Trading Deadline: The View from LA

July 31, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Governor X

The trade deadline has come and gone, and for once the Dodgers came out winners.

Though they are in last place right now, they’re only five out & playing in a dreadful division means they’re never really out of the race. Every team that has held the top spot in the NL West has imploded & the Padres aren’t exactly the ‘27 Yankees.

As you already know, today at the deadline they bilked the Cubs out of a future Hall of Famer for a weak hitting middle infielder coming off Tommy John surgery - a move that took some of the sting out of the the last Cubs/Dodgers trade of note: Hundley for Karros/Grudzielanek, the one move that ever made me question whether I would be a Dodger fan for life. The Dodgers then turned around and snagged Julio Lugo from the Devil Rays for free swinging malcontent Joel Guzman and another low level prospect. Add this to the fact that earlier in the month they duped the Royals into taking Odalis Perez and shipped setup man, turned closer, turned setup man, turned mop up duty guy Dannys Baez to Atlanta.

The team is in much better shape today than it was at the beginning of the month & if you look beyond this year, the news is even better. Everyone the Dodgers dumped was due to earn a lot of money next year. The Dodgers freed up $15 mil or more for next year and now have additional resources to make a serious run at a guy like Zito (Zito in Dodger Blue ranks just slightly below world peace on my wish list).

Anyone can win the West, and the Dodgers were in the thick of it even before these moves. My hope for the 2nd half has been renewed. All hail Ned Colletti & Frank McCourt.

One other Dodgers note…I am beginning to suspect Bill Mueller may have died and the team has decided to cover it up. He’s been on the DL forever and updates on his condition are impossible to find. Did Jamie McCourt kill him in a fit of rage? Did he choke on a Dodger Dog? Who knows…

Hail Cesar!

July 31, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Well the trade deadline has passed and it looks like Greg Maddux, just like McCarver and Buck stated 2,500 times on saturday, has pitched his last game in a Cubs uniform. The Cubs have traded Mad Dog to the LA Dodgers for Cesar Izturis.

Only 26, Izturis won the NL Gold Glove as shortstop in 2004 and is the only infielder I know of who's had Tommy John surgery. Nonetheless, he should provide a great glove in the middle infield for the Cubs and I can only hope Ronny Cedeno is asked to move to 2B to make room for Cesar. With Todd Walker now in San Diego, I can't fathom Neifi getting the full-time gig at 2B. Cedeno obviously hasn't been outstanding so far in the second half, but I'd rather see a Izturis-Cedeno infield than a Izturis-Perez one.

And lastly all of us at the Saloon wish Maddux the best of luck in LA. Hopefully he'll get one last shot at the postseason wearing Dodger blue, since Cubbie blue hasn't been fruitful for him.

Thanks Greg.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

July 31, 2006 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

Before we get to the trading deadline news, another task is at hand. Today marks the first day in the odyssey known as The Colin Cowherd Project. Per my Friday post, the criterion have been set to analyze each of Mr. Cowherd's morning egocentric rants. Monday's proceedings played out as such:

The premise of his opening monologue was the Bobby Abreu trade to the Yankees, and how he felt he was in the minority, believing that the outfielder would not provide the adequate boost for a World Series victory. While most analysts across the country are gushing at Brian Cashman's latest acquisition, Colin argued that Abreu was past his prime, temperamental, was under-performing this season, and would only bring strife to the clubhouse. I must honestly say that I agreed with Colin's premise. He went on to explain how he's tired of the Yankees overpaying for aging veterans, and how the media sucks up each one and tells us that the Yankees are the perennial "team to beat". Bodies breaking down and the pressure of performing in New York have been the end result. Just look at Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Jason Giambi, Kyle Farnsworth. Now, to the scoring...

Was his topic/view informative?
Informative in the sense that he took the opposite side of the story and made a logical argument, yes.
Did he dig a little deeper than just re-hashing the top story?
No, he rehashed the top story, but I won't dock him since he made a valid argument.
Did he give credence to the other side of the story?
No, he kept repeating how bad the move was, and didn't necessarily say why the Yankees felt it was the best move to make. -1
Did he use a fake voice?
Yes, somehow he worked in a voice of a person in a broadway musical. I can't even explain this one. -1
Did he repeat one thought/idea/analogy incessantly?
He used a terrible analogy, comparing the Yankees moves to how alcohol is a truth serum. He lost me on that one, so while he didn't repeat it incessantly, I'm docking him for a terrible analogy. -1
Did he make an assumption or exaggerate to help prove his point?
No exaggerations, just a good criticism of the Yankee moves in recent years.
Did he contradict an earlier stance without saying he changed his mind?
Yes, this guy has railed on statistics in so many ways that he deserves to be bashed any time he mentions the word. So yes, in his criticism of the Abreu trade, he said something to the effect of "his career is on a decline, just look at the stats". This prompted me to laugh and spill coffee on my shirt. -1
Did he alienate a good portion of his listening audience (like presumably over 30%)

Probably not, although Yankee fans aren't going to be pleased with what he's said, and we unfortunately know their numbers.

Final Score: 4 (out of a possible 8) This was one of his best arguments I've heard in quite a while, but he still only scored a 4. Tough times ahead indeed.

Now to change the subject. For many of us, today is the 2nd most fabulous day of the year (the 1st of course being Christmas. Unless you're Mel Gibson. Then it goes Christmas, Easter, Epiphany, anything else Jesus-related, then MLB's trading deadline). The big deal so far, of course, was the Abreu trade. But what may be more beneficial to the Yankees in that deal was the inclusion of Cory Lidle. Adding Lidle greatly shores up the Yankee starting rotation, and allows Sidney Ponson to go back to Aruba and eat with no repercussions.

Among the other verified trades from Sunday and Monday: The Cardinals sent Hector Luna packing to Cleveland for Ronnie Beliard, completing a swap of mediocre infielders. The latest deal as of noon EST involved Sean Casey moving from the Pirates to the Tigers for a minor league pitcher. This promptly ends the disappointing reign of Chris Shelton in the Majors. After a thunderous April, Shelton has been broken and battered, and will look to right the ship at AAA.

Those players who are still awaiting word on their futures include Alfonso Soriano, Jason Schmidt, Greg Maddux, and Barry Zito, with surprise question marks around Roy Oswalt. Miguel Tejada is sure to stay put, while Julio Lugo is sure to be leaving Tampa Bay, probably heading to Boston. Be assured that there will more wheeling and dealing over the next four hours. We'll make a valiant attempt at bringing all the news to you live here at Thunder Matt.

The Saloon Salutes new HOFer Bruce Sutter

July 31, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

We here at Thunder Matt's Saloon tip our glasses to the newest inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bruce Sutter. Bruce and his mighty split-finger fastball racked up 300 saves from 1976 to 1988 and was a key member of the 1982 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Bruce is also a member of the elite I-55 Club, a proud group of guys who had the chance to play with both the Cubs and Cardinals in their careers. Along with Bruce in the club are such baseball luminaries as Lee Smith, Lou Brock, Ivan DeJesus, Gary Gaetti, John Mabry, Donovan Osborne, Todd Zeile, Steve Lake, and countless others.

Bruce's Grizzly Adams beard was inducted into the 'Pantheon of Great Baseball Hair' back in 1993. At its induction speech, Sutter's beard said it was "honored" to be in the company of such great legends like Rollie Fingers' moustache, and Oscar Gamble's afro.

Cheers to you Bruce. Lets hope your induction opens the Hall doors for other great relievers like Goose Gossage and Lee Smith.

Realm of Red: Redhead of the Week

July 30, 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: Rick Astley

Rick Astley is hardcore. In 1988 this gangly Brit burst onto the stagnant American music scene with the rocker 'Never Gonna Give You Up', which bitchslapped it's way to #1. He then followed that up with another right hook, this one a little ditty called 'Together Forever'. A musical hurricane like this hadn't been experienced since Ole' Blue Eyes. The world had been effectively 'Ast-raped'.

Then the bottom fell out. Quicker than Mel Gibson can say 'I hate Jews', Rick Astley's once promising career swandived into a Brien Taylor-like oblivion. Depserate to revive his flagging career, Rick enlisted a team of crack scientists (Rick thought this meant, 'skilled and first rate', but alas they actually were scientists who abused crack) to help his cause. They decided the best way to preserve his greatness would be to clone him. Unfortunately, the experiment went haywire, with lots of explosions, overflowing beakers and spilled toxic chemicals. The end result was Clay Aiken.

These days, Rick makes the rounds on the British pub circuit, touring with Basia and selling CD's online to my mom and probably the Saloon's own Brant Brown, who likely buys his CD's on account that Rick is British. His voice is still deeper than it has any right to be and even though he claims that he's "happier than he's ever been", deep down he is wretched and resentful.

Rick was last seen at a Liverpool flea market, trying to pawn off boxes of leftover 'I was Ast-raped. Rick Astley World Tour 1988' t-shirts.

Shawn Green will not be seeing Apocalypto.

