Realm of Red The Drinking Game

7:00 AM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

It's a thinly veiled fact here that we here at the Saloon like to drink (thus the Saloon moniker). We are also constantly inspired and awed by redheads, none moreso than the maiden member of Realm of Red, David Caruso.

So when we stumbled across this little 7 minute slice of heaven on You Tube, which painfully strings together a montage of Caruso one-liners from that juggernaut CSI: Miami, we thought it too good to be true. (On a side note, who watches that show? It's an enigma the likes not seen since JAG.)

Watching this clip is sort of like listening to 'Stranglehold' by the Nuge. It's long to the point of almost being unbearable, but at the same time, there is something perversely entertaining about it and you can't shut it off. In fact, the unwritten rule is that once you start listening to 'Stranglehold' you have to finish, no excuses, even if you are just flipping around on the radio. I once sat in my car in the parking lot of Best Buy for a good 5 minutes and 36 seconds with the car idling, because I had to obey this rule. I'm pretty sure I would have been arrested had I gotten out of the car. Anyway, it's the same way with this Caruso clip. You have to watch it, no matter how painful.

But to ease your pain, I give you this wholly unoriginal concept. Drink while you watch. More specially, drink every time Caruso puts his shades back on. You may think it's childsplay, but be warned. You will be drunk and it will not be pretty. If you are in a relationship, and you decide to throw caution to the wind and play while your significant other is in the other room...well seven minutes later, you will wonder what happened to your life and why your wife has left you. So grab at least 4 or 5 beers and a catheter and get ready for David Caruso to wreck your life.

Your life ends HERE.

The All-80's Team - AL Shortstop

2:15 PM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Astroturf, powder blue uniforms, wearing batting helmets in the field to protect your jheri curl, hitting 25 homers and being considered a legitimate slugger, big-league hair, that horrible gum from packs of baseball cards.... who doesn't love baseball from the 80's? Over the next several weeks I will be looking at the best players of the decade as we assemble the TMS All-80's Team. We've finished with the National League and now we'll tackle the American. To meet the criteria a player will have to have played in at least 4 seasons in the 1980's and they must have played the bulk of their games at a certain position during that time to qualify there. Included will be a poll on the left sidebar, so our faithful readers can weigh in on this great debate. But remember, we're focusing on a player's contributions in just the 1980's. What they did in the decades before and/or after are not being considered in this.

Last week we covered AL 3B. George Brett won the poll and will be the starting third baseman for the American League.

AMERICAN LEAGUE SHORTSTOPS

Tony Fernandez
Toronto Blue Jays (1983-89)

All-Star: 1986-87, 1989
Gold Gloves: 1986-89
Postseason: 1985 ALCS, 1989 ALCS
League Leader: 1986 Singles

Notes: Tony was an outstanding defensive shortstop for the Blue Jays in the 80's. And while he never won a World Series with them, he is indirectly responsible for their 1993 title. Fernandez, along with Fred McGriff was traded to San Diego for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter.






Julio Franco
Cleveland Indians (1983-88), Texas Rangers (1989)

All-Star: 1989
Silver Sluggers: 1988-89

Notes: Julio is still going strong in the bigs, more than 24 years after his debut. Other things that happened in 1982 other than Franco making his first appearance: David Wright, Grady Sizemore and Jeremy Bonderman were born, John Belushi died, the top single on the charts was "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John, the first Gay Games are held in San Francisco, and Barney Miller is cancelled.







Alfredo Griffin
Toronto Blue Jays (1980-84). Oakland A's (1985-87)

All-Star: 1984
Gold Gloves: 1985
League Leader: 1980 Triples

Notes: Hey, relax, it's Alfredo Griffin.












Ozzie Guillen
Chicago White Sox (1985-89)

All-Star: 1988
Awards: 1985 AL Rookie of the Year

Notes: Looking at the Similar Batters list on Ozzie's Baseball Reference page. The top guy listed is Alfredo Griffin. Ha, you wish Ozzie. You couldn't hold Alfredo's jockstrap!










Cal Ripken
Baltimore Orioles (1981-89)

Nickname: Iron Man
Hall Of Fame: Undoubtedly in 2007
All-Star: 1983-89
Awards: 1982 AL Rookie of the Year, 1983 AL MVP
Silver Sluggers: 1983-86, 1989
Postseason: 1983 WS
League Leader: 1983 Hits, Runs, Doubles

Notes: Obviously we all know about this guy. Cal was a freakin' cyborg, playing in 2,632 consecutive games. He will no doubt be elected into the Hall of Fame this next year. But honestly, can you be considered one of the greatest of the 80's without ever having donned a moustache? Fascist.




Alan Trammell
Detroit Tigers (1980-89)

All-Star: 1980, 1984-85, 1987-88
Awards: 1984 World Series MVP
Gold Gloves: 1980-81, 1983-84
Silver Sluggers: 1987-88
Postseason: 1984 WS, 1987 ALCS

Notes: Is that a collection of sex offender mug shots? Of course not. It's the 1978 rookie shortstops! Although Mickey Klutts may have well been a child molestor. Has anyone even heard of that guy? Anyway, Trammell was one of the top guys for the Tigers throughout the decade and was instrumental in their championship run in 1984.




Robin Yount
Milwaukee Brewers (1980-89)

Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1999
All-Star: 1980, 1982-83
Awards: 1982 AL MVP, 1989 AL MVP
Gold Gloves: 1982
Silver Sluggers: 1980, 1982, 1989
Postseason: 1981 ALDS, 1982 WS
League Leader: 1980 Doubles, 1982 SLG, Hits, Doubles, 1983 Triples, 1988 Triples

Notes: Like Pedro Guerrero in the NL, placing Robin Yount in one of these polls was difficult because he played different positions throughout the decade. However, Robin logged the most time at SS in the 80's than anywhere else, although during his MVP year in '89, he was primarily an outfielder. Well before the likes of Nomar, A-Rod and Tejada, Yount emerged as a prototypical power-hitting shortstop.



Be sure and vote for your choices of AL Shortstop for the TMS All-80's Team. Check out the poll in the left sidebar.

Brant's Rant: Post Holiday Summary

11:25 AM | Comments (0) | by T.R.

