The Gist: A Bad Day to be a Closer

6:11 PM | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

Opening Day. Mr. Cub (finally) had his statue erected, the weather was drab and depressing, but spirits were high. After a 40 minute delay to start the game, the pitchers came out firing, matching one another pitch for pitch. Zambrano was nasty and had a perfect game going for 1/3 of an inning. Ben Sheets was equally impressive, going 6-1/3 innings, striking out 7 and yielding only two hits. Only Mr. Fukkake was able to have any success, going 2 for 2 and a walk against Sheets. Chaz Z went 6-2/3, striking out 5 before leaving with an injury after picking off Rickie Weeks. It looked to be cramping in his forearm. No word on internet porn usage in the clubhouse.

Aside from a few odd hits, nary a run was scored through the first 8 innings. With Wood making his debut as The Closer in a nil-nil game, he started off rather dubiously, plunking Rickie Weeks. After a sacrifice moving Weeks to second and a free pass issue to Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun singled home Weeks to give the Brewers the lead. Two more insurance runs followed to give The Brew Crew a 3-0 lead. Things looked bleak.

Derek Lee led off the bottom of the 9th with a single, and was moved to second on a Ramierez walk, courtesy of Brewer closer, Eric Gagne. (Gagne, who Ron Santo commented "is overweight, in my opinion" and "wouldn't look good in tights". Thanks, Ronnie!) That brought up the only Cub who'd shown any promise. The Asian Babe Ruth didn't disappoint. Fukkake slammed a fastball over the wall in right center to tie the game, to which Santo remarked with a 'word' that sounded like a cross between a lion's roar, a rebel yell, and a cough. With no outs and the score tied, the Cubs got nothing else going in the inning, nor the rest of the game. Newly christened Cub-killer Tony Gwynn sacrificed home Craig Counsel, and the Brewers took the game 4-3 in ten innings. At this rate, the Cubs may not win a game this year.

The teams are off tomorrow, and return Wednesday with Ted Lilly squaring off against Jeff Suppan.

Opening Day!

8:30 AM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz



Is here. Talk about it here if you so choose. Or just look at this picture.*

*I almost went with a picture of a slovenly male lounging on the couch in his boxers watching TV. But where's the fun in that really? That would have been reverse sexism if you ask me. Play ball.

Juan Pierre: Take a Seat

6:30 AM | Comments (0) | by Governor X

In the first of what is sure to be a series of on-field indicators that Joe Torre is a better manager than Grady Little, the Dodgers have benched Juan Pierre. Andre Ethier, who hit .365 in Vero Beach/Beijing/Phoenix this spring will start opening day against the Giants and Barry Zito's double digit ERA. Pierre hit just .169 in Spring Training. Apparently, a 196 point batting average differential was enough to convince even the Dodgers that Pierre shouldn't be starting over Ethier or Kemp. Would 189 points have been enough? Well dude, we'll never know.

Reason # 1348 that the South Side Sucks

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

So last Thursday, I'm in a car (not my car per se...I'm being driven in a black sedan by a man who I will refer to as 'Pubes', but that's a story for another time) on the way to O'Hare airport. I say to the driver, "Pubes, will you flip it over to some AM sports radio, see if there's a game on?" Pubes obliges and starts spinning the dial like a child on his third can of Pepsi Twist. After urging Pubes to just calm down and make good use of the 'Seek' button, we finally settle on The Score, AM 670. They are broadcasting a White Sox game vs. the Brewers. Since the Cubs aren't on, I urge Pubes to keep it here. He happily obliges and and turns his attention back to the gridlock that lies ahead.

I settle in, hoping to hear a one Steven Stone's dulcet tones emitting subtle genius from the speakers. Alas, it is not to be. It is an old man, whose birth name is Ed Farmer. He is broadcasting alongside a younger man, whose name I don't know. This man sounds like he is Caucasian and probably favors golf shirts and ketchup. Dejectedly, I make an unwise decision to listen to the game anyway.

Upon initial listen, it appears that an inning is just getting over. I can't recall who was leading, but it was a close game. Commercial break. I quiz Pubes over the weekends upcoming weather. Pubes is of no help, but to his credit, throws out a guess ('cold and blustery') just to humor me. Thank Christ the game comes back on and I can stop making awkward small talk with Pubes.

Then things take a turn for the worse on the Sox Broadcast. All of the sudden, it turns into what one normally associates with a post-game wrap up. The two old men on the radio start yammering about the Sox fifth starter and then have the gall to start taking calls from listeners. I figure that the game must be over, although there was no real game wrap-up after the last inning, which seems odd to say the least. But wait! After about 5 minutes, they interrupt their inane analysis regarding the Sox 5th starter woes to say, "And Jim Thome just hit one out of the ballpark to tie the game." This is all they say before taking another call.

At this point, my blood pressure is beginning to rise. What is going on? I unbutton a few buttons on my shirt to cool off. Jeeves looks at me in the rearview mirror and winks. Awkward.

The game proceeds on like this. Two old men babbling about the Sox chances, every so often "interrupting" their own analysis to announce that it was either the end of the inning or that there was a run scored. Keep in mind, they weren't even stopping to announce base hits or outs. Just runs and commercial breaks. I heard them refer to it as a 'interactive' broadcast. It was ludicrous. Dare I say, sacrilegious. Is this any way to listen to a game?

I asked Pubes, "Are you hearing this?" Pubes too was upset and didn't understand this madness. We wondered aloud as to why they couldn't just do this 'analysis' and whatnot between pitches, as most capable announcers do. For the love of God, a ballgame is usually 3 hours long. Plenty of time to both call the action on the field and talk about the upcoming season without neglecting the fact that there is a game going on.

By the time I got to the airport, my equilibrium was totally off. I have no way of knowing if the game was over at that point, or God forbid, what the score was. I felt as if I was drunk. (Ed. note: I was.)

No Steve Stone (clearly he wouldn't stand for such idiocy and probably boycotted the broadcast). No play-by-play. Just a bunch of assholes talking about Lance Broadway and who was going to bat 9th this year. Unacceptable. It was a travesty agaisnt mankind and also the good name of Abner Doubleday.

Fact: (Steve Stone aside) The Chicago White Sox have the worst announcers in the history of Major League Baseball, dating back to the inception of the game in the late 1800's.

*Seriously. This whole story was true, except for the part about me being drunk and unbuttoning my shirt. And my driver's real name wasn't Pubes. Actually, maybe it was.

Lightning Crashes and Thunder Rolls (On Outta Here)

7:36 PM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Thunder Matt Murton, the red-headed stallion whose existence gave birth to this humble, sporadically read blog, may have played his last game as a Cub. Or at least as a Chicago Cub.

It is being reported that, despite a stellar Spring (.333 BA, 22 hits, 5 2Bs and only 5 K's), Thunder is expected to start the season in at AAA Iowa. The team has also expressed a willingness to part ways with Thunder via trade, to give our hero a chance at a well-deserved shot somewhere else.

You could see this coming all the way back when the Cubs signed that guy from the Far East whose name looks like a swear, but it became even more evident this week when the Cubs signed Reed 'Smoke Em If You Got Em' Johnson. The Cubs bench is filling up faster than Harry Caray's bladder on a Saturday night, and unfortunately Thunder doesn't list 'centerfielder' on his resume, so he is the odd man out.

We're in the midst of composing Thunder Matt's Cubs obituary as we speak. It's ok to cry, despite what my dad says.

That said, don't think that we've heard the last of Sweet Thunder. Look for him punish fastballs and gain superstardom for some other team... and the Cubs will rue the day they let go of such a Christian competitor when the Felix Pie experiment crashes and burns and Fukodome turns out to be more 'So Taguchi' than 'Hideki 'Secret Marriage' Matsui'.

Sweet, sweet Thunder.

(Fade to black...voiceover narration)

Tell you what, we coulda had a good life together! Fuckin' real good life! Had us a place of our own. But you didn't want it, Thunder! So what we got now is *Wrigley Field*! Everything's built on that! That's all we got, boy, fuckin' all. So I hope you know that, even if you don't never know the rest! You count the damn few times we have been together in nearly *three* years and you measure the short fucking leash you keep me on - and then you ask me about Mexico and tell me you'll kill me for needing somethin' I don't hardly never get. You have no idea how bad it gets! I'm not you... I can't make it on a coupla high-altitude *homers* once or twice a year! You are too much for me Thunder, you sonofawhoreson bitch! I wish I knew how to quit you.