The Colin Cowherd Project

July 28, 2006 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

Colin Cowherd is a schmuck. For anyone who lives in a city which carries Colin’s show on their local ESPN Radio affiliate, you are likely aware of the three hour bloc of dead air (four grueling hours on the west coast) that ESPN provides each weekday. The Herd, as the show calls itself, is an outlet by which Mr. Cowherd presses upon us his tunnel-vision view (the tunnel being that of football) of the daily state of sports in America. Sports radio listeners normally desire a roundup of the previous night’s athletic happenings, along with a preview of the day ahead while on their morning commute. A mixture of fun with a touch of controversy should also be tossed in with the main ingredients. Colin Cowherd may say that this concoction is his specialty, but he is sorely mistaken.

A Limerick in Honor of Colin
There once was a man named Colin
Whose radio show was appallin'
He ranted and raved
Attention he craved
His ratings are sure to be fallin'

From his perch in Bristol, Conn. (a throbbing sports metropolis as we all know), Colin Cowherd spews bullshit and condescension onto his listeners. His opening monologue that kicks of at 10:00 am EST, 7:00 am PST, is routinely an abomination of logic. Whether he is offending the majority of his own fans by blistering anyone who plays fantasy sports, or offering under-researched “headlines” like Mark Cuban having interest in buying the Cubs, Mr. Cowherd is an expert in double-standard and stupidity.

The anti-Cowherd groundswell is gaining momentum across the country. I don’t have statistics to prove this, but that’s OK. Cowherd clearly states that statistics are for “nerds”, as the guys at convey in an analysis of one of Cowherd’s monologues back in January (scroll about halfway down on the link).

For quite some time I’ve been itching to offer up a daily analysis of the Cowherd monologues for all to enjoy. I’ve devised a list of eight questions by which to rate the content of each opening monologue. They read as such:

Was his topic/view informative?

Did he dig a little deeper than just re-hashing the top story?

Did he give credence to the other side of his stance?

Did he use a fake voice, as if bad imitations are cool?

Did he repeat one thought/idea/analogy incessantly?

Did he make an assumption or exaggerate to help prove his point?

Did he contradict an earlier stance without conceding that he may have originally been wrong?

Did he alienate a good portion of his listening audience (presumably over 30%)?

The monologue score for each day will start at 8. For each of the above standards which prove detrimental to his argument, he will be docked one point. Therefore, his best score on any given day would be an 8 for a lucid, interesting argument, and the worst it could be is 0, implying that he pulled his argument out of his gaping anus. I would estimate that normal scores will reside in the 3-4 range, though on a dry run earlier this week, he scored a 2. A score of 0 will admittedly be rare, as to alienate your audience and blatantly contradicting yourself at the same time would be quite a feat. Nevertheless, these are crucial points.

The Colin Cowherd Project will begin on Monday, July 31, 2006. Good luck to you sir.

To read posts on how some others feel about
Mr. Cowherd, visit this page.

To view the results of the “Find a Picture of
Colin Cowherd Not Looking Like a Giant
Cockweasel Contest”, click here.

To read the Wikipedia entry for his show,
which includes a couple of his infamous
debacles, click here.

On a similar note, to read a running analysis on
the declining state of Bill Simmons articles, click here.

Colin also has a man-
crush on Jack Morris.
Here's Jack with a
nice walleye.

Cardinals stunned as Cubs learn to play defense

July 28, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

First off I want to quickly note, that I switched to Haloscan for our comments. The unfortunate result of this is that all previous comments written seem to be lost now.

Well the Cubs managed to take another one from the Cards this year, improving to 7-3 for the season series, and it wasn't from stellar pitching, or extraordinary offense. Nope, the Cubs actually played good defense. Some of you may have seen their swell defensive work on SportsCenter as they seemingly made up 12 of the plays on their Top 10 list last night.
    (Seriously, why have a "Top Ten" when they always cram like 22 plays into the list? Ugh, can we crap on ESPN more? Its as dumb as all their features they've created as a means to offer more advertising during the show. The Budweiser Hot Seat! Coors Light Cold Hard Facts! My favorite, although it isn't SportsCenter related is the World Series of Poker sponsored by Milwaukee's Best Light. Really? This poker shit has blown up in the last couple years and we've got the Beast sponsoring it? The Beast should be sponsoring something like the World Series of Beer Pong, which could air on "the Ocho". We're here live in the basement of Mike and Dave's house to bring you the World Series of Beer Pong, sponsored by Milwaukee's Best. Stay tuned afterwards for the World Series of Asshole sponsored by Natural Light, followed by Keystone Light's North American Kegstand Quarterfinals, all right here, on the Ocho!)
Anyway all the flashes of leather last night and you'd think that Neifi and Aramis were defensive studs. Well I've already shown you that Neifi is not exactly the greatest second basemen, and his abilities at shortstop aren't that great either. Yes Ronny Cedeno ranks third among NL SS for most errors, but his range is much better than Neifi's. What was a ground ball stopped by Ronny in which he makes a bad throw to first, may have gone completely past Neifi into left field for a base hit because his pudgy butt couldn't even get to it. Pick your poison I guess. Sadly though Neifi is actually hitting better than Ronny, and his glove work last night all but inked his name in the starting lineup at short for the time being.

I could sit here and give Neifi backhanded compliments all day, but the fact of the matter is that we won last night and that's what's most important I guess. A few quick notes before I forget you guys for the weekend.
  • Rich Hill, 3.1 IP, 1 K, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 ER. Not quite getting over the hump just yet I guess. But what do you do? He's destroying batters at AAA. Would some innings out of the bullpen help?
  • Thunder Matt Murton drilled one to deep center over Edmonds' head for a double. Yeah, its nothing big but Thunder Matt's extra base hits have been a rarity this season, so we need to celebrate the ones he gets.
  • Ryan Dempster's 6th blown save was foiled when John Rodriguez hit into a double play to end the game. Don't worry Ryan, there'll be another chance.

Hey guys, over here, man! Don't leave me hanging Neifi. Phil, Phil, high five over here. Hey I got the save assholes!

Dusty Safe; Mike Quade Despondent

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

Jim Hendry announced that Dusty Baker's job was safe for the rest of the season. This reinforces the Brenly Effect and shatters the dreams of Iowa Cub manager Mike Quade, who had hoped to one day soon add 'interim manager' to his resume, only to never be heard from again at season's end.

Lets try it again Rich

July 27, 2006 | Comments (4) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Well with the sudden injuries to Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol, the Cubs are looking to Rich Hill as they open a four-game series against the Cards this weekend at Wrigley. Hill, who struggled mightily back in May has been lights-out at AAA Iowa, posting a 7-1 record with a 1.80 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 15 starts. At this point there's really not much more for Hill to do in Des Moines. Hopefully today marks the day Rich finally gets over the hump and takes the next step to the bigs.

Facing the Cubs today on the mound for the Cards is Jeff Weaver, who was recently picked out of the dumpster behind Angel Stadium. The Cubs have done well against St. Louis this season, and we'll see if they can tee off of Weaver like the rest of the league has done this year.

How about Mark Prior yesterday? No hits, no runs in 5 2/3 innings pitched? Makes you feel better about his prospects through the rest of this year. I wouldn't say 'greatly optimistic'. Lets just go with 'slightly less pessimistic'. That sounds good.

But alas, the effort was spoiled by the Cubs offensive impotence yesterday. John Maine baffled them over 7 innings, striking out 7 and scattering 3 hits. Why do the Cubs seemingly get dumbfounded anytime they face a fresh new rookie pitcher? You'd think a centaur was pitching to them as mystified as they seem.

And lastly, WGN 720's Pat Hughes mentioned something that further proves why Tim McCarver is on our "Most Wanted" list. Apparently Tim said on a recent FOX broadcast, that John Maine was the only MLB player to have a last name that was also a U.S. state. Pat was quick to point out that McCarver must've forgot about every player named Washington that's ever played the game. The lesson as usual, Tim McCarver is an idiot.

Oh and who can forget Steve Nebraska?

War Criminals: ESPN

July 26, 2006 | Comments (2) | by Governor X

Just what the hell happened in Bristol, CT? ESPN, the network that took sports journalism nationwide, has become a caricature of their former selves. All of us at Thunder Matt’s grew up in an era where ESPN was the authority for sports news and highlights. If we had been forced to rely on the local news for our sports, we may have never known a baseball team named the Texas Rangers ever existed or that some people actually care who won the hockey game.