We're back from Thanksgiving with controversy galore. Let's handle it with bullet points and comments:

  • Rex Grossman. Bench him or stick with him? Lovie says Rex is the man, which is generally a kiss of death for any athlete or coach. There's no doubt in my mind that Brian Griese could minimize the turnovers to two or three instead of Rex's current pace of five per game. But if Rex is pulled, is the Grossman era effectively over? I say yes. You can't commit to a young QB and change your mind. His confidence is already shattered. We either ride it out with Grossman and win a couple playoff games, or we go for the title with Griese and draft another QB. From what I hear, the fans are 50/50 on this. Your thoughts?
  • Alfonso Soriano has asked the Cubs' permission to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. First, I think this is great. It shows that he's not the kind of guy to sign his fat contract and then sit around like King Shit. The guy wants to get better, and is now open to whatever position the Cubs want him to play. Obviously though, there is the injury risk. Wouldn't they have the foresight though to put something regarding winter ball in his contract? Or is that too obvious? Ultimately, I'm sure the Cubs will insist he doesn't play, and hopefully this doesn't get the relationship with our new money man off to a bad start. On the other hand, 20+ games in center field wouldn't hurt.
  • The Astros signed Carlos Lee to a six-year, $100 million deal. Nearly $17 million per year. For a guy that was just average after his trade to Texas? A number of teams were lined up for his services, but you can't blame him for taking that kind of money and running. The Soriano signing certainly tweaked the market. It probably would have made more sense for the Astros to trade for Manny Ramirez than bog down their payroll with Lee. Hey, at least Bagwell is off the books.
  • Anything else I missed?

Bartender Banter: Stay Classy Ron Mexico!

10:30 AM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Enough already. Michael Vick will never be the superstar quarterback that you claim he will be. Yes, he's a tremendous athlete, but having a great physique and being athletic isn't the only thing you need to succeed in the NFL. Hell look at Peyton Manning. He's a walking potato for Christ's sake, but he has remarkable field vision and can lead his team to wherever they need to go*.

Wait, isn't this the same site that completely trashed Peyton a couple weeks ago? Yes it is, but if you read it carefully without being blinded by your rage towards us and your homosexual tendencies towards #18, you'd see that we never deny that Manning is ultimately a very talented quarterback. Well Chaim did, but he is also one of only 47 people that actually bought Paul Stanley's last album.

When all is said and done, what will we have learned from the Ron Mexico Era? Probably that 1) You're never going to be a championship team with a running QB that can't maintain a role as a pocket passer, and 2) Herpes doesn't seem to affect your speed but does greatly affect your throwing accuracy.

*Except the Super Bowl.

Bear Dignity in Foxboro
Jesus, is it bad when watching your team, you expect them to more likely score on defense and special teams than on offense? I cringe every time Grossman leads a drive now, just waiting for the pick or fumble. This is not good folks. The last thing we need is a myriad of "Is Rex hurting the Bears?" articles, right before the playoffs. Yes we all have probably punched something or someone after watching one of Grossman's 18 turnovers this season, (For those that can't do math that's 1.64 turnovers/game) but handing things over to Brian Griese isn't going to improve the situation.

Hot Stove Burning Fans' Asses
Well the Cubs made the biggest splash by locking up Soriano until the Rapture. Lots of people were shitting on the deal in how ridiculously huge it is for a 31-year old player, who's defensive skills are far from remarkable. Thankfully plenty of other teams have begun to make large signings to help take the edge of the absurdly huge Alfie contract. Some of the more notable ones are the Dodgers taking Juan Pierre for $44 million for 5 years, the Astros signing Carlos Lee for $100 million over 6 years and the Angels in what may or may not have been a panic move, signing Gary Matthews to $50 million over 5 years. The Matthews contract astounds me. Don't get me wrong I was a proponent for the Cubs trying to get him, but at $10 million a year? You can't look at that with a straight face if you were one of the ones that ripped on the Cubs' DeRosa contract. And speaking of overpaid infielders, how about the Reds signing Alex Gonzalez to the tune of $14 million for 3 years? Sure he's got a great glove, but how do Cincy fans feel about paying a shortstop that has a .246 career average $4.67 million a year?

More Like Ala-blow
Congratulations to the Iowa Hawkeyes for completely shitting the bed in November en route what is quite possibly the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. So what's their reward for squandering several games? A trip to the Alamo Bowl! Screw you Minnesota, our fans travel well so we get to go to the more prominent bowl game. Any team that loses to Indiana (who by the way lost to I-AA Southern Illinois!), doesn't deserve any bowl bid.

Speaking of Bowls...
Hooray it looks like USC vs. Ohio State for the national championship! Here's to hoping both teams contract ebola, resulting in a dual forfeiture. That's the only possibly outcome I could think of that would make me happy.

I'm sorry, the BCS is a crock of shit and the cockweasels that support it kill me. How is this possibly a better system than a playoff? How? Even more irritating are the people that rag on the playoff idea, saying it would never work. Really? So something like this could never happen? Oh, my bad. I guess I'm the asshole for thinking it would. The arguments that the BCS is better than a playoff are absurd. One argument is that the BCS puts more emphasis on a team's record. In the BCS system one loss would have a heavier factor than it would in a playoff system, thus making teams try to win every game. Huh? If I may for a moment, let me steal a line from the immortal Herm Edwards when I say, "YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!" A team would have to have shit for brains to go out and play thinking, "It's OK if we lose this one, we'll still make the playoffs." Bullshit. Sure, teams in the NFL rest up guys once they've clinched the playoffs, but with 100 some odd teams in I-A, I don't think you can relax that much. The second argument is that teams would "tank" to possibly play a weaker team in the playoffs. That is equally absurd. Let's say that there was a 16 team bracket for the playoffs. Now let's say that each of the 11 conferences gets an automatic bid to their conference champion. That would leave 5 at-large bids to be determined. With only 5 spots open for teams that don't win their conference, that leaves a pretty narrow margin for error if they decide to tank a game.

I went ahead and put together what a possible 16 team bracket would look like. I filled 11 spots with the conference champion. Since the championship for a handful of conferences is still undecided I just picked the team that had the best record. Now to fill the remaining 5 spots, I simply went down the BCS rankings (Hey, it's good for something!) and picked the top 5 teams that hadn't already received a bid. This is what it looks like.

The first round of games could be played at the higher seeded schools while the latter rounds could take place at some of the current bowl sites. The 4 BCS bowls could rotate who hosts the title game like they currently do with two of the others hosting the semifinals and whichever bowl hosted the championship the year before hosting a quarterfinal game the following year.

So looking at this the at-large bids went to LSU, Arkansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Louisville. That means teams like Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Auburn, and West Virginia are left out. While some would probably bitch that one of those teams deserves a spot over Houston, Ohio or Middle Tennessee, so what? Every conference in the NCAA basketball tournament gets a shot at the title, so why can't football? While every Sun Belt team would more than likely be trounced in the first round, who wouldn't love to see a team from the WAC, MAC or CUSA pull off a first round shocker? It would be awesome to watch. Who wouldn't want to see Louisville and Rutgers duke it out in a rematch? Or see if Boise State was legit enough to hang with the big boys? A playoff would be infinitely better than the BCS. For once the title could honestly be settled on the field, rather than by the coaches, the media, and some lousy computers.

War Hero: Freddie Mercury

1:07 AM | Comments (3) | by T.R.

To balance out our damning War Criminal feature, we at TMS have decided to spotlight those men who stand out as cultural trailblazers. A War Hero is someone who defies convention, who spits in the face of The Man, and then has sex with The Man's mother (or father as the case may be). He is a visionary who talks the talk, walks the walk, and wakes up with used condoms strewn about the bedroom floor. He has conquered his domain, be it sports, Hollywood, music, or black market adoptions. To this man, we raise a pint of ale and cower in his presence. For he is a War Hero, and he can do no wrong.