California's Fruit Police

11:00 AM | Comments (0) | by Governor X

In yet another example of some of the hard hitting Chicago-centric blogging that earned us a spot on the coveted Paul Sullivan list, I bring you this: California has fruit police. For some reason, I thought this was common knowledge. I recently found out that not only do out of state people not know this, but they can't even really wrap their heads around the concept. Here is the gist of it:

When you drive into California, you are stopped at an inspection station where you are asked if you have any fruits or vegetables. If you do, they will be confiscated. Why? Some time ago, a fruit fly devastated our crops and killed off 1/3rd of our population (exaggeration?). This basically means its more trouble to enter California than to enter a lot of foreign countries. In Europe, you can drive from country to country without ever having to stop at a border, but not California.

A lot of times, if you have California plates, the fruit Nazis will just wave you through. Other times they ask you the dreaded agricultural version of "Papers please...". If they are bored though, they may ask you to open your trunk. This is definitely more common at the inspection stations off the main highways.

Now, I know you're thinking you can beat the system. You want to lead a glamorous life running illegal fruit into the state Smokey and the Bandit style. Don't do it! Smuggling illegal oranges into the state is punishable by death.

TMS Voted 'Best Blog of All-Time'

9:29 AM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Or something like that. But seriously, we'll take any props we can get, including this mention from Cubs beat writer Paul Sullivan.* Did we mention that Paul is one of the greatest sports writers of our, nay, any generation?

(Thinking of something 'esoteric' to say)

Tommy Buzanis unironically claims that the movie 'Roadhouse' is his "AFI Top 1 of All-Time".

*Chip added the cool logo** on the right hand side of the site. First time I've received an award since I won 8th grade Football MVP in junior high. Even though there were only three other 8th graders on the team and I'm pretty sure that only one of those guys ever played and he had a learning disability. But that's neither here nor there. Point being, I still proudly display that plaque.

**The Sullivan Approves graphic was designed by PenFoe over at Hire Jim Essian.

Cubs Sign This Guy

8:45 AM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

No, not the lead singer from Staind. Nope, not that guy that lives across the street that you suspect has a meth lab in his basement...the one that's always picking fights outside of sports bars after consuming dangerous amounts of Bud Heavy and Marlboro Reds, while his girlfriend, ten years his junior and barely legal, pleads with him to 'just stop'. Nope, it's Reed Johnson. Also known as 'the white guy who just got beat out by Shannon Stewart'.

So Jim Hendry gets to feed his insatiable outfielder fetish and Papa Lou gets a guy who fits his 'hard nosed' profile. A terrible signing for the Cubs? No. I guess it gives them someone to play centerfield, a position that is apparently so hard to play that the mere mention of the position leads lesser men to cut themselves while sobbing uncontrollably to Monster Ballads.

A terrible signing for Thunder Matt? Yes. Once again, he gets treated like the red-headed stepchild. How would you like it if your family kept adopting other kids, neglecting the fruit of their loins? Then your alcoholic father turns to you and says, 'You're not good enough you bastard...now go get me a goddamn beer.'

Reed Johnson is now Thunder Matt's official Arch Enemy. (Which is even worse than a Nemesis, as Chuck Klosterman will tell you in one of his better pieces.*)

We here at TMS cast a leery eye on Reed Johnson. We dare him to win us over. Reed Johnson, you're on notice.

*Chuck Klosterman's Arch Enemy? Former Rangers pitcher Rick Helling!

TMS MLB Preview '08 - NL Central

3:27 PM | Comments (0) | by Rotofunk

Just like last season, TMS is previewing the upcoming 2008 baseball season division by division. So strap in and get ready for some of the worst analysis and lack of insight that only we can provide. Today we move on to the Senior Circuit. Next on our list is the NL Central, a division which may have a winner with no more than 85 wins! Chaim, Daft Funk, Dave Thomas, and Brant Brown offer their expertise on how this division is shaping for 2008.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1. CHICAGO CUBS by Daft Funk
2007: 85-77 (1st)

SO LONG:
OF Cliff Floyd, OF Jacque Jones, C Jason Kendall, P Mark Prior, P Steve Trachsel

WELCOME: IF Alex Cintron, OF Kosuke Fukudome, P Jon Lieber

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Alfonso Soriano LF
2. Ryan Theriot SS
3. Derrek Lee 1B
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. Kosuke Fukudome RF
6. Mark DeRosa 2B
7. Geovany Soto C
8. Felix Pie CF

Rotation - Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, Jon Lieber, Ryan Dempster, Sean Marshall
Setup - Scott Eyre, Bob Howry
Closer - Kerry Wood, Carlos Marmol

Did you see the line to kick this whole thing off? When you can say "So long" to Cliff Floyd, Kendall and Trachsel, even if you don't get anything in return, that should be worth at least 15 extra wins on the upcoming season. The offense, as it did last year, looks stacked. Now if only the Cubs would start mashing the ball right off the bat instead of waiting till September to do so like last year, we'll have something special going this season. Would Brian Roberts look good at the top of the Cubs lineup? Sure thing! Would Chaim's mom look stellar in a thong bikini? Absolutely...but that doesn't mean that it's gonna happen. (What? It did? Awesome.).

We here at the Saloon hope that, one way or another, this Brian Roberts cocktease gets finished and finished soon. I think it would be good to get Roberts, but only if we don't have to give up more than 2 starting pitchers. Last year, the Cubs were blessed with incredible health in their starting rotation, and I wouldn't guarantee being that lucky again next year. The bullpen should be decent, especially in the back end, with Wood, Howry and Marmol all capable of closing. Unless major injuries strike, expect the Cubs to win about 95 games and another Central division title.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: 3B Aramis Ramirez- Aramis has been one of the most consistent Cubs over the last few years. He's consistent with the bat and consistently banged up all the time. It seems like every year, Aramis has a stretch where no pitcher can get him out, a stretch that abruptly ends when he pulls a hamstring or has some back trouble or sprains a finger. Not this year. I expect a full year from Ramirez, with a potential .310-40-120 season on the horizon, which would make him a solid MVP candidate.

Century Club Award: Have you ever heard of the century club? That's where you attempt to drink one shot glass full of beer every minute for 100 minutes. That may not sound like much, but it comes out to drinking over 12 beers in under 2 hours. And you aren't allowed to get up from the seat you're on. Going to the bathroom and vomiting are also not allowed. There's a variation of the century club called the Atomic Century Club where every 10th shot is tequila or vodka. How would one feel after attempting such a feat? Probably the same as I feel every time every single person in the whole world that sees me wearing a Cubs hat reminds me that the Cubs haven't won the Series in a century as if I hadn't heard that a billion times already!!!

I Pulled One Of These On Your Mom Once: Kosuke Fukudome - No matter how you say it, it still sounds something you would see in a really dirty movie, and then get slapped when you suggested to your wife that you try it at home.

Mr. Lifetime Achievement Award: Kerry Wood - What's not to love about Kerry Wood? He never complains, he took a baseball bat to Sammy Sosa's boombox, took the blame for the Game 7 loss to the Marlins, turned down what could have been much more money from other teams to remain with the Cubs out of loyalty, etc. Basically, Kerry Wood is the anti Mark Prior. If I have one guy to give the ball to when I need just one inning, any guy in the entire league, I'm going with Wood. Sure, some others may have better stuff (although Woody has been hitting 97 on the radar gun pretty consistently this spring), but no one has more intensity and willpower than Kerry Wood. This guy is nails. How many times did he bail out the bullpen late in crucial games last season? How money was he in the 2003 NLDS against the Braves? I think one of Wood's worst problems in the past was lack of concentration at times, but now that he'll most likely be pitching the 9th with a slim lead, that shouldn't be a problem. Write in 35 saves with an ERA south of 3.00.

FOR MORE READING
Goat Riders of the Apocalypse
The View From the Bleachers
Hire Jim Essian
The Cub Reporter


2. CINCINNATI REDS by Dave Thomas
2007: 72-90 (5th)

SO LONG:
P Eddie Guardado, OF Josh Hamilton, P Eric Milton

WELCOME: P Jeremy Affeldt, C Paul Bako, P Jose Capellan, P Francisco Cordero, P Josh Fogg, OF Jerry Hairston Jr., OF Corey Patterson, P Edinson Volquez, OF Craig Wilson

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Jay Bruce Corey Patterson CF
2. Adam Dunn LF
3. Brandon Phillips 2B
4. Ken Griffey Jr. RF
5. Edwin Encarnacion 3B
6. Scott Hatteberg 1B
7. Alex Gonzalez SS
8. David Ross C

Rotation - Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Josh Fogg, Matt Belisle, Homer Bailey
Setup - Mike Stanton, David Weathers, Bill Bray
Closer - Francisco Cordero

The 2008 season for the Cincinnati Reds can be summed up with one word: Potential. They have an incredible amount of young talent and enough veterans on the squad to improve on the team’s performance last year. However, this simply isn’t going to happen with Dusty Baker behind the wheel. Instead of cruising to the finish line with Joey Votto and Homer Bailey fighting over the toys in their Happy Meals in the back seat while Adam Dunn and Aaron Harang watch movies in the captains chairs, Dusty will nod off, miss his exit, and then suddenly wake up and overcorrect right into those big yellow barrels full of the crushed sandy dreams of Reds fans everywhere.

