Anti-All Star Team Revisited

June 30, 2006 | Comments (2) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Almost two months ago I put together a two-part series naming my early selections for the Anti-All Star Team. You can check out the AL team here, and NL here. Granted that was only after a month's worth of games, and some of the early ballot favorites have snapped out of their funk, some have not. Now as we've reached the close of the real All-Star voting, I thought we'd go back and tweak our AAS lineup, as we assemble a fresh crop of pure craptitude.

Joining me this time is fellow Saloon member, Brant Brown to offer his two cents to the cause.


FIRST BASE - Lance Niekro, SF - .255, 4 HR, 26 RBI

    Brant: J.T. Snow could put up these numbers.
    Chip: The rapper Snow could put up these numbers.

SECOND BASE - Kazuo Matsui, COL - .200, 1 HR, 7 RBI
    Brant: Fantastic job by Matsui of cheating the New York Mets out of money. At least this proves that not all Japanese stars can pan out in the Majors. Oh wait, Hideki Irabu taught us that. If Hideki Matsui felt obligated to apologize for breaking his wrist during a game, then this guy must be suicidal. Talk about dishonoring your country. Shame.
    Chip: Wow, this guy when he's not hurt, is making more than half of the entire Marlins payroll to basically play in AAA.

THIRD BASE - The corpse of Vinny Castilla, SD - .237, 3 HR, 20 RBI
    Brant: He sucked in RFK last year. What in the world would make Padres management think that this guy could hit in Petco Park? Yet he’s the kind of player that will hang around and end up swindling another team out of a chunk of cash next year. It defies logic. The only possible reasoning behind signing this guy must be the immense respect across MLB for the big-league cut.
    Chip: I don't think there's another player whose career has benefitted greater from the "Coors Factor" than Castilla. This is his 16th season in the bigs. 8 have been in Colorado, 6 of which he hit for 30+ homers and 90+ RBI. Impressive yes, except he's never reached those marks when playing anywhere else. Well I guess if you combine his totals in 2001 with Tampa Bay and Houston he had 91 RBI. Nonetheless, this guy is pretty worthless now.

SHORTSTOP - Clint Barmes, COL - .209, 3 HR, 41 RBI
    Brant: Well, you can’t blame his poor performance on the deer meat incident from last year. It’s amazing that a guy could hit under .250 playing half of his games in Coors Field.
    Chip: Yeah .209 is pretty brutal. Sadly though his 41 RBI is only one less than current Cubs RBI leader Aramis Ramirez. I wanted to put Furcal in here, but his defense and steals kept him off the roster.

CATCHER - Jason LaRue, CIN - .178, 4 HR, 11 RBI
    Brant: It’s amazing that this guy still has a job in the Majors. They just don’t grow good catchers anymore.
    Chip: What can you really say? Here's what Chaim Witz said about him a few weeks ago: "Jason LaRue: I mean, really, Jason LaRue? I had previously thought he retired in the late 90's, but I must have confused him with one of the other vanilla, faceless catchers who stay around based on their ability to 'call a game'. That .171 batting average will not get you laid."

OUTFIELD - Chris Duffy, PIT - .194, 0 HR, 4 RBI
    Brant: This kid has a thing or two to learn about baseball. He got hit in the head by Schilling in spring training and basically bitched to the media about Schilling afterward, to which Schilling replied, “Who’s Chris Duffy?” Then he goes AWOL when he gets assigned to the minors, like a baby, and takes a break from the game to “get his head straight”. Basically this kid has a combination of Rich Hill disease and Zack Greinke disease. The only cure is to grow a pair of balls.
    Chip: Chris decided to create the sequel to "Operation Shutdown". We'll see if OSII has a happier ending. Operation Shutdown III is in pre-production and is to star Treat Williams as a down-on-his-luck cop, trying to clean up a city full of corruption. Look for it next month on Cinemax.

OUTFIELD - Juan Pierre - .252, 1 HR, 12 RBI
    Brant: When the Cubs traded for Juan Pierre, it was assumed that he would steal upwards of 50 bases. What the Cubs failed to realize is that in order for this to happen, Pierre must first get on base. Sadly, the Cubs appear to be stuck with Pierre’s ineptitude for the remainder of the year.
    Chip: Jesus, the one spot in the lineup Dusty doesn't tinker with when he probably should. And the next person that blames his struggles on the taller grass in Wrigley gets stabbed in the jaw.

