I was looking over some of the past posts about "fans" and their behavior. Because of where I am located (Louisville, KY) we usually travel to away games more than we make it to the Friendly Confines. It's an issue I just gotta weigh in on.
I grew up going to ball games with my Dad. It was a family affair. I enjoyed the living hell outta every second of it. I would cheer my fool head off for my team and my favorite players. I would yell myself hoarse. What I didn't do however, was bust on the home team. It's their house, and you respect it. I'm still that way today. I will ride an ump for a bad call, but I will not bust on the home team.
In the past month I have caught an opening week game in Cincy and the series finale of the Cubs/Cards series in St. Louis. I am floored by the way fans for the home team are just openly hostile right off the bat. I was told how badly we were gonna get our asses kicked in IHOP for Heavens sake. BY AN OLD MAN AND HIS WIFE! By the way, I hope you choked on your regurgitated pancakes when Fooky hit his 3 run shot, you crusty bastard.
As a kid I remember sitting in the park and talking baseball with the fans that were around me. We all moaned about our weak hitting infielder, or the can't miss rookie who has struck out every at bat, or why on earth God has cursed us with Neal Cotts. My last family trip to Cincy, when we locked up the division by the way, I spent time explaining to my 3 year old why we don't say "you suck" to people.
If you're reading this and thinking I am a little too thin skinned, understand that I get it. I laugh my ass off at the "Cardinal Fans take it in their Pujols" shirts. But I am baseball romantic at heart. I grew up listening to stories from my grandfather of his days as a pro in the 20's and 30's. I have lived and breathed this game for the vast majority of my life and it's a love I am passing onto my kids. A day at the ballpark is my perfect day.
I guess nowadays 20-somethings who are only in the park to get hammered and pound beers are my cross to bear. FYI to the drunk ass in the section behind me. AARON MILES IS NOT A TRAITOR, HE DIDN"T BETRAY THE TEAM, HE WAS NOT TRADED!!!! HE. WAS. NOT. TRADED. When you are not offered a job by your employer so a guy named Skip can take your job, you move on. Thanks to the Card fan sitting next to us who turned around and pointed that out. That was also after Soriano was called a pussy after getting plunked in the head.
Painting a bleak picture for tolerence, I know. I have a challenge for you though. Next ball game, talk with the guy in the other teams jersey in your row. If you don't know dick about the current team, talk about the outfielder you remember playing for them when you were a kid. Hey, rib 'em all you want. Just take it in stride when they give it back. It's too great a game to turn a day at the ballpark into a WWE event. So.for one day, for us old guys, try it. Unless the Cardinals are in town.....they take it in their Pujols after all.
Growing up outside Louisville Ky, we didn't have a team of our own. The only team we had on the radio (that's how we had to follow baseball back in the day, kids) was the Big Red Machine. I followed the Reds because I knew nothing else. In fourth grade I was allowed to stay up and watch the World Series. Dodgers versus Yankees. Suddenly all my baeball cards sprang to life. There was Reggie Jackson and Steve Garvey moving on my TV!!!
Before to long we gots cable in the foothills of the Bluegrass State. I split my time between WGN and WOR. I found myself rooting for Grace, Sandberg, and Dunston on one channel and Strawberry, Gooden, and Johnson on the other. I have to admit that the Mets were a helluva lot better at that time and before to long they had a World Series title in tow.
Those of us around my age (36) will remember that baseball owners were charged with colluison around that time for not actually pursuing other teams free agents. Shortly thereafter all hell broke loose and players moved around like plastic on an electric football board. (There was a time Madden football did not exist, and running backs moved in slow, agonizing circles).
I swore off baseball around this time. I was used to familiar cast of characters spring after spring and those days were disapperaing quick. I have always been a fan of the scrappy "tweener" players and there were usually the first guys shipped out of town each offseason. It wasn't until just a few years later that I made my first trip to Chicago.
