Goatriders of the Apocalypse


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New GROTA skin

Since I'm sure that many of you are dissatisfied with the bland, old look of GROTA*, and because I had yesterday to screw around, I took the opportunity yesterday to come up with a new logo which inspired Kevin to design a new skin for the blog.

(*I actually doubt this very much. I think that the bricks and ivy design we made remains popular with everybody, even though my own preferred method of viewing the site is through the old primary colors look)

Anyway, it now exists for your consumption. Just remember ... all you have to do is click on "My account" over there in the left hand corner, select "edit," scroll down, and choose your option. Or maybe I'll just talk Kevin into turning it into the default selection for two or three days. Regardless, please give it a look and tell us what you think.

Tomorrow's plan, this year's outlook

I haven't really discussed this with anybody yet, but I think that we will roll out tomorrow a preview of what GROTA will be up to starting in April.  We've got a lot in store for you guys as we strive to be both entertaining and informative.

Tomorrow morning I will post a Series Preview topic that will cover the split-squad matchups between the Cubs and the Indians (on at 1:05 Central) and the Cubs against the White Sox (on at 8:05 CST). 

One or both of the games themselves will also be covered during a GameCast - it's not going to be anything that warrants heavy lifting, but we'll open a discussion thread for you all to post in if you want to follow the games among friends at GROTA.

After each game we'll post Game Recaps that will cover the highlights of what went down.  In the meantime, I'll have to hurry to actually make the graphics for the different post types. 

Something we'll do during the season to make the blog a little more interactive is give you guys easy access to older articles that are relevant to the game or series at hand.  For example, when the Cubs play the Cardinals for the last time in September, we'll have up a Series Preview which links back to the GameCasts and Game Recaps of their previous contests.  It's all a part of making GROTA full service which I hope you'll all enjoy quite a bit.

The Beat Report: Milton Bradley, Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot

Well, this is my second attempt at the Beat Report. Yesterday's post vanished after my school computer decided to mess up on me. The purpose of the Beat is to give some quick insight about the Cubs various beat writers, and provide some GROTA commentary.

First up at the Tribune, Paul Sullivan takes a few minutes to talk to Ron Washington about our new favorite cub Milton Bradley. Washington says that you don’t have to worry about Milton, just handle him with care. I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like worrying to me. I really hope this is just the case of Milton working out too hard this year, and he is just sore. I know that probably isn’t case, but it’s too early to become negative.

Rick Morrissey points out that Carlos Zambrano won’t be a great pitcher until he wins 20 games. Hmm….and I say Morrissey won’t be a great writer until he wins the Pulitzer Prize. We all know Big Z hasn’t won 20, but that doesn’t take away from his accomplishments. My worry with Zambrano is that he puts too much pressure on himself. With his shoulder, that is the last thing we need.

Ah, there is nothing like reading the Sun-Times in the morning. Always trying to drum up some kind of controversy each day. It usually starts with Gordon Wittenmeyer one day saying that Jeff Samardzija is getting the first shot at the 5th starter’s spot. Then, he follows it up with Sean Marshal actually already has it in the bag, etc.

Today, Gordon says that Ted Lilly might visit with Ozzie Guillen on his way to the WBC. I must have missed the part where Lilly said something two weeks ago, but he apparently ticked Ozzie off. Who doesn’t tick Ozzie off? 

In the same notebook, we find out that Rich Harden is progressing, while Andrew Cashner looking good to Lou Piniella.

Over at the Daily Herald, Bruce Miles has another one his Q and A’s about each Cub position. Today, he deals with Ryan Theriot. Not a lot of substance about “The Riot”, but he does point out that Theriot is loved by Lou and the Cub Brass. The love stops with the Baseball Prospectus.
We all know that Theriot won’t ever be Jose Reyes, but given our other options I will take him. Our other option would be a guy we shipped over to the Mariners.

Finally, the Cubs thumped the Rangers 10-4 with Micah Hoffpauir and Mike Fontenot both hitting homers in the 7-run second inning. Sam Fuld also hit a home run on his way to AAA Iowa.

