Memo to Sun-Times headline writers – when your headline is:
You leave me, the reader, expecting… well, results, not to put too fine a point on it. So when you say:
The response to our Hottest Fans contest has been so overwhelming --nearly 7 million online page views and nearly 40,000 votes (Cubs fans leading with 61 percent) that we've decided to extend the voting through the end of the season.
Do you know what you’ve just done? That’s right, you’ve lied to me. Me and thousands of others like me. Also, by the way…
…this guy is not “hot.” This guy looks like he’s auditioning for the direct-to-video Sean Of The Dead sequel. And I really want to tell you, Goat Reader, that I had to go digging for this sort of entry. But unlike Sun-Times headline writers, I will not lie to you; that’s pretty representative of the quality of this whole enterprise.
Well, as you by now are aware, the White Sox are in town, if by town you mean Chicago. Which, I guess they’re in town as often as the Cubs are, but normally I’m not required to care. And, to be frank, I’m still not sure I care. Okay, sure, the White Sox are six games on the schedule that I’d rather win than lose, but that’s true of pretty much every game on the schedule. And even if they sometimes sound like they’re run by the winners of the Idiot Triathlon, they seem to have a competitive club on the field.
But not living in Chicago, I don’t feel about this series the way a lot of others do; I get a lot more excited about Cubs-Cards and Cubs-Brewers. So the hype far surpasses the reality for me.
But I just have to say, the crosstown series (Bruce Miles implores you not to refer to it as a “Classic") does provide one more reminder that the Sox may well be one of the least classy organizations in baseball. To wit:
''We'll all be bringing our nose plugs, try not to smell all the urine over there,'' [pitcher John] Danks said Thursday. ''Nah, we're looking to have fun over there, but that place is a [bleep] hole.''
And that’s just one example. I’ll concede that the facilities at Wrigley are antiquated and in need of repairs, but as a grown man, talking to the press about your job, do you really need to talk like that? I'm far from a Puritan when it comes to how I talk, but seriously, how can you figure that's the right way to represent yourself in a very public forum? (I guess it doesn't hurt to have Ozzie Guillen as your boss.)
Speaking of Guillen, Mariotti has this to say about Ozzie's in-game strategy:
Normally, it's his mouth that gets him into trouble, but on this day, it was his thought process. With the Cubs looking half-asleep after arriving in the wee hours from Tampa Bay, where they were swept by the emerging Rays, Guillen should have let Danks bat to lead off the seventh. Instead, he pinch-hit for the pitcher and got nothing out of the inning anyway.
Well, the Blizzard yanked Danks anyway and inserted the sporadically reliable Octavio Dotel. You could hear the licking of chops and high-fives from the third-base dugout. Before anyone could utter ``dumb move,'' Derrek Lee and Ramirez had crushed back-to-back homers off Dotel, tying the score and turning all heads toward Ozzie in this meticulously analyzed, scrutinized series. Why go to your bullpen so soon when Danks was performing so well? Why not let Danks find a smidgen of trouble before making a move? Hadn't he retired the Cubs in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings and on one single in the sixth?
This was a case of Guillen, the attention hog, imposing his strategic ego on a game when it wasn't necessary. It would cost him tremendously in the bottom of the ninth, when Scott Linebrink, in relief of Matt Thornton, allowed a game-winning blast by Ramirez that dropped into the thatch of ivy in front of the Batter's Eye Restaurant in center field.
Mariotti is as big a yapper (to use Tango's phrase for it) as you can find in the sporting press, and he seems to know surprisingly little about just about any topic he chooses to comment on. Pitchers get worse the more pitches they throw, to the point where Dotel could well be expected to be more effective than Danks going into the seventh. And Danks, like most other pitchers, especially AL pitchers, is a horrible hitter.
The funny thing about baseball is that it's a game of failures; even the best hitters make outs more often than not, and even the best pitchers give up runs. The only thing you can do as a manager is try to put the odds in your favor - and he did that, by giving his team the best chance he could on offense and defense. Sometimes things don't work out; you have to judge a move in isolation of the short-term results.
When Mariotti asks, "Why not let Danks find a smidgen of trouble before making a move?", what he's really asking is, "Why not wait until it's too late?" The hardest thing to do is to cash in while you're ahead, to sell high. And tell me - if Ozzie leaves Danks in and he ends up giving up those runs instead of Dotel, do you think that there's no chance that Mariotti writes this instead?
Isn't it refreshing to have a manager in this town that can do more than run his mouth? The Blizzard of Oz is obviously outmatched strategically by Sweet Lou.
In the seventh inning, with a chance to spark his team's aenemic offense and put the Cubs away for good, he let the pitcher, Danks, bat for himself. Maybe he forgot what league he was in. The Sox failed to score that inning, and the rest is history.
Mariotti is truly a man without allegiance to anything, up to and including the truth. I really fail to understand how he has his job.
Expect Zambrano to go on the DL soon, in exchange for "outfielder" Eric Patterson - surprisingly enough Edmonds and Johnson are both banged up, and the Cubs are running short on outfielders - they're so desperate that they're even letting Matt Murton play! The good news is that no serious damage was found in Zambrano's shoulder.