Yep, Carlos Marmol pitched like he was distracted, and Kevin Gregg fed Jeff Francoeur a succulent piece of meat, and I think enough time has passed - after 2 months, I am calling Milton Bradley an unqualified fraud!
But perhaps if Geo Soto coulda dropped his big fat ass down and blocked strike three, maybe there wouldn't be a guy on first when Francoeur launched his rocket, and perhaps we get out of there with a win.
I am so gatdamn sick of his act this year! Hendry and Piniella have hurt this team by not effectively addressing Soto's shortcomings, and in effect, the rest of the underperforming bums on this squad (Fontenot, Soriano, Zambrano to name a few) feel no pressure to improve.
I'm not calling the time of death yet - there is still time to win this division if Hendry makes some moves, and if Piniella gets off his ass and provides some leadership. But simply stated, this particular team, as comprised, will be lucky to finish third. Unless drastic measures are made, what you see is what you will get, all year.
NO, NO, NO, no, no!! You're all doing it all wrong!!!
So, how are you all enjoying your Memorial Day weekend so far? (For Canucks such as Kurt, the fourth weekend in May here in America is set aside for...) Ok, Kurt is actually here somewhere in the lower 48, and of course he grew up in New York, and that's probably the last attempt at humor from me for the rest of this post, because this shit just ain't working. I came out here after the first 20 games, I think we were 11-9, and I pointed out that Geo Soto was fat and sassy, that Milton Bradley completely had his head stuck up his ass, and that Derrek Lee's best days are absolutely behind him, and you all flamed me up one side and down the other, leaving me with a nice charred crust with very little pink in the middle, because by gawd, it's only TWENTY games, give guys a chance, for cripes sake!!
Now, it's forty games in, we're 21-19, which means we've played .500 ball since that last post. I did what you said, I gave them a chance to work things out, and what's happened since?
- Geo Soto still ain't hit dick
- Milton Bradley is still pressing
- Derrek Lee is not only still struggling, but he's now doing it in the cleanup spot
- and, now, we've exposed Mike Fontenot for what HE is, useful as a backup, but not capable of hitting on an everyday basis
- and, as an added bonus, Ryan Theriot has gotten away from what HE does best (go to right field) and he's swinging for the fences, with the predictable result of a plummeting batting average, on-base percentage, and overall usefulness
- and, of course, Aramis Ramirez' shoulder is still fusing itself back into one piece
- and, we now have not one, but two useless utility men burning at-bats and butchering plays in the field. Sometimes, the Orioles aren't stupid, and I know pretty much the Cardinals aren't.
But what worries me the most is looking at Lou Piniella night after night. There is a noticeable cognitive difference in him from 2007 to today. His job is stressful - particularly when he has come so close twice, and have it all slip away so suddenly and completely. This job turns people. When Dusty Baker hit town, he was all California Cool. By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin. When Don Baylor hit town, he was all New Age Enthusiasm. By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin. When Jim Riggleman hit town, he acted like the slimy horndog he was. By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin, which was probably somewhat based in reality, considering his typical nighttime activities. (When he and Mark Grace left town, it left a lot of dental hygenists and flight attendants in their mid-30s unfulfilled)
Now, Lou don't talk like he's in pain, but I have talked to people trained in diagnosing dementia, and they notice how he can't seem to put a coherent sentence together when he is asked a question. He is probably the most confused man in Chicago presently, and not only does that explain why Neal Cotts still has a job, it doesn't bode well for the immediate future of the Cubs. I have backed this man since day one, but I can no longer.
Hendry ain't gonna fire him, no way. But I don't believe Lou has an answer for 2009, and in the meantime, we are wasting some decent-to-good starting pitching. Man, I still think getting Jake Peavy would send a message, but Adrian Gonzalez would look a HELL of a lot better in pinstripes. Too bad he ain't available...
When I graduated with my journalism degree part of me thougth it would be great to meaningful columns about baseball. There is something grand about weaving wonderful stories about players and the game they play, but every so often a writer just ticks me off.
Today while my students were watching To Kill a Mockingbird, I read through various sites about the Cubs. I came across a little article by Steve Rosenbloom. His stuff has always been shallow, and I'm not sure, in this day and age, why he still has a job.
