Harden: Start 1

July 12, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

Rich Harden mania is still going strong here at the Saloon, and it officially kicks off today in about an hour. Just like The Dark Knight, it seems like there is a massive amount off hype and expectation, but there's also the promise that that expectation could possibly be fulfilled. So I'm here to liveblog and give you my thoughts on the game as it goes by. So get that refresh button ready, because it's going to be a wild one.

9:13 - Speaking of The Dark Knight, I'm going to go ahead and go on record here and predict that next weekend, The Dark Knight will break Spiderman 3's record of biggest opening weekend ever and come in at about $175 million. People are crazy about this movie and no matter what time movie theatres are showing this film (6 AM? 3 AM?!?), it still seems to be selling out. Take into account that it's got a huuuge IMAX rollout and that IMAX tickets cost more, and you've got a recepie for $175 million. Mark it down, dude.

9:16 - Speaking of movies, the red band trailer for the upcoming movie Choke was released today. Choke was written by Chuck Pahlaniuk (Fight Club) and was a really entertaining and darkly funny book. Check out the trailer here and laugh your ass off a bit. But don't do it at work or in front of your mom because there's swearing and boobs. You're welcome.

9:19 - I hate John Shea over at ESPN.com. Did anyone else see the shit he wrote this morning? "Can The Cubs Keep Rich Harden Healthy?" Who the fuck knows??!??!? Why do people ask that??? That's like asking "What Color Underwear Does God Wear?" What pisses me off most is that they put it on the front page.

9:24 - A few notes. First off. my laptop's keys have an annoying habit of double-typing when I press a key. I try to catch them all, but if you see something like "Wow, that hhomerun by Lee waas a moon shot!" then I'm sorry. Also, since I'm stuck in California and the game isn't on WGN today, I'll be watching on MLB.tv which can sometimes be spotty. So hopefully the broadcast comes through clean or this could be a very short journey, not unlike any sexual encounter with Chaim.

9:27 - Gotta get dressed. Here's some things to ponder while I'm gone: Let's say your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife threatens to leave you a bunch of times. When it finally happens, you're heartbroken, but you knew it was coming. It really hurts and it takes you a while, but you get yourself back together and find someone new that you really like. Then a few months later, your ex comes back into the picture and DEMANDS that you take him/her back, even though he/she knows that you've moved on and have someone new in your life. That sounds crazy and idiotic, right? Welcome to Favre-ville, population: 1. Brett, I don't care if you want to come back or that you changed your mind. That's fine. But the manner in which you go about whoring yourself for attention makes me want to vomit in your helmet.

9:39 - I've got nothing interesting to say. Wow...we've already hit a wall. This is what I get for starting this thing too early.

9:41 - Wow, check out the picture of Rich Harden on Cubs.com:

The bad news? He looks like a serial killer. The good news? The stubbble. It's well documented that Rich pitches better when he has facial hair. Also, Rich is 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA against the Giants in 4 career starts. Sweet.

9:50 - 15 minutes...

9:52 - You know what's not bad? Windows Vista. I know a lot of people have had a lot of problems with it, but as a casual, everyday computer user who doesn't do much gaming, I've never had a problem with it. I'm sure it's wreaked havoc on workplaces and such, but I can't complain. I wouldn't say that it leaves XP in the dust because it's basically the same OS but a little prettier, but I think it gets a really bad rap.

9:55 - The problem with me having to watch today's game on MLB.tv? There's a chance that I may have to watch the game listening to the Giants' announcers. While I hear they're pretty good, I'd rather listen to the home guys for such a big start.

9:57 - I've never liveblogged before. To get more into the mood, I've stepped up my level of smugness 3x and I'm going to keep name dropping people none of you have ever met before and reference stupid 90's pop culture whenever I can just so show that I've always been this awesome. Good...now I feel like Bill Simmons.

10:00 - And heeeeeere we go!

10:01 - Yes! I get the Chicago broadcast!

10:02 - Bob Brenley has got the slicked back hair going as usual, but it looks like he's letting the back grow into a mullet. Does anyone else think that this will be a terrible idea?

10:03 - One of the best things about MLB.tv? Whenever the local broadcast cuts to commercial, it does this thing where MLB players are shown in a montage and say things like "This is Veector Marteeenez. Keep watcching MLB.teeee-veeee." The best part is now I know which baseball players have no personality. The worst? Aaron Harang. He might as well be holding the cue card in his hands. "This...is...Aaron...Harang."

10:07 - I don't care how many years it's been going on for. Flyovers by fighter jets during the National Anthem will ALWAYS be cool.

10:08 - The Giants' leadoff guy is hitting .202. Please god, we need to crush them today.

10:09 - 2 pitches, 1 out. I like it so far. Then again, that's what you expect from a guy with a .234 OBP.

10:10 - 96 MPH on the punchout. That's what almost a week of rest can do for a guy.