The rest of Cincinnati's situation is a question mark, as always. Will Griffey sit for half the season? Will Phillips develop into a good cleanup hitter? Is it possible to eat Skyline Chili without dedicating an afternoon to pissing right out of my ass? Well, maybe some things are set in stone. A lot still comes down to Dusty, who has already mentioned that he’s sick of guys like Adam Dunn taking pitches (waiting for the right pitch instead of swinging just "to be aggressive") and drawing walks to clog up the base paths. In other news Votto has hit .289/.385/.476 in the minors. Dusty wants to change his plate approach. Genius.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time - Joey Votto: Joey Votto has been absolutely tearing up the minor leagues and could be a stud at 1B for a while. He's pretty much universally regarded as the best hitting prospect in the minors and if he's actually allowed to play this guy has the potential to put up some sick numbers.

The Dr. Andrews Rewards Member Award - It would be easy to give this award to Ken "breakable" Griffey Jr. but I think this year we may see another career ruined. Dusty is going to test the limits of how many innings Aaron Harang can pitch. My guess is we're going to see somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 innings. By July. Can't wait to see how far his arm flies when it snaps off.

FOR MORE READING
Red Reporter
Reds (and Blues)
Red Hot Mama


3. MILWAUKEE BREWERS by Daft Funk
2007: 83-79 (2nd)

SO LONG: P Francisco Cordero, 2B Tony Graffanino, OF Geoff Jenkins, P Ray King, 3B Corey Koskie, P Scott Linebrink, OF Kevin Mench, C Damian Miller, P Matt Wise

WELCOME: 3B Russell Branyan, OF Mike Cameron, P Eric Gagne, C Jason Kendall, 3B Abraham Nunez, P David Riske

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Rickie Weeks 2B
2. J.J. Hardy SS
3. Ryan Braun LF
4. Prince Fielder 1B
5. Corey Hart RF
6. Bill Hall 3B
7. Mike Cameron CF
8. Jason Kendall C

Rotation - Ben Sheets, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush, Yovani Gallardo (DL), Carlos Villanueva, Claudio Vargas, Manny Parra
Setup - Salomon Torres, David Riske, Derrick Turnbow
Closer - Eric Gagne

The Brewers seem a bit overrated to me this season. Sure, they jumped out to a great start last year and gave the Cubs a run for their money until the final days of the season, but remember how bad the Cubs started the season last year? If the Cubs had been playing even average baseball over the first two months or so of 2007, the Brewers would have been seen as nothing more than a solid, but unspectacular team.

But this doesn't mean they don't have potential. Take a look at that lineup. What if Rickie Weeks lives up to even part of his massive potential? What if J.J. Hardy plays like it's April all season? What if Bill Hall thinks it's 2006 again? I know these are huge "if's", but it shows you the offensive potential the Brew Crew has. When you trot out a 1-7 that could potentially hit 25/25/40/50/30/25/20 home runs respectively, it doesn't matter that you have Jason Kendall in your lineup.

What could hold the Brewers back this year? Well, their lineup could get hurt/under-perform, they could choke under the pressure of their own expectations (again) and their pitching staff could (and probably will) completely implode. I look at their rotation and say "Ewww..." I look at their bullpen and say "EWWW!" There will be many a home run hit in Miller Park this season.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: Ryan Braun - Ryan missed a good part of 2007 while in the minors and still put up a dick-droppingly good season. If you stretch his numbers out over 162 games, he would have ended up with a line of .324-49-139-130-22. And that was his first season in the bigs. Fear the Braun.

"You ain't from 'round here, are ya, boy?" - Prince Fielder: Over the offseason, Prince Fielder became a vegetarian. You know what's probably not a good idea? Publicly admitting to giving up meat and attempting to be healthy in the middle of Wisconsin! Remember, people from Wisconsin love only 3 things; Favre, fireworks, and stuffing yourself with as much meat and cheese as possible. Mr. Fielder, you fit in well with the natives last year because you looked just like most Brewer fans (a "fat guy"). But keep making decisions like this one, and you;ll be run out of town. What next, are you going to argue that Robin Yount wasn't a better player than Babe Ruth? Because he was. Ask any Milwaukee fan and he'll tell ya.

Heil, Sausage! - It was just brought to my attention that in the immortal Sausage Race, the Italian Sausage's name is "Guido". Yes, you read that right. What, were "Honkey" and "Gringo" busy on selection day? With a Polish sausage and a chorizo (They make it wear a sombrero! Racists!) also in the race, expect more racial slurs to follow. And if the sausage race really is run by Nazis, would that make Randall Simon the Allies?

FOR MORE READING
Brew Crew Ball
Brewers Bar
Al's Ramblings


4. HOUSTON ASTROS by Huell Howser
2007: 73-89 (4th)

SO LONG:
SS Eric Bruntlett, 2B Chris Burke, 2B Craig Biggio, SS Adam Everett, P Jason Jennings, 3B Mike Lamb, P Brad Lidge, P Trever Miller, OF Orlando Palmeiro, P Chad Qualls, OF Luke Scott

WELCOME: 2B Geoff Blum, OF Michael Bourn, P Doug Brocail, P Jake Cassel, P Shawn Chacon, OF Jose Cruz Jr., OF Darin Erstad, P Geoff Geary, OF Nick Gorneault, 2B Kazuo Matsui, P Chad Paronto, P Jose Valverde

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Kazuo Matsui 2B
3. Miguel Tejada SS
4. Lance Berkman 1B
5. Carlos Lee LF
6. Hunter Pence RF
7. Ty Wigginton 3B
8. J.R. Towles C

Rotation - Roy Oswalt, Woody Williams, Wandy Rodriguez, Brandon Backe, Shawn Chacon, Chris Sampson
Setup - some guy
Closer - Jose Valverde

Mr Sexytime: Cecil Cooper - After reading this article, I think the 2008 Astros slogan should be "The 2008 Astros: 8% More Black!" How did the Astros come to this frame of mind? I think they watched this clip and decided that the same principal could be applied to a baseball team.

FOR MORE READING
The Astros Dugout
The Juice Box
The Crawfish Boxes



5. PITTSBURGH PIRATES by Chaim Witz
2007: 68-94 (6th)

SO LONG:
P Tony Armas, P Shawn Chacon, OF Brad Eldred, SS Cesar Izturis

WELCOME: P T.J. Beam, P Elmer Dessens, 3B Chris Gomez, P Byung-Hyun Kim, 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, SS Jorge Velandia, P Jaret Wright

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Nate McLouth CF
2. Freddy Sanchez 2B
3. Jason Bay LF
4. Adam LaRoche 1B
5. Xavier Nady RF
6. Jose Bautista 3B
7. Ronny Paulino C
8. Jack Wilson SS

Rotation - Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny, Matt Morris, Paul Maholm, Zach Duke
Setup - Damaso Marte
Closer - Matt Capps

Well, on the positive side, the Steel City has purged itself from Tracyball, a scourge that is indigenous to both the Northeast and Southern California. They also axed Dave Littlefield, a GM so bad that he made Isiah Thomas look competent and sane. They are one year shy of tying the all-time record for the most consecutive losing seasons. One would think, with that track record of futility that they'd be able to at least acquire some good prospects through the draft. After all, they've been picking near the top for damn near 16 years now. Go ahead and think that, but you'd be wrong. Kris Benson. JJ Davis. Bobby Bradley. Sean Burnett. Bryan Bullington. Brad Lincoln. Daniel Moskos. Clinton Johnson. You'd be correct in wondering 'Who the hell are these guys and where can I get some nudes of Anna Benson?' Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the Pirates first-round draft picks over the years.

There are some things to like in Pittsburgh, but nothing that inspires confidence. Nate McLouth seems like he could be good in theory and Matt Capps has the makings of a stud closer. Freddy Sanchez is scrappy and Adam LaRoche is better than his brother. The Pirates are 'cute' and 'scrappy', but that's not enough to break a streak of 15 straight losing seasons.

Thus, for inspiration, I will quote Trent from Swingers. Take his words to heart young Bucs.

Trent: I don't want you to be the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone's *really* hoping makes it happen. I want you to be like the guy in the rated R movie, you know, the guy you're not sure whether or not you like yet. You're not sure where he's coming from. Okay? You're a bad man.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: OF/1B Steve Pearce - So sexy that he's starting out in AAA! He's 25 years old and is the organization's #2 prospect. His line last year in the minors? .337 BA, 221 hits, 31 HRS, 114 RBIS, all in 487 ABS. All that and he was leading the big league club in dongs this spring. So of course, management gives him some Subway coupons and puts him on the first Greyhound to Indianapolis. Gotta see what this Nady, Xavier kid can do. Don't abandon your boy Pittsburgh.