Today's article deals with Milton Bradley, and his decision to stand up for himself and appeal his suspension. His short lashing of Bradley states, says that Bradley should've done the noble thing and just took the punishment when he was dinged up. He calls out Bradley for hurting the Cubs by waiting.
This part really cracks me up:
Instead, he’ll miss today’s game against Houston when the Cubs’ offense needs every bat it can find, especially Bradley’s, especially after his home run against San Diego that alerted NASA, especially with Aramis Ramirez out and Derrek Lee looking for his first hit in 10 days.
All because Bradley “had to stand up for myself.’’
Ok, other than his love for the word especially, what is Rosebloom saying here? First off, the Cubs scored 11 runs yesterday without Lee, Bradley and Ramirez. They were still able to draw walks and get extra base hits. Did he miss yesterday? Second, we all know that Bradley is going to miss time, so we might as well get used to it. Luckily, Kosuke Fukudome and Micah Hoffpauir have played well during this time.
I know the media loves to pick on Bradley, but did Rosenbloom see the play where Bradley got tossed? I have no problem letting a player appeal, because it is his right to do so. Isn't this America? Don't we have a chance to stand up for ourselves? Does anybody get the point of this article?
The only thing I can up with is that it Milton took his coco puffs one time and didn't forgive him for it. More likely, Rosenbloom is just the lastest writer that thinks that Milton's bad reputation must be called out all the time. This is just another example of a paid journalist being too full of themselves to write meaningful work. Is there any wonder why people visit places like GROTA instead of reading newspapers?
Don't Hit Daddy is in the news because he apparently believes that the press corps are trying to make him snap. This comes on the heels of perhaps the worst possible month he could've had in his start as a Chicago Cub - 1 for 23 with a sore groin.
I made a note yesterday (or maybe the day before, I'm having a senior moment*) that if Bradley had 520 at bats on the season (still a possibility) he would need to bat .311 from here on out to be a .300 hitter on the season. Point is, his year is hardly lost because he started it batting 1 for 23.
(*a senior moment is an instance of forgetfulness brought on by drinking as excessively as would a high school senior)
I think it's a constant complaint by athletes (and celebrities, for that matter) that the press invents or exaggerates stories to fill column inches. Maybe they have a point, but I don't think the Cubs press corp is trying to create a volatile situation with Milton. It's more likely that they're just reporting what they see - a new Cub with a history of violence starts slow, gets hurt, feels so frustrated he doesn't talk to the press about it, and gets suspended and appeals it out of "principle." (Which really goes back to my earlier point that he refused to adjust his approach in that Notorious At Bat out of that same sense of principle, but we'll call it what it really is: stubbornness.)
Anyway, I think it's pretty inevitable that Bradley will get seriously hurt sometime, that he will snap at the media sometime, that he will alienate the fanbase sometime, and that he will also put up ridiculous numbers which cause shock and awe from the idiots in the bleachers sometime.
The only issue is the continued problem of the start of the season - everything happens under a microscope. Nobody will really worry when Aramis Ramirez goes 0 for 30 in early August, but if he started the year 0 for 30 we'd be crapping our collective drawers.
Besides, Bradley does actually have a bit of a point. The journos at the Trib, Times, and Herald do need to fill column inches. Not to mention that if they are doing their jobs right, then Cub Fan Nation will always have a minor sense of panic and concern with the state of the team - be they 50-100 or 100-50. But maybe he shouldn't take it personally. Any player in his situation would receive the same treatment. If it was revealed tomorrow that Carlos Zambrano hates pink ballerina costumes, and that somebody wore one to the park on a day the Moose was pitching then you know that some jabrone journalist would write about it.
So, Milton. Relax. You're not receiving special treatment; you're just another sentence in the story.
Cubs journalists. Relax. If we can find compelling stuff to write about without trying to cause a general sense of urgency and drama then you, the paid professional, can certainly do it too - and better.
And Cubs fans. Relax. If you're buying into the panic right now and are worried about anything, (even, say, the stupidity of one Lou Piniella) then you. Are. An idiot. It's so early in the year that the Pirates have a winning record! Can't we enjoy the wins, shrug off the losses, and wait for the team to start rolling?