10:13 - So far, so good. I think an easy, low pitch count first inning is just what thee doctor ordered. Here's a question I have. Say Harden is throwing a no-hitter in the 7th or 8th inning and his pitch count is getting up toward 100. Does Lou take him out? I say yes. Sure, a no hitter by the new acquisition in his first home start would make the folks in Milwaukee poo their pants, but you've gotta play for the rest of the season, not an individual game.

10:15 - Kevin Cojjjorjrjejjia? Who the hell are you? The guy that gives up hits to Theriot, that's who.

10:16 - Ha ha ha! Castillo dives to try and catch a pop up bunt, misses, touches the ball in the process, making it a fair ball, insults his manager's mother, lands on a puppy, all on one play. Lee with the almost-3 run jack.

10:18 - Ramirez said after yesterday's game "I would have walked Lee yesterday too." When you knock a homer out right after, you can say stuff like that in the postgame interview. It sounds innocent, but that's kind of a dig on the Giants' manager. Either way, Aramis seems really locked in right now, which is very good news. I said before the season that A-Ram will be an MVP candidate by the end of the season and I stand by that thought.

10:21 - Bob just made a "Not" joke. Immediately after, a dove flew into the window of the living room and died. It looked like the bird did it on purpose.

10:23 - Gay.

10:24 - Aaron Rowandd can't hit the Cubs thiss year, but has good numbers against Harden lifetime. Is it the case of the immovable object against the unstoppable force? Well only if the "Immovable Object" is Jim Edmonds in center. He should have caught that one and he knows it. I think he misplayed that one just to piss Chaim off.

10:26 - Consecutive high fastballs at 95 and 94. Harden seems to be able to ratchet his fastball up when he needs a strikeout. Excellent news to know. Also, I just belched loud enough to echo. Anyone who's ever done this knows how good you feel when that happens.

10:28 - Harden = Smart. The last few guys with 2 strike counts have gotten fastballs at 94-95. Harden tries the same thing on Aurillia, who fouls one off. So what do you do when the guy at the plate is looking for a 95 MPH fastball? Throw it inside at only 91 MPH and watch him get WAY out in front of it. Giants waste a leadoff double after a Vizquel popup.

10:30 - Omar Vizquel? Ray Durham? Rich Aurillia? We'd all better watch out because these Giants could be real contenders for the 1999 World Series.

10:32 - They just showed a lady in the stands wearing a Cubs hat and a Jim Edmonds Cardinals shirt. Her idiocy is just enough to distract Edmonds and cause him to strike out looking. Either that or Edmonds isn't very good.

10:33 - Heads up baserunning by DeRosa turns a double into a triple. I'll be the first to admit that I HATED the DeRosa signing when it happened, mostly because I thought it would take time away from Theriot at 2nd. I was way wrong. DeRosa is a player that I would wear a jersey of years after he's gone.

10:35 - What kind of futuristic, year 3000 backwards world do we live in where Mike Fontenot is making huge RBI clutch hits and bombing the ball out of the park? RBI for Fontenot.

10:40 - The Yankees hit a solo homer in their half of the 1st. The Blue jays come back with 4 in the bottom of the 1st. I love watching the Yankees eat shit this season. Interesting fact: Rich Harden is 34-2 lifetime when his team scores 3 runs or more. I think he'll fit in just fine with the Cubs.

10:42 - HA HA HA HA!!!! The Packers told Brett Favre that he can come back next year...as a BACKUP TO AARON RODGERS!!! How do you like that clipboard, Brett? God damn, I'm starting to respect the Packers' front office. They've got some serious stones.

10:50 - What I'm most impressed with is how collected Harden is how collected he seems to be. I noticed it in his start last weekend against the White Sox too. Everything just seems really easy for him. He really seems to be in control of this game. And the fact that he's been able to get the strikeout whenever he's needed it has been an extremely encouraging sign.

10:52 - Aramis, Fontenot, DeRosa. I'm predicting at least two of these players hit a home run today.

10:54 - Lee popped out, but he seems to be doing better lately. It's good to see Lee, Ramirez and Soto coming around. They all seemed to be slumping around the same time. Luckily we had Jim Edmonds to bail us out offensively while that was going on. Wait, did I just write that? Shoot me.

10:57 - Len and Bob just said hello to all the US armed forces people in Italy. When did we go to war with Italy? I didn't even know they had oil there!

11:00 - Edmonds donkeypunch. I feel conflicted...do I hate him or accept him?

11:04 - Kevin Correjjejjia has a pitch count in the 60's already. The Giants bullpen is awful. Both of these things are excellent. Harden strikes out. That's ok. I expected him to. After all, it's a baseball, not a hockey puck, so how could he possibly make contact?

11:08 - Remember how I was talking about the Giants going for the 1999 World Series? They'll probably go up against the Yankees. Apparently the Yanks are on the verge of signing (wait for it...) Eric Milton. Make your own joke.