That is it for today. I will take a look around the beats tomorrow.

ADDITIONAL NEWS (brought to you by Kyle): I didn't want to make my own post for this, so I thought I'd just drop it in here. The Twitterverse informs me that the Cubs signed 3B Corey Koskie to a minor league deal today. Apparently this is to bring in some competition for the backup spot behind Ramirez. It's also worth noting that Koskie had 100 RBI for the Twins in 2002.

Hello and News Roundup

Hello everybody. I wanted to get a chance to introduce myself to a few of you, while provided some news updates on the Cubs.

Like Kurt said, I've been blogging since 2003 at the Yarbage Cub Review, which I started for two reasons:

1. I wanted an outlet to talk about the Cubs, which was most important. Back in the day, Scott Lange of the Northside Lounge, Ruz of The Cub Reporter and a few others dominated the scene. I just wanted to share the opinion of one Cubs' fan from afar.

2. The second reason was much more selfish. I needed some kind of hook to get a job, and a blog about the Cubs was the trick. I wrote quite a bit in the first vew years, but as soon as I got a job covering High School sports in Arkansas it became harder to keep going. Writing full-time and keeping a blog going are two things that don't go together, unless you are blogging about the things you cover.

Now that that is out of the way, it is time to look at some stories making news. Kurt asked me to do a news round up from time-to-time, and I will try to fill that void while writing other articles.

The Trib, Suntimes and Daily Herald all say the Cubs got off to good start. The hero was Micah Hoffpauir, who hit a Grand Slam. I know it's early, but I'll take a win.

The Gordon Wittenmyer says that Jeff Samardzija's role isn't determined quite yet. Really? I know he is just trying to fill up copy, something I did back in the day, but of course Samardzija's role isn't settled. My guess is he is heading to Iowa, and will soon take Rich Harden's spot after another shoulder problem.

That's it for now, but as the news cyle starts up, I will be back to give my comments about each of them. Think of me as the GROTA Ombudsman.

Thursday morning announcement thread

First and foremost - the Cubs won the Spring opener yesterday by a score of 5-3.  The deciding factor in the win was a granny by Micah Hoffpauir, who wants to really get us worked up when the Cubs leave him off the 25-man roster no matter what numbers he puts up in Spring Training.  Much as Dusty Baker says, baseball is - or at least should be - an earn it sport, and if Hoffpauir proves that his bat can be more valuable than the gloves of So Taguchi and/or Joey Gathright, then he damn well better break camp with the team.

In other news, long-time Goat Reader AJ Walsh has started a new blog called Bench Aaron Miles!  BAM! is presently lacking in the bells and whistles, but I have already cooked up a logo for him and will be a sometimes-contributor on the site along perhaps with Goat Rider Rob.  I wish AJ all the luck in the world, although I sincerely hope that Miles is in fact benched before the Cubs leave for New York to smack around the Yankees. 

Lastly and most importantly - at least as far as GROTA is concerned - we are proud to announce that we will be adding a new writer to our staff.  Chris Yarbrough - aka Yarbage - has been blogging about the Cubs since 2003.  In fact, his was perhaps the second Cubs blog I ever read on a regular basis back before I started one of my own.  For a time, Yarbage was working as a real live journalist before moving on to become a teacher, and since he doesn't feel that he can blog regularly on his own he's decided to join us and blog semi-regularly for GROTA.  Let's all give him a warm welcome while being thankful that he's not likely to turn out to be a bit loony like one of our past writers.  Still, I shall call him Probie until he either proves himself by punching Vance Law in the face or we bring on another new writer, who would then take up the moniker. 

Open Topic: Tell me what you want what you really really want

Not too long ago, Jason and I posted twice in a few days about a non-Cubs topic. This offense caused one reader to complain - in my mind without reason - and, in a response, I grudge-posted on the very same subject every day for a week. However I actually do like our readers and feedback is very valuable. So, since this is a relatively slow day with little to talk about I thought I'd open the field to you guys for some feedback.

