Wednesday, April 25, 2007

This is why the Cubs are the Cubs

The first Cub batter in today's game had the kind of thing happen to him that only happens to the Cubs. Ryan Theriot swung and hit the ball and it bounced initially behind the plate. The ball spun into fair territory as Theriot was starting toward first and bringing his bat back toward the plate in the motion of tossing it aside. While doing that, the ball hit his bat and rolled into foul territory. The umps called him out. That's the correct call, even though Theriot wasn't trying to hit the ball again.

The other day, the Cubs' Ronny Cedeno was called out trying to steal second on ball four because he overslid the base and was tagged after that. The walk only gives the runner second base and anything after that, he's on his own.

These kinds of things don't happen to other teams. Only the Cubs. That's how you go 100 years without winning a World Series.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Was that really necessary?

The day after the unfortunate tragedy of the shootings at Virginia Tech, a package shows up in the mailroom at NBC News containing a video "manifesto" (more like inane ramblings) from the lunatic who shot up the school. Naturally, they did what any news organization would do, which is play it into the ground without any regard for the feelings of those directly affected by the incident.

Soon, every news station was running it with the NBC News logo on it - as if it took some great reporting to get the scoop. That's an interesting image to associate with your brand. I can see the new marketing slogan now. "NBC News - the preferred network of homicidal maniacs." But, I digress.

My papers the next day ran a picture from the video. The Chicago Tribune went the relatively tasteful (meaning still revolting) route by printing a picture of the killer posing with his guns pointed at an angle away from the camera. The NW Indiana Times ran the picture of him with his gun pointed right at the camera. Right on the front page. Good Morning, NW Indiana! I had to throw away both front pages to keep them from my kids. That's not an image they need to see. For that matter, that's not an image I need to see.

I understand that the video is part of the story and it can't be ignored, but it also doesn't have to be rammed down our throats. Technology is such today that NBC News didn't have to run it at all. They could have summarized it and directed viewers to the NBC News website to see the video if they felt so inclined. The papers didn't have to print such provocative pictures from the video. We get the idea without the sensationalism.

Spare us, but more importantly, spare those directly affected.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It's snowing in Chicago...

and that can mean only one thing - it's opening day at Wrigley Field (technically, that was yesterday, but I messed up posting this, so it's a day late). Wrigley is the place where hope springs eternal, before landing awkwardly and breaking its neck.

The Cubs have hope this season, if only because they are in the worst division in baseball. They could just as easily finish 5th as 1st. Maybe only a few games will separate those teams.

They added Alfonso Soriano to the lineup, which means they have a better chance of out-scoring their pitching. It's a pretty imposing lineup with Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez in it, but the Cubs probably can't afford too much DL time from any of their regular players because other than Cliff Floyd, there's not much behind them.

Mark Prior and Kerry Wood went from having a rotation built around them to having rotator cuffs rebuilt (along with the rest of their arms) and neither will see the mound for the Cubs this season. Now the Cubs are trying to find help for Carlos Zambrano. Lefty Rich Hill looks pretty promising. At least he's throwing strikes. Ted Lilly will be pretty reliable too after coming over from Toronto. The Cubs may end up going as far as Cardinal reject Jason Marquis and still-recovering Wade Miller can take them as 4th and 5th starters.

The Cubs bullpen didn't get much help in the offseason. Ryan Dempster is still the closer, and the setup guys are still Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry. Eyre has given up five runs in his two appearances and Howry has already coughed up two games, so the starters better have some endurance.

The biggest new face for the Cubs is manager Lou Pinella, and his presence guarantees that the Cubs will be entertaining, if not good. Maybe more entertaining if they're bad, although I'll take boring and good if being boring is what it takes to be good. I would expect the Cubs to be more fundamentally sound this year, although there have already been some boneheaded plays. Pinella will be less tolerant of that stuff than Dusty Baker was.

The other big piece of news with the Cubs probably won't actually take place until after the season, but the team is going to be sold. That came about because their parent company, the Tribune, is being sold to gazillionaire Sam Zell. It doesn't look like Wrigley Field will be sold with the team though, which could make negotiations for the Cubs interesting.

Time for the bold prediction: If the Cubs stay healthy (relatively speaking), I think they'll win the division, although like I said, that's not really much of an accomplishment this year. After that, anything can happen. With the Cubs, that's usually bad.