With a freshly minted "Over 21" ID from the state of Kentucky, we hit the big city. On our second day there we caught a night game between the Cubbies and the Mets. This was during Anthony Young's ridiculous losing streak. I sat there in the prettiest damn ballpark I have seen, drinking cold Old Style, and talking baseball with four Chicago area septegenarians. About the time Ryno went yard it hit me. The Cubs. Of course, the Cubs. I wouldn't be diappointed by them. They had a history of not being that good. I could love these guys and know what I was gonna get back.
They were filled with scrappy guys who we missing those one or two tools needed to be a superstar. It was a team I could get behind and love unconditionally. So that's what I've done. Brainwashed the whole family. Wife, done. Son, done. Daughters, they can sing every word of "Go Cubs Go". I was wrong though, the team has figured out a way to break my heart. You can't help but love this team though. The fans are incredible. The ballpark is Mecca of baseball. The city is my favorite vacation destination, regardless of the season. It's a love affair. I'm hopeless and hopeful all at the same time. Go Cubs!
There's a lot going on in my brain, so if this gets jumbled, my apologies. I am also trying to water down some of my usual salty language. This rant came about as a result of my weekend trip to Cleveland. Yeah, yeah, I still think the trade involving Mark was stupid. It was also Kerry Wood bobblehead night there.
Can I just say (and my impartial, non-baseball crazed co-workers actually volunteered this) that probably the three cities that qualify as true, serious, baseball fans are: CHICAGO, BOSTON and NEW YORK. Okay, maybe St. Louis. They're pretty nutso, too. We obviously know where my allegiance lies, but gaaaawd are there some a--hats out there claiming to be "fans".
I have run into idiots at Wrigley. I'm thinking the Orioles "fans" from last year. A guy brought a chick that didn't know how many strikes it takes to get an out. Okay, she's not a fan of anything, but I really wanted to shake the guy who brought her. Obviously he wasn't boinking that one for her brains. And then he tried to explain ERA to her...*clutches head*
Or the Orioles dudes who COULDN'T READ THE SCOREBOARD. HOW CAN YOU NOT READ A SCOREBOARD? Oh, that's right. You're probably too used to jumbotrons telling you over and over again in a very pre-school way what's going on.
Speaking of jumbotrons and technology...those are all well and good, but not all the time. For example, if a club relies on an ELECTRONIC SIGN OR BOARD to tell your fans to "make some noise"? YOUR FANS SUCK. You should just know when to yell and scream without having some stupid board tell you. Homerun? Yell! Good defensive play? Yell! Hot baseball player butt? Yell! Your version of Neal Cotts cough up another run like my cat coughs up food after he ate too fast? SCREAM!
Fans who leave early? SUCK. In certain instances I am okay with leaving early, but this goes into the natural disaster, very shitty weather, or a parking situation where you won't get out for HOURS unless you leave a teensy bit early. Leaving in the sixth for none of these reasons? LAME. (I'm looking at YOU, Cleveland.) Yes, your team was getting beat into oblivion, but STAY. Last year, we had that crazy comeback against the Rockies...think about any people that might have left thinking we were "done". Missed a great comeback.
People who go to the ballpark to socialize and wave at the camera while on their cellphone. YOU GO TO THE BALLPARK TO WATCH THE GAME. Never was a commercial more accurate than that Miller LIte one where the big beer bringer guy walks into the suite and asks "do you know what inning it is?" And then he walks up to the glass partition, looking down at the field, bemoaning being locked behind glass, before pounding on it "...AND WATCHING YOUR FAVORITE PITCHER GET LIT UP! TAKE HIM OUT!!" Oh Miller Lite dude, that is so accurate.
NOT KNOWING WHO YOUR PLAYERS ARE. LAME! SO LAME YOU SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED IN A BALLPARK AGAIN. I'm looking at YOU, Cleveland! I cannot tell you how many idiots didn't even know DeRosa was their third baseman. He plays EVERY DAY FOR YOU. Were you all SHAKEN AS BABIES?! Christ almighty, I caught on to who the Indians players were even though I don't care! Jaysus. Grady walked right by us. He was confused by our Cubs apparel, until we very pointedly told him to go get us Mark. Ha.
Poor DeRo looked dejected half the time. I'm so not surprised at his horrible batting average right now. Most of the Indians are barely above .200. How would you feel, coming from a city with rabid fans that sells out practically EVERY game - DAY games included - yelling and screaming and totally into it (sometimes too into yet, yes) ...to some Ohio backwater where people don't even heckle when you play like crap and the seats are empty and people don't even know your name?
Cleveland people didn't even heckle! They were so passive! Hello? Do you have a pulse? God, Cleveland baseball (and shopping!) culture SUCKS. And my co-worker formely of Cleveland was like "I COULD HAVE TOLD YOU THAT."
And so called "fans" who like to troll message boards or even the park going "[your team] SUCKS!" "CHOKE!" There were white trash Twins "fans" like that in Cleveland. They saw our Cubs DeRo shirts and decided to tell us we suck. Dude, do I freaking CARE about the Twins? Did I even talk to you? Did I even look at you until you decided to yell at me? NO. Worry about your own team.
And yes, I swatted that annoying Twins person with my sweatshirt. He didn't like that. Boohoo. Maybe you should stfu!
I was never so glad to get back to Chicago as I was last evening. Chicago is a flawed but beautiful place. We have our problems, but it's home. It's not just a city, it's a city of neighborhoods. People are out and about, there are things to do and places to see. And baseball to enjoy. (Even White Sox fans are better than Cleveland at this point...at least they know what's going on in a game.) I don't care how much the Cubs "choke". At least we know how to watch a game and who our players are.
Chris Carpenter is headed to the DL for the first time in '09, although it's because of a bum rib cage rather than a bum shoulder.
I'll probably mention it some more when I write up the game recap tonight before bed.
Things are good. The season is under way, and the cubs have shown some flashes of both good and bad so far in the first week, while their record sits at (3-2). The lineup is a completely different beast this year, despite that most don't agree with the order, it is early and I expect some changes eventually. But I really don't think that Lee&MB's slow starts are the biggest issues; other things such as the bullpen, Soriano, and Theriot are much more alarming. MB's average isn't much to be desired to this point, but he has had some great at bats nonetheless. He's currently seeing more pitches per at bat than anyone in baseball, with an average of over 5 pitches being seen, which is pretty amazing considering that one player in the lineup could potentially see 15-20% of the opposing pitchers' pitches over the course of a game.
The bullpen, well you know, its just bad right now. However, I do think that things could turn around given the arms down there. Two problems persist throughout the bullpen, and they are simply known as Cotts & Vizcaino. I think I would option Neal Cotts to AAA tomorrow, and then I would buy a fishing pole to give as a gift to Vizcaino after I released him.
Soriano is a problem not because of production but merely because of circumstance. I have to believe that if he continues to crush the ball the way he is right now, some consideration would have to be given to moving him down in the order to #3. Its pretty simple really, Sori is crushing the ball with no one on to drive in. Currently Sori has 7 hits, 5 of which are extra base hits, yet those hits have only resulted in 5 RBI (3 of which came on HR where he drove himself in). Too much production is being lost with Sori leading off.
Then poor Ryan TheRiot, he too is more circumstance than anything in this. He's getting on a whole lot, but not reaching home plate very often at all. In 5 games the riot has reached base 13 times (9 hits & 4 BB's) and only scored 2 times. So this, in a way, dovetails the problem of Soriano. Where Sori needs some AB's with runners on base, and the riot needs to hit if front of someone that can drive him in.
So I guess that pretty much puts me in the camp with those that want to see some lineup changes. But really, I don't think that there should necessarily be a set batting order, so-to-speak. I'm more of the opinion that different guys in the order should be ready to hit in different spots in the order based on the matchups and how the other players on the team are hitting at the time. But I'll throw a couple potential batting orders out there that I would like to see used:
vs RHP --> Riot - Fuku - Sori - MB - Aram - DLee - Font - Hill/Soto - P
vs LHP --> Riot - DLee- Sori - MB - Aram - Hill/Soto - Reed J - Miles - P
On a day when the city was still in euphoria over one of the biggest trades in Chicago sports history, another trade made months ago was made to look even worse than it was at the time because of the release of another player. I am talking about the release of Chad Gaudin. This was obviously the right move and many of us saw this coming from a mile away. Gaudin was pretty bad this spring and really since he came to the Cubs in July. The only reason I was kind of hoping he would stick around would be so that the DeRosa trade would still make sense. Now that Gaudin was released, it makes the DeRo' trade look even worse than it did in January. At the time, people justified the trade by saying that they sold high on DeRosa because of the season he had last year and that they needed to cut salary to get Bradley. Honestly, DeRosa was pretty damn good in the WBC and probably will have a similar season this year as he did last year so selling high is something I can say they did not. He is just good. The other reason, $$$, just took a hit. They traded DeRosa's $5.5 million dollar salary for three players whose contracts totaled $1.2 million. Then they signed Miles for $2.5 million. This led to a net gain of $1.8 million, plus 3 players who many scouts say will never see the majors. Today, though, the Cubs released Gaudin and his $2 million dollar salary for...NOTHING! Great job Cubbies management. You could have released Gaudin at the end of last season and it would have cost you what? 400K? We knew that Lou didn't really like Gaudin so why give him a chance at $2 million? There is no good reason. We knew he didn't stand a chance. So in the end, the Cubs gained roughly 200K and three players who probably won't amount to anything by trading DeRosa. A lot of people have criticized the Bears this week for giving up a lot for Cutler, but at least they aren't the Cubs who gave up a lot for, well, nothing.
Anyone local around here...I have tickets to the penultimate regular season game on 10/3 versus the Diamondbacks. My friend scheduled her wedding for the day (!!). GAAAAAAH! Does ANYONE have tickets for the 10/2 or 10/4 game they would want to swap with me? Below are the details for the tickets I have.
Pleeeeeease. I am desperate. I bought these (before I heard about the wedding) because I wanted to be there for one of the last regular season games.
Diamondbacks at Cubs
Terrace Reserved Outfield
206-3 2011 $24.00ADULT
206-3 2012 $24.00ADULT
Total Convenience Fee for 2 seats $9.80(includes 9.00% sales tax)
Price for 2 seats $57.80
The Cubs Batting order Would look a lot better like this
1.Ryan Theriot ( I feel that all around The Riot is best fitted for the leadoff hitter he had a solid 387 OBP, He is good for 20 to 25 stolen bases, He has good speed to score a lot of runs, and He can not any worse than Soriano is as a leadoff hitter.) Bats Righty
2.Mike "The Fonz" Fontonot ( This and the Fact we added Bradley are the only reason's I am not mad because we got rid of DRO. I think Fontonot will hit 20+ HR's will continue to Have A really hi OBP and will hit a lot of Doubles Setting him up for a lOT of Runs. He almost has to much power to be here but if not here than he will be slotted for way farther down in the order I want him to have as many as At bats as possible.) Bats Lefty
3. A-ram ( I believe A-ram is our most clutch hitter. I think he will get a lot more RBI's Without D Lee hitting into so many Double Plays, and The Riot and The Fonz who will be in front of him will be On Base Machines. We basically know what we are getting out A-Ram 25-35 Homeruns, 110+ Rbi's. I am not setting A-ram batting 3rd in stone but I think its worth a try.) Bats Righty
4.M Bradley ( I think Bradley will be the best all around hitting Chicago Cubs in 2009. I think he IF healthy is capable of hitting 30+ HR's A lot of RBIs.) Bat Lefty
5. A- Soriano ( Soriano's Average might go down here but either way he is going to swing for the fences. We might as well let him swing for the fences with people on base. Not to mention we put him as Leadoff hitter because he gets so called fastballs yet he seems to strike out a lot on of breaking balls outside.) Bats Righty
6. Derek Lee ( I think Derek Lee is on the downside of his Career. I hope I am wrong But I just don't see him breaking 25 HRs, Or even 300 Batting AVG this year. He should Be put down into the order.) Bats Righty
7. Geovanny Soto( On a lot of other clubs he would bat 5th or 4th Which For being in a 7 spot is amazing to say the least. I think his production from last year will rise 20-30%.) Bats righty
8. Koske Fukudome ( We can only Hope for Fukudome. Best Case scenerio Fukudome can rebound and have really good production. Worse Case scenerio he can struggle and can sit and Reed Johnson Can fill in and be really good. In my opinion it takes Cross country players at least 2 years to feel comfortable and My HOMEYY will recover and have a solid 275-285 avg with 15 stolen bases and 15 HR's.) Bats Lefty
In Conclusion My Batting Lineup Goes Like this... Batters Bat. R,L,R,L,R,R,R,L,P.
In Late Game Innings that would be a tough call for a manager to put a lefty or a righty in the game.
please no more "process of thinking aloud" colums. They are stupid.
coming in July --> The Cubs 7 man Rotation
A friendly note to all readers of this blog
(pan in on Kurt Evans, sitting in a stage built to look like an office. Behind the hastily constructed faux window is a poorly painted landscape done either in expressionist style, or by a 7 year old. Kurt is wearing a plaid suit jacket with navy dress pants and red suede pumas on his feet)
Hi there. My name is Kurt Evans. You may have seen me in such idiot op-ed pieces like "How to Blog" parts 1 through 5, and "The Spring Training Championship Series."
(stands up, walks around desk and sits down on it)
Today, I'd like to talk to you about my attitude toward readers like you.
(turns left to camera set up at stage right)
Hi, Goat Reader. You know I love ya. Without you guys, I'd be shoutin' into an empty room. I'd be a tree fallin' down in an empty woodland area in the heartland of America. I'd be nothin', Goat Reader. Nothin' at all.
(turns right to camera set up at stage left)
But let me tell ya somethin'. Between bouts of alcoholism and dementia, my daddy was a wise man. And he told me somethin' once that I never forgot. He said "never give them what they think they want." Or maybe that was Stan Lee. Either way, he was right.
(stands up, walks stage left to face a map of the United States of America that appears to have been made before 1948)
We got a lotta readers out there, all over this country and its ...48 States. We got readers who sleep with a King James under their pillow and we got readers who enjoy having sword fights with dirty dildos. We got readers who've lost body parts due to money owed to the mafia and we've got readers whose strongest cuss word is "gosh, heck, and tarnation." In other words, we're servin' a lot of people with many different loves, hates, and standards of decency.
(rips map off the wall, crumples it, and throws it to the ground)
And they can all cower beneath a shower - nay, a shellfire - of righteous hellfire if they think they can tell me what to write about! By gawd, I ain't exactly doin' this for the money! Lemme tell ya, Goat Reader, bloggin' is a time wastin', money suckin' occupation and all those rumors of hot groupies gone wild and week-long coke benders are flat out mostly untrue!
Content ain't easy to create, my friends, but if you come here daily only to discover that we're posting weekly, by gawd you won't be comin' here much longer!
(wags finger disparagingly)
No, we gotta feed the beast! We gotta sing the song! We gotta tap the dance! So sometimes, in those long, cold months where the only story to report on is whether or not Paul Bako's gonna be a Cub again, sometimes we gotta come up with stuff! So we grab on an idea, a concept, a horrible, depressing, embarrassing viewpoint and sweet Jesus we write about it!
(starts jumping up and down emphatically)
We write the crap out of it! We turn it into a five part series! We invite reader discorse on it! And maybe it's somethin' as stupid as whether or not Mark Grace should be a Hall of Famer, or on creatin' your own blog, or -- Sweet Hallelujah! -- sometimes we hypothesize over a really bad idea like using 10 starters to pitch through all your games instead of relying on a solid, dependable crew of relief pitchers! And I'll tell ya somethin', Goat Readers, I'll shoot ya
(points finger at camera)
If you don't appreciate it and start to complain, by gawd we'll just do it again in order to spite ya! Because nobody is sitting behind you right now with a gun pointed to your head forcing you to read this, unless you happen to be that reader who has already lost body parts to the mafia. If you're that guy anything can be happening right now!
(returns to desk, sits down behind it)
But please, don't take it personal, Goat Reader. If my own mother, gawd rest her soul (she's still alive) were to say somethin' like "I don't like all those pictures of boobies you have," even though she woulda accidentally have gone to goatriders dot com and we don't post pictures of boobies here, I'd probably post pictures of boobies just to teach her a lesson!
After all, if we don't usually do the things you don't like, then chances are we won't do them again too soon if you just ignore it when it happens! (And, on the other hand, if you more-often-than-not hate what we do, then you shouldn't be reading this blog anyway.) But if you say at random "another (insert thing you hate here)? I HATE that! Please stop doing that!" Then I can promise you a minimum of one grudge post on that very topic within 24 hours. That's just the way we roll, buddy.
Thanks, Goat Reader, for takin' the time to hear me out. Oh, and if the Cubs decided to go with a 7-man rotation, I think it'd look like this:
With a 6 man bullpen of ...
Aaron Miles (he's pitched before)
I bet the'd do AWESOME!
It will never happen. I don't even think it should happen. I'm not saying I want it to happen. I'm prefacing this post with that, and it will also be how I finish the post for one reason: there will be somebody who reads this idea of mine and thinks I'm serious, and will take time from his/her otherwise extremely busy day to scold me because it's so ridiculous.
Over in the GROTA shout box, we've been talking about pitching decisions. One reader made the point that if the Cubs traded for Peavy, then Sean Marshall would have to be demoted back to the bullpen - eliciting a series of "duhs" from the listening audience. But this got me thinking ...
What if a team essentially went with a 10 man pitching staff, comprised entirely of starters? They would all be pitchers relegated to entering games on certain days, regardless of match-ups, and they would throw a certain number of innings regardless of consequences. Think about it.
There would be 5 pitchers responsible for starting regularly. They would throw a maximum of 5 innings per start. Never more, never less (unless they were just getting rocked).
After 5 innings pitched, no matter what the score, the "relief pitcher" would come in and throw the remaining 4 innings of the game.
In other words, the 5 starters, if healthy, would average about 160 innings a year. No arm strain there. The 5 relievers would average about 128 innings pitched a year.
For example, if it were to happen this year, it would probably resemble something like this:
Innings 1-5 Carlos Zambrano; Innings 6-9 Sean Marshall
Innings 1-5 Ryan Dempster; Innings 6-9 Neal Cotts
Innings 1-5 Ted Lilly; Innings 6-9 Chad Gaudin
Innings 1-5 Rich Harden; Innings 6-9 Jeff Samardzija
Innings 1-5 Aaron Heilman; Innings 6-9 Kevin Hart
A few factors to note with this ridiculous concept:
- If the starter is a righty, if possible the reliever should be a lefty
- If the game goes to extra innings, the reliever should be capable of throwing into the 12th inning. After that point, it might be necessary to have an 11th spot reliever/starter to step in and go the rest of the distance, however long it might take.
The basic premise of this concept is that starting pitchers are, on a whole, supposed to be better than relievers. Obviously there are relievers who are outstanding at their roles - Carlos Marmol - but it would be a way to 1. save the arms of your starters and 2. get you as many as 3 or 4 saves leaders per season, because any time those relievers inherited a game with a lead, they'd likely be up for the save.
Of course, it would never work. No pitcher would want to be a part of that program. Even if it was a sound concept - and it's not - and your team won, say, 100 games with this kind of pitching staff, the wins would be very evenly distributed between the 10 pitchers on the staff. Your "ace" might have 12 wins, 15 at the most, but since wins mean money he wouldn't want to pitch in such a regulated manner.
Meanwhile, your relievers would all want to be starters themselves and even if they averaged between 10-20 saves each, they'd be pretty unhappy with their situations.
Besides, it will never happen. I don't even think it should happen. I'm not even saying I want it to happen. This is just a process of thinking aloud about a very strange and stupid concept.