Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Cardinals

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GameCast: Cardinals vs. Cubs THE REVENGE!!!

Game Day
Carlos Zambrano (1-0 3.00 ERA) vs. Pb&J Walters (-)
Story-lines
The hate between Cardinal and Cub fans is real.  For those of us who live on the periphery of Cubs baseball, it doesn't seem so bad.  I admit that I have to resist the temptation to taunt anybody I see wearing a Cardinals hat when I'm oot and aboot* in Toronto, but I don't feel any particularly strong feelings toward the birds or their fans for the most part.

(*note: we don't really talk like that.  We also don't live in igloos, our bacon looks like your bacon, and yes, we have socialized health care.  Suck it, America)

But I have to admit - I feel a little more anxious whenever the Cubs play the Cardinals.  For whatever reason, I don't want the Cubs to lose to them.  I don't want to be embarrassed.  So, yesterday's opening shot across the Cubs-Cardinals bow was an unfortunate one. 

Today, though, the Cubs face a rookie pitcher making his major league debut in a hostile ballpark.  There will be REVENGE! 

Who's hot
Alfonso Soriano - Another hit and 2 walks yesterday gives the Fonz a .308 AVG and .400 OBP start to the '09 season.  I still believe that the Fonz is a prolific slow starter and I'm expecting a 1 for 20 drought sometime before May.  Still, he's doing well -- for now.
Kosuke Fukudome - Last year, Fooky began the season like a monk on fire.  Okay, so that analogy doesn't exactly make sense, but think about it.  He starts out flaming, running around, waving his arms, and gradually stops moving and the fire burns out.  That was Fukudome.  Maybe we shouldn't get too excited too soon, but Kosuke has already hit 3 homers and is batting .375 on the season. 

Remember when, after an 0-fer on opening day, fans were calling for Kosuke to be deported?  He's given a big Fuku to those fans. 
Ryan Theriot - He is now batting .387 on the season.  I love how well the Fonz is playing, but doesn't Theriot make way, way more sense at leadoff? 

Who's not
Mike Fontenot - Uh oh.  If Dusty Baker was running this team, with Miles on the bench and Fontenot written into the lineup, his erasin' pencil would be looking real good right now.  Fontenot is batting .226 on the season after an 0 for 4 outing yesterday.  Who is your DeRo ...er, hero ... now?
Geo Soto - Sore shoulder, check.  1 hit to start the season.  Check.  .071 AVG so far.  Check.  Panic and fear - ehh, half-check. 

Conclusions
Just a friendly reminder, written with ardor and care. 

DO NOT FOLLOW SMALL SAMPLE SIZES!!!

Right now, somewhere in baseball there's a guy with a .400 AVG and 3 homeruns who will be demoted to the minors by July.  There's another guy in baseball right now who's batting .150 who'll be a finalist for the MVP award.  That's just the way it goes. 

Brash decisions about the roster is a move better suited for a Baker.  Yes, we're turning Baker into an insulting nickname, and probably our first photoshop of the season.  So don't Be a Baker - be patient with this team.  Much as you would certainly not buy into Fukumania based on his great start, don't sell your Geo stock just because he looks more confused right now than a straight man in a tranny bar. 

But I suppose I could be wrong about that.  I hope I'm not, though.

Game Recap: Cardinals 7, Cubs 4, ugly loss

Ugly loss
They won't all be this crappy.  Promise.

The Cardinals tagged Sean Marshall for 4 earned runs in his first start of the season, but he wasn't responsible for the loss as Kosuke Fukudome tied the game for the Cubs in the bottom of the 5th with a 3-run homer.  Unfortunately the Cubs offense petered out and the Cubs bullpen got plowed over, and St. Louis dealt Chicago their 2nd straight loss in the series opener at Wrigley.

When you consider that the Cubs have at times left the bases loaded three times in a game without capitalizing, the fact that they scored 4 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks is pretty impressive.  Fukudome is now more than 33% on his way toward Our Rob's projected final homerun figure and maybe Lou had the right idea by batting Fuku in the three-hole when Aramis was resting.

Other Cubs to record offensive contributions ... well, the list is limited.  Geovany Soto went 0 for 4, with his average dropping to .071 on the season, yet shockingly nobody is calling for him to be replaced by Micah Hoffpauir - or Three Finger Hill for that matter.

