience as to the new scheme's implementation and impact on the game. Assuming success, establishment of such a precedent might create indirect pressure on MLB umpires, hopefully causing them to "up" their game. I see it as a Win-Win alternative.

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    I like the idea of starting it at the minor league level.

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    Agree with you on umps John. The union should at least show the fans that they are holding umps accountable by communicating any disciplinary action. Torii Hunter called them out last week when the ump didn't do his job correctly. How about a reply from MLB or the union at least acknowledging that? Some of these umpires definitely have ego issues.
    The biggest difference I see so far in this new season is the players really seeing a lot of pitches, thus making the SP work. Today, that's how they got to Ross. He was over 100 pitches by the 5th inning! I believe the message to all players in the org is to see more helps the offensive game and at the same time wears down the opposing pitcher.
    Great discipline by Bryant too! If he can continue that, he will start seeing some cookies to crush!
    Soler didn't look too interested in playing ball today. He might need a day off to watch.
    Other good signs are the Cubs pitchers walking fewer, Cub batters walking more, 12 steals only 2 caught, and overall very aggressive baserunning.

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