OUTFIELD - Reggie Abercrombie - .218, 3 HR, 14 RBI
    Brant: – I’m not sure that I’ve even seen this kid on a highlight reel. All I can be sure of is that he stands on the dugout steps with his shirt off during batting practice, as obnoxiously loud hip-hop music plays over the stadium PA system.
    Chip: I knew nothing about him when he made the AAS Team last time. Since then he's done nothing to change that. Also I still hate Abercrombie & Fitch.

I'll be back later for the American League.....

Ri-COCK-ulous Part 2

June 30, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Well we're about 30 minutes from game 1 of the Cubs-White Sox series at Wrigley. Not much to say here. At this point, for me, a series sweep of these buttholes would pretty much make my season (since there's not a snowball's chance in hell we're making it to the playoffs). And if we can't get the sweep, then my next wish is for an epic brawl involving a pileup on the mound that would rival the basebrawl in the Naked Gun. I wish we had Farnsworth still. Not for the bullpen but just to watch him body slam some poor schmuck from the White Sox just because he could. Who was that guy he annihilated from the Royals a few years ago? I'm rambling...

Today's matchup is Jon Garland versus Sean Marshall. Last time I talked about Marshall and gave him a glowing endorsement he got shellacked. I'll refrain from it this time around. But Jon Garland, the truth is in the numbers. His stats at Wrigley are less than stellar. He's given up 19 homers this season which is 4th worst in the majors. He averages 1.27 HR/start. Now that I've mentioned this I'm sure the bastard will throw a CGSHO on us. Lets hope not. Oh and good luck to Phat Bastard Nevin today, as he makes his 5th start at LF, while Thunder Matt rides the pine. I'm sure his .228 AVG will be a huge asset in the 6th spot today.......I hope you tear your ACL.

Realm of Red: Redhead of the Week

June 28, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Each week (or so) I will profile various redheads who paved the way for our own Thunder Matt. These men and women opened doors (often times kicking them in due to their fiery tempers) that would have otherwise kept Thunder Matt toiling in Independent Baseball leagues, shagging fly balls in Newark and frequenting seedy hotels. We tip our Cubs hats to these fair-skinned pioneers.

Today's Redhead: Lion-O

Thundercats, always the red-headed stepchild (pun intended) to Transformers, ran from 1985-1990. Don't ask me on what channel. Like I said, I was too busy watching Transformers. Anyway, Lion-O was the Lord of the Thundercats. According to Wikipedia, Lion-O has some sort of sword that 'is no longer than a dagger but can extend to full size during battle'. Ok, that is just gross and is obviously a not-so-subtle reference to his boner. Though judging from the nearly pornographic rendering to the right, Lion-O appears to have no genitalia whatsoever. (Cue the 'Unsolved Mysteries' music. Weiner tingles.)

Lion-O, an admitted alcoholic, was always jealous over the attention that He-Man received, so much so that he once snuck onto the He-Man set, where drunk on Pinot, he heckled the blonde hero with taunts of 'Gaywad!' and 'Murderer!'

For a while he and Cheetara were a rumored item, but his lack of a discernible penis, fiery temper and drunken rambles led to their demise. She was also totally weirded out by the odd lack of pigment or coloration around his mouth and eyes. Said Cheetara, "Even after the show went off the air, he would always yell 'Thunder, thunder, thunder, THUNDERCATS HO!' I was like 'Wow, seriously just stop. That's just annoying. Duh. (Clapping hands together and yelling at Lion-O, standing off camera) Don't threaten to hit me asshole! I will take you down!"

In the mid-90's Lion-O tried to revive his career with a couple of straight to video releases, including 'Orange Crush' where he played a aging wrestler making the rounds in the southern independent circuit (co-starring Lex Luger, playing himself) and 'Jumping Jacks With Lion-O' a workout video that charted at number 3007 on the workout video list, ranking right behind this video.

Since then, Lion-O has held a variety of odd jobs, including one of those construction worker who hold the 'Slow' sign on the highway, one of those guys who responds to the 'Smoke weed! Get paid!' advertisements in the classifieds and a brief stint as a roving scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Lion-O currently resides in Fort Dodge, Iowa, working as a shift manager at J-Mar Burgers.

Axl Rose Bites a Swede

June 28, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Governor X

In case you haven't heard, Guns N Roses singer Axl Rose was arrested in Stockholm for biting a security guard. Beyond that, he was "too intoxicated to be questioned right away." What does this have to do with baseball you ask? Absolutely nothing, but its just another example of how Axl Rose is cooler than you will ever be. Do you have the sack to get drunk and bite a Swede? I think not. You probably wouldn't even bite a Dane.