Without further ado, TMS proudly presents our inaugural War Hero: Freddie Mercury.

With his slender physique, tight clothing, overbite, and well-groomed moustache, Farrokh Bulsara was a modern rock Adonis in the latter portion of the 20th century. Bulsara was born on the island of Zanzibar, but moved to Britain with his family when he was a teen. He would mature into a delicate adult, excelling in the arts and idolizing Jimi Hendrix. After fronting a number of short-lived bands, Freddie changed his last name to Mercury, and re-named Smile, his band in 1970, after his suppressed alter-ego, Queen. Freddie also designed the band's new logo, a combination of the Zodiac signs of the four members; two lions for John Deacon and Roger Taylor's sign of Leo, a crab for Brian May's sign of Cancer, and, appropriately, two fairies for Freddie's Virgo. During the same year, Freddie met his heterosexual soulmate and lover, Mary Austin, the only woman he claimed to have truly loved. He would later go on to love numerous men, most notably his partner at the time of his death, Jim Hutton.

Queen quickly rose to prominence as the stadium band of preference through the mid-80's. Their preeminence on the global scene culminated in a performance in front of 72,000 fans at Live Aid in Wembley Stadium. Known for his keen ability to don spandex unitards, yet simultaneously disguise his homosexual tendencies, Mercury convinced both men and women alike that he was the best thing going in Cold War entertainment.

Mercury's operatic influences and panache on the stage made for extravagant performances of classic Queen songs such as Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions, Another One Bites the Dust, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Queen's collaboration with fellow bi-sexual David Bowie resulted in one of the greatest hits of the 1980's, the venerable Under Pressure. Queen would also flex their influential muscle by penning the theme songs to the science fiction movies "Highlander" and "Flash Gordon". Many began to wonder if there were any mountains that Freddie and Queen could not conquer.

Mercury unwittingly broke numerous social barriers in his pursuit of stardom. He became the world's premier Indian/Persian/British/homosexual rock star ever to die of AIDS. If you can find another one of those, drop us an e-mail. He also laughed in the face of our image-driven society by refusing to surgically correct his unfortunate overbite. This is a man who selflessly gave the people all he had, and asked for nothing in return but love.

Mike Myers, the famed comedian, once said of Mercury, "He had theatricality, he was larger than life, new, fresh, cool. This is a god that walks as man."

Sadly, this Friday marks the 15th anniversary of Freddie's untimely death from complications due to AIDS. He left us with music, memories, heartfelt adoration, and a touch of chest hair-enthusing testosterone. A few months after his passing, the remaining members of Queen organized The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in Wembley Stadium, with such guest performers as Metallica, Guns N' Roses, George Michael, Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor, and Freddie's personal favorite, Liza Minnelli joining in the festivities. Proceeds were directed to AIDS research. We will remember Freddie's performances, his albums, his confident swagger, and his fantastic statue in Montreux, Switzerland. But most of all, we will remember the man, the legend, the War Hero. Good night dear Freddie, and God bless.

The All-80's Team: AL Third Basemen

3:28 PM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Astroturf, powder blue uniforms, wearing batting helmets in the field to protect your jheri curl, hitting 25 homers and being considered a legitimate slugger, big-league hair, that horrible gum from packs of baseball cards.... who doesn't love baseball from the 80's? Over the next several weeks I will be looking at the best players of the decade as we assemble the TMS All-80's Team. We've finished with the National League and now we'll tackle the American. To meet the criteria a player will have to have played in at least 4 seasons in the 1980's and they must have played the bulk of their games at a certain position during that time to qualify there. Included will be a poll on the left sidebar, so our faithful readers can weigh in on this great debate. But remember, we're focusing on a player's contributions in just the 1980's. What they did in the decades before and/or after are not being considered in this.

Last week we covered AL 2B. Lou Whitaker won the poll and will be the starting second baseman for the American League.

AMERICAN LEAGUE THIRD BASEMEN

Buddy Bell
Texas Rangers (1980-85, 1989)

All-Star: 1980-82, 1984
Gold Gloves: 1980-84
Silver Sluggers: 1984

Notes: Bell is part of a long family tradition. His father Gus Bell was a popular outfielder for the Reds throughout the 1950's, and his son, David Bell currently plays 3B for the Milwaukee Brewers. Buddy provided the Rangers with a decent bat and an outstanding glove, winning 6 straight Gold Gloves from 1979 to 1984.







Wade Boggs
Boston Red Sox (1982-89)

Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2005
All-Star: 1985-89
Silver Sluggers: 1983, 1986-89
Postseason: 1986 WS, 1988 ALCS
League Leader: AVG (83, 85-88), OBP (83, 85-89), R (88-89), H (85), 2B (88-89)

Notes: Winning 5 batting titles in the 80's, Boggs was one of the most prolific hitters of his era. Boggs was a very superstitious player. According to his Wikipedia entry, Boggs "ate chicken before every game, woke up at the same time every day, took exactly 150 ground balls in practice, took batting practice at 5:17 and ran sprints at 7:17." Wade also has an urban legend that he once drank 64 beers on a cross-country flight once, as well as being an admitted sex addict.


George Brett
Kansas City Royals (1980-89)

Nickname: Mullet
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 1999
All-Star: 1980-88
Awards: 1980 AL MVP, 1985 ALCS MVP
Gold Gloves: 1985
Silver Sluggers: 1980, 1985, 1988
Postseason: 1980 WS, 1981 ALDS, 1984 ALCS, 1985 WS
League Leader: 1980 AVG, OBP, SLG, 1983 SLG, 1985 SLG

Notes: The only guy who's accomplishments beat that of Mr. Boggs. Well before Kenny Rogers came along, Brett was part of the real "Pine Tar Incident". Brett apparently is the guy that coined the term "the Mendoza Line". He is also good friends with Rush Limbaugh, who stood up with him at his wedding.


Doug DeCinces
Baltimore Orioles (1980-81), California Angels (1982-87)

All-Star: 1983
Silver Sluggers: 1982
Postseason: 1982 ALCS, 1986 ALCS

Notes: I know nothing about Doug DeCinces except that he was a decent hitting 3B for the Angels for a bulk of the 80's. Doug was Baltimore's replacement for Brooks Robinson at 3B and played there until 1981 when he was replaced by another HOFer named Cal Ripken.






Gary Gaetti
Minnesota Twins (1981-89)

Nickname: The Rat
All-Star: 1988-89
Awards: 1987 ALCS MVP
Gold Gloves: 1986-89
Postseason: 1987 WS

Notes: Remembered more for his big bat, Gaetti actually sported a pretty good glove at the hot corner as well, winning four consecutive Gold Gloves at the end of the decade. Gary Gaetti's play has also spawned a cult, which will most certainly get a link on our page in the near future. While never confirmed, it is believed that Sacha Baron Cohen got the inspiration for the look of his character, Borat from Gary Gaetti.