I'm not going to ask you about what you don't want to see. Everybody has their favorite and least favorite topics and it's pretty wrong to think that something should go just because you don't like it. Instead I'll just ask you what you'd like to see more of.

Easy examples ... photoshops, interviews, news about Player A, minor league stories, articles written by Jason, Byron, Rob, Colin, and Kyle, etc. Please be constructive, not destructive is all I ask.

Do not underestimate the power of the blog

Or: I find your lack of faith ... disturbing.

This will be a more philosophical post compared with what you're used to - although I'll try to keep it short for those of you with attention spans dictated by the average length of a segment on Seseme Street.

A recurring comment from yesterday is this: Say what you want, but it's not like Tom Ricketts is going to read this blog anyway. 

It's actually a recurring theme about blogs.  We're the underdog.  The little guy.  Nobody pays attention to us.  We don't report news, so anything you read here first is all speculation and heresay.  We can't be trusted.  Nobody important reads us or cares about us.

Actually, that could be a recurring opinion about life.  When we're kids we are beaten down from pretty much the moment we form our first independent thought.  The motto of most schools should be "strive to rise to the middle."  We actually live in a society in which the intelligent are looked down upon and the talented are despised.  Figure that one out.

Anyway, make no mistake about it - blogs have an effect.  So do you, by the way.  It's just that they tend to happen in moments.  But if you doubt that famous names read blogs - and I'm talking all blogs, from Desipio to Hire Jim Essian to Bleed Cubbie Blue - I'll just outline a few of our encounters with the people we write about.

  • In 2006, this blog was responsible for Dusty Baker's canceled appearance on ESPN's Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith.  We'd received a EMail from a show producer - evidence that they are aware of us incidentally - inviting Cub fans to the studio to heckle Dusty Baker.  We wrote about it, particularly about our disgust for the ambush tactics.  It got back to Baker who canceled his appearance despite the backtrack tactics taken by Quite Frankly, who claimed it was an untrue claim. 
  • Also in 2006, we were EMailed by an agent of Carlos Zambrano.  The Big Moose had been given a print of the Scarlos photoshop and he loved it so much that he had us contacted.  The agent confirmed that Carlos had seen our website and we actually had an interview with him.  Unfortunately Zambrano's written English is not so good and most of his answers even to elaborate questions was "yes" or "no," making it unprintable.
  • We were given a dirty look by John McDonough.  I took a photoshop with the Goat Riders logo to the Cubs Convention and when I handed it to McDonough to sign he shot me down, said he wouldn't sign it, and walked away.  This was shortly after he'd taken over the presidency and after we'd written a mocking article about how he figured that every time he used the words "win the World Series" he made more money.
  • We've been interviewed in a number of newspapers because apparently our opinions matter.  In 2008, we were on NPR, we were mentioned in Chicago Magazine, the LA Times, the Tribune, and more.
  • We were invited to a charity wine tasting ceremony in which our writer Jason and Goat Photographer Leah befriended Ernie.
  • We were selected to be apart of a story televised on ESPN and featured on ESPN.com.
  • After the ESPN.com story broke, we started a series called "Why We Cheer."  Recently, the Tribune started a series called "Stories from Wrigleyville."  Coincidence?  Maybe.

There are others but those are the ones that spring to mind.  Anyway this isn't supposed to be a GROTA egofest.  It's just a way to point out that many blogs are read and not just by average fans like you and me. 

Maybe Tom Ricketts wants nothing to do with blogs.  Maybe he's never seen one.  Actually scratch that.  I would bet you money that he has bookmarked some of the best business blogs on the net. 

I'll also bet you that Ricketts has a healthy ego.  I'm not saying he's arrogant or full of himself or anything like that ... but chances are he likes to see his name in print.  Chances are that when the story broke, Tom Ricketts read everything he could find that mentioned his name.  If Ricketts is the slightest bit curious about how the fans feel about the sale - and ask yourself if you would be if you were in his situation - he probably went beyond the newspapers to find out. 