Y'all called me out on a couple of things yesterday that has pretty much pissed me off and literally caused me to lose sleep. And out of everything in life, my wife and kids, the Cubs, ribeye steaks with thick marbleing...the most important thing in my life is a good nights sleep, Because if I don't get it...I GET cranky. Yep, even more so than usual.
One of the things, though, I got to give you. I do not lose gracefully. Yep, I was the same guy who preached about "earned autonomy" when we were 5-2. Then, when we lost two games in a row, I'm bitchin' about Geo Soto and his lack of productivity. There's a reason why I am like this, I've told you before, and you all dismissed it. When I've told you about the literal thousands of losses I have seen in my life, about how each and every one has worn my psyche down just a little bit, like the millions of years of erosion allowed the Colorado River to carve out the Grand Canyon? Well, all you twenty-somethings, who didn't live through the 70's and early 80's (and in some cases, the Jim Essian era and the Tom Treblehorn era), told me to get over it, that none of that has any bearing on THIS year's team, blah blahdey blah.
I guess all I can say about this topic is, hey, if you can forget about the past, file it away in its own compartment, and just focus on 2009, well God bless you, my friend. I WISH I could do that. I will admit right here and now that your point of view is no less valid than my own. Twenty years from now, look me up, and we'll talk.
The second topic, that I commented on last night, but I found to be intellectually unsatisfying, is the notion amongst many of you, including some Founders of this Site, is that aggressiveness at the plate = Corey Patterson-esque failure. Uh, did you happen to see noted Plate Aggressor Alfonso Soriano start out Opening Day with a bomb? And then win last Saturday's game with a bomb? Then win yesterday's game with yet another bomb?
The game is full of "Bad ball hitters", from Kirby Puckett and Tony Gwynn to Vlad Guerrero to Ichiro. Soriano is another one. So was the Great Sammy Sosa so many of you cut your teeth with. Remember Manny's bomb he hit off of Sean Marshall last year? Wasn't six inches off the ground when it left his bat?
Point is, I believe that many of you are radical disciples of the OBP, and being fans of this team over the years, I can't really blame you. God knows we needed somebody to come along after the Baylor and Baker years. Yes, we lost many hundreds of games the past ten years because we could not hit situationally; we had no ability to draw a walk to put runners on bases; and we had bucket-dragging mopes like CPat to swing with wild abandon at any pitch thrown his way. I myself have been out here several years railing on about the Cubs' inability to situationally hit. I was like a proud papa last year when we led the majors most of the year in OBP. It had never happened before in ANY of our lifetimes, and to conclude, I am just as happy as you are that plate discipline is now a priority in the Cubs organization.
I will even go as far as to insist for most Cubs hitters, that plate discipline remain the TOP priority in their game. For the Theriots and Johnsons and Fukudomes of the world, OBP is the biggest weapon in their game, and I don't want to be construed as someone who wants to eradicate OBP.
But back to situational hitting. When you are one of our "power" people, with runners on the bases and the game on the line, what the situation calls for is a big hit. It may be different if, say, a Ryan Theriot walks up with bases loaded, one out, 8th inning, in a tie game. The chances of him hitting a bases-clearing long ball are slim to none. If the pitcher then starts off with three balls, then I would expect him to be cautious with the next one or two pitches.
Milton Bradley, I understand, his just as well known for his OBP as he is for his SLG. If you lined up our 13 position players in order of discipline vs. power, he straddles the fence in the middle. But when he noticed that he got boned on the call for strike one, he needs to shift his thinking. He is an intelligent man, and is capable of thinking on his feet. And, we don't know, whether or not he had any history with this particular pitch-caller. Probably, knowing him, he has. So he HAS to realize that in this particular instance, his personal strike zone has been somewhat expanded. That means that his usual sense of pitch perceptions cannot be relied on anymore, which means that he needs to protect the plate with his BAT! He needs to swing at anything close, and concentrate on putting it in play in a region of the field that will produce some runs.
In other words, shift from being a discerning hitter to an aggressive one.
No, not THAT, the goats cry. You've just turned Milton Bradley into Corey Patterson!!