Toby Harrah
Cleveland Indians (1980-83), New York Yankees (1984), Texas Rangers (1985-86)

All-Star: 1982

Notes: This guy was a top ballplayer? He looks like that old guy in your neighborhood. You know the one who compulsively takes care of his impeccable lawn, and smokes Marlboro Reds, and wonders why the local kids don't get a job and make something of themselves. Harrah was more of a top 3B in the 70's but he did put together a good season in 1982. He's far and away the greatest ballplayer ever that has a pallindromic last name.





Carney Lansford
California Angels (1980), Boston Red Sox (1981-82), Oakland A's (1983-89)

All-Star: 1988
Silver Sluggers: 1981
Postseason: 1988 WS, 1989 WS
League Leader: 1981 AVG

Notes: Holy crap, it's Toby Harrah's illegitimate brother! The resemblance is uncanny. I think I may need to seek grant money to fund research in order to get to the bottom of this. Maybe we can take money from Brant's grant he received to prove whether Patrick Ewing and Scott Brosius are in fact the missing links.




Paul Molitor
Milwaukee Brewers (1980-89)

Nickname: The Ignitor
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2004
All-Star: 1980, 1985, 1988
Silver Sluggers: 1987, 1988
Postseason: 1981 ALDS, 1982 WS
League Leader: 1982 Runs, 1987 Runs & Doubles

Notes: Wow, it's been rare to get any HOFer's on these lists, but to get three at one position is phenomenal. Molitor is one of the only few ballplayers in history to have a .300 lifetime AVG, 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases. The only others to have achieved this feat were Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, and Honus Wagner.




Be sure and vote for your choices of AL Third Baseman for the TMS All-80's Team. Check out the poll in the left sidebar.

Cubs Make Sexy Time with Soriano

3:02 PM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

In a coup that can only be described as 'pants shitting', the Cubs have gone out and signed the most coveted player in this year's free agent class, Alfonso "Alfie" Soriano. High priced splashes such as this are usually reserved for teams with a New York zip code.

8 Years. $136 million. That's a lot of chickenscratch, especially for a guy who almost wrote, starred and directed in the sequel to Operation Shutdown. But I'll be damned if this isn't the best move the Cubs have made in years. Color me giddy. It's great to see the Tribune Company pry open their moth-ridden wallet and pay for dinner.

This is the kind of move that you have to make if you are serious about winning. Sure it's too many years and probably a little too much money, but if you want to compete with the big boys, you have to pay to play. Bravo Jim Hendry, you wiley SOB.

There are still holes in the pitching staff that need to be addressed, but I have confidence in Hendry to go out and get a few more pieces. Hell, if the Cardinals can win the World Series with a pitching staff made up of Chris Carpenter and 4 stock boys from Home Depot, who's to say the Cubs can't win behind Zambrano and a couple of other live arms and castaways?

Fire up the boombox. Alfie is coming.

NBA: Jazz Dominating Again

5:07 PM | Comments (0) | by Governor X

You'll have to pardon me as I don my cap as Thunder Matt's rogue Utah Jazz correspondent. After two years in the wilderness of mediocrity following the departure of Stockton and Malone, the Utah Jazz are back on top of the NBA's Western Conference with a big time 8-1 record. Much of that has been accomplished without Andrei Kirilenko (AK-47), arguably their best player.

Even a franchise best 57 points from Milwaukee's Michael Redd couldn't stop the Jazz from rolling to their second best start in franchise history. Whats the difference this year? Simply put, Jerry Sloan once again has the solid bench he has lacked the previous two seasons. The starting five for Utah since Stockton and Malone left has been solid with Kirilenko and Boozer anchoring the team, but they lacked quality bench players that could go to late in the game.

They play Phoenix tonight with a chance to tie the best franchise start ever, 9-1 in 1999. One final note...since 1991, the LA Clippers are 1-29 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake. That stat was just too sweet to ignore.

Thunder Matt's Weighs in on the Friday Five

8:45 AM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Just an FYI to check out DA Humber: Baseball Central today for the Friday Five, a weekly "roundtable of opinion". Each week a panel of selected bloggers take 5 prepared statements and either AGREE or DISAGREE with them followed by a brief explanation. Chaim, Brant and myself had the privilege to take part in this week's installment along with writers from Chi-Sox Blog and Bucco Blog. So be sure to check it out and see how we weighed in on the Friday Five.

And while you're there I recommend reading the other columns written by Baseball Central writer Darryl Humber. He's put together a great baseball blog and keeps it up to date pretty regularly with quality columns regarding current issues and events in the majors.

The Plight of the Cubs Closer

12:00 AM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Randy Myers.

That was the last time the Cubs had a definitive closer for more than two consecutive seasons. A stretch from 1993-1995 where Myers amassed 112 saves. Following the 1995 season, in which he led the league with 38 saves, Randy signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles, thus beginning an 11-year stretch of inconsistent closing from the Northsiders. Here's a chronicle of those 11 seasons, looking at 10 guys that at one time or another during that span were in charge of the late-inning duties.


Turk Wendell
Oh Turk. He's probably remembered more for his quirky on-field routines he had than anything else. I remember going to an Iowa Cubs game and seeing a t-shirt for sale entitled "Turk's Quirks". The shirt listed a bunch of them. Here's some of them provided by Wikipedia:
  • Wendell insisted that the umpire roll the ball to the mound rather than simply throw it to him (If an umpire would ignorantly throw the ball to him, Wendell was known to let it go past him, or even to let it bounce off his chest, after which he would retrieve it from the ground).
  • Whenever he began a new inning, Wendell would turn and wave to the center fielder and wait for him to wave back before proceeding.
  • At the beginning of each inning, Wendell would reportedly draw three crosses in the pitcher's mound dirt.
  • Whenever his catcher stood, Wendell would crouch down.
  • When entering or leaving the field, Wendell would always take a tremendous leap over the baseline.
  • Wendell would chew black licorice (an alternative to the chewing tobacco used by many players).
  • Wendell often brushed his teeth between innings (some claim that he brushed between every inning). While brushing, he often hid in the dugout, either by ducking behind objects or by facing the wall.
  • Wendell forcefully slammed his rosin bag onto the pitcher's mound between outs.
  • Wendell wore jersey number 99, in honor of Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, the main character in the movie Major League (played by Charlie Sheen).
  • Wendell wore a necklace made from the claws and teeth of various animals he had hunted and killed.
  • While in the minor leagues, Wendell was rumored to drink only orange juice (no food or any other drink) on days he pitched.
  • Wendell sometimes threw his glove into the stands when leaving a game.
I love the necklace one. He's like the Ted Nugent of baseball.

Turk was acquired by the Cubs in 1991 from Atlanta for Mike Bielecki and Damon Berryhill. In 1996, Wendell took on the bulk of the closing duties, notching 18 saves on the season. In 1997 he was used more as a middle reliever before being traded in August to the New York Mets along with Mel Rojas and Brian McRae for Lance Johnson, Mark Clark and Manny Alexander.