You Sir, Are No Xavier McDaniel: OF Xavier Nady - (Opening dictionary. Looking up the word 'poop'. Giggling. Looking up the word 'mediocre'. Feigning shock that Websters would actually include a photo of Xavier Nady. Seriously? Is that even allowed? Stopping suddenly upon the stark realization that you're...reading. the. dictionary.)

Sam Cassell Called. He Wants His Rugged Good Looks Back: SP Tom Gorzelanny - Seriously. Not cute. His chompers actually have an arrest warrant issued for them. Dead or alive. Superficiality aside, the boy can pitch well enough, all things considered. He teams with Ian Snell, the poor man's Chazz Zambrano, to give the Pirates at least an outside shot at winning 2 out of every 5 games. He qualifies as a 'crafty lefty'. Fellow starter Matt Morris? He's what we call a 'shitty righty'.

FOR MORE READING
Honest Wagner
Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke?
Raul Mondesi's House


6. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS by Brant Brown
2007: 78-84 (3rd)

SO LONG: C Gary Bennett, 3B Russell Branyan, 2B Miguel Cairo, SS David Eckstein, P Troy Percival, 3B Scott Rolen, C Kelly Stinnett, OF So Taguchi, P Kip Wells, OF Preston Wilson

WELCOME: P Dewon Brazelton, P Matt Clement, SS Cesar Izturis, P Ron Flores, 2B D'Angelo Jimenez, C Jason LaRue, P Kyle Lohse, C Josh Phelps, P Ron Villone, P John Wasdin

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Skip Schumaker RF
2. Chris Duncan/Brian Barton LF
3. Albert Pujols 1B
4. Rick Ankiel CF
5. Troy Glaus 3B
6. Adam Kennedy 2B
7. Yadier Molina C
8. Cesar Izturis SS

Rotation - Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Joel Pineiro, Braden Looper, Matt Clement, Todd Wellemeyer, Anthony Reyes
Setup - Russ Springer, Ryan Franklin
Closer - Jason Isringhausen

NOTES - Oh man. This is gonna be bad. If there's one team that will drive a player or manager to drinking, it's the Cardinals. I mean, just look at this roster. Did you hear that woosh sound? That was ownership flushing away 10 players from last years team, only 10 worse players came right back up into the toilet bowl. Well, at least they still have So Taguchi. What? Are you kidding me? They even got rid of him? Matt Clement? Cesar Izturis? Their big signing was Kyle Lohse? Wow, this will be a monumentally rough year in St. Louis.

Albert Pujols has a bum elbow and will likely need surgery at some point during the season. He's a tough guy, so he's going to wait it out and do more damage to the elbow before he opts for surgery though. C'mon Albert, suck it up and take care of yourself. This team isn't going anywhere with or without you. When your best offensive player will likely be a 29 year old former pitching prospect from your own system, you've got a long road ahead. I can't say it enough. This is going to be one hellish year on the city of St. Louis. They can hope all they want for Chris Carpenter to come back healthy, but that's not much to hang your hat on. Troy Glaus and his K's and won't do much good here. Does Adam Kennedy still have braces?

You could say that they cleaned up the clubhouse tension by getting rid of Scott Rolen, but I wonder how the players feel about his absence. LaRussa is in his death throes as manager. Why go out of your way to make him happy. They need to cut ties with LaRussa and start fresh. Personally, I'm glad to see Jim Edmonds gone, that ass-hat.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time - Steven Jackson: Jackson took a bit of a step back in 2007 compared to his output in 2006. He played in four fewer games due to injury, but put up a whopping eight less touchdowns than in 2006, and dropped over 500 total rushing yards. Heading into next season, Jackson.......huh? What's that? Oh, baseball? Oh, wrong St. Louis team. Baseball you say? The Cardinals? No, they don't have anybody that could be deemed sexy.

The Kirby Puckett "I Can't See So Good" Award - Juan Encarnacion: Terrible freak accident for Encarnacion. We shouldn't make light of such things. However, it's the Cardinals, so it's probably some sort of karma for the atrocities of 2006.

Team Most Valuable (HGH) Purchaser - Rick Ankiel: Shaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmme! Shaaaaaaaaammmmmmmme! Shuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnn! Shuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnn!

FOR MORE READING
Viva El Birdos
Cardinals Diaspora
That's a Winner

How To Waste A Lunch Break: Part 2

12:45 PM | Comments (0) | by Rotofunk

By next time this week, we'll be crotch deep in baseball. So I've only got a limited amount of time left to write about all the crazy non-baseball stuff that pops into my head.

(That's not true at all. But for the purpose of this piece, let's play make-believe. But not the kind of 'make-believe' games that your creepy uncle would try to play with you. That's just wrong, and I don't want that kind of relationship with you, the reader.)

Unfortunately, I can't really think of a whole lot to write about right now. My NCAA bracket is struggling to keep its head over water already. No celebrities have been locked up or arrested lately. Hell, the most interesting thing happening in the news right now is something about Obama's passport being breached or something like that. I read the article twice now and I still have no idea what that means.

So I'm going with a time-tested tradition on where to turn when all creativity has left you: Re-hashing ideas from the past that may or may not have been very successful! If you missed the first time I wasted a lunch break, you can read about it here. What I thought was just a throwaway post turned into the scandal known around the Saloon as "BillyGate". Sure, the scandal brought a bit of negative attention to the Saloon, but it did draw a lot of traffic from the Billy Boyd Board, pushing our traffic for that week from 5 readers to an astonishing and record-breaking 9! And remember, it's ok to be obsessed!

And of course, that whole fiasco let to the staple catchphrase that the Saloon has adopted ever since, "What About Beecake?" T-shirts will be available soon.

So here I am, ready to take you through yet another lunch break of mine, stream of consciousness style.

1:10 - As I do whenever I have some free time, I head over to MLB Trade Rumors. It's a fantastic site and always has the most up-to-date trade info. I check it a few times a day to see if there's any more rumors surrounding our beloved Thunder Matt. Today is a slow news day, as "Marlins Waive Jose Castillo" is the latest news. The good news is that the latest Thunder Matt update says the Cubs offered him to Texas straight up for Marlon Byrd. The Rangers have said "no". The Rangers are complete idiots. I will now pick them to finish last every year in our rankings. Wait...that's not much different than most people's opinion of them.

1:14 - As screwed up as my bracket is, I can't help but look at the scores of the games going on. Hmmm...apparently the St. Mary's basketball team was replaced at halftime with a squad of midgets. How else do you explain being up by 5 at halftime and then letting Miami walk all over you with a 25-6 run out of halftime? In the words of Charles Barkley, "That's turruble..."

1:20 - Speaking of Charles Barkley, I really think the commercials he does with Dwayne Wade are classic. They obviously have great chemistry, and you gotta love Sir Charles' ability to laugh at himself. Here's one of the better ones.

1:23 - I head on over to the T-Mobile website to see if they have any of the commercials on there. NOTHING! They don't even have 1 picture of Wade or Chuck on their website. This is turruble! Why waste money on commercials with big name athletes and then not have a single mention or picture of them on your website? I'm assuming the people that run T-Mobile are the same people that run the Texas Rangers.

1:27 - Alrighty then, let's check Yahoo's main page and see what's new in the world. Hmmm...there's an interesting story here about a man that is supposedly selling his life on eBay. After a divorce, this Australian guy is selling his house, furniture, job and friends. I wish I could tell you more about it, but there's no actual story to read, just a video to watch. Is this how far society has fallen? Yahoo always takes their most interesting headlines and makes them video clips instead of actual stories I can read. I assume this is because most people nowdays hate reading and need their news with shiny colors and pretty pictures. Well guess what, Yahoo? I hate your stupid videos! If I want to watch one, I have to take out my earphones, plug them into my computer, click the story, wait for it to load, sit through a commercial or two, and them watch the damn thing. Can't I just read it instead? Can you post the video and an actual story with words too? I guess that's too much to ask for. So instead of something interesting, the only news story that I can actually "read" is "Low Cost Ways To Save Water At Home".

Forget it. Yahoo, you've lost my interest.


1:30 - Speaking of reading and books and all that nerdy stuff, I head on over to Amazon to see if I can find anything cool. Hmmm...there's something here on the front page that is apologizing for Amazon not being able to keep the "Kindle" in stock. Of course, the Kindle is Amazon's tablet book reading thingy (that's the technical term) that can do all kinds of downloading books and web browsing and other such nonsense that kinds love these days. Here's what I want to know: you call this book reader the Kindle, right? Kindle makes me think of fire. So really, all I'm going to think of when I hear about this product is burning books. Awesome, Amazon...way to make yourselves look like Nazis. So for the record, the same group of people run the Texas Rangers, Yahoo's front page, T-Mobile's advertising and the Kindle, and they may or may not be Nazis.