You know, I hope that isn't true. I hope Bradley has more skill than Patterson. For what I told Byron last night still sounds good to me today. It wasn't that Patterson swung at bad pitches - it was that he couldn't hit them. Patterson's main problem was that he had no idea what he was trying to do out there - he just wanted to swing as hard as he could. That works just fine for Zambrano, but when you occupy 600 plate appearences a year, you need a plan. I give Bradley credit for having an idea about his at-bats. However, if his plan on Thursday was taking a walk, well, I think he needs to be a bit more ambitious. We're not paying him to take bases-loaded walks.
We still have some work to do before we can call ourselves a division-winning team, let alone a 110-win team. Kurt is right, Soto is getting a free pass so far. Not any longer. I never thought I would say this, but so far this spring, we're a better team with Three-Finger Hill. And as for Marshall, maybe a lot of teams would LOVE to get five innings from their fifth starters. But pennant contenders are going to need a lot more than that, and I hope Marshall isn't satisfied with his first start. I'm not.
Watching the highlights on the 6 o'clock news can be dangerous. All I was able to see was the last pitch in the Bradley sequence, which at first glance was miserable, and I came out here and spouted off about it. Then, I was fortunate enough to not only see the mopes on "Baseball Tonight" break down the sequence, but in a strange twist of fate, I bopped over one channel to FSN Midwest (St. Louis), where no doubt they re-ran the game all night long, and it was right at Bradley's AB with the count 3-0. Remember, bases loaded, one out, tie game.
On 3-0, the ump rang him up on a pitch 3 inches inside and low. Well, ok, you figure Bradley's been struggling, the Cubs have been the beneficiaries of several bases-loaded walks lately, and it was a ball. Fair enough, he took it, and the ump called it a strike anyway, which suggests to one and all that maybe there's a little history right here between the two human beings.
Let's briefly skip over to strike three, which the smug c-suckers on FSN Midwest were just RAVING about. Today in St. Louie, they're singing the praises of the Brave Adam Wainright, who fought back from 3-0 with bases loaded with two "pitchers" pitches, and a "gutsy call" for the big curve. Hey, it WAS a gutsy call, and yes, the curve DID break a good foot and a half. It was also inside.
But here's what I came out here this morning to bitch about - what about Strike 2? The only strike Wainright threw in the sequence? Yes, it was a 'pitchers pitch', on the low inside corner of the plate. The part of the strike zone where Ted Williams liked the least, I still vividly see his diagrams of the zone, along with the colored baseballs that signify his 'hot' zones and 'cold' zones. That lower corner was one of his cold zones, no pun intended, cryogenic boy.
But as for Milton, dude, 3-1 is also considered to be a 'hitters count' in decent society. And we're paying you $10 million this year, along with the next two, to hit the baseball on hitters counts. It was a good pitch, but you're supposedly a good hitter, and based on the events of strike one, you know the ump ain't giving you dick, so you know you're not going to get the call. Like last year when I went off on Derrek Lee for habitually waiting for walks when aggressiveness was called for, I am calling YOU out today, Anger Boy, for sitting like a lump and watching that pitch go by. TAKE CHARGE, dammit!! Make the decision that you are going to make something happen with that bat, and put that thing in play, preferably somewhere in the outfield.
I guess Lee is starting to hit again, so there is still hope that Bradley (and Soto) isn't going to hit .050 all year. But so far, all we have to work with is what we've seen, and we're damn lucky to have won 5 games.
That was a BRUTAL call on the 3-2 pitch to Bradley, and you all should realize by now that I wouldn't say it if it weren't true. If I were him, I'd probably do exactly the same thing he did. I will NOT judge him for getting ejected from the game. The ump should be ashamed of himself.
That having been said, where in the Hell is Lou? Maybe if the players felt like their manager had their back in the field, they wouldn't waste THEIR time and effort arguing. Lou, I've been your guy since day one, but like the principal in "Hoosiers" after Norman Dale loses the first three games, I'm beginning to wonder if you know what you're doing.
I’m a bit embarrassed this got past me yesterday, but Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a disturbing feature that I’d like to comment on today. In said feature, Wittenmyer wonders how a potentially volatile African American player like Milton Bradley will interact with a notoriously racist Wrigley crowd.
Now here’s a full disclaimer here before I get started. I'm a white male of upper middle class status. I have never experienced any racism directed at me in my life and I have not participated in any racism directed at others. That does not, however, mean I am ignorant towards its existence.