OK here's something baseball related. What will happen first - a Cubs World Series victory or Chinese Democracy hitting record store shelves?

Phat Bastard: Phil Nevin

June 28, 2006 | Comments (1) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

For those scoring at home, Phil Nevin is now 0-6 when he gets the starting nod at LF over Thunder Matt Murton.

Given that we have a day game today, perhaps Dusty will start Thunder Matt as well as Todd Walker and sit Nevin and Neifi "El Sapo Gordo" Perez on the bench, where they rightly belong.

I'm at the point now where I've convinced myself that Neifi would have to rape Dusty's kid while pouring sugar in his gas tank in order to get benched. Of course what do I know? He'd probably get moved to the lead-off spot then.

In order to help Dusty out, I took the liberty of creating this quick reference graphic for him. Just print it out the next time you're filling out the day's lineup and you'll have no problems.

An All-Star Coup

June 27, 2006 | Comments (1) | by T.R.

Here's the deal: There are three Pirates, in addition to Jason Bay, who are currently ranked in the top 4 at their respective position in All-Star voting. Jack Wilson and Jose Castillo could have a legitimate shot at starting in the game, but only if we all band together and stick it to Major League Baseball. Fan voting is a total farce, as idiot Yankee, Red Sox, and Cardinals fans stuff the ballot box year after year, with no regard to what players are actually deserving of this honor. So let's prove that it's a sham by voting in players from the host city, which happens to be one of the worst teams in baseball. Cruise over to if you haven't already, and vote for Sean Casey, Jose Castillo, Jack Wilson, Joe Randa, Ryan Doumit, Jason Bay, Jeromy Burnitz, and (Lord help me) Chris Duffy. At least Bay has a legitimate reason to play. The great fans of Pittsburgh are doing their part, but fans across the rest of the country need to support them. Load your NL ballot with Pirates! The AL you say? It doesn't matter who you vote for there, they'll kill the NL regardless. Now is the time to take a stand, to do your part. Together, we can make this happen!

Get Well Peter

June 27, 2006 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

Our best wishes go out to Peter Gammons and his family this evening. Many of us have been reading his articles for the better part of a decade, though he was an influential sportswriter long before we came across him. I know that in the offseason, I anxiously hop onto the ESPN baseball site each day hoping for some morsel of knowledge from Peter to keep me going until pitchers and catchers report. I've also been known to claim myself as his illegitimate child, much to the chagrin of my real father. Here's to a quick recovery, hopefully in time for the trading deadline.

Can't Contain the Tracy Infection

June 27, 2006 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

How does Phil Garner choose Tracy as a coach for the All-Star game? As if the National League hasn't had enough All-Star incompetence as of late, now they're giving up two weeks before the game starts? And if Tracy was included, how did Dusty Baker miss out? Oh yeah, the Astros don't like Black people.

Tracyball FAQ

June 26, 2006 | Comments (3) | by Governor X

Well, its been a week since the last post and since then, the Pirates have been swept by KC and LA, so here's a little piece on how much Jim Tracy sucks.

Tracyball FAQ

1. Just what is Tracyball?
Tracyball is a uniquely poor style of MLB management that originated with former Dodgers and current Pirates manager Jim Tracy.

2. OK, thats great, but seriously, what is Tracyball?
Fine asshole, here are some more details. The #1 key to Tracyball is lack of emotion. No emotion from the manager, from the players, and especially not from the fans (the other aspects of Tracyball take care of this by making the team uninteresting). Another aspect of Tracyball is the emphasis on journeyman career minor leaguers over young talent. If you have a rookie with some potential and a guy who has spent 10 years bouncing from minor league team to minor league team, a Tracyball team will always go with the half-assed guy. The third major element to Tracyball is the absolute infallibility of the lefty/righty percentages. It doesn't matter if your best left handed batter has been hitting .600 for the last two weeks, if the other team puts in a lefty specialist, your batter WILL be yanked in favor of a righty. This is non-negotiable. The fourth and final key to Tracyball is that you must never have the same lineup two days in a row. Apparently, you want to rotate your career minor league journeymen as much as possible.

3. And I don't want this for my team?
Absolutely not. Tracyball is to a baseball team as SARS is to an Asian businessman. Ideally, if you're in the vicinity of Tracyball team, you would wear a little mask like during a SARS outbreak too.

4. I'm a moron. How do I know if my team is infected?
While lackluster play and a poor record is a good indicator, it doesn't necesarily mean you're infected with Tracyball. A good way to check is to see if you have Jose Hernandez or Mike Edwards on your roster.