11:13 - Harden = Dealing. Hopefully this trad turns into a win/win for the Cubs and A's like thee Hamilton for Volquez trade this offseason and not the Lou Brock trade. yes, I just compared Matt Murton to Lou Brock. Surprised. Anyway, Harden strikes out the side and hits 98 on the radar gun. Surprisingly, his arm does not fly off of his body.

11:16 - Koske almost slammed his bat down after a popup. I think he needs to get pissed. Maybe that will get him going. He should hang out with Zambrano more. THAT is a reality show I would watch.

11:18 - Derrek Lee is from Sacramento? Straight up gangster. Thug life and such.

11:22 - Edmonds with another big 2-out hit. How many times can this keep happening. I don't think we're going to see Correjjejeia next inning, as much as I would like to.

11:23 - Never mind. He's coming out now.

11:24 - Excellent question brought up by Len and Bob. Who is the MVP of the Cubs so far this season? They really have spread the MVP-ness overall, with certain guys stepping up when needed. I'm going to go ahead and say Soto just because of what he's done behind the dish as well as with the bat. But it's gonna be Ramirez by the end of the season.

11:25 - DeRosa knocks in Edmonds for a 7-0 lead. Len and Bob agree with my pick of Soto for the MVP of the first half. Also in consideration that I didn't think of initially? Dempster.

11:27 - More Rich Harden goodness:

11:29 - I didn't realize till just now, but with the Rays' slide, the Cubs now have the best record in baseball again. Usually I don't pay attention to such things, but homefield is going to be extremely important if the Cubs want to make a deep playoff run. I think the Cubs can pick it up in the second half and get to .500 on the road for the year, but we all know that they play much better at Wrigley.

11:36 - The Yankees have now taken a 9-4 lead. Damn...I am bad luck when it comes to predictions and such. Remember when I said lastt year's Texans would go 0-16? I suck.

11:40 - Harden's line through 5: 4 hits, 2 walks, 9 K's, 79 pitches. I'll take that.

11:42 - Harden wears a Barry Bonds sized elbow pad. Our pitching staff is a pretty crazy bunch. Zambrano is a switch hitter, Harden throws righty but bats lefty, Kerry Wood's knocked a few out of the park in his day. If only Dempster could bunt for hits...

11:47 - Some kid got hit by a pitch off the bat of the dangerous Ted Lilly in his first Cubs game ever (The kid, not Lilly, dumbass). The good news is that, despite a fractured skull, the kid is gonna live. And Lilly and his wife are going to come visit him in the hospital.

11:52 - Harden seems to be losing some gas. I think this will be his last inning.

11:54 - Lou leaves Harden in. I predict a strikeout and a double play.

11:55 - Bob and Len are talking about how Bowker has unusually short arms. I think it's really creepy that they knows that.

11:57 - Harden's final line - 5 1/3 innings, 5 hits, 3 walks, 10 K's, 96 pitches. I would have liked to see him go a full 6 at least, but we'll take it. Gaudin (Gaw-din? Go-dan?) is in to continue the "new guys" theme. Hopefully this goes better than his last appearance. Also, his nickname is Wolverine. Apparently his locker has a wolverine pelt nailed up over his locker. What are the odds that he and Reed Johnson become best buddies?

12:01 - The first Len and Bob reference to the movie Red Dawn. I was wondering when that was coming.

12:05 - Sure, we have a few innings to go, but the fact that the wind is blowing out and there's been only 1 homer is curious. Lee gets a single when John Bowker's freakishly short arms can't handle a lineout.

12:09 - Ahhh...the double switch. It's even better when the Giants do it because they replace 2 players I don't know with 2 other players I don't know.

12:13 - Len lets us all know that Harden didn't allow a runner past 2nd base. So there you go folks, Rich Harden, despite having a provocative name, is not a slut. He may let you get to second base in his first start, but third base? No thank you, sir.

12:15 - DeRosa nearly homers. Again, my predictions suck. Also, I'm terrible with scratch and win Lotto tickets, I suck at playing cards, and interestingly enough, one of my ears is about a quarter inch lower than the other.

12:18 - Bronson Arrojo...get a haircut, hippie.

12:21 - Dick Butkis is going to sing the stretch. This could either be really great or absolutely awful.

12:22 - Well MLB.tv is not letting me see the stretch. And Harden's day is over and this game is pretty much in hand. I won't subject you to any more of my random thoughts, so I'll be signing off now. Gotta go get some lunch up in this bitch. In closing, Harden = great, Favre = HA HA HA!, and my ability to predict anything = suck.

This is the weakest ending ever. I don't care. Rockies in 6.
Update by Chaim: Thanks in part to Funk's lazy blogging and Marmol's horrible pitching, the Giants were able to tie the game 7-7 in the the ninth. I take a short power nap, wake up and all hell has broken loose. Thankfully, the "other Sean" stepped up big time, pitching 2 scoreless innings of relief in extras and starting the game-winning rally with a base knock. The Pride of Riverside, Reed Johnson then singles in DeRosa (on a close play at the plate), and the Cubs win 8-7, salvaging the game. Man, Marmol really sucks lately.