Turk went on to have a pretty solid run with the Mets, making two postseason appearances with them in '99 and '00. Later in his career he's made waves with his remarks regarding Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa using steroids, believing that there's no doubt that the sluggers took the performance-enhancing drug.


Terry Adams
Terry shared the closer job with Mel Rojas to start the 1997 season after emerging as a solid reliever the previous year. Drafted by the Cubs in 1991, the fourth round pick, Terry was relegated to middle relief by early June as Rojas became the sole closer. Later that season, Terry took over closing duties once more when Rojas was traded to the Mets. In 1998, the Cubs would sign Rod "Shooter" Beck. It wouldn't be until 1999, when Beck would go under the knife that Adams would close for the Cubs again. Adams tallied 37 saves with Chicago.

Following the 1999 season Adams was traded to the Dodgers for Ismael Valdez and Eric Young. While Valdez proved to be absolutely worthless, E.Y. did have two fairly decent seasons with the Cubs. Meanwhile Adams excelled at bilking the Dodgers and Phillies out of millions of dollars for so-so relief pitching.


Mel Rojas
Melquiades Rojas was signed by the Cubs prior to the 1997 season for roughly $4.5 million a year, after having two solid seasons as Montreal's closer. Mel never quite lived up to the price tag, saving only 13 games with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP, and giving up 11 home runs in 59 innings pitched. With the Cubs well out of contention, Rojas was traded to the Mets, where he pitched a little better to end the season.

In 1998 Rojas pitched even worse than before, and by year's end was dealt to the Dodgers for a washed-up Bobby Bonilla. In April of 1999 he was sent to Detroit, only to be dropped a month later. He then re-joined his old team, the Expos a few days later, but by July, Montreal had let him go as well. At the age of 32, Rojas was out of the majors. His decline makes me suspect he was one of those supposed cases of the Dominican player falsifying their birth certificate to make themselves younger than they really were. Or maybe he just plain flamed out. Who knows?


Rod Beck
Who doesn't love Shooter? With his trademark mullet and fu-manchu beard, Rod Beck brought a sharp fastball and an intimidating presence to the mound. In 1998 the Cubs signed Beck to a one-year deal. At last they had someone of the same caliber as Myers. And Beck didn't disappoint, racking up a career-best 51 saves, during a season that was quite memorable (Sosa chasing Maris, Wood's 20 strikeout game). The Cubs made the postseason for the first time since 1989, but were no match for the Atlanta Braves who swept them in three. Unfortunately for Beck and the Cubs, '98 would be his last full season as a productive closer. After getting off to a lousy start in 1999, Beck had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his shoulder. Even after he returned from the DL, Beck still hadn't regained his old form and ultimately lost his job to Rick Aguilera. By the end of August, the Cubs would deal him to Boston for pitcher Mark Guthrie.

Shooter spent a couple seasons in Boston as a setup guy before having Tommy John surgery in 2001. Beck was signed once again by the Chicago Cubs in 2003. He spent the bulk of that season pitching for AAA Iowa and lived in a motor home parked behind Sec Taylor Stadium. However Cub fans never got to see him back in Wrigley as Beck was released on May 31, only to be signed 3 days later by the San Diego Padres. Shooter had a nice run with the Padres. Filling in for the injured Trevor Hoffman, Beck converted 20 saves.


Rick Aguilera
Aguilera is the one of those "Oh crap, I totally forgot he played for us once," type of guys. Acquired in the middle of the 1999 season from the Twins for Kyle Lohse and some guy you've never heard of Aguilera took over closing duties from Terry Adams who was filling in for the injured Beck. Aguilera would be our closer for the 2000 season as well, converting 29 saves, which isn't too bad given the Cubs were utterly craptastic that year and only won 65 total. Rick retired at the end of the season.

I remember 2000 as just an atrocious season. The starting lineup consisted of:

C - Girardi (back for his second run after 7 years in Colorado and New York)
1B - Grace (playing his last season in pinstripes before management shamefully ran him out of town in favor of Hee Suck Choi)
2B - Eric Young (somehow he's still kicking it in the league too)
3B - Willie Greene (thanks to Gary Scott, he's not considered the worst 3B in Cubs history)
SS - Ricky Gutierrez (he got paid Mark DeRosa money too)
LF - Henry Rodriguez (his legacy has lived on through Matt Stairs, Jeromy Burnitz and Phil Nevin)
CF - Damon Buford (luckily all the Cubs gave up for him was Manny Alexander)
RF - Sammy Sosa (well we all know about this guy)

I attended two games against the Rockies in August that year with fellow TMS bartender Brant Brown. We were treated to starts from Daniel Garibay and Ruben Quevedo. This was also the game where Brant's legendary "Todd Hollandsworth has AIDS" heckle occurred.


Jeff Fassero
I'm sure you're racking your brain, trying to remember just when in fact Jeff Fassero was our closer. In what is the shortest stint by any guy on this list, Jeff closed for the first month or so of the 2001 season, before Flash Gordon got back on track. After that, he became a decent reliever before completely shitting the bed in 2002 and being sent to St. Louis for a dusty old 12-pack of Bud Dry. In later years his number 13 would serve as a symbol of mediocrity when Neifi Perez would wear Jeff's old number.


Tom Gordon
December 13, 1999: Red Sox P Tom Gordon has ligament reconstruction surgery on his right elbow, and will miss the 2000 season. According to the Red Sox, there is only a 15% to 20% chance that he will ever pitch again.

December 14, 2000: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs.

FLASH!!! AHAAAAHH!! HE'LL SAVE EVERY ONE OF US!!!

Now that you got the theme song by Queen stuck in your head...

The Cubs, looking to replace Rick Aguilera, decided to sign Tom Gordon and his new bionic arm. Flash notched 27 saves for Chicago in 2001. In 2002 he was hurt again, spurring the Cubs to trade perpetual wet blanket Julian Tavarez and a handful of prospects to the Marlins for Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement. One of those prospects was none other than Dontrelle Willis. So thank Flash, for why we were subjected to the 12-fingered freak Awful-seca and missed out on the eventual 2003 Rookie of the Year. Of course if Willis had stayed with the Cubs he'd have already had Tommy John surgery at this point.

Flash would later be traded to the Astros for a couple mules and a sack of flour. He spent a couple seasons as a setup guy for the Yankees before cashing in with a fat 3-year $20 million deal to be the Phillies closer last season. It has worked out so far for the Phils, but locking in a 38 year old reliever to a deal like that, who hasn't been a closer that much in his career? We'll see what happens next year.


Antonio Alfonseca
2002 was a downright pitiful season for the Cubs, finishing 67-95 and running through three managers (Baylor, Lachemann, Kimm). Anchoring this lousy squad was a horrible bullpen, and anchoring that turd of a pen was El Pulpo, Antonio Alfonseca. Known more for his extra digits than for his pitching prowess, Alfonseca managed to convert only 19 saves all season. The team only converted 23 total.