Maybe he's read this blog, maybe not.  I bet he's seen at least one Cubs blog, though.  But regardless of that I can't emphasize one simple truth: the view that "it's not like ________ will read it anyway" needs to fade away.  As time goes on and blogging becomes even moreso the next big form of major media, we need to become increasingly aware that anything we say might matter at least a little bit. 

And that's not a matter of opinion, or even a subject of faith - it's the simple truth.  We're not world shakers but we're not hiding behind the walls either.  So let's stop thinking that we are because the sooner we take ourselves seriously - but not so much that we become ridiculous douchebags who treat our blogs like they're our own little fascist dictatorship - then the sooner others will too.

For the sophisticated shopper

And this will be the last post hawking our shizz probably until March when everybody will really be Cub crazy.  Anyway, in the ShoutBox Goat Reader John says "damn you and your prices!!" To which we reply "no, damn Cafe Press!"  However, I hear what John is saying - things can be a little pricey on Cafe Press.  Therefore, I'm going to make this post, a list of the most inexpensive items we sell.  Hopefully you will find something which grabs your eye.

Oh, and P.S. All but 2 are under 10 bucks.

Woman's Goat Riders Tank Top $15.99
Ladies Tank

Ladies of GROTA, this is the least expensive shirt Cafe Press sells for you.  Yes, just like when you get a haircut, regardless of the length you wind up paying more (sorry about your luck, just remember that you not-so-secretly rule all us men).  Imagine a warm May ... well, July day in Chicago.  You're walking down the street toward Wrigley, and all the men - and women - can't stop staring at your chest.  Yep, that's what will happen if you wear this tank top.  And it can be yours for just $15.99 plus shipping.  Can you resist?  No You Can't!

Yes They Can Value T $9.99
Yes They Can Value T

Friends, this is the most inexpensive shirt in the GROTA store.  If you believe the Cubs can win the World Series in 2009 and if you want to show your dedication to GROTA, then this shirt is ideal for you.  Get it now for just $9.99 and if you call in the next 15 minutes, I'll throw in not one but two autoplungers for free.  That's right, keep those toilets clear of blockage with the autoplunger!

This is the Year Wall Clock - $12.99
This is the Year Clock

What time is it, you ask?  It's time to win the World Series!  With this kick-ass Wall Clock, you'll never forget that it's time to win.  Also, don't forget that it's ambiguous so you won't have to buy the 2010 model if the Cubs fail in a despairing act of heartbreaking misery!

Yes They Can 3.5" Button - $4.99
Yes They Can Button

Perfect for coats, shirts, backpacks, and dreadlocks, the Yes They Can 09 button is a perfect way to demonstrate not just your faith in the Cubs, but your enthusiasm for GROTA.  And at five bucks, it's a deal that just can't be beat!

Yes They Can mini button - $1.99
Mini button

If the big whopping 3.5" button is too garish for your tastes, then perhaps this mini button is more up your ally.  Not only is it small, but it's affordable!  Besides, if ever attacked my ninjas it could be a tiny weapon of self-defense!

Yes They Can mini button 10 pack - $9.99
10 Pack

But wait!  More buttons!  If you want to share the love with your friends while spreading the word about GROTA, these mini buttons are an awesome bargain.  Think about it - 10 people, 10 gifts, only 99 cents per person!

This Is The Year rectangle magnet - $4.49

Do you own a fridge?  I do!  Know anybody else who does?  Like a Cubs fan, for example?  If so, then this rectangle magnet is a great gift!  And hey - if you have some crazy-ass friend who doesn't believe in modern day conveniences, you could always give it to him as cruel gift.  One look at it and he'll wish he was cool enough to own electrical appliances - and yes, this is exactly what I give to the Amish folks who live back home in Western NY.

Yes They Can 09 magnet - $3.99
YTC Magnet

Hey, if you don't love my propaganda poster image and would rather I bite off Obama, then buy this puppy.  By the way - a conservative friend of mine assures me that after the first three or four months of 09, nobody will want to buy anything associated with our new President, so buy 'em up before you turn on Obama!