Well, those days are gone. ESPN now represents everything that is wrong with the “new media” era: style over substance and shameless self promotion to the Nth degree. They’re so bad, the name ESPN doesn’t fit anymore. If you didn’t know, ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Network. Since its hardly entertaining anymore and the sports content is thinning out, they should change their name to NSPD: Network of Self-Promotion and Douchebaggery (yeah, I just made a word up, but its just too perfect). Some items to consider:

1. The Anchors - Ever since Craig Kilborn left ESPN for the glory of mopping up after David Letterman, every ESPN anchor is on an interminable audition for their next job. The worst of these is of course Stuart Scott. With lazy eye in tow, Scott oozes his way onto every ESPN channel and nearly every ESPN show (I’ve yet to see him on Baseball Tonight…fingers crossed) wearing suits that cost more than the Geo he drives to work and spouting completely incomprehensible gibberish under the guise of sports reporting. Scott is just the worst example, every anchor on the network has a gimmicky catch phrase that straddles the line between utter nonsense and tired cliché. Booya…

2. The “Experts” - The quality of “experts” on the network has declined in recent years. With Peter Gammons in the hospital, I’m not even sure there’s anyone on the channel that should be given that title. The next closest thing, Harold Reynolds, was summarily fired this week after being accused of sexual harassment (of a woman or John Kruk, we don’t know). What’s left? Steve Phillips, John Clayton, Orestes Destrade, Sean Salisbury, and that Irish soccer guy no one can understand.

3. Phony Confrontation - Sports highlights and interviews weren’t enough. Someone had the bright idea of ripping off CNN’s Crossfire style of having four people on a panel arguing over one another. Beyond that, they are now in the business of manufacturing confrontation and getting the audience involved. Take this for example…Quite Frankly, an irritating “interview” program which is really just a vehicle for Stephen A. Smith to show the world what a miserable human being he is, recently extended an invite to Cubs manager Dusty Baker. Being clueless in the dugout, but by all accounts a decent guy, Baker accepted. ESPN then proceeded to recruit audience members to come boo Dusty. That’s right, they invite a guy on for an interview and then plan an audience ambush. Classy all around.

4. ESPN: The Brand - Remember the running joke of self-promotion in Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs - Spaceballs the lunch box, Spaceballs the flame-thrower, Spaceballs the toilet paper and so on? Well, ESPN took this as inspiration, not a delicious send-up of George Lucas & Star Wars. ESPN the Magazine, ESPN Radio, ESPN video games, the “Espys” and so on… I don’t know what else to say here. ESPN the sanitary napkin can’t be far off.

Time for these folks to get back to basics. Show sports highlights and have actual experts tell us things we don’t know. Use Bob Ley’s haircut as inspiration if need be. Bob has had the same bowl cut since day one at ESPN. Back to your roots people, back to your roots.

Oh, and breaking the bank to get Olbermann back wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Odalis Perez Banished

July 26, 2006 | Comments (2) | by Governor X

Well, I never got around to indicting Odalis Perez for his war crimes, but apparently someone in the Dodgers front office did. Perez & his 6.83 ERA were shipped off to baseball's equivalent of a Siberian gulag yesterday - Kansas City.

The Dodgers are 1-12 since the all star break, so maybe they should have shipped some more dead weight to the gulag. Some suggestions: Ricky Ledee, Dannys Baez, Ricky Ledee, Brett Tomko, Ricky Ledee, Kenny Lofton, Ricky Ledee, Jose Cruz Jr, and oh, did I mention Ricky F-ing Ledee?

Fantasy Hurricane Season kicks off with a whimper

July 26, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

TMS Fantasy Hurricane League 2006

Well after nearly a month of no activity, Tropical Storm Beryl moved through the Atlantic with the ferocity of a gerbil. The official scoring is 55 points thanks to a brief brush with Nantucket. Kind of a cheap way to get some points but I'll take it. Still not bad given Beryl was my fourth round pick. Next up will be Chris, the first round pick of the Governor. Will Chris be the first major hurricane, or will it puss out like Beryl and Alberto?

I Heart NY (and Rock Star)

July 25, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Tonight the Cubs took one step closer to mediocrity with another logic defying win over the first place Mets. Ryan Dempster also continued his metamorphosis into Mitch Williams and was mercifully pulled by Dusty right before he would have given up Paul Lo Duca's game winning double into the gap.

Is it just me or has Dempy put on a few extra lbs. the past month or so? Whilst flipping over from my favorite piece of summertime cheese 'Rockstar: Supernova', I had to adjust the rabbit ears on my TV, thinking for a second I was seeing the triumphant return of Ruben Quevedo, now donning a stylish orange goatee. Nope, just Dempster. He must be on the Neifi Perez diet. Eatin' good in the neighborhood. Shit, bases loaded one out?

Flip back to Rock Star, where Tommy Lee is poetically doling out compliments using a combination of the words 'dude', 'rock', 'gnarly' and 'sweet' and not so subtly working his way into Storm Large's panties. The only thing that could make this show better would be by replacing Dave Navarro with Peter Gammons (who would still be required to wear his shirt unbuttoned all the way a la the ex-Mr. Carmen Elektra) and maybe adding Bronson Arroyo into the mix as one of the rockers.

Ok, back to the Cubs game. Julio Franco? This spells trouble. True story. When I was 11 years old I pleaded with my mother to legally change my name to Julio, because Sir Julio was my favorite player. Julio Handfelt. A nice Spanish-German name if there ever was one. Why was he my favorite player when I had no allegiance whatsoever towards the Indians? I guess for the same reason Fernando Valenzuela, Cecil Fielder and John Wehner all held that coveted post. John Wehner, really? Yes, really. I'm an idiot who should not be trusted with even the most simple of tools.

Anyway, humoring me, my mom went as far as to place a phone call to the courthouse as to inquire as to what the process would be. She said it would cost $200, all of which would come out of my allowance. F' that. I maintain to this day that mother never actually dialed that number and it was all just a simple ruse. If she tried that same trick today, I would surely call her bluff, as sure as my name would be Julio.

Back to the game. As could have been predicted by anyone who has watched Julio Franco play major league baseball the past 22 years, he tries to poke one to the opposite field, only to have it nabbed by a diving Neifi. There's that Neifi range for ya! Let it be noted that it was one of those plays where you're like, 'Why did he just dive for that? He totally could have got to that without diving. What a douche!'

2 outs in the 9th, but now another walk. Red-haired Ruben is now being pulled for Bobby Howry, who in the long line of Cubs pitching greats like Jerome Williams and Kerry Wood, wears a unsightly necklace when he pitches. Rub it for good luck!

Ok, back to Rock Star while he warms up. Dilana kicking some ass again, though nothing can top her performance of 'Lithium', which made me alternately scared and horny. Are Jason Newsted and Tumnus from Narnia separated at birth? I pledge allegiance to you, Rock Star. American Idol, I hardly knew ye.

Ok, back to the game. Lo Duca pops it up...snagged by Neifi in true Rock Star fashion! Can we bump him up a few spots on the 'range' list? He's like grease lightning out there. How is this guy not a perennial Gold Glover? They should actually rename the 'Gold Glove' the 'Neifi Glove'. Seriously, who wouldn't want to win one of those? Julio Handfelt sure would. And I'm sure Franco wouldn't mind either.

Bartender Banter: Pimping Blogs

July 25, 2006 | Comments (3) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

In this edition of BB I'm going to take some time to mention some of the different blogs out there that are worth checking out. In the short time the Saloon has been in existence I've found that a simple link from a fellow blog site can mean boatloads of exposure. While some have added the Saloon to their links, we in turn have returned the favor and put them in ours. Here is rundown of some of the great sites we've found that have been deemed worthy of a link in our sidebar.

The Big Dogs
    Deadspin - Most people that regularly read sports blogs are aware of Deadspin. I guess the best way to describe them is being "The Superficial" of sports. They cover just about every sports related story out there and interject it with their own brand of wit and humor. They'll pretty much take on anything, even the latest "My Wish" segments on Sportscenter. Deadspin also links to various articles written by different sports blogs out there. Getting linked by Deadspin can bring boatloads of exposure. Just ask the guys over at Goat Riders of the Apocalypse.
    Rivalfish's Rival Room - The Rival Room is a satirical sports site that has a stable of writers who put together various feature columns such as "Ladies Love Obscure Rivalries" and "Keepin' Fit with Ronny J". We were recently linked in an edition of "Say Cheese", which features various sports stories from different sites. A recent "Rivalries" column pitted the Chicago Cubs against The Gay Games.
    Phat Phree - Another satirical site that takes on much more than just sports. Their pieces are the kind that make me read them and think "Dammit! I wish I thought of that." Case in point, check out this gem.

Cubs Blog Army: Taking New Recruits?

Finding blogs and sites about the Chicago Cubs is incredibly easy thanks to the Cubs Blog Army, a site that serves as a main directory for Cub related blogs. Its a pretty cool concept in that being a member of the CBA allows you great exposure to many readers. Most members use a nice HTML code that is provided as a way to get links of all CBA sites into their sidebar. Sounds great you say? It is, and I think we could get a lot of page hits, if we were a part of this. Yes, unfortunately for us, the CBA hasn't been updated in almost half a year, thus we're sort of floating out there on our own. We're like the Cubs Blog Mercenary I guess.