1:38 - Looking at Amazon has got me thinking about cruising over to eBay. What do I search for? "Nazi" of course! 2322 items available! The item ending soonest is a rare, original Nazi coin. Sure, it's a part of history and everything, but I want to see something cool. BAM! Here we go! Nazi stamps! How cool would it be to send out letters to people with Nazi stamps on them?

1:43 - Other people are talking about their lunch plans around my cubicle. One guy is having trouble finding somewhere to eat because he can't eat meat today. I ask if there's a Long John Silver's around here anywhere. Time to find out. A quick search on their website shows a LJS about 10 miles from work. And the double bonus is that it's one of those combo stores that has a KFC attached. And check out what's back! Buttered Lobster Bites! Why hasn't Governor Gray Davis, our resident fast food guru, tried these yet? Other than the fact that they would probably kill him, that is. Either way, he would die a happy man. Well good...at least we know that LJS isn't run by the same guy that seems to be screwing everything else up today. Taking another look at those Lobster Bites, I'd say that their ideas man is God himself.

1:50 - Well I started to lose steam a bit, but luckily a gift from the Heavens gives me something else to point out. An IM from a former co-worker of mine from back in the day sends along this list of the most baffling toys of all time. Ever need a toy that simulates dissecting a fish? How about a poop hat? You're going to have to look outside of the US, chief. Yes, that is a poop hat to the right.

2:05 - With my lunch break winding down, the fellow coworkers come through in the clutch. What am I drinking as we speak? A fantastic Cap'n Crunch flavored shake. Hey, I've eaten healthy at lunch all week just so I could enjoy this thing as a Friday treat. Let me tell you...this stuff is the nectar of the gods. Now that they've liquefied breakfast cereal, we're only 1 step away from being able to inject food directly into our bodies with a giant I.V. What a time to be alive.

And now it's time to get back to work. What did we learn today, class? Well, Yahoo sucks (but they're probably smart because most people don't like to read) and is most likely run by the same people that are (thankfully) keeping the Rangers from acquiring the best right fielder in all of baseball, and they also fumbled the chance to put Chuck and D-Wade on the front of their webpage. And they love to burn books. And they're Nazis and need to supplement their income by selling their personal belongings on eBay.

Chaiming In

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

Today's edition, brought to you choc full of inside jokes, Cubs news and unabashed political views!

-Kerry Wood missed today's game due to 'back spasms'. And in other news, the sun came up, the sky is blue, America is still at war, Lingering Bursitis got drunk, my shingles flared up and Hossrex didn't get laid.

-Can we get an impartial judge to impose some sort of deadline for these Brian Roberts trade talks? These fruitless talks have gone on longer than The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple. To tell you the truth, I don't even want the guy any more. I like my sports stories to be thrilling and full of surprise, and this is just too anti-climatic. I'm fine sticking with HOBB (Hero of Brant Brown), Mark DeRosa, or as he goes by on the message boards, MDR. No to mention that any trade for Roberts probably means that we have to sound 'Taps' for our namesake, Thunder Matt. Honestly though, what is left to negotiate in this deal? Are they bickering over whether to include a Gino's deepdish or Uno's thincrust in the deal? Can't they find a common ground and just settle on Lou Malnati's instead? I blame Ken.

-Both Dempster and Lieber pitched well yesterday. Good enough to probably solidify their tenuous spots in the rotation. Operation Blackball Jason Marquis is in full swing. Is anyone (besides Jason Marquis' mother) really going to be upset if he doesn't make the rotation? Not me. I grant you, he didn't suck as heartily as I figured he would last year, but I mean that as backhanded as a backhanded compliment can get. I like Dempster. I've met him before (namedropping!) and he seems like a really cool, funny guy...not your stereotypical, 'Got any gum?' jock. So I rooted for him last year even when he was blowing games left and right and making my wiener go limp. And Jon Leiber? Much like his asexuality, I'm indifferent.

-Oh Cubs pitchers, you're incorrigible! Pretending to wreck your strength coach's car and shit. (With lisp) That's ssssilly.

-I'm convinced that Thunder Matt must have wronged Sweet Lou. Their relationship seems strained, awkward and distant. Thunder is literally the red-headed stepchild of the equation. He wants nothing more than to please Dad. He tries his hardest, he's a great listener and he does all that is asked of him and more. He finishes his chores on time and keeps his locker spiffy. But it's never enough for you is it Dad? You want someone more in your mold huh? Hard nosed and mean. Gritty and tough. Well I'm sorry Dad, but that's not me! Deal with it. (Sobbing)

Can we get the team chaplin in here to call a truce? As long as the team Chaplin isn't Obama's minister. Yikes. That wouldn't end well.

-Speaking of politics, I know we keep that topic off limits here, but what the hell...we've tackled HIV and Chronic Fatigue, so why not? Don't let the hatemongers lead you to believe this Minster crap should reflect directly on Obama's character and beliefs. It's insanity. Listen, I'm Catholic. Went to Catholic school for over 10 years. If my priest was diddling the alter boy, am I accountable for the sins of the Father? Move on people. Don't be like these guys.

-Have you seen the previews for this Fox show The Moment of Truth? I watched the last half for the first time tonight, but judging from the commercials, every episode seems to be the same. They apparently only recruit sluts and douchebags (check out this great site, courtesy of the Governor, for an idea of what the talent is like), hook them up to lie detectors and then ask them questions like, 'Have you ever pumped another dude?' and 'Did you bang your wife's best friend?' And of course, their spouse is always right there in the audience, looking appropriately mortified. Oh, and the answer inevitably tends to be incriminating. Yes...watching marriages and relationships fall apart on live TV before your eyes is just as awkward and unpleasant as it sounds.

Rants: Conservative talk shows, Fox television, the movie Sleepwalkers, and of course, cilantro.

Raves: Free Radio on VH1, Sopranos Season 6 so far (3 episodes left, and yes, I pretty much know how it ends), Buster Olney

Steve Finley Was Here

12:28 AM | Comments (0) | by Brant Brown

We at TMS have a lot to learn about promoting our site. We're reluctant to sell advertisements and pretend to have standards (not in the case of Rocco Baldelli though). Anyway, our only form of promotion is self promotion. We would like to draw your attention to a new sister-site of TMS called Steve Finley Was Here. You can locate it at finleywashere.blogspot.com, or just hit the hyperlink. You can call it SFWH for short, but that may be nearly as cumbersome as typing out the whole name.

Steve Finley Was Here is intended to focus on West Coast baseball (Seattle is neglected for obvious reasons). The focus will be on the California teams, and the identity crisis that us Californian Cub fans go through. Look for some hard-hitting analysis of the Angels, Dodgers, Padres, A's and Giants, along with a healthy dose of criticism and sarcasm. At SFWH, you'll find a few of the regular bartenders contributing, along with a new bartender, and hopefully one or two additions in the future. It's still in the developmental stages, and will be tweaked as needed. We're hurriedly trying to get Haloscan up and running so Hossrex can sully the site with his comments.

Please enjoy the site, and check it as often as you check TMS for updated posts.

TMS Bookworm: Ben Mezrich Edition

12:59 PM | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

We're back again with another TMS Bookworm. Every so often here, we feel the next to flex our intellectual muscles and let you know that we still kick it old school by (gasp!) reading books. In case you missed the first edition, you can view it here. We welcome your suggestions as well.

Bringing Down the House
by Ben Mezrich. Perhaps you've read this one, it was a New York Times bestseller and has now been adapted for the big screen. The fast-paced, non-fiction book follows MIT student, Kevin Lewis, and his education in an MIT card-counting group that is gearing up to make a run at Vegas. The author manages to get what appears to be carte blanch with Kevin and all the interworkings of the club, which was founded by a former MIT math instructor.

The book hit the shelves just as the poker boom was hitting the TV everywhere, and it doesn't disappoint. You find out all you'd want to know about the management styles of Vegas casinos, what a "gorilla" is on the blackjack table, how to travel on a plane with large sums of money, and most shockingly, how this group of kids legally took Vegas for almost $4 million and lived the life of a high roller right on The Strip.

It's amazing how easy the book makes it sound: it's simply keeping track of a running number, making note of how many big cards have been played. So simple, yet you must realize that these were all math whizzes from one of the most prestigious technical schools in the world. The author even addresses the fact that Vegas really doesn't care if people know about this book because of how difficult it is to beat them. You're more than likely to lose large sums of money than win it big when playing this tactic.

This makes for a great airplane book because it reads so fast. If you're interested in the movie, you can see the trailer here. True to form, it looks like the filmmakers have taken some liberties with the screenplay.