Yes They Can mini poster print - $7.99
Mini Poster

These cool posters measure 11" x 17", and are perfect for dorm or cubical walls.  Besides, they're my first real piece of digital art.  Buy one.  Own it.  When I die, it'll be extremely valuable!

Yes They Can 09 rectangular sticker - $4.99

Perfect for a piece of luggage or a White Sox fan's car.  It's either a perfect expression of your feelings for the Cubs or a cruel joke that will leave your Sox fan friend angry and annoyed.  How can you beat that?

Yes They Can 09 oval sticker - $4.99

I'll tell you how - with an oval version of the same sticker!  This sticker was specifically designed to celebrate the female form.  Oval sticker.  Ovaries.  Boobies.  Think about it.

Yes They Can bumper sticker - $4.59

The final item of our Cafe Press shopping spree is the Yes They Can 09 bumper sticker.  Imagine a conservative Cub fan driving behind you.  Imagine the rage he'll feel when he recognizes that, no, it's not an Obama logo - it's for the Cubs!  Oh, the bitter irony!  And then, imagine that somehow, someday, President Obama sees the same logo.  He, a White Sox fan, forced to see his immortal image perverted for the Cubs!  Could it happen?  Yes it can!  Be a part of the movement!  Buy this sticker today!

And with that, my friends, the sales pitch ends for a few months.  I hope we have something that interests you.  And with our least expensive item coming in at $2, I'm sure we have something you can afford.  Thanks for the patronage, and keep on keepin' on!

I need feedback from the GROTA Army

Right, then!  So as you have probably seen by now, I've designed a couple of images this weekend that I've decided to stick on t-shirts and sell to the public at large.  Now, I'm not expecting you, the loyal Goat Reader, to throw down money on these things - especially in the tough economy we live in - but I'm hoping some of you will mostly because it's a cool way to promote the site.

However I'm at a crossroads in the designs.  It originally started out with these bunch:

This is the year

My propaganda war poster, I took a photo of this scene and digitally recreated it.  I then erased the original photo and this is what I got.  I think it's one of the coolest photoshops I've ever done, and without a doubt the most original.

This is the Year

And here is the image concept I stole from the Obama campaign.  It should strike a very similar chord to this image. The basic idea is that I took the Cubs logo, turned it on its side, and placed it in the backdrop of the city of Chicago as though it were a rising sun.  If you look at the oldest version of the image, you'll see that I've worked on it a lot since then to make it look like I want it to.  I've made the blue border of the logo much thicker.

Since then, I've worked on a few varations of these two images, particularly the "O" image.  Here's what I'd cooked up:

09 2
This is the year

At this point, realizing that I'd struck gold, I began slapping these images on t-shirts, buttons, magnets, posters, you name it.  But I've done some further tinkering, particularly with the slogan.  I mean, I like "This is the Year" but since I'd already bitten so hard on Obama, I thought maybe I should kick it to the next level and steal "Yes We Can."  Here's the latest:

Yes They Can
Yes They Can 2
Yes They Can 3
Yes They Can 4

And here's where the need for feedback comes into play ... basically, what do you all think of these?  Is "This Is The Year" better or worse than "Yes They Can?"

Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.

May this be The Year

I wouldn't be surprised to come back here later and write a much longer article today if only because I can't help myself.  But in case this is it, I'd like to wish everybody a happy new year.

It was an interesting 2008 for Cub fans in general and the Goat Riders in particular.  As our Cubs played the best baseball we've seen since 1945, various members of GROTA were invited to participate in all sorts of cool things, from a wine tasting ceremony with Ernie Banks (who loved us) to an NPR interview, scores of newspaper interviews, and finally the ESPN article that stepped up the plans for our successful site redesign.

We had infights, we had arguments with other blogs, we managed not to get banned by Al Yellon, and on average our readership more than doubled.  But while you can't understand how happy I am that GROTA is doing well, it obviously pales in comparison with how the Cubs did last year and how they do this year.

So.  May this be The Year.  We've suffered enough.  The sooner they win the Series, the sooner we can move on to more important things to worry about - like staying competitive for years after.

Have a good one, be safe, and I hope nobody is too hung over today.  Cheers.

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