9:14 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk
What Happened: How many times have you seen this happen so far in the 2016 Cubs season: The Cubs get shut down offensively for the first 5-6 innings by some scrub pitcher and then all the sudden they bust things open in one big inning and end up scoring 6 runs in a final that doesn't look like the game was ever close at all?
That's how this game looked like it was going for a while, with the Cubs pretty much ineffective against the Brewers Jimmy Nelson through 5 scoreless innings (the cold weather helped). But right when it looked like the Cubs could bust the game wide open, loading the bases with one out in the 5th, all they could do was scratch out one measly run off a Fowler sac fly that might have been a home run on any other night that didn't feel like it was below 40 degrees. The Cubs would tack on three more runs on an Addison Russell (hustle?) triple in the 6th and a Rizzo RBI in the 7th before things got interesting.
After a Ryan Braun pinch hit, 2 run double made the game 4-3 in the top of the 8th, the Cubs bullpen stepped in and locked things down and the Cubs won, which is good because the Brewers are awful and good teams beat bad teams, especially at home.
Game MVP: I'd say that this was a collective team effort, so no one person sticks out more than any other. The weather was really helpful in making sure that everyone in attendance drank a ton of beer to forget the cold which can then be used to pay Jake Arrieta ludicrous amounts of money for his extension.
Game LVP: Tommy LaStella. It's well known around these parts that I hate Tommy LaStella and when he's somehow involved with the Cubs doing well, I hate him even more because of his attempts to make me hate him less.
Awesome Stat of the Day: The Cubs are now 10 games over .500 after just 15 games. Last season, they weren't 10 games over .500 until game 104. Thanks, super easy April schedule!
"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):
Game two against the Brewers happens at 7:05 CST tonight with Jake Arrieta taking the mound for the first time since his no-hitter last week. He'll be opposed by Taylor Swift Lautner Jungmann, who has an ERA quickly approaching 9.00.
9:24 PM | Comments (4) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan
Caught the game in Los Angeles where Rafael Furcal maimed Derrek Lee. Thunder Matt entered the game late, I think he ended up with two at-bats. I tried numerous times to get a "THUNDER MATT" chant going, but the LA crowd wasn't having it. That's OK though, cause they all left in the 7th inning.With that simple paragraph a humble little blog at thundermatt.blogspot.com was born. A silly Cubs blog based on a young outfielder whom we dubbed "Thunder Matt" for no real reason other than we thought it sounded cool. We chose pseudonyms for ourselves. Brant Brown, Chaim Witz, Governor Gray Davis, and for myself, Chip Wesley.
We were never very good at sticking to only blogging about the Cubs. We did however find our niche, which was not really having any niche at all. We just started writing about anything we felt like, and as such set ourselves apart from other Cubs blogs with our weird posts about damn near anything not related to the team. We were the most un-Cub Cubs blog ever, and for whatever reason it worked. And when I say "worked" I merely mean we managed to find a small cult audience that enjoyed us being weird bastards.
As time went on we brought on new writers and in our heyday had nearly a dozen different guys contributing. We quickly got bored and tried new ventures. Remember Pomp Culture? How about Exile on Clark? Or were you one of the four people that read Steve Finley Was Here? As fickle as we were about switching blogs, the Saloon was always our main home. It was Mom and Dad's house we could always move back to when our latest dumb idea didn't pan out, and it usually didn't.
For us blogging was mostly a hobby. And like lots of hobbies, real life can eventually consume your time to do them. So little by little the Saloon died off in 2010. A brief revival in 2012 was exactly that. Brief. This latest iteration has been fun and while I certainly can't write as much as I'd like to, it's good to be back home again, for however long it may be.
Looking back the thing I certainly value most with this whole venture are the friends I've made. This blog and the writers we managed to bring in, allowed me to meet some great people I never would've known otherwise and for that I'm grateful.
Well this is certainly getting sappier than I intended. I assure you I'll be back to my sailor-mouthed cursing self again soon. So here's to Thunder Matt's Saloon. And here's to our original crew. Ted, Ben, Brad, and myself. And to all the guys we added along they way: Nick, Ken, Rich, James, Jon, Jack, Jordi, Adam, Other Ben, Russ, and John. Thank you.
11:14 AM | Comments (0) | by Governor X
2015 Finish: 84-78, 2nd in the NL West
So Long: Middle Class Residents, Affordable Housing
Welcome: Silicon Valley Assholes on company buses, even more hobos, Johnny Cueto
1. Dirty Harry, CF
2. Fog, 2B
3. The Golden Gate Bridge, 1B
4. Gay People, C
5. The Car Chase From Bullitt, SS
6. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, LF
7. Overrated Burritos, 3B
8. Rice-A-Roni, RF
9. Big Trouble in Little China, P
Nickname Rotation: San Fran, Frisco, The City by the Bay, The City (eyeroll), Peestenchburg
Setup: Internal Affairs was setting them up all along!
Closer: Kyra Sedgwick
Something something even year. Buster Posey and so on. Is Tim Lincecum still high? Yes.
Reason to Watch: The X-Files is now in HD on Netflix. That's a good reason to watch. The makeup on the episode where they age fast on the boat is a little rough, but generally it looks pretty good.
Reason to Drink: You can drink on Caltrain going to the game, which means you should. Nothing quite like arriving at the park with a solid buzz going.
Greasiest Player: The Giants love them some greaseballs, but it comes down to Angel Pagan and Brandon Crawford, and really it's no contest. Brandon Crawford's hair has more oil in it than the Alberta Tar Sands. They should build a pipeline to his house.
Fantasy Standout: I dunno, Brandon Belt?
Fantasy Bust: I dunno, Brandon Belt?
The Pop Culture Equivalent To This Team Is: Greasy Brandon Belt eating a crab sandwich while drunk on Caltrain heading home to watch The X-Files on Netflix.
11:30 PM | Comments (4) | by Governor X
5. That guy who couldn’t die – Do you remember that guy who couldn’t die? There was that guy in a cave and he couldn’t die. He scared The Hound with fire.
4. Edmure Tully - He married the only non-homely Frey girl and was luckily whisked away before the Red Wedding, but that was that. Are they happy? Do they have kids? Does he drive a Dodge Stratus now?
3. Daario Naharis – Whatever happened to that long haired Fabio looking asshole? What, he turned into this guy? Seriously? I guess those casting agent certifications don't mean much do they...
2. Robert Baratheon’s Bastard (one of them anyway) – He got some of that sweet Melisandre action and it only cost him a little blood, but then Davos put him in a boat and we never saw him again. Given that so much of the plot revolves around who is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, we have to see him again at some point right? Hey, his name was Gendry. I forgot until just now.
1. Rickon Stark – Assuming that fall left Bran impotent, Rickon is the only male Stark capable of carrying on the line. Sure he’s a bit of a weenie, but these are desperate times. Last we saw him, he had run off with Tonks from Harry Potter. When he's old enough, he should get on that. A half-Stark/half-wildling would unite "The North."
10:50 AM | Comments (0) | by Shooter Muldoon
Hello there, welcome to Science. I am your bartender and lecturer, Dr. Science Muldoon. I come to you today in search of the truth. Namely: how long will it take a stadium full of Milwaukee fans to suffocate themselves in bratwurst-and-Lite-beer-leavings, given unlimited time and under the condition that the material itself remains static indefinitely?
I know you're shocked. That's because science is about asking uncomfortable questions. Except political science, which is for people who don't know what to major in, but aren't popular enough to drink with the marketing or communications students..
Anyhow, let's start with some Science Facts:
- An adult produces about 1 ounce of stool per 12 pounds of person.
- We realize that the 1 ounce measure refers to weight, but since we're speaking of a certain state of matter, we'll convert it to volume, since water itself is about 1 oz of weight per 1 oz of volume.
- The average adult human is 166 pounds. Since this is Wisconsin, we're bumping that up to 185, Tommy Thompson be damned! So that's a per-capita production of roughly 15.42 ounces daily.
- Average attendance in 2015 was 31,390 per game.
- Miller Park covers 8.4 acres, and has a roof height of 220 feet.
- It would take 4,655,926,995 baseballs to fill Miller Park.
- That's a total of just over 224,784,545 gallons of Ryan Braun t-shirt dye.
- One game, with everyone doing a day's worth of dirty sinful business, would create 3,776.67 gallons.
- Top TMS scientists worked with these numbers and came out with a figure of roughly 2.5 baseballs of liquid volume of Milwaukee Yuck Juice (TM) per person per day.
Now, if we're being super accurate, that number of fans, at a liquid volume of 17.54 gallons per Brewer fan, would cause a total displacement of 549,002 gallons. But we're ignoring that for now, because more math make brain hurt.
9:06 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk
When you think about truly special seasons in any sport, these are always images and moments that immediately come to mind. The more magical the season, the more of these moments you have to look back on. Take the 2015 Cubs season for example. Remember Rizzo's tarp catch? Bryant's home run that almost cleared the scoreboard? Addison's flip to second? Rondon's fist pump after closing out the sweep of the Giants at Wrigley? Schwarber's bomb in the NLDS that landed on top of the scoreboard in right? There's a pretty good chance that with just those quick descriptions, your mind conjured up vivid images of each and every one of those moments. Those are the moments that you remember where you were when they happened. They define the seasons that stick with you forever.
We're only three weeks into the baseball season and the Cubs have already delivered two of those moments. The first was Addison Russell's go-ahead home run during last Monday's home opener. It's pretty hard to have a playoff-like atmosphere in the first of 81 home games against a terrible team, but that's exactly what happened, and replays of Russell doing his airplane impression are going to be in so many hype videos this season.
And just 10 days later, we already have another:
I don't need to give you all the stats and trivia about how amazing it is that Arrieta threw 2 no-no's so close to each other because if your phone is anything like mine, it threw all of them at you all night last night. Let's just all let the greatness of this Cubs team and the best pitcher in baseball wash over us and keep in mind that it's only been 16 out of 162 games and we have a whole summer of excitement to come.
MVP: Jake Arrieta, obviously. He may not have been the most dominant we've seen him as far as strikeouts go, but he was in complete control the entire game and there wasn't much doubt that he was going to finish off the no-no when things got to the 7th inning or so. He was locked in. And this Reds lineup isn't full of a bunch of stiffs either. I mean, they're no Murderer's Row, but Votto and Bruce and Suarez and Phillips are all legitimate bats. Speaking of legit bats, Arrieta had two more base hits and a walk, bringing his average up to .273, higher than Rizzo, Heyward, Soler, Zobrist and Russell. Dude can rake.
Greg Vaughn MVP: Remember Greg Vaughn? If that name sounds familiar, it's because he's the guy that hit the quietest 50 home runs in MLB history. No one remembers that he hit 50 dingers because he did it in 1998 when Sosa and McGwire did their whole steroid fueled run into the record books. But like, 50 home runs is a lot! Way to pick a time to get overshadowed, guy.
There are actually a ton of Greg Vaughn MVP awards to go around last night. On any other night, we'd be talking about Bryant's monster game, with 2 homers (including a grand slam) and 6 RBI. Or Zobrist's first home run as a Cub. Or David Ross' awesome old man home run and subsequent dugout hip thrusting. But no, this was no ordinary night, so all of you take a backseat to the reigning Cy Young winner.
Ok Fine, One Stat: This blew my mind:
Last 24 starts Arrieta: 178 IP, 0.86 ERA, 0.70 WHIP
HIS ERA IS ALMOST LOWER THAN HIS WHIP.
HAHAHA LOOK AT YOU: Now I wasn't there, so this could be off by a bit, but from what I saw on television it looked like there were about 60 people a the game last night. Way to go, Cincy!
We get to play the Reds for 3 more games in a row??? Really??? HAHAHAHAHAHA awesome. The Cubs are back at it at 6:10 CST with Jon Lester vs something called a Jon Moscot. JON v JON! NO H'S ALLOWED IN THIS CAGE MATCH!
God, I wish we could play the Reds forever.
8:37 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk
|HURRR I'M TOMMY LASTELLA|
The Good News: Hey, we get to play the Reds again!
The Bad News: LaStella will also be in Cincy, so he'll probably play at some point and make me want to vomit.
8:17 AM | Comments (0) | by Governor X
Today we look at the decaying husk of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
2015 Finish: 92-70, 1st in the NL West
So Long: Zack Greinke, Jimmy Rollins, Jamey Wright, Adam Liberatore, Bronson Arroyo's Contract
Welcome: Kenta Maeda, Scott Kazmir, Joe Blanton, Aroldis Chapman (lol no, just kidding)
1. Carl Crawford/Scott Van Slyke, LF
2. Howie Kendrick/Chase Utley (seriously)/Kiké Hernandez, 2B
3. Justin Turner until his knee explodes, 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5. Yasiel Puig, RF
6. Corey Seager, SS
7. Yasmani Grandal/AJ Ellis, C
8. Joc Pederson/Kiké Hernandez, CF
Starting Rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling
Bullpen: Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell, Louis Coleman, Pedro Baez, Joe Blanton, Yimi Garcia
Closer: Kenley Jansen
Disabled List: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Mike Bolsinger, Andre Ethier
Screech Metal Lyric That Sums Up My Feelings About This Team:
"Fuck everything, everything!"
- Suicide Silence, Fuck Everything
Welp, this is probably it for me. I can't see myself caring about baseball after this season, and honestly, I'll be faking it this year. The team of my youth is now a sad shell of its former self, run into the ground by the Frank McCourt debacle and now by a misguided small-market philosophy that doesn't suit the team or the city. It's over gang. Time to tap out.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to be one of those assholes that goes and roots for Anaheim. I'm just leaving baseball altogether. Let's face it. It's always been boring anyway. Vin Scully has been carrying me through the last few years, but even he's had enough. Calling it a career after 67 years. Quitter.
Nothing went right this offseason. They lost Zack Greinke to a division rival and replaced him with Scott Kazmir. They tried to trade for Aroldis Chapman, but he shot a wall. They had an agreement to sign Hisashi Iwakuma, but then he failed a physical...not that it would have been a particularly good move anyway. Kenta Maeda might be good, but then again he might be Kaz Ishii too. No one knows. They're just buying lottery tickets and hoping for the best at this point.
Reason to Watch: None. I exaggerate of course, but no, none. Sure it's Vin Scully's final season, but that's just depressing to think about. Yeah, that Kershaw guy is good, but the Dodgers are pissing away his best years hoarding prospects and fielding other teams' leftovers. I'm not wasting my time and you shouldn't either. If Kershaw wasn't so damn polite, he'd probably demand a trade.
Reason to Drink: Like I said, it's Vin Scully's final year. You want more? Well, we're going to be here for a few years. The front office is engaged in the most expensive rebuilding job in baseball history. Maybe by 2020 enough prospects will pan out for the Dodgers to contend, but by then I won't care anymore.
The Fans: By and large, we're assholes. Right now there is a split between TRUST THE PROCESS dopes who think the team can do no wrong because Fangraphs likes every move they make and the chuds that call in to Dodger Talk and write for the LA Times bitching about how NERDS are ruining baseball. I remove myself from this equation by hating everyone. Also, we'll fucking cut you in the parking lot.
Their Worst Contract: Andrew Friedman thinks he's smarter than everyone and spends money like an idiot hillbilly that won the lottery. He's attempting to recreate the magic they had in Tampa Bay where they fielded a boring product and never won anything. He's the highest paid executive in baseball and under contract through 2019.
Don't believe me? He actually thought Alex Wood and Fat Latos were going to help this team last year. Spoiler: They didn't. Neither did Jim Johnson. For most of this offseason, Friedman was content to start a platoon of Chase Utley and Kiké Hernandez at 2nd base. Chase Utley...getting regular playing time in 2016. Fortunately the market for Howie Kendrick was nonexistent and they were able to bring him back. The invisible hand saved Friedman from himself. This team is doomed as long as he's in charge.
Fantasy Standout: Corey Seager, but you knew that
Fantasy Bust: Any Dodger outfielder on your list is a terrible choice. Yasiel Puig has gone bad, Joc Pederson has the ugliest swing in baseball history, and left field is a radioactive wasteland with Carl Crawford still smoldering in the impact crater. Also, since they all stink, there are going to be lots of platoons so you'll have no idea about playing time.
The Pop Culture Equivalent To This Team Is: The Playboy Mansion - Sure it has a glamorous reputation and storied history, but it's just old and sad and full of legionnaire's disease now.
2:30 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk
What Happened: Jason Hammel happened. 6 IP, 1 ER, 6 K's and a base hit that scored both of the Cubs runs. Hammel got the job done in all facets of the game. He is your Player of the Game.
Also Good, But Some Hits Would Be Nice Too: For the second night in a row, Jason Heyward made some spectacular plays in the field to keep the Cubs in the lead. Last night it was his throw home in the bottom of the fourth that got Hammel out of a second and third with one out situation. Now if he could just hit the goddamn ball every once in a while, things would really be great.
Same Goes For You Other Slackers: I'm looking at you, everyone except Fowler and MIGMON. And our starting pitchers, apparently.
Thing To Keep In Mind: The Cubs haven't started hitting like they have the potential to and we're still 11-3 and just took the first two games against the Cardinals the first time we've faced them since breaking their spirit in last year's NLDS. The starting pitching has picked things up big time and the bullpen has been phenomenal. Imagine how well we'll be doing once the bats heat up too. At this point last year, the Cubs were 8-6.
"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):
The Cubs finish up their series with the Cardinals today at 12:45. The Cubs will start Kyle Hendricks and the Cardinals will counter with Carlos Martinez.
9:04 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk
What Happened: Last night's game reminded me a lot of the home opener last week where the Cubs looked like they weren't going to get anything going and then wound up hanging 5 runs on the board in the late innings. There weren't any late-game dramatics on the level of Addison Russell's home run last week, but it was nice to see the Cubs get some base hits, racking up 9 of them to go along with one walk.
Those Early Innings Though...: I've seen Mike Leake pitch more than a handful of times over the years and I've never seen him as good as he was over the first 6 innings of this game. His location was impeccable and both pitchers were taking advantage of a sizable outside corner. For the second game in a row, the most patient team in the majors drew only a single walk. Then again, Leake was right over the plate for most of the night so maybe no walks were to be had. How many times did the Cubs strike out looking last night? A thousand? Probably a thousand.
MVP: In his return to St. Louis as a member of the Cubs, John Lackey looked like he was ready to give no quarter, and man did he ever deliver. Lackey was brilliant over 7 shutout innings, only allowing 4 hits and a walk while striking out 11.
Co-MVP: How about all those sliding/diving catches Heyward made last night? GRUMBLE GRUMBLE TRAITOR BOO WE HAVE A GREAT YOUNG CORE FART.
DOIN' WORK: The Cubs bullpen is 5th in the majors in ERA (2.40). The Cubs starters are first in the league in ERA (2.18). Over their last 3 games against some pretty great offenses, Cubs starters have thrown 22.1 innings and given up one earned run, striking out 29.
BEST FANS IN BASEBALL: As long as St. Louis fans insist on calling themselves the best fans in baseball, we'll continue to point out how they are definitely not.
I hope you become another statistic @JasonHeyward— Gibby Hazelbaker (@GetGibbyWithIt) April 18, 2016
Nope, nothing racist about that.
A BFIB here in the pub just said he hopes that Heyward "Taveres' himself"— Chris (@AR_aces23) April 18, 2016
Oscar Taveras was a Cardinals prospect who died a few years back in a car accident.
Fur trader? Trader Joe? WHICH TRADER ARE YOU REFERRING TO??@Cardinals nation @JasonHeyward made a life decision to go against us. Those are trader words.#Judias#Centuryofmisery#willregret— Jrob (@Jrob1388) April 19, 2016
"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):
The Cubs and Cardinals are at it again tonight at 7:15 with Jason Hammel against Jaime Garcia's Shitty Left Shoulder Joint.
5:51 PM | Comments (2) | by Rich Funk
What Happened: I'm not a professional athlete and I will never be one, so I don't know the mindset of a pro baseball player. That said, the way that the Cubs have operated so far this season and the way they played this weekend leads me to believe that with a series against the St. Louis Cardinals coming up next week, the Cubs might have looked past the Rockies. The past two games, the Cubs haven't had a whole lot going on offense, despite the 6 runs they hung on Colorado on Saturday. 5 of the Cubs 6 runs came via the long ball.
Today's game was not great and the biggest reason I think the Cubs were looking past the Rockies to the Cardinals. Despite leading the league in walks so far this season, the Cubs walked a whopping ONE time today. That's not a recipe for success. Part of the problem was that the strike zone was quite large today, but the Cubs didn't do themselves a lot of favors, chasing a bunch of pitches out of the zone. Tyler Chatwood is never going to be confused for a pitcher with dominant stuff, with a career K/9 of 5.23. And yet because of the wide zone and the Cubs pressing, he was able to strike out 7 over 7 shutout innings. Barf.
These kinds of stinkers are gonna happen sometimes, so no reason to panic yet. Obviously losing a series to the Rockies isn't how you want to go into a big series with the Cardinals in St. Louis, but it is just the first Cubs series loss of the season, which is awesome. And they wrapped up their homestand at 4-2. That's good.
MVP: The starting pitching. Over the last 2 games, Arrieta and Lester have combined for 15.1 innings, 12 total baserunners and 18 strikeouts while yielding one single earned run. After 3 starts, Lester has a 2.21 ERA and Arrieta has a 1.23 ERA. Baller.
LVP: The heart of the order. Yes, we're still early enough in the season that a hot 1-2 games can really shift a batting average, but look at what our big boppers are hitting so far this year:
That's...not ideal. Now they do make up for it with high OBP potential, but as the Mets showed the Cubs in the playoffs last year, there's going to be some times where home runs and walks alone won't get it done and base hits are necessary. Again, it's early, but the Cubs bating average is currently 15th in the league.
"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):
Ooooh baby do we have a big one coming up. The Cubs face their first real test of the season against the suddenly pretty hot on offense Cardinals for three games starting tomorrow night. A lot of attention will be paid to the return of Jason Heyward, but John Lackey is also making his return as well. He'll be pitching for the Cubs and opposed by human garden hose Mike Leake.
5:44 PM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan
Quality Control: Despite the loss, Kyle Hendricks still managed to get a quality start, going 6 innings while allowing 4 runs. Only 2 of the runs were earned due to a couple of those aforementioned errors. Kyle struck out 5 and walked 0. It continues to amaze me how little our rotation walks anyone.
Jackie Robinson Day: Today was the day all of Major League Baseball honors Jackie Robinson by wearing 42 and thus confusing me on who is who on the field. Anyway, players all over baseball did their own personal thing to honor Robinson. Heyward did by wearing these slick looking cleats for today's game.
amazing hands helmet. Our own TMS bartender Rich seemed to have discovered the origin of it the other week, as it appeared David Ross was mocking fellow teammate Ben Zobrist.
So I took to Twitter to help educate Len and Jim on why they do that. However Len quickly shot our theory down today in a response.
First off, thanks Len for responding. Secondly, what Tribune article?@tmsaloon Actually no. Check Tribune story about it.— Len Kasper (@LenKasper) April 15, 2016
As Mark Gonzales explains:
"Catcher David Ross confirmed Thursday that many players who reach base safely are pointing to the ground with both hands to indicate they’re not looking too far ahead or too far in the past."Oh fine. You win this round Gonzales! I still like our story better, even if it is complete BS.
"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):
The Cubs look to get back on track tomorrow with another 1:20pm start against the Rockies. Jake Arrieta will hopefully continue his dominance vs. right hander Christian Bergman.
9:22 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk
Firsthand Experience: I was actually able to go to last night's game, so I can tell you that the extra security measures in place outside Wrigley (metal detectors) didn't really add a lot of time to getting into the ballpark. We'll see how it does for a weekend game where the weather will be nice tomorrow, but for now don't plan on needing more than an extra 5 minutes to get into the park.
But Let's Get Back To The Bryant: It seems I was a little premature in predicting that Bryant would get the power stroke going last weekend against the Diamondbacks. The most impressive thing about both Bryant home runs the last two games is that the chill in the air was really making it tough to get much on any ball hit in the air. So many balls last night from both teams were pretty well-struck and Bryant's laser shot was the only one to clear the fence.
We Are Really Really REALLY Good: It's not like we've played a bunch of world beaters so far (the Reds could lose 100 games this year and the Diamondbacks and Angels definitely have their flaws), but you can only play who is on the schedule and the Cubs have done what great teams are supposed to do to bad teams: grind them into dust. The Cubs have scored more runs than anyone in baseball. They've walked more than anyone in baseball. They've seen more pitches than any team in baseball. And they've also given up the fewest runs and baserunners in baseball. Out of all the things they could have done to start the year, this is really the best case scenario. And we have the not-so-great pitching staff of the Rockies coming in for the next three days.
Rock and roll.
"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):
2:00 PM | Comments (0) | by Governor X
First a correction. There was a HUGE SHAKEUP in the Eastern Conference seeding since I published the preview the other day. Seeds 3-5 are now Heat, Hawks, and Celtics. Unfortunately that means the Russian interwebs won't get to broadcast a mind numbing Hawks/Hornets series as I promised. I hope Vladimir Putin won't kill me for this. In the big picture, this won't change anything since none of those teams was beating Toronto or Cleveland anyway.
The 2016 Western Conference Champion will be...the San Antonio Spurs. #HOTTAKE. It's just like the Spurs to spoil Golden State's party and they have the personnel to pull it off.
8:16 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk
Truth: The 4th inning just ended and the Cubs are currently up 9-1. That might not be the final (they could score more runs!), but honestly, things look well enough in hand that I don't mind writing this Gist now. It's cold and the best team in baseball is curbstomping the Reds pitching staff. We could all wake up tomorrow morning and the game might still be in the 8th inning with the Cubs up 438-1.
Again, With These Walks: The Cubs continued to do the thing that the Cubs are going to do a whole lot of times this year: walk and get on base. Reds starter Alfredo Sauceman only got 2 outs out of about 48 pitches and didn't escape the first inning. The rest of the guys...well, none of the other guys were any good either. There were several times where I thought the Reds did that thing where you're getting beat so bad that you put one of your position players in to pitch in order to save the bullpen, only they didn't. Their actual bullpen pitchers are so bad they look like shortstops on the mound. Again, that was several times I had that thought and it's the 5th inning.
They Said It Much Better: If you didn't read this Fangraphs article about how the Cubs are way good at taking walks, go do so right now.
We Are Good: That's about it, folks. Unless something crazy happens like Billy Hamilton getting on base, this one follows the same formula we've seen so far and will continue to see the rest of the year: Cubs scoring a lot and winning.
The Official Hashtag Of The Year Is: #AnybodyAnytime, straight from MIGMON's mouth.
"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):
We keep telling Chong Li that if he goes around breaking legs and blowing snot on everyone, someone is eventually going to kill him. And I love the way he tries to hide in the crowd of 4 people, none of them looking anything like him. The look on his face is exactly the look you have when you're zoning out on a work call and suddenly someone says your name.
Anyway, the Cubs and Reds are back at it tomorrow against the Reds at 7:05, with the Cubs looking to sweep. The Cubs will run out Jason Hammel and the Reds will go with Opening Day Starter By Default Raisel Iglesias.
9:19 PM | Comments (1) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan
We're into the second week of the season and we're still slogging our way through this shit. Today we're gonna talk about the Royals.
|Gee, thanks gramps. Couldn't splurge on some Werthers?|
So Long: Jeremy Guthrie, Alex Rios, Jonny Gomes, Wandy Rodriguez, Greg Holland
Welcome: Joakim Soria, Dillon Gee, Chien-Ming Wang, Ian Kennedy
Opening Day Lineup
1. Alcides Escobar, SS
2. Mike Moustakas, 3B
3. Lorenzo Cain, CF
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
5. Kendrys Morales, DH
6. Alex Gordon, LF
7. Salvador Perez, C
8. Omar Infante, 2B
9. Reymond Fuentes, RF
Starting Rotation: Edinson Volquez, Chris Young, Kris Medlen, Yordano Ventura, Ian Kennedy
Setup: Joakim Soria
Closer: Wade Davis
Last year saw the Royals return to the World Series and do the one thing the Cubs could not, dispatch the Mets. On offense the main core stayed in tact from 2014, and in the case of younger stars Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, they took a leap forward in their development. Add in what turned out to be a savvy pick up in DH Kenrdys Morales and the Royals were off and running.
That solid offense coupled with a great defense helped carry what was rather mediocre starting pitching. When Edinson Volquez is your "ace" you're obvious winning games in spite of your rotation. KC's bullpen was another strong point however and often locked things down when their offense came up with some much needed run support. The fact that setup man/closer Wade Davis won 8 games is saying something. That's more than Danny Duffy and he made 24 starts.
So now it's 2016 and they've got a ring. Can they repeat? Sure, why not? They managed to win last year and the formula hasn't changed. The main lineup is pretty much the same save for no more Alex Rios, which isn't a bad thing. Once Jarrod Dyson comes back from injury he should fill that hole fine. Re-signing Alex Gordon this offseason was a solid move and one that I think speaks volumes of this organization. It tells their fans that they're committed to winning for the long haul. The rotation is still sort of a hot mess, but if Yordano Ventura can mature a bit more he'll do well. Volquez and Kennedy are serviceable enough. The magic appears to have worn off Chris Young however. But if Kris Medlen can come around and either Dillon Gee or Chien-Ming Wang have something in the tank they should hold their own again. Enough at least to get to that bullpen which once again will be one of the best in the league. Wade Davis replaces Greg Holland as an elite closer and former longtime KC closer Joakim Soria has returned to set him up. Luke Hochevar, who was once laughable as a starting pitcher has emerged as a pretty damn good reliever.
The Royals should be in line to make another run for the postseason but will certainly have their work cut out for them. They're a classic small-market makes good story, and unlike the Pirates, they're not in the Cubs division so I don't hate their fucking guts.
Reason to Watch: Eric Hosmer. Long touted as a superstar in the making, Hosmer is just now starting to fill out those big shoes folks made for him. He's won 3 consecutive Gold Gloves and posted career bests last season in runs, RBI, and OPS. Now entering his age 26 season, Hosmer is just reaching his peak years.
|Volquez's fivehead is on point.|
Me: "Who is that pitching? Dan Reichert?"Despite the hostile first impression I talked to the guy some more as well as some other folks there. They all followed the Royals intensely and would take a bullet for their team no matter how awful they were. Keep in mind this was 2002 as well. They lost 100 games that year and had been dogshit for nearly a decade at that point. These folks lived and died by their team no matter what and I couldn't have been more impressed. Things definitely got worse before they got better too, but now that they've become relevant again, there's an entire city more than eager to embrace them, and that's pretty cool to see.
Dude: "Yeah, and he's pitching well. You got a problem with that?"
Me: "Uh, no. I was just asking."
Their Worst Contract: Not a whole lot of contracts here I'd call bad at all. That Ian Kennedy deal is probably the most excessive and probably won't be of much value in the last couple years. But even then at most it's $16.5 million a year.
Fantasy Standout: Eric Hosmer. He's pretty good.
|I think this will really resonate with the Millennials|
Wait, where the fuck was I going with this?
8:04 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk
Let's get right into it.
Wow: A little under a year ago, Addison Russell teed off for his first career home run. It came on May 1 and it landed with a thud against the still-under construction left field bleachers.
This one could not be more different.
After the Cubs put about a million home runs into the bleachers (and on top of scoreboards) in the NLDS against the Cardinals last October, it was only fitting that Addison Russell opened the 2016 season with another giant home run, and just as memorable. In a season where I've already gone on record with my prediction of the Cubs winning the World Series, I think even the most skeptical fan would admit that this is the best team in baseball right now, and that's after losing one of the top 10 young players in baseball for the season. Russell's home run is going to start off a million 2016 Cubs tribute videos. And when you can start off the season with an exclamation point like that?
It's going to be a good year.
Don't Forget: Jason Heyward opened his Wrigley career as a Cub with a clutch hit to get the Cubs on the board in the 7th. Russell's bomb is the highlight, but Heyward got things started on a night where it didn't look like the Cubs were going to do much of anything.
Thing I Noticed: Unlike Cubs teams of years past, even when the Cubs weren't doing anything for the first 6 innings, they didn't look terrible, if that makes sense. It didn't show in the box score, but the Cubs didn't seem to be getting fooled, and actually had Brandon Finnegan running up a decent pitch count, with a not-so-great balls to strikes ratio. It's not surprising that the Cubs got him out of the game when they did. With a team that has the ability to see so many pitches and really make starters work, it's only a matter of time until they get their runs. Teams like the Giants and Royals are like that, where even when they aren't doing well, they don't look terrible doing it.
Also, the Giants and Royals have played in 4 of the last 6 World Series, winning 4.
You Are An Unfeeling Robot If: You didn't get a little emotional when Schwarber was introduced and hobbled his way out of the dugout. #winoneforbigtoe
One Last Thing: I just want to sit here and rewind the last 3 innings on repeat so I'll cut this off. If you're reading this, you probably watched it happen so you don't need me to tell you how great the game was. I will leave you with this - I started writing this Gist (yes, even the 5-3 final in the title) after Kawasaki flied out to end the 8th. I had no doubt that the Cubs would close this one out. I don't remember any other time I would have done that as a Cubs fan.
2:00 PM | Comments (1) | by Governor X
So the NBA's Eastern Conference wasn't a tire fire this year. I believe this might be the first time since the Nixon administration that they haven't sent a below .500 team to the playoffs. You'll probably notice the Bulls aren't listed here. That "let's fire one of the best coaches in the game and replace him with a college guy that used to play here" thing didn't work out. The Bullets aren't here either, but that's because they are the Wizards now and stunk this season.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - This is easily the worst good team I've ever seen. Lebron hates everyone and seems to regret going back to Clevland, They don't really run an offense. They fired David Blatt and replaced him with a towel rack. Nevertheless, Lebron James was able to drag this team's reality TV show carcass over the finish line to the #1 seed and they're the favorites to come out of the east.
2. Toronto Raptors - Toronto has been a growing power in the east for a few years now, but no one notices because they're never on TV. They're really the only legit threat to Cleveland in the conference, but may require another year of playoff failure to get over the hump.
3. Atlanta Hawks - Nope.
4. Boston Celtics - The Celtics got good way ahead of schedule this year and the casual fan can't name anyone on the team, so that means they will probably collapse next season (see Milwaukee). They aren't good enough to make a run at Cleveland or Toronto, but it's probably good for the league to have them competitive again.
5. Miami Heat - Getting the 5th seed is pretty impressive considering Chris Bosh spends most of his time these days playing golf with Arnold Palmer, Kevin Nealon, and NASCAR Guy. BTW, Dwyane Wade just flopped.
7. Indiana Pacers - Did I already use the "Nope." joke? Shit. I get bored even seeing the Pacers name. At least suicidal Roy Hibbert isn't there anymore. The sooner Toronto dispatches them the better.
8. Detroit Pistons - Is the best name on the Pistons' roster Spencer Dinwiddie or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? Vote in our comment section.
The 2016 Eastern Conference Champion will be...the Cleveland Cavaliers. Lebron James isn't the best player in the league anymore (spoiler: it's Steph Curry), but he's still the best player in the East by a lot. Even with the dysfunction, he'll still be able to secure them the honor of getting killed by Golden State or San Antonio in the Finals.
10:43 AM | Comments (3) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan
1:57 PM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan
Rich is away so I'm picking up the slack this weekend while he's exiled to Canada or something.
What Happened: Well, it ain't all gonna be puppies and rainbows. Aside from finding out Kyle Schwarber was done for the year, the Cubs took their first loss of the season.
Chicago was hanging onto a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 8th when Paul Goldschmidt got a base hit that would score Jean Segura from second base and tie the game. This of course led to all the wonderful armchair managers with their brilliant eagle-eye hindsight to come out from their troll caves and shout, "HE SHOULDA WALKED GOLDSCHMIDT!"