_________


Ugly American$ by Ben Mezrich. Yet another true story about Ivy League kids making it big. Ugly Americans tells the story of college grads that descended on the Asian financial markets in the mid 90's. These Hedge Fund Cowboys walked a fine line of business ethics to make millions of dollars on derivative trading. The main character is "John Malcolm", a former Princeton football player determined to make it in the world of finance. When run-of-the-mill interviews on Wall Street don't pan out, the kid from a humble background decided to call a guy who he'd originally thought was just a football fan.

Taking this "job" on the fly, Malcolm moves to Japan to work at a company comprised of expatriates, and trades over $20 million on his first day alone. All throughout the book we're told of how the financial market ties into the Japanese mafia and also a burgeoning sex market (which is described in detail quite often). These expatriates have found a loophole that allows them to exploit fledgling companies and turn them into big profits. Obviously, it's an immensely risky business, and the author alludes to the man who is associated the most with the Wild East financial market, Nick Leeson, he who singlehandedly caused the collapse of one of the oldest and well-respected banks in Europe.

While some could argue that the author makes things too simplistic, it works. I'm looking for an entertaining and fast-paced page turner, not a textbook on finance. Much like Bringing Down the House, much of the book is focused on living large. The main character constantly has his eye on two things: the one, big sale and the soon to follow exit point. Maybe not your grandfather's American Dream, but certainly an exciting rags-to-riches story to be sure.

War Criminal: Cilantro

9:24 PM | Comments (3) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Cilantro, you green, leafy son of a bitch!

This has gone on for far too long and I'm finally taking a stand. Stay out of restaurants and stop ruining perfectly good food!

It wasn't always like this. I hearken back to a simpler time when you could order just about anything and not have that vile weed destroying your taste buds with it's overpowering flavor of spicy soap. It tastes like soap! God dammit SOAP! Why not just mix a salad dressing out of crushed parsley, some tabasco, and some Dawn?

It never fails now. We'll go out to eat and I'll be scanning the menu when I see something that looks good. Checking the ingredients, everything looks delicious when my hopes are crushed. "...tossed with cilantro." Shit. Maybe I can ask them to hold the cilantro. Nope. It's premixed in. What a bunch of bullshit.

What's even more irritating is that cilantro can't just ruin one type of ethnic food. No, unfortunately it's a very cosmopolitan herb, able to ruin Mexican as well as Asian entrées.

I know I'm not alone in this. I have yet to meet anyone that says they love cilantro, and I'd say more than half the time the folks I talk to are in the same boat as me. Hell, I googled 'cilantro' and the second entry that came up was a website completely dedicated to hating that atrocious plant. I think people like to say they like cilantro to be hip, but deep down they truly don't care for it. Like watching a David Lynch film. To your friends you say, "This is freaking amazing, I love it." But in your head you're saying, "What the fuck is this garbage?"

So get the hell out of my life cilantro, also known as coriander if you're British, or dhania if you're Indian. You're like the asshole that shows up at the party and appears to mingle with the different crowds with no problems, but deep down everybody hates your fucking guts.

cilantro :: food as Keanu Reeves :: movies
both ruin everything they're in.

War Hero: Baron Davis

2:17 PM | Comments (0) | by Rotofunk



We here at the Saloon don't really pay much attention to basketball. Sure, we have a fantasy league going and even we have a good hearty laugh at the Sonics. But for the most part, we stick to baseball, football and that silly game where a bunch of guys run around a field and kick a ball back and forth and there's no such thing as stopping the clock. Wait...it's not a "field" is it? Isn't it called a "pitch"? I can't be expected to keep up with such nonsense.

With basketball not being such a high priority here at TMS, we sure do like to highlight basketball players for their achievements. From TMS 2008 Man of the Year, Manute Bol all the way down to Andrei Kirilenko, we seem to have sort of a love/hate relationship with the NBA and its players.

Continuing that trend, I bring you the latest War Hero of Thunder Matt's Saloon. This is a man that is changing the way the game is played. This is a man that can break your ankles on the court and tickle your funny bone off of it. This is a man that can grow a full beard in 3 hours.

This man is Baron Davis.

According to local legend, Baron Walter Louis Davis, a man so awesome, he couldn't be contained by just one middle name, grew up in Los Angeles, California. Sure, records may show that The Baron was delivered at a hospital by his mother, but I'd like to think that someone as awesome as Mr. Davis was delivered to us mere mortals in a different way. Remember that commercial where there's a basketball on a court and it's raining and then all the sudden, Kevin Garnett busts out of the basketball all covered in Gatorade? That's how I like to imagine Baron Davis being born. He was hatched from a basketball. And he had already grown a full beard.

Growing up, the exploits of Baron Davis on the basketball court were the stuff of legend. By the time Baron was 8 years old, he was already 5'3 and could dunk a volleyball. On his 10th birthday, Baron woke up, bench pressed 225 lbs. 52 times, shot 687 consecutive 3-pointers, had breakfast, and punched Saddam Hussein in the throat, for no other reason than to show himself how truly awesome he was. By the time he hit Jr. High, he was already beating Michael Jordan at 1 on 1, Battleship, blackjack and Uno. The Baron finished 8th grade by playing in the Goodwill Games as his own team, 1 player against 5. He placed second.*

*NOTE: Everything in the previous paragraph may have been completely made up.

Baron continued to blow away the competition in high school, where he was a scholarship player for Crossroads School in Santa Monica. You thought scholarships were only for college students, didn't you? Well not for this man-child. Baron walked the halls of Crossroads with many other soon-to-be-famous kids. He was classmates and best buddies with Kate Hudson. I can only assume that since she was in the presence of Baron for more than 2 minutes that they hooked up at least a few times. No one can resist the pull of The Baron.

High school competition proved to be no problem for Baron. He was named the 1997 Gatorade Player of the Year and was a McDonalds All-American. Despite being the shortest player in the field, he wound up winning the slam dunk contest over fellow crazy people Elton Brand, Larry Hughes and Ron Artest.

After blowing away the competition in high school for 4 years, some thought he would skip college and go straight to the pros. Others wondered if the NBA would approach him about skipping the pros and inducting him directly into the Hall of Fame. But being a humble man, Baron decided to go to college, spurning offers from Kansas and Georgia Tech to attend hometown UCLA. Again, Baron's competition was not up to snuff, as he easily captured Pac-10 freshman of the year honors.

Baron got so bored with college competition that he purposefully blew out his ACL in the 1998 just to see if he could come back and dominate. He did, and being so bored with college competition, he made the jump to the NBA and was the 3rd selection overall to the Hornets in 1999.

Davis' time with the Hornets was solid, but unremarkable. They went to the playoffs a few times, but Baron wanted out. If he was going to blow up as a star, Baron needed to be on a team as crazy in the head as he was. And if you want crazy, there's only one place for you: Oakland!

The Baron was shipped off to the Golden State Warriors, where he helped mold a team that was as crazy as he was. He and Jason Richardson laid the foundation, and loco head coach Don Nelson was brought in to run this crazy train. Things were going ok for the Warriors, but things weren't insane enough for Baron. to take the crazy factor up to a brand new level, the Warriors took Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy, who Baron may or may not have referred to as "honkeys" and shipped them off to Indiana. Apparently, the Warriors had their best interests in mind, as everyone knows white people feel most comfortable in the Midwest. In exchange, the Pacers sent Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson to the Warriors, assembling the most off-the-wall team in recent memory. The Warriors played reckless basketball that was genius at times and a trainwreck at others, and Baron was the field general. With their unorthodox "What the hell is defense?" style of play, the Warriors made the playoffs on the last day of the regular season as an 8 seed, lined up to play against the historically-good Dallas Mavericks.

Playing with their crazy, frenetic undersized game, with a big boost coming from their home crowd at Oracle Arena, Baron grew the greatest playoff beard known to man and led the Warriors past the Mavs in the biggest upset in NBA Playoffs history. And while the Warriors fell to the Jazz in the second round, Baron Davis will always be remembered in playoff lore for spiking one of the nastiest dunks in NBA history down on Kirilenko. There are 2 clips I found that are both equally as good (Here and here). The best part of the second clip comes at the end, where Adonal Foyle makes the "Damn, that's nasty!" face. And keep an eye out for Stephen Jachson coming over to brush Baron's shoulders off for him.

And don't fear. The Baron is up to it again this season. Right now, the Warriors are holding steady as the #8 seed in the West. They're probably shooting for that spot to take out another #1 seed in the playoffs again.

But as great as Davis is on the court, it's off the court where he really becomes a War Hero. Much like Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis is a goofy, quirky dude. But unlike Arenas, Baron is slowly taking over the internet in a series of hilarious videos and sites. Want to see Baron Davis rollerskating around for 3 minutes wearing what looks like a women's tanktop? Check it out here. Ever wondered what it would be like if Baron Davis worked at a McDonalds for a day? Wonder no longer! Baron Davis is so awesome that even David Blaine watches in amazement.