Alfonseca lost the closer job in 2003 and has never retained that role for any team since then. In June of this year, he was released by the Texas Rangers and appears like his career may be done.


Joe Borowski
In 2003 Joe Borowski seemingly sprung out of thin air to become the Cubs closer. Actually, Joe was one of the only relievers to pitch quite well for Chicago in 2002. Before landing with the Cubs, Joe bounced between the minors and the bigs with three different clubs (the Orioles, Braves, and Yankees) from 1995 to 1999 and eventually ending up in the Mexican League and Northern League in 2000. Joe pitched pretty well in 2003, posting a 2.63 ERA and 1.05 with 33 saves. However in 2004 a torn rotator cuff ended his closing duties and eventually in 2005, his tenure with the Cubs.

Joe bounced back this past season in Florida and was a fairly effective closer for the fish, racking up 36 saves.


LaTroy Hawkins
In attempt to bolster the bullpen, the Cubs signed Hawkins for the 2004 season. A Gary, Indiana native, LaTroy grew up a Cubs fan. When Borowski went on the DL, Hawkins was thrust into the closer role. Hawkins was serviceable in the role for most of the season, but his struggles early on in 2005 began to draw the ire of fans who began to boo him mercilessly. What should have been his dream job, playing for the team he grew up cheering for became a nightmare. After losing the job to Ryan Dempster, Hawkins was sent off to San Francisco for Jerome Williams and David Aardsma.

Hawkins has never been a great closer as he's lost the job in both Minnesota and Chicago due to his struggles in that role. Since leaving Chicago, he's bounced from the Giants to the Orioles, where his effectiveness out of the pen has been limited.


Ryan Dempster
And that brings us to the latest chapter in this epic drama of late-inning misery. Ryan Dempster got his start with the Florida Marlins in 1998. In 2002 he was dealt to the Reds for Juan Encarnacion and the less-talented brother of Vladimir Guerrero. In 2003, the wear and tear of being a workhorse in the Marlins rotation finally caught up with him as he underwent Tommy John surgery. The offseason following the surgery, Ryan was released by the Reds and in 2004 he was signed by the Cubs. Originally thought to be another arm for the rotation, Ryan was shifted to the bullpen in early 2005 when LaTroy Hawkins began to struggle mightily with the closing duties. Dempster pitched well in the new role, notching 33 saves in 35 opportunities. The Cubs rewarded Dempster with a three-year $15.5 million deal. Just for a moment, it looked like we may actually have a solid closer for more than one season.

Alas, 2006 was not a great year for the Cubs, or for Dempster. Ryan's ERA ballooned to 4.80 and he only saved 24 games. By the end of the year, Bob Howry was beginning to see save opportunites instead.


And so the merry-go-round of Cubs closers continues. Who will be the guy for 2007? Will Dempster be able to rebound and close out games effectively? Or will Bob Howry, who did close games for the White Sox back in the day, take over the duties. Then you have the wild card, Kerry Wood, who is riding into the upcoming season on a one-year incentive-laden deal. Could Wood reinvent himself as a closer and resurrect a once promising career? We'll see.

Nominate Thunder Matt's Saloon!

7:21 PM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Shameless plug upcoming.
Nominations for the 2006 Weblog Awards are now open. Check it out and cast your vote for the Saloon! You vote based on blog category. I know some would prefer to put us in the Best LGBT Blog category, but we're probably best served in the Sports Blog category. If there was a Best Peyton Manning blog, we'd surely win hands down. Go here to vote. (Even if you don't vote for us.)

Chaiming In

8:15 AM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

  • Here I humbly sit, letting the hate wash over me. I guess I pissed off a few good ole' boys with my Peyton Manning rant. I like the one person who said I wasn't in the "cool click" (grammar police!) in school and am jealous because I'm not as talented as Peyton Manning. Touche sweet lover! Point taken, albeit with a shiteating grin. I mean, saying I'm 'jealous' because I'm not as talented as Peyton Manning. C'mon now. Yes, to the shock of only my mother, I am pretty much untalented at everything save for bocce ball and carefully crafted love letters. I don't think any armchair QB sitting in front of a computer is as talented as ANY position player in ANY sport, including Rick Mirer. To think that I would be jealous of any sports figure is absurd. It may be feasible if I were a die hard fan of some AFC rival with a shitty QB. For instance, if I were a Titans fan in the short lived Neil O'Donnel beard era, then yes, I may have harbored some resentment. But holding no diehard allegiances allows me to hate Peyton Manning with a clear conscience. It's like when Yankee fans say that everybody that hates the Yankees because they are jealous. That theory may have passed muster in the late 90's, but guess what? The Yankees haven't won poop in years and I still hate them. But yes, I am in fact jealous of Peyton Manning and his countless first round playoff exits. You shut your mouth Eli. You're next.
  • First Jerry Rice, now Emmitt Smith reaching the finals on 'Dancing With the Stars'. Are guys actually watching this show and voting? Inconceivable!
  • The Cubs went out and signed Mark DeRosa to be their everyday second baseman. While I like this signing on paper, I would really like to see the position be decided in Spring Training so that Ryan Theriot gets a fair shot. He was one of our lone bright spots during the second half last year and it's a shame that a career utilityman cashing in on his one big year automatically wins the job without a fight. I hope DeRosa can prove me wrong, but I'm mildly disappointed. Just keep telling yourself, 'better than Neifi, better than Neifi'. I"m hoping for a poor man's Michael Young and not a poor man's Mark Belhorn.
  • The quote of the day comes from our friend 'karan' who reports that I am 'prolly a low life on welfare.' (Long pause) Much as I want to, I just can't argue with that.



"My brother is a douchebag!"

Tuesdays With Chaim

8:00 AM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Simply put, I have quite a few arch-rivals. But only one real nemesis. Only one person who I would like to throw under the bus. And I mean that literally, not figuratively. That's right. Peyton Williams Manning. You know who you are, you chinless fuck.

Is he good? No. I will not concede even that blatantly obvious and easily proven fact. That is how much this man makes my blood boil. The mere mention of his name makes me break out in hives and start throwing up and shaking uncontrollably. These symptoms are also common in non-functioning alcoholics, but that's neither here nor there. Why do I hate him, you ask? That's like asking 'Why is the sky blue' or 'Is daddy ever coming home?'. You just don't ask. Accept some things as the way life is and move on.

So in (dis) honor of this future War Criminal, I will now take upon the unpleasant task of dissecting the the 'Peyton Manning commercials'. Having been dubbed the most family friendly of the NFL superstars, every Sunday our earlobes and eyeballs are set afire with these 30 second slices of hell. What are they selling? Who knows? I'm too busy trying to save the children, who upon viewing these commercials, are apt to throw themselves down a flight of stairs or stick their baby hands in a running blender. Fuck you Peyton. I even hate that old show 'Peyton Place.' Still waters run deep. Wait, I think I got that wrong. What? I apologize. I'm drunk on hate.