Nonetheless I'd say that maybe apart from the Yankees and Red Sox, the Cubs have more blogs devoted to them than any other MLB team. Here are a few that I usually try to keep up to date on.
    Goat Riders of the Apocalypse - Death, Famine, Pestilence, War, Chaos, Despair, Bob. Those are the identities the folks at GROTA go by in their posts. A good blend of up to date news as well as some humorous points of view. GROTA was just embroiled at the center of the great "Quite Frankly"/Boo Dusty Baker debacle. If you haven't heard about this yet, I'll let you check out their site for the details. Like I needed any more reasons not to like Stephen A. Smith.
    Bleed Cubbie Blue - What strikes me most about BCB, is that given the enormous amount of content that is posted daily, I'm amazed that its all done by a single guy. Always a good place to gain a little more insight on the plight of the Cubs.
    Desipio - Probably one of the funniest Cubs blogs out there, Desipio never seems to disappoint. My personal favorites are the little nuggets he has stashed in the sidebar, like the "Why We Boo Jock Jones Today" graphic, or the running clock that counts down to when Dusty's contract expires, to the second.

Wow, I could be at this all day on the Cubs blogs. A few more real quick worth noting are The Cub Reporter, which is a great place to get the latest info without going to Derek Smart's writing at Cub Town is always enjoyable (Pretty much all the writers over at Baseball Toaster are worth checking out). Die-Hard Cubs Fun is the place to go for your goofy Photoshopped Cubs pics fix.

Those Other Team Sites
While there are hundreds of team blogs out there, I've found a handful that are humorous, entertaining, and generally good reads, even if I may not be able to stand their team.

Pittsburgh Loves the Saloon
While we currently are linked by zero Cubs blogs, somehow by a strange series of events we are linked by 4 different Pirates blogs. What can we say? The Steel City digs our stuff. Actually it all started with a simple link and a friendly hello to Honest Wagner, who then linked to Governor Gray Davis' Tracyball FAQ post. That in turn led to us getting linked by Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?. A little later we got linked by Raul Mondesi's House, which I like to think is just down the street from Thunder Matt's Saloon, and by Bad News Bucs. In fact we're the only non-Pirates site that has a link on Bad News Bucs.

All four of those sites are very well done and I recommend them to anyone wanting to get a glimpse inside the psyche of Pittsburgh fans. They're not much different from us, except their team doesn't spend nearly as much money to basically suck.

Some More Team Sites
    Dodger Blues - Since we got our own Dodger guy on staff in the Governor, its probably good to link to at least one LA site. Dodger Blues reminds me a little of Desipio in the way they have all sorts of funny graphics and features on their site, like the "Time since the last great Dodgers moment" clock, which keeps track of the time that's passed since the legendary Kirk Gibson home run.
    Yes Joe, It's Toasted - I came across this blog after the Cubs series with the Mets last week that ended with the 11 run debacle. They were at Wrigley for the series and got to experience firsthand why we all show up for home games, even if our team is atrocious. It looks like they definitely enjoyed themselves.
    Darth Marc - The noted arch-nemesis of Metstradamus and the only Yankee blog I've been able to read without vomiting in my mouth. Still looking for a Red Sox blog that I can say the same for.
    Cardinals Diaspora - I know, I know. Its downright blasphemous to plug a Cards blog, but CD is a pretty decent read. The "we suck" diatribes during their losing streak earlier in the season were amusing since the Redbirds were still in first place and with the NL Central playing like a batch of moldy dog turds as a whole, not likely to lose the top spot.
    Gaslamp Ball - There's actually someone who cares enough about the Padres to write about them regularly. Who knew?
    Batgirl - Entertaining Twins blog. I've got all the respect in the world for someone that hates the White Sox as much as us. Well most of us. We're starting to wonder about Chaim and his mancrush on Ozzie Guillen.
And Lastly, a Couple More
    Awful Announcing - If you can't figure it out from its blatantly obvious title, this blog is all about bad announcers and commentators. AA skewers just about every blowhard out there, from McCarver to Buck to Morgan. AA also recently announced he'll be taking on the much beloved/much hated Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, who's work has noticeably declined in quality since he's moved out to LA. - Andy is the sponsor of Thunder Matt's baseball-reference page as well as the first person to give the Saloon a link on their site. He's also one of the Saloon's 12 regular customers.

The Bob Brenly Effect

July 23, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Here at the Saloon, a riotous mob is being formed and readied for an all out assault on Wrigley Field, complete with angry villagers, burning torches, mossy stones and witty insults. The purpose. To oust Dusty 'The Bobblehead' Baker from his job as Cubs, and I use this term loosely, 'manager'.

Unfortunately, Cubs management seems content to "wait this one out" and it seems as though even a Million Man March would have little to no effect on the Cubs brass, who must be confusing their W-L record with the other team in Chicago.

Why the dragging of the feet by Hendry and Company? Call it the Bob Brenly Effect (BBE). Dusty's contract is up at the end of the year. It is painfully obvious to everyone (except maybe Dusty himself; at this point I think even his kid knows) that he will not be re-signed. Cubs management, so the theory goes, is interested in Brenly, who after two years, knows the club more than any other incoming manager would, and has a World Series ring to boot.

So why not fire Dusty and bring in Bob right now? Well first off, I think that the brass know that the players that make up the current roster are, for the most part going to the be the players that finish out the year. And not mincing words, these players suck. Not to absolve Dusty and his staff from responsibility or anything, but any manager thrown into the fire now at this point in the season would just be spinning his wheels. Maybe they win some games due to the fact that they have a competent skipper, but a 'turnaround' of any sorts would be highly unlikely, even if Jesus took the wheel.

Then, according to the BBE, you have the fact that Bob and his goatee make up one half of their television broadcasting crew. I mean, sure it could be argued that you could replace him with Dave Otto...but Dave Otto? Len and Bob are finally starting to hit their stride and get comfortable together, with Brenly having experience on Fox and the respect of his colleagues (he's no Steve Stone, but that's a whole other post), while Dave Otto's resume includes occasional post game gigs on Comcast Sports Net and the respect of the waitresses at Bennigan's, who claim he tips good, but comes off a bit drunk and overly flirtatious.

So I think the higher ups in Cubs nation hope that, best case scenario, Dusty can string a couple of 3 game winning streaks together, and ride it out the season as a lame duck coach (with of course Dusty "The Bobblehead" under the impression his contract will be renewed immediately following the season). Then they let him go at the end of the year, hire Bob, bring him in some new players, and have the whole offseason to fill his broadcasting slot (swallow your pride and give Stoney a call; that will never happen, but a boy can dream).

Of course, this whole theory is contingent on the Cubs actually winning a few games to tide over the angry mob. If they continue to get swept, the buzz outside of Hendry's office will turn into a roar, and he will reluctantly have to fire Dusty and probably replace him with the dreaded 'interim manager', and then hire Bob after the season is over.

Speaking of 'interim managers' what is Joe Altobelli up to? I'm sure Jim Essian is homeless and could use the work. Or just have Chris Speier finish the year coaching the Cubs while drunk. He'd still fill out a lineup card better than The Bobblehead.

Why? For God's Sake WHY?!?!

July 23, 2006 | Comments (3) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Well the hapless Cubs just got swept by the slightly less hapless Nationals, and at this point I've almost all but given up on anything being changed on the management front. How, HOW?! can nobody in management be held accountable? This just blows my mind. All season its been the same broken record, "we've been mired with injuries", "we're just not getting the breaks", "my vagina hurts". Enough already! If Hendry, Dusty and his coaching staff are not going to be held accountable for this absolutely craptastic season, why bother having a staff at all? Lets just fill the dugout with a dozen chimpanzees. They'd be more lively and entertaining to watch manage the team and they wouldn't think twice before throwing their own feces at Roberto Novoa when he blows the game wide open. Oh, and a chimp would know that playing Neifi Perez is not a wise move, ever.

Which brings me to rant number two of this vitriol-fueled post. What did we do to deserve being repeatedly subjected to the constant mediocrity of Neifi? The day Dusty is gone will be doubly-satisfying for me in that I'll never have to see that pudgy bastard in Cubbie pinstripes again. And if he's still starting with the new manager, then we failed to bring in a competent replacement. At best, Neifi should only be used as a backup every now and then to spell your middle infielders. Instead under the Baker regime, he starts at 2B and bats second. SECOND!!! Logic would have it that you'd want someone with a good OBP in the 2-hole. Apparently to Dusty, Neifi's .260 OBP will suffice. Christ, I wouldn't want someone with a .260 AVG in the 2-hole. But with only 4 BB's this season, Neifi fits Dusty's profile of a model hitter, since he doesn't "clog the bases" with a bunch of walks. Why would Derrek Lee want someone on 1B, when he hits for extra bases? That's just stupid.

And the next person to say that Neifi plays not because of his hitting but because of his defense gets punched in the throat. While one would assume that if a middle infielder with terrible hitting is actually starting for a team he must have good defensive skills, that simply is not the case. Last week when Walker had those two errors, people wanted his head on a stick, and for good reason. But some people actually said that we'd be better off with Neifi than Walker on defense. Really? For those that feel the need to make such an ignorant statement, take a look at this. I rest my case. So is Walker the better option? Yes, but only because of his mildly better offense. The fact is, that both are below-par 2B and neither are worth a starting gig.