Baron even keeps a blog, where he uses phrases like "Boom in the Yard!!" I have no idea what that means, but I've already used it twice today and everyone within earshot pulled out their wallets and handed me money. Seriously, every entry is a little slice of Heaven. YOu have to love a guy that will start off a blog entry with " It's me, BD, Boom Dizzle, Diddy Boom, and I'm back in the Yard." So now you'll never have to wonder what Baron Davis is up to at Christmas. He'll just tell you:

Merry Christmas to all. Glad we got those two days off. Practiced on Christmas but I needed it because I ate everything. Yams. Greens. Mac n cheese. Fried chix. Corn bread. Sweet potatoe pie. All yumminess. LOL. Got some nice gifts but most importantly I got to spend time with my mom! Wish yall safe holidayz and a safe new year. ill holla...


And for those of you who are clamoring to know what Baron's top movies of 2007 were, you can check that out too.

So whether he's defeating Communists by slam dunking them back to the Napoleonic era on the court, or skating around and attending movie premieres off it, Baron Davis is changing the game of basketball. His skill and sense of humor make him very easy to root for. And he (might have) hooked up with Kate Hudson. And once, he scissor kicked Angela Lansbury.* But one thing he never did was choke his coach during a game. And for that, he's probably the best Golden State Warriors player of all time. And he's my hero.

And he loves his grandma.



*Again, probably didn't happen.


The many faces of Baron Davis. Each of them more awesome than the last.

Rocco Baldelli Life Status

1:37 PM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Rocco Baldelli is:
CHRONICALLY FATIGUED


TMS MLB Preview '08 - NL East

8:30 AM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Just like last season, TMS is previewing the upcoming 2008 baseball season division by division. So strap in and get ready for some of the worst analysis and lack of insight that only we can provide. Today we move on to the Senior Circuit. First on our list is the NL East, ESPN's favorite division next to the AL East. Chaim, LB, Daft Funk, and The Hundley offer their expertise on how this division is shaping for 2008.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

1. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES by Chaim Witz
2007: 89-73 (1st)

So Long: P Antonio Alfonseca, C Rod Barajas, OF Michael Bourn, P Freddy Garcia, P Geoff Geary, 2B Tadahito Iguchi, P Jon Lieber, P Kyle Lohse, P Jose Mesa, 3B Abraham Nunez, OF Aaron Rowand

Welcome: P Kris Benson, Anna Benson's breasts, 3B Eric Bruntlett, P Chad Durbin, 3B Pedro Feliz, P Brad Lidge, OF Geoff Jenkins, OF Chris Snelling, OF So Taguchi

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Shane Victorino CF
2. Jimmy Rollins SS
3. Chase Utley 2B
4. Ryan Howard 1B
5. Pat Burrell LF
6. Geoff Jenkins RF
7. Pedro Feliz 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz C

Starting Rotation - Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, Adam Eaton
Setup - Tom Gordon, Ryan Madson
Closer - Brad Lidge

I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to say about the Phillies. They'll compete, sure, but looking at this lineup, it reeks of the Texas Rangers of recent and Detroit Tigers of old. Lots of big bats and a bunch of stiffs (excepting Cole Hamels) on the mound. Adam Eaton? Kyle Kendrick? Brad Lidge. Oh Lord. A dove just cried. So, in light of my ignorance, I give you the Top 5 places in Philly to grab a cheesesteak, courtesy of our good friends at 'the google'!

1. Jim's Steaks
2. Abner's
3. Dalessandro's Steaks
4. Pat's King of Steaks
5. Geno's Steaks

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: SS Jimmy Rollins - The Phillies have a lot of sexiness to choose from. Utley, Hamels, Howard, Rollins...Moyer. You could conceivably have sex with all of them, at the same time even, if that's your thing. But only one of them took home the MVP hardware last year. Jimmy Rollins has the swagger, the hitting streak and the record label. He's like P-Diddy, but talented. So what would that make him, Jay-Z? I defer any rap/hip-hop related questions, comments and distinctions to resident expert 'Lingering Bursitis' (rolls off the tongue doesn't it?) He's the man to see for those matters.

Oh My God, Don't Hit Me!: SP Brett Myers - You didn't think this award was in reference to him being a wife beater did you? Shit. No. I simply meant that he throws the ball with such velocity that it strikes the fear of God into opposing batters...I mean, it would bruise and...oh God no. Brett Myers is a man of principles. I imagine he's probably been born-again and has put that ugly incident behind him, like Scott Erickson. Or Mike Tyson. (Pause) OJ?

Overrated, Like Vampire Weekend: The Phillie Phanatic - Seriously, what is the deal with this oversized, green child molester? This fat son of a bitch is the posterchild for both obesity and mental illness. What kind of lessons is he teaching our children? According to Wikipedia, the Phanatic was voted 'Best Mascot Ever' by Sports Illustrated for Kids. Really? Cause I think that my friend the San Diego Chicken, has something to say about that. The Drunk Hobo also states that in the 2007 NLDS, he (it?) started the short lived "Whammy Hand". This was quickly halted upon the realization that Brett Myers had that move copyrighted. Hey-OOO!

FOR MORE READING
The Good Phight
Beerleaguer
We Should Be GM's


2. NEW YORK METS by Lingering Bursitis
2007: 88-74 (2nd)

SO LONG: C Sandy Alomar Jr., C Mike DiFelice, C Johnny Estrada, P Tom Glavine, OF Carlos Gomez, OF Shawn Green, P Philip Humber, C Paul Lo Duca, OF Lastings Milledge, P Kevin Mulvey, P Aaron Sele

WELCOME: P Tony Armas, OF Ryan Church, OF Brady Clark, OF Angel Pagan, IF Olmedo Saenz, P Johan Santana, C Brian Schneider, P Matt Wise

PROJECTED ORDER
1. Jose Reyes SS
2. Luis Castillo 2B
3. Carlos Beltran CF
4. Carlos Delgado 1B
5. David Wright 3B
6. Moises Alou LF
7. Ryan Church RF
8. Brian Schneider/Ramon Castro C

Starting Rotation - Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Orlando Hernandez, Oliver Perez, Jason Vargas
Setup - Aaron Heilman, Ambiorix Burgos
Closer - Billy Wagner

I live in New York, and I love baseball. However, I grow incredibly tired of the Mets/Yankees wank-off that populates the airwaves. I'm sick of both of them, and I wish a steroid-stuffed Roger Clemens would swoop down from the clouds and devour both stadiums, managers, owners and rosters. Man, that would be awesome.

The Mets love two things: signing Latin players and making sure that they have the highest number of transactions. This off-season was no disappointment in either area, as they brought in the best pitcher in the history of the world [Johan Santana] while booting out 11 players from their '07 squad. Well done, Omar Minaya!

They look strong yet again from top-to-bottom through the order (although they have perhaps the worst catcher tandem in the NL), except for their defense. Alou and Church are the corner outfielders... they'd be better off cloning someone with Bonds' penchant for laziness and Manny Ramirez' stomach to man left and right.

They're also thinner than Keira Knightley. If any of the injury-prone, 30-something crew goes down, there's precious little to replace them with. Delgado, Alou and Pedro all missed time last season, and although they have white America's baseball dreamboat in David Wright, even he wasn't enough to stop them choking last season. (Oh, and the fact that Jose "I'm like Hanley Ramirez, except more expensive and less talented" Reyes hit like .211 in September)

It's an obvious, self-fulfilling prophecy in the making, one that's dogged the other New York-based team that I also hate: tons of hype, tons of promise, an all-Star lineup, big signings and ultimately, unfulfilled potential. They might bash their way through the summer to win the East, but they'll come unstuck come playoff time. Fuck the Mets.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: 3B David Wright - Uh, milky white, hits home runs, plays a mean third base, has a smile that instantly removes the panties of all women aged 22-27, gives a good interview, never puts a foot wrong, solved a Rubik's Cube in eleven seconds, prays every night.

Are You Paul Bako in disguise?: C Brian Schneider - It's a good thing you call a reasonable game behind the plate, as you're poison with a bat. This is the best the Mets could do once they got rid of all their catchers? .235, 6 HR, 54 RBI last season?

Check his birth certificate: SP Orlando Hernandez - Should Pedro falter due to injuries again, Santana's gonna need some help from the back end of the rotation. John Maine is young and serviceable like Sunny Lane, but this old bastard will have to put in his innings this season and not force Willie Randolph to run down to AA and AAA to pull young arms up from the farm before they're ready. He's 42 or so this season, and managed 53 starts in '06 and '07. They'll need 20-25 from him again this year to keep the boat steady.