The Mastercard Priceless Commercials: Oh, it's so funny when he asks the guy at the store to sign his melon! LOL! Chop that meat, chop that meat! Oh, Peyton, stop! These are probably the least offensive entries into the Peyton portfolio. In fact, full disclosure, I think I even chuckled the first time I saw this. Now of course, I've seen it upwards of 3,216,896 times and it sends me into cardiac arrest. I punch myself in the nuts in tune to the two syllable 'D-Caf, D-Caf' chant. When I saw this commercial I actually cancelled my Mastercard and switched to Visa. Bottle of cheap vodka to help make it through this commercial. $6.99. The cost of therapy after viewing? $2000. Seeing Peyton lose in the playoff and throw his whole team under the bus like a fat, chinless baby? Priceless.

The Big Head Gatorade commercial: What can you really say about this one, except for the fact that Gatorade should immediately fire their ad agency? The only good thing is that Peyton isn't the only asshole in this commercial. And Derek Jeter hits a home run off of him. You suck Archie's boy! Stick to football jackass. If he ever started playing baseball, I might reluctantly have to start watching hockey. On a side note, who is the blond girl in the commercial and can I have sex with her? Well, no I can't and that remark was clearly sexist. Anyway, I liked this commercial better when it was called Muppet Babies.

Peyton Manning Gatorade Cocoon: Wow, this one is high on the list of all-time unintentional humor. You've got this shot of a football on a rainy field and all of the sudden it starts ripping apart. Out comes this great big ball of slime, a la the transformation a Mogwai undergoes right before turning into a Gremlin. The cocoon rips apart, the rain falls harder and out pops...Peyton Manning dressed in spandex! Perfect! Ok, Ray Lewis, I'd buy that. In fact I might poop my pants with fear. Brian Urlacher, sure. That works. But Peyton Manning? I mean that is about as intimidating as Arizona Cardinal punter Scott Player popping out. And then, to top it off, Peyton stands in the rain and does the Scott Stapp Jesus pose. Thanks Peyton. Now I hate football and religion.

Peyton Manning Sprint Commercial: This is the cream of the crop. This is the one that could make even the most white trash Colt fan stick his acne covered face in a deep fat fryer. We've got Peyton Manning, who clearing at this point in his commercial career, has handlers that are telling him, 'Oh Peyton, you are funny. Really you are. You should guest star on 'Two and a Half Men.' Upon learning that no, he can't really grow any facial hair of his own, they slap a fake mustache on him (comedy gold!) and have him tout some phone and talk himself up. Thankfully I don't have a Sprint phone, so I was saved the hassle of having to change plans and buy a new phone. In fact, I actually bought stock in Verizon just to spite that chinless freakshow. And why does he have a gut in that commercial? Is that real? If so, for shame! Letting yourself go like that. This commercial also answers the question, 'Could Peyton Manning possibly get any uglier?'

Well, I think that covers most of the ones I haven't mentally blocked out, at least for now. I'm sure we will be subjected to at least one new one right around, oh, the Super Bowl. Maybe it will break up the 13 consecutive Bud Light commercials. The setup I'm hoping for is Peyton with an S&M ball gag, a hungry wolverine and Ted Haggard. Priceless.

The All-80's Team - AL Second Basemen

1:51 PM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Astroturf, powder blue uniforms, wearing batting helmets in the field to protect your jheri curl, hitting 25 homers and being considered a legitimate slugger, big-league hair, that horrible gum from packs of baseball cards.... who doesn't love baseball from the 80's? Over the next several weeks I will be looking at the best players of the decade as we assemble the TMS All-80's Team. We've finished with the National League and now we'll tackle the American. To meet the criteria a player will have to have played in at least 4 seasons in the 1980's and they must have played the bulk of their games at a certain position during that time to qualify there. Included will be a poll on the left sidebar, so our faithful readers can weigh in on this great debate. But remember, we're focusing on a player's contributions in just the 1980's. What they did in the decades before and/or after are not being considered in this.

Last week we covered AL 1B. Don Mattingly won the poll and will be the starting first baseman for the American League.

AMERICAN LEAGUE SECOND BASEMEN

Marty Barrett
Boston Red Sox (1982-89)

Awards: 1986 ALCS MVP
Postseason: 1986 WS, 1988 ALCS

Notes: Marty Barrett was the Red Sox 2B for a large chunk of the 80's. He won no awards for his defense, never made an All-Star team, and was far from being a feared hitter. However he did win the 1986 ALCS MVP and indirectly caused Donnie Moore's suicide. Marty is of no relation to Michael Barrett.








Damaso Garcia
Seattle Mariners (1980-86)

All-Star: 1984-85
Silver Sluggers: 1982
Postseason: 1985 ALCS

Notes: By far the greatest ballplayer of all-time named Damaso, Garcia became Toronto's career stolen base leader. Originally starting his career with Yankees, Damaso was part of a multi-player trade in 1979 that helped usher in the Rick Cerone Era in New York.








Bobby Grich
California Angels (1980-86)

All-Star: 1980, 1982
Silver Sluggers: 1981
Postseason: 1982 ALCS, 1986 ALCS
League Leader: 1981 Home Runs

Notes: Sporting a solid 80's 'stache, Grich was a force at the plate for the Halos. Winning the home run title in the strike-shortened 81 season, Bobby also batted a career-high .304 that year.








Willie Randolph
New York Yankees (1980-88)

All-Star: 1980-81, 1987, 1989(NL)
Silver Sluggers: 1980
Postseason: 1980 ALCS, 1981 WS
League Leader: 1980 BB

Notes: According to Baseball Library, Randolph was the starting 2B in New York for "13 seasons and 32 shortstops". Willie's consistency was an anchor during the "Bronx Zoo" years on through to the mid to late 80's.






Harold Reynolds
Seattle Mariners (1983-89)

All-Star: 1987-88
Gold Gloves: 1988-89
League Leader: 1987 Stolen Bases, 1988 Triples

Notes: Known for his speed as well as his glove, the former Baseball Tonight commentator is the only player to lead the AL in steals in the 80's who isn't named Rickey. Check out the autograph on the baseball card. I looked up Jeremiah 29:11 and this is what it read: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." That's nice. That also gives further proof that ESPN is in fact ran by Lucifer.





Lou Whitaker
Detroit Tigers (1980-89)

Nickname: Sweet Lou
All-Star: 1983-87
Gold Gloves: 1983-85
Silver Sluggers: 1983-85, 1987
Postseason: 1984 WS, 1987 ALCS

Notes: Part of the legendary Trammell-Whitaker middle infield, the lifelong Tiger is considered one of the premier second basemen of the decade. In 1985 Lou forgot his uniform for the All-Star Game, leaving him to wear a uni that was put together from items purchased at the ballpark. Trammell and Whitaker are one of only nine 2B/SS duos to win Gold Gloves in the same year. Only Vizquel/Alomar and Renteria/Vina have done it since then.