It’s no secret that there is racism at Wrigley (and all across baseball for that matter), but perhaps I’ve been too naive to realize its full extent at our “Friendly” Confines. In the Sun-Times article, Wittenmyer wrote that several African Americans - including Jaque Jones, LaTroy Hawkins and Dusty Baker - have been on the receiving end of racial slurs, hate mail and even physical threats while being members of the Cubs.
In the last five seasons alone, Cubs outfielder Jacque Jones and pitcher LaTroy Hawkins said they were the targets of racist taunts and fan mail. Jones also said in 2006 that he became the victim of racial slurs and threats on his cell phone when the number got out.
Former Cubs manager Dusty Baker said that same season that he received enough threatening, racist mail in Chicago that his wife and young son no longer would attend games. - Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun-Times
The article even said that current Angels outfielder Torii Hunter openly admitted to placing the Cubs on his no-trade list a few years ago for this very reason.
And the cherry on top of the racist sundae (which I’m sure is made with vanilla ice cream) is that the story ran on Jackie Robinson Day. While every team in the majors was celebrating the color barrier that Robinson broke, our fan base was been singled out as proponents of the very racism that kept black players out of this great game.
Now I know not all Cubs fans are racist. In fact, I truly believe there is only a small percentage of fans out there who would participate in such abuse. But we don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to being racially tolerant at Wrigleyville.
Currently, there are 11 players on the Cubs roster who are not white (12 if you count David Patton...clear is not the same as being white). Those players are Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol, Angel Guzman, Luis Vizcaino, Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Milton Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome, Joey Gathright and Alfonso Soriano.
That’s a really high portion of this Cubs team that does not look like you Mr. or Ms. White Cubs Fan. Hell, some of them don’t even speak the same language as you - so your racism is probably falling on deaf ears anyways. But regardless of your personal feelings to those who look different than what you see in the mirror, why hate them? These players represent you and your city. How much do you think they like playing for people who openly hate them because of their skin color? Seems that you are creating quite the contradiction. You want your team to win yet you hate some of the players so much as to threaten them? Hmmm.
Also, might I mention that you are paying the salaries of these minorities so they can go out and buy minority things and participate in minority events and support their minority families that will eventually produce more minorities? For every ticket, hat, hot dog and beer (aka racism fuel for some of you) that you buy, your hard earned dollars go into the pockets of minority players on the Cubs. So here’s a novel idea for all you racists out there: Stop buying tickets and Cubs paraphernalia. Stop coming to the games and stop wearing Cubbie blue. In essence, stop being a Cubs fan. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
Now I’ve been involved with some friendly heckling before. Sure, the language could reach rated-R levels at times, but I never went after someone because of their skin color. You might dislike someone for what they do or how badly they play, but it is not OK to hate someone because they have a different pigmentation. Grow up already.
I’m calling out all Cubs fans right now to act. If you hear an individual using hateful, racially charged language towards anyone (Cubs player, opposing player, fans) at a Cubs game then please ask security to remove them from the stadium. I’m all for free speech, but your lack of compassion and understanding for human life has no place in our stadium. Just stay home if you’re going to be like that and yell at your TV.
You know, a friend and I were once talking about what is the worst thing a white person can be called by someone else. There is a very nasty word that starts with “N” that African Americans are called, but what is the equivalent for white people? After much debate, we decided there was no word that came even close to the “N” word, but rather there is a term that labels whites as something terrible. That term is “racist”, and just one is one too many in Cubdom. If you’re a racist, get out.
Get out of our stadium, get out of our bars, get out of our fan base. And never come back.
It was a very happy day in my little world. The Cubs - The Chicago Cubs, mind you - had passed on a couple of safer* options in Bobby Abreu or Adam Dunn and settled on one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball, Milton Bradley.
(* and by "safer", I mean worse. And by "worse" I mean "stupid". And by stupid, well, I really just mean worse...that wasn't nice of me, calling them stupid.)
Yeah, he's not as fan friendly as the guy traded to clear budget room for MB, but apparently that's not the deciding factor anymore. For a team that's historically been built on a foundation of image-first and winning second, this was a bold move.
Holy Crap, you might have said, the Cubs just bought high on a guy coming off an Arlington-inflated season and now he has to try and translate this to the Friendly Confines! Oh Noes! But then you realized that Wrigley, as recently as 2007, was a better hitter's park than The Ballpark at Arlington and last year only lagged a bit behind in offensive assistance.
Oh. Right. But, you might have said, he's never approached those numbers before. What do you think of that, Mr. Happy Pants?
Well, I would say that his 163 OPS+ (63% better than league average) was totally his best season ever with the bat ever in history ever...except for the year before, when he posted a 167 OPS+ (although in limited playing time). For you bean counters and stats mongers out there, 167 is a bigger number than 163. Oh, and don't call me Mr. Happy Pants.
Oh, sure, right. That's great. Use the season where he only played 42 games. (That's what you say) Me? I say, okay, let's look at a couple other seasons. How about 2003 when he had a 145 OPS+ or 2006 when he had a 153 OPS+? This is hardly his first time rolling with the big bats.
And finally, how about this spring? Sure, spring training stats don't mean blah blah blah, but he's hitting .468 with 4 homers, 5 doubles, and an amazing 1367 OPS. That's really good, and all while playing in the field (something which some have said he can't handle). So yeah, while spring stats maybe not matter, I'm still happy to see him tearing the cover off the ball.
So, in summary: Milton Bradley hit good.
If you've ever read a Chicago paper or listened to a Chicago Sports Talkie, then you may have heard some mention of Bradley's "attitude". Of course, you probably didn't hear much about his "winning" attitude or his "self confident" attitude. No, they probably just left it at "bad". Supposedly, Bradley has a bad attitude. Is this true? Well, I'm not going to pretend to have an real insight, but I will say that one should tread lightly when judging Bradley based on what you hear in the media.
A bit back, I wrote a bit about my interpretation of his "acts of aggression." Mainly I felt that nothing Bradley had done was all that outrageous (and perhaps even justified) and I posted a quote from an article Milton Bradley himself wrote in the NY Times.
As a 16-year-old sophomore at Long Beach Polytechnic High School in
California, I could only dream there would be days like that one. I
knew I wanted to be a major leaguer. Following in the footsteps of the
great Tony Gwynn (Poly’s most esteemed baseball alumnus) I feel like
I’ve finally arrived. Taking the field in the Big Apple for the final
year of historic Yankee Stadium, where so many greats have stood before
me, I am humbled. This is why Jackie Robinson endured unspeakable hate
and prejudice. So I — some 60 odd years later — have the opportunity to
play this great game of baseball. So I can stand up and be recognized.
So I can be proud to be who I am. So I can be proud to be an American.
To me, that sounds pretty good. And coming from a lot of players, that would turn him into a saint. But not Bradley. No, MB continues to be portrayed in the media as a bad, angry, troublemaking guy. And I think the folks over at ACB might have figured out why he's constantly portrayed negatively. Here's a quote from Paul Sullivan explaining why he might find it hard to be impartial with regards to MB:
“That’s the whole thing of our jobs. We’re human and people that treat
us nicer probably get better coverage. The people, you know, that are
rude to us.. I don’t want to say Milton was rude but he certainly
wasn’t very nice to me. You know they’re not always going to get the
best coverage. So….You try and be an objective person but uh, you know, we are human, ...so.”
Um, yeah. That's a good point, Paul. We can't expect a journalist to be impartial. That would be MADNESS. I know Sullivan is supposed to be a friend to GROTA and that's cool, but this is a fairly insane comment. I don't care if you're human, Paul. Try just being a professional.
So, my point is, just try to take everything you hear from the mainstream media with a grain of salt, because they are biased. And an admittedly biased reporter is only going to be giving you a slanted account of a players actions (as broken down nicely in that ACB post).
So, in summary, Milton Bradley is a very scary man...in the batters box. He hits the little baseball thing with his bat very hard and he makes it travel very far. Which is nice. With regards to everything else, who cares? To paraphrase what Charles Barkley famous said, these people aren't heroes. Let them play baseball and let's all stop worrying abot how they act off the field.
God knows you wouldn't want the public to know what you do with your private time.
And yes, we all know about that. And it's disgusting.
So please stop.