What's that you want more proof of Neifi's crappiness? Fine. Lets list all 2B who have started 25 or more games that have a better fielding percentage than Neifi.
  1. Ty Wiggington
  2. Mark Grudzielanek
  3. Jamey Carroll
  4. Mark Ellis
  5. Jeff Kent
  6. Kazuo Matsui
  7. Mark DeRosa
  8. Marco Scutaro
  9. Craig Biggio
  10. Mark Loretta
  11. Brian Roberts
  12. Marcus Giles
  13. Tadahito Iguchi
  14. Jose Vidro
  15. Ray Durham
  16. Aaron Hill
  17. Hector Luna
  18. Placido Polanco
  19. Luis Castillo
  20. Orlando Hudson
  21. Josh Barfield
  22. Jose Lopez
  23. Jose Valentin
  24. Ronnie Belliard
  25. Brandon Phillips
  26. Robinson Cano
  27. Dan Uggla
  28. Adam Kennedy
  29. Ian Kinsler
  30. Chase Utley
  31. Jorge Cantu
  32. Aaron Miles
  33. Todd Walker
  34. Jose Castillo
  35. Neifi Perez
That's right. There are 34 major league players with 25+ starts at second base, with a FPCT better than Neifi's .966

Now if you're gonna be one of those statistical buttholes that will throw out the "You can't look at FPCT, you have to look at range factor" argument. Very well. Here's the same type of list but looking at range factor.
  1. Jose Valentin
  2. Jamey Carroll
  3. Jeff Kent
  4. Ian Kinsler
  5. Mark DeRosa
  6. Aaron Miles
  7. Placido Polanco
  8. Mark Grudzielanek
  9. Orlando Hudson
  10. Dan Uggla
  11. Chase Utley
  12. Mark Ellis
  13. Robinson Cano
  14. Jose Castillo
  15. Kazuo Matsui
  16. Ty Wigginton
  17. Craig Biggio
  18. Ronnie Belliard
  19. Ray Durham
  20. Rickie Weeks
  21. Neifi Perez
Neifi fares a little better here, but 21st is far from stellar. Seeing this makes me pine for the days of Grudzy again.

Bartender Banter: State of the Saloon

July 21, 2006 | Comments (2) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Well its been 4 days since anyone has talked about the Cubs here. In that time our hapless heroes managed to take a series from Houston. I'm also happy to say that Roberto Novoa was nowhere to be found in those 3 games.

Dusty managed to start his menagerie of left fielders, giving Phat Bastard the start on tuesday, Devil Christian on wednesday, and finally Thunder Matt yesterday. If only Bynum was healthy, Dusty could've pulled his patented "double-switch because I can" move and put Bynum in to complete the rare left-field quadfecta, which hasn't been done in a series since 1987, when Gene Michael played Jerry Mumphrey, Rafael Palmeiro, Brian Dayett, and the uber-sexy Chico Walker at left in a series against the Reds.

Its Been Three Months Now
Hard to believe its been almost 3 months since Thunder Matt's opened its doors. I think we've found our groove finally.

We've got the Governor Gray Davis giving us occasional nuggets regarding the Dodgers, as well as his "War Criminal" columns which help keep America informed and vigilant in these troubled times.

Chaim Witz brings his slant on things better left unsaid, and pushes his "Ginger Awareness" cause with the incredibly popular "Realm of Red" series.

Brant Brown has been relatively quiet as of late, but look for his new ongoing feature in the coming weeks. Ever wonder what happened to Doug Dascenzo and countless other Cubs? Stay tuned.

Me, I just try to keep things rolling along smoothly at the Saloon. I'm like the head bouncer. Kind of like Dalton in "Road House", except I'm bald, and look nothing like Patrick Swayze, and I can't call in Sam Elliot when things get too rough. Actually its nothing like being Dalton in "Road House". But if I ever get stabbed while breaking up a fight with a Cardinals blogger I'll let you know.

Chi-Town Girl isn't heard from much, at all. But she'll always be a welcome member of the Saloon. Plus its good to have a female here. Thunder Matt's ain't no sausage fest folks!

Anyway, thanks to those that have read our blathering pointless garbage for these first few months. I think our popularity has grown from about 7 regular readers to somewhere closer to 12. You gotta start somewhere I guess.

Break out the Schlitz! Its Keith Johns' birthday!

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

Happy 35th birthday to our favorite journeyman minor leaguer, Keith Johns. As you may remember from a post I wrote back in May, Brant Brown, Chaim Witz and myself met Mr. Johns at the Gingerman Tavern, where we drank the last known supply of Schlitz in a bottle on this planet. Keith told us all sorts of stories from his days as a minor league player with the Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals and a handful of other teams. He spoke to us of the rampant use of steroids long before any congressional hearing was held and the subject of Barry Bonds enormous cranium was still whispered about.

Keith had a cup of coffee with the Red Sox back in 1998. Here's what his Wikipedia page says about his extremely brief stint in the show.
    Keith Johns made his only major league plate appearance on May 23, 1998 as a Red Sox, pinch-hitting for Jim Leyritz in a game versus the Yankees. He was walked by reliever Jeff Nelson in the ninth inning but did not score. He was a late-game defensive replacement at second base three days later in his second and final major league game.

So if you have a can of Schlitz in the fridge, crack it open and toast one to the man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Johns, we here at Thunder Matt's Saloon salute you.

War Criminal: A. J. Pierzynski

July 18, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Governor X

Let me take a step back and exhume McCarthy for a moment: A. J. Pierzynski is a card carrying member of the Communist Party. As you know, even 15 years after the Cold War ended, we don’t tolerate Communists here in the US of A. If that commie name isn’t enough to convince you (I have it on good authority that he changed it from “Anatoly Tualyet“ to the good ole American “A. J.”), consider the facts:

On his birthday, the following events happened:

1916 - Rasputin was finally killed after numerous attempts paving the way for the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

1922 - Russia officially becomes the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

1947 - Romania’s King abdicates allowing communism to take root in the Land of Dracula.

We also can’t forget that the day of his MLB debut was the 50th anniversary of the founding of North Korea.

I wish I could tell you it was just communism friends, but there are more atrocities connected to him throughout history:

1862 - The Monitor is sunk during the Civil War.

1897 - Natal annexed Zululand (Bastards!!!!)

1940 - California’s first freeway opened, making California a commuter state, clogging the roads with assholes for the next 66 years and creating a layer of smog thicker than Grady Little’s accent. (You could also read into this that Pierzynski is contributing to global warming, and I do.)

1977 - Ted Bundy escapes from prison.

1997 - 400 people are killed in an Algerian massacre.

I would also like to submit that Pierzynski is likely to have invaded his neighbors, gassed his own people, and operated torture chambers. These are the only crimes I can imagine that will get you kicked off a team with the King of War Criminals: Barry Bonds.

So to recap, Pierzynski is responsible for every death caused by the Soviet Union, North Korea, 400 Algerians, and every post-1977 Ted Bundy victim. …oh, and global warming.

Den Hague is too good for this guy. I call for the ironic punishment of sending this guy to one of our Stalinist CIA gulags in Eastern Europe for the rest of his days.

Realm of Red: Redhead of the Week

July 17, 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: Rusty Staub

Rusty, you portly sumbitch. The year was 1984. My first year of actively collecting baseball cards. Topps was my weapon of choice. Eagerly tearing into a bubblegum stained pack (always pick the second pack from the top), I hoped to find the elusive Mel Hall, or perhaps the durable and bespectacled Kent Tekulve to add to my collection. Instead, I got Rusty Staub.

"Who is this guy?" I wondered aloud, itching my butt. "A good candidate for my bike spokes, that's who!" shouted the running dialogue in my head.

But then I looked at the back of the card. I always loved cards that were filled edge to edge with years of experience. What struck me was that he played for some outfit known as the Colt .45's. Glorious! To this day it remains the only beer I will drink.

Rusty was the 'original Expo' (what an honor!) and was nicknamed 'Le Grande Orange'. I don't speak Russian but I think that means 'fat redhead'. This nickname was later stolen by his archrival, Qbert.

Always one to drive the ball into a gap for 'legged out doubles', Rusty made the All-Star team 4 years, all of which I surmise must have been as an injury replacement.

And here's a classic ditty. In the World Series in 1973 an injury left Rusty able to only throw the ball underhanded for the entire series. Wow, that helps out your team. Hit the cutoff man, hit the cutoff man! Oh wait, he's on the warning track and can only throw underhanded. Well, shit now what? I guess run out there and have him bowl it to you. Fuck it. Just let the run score I guess. Goddamn it Rusty!

Rusty was also the first player to play 162 games as a DH. This was so that he had more time in the dugout to ravage the clubhouse spread. Rusty, never a careful eater, once consumed teammate Tim McCarver's son, Mustang. Look up Mustang McCarver. Can't find him. Rusty ate him.

In recent years, Rusty auditioned for the role of Boss Hogg in the movie adaptation of "The Dukes of Hazzard", only to lose the role to Burt Reynolds. Said Rusty of the disappointment, "That's ok. I'm Rusty Staub. I bounce back. That's just what I do." Sage advice that we should all heed from this red headed prophet.

Rusty currently fronts 'The Rusty Staub Foundation', an egomaniacal endeavor that is actually a front for an elaborate chop shop. Rusty Staub may or may not have his GED.

Fun with numbers

July 17, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Rank Team Total Payroll W L Cost per win
1 New York Yankees $194,663,079 53 36 $3,672,888.28
2 Chicago Cubs $94,424,499 35 56 $2,697,842.83
3 Los Angeles Angels $103,472,000 46 45 $2,249,391.30
4 Boston Red Sox $120,099,824 54 36 $2,224,070.81
5 Los Angeles Dodgers $98,447,187 46 45 $2,140,156.24
6 Philadelphia Phillies $88,273,333 42 48 $2,101,746.02
7 Atlanta Braves $90,156,876 43 49 $2,096,671.53
8 Houston Astros $92,551,503 45 48 $2,056,700.07
9 Seattle Mariners $87,959,833 44 48 $1,999,087.11
10 San Francisco Giants $90,056,419 46 46 $1,957,748.24
11 New York Mets $101,084,963 55 37 $1,837,908.42
12 Chicago White Sox $102,750,667 57 34 $1,802,643.28
13 St. Louis Cardinals $88,891,371 52 39 $1,709,449.44
14 Baltimore Orioles $72,585,582 43 51 $1,688,036.79
15 Washington Nationals $63,143,000 39 54 $1,619,051.28
16 Kansas City Royals $47,294,000 32 59 $1,477,937.50
17 Pittsburgh Pirates $46,717,750 32 61 $1,459,929.69
18 San Diego Padres $69,896,141 48 43 $1,456,169.60
19 Texas Rangers $68,228,662 47 45 $1,451,673.66
20 Toronto Blue Jays $71,915,000 51 40 $1,410,098.04
21 Cleveland Indians $56,031,500 41 50 $1,366,621.95
22 Detroit Tigers $82,612,866 62 30 $1,332,465.58
23 Arizona Diamondbacks $59,684,226 45 46 $1,326,316.13
24 Oakland Athletics $62,243,079 48 44 $1,296,730.81
25 Milwaukee Brewers $57,568,333 45 48 $1,279,296.29
26 Minnesota Twins $63,396,006 50 40 $1,267,920.12
27 Cincinnati Reds $60,909,519 49 44 $1,243,051.41
28 Colorado Rockies $41,233,000 44 47 $937,113.64
29 Tampa Bay Devil Rays $35,417,967 39 53 $908,153.00
30 Florida Marlins $14,998,500 40 50 $374,962.50

Payrolls as of April 7, 2006. Source: USA Today

This team goes to 11

July 17, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

11? 11 runs in the 6th inning. I'm frickin' speechless. Its a shame since Marshall was pitching well up until that point, even getting into the offensive act by hitting his first big league home run. But in the 6th inning the wheels came off. A series of hits, including two grand slams and two costly errors by Todd Walker led to quite possibly the most depressing half-inning of baseball I've ever seen this side of Game 6 in '03. Just miserable. But what pisses me off most, isn't the two errors by Walker, or Marshall getting lit up to start the inning. Its that once again Dusty Baker went to Roberto Novoa for relief. Does Dusty not look at stats? At all? Novoa has been brought in repeated times when the Cubs have a minor deficit. And more times than not, the game gets blown wide open with Novoa on the hill. He's absolutely terrible out there. Novoa has now given up 12 homers on the season in just 43.1 IP. That's atrocious. In fact I quickly perused the sortable stats, and from what I can see, 12 homers is by far the worst in the majors for any full-time reliever. Yet Dusty keeps bringing him in. Why? Is he the Neifi Perez of the bullpen?

When he's not destroying the Cubs chances for any semblance of a comeback, Roberto Novoa (Left) enjoys playing backgammon and drinking Mai Tai's. Roberto also prides himself for having the longest neck in the majors.

But of course the main person to get punished in this business will Walker. After the game Dusty said, "I pride myself and my team on defense.....You just can't give away runs." For those that don't speak Dusty that means, "We'll be starting Neifi Perez at 2B all week." Hopefully if Walker does get benched, they start Theriot instead, who looked great when finally given the chance to actually play for once. Then again Dusty could run with Theriot at 2B and Neifi at SS since Cedeno has started to struggle at the plate. And what better way for a young hitter to get out of their funk than by riding the pine. It does wonders for their morale.

This season is lost, it has been for a while. Lets just trade Pierre, Walker and Jones for some minor leaguers and play Murton, Pagan, and Pie in the OF, and Cedeno and Theriot at SS and 2B. But that probably won't happen. Cubs fans will receive further fuel for their depression by seeing Neifi, Nevin, and Novoa stink the joint up with their incredible mediocrity all the way through September.

One last note about yesterday's massacre. Thunder Matt Murton went 0-4, so look for Angel Pagan to start at LF today, or even possibly Phil Nevin since he looked great hitting that pinch hit homer when the game was far, far out of reach.

Cubs vs. Nationals 5/18/06

July 14, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

I've been meaning to post this for quite some time but just never got around to it. Back on May 18th I made my annual pilgrimage to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs versus the Nationals. Accompanying me was my friend and co-worker Mark. After the game we met up with Ben (Chaim Witz) for some beers at the Gingerman Tavern. Some highlights of this trip:
  • We got to Wrigleyville insanely early that day. Our game plan is usually as such. We drive from the Quad Cities to Aurora. From Aurora we take the Metra to Union Station and from there we'll connect to the El and head up the Red Line to Wrigley. This year we hauled ass on I-88 to Aurora and caught the 8:02 express. This led to us getting to Wrigley at 9:30.
  • Mark left his sunscreen in the van in Aurora so we had to stop at 7-11, or else risk him turning into a lobster again. Just an FYI, the 7-11 right there on Addison and Sheffield has a whole half aisle dedicated to sunscreen. The downside is that they prey on absent-minded pasty-skinned Midwesterners by ass-raping you on the price. At no point should sunscreen cost $8. That's almost two Old Style's inside the park.
  • The early arrival gave us a chance to break our old record for "Earliest Time to Start Drinking" of 10:30am. We walked into Bernie's and had our first beer at 9:55am. You know you've started too early when you order an Old Style and the can is still warm because it hasn't been in the cooler long enough yet.
  • We had great seats. Section 33, Row 7. This was the second time I've ever sat anywhere but the bleachers. I have to say its nice to have beer guys waiting on you for a change. One bummer was that it was raining before the game so BP was cancelled.
  • We sat next to these two guys from Kentucky that had never been to Wrigley before. The one had a crapload of money that he didn't mind spending, while his friend was kind of worthless bum, free loading off of him. They seemed pretty cool at first, but as the free loader kept drinking he went from being cool to hang with, to a complete douchebag. He become a "That Guy", the type that gets too drunk and feels the need to start talking shit to complete strangers. Nobody likes "That Guy". He also started asking everyone at Gingerman where he could score some weed. Overall he was a complete tool. His rich buddy seemed nice enough though and I'm pretty sure I didn't pay for any beer at Gingerman.
  • This game for those that remember was the infamous "Neifi 2-out in the ninth inning bunt" game. Everyone was into the game the entire time without any real negativity brewing. It was Kerry Wood's first game back so everyone was pumped about that. Then as the Cubs were looking to possibly come back, Neifi lays down that awful bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd. It was ridiculous. Half the crowd erupted in boos while the other half just stood there dumbfounded. Worst end to a Cubs game I've ever attended.

And now here are some pictures I took.....

It was good to see that Derrek Lee was alive and well at the time.

Nice shot of the Wrigley scoreboard.

Probably the last time I'll ever see Kerry pitch live in a Cubs uni.

This was written on the wall in the bathroom stall I took a dump in. Yeah, that's right, I crapped at Wrigley, and it ain't the first or the last time either. Anyway I just love when someone puts shit like "Sox Rule" and then someone follows up with a "like dick!" below it. That's like the ultimate comeback for retards that scribble shit on bathroom walls.

Thunder Matt Murton got on base not one, not two, but three different times.

Still the coolest bar near Wrigley.

I had one last shot left on my camera.

First Half Fantasy Review: Busts and Bargains

July 13, 2006 | Comments (1) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Well everyone and their dog has released some sort of best and worst list for the first half of the fantasy baseball season. And since I've come to the conclusion all you need is the ability to type and to remotely understand baseball stats to be considered a "fantasy expert" I would toss my hat in the ring and offer up my Bargains and Busts for the first half. Keep in mind I'm basically looking for guys that have underachieved or overachieved compared to their projections. So Neifi Perez isn't really a bust. No one projected him to do well, so he's just a piece of shit. Moving on....

BARGAINS: In 2005 only 3 catchers hit 20 or more home runs. This season, there are 9-10 that could easily do the same. Needless to say there has been some great value to be found in what is typically the shallowest position in fantasy.

Miguel Olivo, FLA - Miguel has done great for the Fish with a .286, 10 HR, 35 RBI at the break.

Brian McCann, ATL – Some managers have seen their sleeper pick in McCann pay nice dividends already as the Bry-Man is hitting a fat .343.

Johnny Estrada - After an underachieving season in ’05, expectations were tempered a bit for Johnny. The desert air seems to be doing him well as he’s putting up similar numbers that made him a breakout fantasy catcher two seasons ago in Atlanta.

Mike Napoli, LAA – Mike didn’t even get called up until May, yet he’s emerged as a much needed offensive boost at the catcher position for the Halos. So much so that its rumored they’re considering parting ways with their other young catching prospect, Jeff Mathis as they look to make a deal at the trade deadline.

The Best Buy: David Ross, CIN – Playing for his fourth team in three years, Ross has been a welcome site in Cincy as well as on fantasy rosters. His .311, 12 HR, 31 RBI in only 119 at bats has been impressive enough to wrestle the main catching gig away from Jason LaRue for the foreseeable future.

BUSTS: Its hard to say there were any real busts at catcher in the first half. Some guys have faced tough injuries, others are so overrated to begin with that calling them a bust is sort of moot.

Jason Kendall, OAK – Ugh. This guy has been on the decline for about two years now. He offers absolutely nothing for power, and his AVG has been a real letdown since coming to Oakland. His numbers aren’t horrible for a catcher but for a player that for some reason keeps being listed among the top ten catchers on preseason cheat sheets, he’s certainly overvalued. You could possibly do better with someone off waivers.

Mike Lieberthal, PHI – I’m not going to be too harsh on guys that suffered injuries. Lieberthal has been one of those “set it and forget it” type catchers in fantasy for many years. He won’t put up the best numbers at his position but he’ll give serviceable worry-free stats. Unfortunately that’s not been the case this season as managers have dealt with Mike rotting on their DL for the last month. The only plus is that its let us all enjoy more time with fan favorite and 80’s porn ‘stache savior, Sal Fasano.

Jason Varitek, BOS – While he hasn’t been horrible, managers were expecting a little better than a .232 average from the guy many considered to be the best fantasy catcher for 2006 behind only Mauer and V-Mart. He may bounce back, but at this point Jason appears to be worn out.

The Bust Buy: Javy Lopez, BAL – I know. You’re saying to yourself, “Why is he a bust? He’s putting up about the same numbers as last year”. And that is exactly why he’s on here. Look Javy isn’t horrible, but so many were ranking him in the top 5 for catchers this preseason. Look at the “bang for your buck”, or lack thereof managers have received. Lopez is currently ranked 21st among catchers in runs, 14th in home runs, and 21st in RBI. Not the type of marks you’d want from drafting a supposed top 5 catcher.

BARGAINS: First base is so deep with fantasy studs that to look for a value pick seemed silly since there’s plenty of big hitters to go around. But managers that were savvy enough were able to pick up these guys have to be smiling.

Mike Jacobs, FLA – He’s not the first bargain Marlin on this list and he certainly won’t be the last. Many considered Jacobs a late-round sleeper in the draft and when the season started, the only thing sleepy about him was his bat. Mike had a horrible April, hitting only .192 and in most leagues, relegated to waiver wire fodder. But as the season heated up, so did Mike’s output. Jacobs has now pumped up his AVG to .278.

Kevin Youkilis, BOS – It wasn’t uncommon to see Youkilis drafted in the final rounds this spring if at all. You’d be hard-pressed to find him lingering on the waiver wire now with his .297 AVG, 10 HR, 43 RBI, and 60 R. His eligibility at 3B as well makes him a nice utility guy at the corners.

The Best Buy: Justin Morneau, MIN – Morneau has been on the verge of a breakout season for a while now. After a disappointing 2005, many managers passed on him in the draft this year. And after a dismal April Morneau could easily be found on waivers. Anyone that bought low on this guy are reaping the rewards now. Justin has been destroying the ball as of late and seems poised for that breakout year finally. His .300, 23 HR, 73 RBI rival some of the big sluggers in the league and he’s already close to matching his stats from last season.

BUSTS: Even if you don’t count the ones that were plagued by injury there are still a handful of 1B that have played well under par up to this point.

Derrek Lee, CHC – It pains me to list him, but if we’re counting other injured guys, Lee has to be on here. Lee was a first round pick in most league drafts, so when he collided with Rafael Furcal you could here a collective groan from fantasy owners everywhere. Now that he’s back, many managers are hoping he can give them a needed boost to hopefully make up for lost stats.

Dan Johnson, OAK
– Johnson, along with Mike Jacobs were both considered the young “sleepers” at 1B. Both started the season looking horrible. While Jacobs has bounced back quite well, Johnson has struggled. Despite a promising June, Johnson’s AVG is only .237. Although there is a light at the end of the tunnel. His K/BB ratio suggests he’s a fairly disciplined hitter. I’d keep an eye on a possible second half surge.

Aubrey Huff, HOU – ‘The Huff’ looked horrible for most of the first half and just in the last two weeks has started to hit like he can. Now he’s in Houston, where there’s a chance the change of scenery will help him. Huff was quite happy with Houston’s welcome basket of Skoal and Busch Light that was given to him.

The Bust Buy: Mark Teixeira, TEX
– For an average 1B his numbers aren’t bad (.275, 9 HR, 49 RBI). But Tex isn’t your average 1B. This guy was touted as probably the best fantasy 1B in the AL next to David Ortiz, and was projected to flirt with 40 homers. Right now he’s on pace for about 20. Not what managers were hoping for. Quick Note: As I was typing this piece I see on ESPN that Tex hit 3 homers tonight. I think he may be breaking out of the funk finally.

BARGAINS: Next to catcher, 2B is the fantasy position that is usually the shallowest. This season, some managers have found value in unlikely places.

Ty Wigginton, TB
– The Wigginator certainly doesn’t get you any cool points, but 16 homers and 50 RBI in the first half isn’t too shabby. Especially when the only other 2B eligible batters with 16+ homers are named Chase and Alfonso.

Brandon Phillips, CIN
– Hey, remember when this guy was a highly touted prospect for the Indians? So much so people were actually drafting him as one of their “sleepers” a couple years ago? Well apparently he just needed a move across the Buckeye State to finally realize his potential. A .306 AVG with 16 steals is a nice start to his Reds career.

Ian Kinsler, TEX
– Kinsler was one of the rookie sleepers in this year’s draft. But a injury early put on him on the DL for a month and a lot of owners grew impatient and dumped him to waivers during that time. Anyone who stuck it out, or snagged him off waivers when he got healthy have enjoyed his .320 AVG and .932 OPS.

The Best Buy: Jose Lopez, SEA – With the corpse of Bret Boone finally tossed in a dumpster behind Safeco, Jose Lopez has officially taken hold of the reins in the middle infield and he shows no signs of relinquishing them any time soon. His .280 AVG is serviceable but most owners have had a boner for his 58 RBI, which is best in the MLB among 2B.

There’s been a few disappointments so far but most have been due to injury or having been named Placido.

Mark Ellis, OAK
– The guy has battled injury but even before that he looked like shit. I’m not gonna rag on him any more. He already took a beating in both of my Anti-All Star Team posts.

Jorge Cantu, TB – Like Kinsler he missed over a month of the first half because of injury. Unlike Kinsler he hasn’t done much since coming back. Nonetheless most managers are hanging on to him in hopes he picks it back up in the second half.

Jeff Kent, LAD – For a 2B, most managers would be content with .279, 9 HR, 43 RBI. But not when said 2B is overrated and overvalued Jeff Kent. Usually one of the first few 2B off the board, I think we’re seeing signs of Kent's inevitable decline. His 100 RBI days look to be behind him.

The Bust Buy: Placido Polanco, DET
– Remember when this guy was an on base machine? Barely. He doesn’t do enough to justify being in your starting lineup yet he doesn’t suck enough for you to drop him. At least he’s out of Philly so Chase Utley can shine.


BARGAINS: No, David Wright is not a bargain. But he is incredibly valuable. It’s been almost 24 hours since I’ve seen his face. I’m getting withdrawal headaches from my David Wright All-Star man-crush.

Kevin Youkilis, BOS – Remember what I said about him in the 1B section? Well he’s even more valuable at 3B.

Ryan Zimmerman, WAS
– It took him a while to warm up but he’s worked his AVG up to .287 and is currently riding a 12-game hitting streak. Washington fans at least have to be happy he’s not Vinny Castilla.

Joe Crede, CWS – Crede seems to have finally figured it out. The power potential has always been there but this season his offensive output has gone to the next level. Joe looks poised to put up career numbers in about every category.

The Best Buy: Freddy Sanchez, PIT – Barely a blip on the fantasy radar to start the year, Freddy has been a hitting machine and thus been rightfully snatched up in just about every league out there. His 106 base knocks is second among 3B.

BUSTS: I’ve already ripped Huff, Cantu and Polanco. Who else can I skewer?

Eric Chavez, OAK – He’s battling tendonitis and just had an MRI done over the break. He says he’d rather go on the DL and get healthy rather than play hurt all season and hurt the team. Oakland management says they want to avoid a DL trip “at all costs”. Hey Macha, for the sake of your fans and for the sake of fantasy owners that took Chavez early in the draft, put the guy on the DL already!