Aramis recorded 2 hits and a walk, but the lineup behind him went 1 for 14 on the day leaving him with his proverbial thumb up his rhetorical ass.  Oh, and like a good leadoff guy, Soriano walked twice and scored 2 of the Cubs' runs.  Not bad.

Also, Milton Bradley displayed some of that fierce passion that gets him into so much trouble.  He was ejected in the 6th for arguing balls and strikes.  As Our Rob notes, Bradley was right for being pissed and the Cubs were boned by that call.  Hell, Rob must mean business about Bradley being screwed over because he actually modified the url to reflect that fact.  Any post in which Rob actually uses the html feature means he's serious.

Pitching-wise, while Marshall won't be penning a book for pitchers any time soon about how to dominate major league hitting, he did go 5 innings, left the game with the lead, and was just meh-diocre enough to warrant continued use in the rotation.  Besides, like any hitter in the lineup, he deserves a couple of months before Lou's head explodes and he gets delegated to the bullpen or worse.

The problem - as Rob might point out - is that the bullpen turned into a revolving door of offensive enablers.  Just when you thought the Cardinals had quit scoring runs for good, a Cubs reliever would come along flashing run-scoring opportunities and the Deadbird hitter would fall off the wagon and go ball-knocking.  ("Ball-knocking" is the current slang for "ribbie-scoring," which is the old-time slang for "run scoring," which is the act of injecting offense into your baseball-playing veins.) 

Between Heilman, Patton, Cotts, Guzman, and Vicaino, over the span of 4 innings the Cubs allowed 5 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs to score.  That would be enough for them to collectively earn a loss.

Tomorrow should be a decent chance for REVENGE!  The Cardinals are turning to the young PJ Walters, an incredibly talented Cardinals prospect who has yet to meet his potential.  I figure that even if he is Kerry Wood reborn, it's hard to forget that, 5 games before he masterfully struck out 20 Astros, Wood was bouncing curveballs across home plate (and into the hind legs of the batters!) against the Expos. 

Quick Links
Series Preview: Cardinals at Cubs
GameCast: April 16th

GameCast: April 16th Cardinals vs. Cubs

Game Day
Adam Wainwright (1-0, 1.74 ERA) vs. Sean Marshall (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Story-lines
Ah, the Cubs and the Cardinals.  Chicago hates St. Louis for being responsible for single-handedly keeping the mullet in style.  St. Louis hates Chicago for those sticklerish rules about wearing shoes in restaurants and not smoking cigarettes while pregnant. 

But more importantly, the Cubs and Cardinals are tremendously followed by people who live in two kick-ass, hard-working cities who can only agree on one thing: the Yankees are overrated.  They will spend the 2009 season chasing one another, and even though on paper the Cubs have a ridiculously superior ballclub, there are a multitude of Cub fans who won't stop working about LaRussa's pesky bunch until that dreaded phrase "mathematically eliminated" comes into play.

I suppose that that's the way it should be.

Who's hot?
Dare I say it?  Derrek Lee had a 3 for 4 game yesterday including his first homerun of the season.  But before you hop onto the Lee bandwagon, Micah Hoffpauir is batting like .500, dood!  That guy should be starting!

Reed Johnson is making the most of his recent opportunity to start.  He's batting .385 in 13 at bats.

Who's not?
Geovany Soto has something in common with Aaron Miles.  They've both started the '09 campaign by batting 1 for their first 10. 

Have you seen Kevin Gregg's wife?  I'm just saying.

(Note: I have neither seen Gregg's wife nor do I know if he's actually married)

Go get 'em, boys.  And watch out - when Cardinals fans are angry they fill empty packs of cigarettes with rocks and chuck them onto the field.

Series Preview: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs

Cards vs. CubsCards vs. Cubs

So yeah, as it turns out, I missed all of both games in the Cubs v. Rockies series.  That's okay, I don't like kissing my sister anyway*.  As far as I can tell, all you need to know from last series is that Harden is the Adam Dunn of pitcher (strikeouts, walks, or big hits.  Nothing in between) and Ted Lilly is the finest throwing serial killer this side of Ted Bundy (0.37 ERA in the penal league).  But I already knew that, so there's no reason to watch the games (or, alternatively, SCREW HAVING A JOB).

But before we get to the matchups, I will say this:

  • