Goatriders of the Apocalypse

JonMiller's blog

Pinella DOES Know A Reefer

Lou Pinella admitted that he smoked pot.  Once.  

No big deal really, as a lot of people have tried it.  I did too in college...wasn't a fan.

But what cracks me up is that back when Sammy was linked to have tested positive for PED's back in 2003, which means steroids, Pinella said the following:  "I wouldn't know the difference between a reefer and a steroid."

Well, technically, since Lou has now admitted that he knew what a reefer is, shouldn't he know the difference between a reefer and a steroid?

When he said that comment last week, I told a friend, jokingly, that Lou had better not have tried pot, otherwise some smart aleck might bring this up one day.  I just didn't know I would be that smart aleck  ;)

Negative Fans to Blame for Impending (possibly) Sweep?

Our esteemed host Kurt Evans wrote the following after the Cubs 7-2 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday night: 

"I've predicted that if the Cubs lost Game One, they could be swept, and the negative fans are the reason why.  I will stand by that prediction."

Kurt is a fan, like the rest of us and his opinion matters the same.  Strike that...his opinions around here carry more weight, because this is his house, afterall.  And since he and I are friends, and this is his house, I am not going to come in here and pee all over the furniture.

No, I don't need that much space, the corner will do just fine.

Negativity amongst the Cub fan base will not cause this team to get swept; 7 walks by your starting pitcher in just 4.2 innings, will.  2 for 19 at the plate with no RBI by the top five hitters in your batting order, that will also suffice.  Actually, that is an improvement over last year's 1 for 20 performance by the top five against Arizona in game one.

Your leadoff hitter showing the plate discipline of a rookie in the second week of March, that will sting a bit.

Walking the bases loaded twice in the first four innings, that could have something to do with it.  Had I mentioned that yet?

Sorry my man, I am just a bit down after this one.

Prior to Kurt coming on my radio show on Tuesday, I said the following in my show open (paraphrasing):

Am I the only Cubs fan that is scared that Ryan Dempster will revert to the mean?  Am I the only Cubs fan that expects D-Lee to keep grounding into double plays, for Alphonso Soriano to put up the following two letters, K and E more than R-B-I?  Am I the only Cubs fan that expects Zambrano to pitch the way he did in all but one of his September appearances?  Am I the only Cubs fan that expects Fukudome to play like....well, Fukudome at the plate?

Hey, I still had hope.  I still clung to the hope that this might really be the year.  But I have gotten wiser in my late 30's.  I now know how to manage pain better.  I know how to distance myself between the shock of the 2003 collapse and the gut shot that went with it, to just sort of expecting the pain first and if it doesn't come, then being pleasantly surprised.

It's sad to say it, but I laid the groundwork in emotionally distancing myself from this Cubs team about two weeks ago, once it was apparent they were going to make it to the playoffs.

And especially when the Cubs had every chance to lay down, just a little bit more, against the Mets...or to rise up and swat away the Brewers, thus giving the Cubs the Mets in the playoffs instead of the Dodgers, the team that I had not wanted them to play since about the middle of July as I went through my playoff scenarios.

The old axiom is that good pitching beats good hitting in the playoffs.  And I was not exactly sold on the Cubs pitching staff in a five game series.

A 162-game regular season?  Heck yes, I like it.  Five games or go home?  Not so much.

Now, as we turn the page on this footnote in Cubs history, game one, we look ahead to game two...and Carlos Zambrano will be on the hill for the Cubs.

This dream of a season pretty much rests on his right arm...or rather, the stuff between his ears.  How does that make you feel right about now?

One last point that rammed things home to me.

Our cats were looking at me really pissed off in the top of the 9th, so I got in the car to get them some food.  I had my radio with me, and headphones on as I went into the store.

That's when Pat Hughes said the Cubs were on the verge of losing their 7th straight playoff game, which they accomplished.

I had totally forgotten that the Cubs were up 3 games to 1 in 2003.  I remembered they had lost the last two, but I forgot they lost the last three.

Z....please....your city needs you.


Cubs Lose to Mets....YESSSSS!!!!

Ok, you might think that I have gone mad.  I haven't been around here since last week, and I haven't read any of the blogs.  I know, ten lashes.

So if this 'theory' has been thrown out there, my apologies and there was no plagarism intended.

But here is my thinking;  don't we want to play the Mets in the first round of the playoffs?

Of all the possibilities, hosting the Mets is the best, at least to me.  Keep me away from the Dodgers in a short series, and I want nothing to do with the arms of Arizona.  Philly's power scares me in a short series, too.

The Mets entered the game with a one game lead over the Brewers for the wild card position and two and a half games behind Philadelphia for the NL East title.

So now, with a Mets win, they stay ahead of the Brewers...now, the Phillies lost, so that lead is just one and a half now.

So here is how I see it the rest of the way....Go Mets, Go Phillies, Brewers, you just keep doing what you do...this way, we can root, root, root for the Cubbies the final three games of the year, and get that post season groove back on, and welcome the Mets in October, the most beatable playoff contender out there.



Carlos Being Carlos: Intentional Stinker All for the Cub Fans

While he may never admit it, Carlos actually tanked in Friday's game on purpose.  I have second hand, of the record comments that never took place to prove it.

"Yeah, it was for the fans." Carlos Zambrano didn't really say.  "I figured Milwaukee would lose on Friday night, and that would move our magic game down to one.  If we would have won today (Friday) at Wrigley, we would have clinched the division and there wouldn't have been a party.  Hay man, I like a party, and I want to party Saturday.  So we will clinch tomorrow, and you can all thank me then."

Carlos went Nostradamus on us;  the Brewers got whacked by Cincy 11-2 on Friday night.

It was meant to be on Friday, just as the Cubs clinching tomorrow at Wrigley in front of their fans, was meant to be.

The Magic Number is down to 1, meaning the Cubs will close it all out tomorrow afternoon.

Here is something interesting; there is a really good chance that there will be a party in Wrigley tomorrow, as both teams start at 2:55 tomorrow afternoon...so if the Cubs should somehow lose tomorrow, they could still clinch with a Brewers loss.

But that would be unlike this dream season of 2008.  Cubs close it out tomorrow, and the song echoes from Wrigley all the way down to the Cell....

Believe it.

Four is a Magic Number

Editor's Note: This was promoted to the GROTA Blog from the Reader Blog section.  We'll be doing that from time to time.  Kurt promises that it has nothing to do with how Jon has been promoting the blog on his radio show for months now, but instead has everything to do with the length and quality of content

This month has been a wild and crazy ride as a member of the Cubs bandwagon.

Heck, this entire season has been unlike anything I have ever experienced in my quarter century of pulling for the Northsiders.

Kurt has had to talk me off the ledge a time or two, and I am glad that he did.  Now, when I first started talking to Kurt, I never would have pegged him to actually be the one to talk me off of any ledges.  But such is life.

The Cubs beat the Brewers 5-4 on Tuesday night, inching closer to the now inevitable National League Central Division Title.

That's what the 'experts' predicted the Cubs would accomplish, but we have all chased after that holy grail before, only to have our hopes and dreams dashed in May.

This year, the Cubs have actually lived up to the hype, and perhaps even surpassed it, which makes it so damned enjoyable.

Ok, I am getting ahead of myself a little bit, and for the extra-goatish among you, I am making you nervous...as if what I say can somehow fly back in the Cubs faces and add to some cosmic jinx.

Screw that, Jobu!

I don't care what the stats say about the following, I just believe that:

-This is the best situational hitting Cubs team in my lifetime, or IML for short.

-This is one of the best defensive teams when it matters a heck of a lot IML

-This is the best pitching staff IML

-This is the toughest lineup to face IML

My least favorite part of Tuesday night's game was followed by a stroke of genius; Inserting Bob Howry into the game nearly cause me to throw my remote against the TV, but I was glad to see that Lou started the bus early and sent Howry packing at the first sign of an open flame, the walk.

I don't know if anyone smokes in the Cubs Clubhouse, but please do not do so around Bob Howry.  Flames can ignite, you know, and Howry has to smell like 89 octane petrol.

How about Fonz's curtain call when no one was cheering for it?  That has to be the sign of a good team, right?  I will just assume the answer is yes, since I have never seen that before.

And though Kerry gave up another run, hey, he had two to work with, alright?  His curve ball to strike out Jabba Fielder was just filthy after Jabba had seen about 6 96mph heaters.   That was real sweet stuff right there.

And the Brewers, who did something so Brewerish in not firing Ned Yost last year, or this May, only to fire him with 15 some odd games left in the season while they were actually tied for the wildcard lead, are now circling the drain, about to be eliminated by the Cubs from contention in the central.  And they beat C.C...who still has an arm, but not for long.  Any thoughts that this guy might be ready for some arm trouble for whomever signs him next year?

But that's not my problem, and it appears he won't be a problem for the Cubs in October, either.

Dang it, this is fun.

Getting their Groove Back, Part 2

Ummm...when Kurt and I were talking last week about what the Cubs needed to get going back in the right direction before the end of the season, a no hitter never entered our discussion.

The Big Z put on a clinic on Sunday night in Milwaukee against Houston (which is just odd).  110 pitches, 10 K's, he was one walk away from a perfect game.

Welcome back to the lineup, Carlos.

If you don't think that something like this can fill up the tank, then you're just a skeptic...well, I am skeptic, too, but not about this.

The Cubs are back...perhaps there is magic in this season.

And only Cubs fans could put 24,000 plus fans in the stands at a neutral site...then again, it is Wrigley North.  How about more games in Milwaukee?

That might not happen in October, as the Brewers are close to puking away the Wild Card position to Philadelphia.  Whether or not that is good news for the Cubs, I don't know...we can debate that tomorrow.

Enjoy the night!  Text messaging and Red Bulls all around!

Did the Cubs Get their Groove Back?

As I was interviewing Kurt Evans today on my radio show, I asked him how the Cubs were gonna get their groove back…we didn’t really have any definite answers, other than start winning.

It’s too early to tell if they got their groove back, but two wins like the ones they have had in the last two days will help.

Rich Harden goes six innings, gives up 5 hits and two runs. Quality start. The Cubs show patience at the plate, score the first run of the game on a walk. Good start. Kerry Wood records two hair on fire saves…good start. Wood getting 45 year old Albert Pujols to pop out to end the game with runners on first and second? Good start. The Brewers lose on a night when the Cubs win. Good start. Put Ol Yeller (St Louis) out of its misery? Good start.

The Cubs were not flashy or fantastic the last two games, but they got the win. They have a winning streak again, something they have not had since beating the Phils two in a row August 28th and 29th.

With Hurricane Ike advancing into Southeast Texas, the next two Cubs games against Houston have been postponed. The entire series might be postponed for that matter. I am not sure where the Cubs are going to go and wait the storm out, but they will have a couple of days rest before embarking on a very challenging end to their season against teams that have playoff ambitions.

Carlos Zambrano gets a little more time to rest that shoulder of his. And they get to do all of this while resting their heads on their pillows having beaten St. Louis two of three.

A five and a half game lead with 16 games to play. That’s a pretty good lead, a fairly safe lead.

The Cubs should be the #1 ‘seed’ in the NL Playoffs. They will probably face the Dodgers, who have a good pitching staff, but they don’t have the firepower starters that Arizona has.

All of the sudden, in the span of 24 hours, things are looking up in Cubdom. And Kurt Evans is a national sensation.

All is good in GROTAland.

Thank Goodness for Football; This Swoon is Killing Me

I live in Iowa, and we don't have major league professional sports. That's not to say people are not fanatical about them here, because they are. It's just that once the college football season begins, the state of Iowa shifts its focus to all things Hawkeye and Cyclone.

But there are a ton of Cubs fans in Iowa. We have the I-Cubs right here in town, Chicago is only a 5 hour drive from Des Moines, and a three hour or less drive from a million and a half of the state's residents. It's Cubs-Cards country here, mostly Cubs.

So folks stay in touch with what is going on.

I host a daily sports talk show (1460 KXNO) and your Kurt Evans has been a weekly guest this year. He has talked me off the ledge a few times, because I have gotten to the age (late 30's) where I just don't have time to suffer along with the Cubs. I no longer consider myself a die hard. I am a die easy Cubs fan. Like, France rolling over in WWII easy.

For instance, I jumped off the bandwagon last year when the Cubs gave up that 5-1 9th inning lead against the Mets. I puked right along with Santo, but I was done. Then when A-Ram hit the game winning walk off homer against Milwaukee in late June, I came back to the party.

That's sort of how I am these days. If that ticks you off, hey, I have given my nearly 30 years of fandom to this team...up your....wait, I was gonna go Horshack here, but many of you may not remember him.

All of this brings me to this year. I have been high, I have been low...not low as in the depths of the mines of Moria low, just frustrated. I am frustrated a bit right now, but thanks to college football and my Hawkeyes being 2-0 right now, that's my tonic.

What has amazed me since the start of August is how the Brewers and Cubs have been in lockstep with one another. Chicago is 21-14 since then, Milwaukee 22-14. The Cubs are 1-6 in September, the Brewers 2-7.

Who will rediscover their mojo first? I think the Cubs have a better chance, because Zambrano has been nicked up, and Glass Joe Harden has been spending his days doing...well, anything but pitching.

So the Cubs have more of an upshot here. But winning in the playoffs is about confidence, swagger and pitching. Do the Cubs have enough of any of that right now? Does anyone in the National League have that right now? Not so much...so I hold onto the hope that the Cubs will somehow suck less than the rest of the league the rest of this month, and be the least suckiest team in the NL come October. (Suck is an approved word in these parts, based on my reading this year).

OK, they don't suck...perhaps its just my attitude...but I miss those August Cubs...and if this doesn't turn out to be THE YEAR, then I'm out....at least until next season starts, and I go through it all again.

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