5. OK, it looks like my team is infected. How do I cure this disease? Will the AIDS cocktail work?
No, the AIDS cocktail won't work. Unfortunately there is no cure, but the good news is that Tracyball is not terminal. Your team will survive. Eventually, like your body vomiting, your team will decide to expel Tracy and his staff. You and your team might be a little under the weather for awhile after this, but with plenty of fluids and a new manager, you'll be right as rain in no time.

6. Thanks man.
That isn't a question asswipe.

2006 Fantasy Hurricane League

June 19, 2006 | Comments (2) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Well since our last post the Cubs have put on a 6-game crapfest. I can deal with the Cubs sucking for the most part but its become damn hard to write about them this season. As soon as they fall behind by 3 or more runs, I turn the game off. They basically give up once they're down by a few runs, its just sickening. And we might as well dub Roberto Novoa the nickname "Surrender". Whenever they throw him in its as if the Cubs have given up all hope for a comeback.

Anyway, enough about the Scrubs for now. There's more important things to talk about, like: The 2006 TMS Fantasy Hurricane League. That's right, to further cement our seats on the bus straight to hell, we've devised a fantasy leagues for the upcoming hurricane season, which has been predicted to be huge.

So here's the premise. Each member of the Saloon participated in a four-round draft. Each member picked from the list of 2006 hurricane names that will be used this season. Alberto had already become a Tropical Storm at the time of the draft so that pick was not allowed. Once the draft concluded, each Saloon member had a team of four possible hurricanes to earn points with. The scoring will go as such.

  • Become Tropical Storm = 5 Points
  • Category 1 Hurricane = 10 Points
  • Category 2 = 20 Points
  • Category 3 = 30 Points
  • Category 4 = 40 Points
  • Category 5 = 50 Points
  • United States = 50 Points
  • Mexico = 30 Points
  • Cuba = 20 Points
  • Hispaniola (Haiti/Domincan Republic) = 20 Points
  • Central American Countries = 10 Points each
  • The following Caribbean nations = 5 points each:
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Barbados
  • Bahamas
  • Virgin Islands (British and U.S. count as one)
  • Cayman Islands
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • Montserrat
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saint Lucia
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Mass Evacuations = 30 points per state
  • County/Parish declared disaster area = 10 points per county/parish
Once a storm reaches Tropical Storm status it earns a name. Members will get 5 points for that. They will then earn points for every category it grows to from there on. If it gets to Category 1 hurricane status you would get an additional 10 points. Cat. 2, an additional 20. So if your storm hits the magical category 5 you will have accrued a total of 155 points. If a storm weakens and downgrades, but then later gains strength again and upgrades, you will not receive any additional credit for category levels that have already been reached. So if your storm goes from category 2 back to 1 and back up to 2, you do not get credit for the second category 2 status. Once the storm hits, you will get 10 points for every county/parish declared a federal disaster area. Disaster areas must be declared by the state's governor to receive credit.

Whichever team earns the most points at the conclusion of hurricane season wins.

The draft was held last week. We went with a serpentine draft to keep with true fantasy league formats. The order went as such:
  1. Chaim Witz
  2. Brant Brown
  3. Governor Gray Davis
  4. Chip Wesley
  5. Chi-Town Girl
Here's what transpired.

CHAIM: My pick is Ernesto. Hurricane Prospectus has Ernesto as "a blue chip prospect with a bad attitude and a appetite for destruction. Also goes by the nickname 'Motherfucker'".

BRANT: With the second pick in the inaugural 2006 Hurricane Fantasy Draft, Brant Brown selects: Hurricane Isaac, former Tropical Storm, University of Miami Hurricanes.
Overheard in the draft room: "Fantastic pick by the Brant Brown squad. Isaac has a ton of upside, and he's long, so his diameter will have an excellent chance of brushing the mainland on a variety of Caribbean Islands and possibly the continental United States. I haven't been this excited about a pick since Andrew in 1992." -- Willard Scott

GOV: With the third pick in the inaugural 2006 Hurrican Fantasy Draft, GovernorGrayDavis selects: Hurricane Chris, aka "The Caribbean Crusher"
"Classic sabremetric hurricane selection. The Gov is playing the numbers here, recognizing "C" hurricanes have a high OSP (On Shore Percentage) and excellent DSM (Destruction per Square Mile). The folks over at the front office clearly believe they have another 'Camille' on their hands."