Joe Randa, PIT – Not that we had high expectations to begin with but Randa owners deserve better.

Vinny Castilla, SD – Wait, you have to actually have been projected to do well in order to be a bust right? Well if your retarded enough to have Vinny on your team, there’s a good chance your fellow league-mates are laughing at you behind your back.

The Bust Buy: Morgan Ensberg, HOU – Yes sir Mr. Huff, we have a starting position all ready to go for you. I guess if its any consolation for Morgan owners, about 30% of his hits have gone yard.

BARGAINS: There aren’t many guys I’d call a bargain here. I already mentioned Freddy Sanchez and Ian Kinsler. Although they play a different position they both qualify at SS in most leagues. I guess I should talk about someone.

Mark DeRosa, TEX and Jamey Carroll, COL – These guys don’t really deserve their own writeup. Both are mediocre journeymen utility players. Both have overachieved so far this season. Both will be forgotten by September.

Omar Vizquel, SF – There once was a time where Omar’s name was mentioned any time the subject of best shortstops came up. Anyone that was trying to fill a hole in the lineup could do a lot worse than Vizquel this season. A solid .302 AVG and 56 runs make him a worthwhile fantasy contributor this year.

The Best Buy: DeRosa, Sanchez, Carroll, Kinsler, Vizquel, take your pick. Yuniesky Betancourt and Carlos Guillen get a nod too I guess.

BUSTS: Can a shortstop really be a fantasy bust? If they suck then they’re really just hitting like a normal shortstop would.

Clint Barmes, COL – A .208 average? Is it the deer meat Clint?

Adam Everett, HOU – At least when he had 21 steals last year he was kinda sorta almost valuable. This year he hasn’t even stolen bases that much. Just like with Vinny, shame on you if he’s on your team.

The Bust Buy: Bobby Crosby, OAK - .238 with 8 HR and 35 RBI? Where’s the ESPN "Crosby for MVP" hype-machine now? Can we focus on Bobby having a full healthy season where he bats over .260 first? Are there Crosby owners that are honestly shocked by his numbers? Just think, you could’ve drafted Omar Vizquel, or Carlos Guillen, or Ian Kinsler, Freddy Sanchez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jamey Carroll, Mark DeRosa. Hell, you could’ve gotten half those guys off the waiver wire. Nice move shithead.

BARGAINS: Lets here it for the ex-Cubs!

Gary Matthews Jr., TEX – Too bad there isn’t a stat for “Amazing Catches that ESPN Analysts Continue to Jizz in their Pants Over”. Gary Matthews would then for sure be the MVP. No way anybody drafted this guy at the beginning of the season. And if they did, it was probably some 65 year old dude that thought he was actually Gary Matthews Sr. At this point he’s probably taken in your league.

Jermaine Dye, CWS – Back in his days as a Royal, it looked like young Jermaine was ready to have a long stellar career. Then he went to Oakland where he became a #3 or #4 fantasy OF option on your team. Even this year he was ranked right around 40th among OF on most preseason cheat sheets. Well anyone who took him as their 3rd OF is probably happy to see Dye outperforming his #1 OF. He’s on pace for a monster year and his first 100 RBI season since his days in KC.

Corey Patterson, BAL – God damn you Corey. When seeing his stats with the O’s so far this season, almost every Cubs fan has the same thought, “Figures”. It was obvious Patterson would probably do better once he was free of Dusty’s evil reign, crushing our talented youth. Despite that, I, like many were scared to death in taking a late round flyer on Corey this year in the draft. A few said, “Why the hell not?” and took him late. They’ve been laughing ever since. His 31 steals more than make up for his occasional slumps.

Brad Hawpe, COL – A lot of people were all over fellow Rockie, Matt Holliday in the draft, but most passed over the lesser known Hawpe. Those that did pick him up have benefited from a .310, 15 HR, 49 RBI.

The Best Buy: Raul Ibanez, SEA – At the break, Raul has 20 HR and 70 RBI. Read that sentence again. No, seriously, read it again. Were talking about Raul frickin’ Ibanez! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. He had 20 homers all last year, and he’s had no more than 24 in a full season. This is just amazing, and no one seems to be talking about it.

BUSTS: I only have one guy here.

The Bust Buy: Jose Guillen, WAS – F this guy. Jose has been on 6 teams in the last 6 seasons. He’s been a clubhouse cancer everywhere he's gone. And he makes Raul Mondesi and Derek Bell look like the greatest team-players ever. Now I’m just reveling in the fact that he’s batting .211 and has looked like a moldy dog turd at the plate.

BARGAINS: If there’s any position where you can dig around in free agency for value its SP. And most of these guys are examples of that.

Josh Johnson, FLA – At the start of the season most people couldn’t name a pitcher for Florida aside from Dontrelle Willis. Now, well, they still probably can’t. But fantasy nerds are familiar with Josh Johnson at this point. Johnson has wowed owners with a 2.21 ERA with a 8-4 record and 74 K in 85.2 IP.

Jered Weaver, LAA – How often do you see a guy get replaced in the rotation by their little brother? Jered Weaver did just that, as the Angels released older brother Jeff to make room for him. And unlike Jeff, Jered has been outstanding this season. The younger Weaver has won all 6 of his starts thus far. He currently posts a 1.12 ERA with 36 K.

Gil Meche, SEA – Meche was touted as a sleeper for a handful of seasons back in the day. But an onslaught of injuries and disappointment has plagued his career. Recently Meche has looked good, going 4-0 in his last 7 starts, improving his overall record to 8-4.

The Best Buy: Chris Young, SD – Every year there’s a young pitcher that everyone is talking about as their big sleeper pick. A lot of times they don’t really pan out, or at the very least are so overhyped in the spring that they aren’t worth the money spent at auction or the spot the were drafted at. Chris Young has not been that way. The move from hitter-friendly Ameriquest to pitcher-friendly Petco has greatly helped Young’s career. At the break Young is boasting an 8-4 record, with a 3.12 ERA and 104 K. And anyone that drafted him probably took him as their #3 or 4 SP. Not bad.

Starting pitcher busts? We could be here all day.

Ben Sheets, MIL – Mark Prior, CHC – Kerry Wood, CHC – My injured trifecta of pain have inflicted just that on their owners this year. Most passed on Wood and those that took him did it late, so his failure wasn’t that harmful, but other owners have pulled their hair out and gnashed their teeth at Sheets and Prior and their long stints on the DL.

Bartolo Colon, LAA – Yeah he’s been hurt, but even when he’s not, Bartolo has not been the SP most managers were expecting when they drafted him.

Matt Clement, BOS – 6.61 ERA, 1.76 WHIP. Has anyone been so adversely affected by getting drilled in the face? Even worse are the managers that somehow thought he’d be better.

The Bust Buy: Jeff Weaver, LAA – This guy actually had a decent second-half fantasy-wise last season. He’s just been miserable this season as the Angels finally cut him loose. The Cardinals just picked him up however to replace the "Drunken Aruban Train Wreck", Sidney Ponson. That move just cracks me up. The Cardinals just replaced Ponson with virtually the same guy but without the surly drunkenness. Don’t believe me? Look at this. Scroll down to the list of “Similar Pitchers through Age 28”. Exactly, put that in your pipe.

BARGAINS: This is easy. Any closer that wasn’t the closer at the start of the season is a bargain.

Takashi Saito, LAD – Eric Gagne is broken, good thing we have Danys Baez! Um……er……I…mean good thing we have Takashi Saito! Saito has filled in well and it now looks like he’ll be in that role for at least the rest of this season.

Akinori Otsuka, TEX – After Francisco Cordero imploded, Otsuka jumped in and has pitched admirably. 17 saves with a 2.13 ERA means Otsuka has a pretty strong hold on that job.

The Best Buy: J.J. Putz, SEA – A lot of managers picked up Rafael Soriano when Everyday Eddie’s corpse officially couldn’t throw a strike any more. While Soriano was the sexier choice for closer, savvy managers snagged Putz and haven’t looked back. 16 saves, 58 K in 42.2 IP.

BUSTS: This is just as easy. For every bargain, there is probably a bust on that same team.

Eric Gagne, LAD – Just for the fact that he duped fantasy owners into believing that his injury bugs were going to be history.

Chad Orvella, TB – Is it fair to have him on here? I’m not sure Chad even got a serious save op this season. But he was slated as the TB closer early on when Baez was dealt and there were dipshits out there that drafted him.

Chris Reitsma, ATL – Reitsma pretty much guarantees that Atlanta won’t win the NL East this year. Reitsma owners are pretty much guaranteed they won’t win their fantasy league this year either.

Keith Foulke, BOS – It appears his closing days are over. This is fine by me because his demise has made way for The Papelboner.

Jose Valverde, ARI – When you’re so bad that Jorge Julio has stolen your job, it’s never a good thing.

The Bust Buy: Eddie Guardado, SEA – Seriously, if you drafted Eddie as your #1 closer, just quit. I mean it, you shouldn’t be allowed to play fantasy baseball.