FOR MORE READING
Metstradamus
Yes Joe, It's Toasted


3. ATLANTA BRAVES by The Hundley
2007: 84-78 (3rd)

SO LONG: P Joey Devine, P Octavio Dotel, 1B Julio Franco, OF Willie Harris, OF Andruw Jones, P Ron Mahay, P Chad Paronto, 3B Chris Woodward, SS Edgar Renteria

WELCOME: P Matt DeSalvo, P Tom Glavine, SS Omar Infante, OF Mark Kotsay, P Will Ohman

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Kelly Johnson 2B
2. Yunel Escobar SS
3. Chipper Jones 3B
4. Mark Teixeira 1B
5. Brian McCann C
6. Jeff Francoeur RF
7. Matt Diaz LF
8. Mark Kotsay CF

Starting Rotation - John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, Mike Hampton, Chuck James, Jair Jurrjens, Jo-Jo Reyes
Setup - Royce Ring
Closer - Rafael Soriano

Is this team fun to write off, or what? Every year they seem to get older in their starting staff, yet they continue to churn out overachieving performances. Equally impressive is the Braves ability to keep churning out prospects and developing other team's leftovers and castoffs. Once again this year, Bobby Cox has his work cut out for him, losing two offensive and defensive mainstays in Andruw Jones and Edgar Renteria. Enter someone named Escobar (Colombian druglord?) and the Mike Morgan of the late aughts, Mark Kotsay. The offense still should have some pop with Chipper, Tex, McCann, and the Frenchman in right. The Bravos hung tough last year, with playoff aspirations until late in the season, but barring a Bobby Cox miracle, America's Team will have a hard time competing in a tough NL East behind NY and Philly.

Always the strong point of the team, the pitching staff will have to overachieve again to be competitive. The starting staff better hope they can continue to bathe in the Fountain of Youth (but without Julio Franco, can they find it?) because the bullpen is shaky. They certainly will need to find some middle relief and Soriano is already showing injury problems in the spring, coupled with his lack of closing experience. Best pray for big offensive outputs, which may be wishful thinking. They were even desperate enough to sign Will Ohman. Good luck. Pitching coach Roger McDowell might have to keep his arm warm and be ready to go.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: 1B Mark Teixeira - He flourished after moving over from Texas last season, boasting an OBP above .400 and belting a home run every 12 at bats while providing Gold Glove-caliber defense at first. Hard to believe he's still only 27 years old.

Inaugural Chief Illiniwek Award: Chief Noc-A-Homa - We want you back! And with the Braves rarely selling out, you can put your tee pee back in the outfield bleachers. The tomahawk chop isn't the same without you. Chief Noc-A-Homa forever! Homer and Rally never!

How Has This Guy Not Been Accused of PEDs Award:
3B Larry Jones - Seriously, this guy is borderline Chris Chelios amazing. A few nagging injuries aside, the guy keeps putting up monster numbers and playing solid D at an age where most go into Gary Gaetti mode. Last year: .337avg / 29 HR / 102 RBI / .425 OBP. At 35, you have to figure he's due for regression, right? Doubt him at your own peril.

I Love Guaranteed Contracts Award*:
Mike Hampton and his $15 million salary. The Little Lefty hasn't thrown a pitch in the bigs since 2005.

FOR MORE READING
It's Braves Time
Talking Chop
Home of the Braves

*To be renamed Mark Prior Award in 2009


4. WASHINGTON NATIONALS by Lingering Bursitis
2007: 73-89 (4th)

SO LONG: 1B Tony Batista, OF Ryan Church, 1B Robert Fick, P Glenn Gibson, 2B D'Angelo Jimenez, OF Nook Logan, P Mike O'Connor, C Brian Schneider

WELCOME: 1B Aaron Boone, 2B Bret Boone, OF Elijah Dukes, C Johnny Estrada, OF Willie Harris, P Ray King, C Paul Lo Duca, OF Rob Mackowiak, OF Lastings Milledge, P Odalis Perez

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Felipe Lopez SS
2. Paul Lo Duca C
3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
4. Wily Mo Pena LF
5. Dmitri Young 1B
6. Austin Kearns RF
7. Lastings Milledge CF
8. Ronnie Belliard 2B

Starting Rotation - Shawn Hill, John Patterson, Jason Bergmann, Matt Chico, John Lannan, Joel Hanrahan
Setup - Jon Rauch, Luis Ayala
Closer - Chad Cordero

It's easy to forget that Washington has a baseball franchise. They're the dregs and cast-offs from the Expos, not to mention the discarded young talent from all around the league. Hey, do you want two guys who didn't live up to their potential in exchange for a recognizable name player of yours? Sounds great! Look at this list: Felipe Lopez, Wily Mo Pena, Kearns (who Hendry's coveted for years now), Milledge, and a green, green pitching staff.

Their ballpark is massive and cavernous, providing little in the way of offensive excitement. Not that this lineup could give you much of that anyway.

They'll limp through 65 wins like Verbal Kint, and start walking again in time for next spring. Enjoy the shitshow, disaffected baseball fans of Politician Land!

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: 3B Ryan Zimmerman - He's still finding his feet in the league, but goddamn, this guy can hit. He turned 23 in September, and has a promising bat. His strikeouts could do with coming down (125 to 61 walks last season), but he does hit for power. There aren't many other bright spots in this lineup, so Zimmy takes the Sexy prize by default.

Someone get them a Den Mother: Lastings Milledge, Dmitri Young and Elijah Dukes - Fuck. The Washington Nationals just became the nexus of awesome and fucking awesome. Milledge releases rap CDs about all sorts of misogynistic shit. Dukes threatens his pregnant girlfriend with text messages. Young fucking loves hamburgers and smiling. It's gonna be a glorious day in DC when these guys get to play side-by-side.

Um....: The Nationals Rotation - These guys don't show up on baseball cards very often. Why? Because most of them will start 8 or 9 games and then get buried in the bullpen. John Lannan was Philadelphia's Public Enemy #1 for a while. Now he's just crap. John Patterson came within 3 outs of a no-hitter last season before ESPN did one of their fabled "Live Look-ins" and ruined it on the very first pitch they televised. Shawn Hill? Jason Bergmann? Matt Chico? Joel Hanrahan? Note to any and all aspiring armchair baseball enthusiasts: move to the D.C. area. The chances of you earning a spot in the rotation after an impromptu pitching session are very high indeed. For warmups, I suggest throwing rotten eggs and your excrement off an improvised explosive mound outside the White House.

FOR MORE READING
Federal Baseball
District of Baseball
The Curly W


5. FLORIDA MARLINS by Daft Funk
2007: 71-91 (5th)

SO LONG: P Armando Benitez, 1B Aaron Boone, 3B Miguel Cabrera, P Byung-Hyun Kim, C Miguel Olivo, P Dontrelle Willis

WELCOME: OF Luis Gonzalez, P Mark Hendrickson, OF Cameron Maybin, P Andrew Miller, 3B Dallas McPherson, C Mike Rabelo

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Hanley Ramirez SS
2. Dan Uggla 2B
3. Jeremy Hermida RF
4. Josh Willingham LF
5. Mike Jacobs 1B
6. Cody Ross CF
7. Jorge Cantu 3B
8. Mike Rabelo/Matt Treanor C

Starting Rotation - Scott Olsen, Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco, Andrew Miller, Mark Hendrickson, Wes Obermueller, Rick Vanden Hurk
Setup - Logan Kensing, Matt Lindstrom, Taylor Tankersley
Closer - Kevin Gregg

Good thing Miami has all those drug dealers and prostitutes, because there isn't much going on with the Marlins this year. Take a look at that lineup. Hanley Ramirez = absolute stud. Dan Uggla may not be setting the world on fire with his batting average, but he sure knows how to hit the long ball, even in the hitter's nightmare that is Pro Player Stadium. Jeremy Hermida is 2 seasons away from joining Rocco Baldelli in the "Fantasy Baseball Cocktease Hall Of Fame". Everyone else I give a big "Who?" to.

Speaking of "Who?", check out that rotation! When Sergio Mitre is being relied on for quality innings, you know you're in trouble (See the 2005 Chicago Cubs).

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: SS Hanley Ramirez - Cameron Maybin is supposedly the future, but Hanley is an absolute beast. The fact that he's a potential 30 home run/50 steal threat coming into his third full season is mind blowing. He's already the Carl Crawford that we've been telling ourselves Carl Crawford was going to become for the last 5 years.

Don't You Know Chris Shelton?: SP Mark Hendrickson - Fooling fantasy baseball managers everywhere last year was Mark Hendrickson. His line of 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA a month and a half into last season had people claiming him off waivers left and right. Hendrickson rewarded them for bombing for most of what was left of the season, and continuing to look like a serial rapist in his bio pictures.

The Best Team By Default!: Florida Marins - People in Miami have a very good reason to be pissed. How about the season the Heat are having? How about them Dolphins? Would Miami be the first city ever to have 3 last place teams in the same year?

FOR MORE READING
Fish Chunks
Marlins Today
Fish Stripes