Frank White
Kansas City Royals (1986-89)

All-Star: 1981-82, 1986
Awards: 1980 ALCS MVP
Gold Gloves: 1980-82, 1986-87
Silver Sluggers: 1986
Postseason: 1980 WS, 1981 ALDS, 1984 ALCS, 1985 WS

Notes: There once was a time when the Royals were good, really good. Kansas City made the postseason 4 times in the 1980's and each time Frank White was one of the key factors getting them there. An outstanding defensive 2B, White won 5 Gold Gloves in the 80's, more than any other AL player at his position.




Be sure and vote for your choices of AL Second Baseman for the TMS All-80's Team. Check out the poll in the left sidebar.

Brant's Rant: Re-signing A-Ram-Ram

11:13 AM | Comments (0) | by T.R.

Common sense prevailed as the free agent season swept into motion in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Though it never should have come to this, the Cubs were able to re-sign Aramis Ramirez at somewhat of a hometown discount. The 5-year $73 million deal locks Ramirez up during the prime of his career, and helps avert the gaping chasm of third base for what could be 8+ years when it's all said and done. I'm not the biggest fan of A-Ram-Ram, and none of us will ever forget his disappearance when the Cubs needed him most early in 2006. However, when he doesn't have to be the primary contributor, we all know he can flourish.

It was a busy day for Jim Hendry as he was also able to lock up Kerry Wood to a one year incentive-laden deal. I'm not opposed to this move since it seems to be a sure bet that he'll be used exclusively out of the bullpen. Obviously the wear and tear on his shoulder will no longer allow him to throw 100 pitches at a time, but will the up and down, start and stop activity in the bullpen be any kinder to that shoulder? We'll find out. If anything, he could be a great stopper in the 8th inning, and perhaps take the reigns from the feeble Ryan Dempster as the next great white Cubs closer.

With these two signings, Cub fans should be able to breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that we don't have to put the 2007 season in the hands of Jim Hendry's botched free agent moves. At least Sheffield is no longer available. If anything, Ramirez walking away from the potential cash that the Angels and Dodgers would have surely thrown at him and believing in the new Cubs regime is exactly what was needed. Hopefully a few free agents will now approach Hendry at the winter meetings in hopes of hitching up to the Cubs wagon. We at ThunderMatt fully endorse the potential acquisition of Gary Matthews, Jr. to fill our hole at leadoff. Juan Pierre had a fantastic second half of the season, and we appreciate his hard work and dedication. But realistically, we need someone that can hit more than one home run per year. We thought we had our leadoff situation figured out by trading for Pierre, but we need to move in a different direction.

I would like to now invite argument...

The All-80's Team - AL First Basemen

4:14 PM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Astroturf, powder blue uniforms, wearing batting helmets in the field to protect your jheri curl, hitting 25 homers and being considered a legitimate slugger, big-league hair, that horrible gum from packs of baseball cards.... who doesn't love baseball from the 80's? Over the next several weeks I will be looking at the best players of the decade as we assemble the TMS All-80's Team. We've finished with the National League and now we'll tackle the American. To meet the criteria a player will have to have played in at least 4 seasons in the 1980's and they must have played the bulk of their games at a certain position during that time to qualify there. Included will be a poll on the left sidebar, so our faithful readers can weigh in on this great debate. But remember, we're focusing on a player's contributions in just the 1980's. What they did in the decades before and/or after are not being considered in this.

Last week we covered AL Catchers. Carlton Fisk received the most votes in our poll and will be the starting catcher for the American League.

AMERICAN LEAGUE FIRST BASEMEN

Cecil Cooper
Milwaukee Brewers (1980-87)

All-Star: 1980, 1982-83, 1985
Gold Gloves: 1980
Silver Sluggers: 1980-82
Postseason: 1981 ALDS, 1982 WS
League Leader: 1980 Doubles & RBI, 1983 RBI

Notes: Cooper was one of the best hitters in the early part of the decade. In 1980 he finished with a .352 AVG, which was second to George Brett's .390, making it the highest season average to not win a batting title. Cooper's middle name is Celester.






Alvin Davis
Seattle Mariners (1984-89)

All-Star: 1984
Awards: 1984 AL Rookie of the Year

Notes: Alvin Davis was an All-Star and won the AL Rookie of the Year in 1984. Not much else is known about him since playing for the Mariners in the 80's was the equivalent of being exiled to a gulag in Siberia.










Kent Hrbek
Minnesota Twins (1981-89)

All-Star: 1982
Postseason: 1987 WS

Notes: Hrbek was a fixture in Minnesota throughout the decade. Losing out to some young shortstop punk named Ripken for AL ROY in 1982, Hrbek embarked on a decent career with the Twins, where he hit 10+ homers for 13 consecutive seasons.










Wally Joyner
California Angels (1986-89)

Nickname: Wally World
All-Star: 1986
Postseason: 1986 ALCS

Notes: In 1986 Wally burst onto the scene, with back to back 100+ RBI seasons. After that he never really lived up to expectations. If Joyner was called "Wally World" then Angel fans must have been the Griswold family.









Don Mattingly
New York Yankees (1982-89)

Nickname: Donnie Baseball
All-Star: 1984-89
Awards: 1985 AL MVP
Gold Gloves: 1985-89
Silver Sluggers: 1985-87
League Leader: 1984 Hits, Doubles, AVG, 1985 RBI, 1986 SLG, Hits, Doubles

Notes: I'll argue Donnie Baseball's case for the HOF any day of the week. Screw the naysayers who claim he didn't play long enough. Don played plenty and his accomplishments speak for themselves. Like Bill James said Don is "100% Ballplayer, 0% Bullshit".




Fred McGriff
Toronto Blue Jays (1986-89)

Nickname: Crime Dog
Silver Sluggers: 1989
NL Leader: 1989 Home Runs
Postseason: 1989 ALCS

Notes: McGriff barely makes this list, but his 1989 season was impressive enough that he warrants a mention. His 36 homers were best in the AL and helped the Blue Jays to second postseason ever.








Mark McGwire
Oakland A's (1986-89)

Nickname: Big Mac
All-Star: 1987-89
Awards: 1987 AL Rookie of the Year
Postseason: 1988 WS, 1989 WS
League Leader: 1987 SLG, Home Runs

Notes: I remember when McGwire hit 49 homers in '87. It seemed like such a huge amount then. Who knew what bloated, artificially enhanced stats laid ahead?








Eddie Murray
Baltimore Orioles (1980-88)

Nickname: Steady Eddie
Hall of Fame: Inducted in 2003
All-Star: 1981-86
Gold Gloves: 1982-84
Silver Sluggers: 1983-84
Postseason: 1983 WS
League Leader: 1981 Home Runs, RBI

Notes: The only HOFer on this list, and the only guy that should legitimately give Donnie Baseball a run for his money. Steady Eddie lived up to his name, delivering several seasons of consistent hitting for the Orioles.








Be sure and vote for your choices of AL First Baseman for the TMS All-80's Team. Check out the poll in the left sidebar.