Calm the fuck down alright? Strop handled Goldschmidt fine the night before. Sometimes not everything can go our way OK? This shit irritates me to no end. I'm a cynical asshole as much as the next guy but this sort of bitching is stupid.
What can we take away from this loss: How about Jason Hammel pitching pretty well/ 6 innings, 6 strikeouts, 1 earned run. Those type of quality starts will do just fine from our #4 pitcher.
"YOU ARE NEXT" (brought to you by TMS Correspondent Chong Li):
5:29 PM | Comments (1) | by Rich Funk
4:30 PM | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan
12:37 PM | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz
Today, we put our shit kickers on and head down south to check out those whiskey swillin', cocaine lovin' Texas Rangers.
|Prince Fielder: Nude and inconclusive.|
So Long: Yovanni Gallardo, Mike Napoli, Will Venable, Leonys Martin
Welcome: Tom Wilhemsen, Justin Ruggiano, AJ Griffin, Ian SUPERSTAR Desmond, Ike "Could Try Harder" Davis
1. Delino DeShields Jr, CF
2. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
3. Prince Fielder, DH
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
6. Ian Desmond, LF
7. Rougned Odor, 2B
8. Elvis Andrus, SS
Starting Rotation: Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Yu Darvish (eventually)
Bullpen: Sam Dyson, Keone Kela, Jake Diekman, Tom Wilhemsen, other guys I haven't heard of and you don't give a shit about
Closer: Sean Tolleson
Disabled List: Yu Darvish, Josh Hamilton (heaven needed another drug addict), Tanner Scheppers
Country Lyric That Describes their 2015 season:
"Now a solo cup is the best receptacle, for barbecues, tailgates, fairs and festivals. And you sir, do not have a pair of testicles, if you prefer drinking from a glass."
- Toby Keith, Red Solo Cup
So, for my first post-9/11 writing assignment for TMS, I draw the Texas Rangers, a team that is neither egregiously offensive (other than the fact that they're in Texas), nor terribly exciting. They're just kind of there. It's like reading a 2.5 star review of a movie, devoid of the kind of hyperbole that gets you really excited to see a movie, or the vitriol and snark that makes reading critical pans so enjoyable. That said, if you want to stop reading now (you probably already have) and go check out animal videos on Buzzfeed, by all means.
Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year of sorts for the Ranger, but they ended up trading for Cole Hamels mid-way through the season and pretty soon they were like, "Fuck it, we actually have a shot at this". They made the playoffs on the last day of the season against the division rival Angels, in a game that I hold near and dear to my cold, dead heart, as Garrett Richards' 3 ER had huge implications in my fantasy championship match-up ("dude, no one cares about your fantasy team"). So thank you, Texas. Alas, they were promptly eliminated by the Blue Jays in the playoffs and by the following morning, all of the water cooler talk had already shifted to the Cowboys.
This year brings higher expectations, although they'll have to fend off a dick-punching Houston team and a Seattle squad that has "trendy sleeper" written all over it, thanks to jettisoning their human albatross of a manager, Lloyd McClendon. The A's look pretty terrible and boring (of course, they always do and still win in spite of that) and the Angels are wasting the prime years of Mike Trout. So for once, they may not have to worry about those two assholes.
2016 will be another sweaty year in Arlington (seriously, I start sweating like Marlon Brando just watching their home games on TV) with high hopes and inevitably, crushed dreams. And admittedly, they were a lot cooler when they had the original Coked Up Werewolf, Ron Washington, at the helm. But they have a solid core of veterans, some intriguing young guys knocking on the door and they serve Lone Star beer at the stadium, so it could be a lot worse. Wild Card or GTFO!
|We miss you, Wash.|
Reason to Drink: Until Darvish gets back, the starting rotation kind of falls off a cliff after Cole Hamels. Colby Lewis somehow won 17 games, defying any sort of metric you want to apply to his "pitching". Martin Perez couldn't strike me out and Derek Holland will be hurt before you get done reading this. But for God sake, if you're going to drink, please, I beg of you, don't do it in front of Josh Hamilton.
The Fans: I have no idea. They seem jovial enough come playoff time. I imagine a bunch of old-money rich people that are super nice to you as long as you're Caucasian. Ladies with big hair and old guys that call Tommy Buzanis a dear friend. They're probably very leery of the concession workers. But then again, I like to think the worst of people. Honestly, the Rangers are probably just a cute diversion until football starts.
|"Hey, at least I'm not Ted Cruz. Hehehe."|
Fantasy Standout: Prince Fielder. As a kid, I loved Prince's dad, Cecil. Look at that fat guy let er' rip! Remember that time he hit one out of Tiger Stadium? What a glorious, pre-roid era, home run hitting son of a bitch. Anyway, I think Prince might have daddy issues, but that's neither here nor there. Prince is still pretty good, especially in OBP leagues, but you'd hope that fat man could hit the ball over the fence with a little more regularity.
|These two single-handedly kept Little Caesars in business during some (ironically) lean years.|
The Pop Culture Equivalent To This Team Is: A Melissa McCarthy movie. Generally inoffensive, and maybe even entertaining in parts, but there are probably better things to Redbox.