CHIP: With the fourth pick in the 2006 Hurricane Fantasy Draft, Chip Wesley selects: Hurricane Florence.
"Not as blockbuster as previous picks, but Flo has all the intangibles that Chip likes in his storms. Not much is known about Flo but scouts say she ranks high on the C5P scale (Category 5 Potential).

CHAIM: Ok I am going to be on vacation in Jamaica from Sept 8-14.
If one of those hits while I'm there the person that has that hurricane should just automatically win or at least get jackpot bonus points. If said hurricane hurts, maims or kills me they also get first pick in next years draft.
If I think I may survive though, midway through the storm I will curse this game (and you fuckers) and throw myself at the mercy of the wind, letting it carry my pasty white body out to sea, preferabbly so I can be attacked by a great white shark and die a proper death.

CHI-TOWN: I've spoken with Mike Hodges and he's told me that he's cut a deal with Ming the Merciless from the planet Mongo. They have assured him that Hurricane Michael will be topping the charts this year. Appropriately, I will be also selecting Hurricane Gordon in case the deal falls through.

Chi-Town Girl made Gordon her 2nd round pick.

CHIP: My pick is Debby. This will keep my all-chick hurricane team plus I get dibs on all "Debby Does the Dominican" jokes. Ba-dum-ching!

GOV: GovernorGrayDavis picked Helene because its similar to Helena, his favorite city in Montana and My Chemical Romance song. He has nothing to offer at this point.

With the 9th pick overall, Brant Brown selects: Hurricane Leslie.
From the draft room: "Another superb pick by the folks at senior management. I forecast Hurricane Leslie as having tremendous upside potential in 2006. Just check out this video footage from last month's combine".

Chaim Witz selects Hurricane Kirk (Cameron), "a whirling dervish of death and broken dreams", and Hurricane Sandy who, as a freshman "was not much more than a glorified undersized tweener who makes up for lesser physical skills with heart, passion and galeforce."

at this point our banter wore down so here is the remaining picks without the witty remarks.

12. BRANT - Tony
13. GOV - Oscar
14. CHIP - Joyce
15. CHI-TOWN - Nadine
16. CHI-TOWN - Patty
17. CHIP - Beryl
18. GOV - Rafael
19. BRANT - Valerie
20. CHAIM - William

And here's how the teams shaped up.
CHAIM Ernesto Kirk Sandy William
BRANT Isaac Leslie Tony Valerie
GOV Chris Helene Oscar Rafael
CHIP Florence Debby Joyce Beryl
Michael Gordon Nadine Patty

We'll be updating the league progress as the season heats up.

Welcome to the Jungle

June 19, 2006 | Comments (1) | by Chaim Witz

Far be it for me to be the typical 'woe is me' Cubs fan, but...woe is fucking me! charades and call a spade a spade here. Lets all quit the We stink. There is no light at the end of the tunnel this year (what, Wade Miller's return?). No playoff hopes. .500 even seems way too idealistic.

The thing is, we're not even competitive in the games we lose. Teams like the Pirates, Marlins and Devil Rays...they may lose their fair share as well but at least they are young, competitive and fun to watch. Right now being a Cubs fan is downright painful. Embarassing. Makes you pine for the Jim Riggleman/Tom Trebblehorn era.

Well on one positive note, my dad and I went to Saturday's game and had killer seats, 10 rows behind home plate. Pretty cool to be at a vantage point where you can actually see the curveball curve and slider slide. Unfortunately when the Cubs pitched, many of the pitches didn't make it to the catcher's mitt, as they were promptly sent soaring to detention in the bleacher seats. It was a day of celebrity sightings as well. Said hi to Ryno when we walked right by him. Jeremy Bonderman's dad sat right behind us (his first time to Wrigley). And one row in front of us, about 10 seats down was Gonzaga's finest, Adam 'Hagar the Horrible' Morrison. Looking like an gangly 14 year old going for the "Dazed and Confused" look and still groveling over Kurt Cobain's death. Oh, the new Wrigley footlongs with the grilled onions are really good.

I think Jeremy Piven put it best yesterday when he was in the booth after the 7th inning stretch when he asked "Are we watching B.P. here? The actual game hasn't started yet has it?" That's what I feel like...this is extended spring training right? The season hasn't started yet has it?

*As an interesting aside, Jeremy Piven yelled his catchphrase, "Let's hug it out bitches!" after the 7th inning stretch. That was a no no. He was supposed to yell "Let's hug it out Cubs fans", but justifiably thought that sounded too queer. It provided the one entertaining moment of yesterday's game.

Bartender Banter: Pete's Dragon and A-Rod's Haunts

June 13, 2006 | Comments (2) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

So the Cubs have rattled off 3 straight. The last time they won 3 in a row was April 25th when they beat the Marlins. They have yet to win 4 straight this year, but I'm optimistic tonight, for one reason. We got Sean Marshall. The 6' 7" manchild has been lights out at home. In 5 starts at Wrigley, Marshall is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA. Even better, the Cubs are 4-1 in those 5 starts. Next to Chaz the Bull, Marshall has become the most reliable starter in the rotation, and one I've become a growing fan of.

Despite that he still seems to be sort of an obscure name. When it comes to measuring a player's popularity I think the best tool is the "Google Search". A well-known player will usually come up at the top of the results on various sites (ESPN, MLB, Baseball-Reference, etc.). For example if you google Albert Poopholes, you see his ESPN player card is the first listing.
    (Note: I actually googled his correct name to get that, but given Saloon Rules and Guidelines, staff are forbidden to call him anything other than Poopholes. If you google Albert Poopholes the first listing is some shitty blog.)
If you google Sean Marshall, the first two sites listed pertain to a Sean Marshall that starred in the Disney movie Pete's Dragon. Hey, maybe that could be Marshall's nickname? Sean "Pete's Dragon" Marshall. Its better than "Cat Power" right? Anyone? Still crickets? OK, I'll move on.

Look further in the Google Search and you'll find a fansite dedicated to Sean and his twin brother Brian. While Sean has cracked the rotation in the Show, Brian was let go by the Red Sox this spring. Brian now spends his days chilling with Ozzie Canseco and Craig Griffey.

A-Rod's Hangouts?

So I'm on last night and there's a link to their Windows Live Local site. This is a pretty cool site to look at, and being a huge geography nerd I've spent quite a bit of time on it. Anyway, this link was for Alex Rodriguez's favorite places in New York. (insert "map of gay bars" joke here) So I go to check it out and its nothing but a bunch of famous landmarks and main tourist spots in Manhattan. How lame is that? Wow, A-Rod goes to the Met? Who knew? At least the restaurants weren't major chains. If you look at Matt Leinart's favorite places, he picked a Cheesecake Factory in LA as one of the spots. Overall this just seems incredibly phony.

Break out the moonshine!

OK so I'm gonna take it upon myself to claim title to "resident hick" here at the Saloon. This past weekend, the wife and I caught some live music at an establishment nearby. We saw a group called the Woodbox Gang and a group called the Hackensaw Boys.

The Woodbox Gang are from Southern Illinois, and play Americana/folk music. Very cool band. They had one dude, who at different points during the performance, played a washboard, a mandolin, a banjo, a guitar, a harmonica, a kazoo, and, I shit you not, a didgeridoo.

The Hackensaw Boys are from Virginia and have more of a bluegrass sound. They put on a very entertaining show and their music is an infectious, non-stop romp. I mean, their banjo player goes by the name "Kooky-Eyed Fox" and their fiddle player looks like Jesus. What's not to love?

Anyway, if you have a chance to see either band I highly recommend them.

Great White Hype

June 12, 2006 | Comments (3) | by T.R.

Is anyone else tired of seeing Landon Donovan's mug? I won't even post it here. USA vs. Czechoslovakia, strike that, Czech Republic, is on! Go 'Murkins! We'll try to keep you updated as the game progresses.

Streaking Cubs

June 12, 2006 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

Well, if you can call three wins in a row a streak. At this point, we'll take anything. But we don't want to be another "woe is me", "seal the garage door with damp towels" kind of Cubs blog. There is hope. Poopholes is still out of the Cardinal lineup. The Astros are playing like ass. We've obviously shown this weekend that we bring the hammer and sickle down on the Reds. I mean seriously, Aaron Harang, Eric Milton, Bronson Arroyo? Trust in Brant Brown when he says that we have nothing to worry about. Prior will be back in less than two weeks. Lee is supposedly going to swing a bat on this homestand. Hell, we can afford to let Wood sit for the rest of the season. I'll take this Marmol kid at this point. You can't sink much lower, so one would assume that things will get better. I mean, Christ, Neifi hit his annual homerun yesterday. Who saw that coming?

Shocking News!

June 10, 2006 | Comments (2) | by Governor X

Kerry Wood is back on the DL and Eric Gagne is "dangerously close" to it. Never saw this coming!

World Cup Fever: Spreading Faster Than the Dengue

June 09, 2006 | Comments (11) | by T.R.

With the sorry state of the Cubs season (seriously, Tony Womack contributed our only run last night; we're desperate), some of us may think about turning our attention to another sport for a few weeks. No, no, not the NBA. Nobody cares about the NBA. We're speaking of the World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world (with the exception of the USA). While we at the Saloon don't seriously pay any attention to soccer, or football if you will, the World Cup provides one of the few opportunities to legitimately stock the fridge with Beck's, break out the good scotch, and hurl racial slurs at our neighbors. Some of us even use this time to dust off the crossbow in the garage. If things go well, and I'm drunk enough, I'll post frequent World Cup updates here at the Saloon. If you would rather not read about soccer or the Cubs, feel free to pull up and stare at al-Zarqawi's head for the next three days. By some odd chance, if the Cubs manage to win a game, or score a couple runs, we'll be sure to cover that. But in the meantime, you can relax, throw down a Guinness, and pray for an Iran vs. Ghana match.

Baby Shiloh ladies and gents!

June 08, 2006 | Comments (4) | by Chaim Witz

All of us here at TMS (or perhaps just me) would like to congratulate Shiloh for her successful C-section entry into this cruel world. That baby is hot!

And word is, Shiloh is our #1 fan. Thunder Matt's Saloon. (Un)Officially endorsed by Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt.

Grim and Bear It

June 07, 2006 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

With the recent revelations about HGH use among Major League Baseball players, we've invited free agent Jason Grimsley to become a regular contributor to TMS. Being blackballed and all, he probably has nothing better to do. He respectfully declined the offer to participate, but said we could hit him up on occasion for his take on the current baseball season. When prompted about the Cubs lackluster offense, he assured us fans to not worry, that the Cubs have "boatloads" of games left to be played. We tip our cap to you Jason Grimsley. Hold your head up high, and keep reaching for the stars!

Zambrano flirts with no hitter

June 07, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

On monday Chaz "The Bull" Zambrano flirted with a no-hitter against the Astros into the 8th inning. Everything was going good, he bought her a few drinks, told some jokes, and was ready to take her home until the bottom of the 8th when he was cock-blocked by Preston Wilson.

Zambrano also grew tired of his lack of run support and took matters into his own hands, knocking in 4 runs, 3 of which came off a line drive homer that bounced off the top of the wall and over. It looks like the torch has been passed. It used to be Kerry Wood that would receive no run support and get dicked out of wins. But now it seems whenever Chaz pitches a gem, there's a good chance the Cubs' bats shut down on him.

Some quick trivia for you. The last Cubs pitcher to throw a no-no was nearly 34 years ago when Milt Pappas accomplished the feat on 9-2-1972. The 33 year and 9 month drought for the Cubs is the longest by any NL franchise that has had a no-hitter thrown before. The Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres and New York Mets have never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter.

"Bonds on Bonds" Cancelled

June 05, 2006 | Comments (2) | by Governor X

Realm of Red: Redhead of the Week

June 05, 2006 | Comments (1) | by Chaim Witz

Each week (or so) I will profile various redheads who paved the way for our own Thunder Matt. These men and women opened doors (often times kicking them in due to their fiery tempers) that would have otherwise kept Thunder Matt toiling in Independent Baseball leagues, shagging fly balls in Newark and frequenting seedy hotels. We tip our Cubs hats to these fair-skinned pioneers.

Today's Redhead: Rick Sutcliffe

Rick was born on June 21st, 1956 in Independence, MO. When he came out of his mother's womb, he had a flaming red beard and t-shirt that said 'Fuck You Tommy Lasorda'. Rumor has it that he was also drunk.

After breaking into the majors with the Dodgers in 1979, "Sutty" won Rookie of the Year, but later overturned chairs in Tommy Lasorda's office after being left off the postseason roster (for arguably the greatest and sexiest pitcher off all-time, Fernando Valenzuela). So ended his tenure in LA. Off to Cleveland, where he languished in obscurity until one fateful night in 1984 when he was traded to the Cubs for Mel Hall and some announcer named Joe Carter. One of my first Cub memories as a youngster was crying the next day, because Mel Hall was my favorite player. Later things came full circle when I cried (for a different reason) listening to Joe Carter announce Cubs games. "Sutt" went an amazing 16-1 for the Cubbies, winning Cy Young and leading them to their first playoff appearance since 1945.

The Red Baron was plagued with arm problems the rest of his career, never living up to the promise he showed in 1984, though he did show flashes of the old "Sutt" from time to time, finishing second in the Cy Young voting in 87' and earning an All Star nod in 89'. Rick finished off his career with short stints for the Orioles and Cardinals, though Cubs fans will not publicly acknowledge the Cardinals gig.

After retiring, he got into announcing, coaching, and more notably, drinking. His on-air drunken antics at a recent Padres game with Bill Murray have cemented his place in Cubs lore and brought much needed attention to the ongoing AIDS crisis in Africa. And Clooney.

Rick Sutcliffe does not dye his beard and if you ask him to shave it, he will punch you in the throat and key your car.

Bartender Banter: "crickets"

June 05, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

That's about all that has been heard in here for a while. The soft chirping of crickets.

I was planning on doing an "Anti-All Star Team, Revisited" piece but didn't have time last week. When you first become new parents, one thing no one ever tells you is that babies in their first year get sick, a lot. After battling the rotavirus a couple weeks ago with our 7 month old, we got the chance to experience roseola last week. Both are big fun, let me tell you. So anyway, sick babies trump everything else that's going on. Not sure what everyone else's excuse is though.

Another piece I thought about involved analyzing whether the Pirates and Marlins really were worse than the Cubs or not. The ongoing joke has been, "Thank god for the Pirates, or we'd really look bad." Well are they really worse than us? For those that are Bill James aficionados, I'm sure you've heard of the Pythagorean Expectation. Basically its a formula that looks at a team's runs scored and runs allowed and comes up with what their winning percentage could be expected.

Currently the records of the Cubs, Pirates, and Marlins are as such.
  1. Chicago Cubs - (22-33, .400)
  2. Florida Marlins - (20-34, .370)
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates - (21-36, .368)
Now if you take their runs allowed and runs scored and calculate their expected winning percentages with the Pythagorean Expectation, here's what you get.
  1. Pittsburgh Pirates (.466)
  2. Florida Marlins (.462)
  3. Chicago Cubs (.382)
I was then going to do a position-by-position rundown to see who had the better players, etc., but then I hit a snag. The Cubs started winning. Now, coming off a pair 2-3 series with NL Central leaders St. Louis and Cincy, it just seemed like ill-timing to write something in that regard, so I shelved it. But one can't deny the staggering difference in those expected percentages. Thank god for the Royals, I guess.

Thunder Matt Homesick?
After a nice tear at home Thunder Matt's woes on the road continued as he went 2-for-13 this weekend in St. Louis. Now he faces three games in Houston and four in Cincy. Currently Murton is hitting .354 at home compared to .211 away. Hopefully he can snap out of it this week. Murton batted .304 with 2 homers in 6 games last year at Minute Maid Park and has always had his way with Cincinnati, hitting .373 in 15 games including a fat .500 in Great American Ballpark. So hopefully that road AVG gets beefed up here, although I wouldn't be surprised to see Dusty bench him a game or two in favor of Bynum, as Baker continues his elusive, lifelong search for the perfect lineup.

Oh yeah, can I say Thunder Matt a few more times?
OK so I've cruised around the other Cubs blogs and I have to say, this "Orange Guy" business has to stop. Its unoriginal, and it isn't a very good nickname to chant at the ballpark. I realize that he apparently got the name from Maddux who called him that, probably because he didn't know his name at first, but Thunder Matt has a much better ring to it. Granted not all of my suggested nicknames have panned out (I got crickets from suggesting Sean Marshall be called "Cat Power". Sorry, bad indie rock joke. Although I do have "Chaz" Zambrano and Neifi "El Sapo Gordo" Perez on the backburner), but I'm quite proud of Thunder Matt Murton.

So I'm asking all our readers (all seven of you), to do your part. Whenever you refer to Murton in conversation, or a blog post, or in the throes of passion, please refer to him as Thunder Matt. Also when at a ballgame, try to get a "Thunder Matt" chant going. This may take some time. Perhaps shout "Lets go Thunder Matt!" a few times to get the crowd familiar with the nickname. Even if proven unsuccessful, you got the word out there, and maybe it will begin to creep into the Cub fans' subconscious. Also write to Pat and Ron to see if they'll use the Thunder Matt nickname on the air.

Again, Thunder Matt just sounds better than Orange Guy. If you don't agree, try doing an Orange Guy chant sometime and get back to me. Fellow Saloon bartender Ben (aka Chaim Witz) even said that the only thing people had for Murton in the left field bleachers was some lame chant that simply spelled out his last name. "M-U-R-T-O-N!" Come on people! Thunder Matt deserves better.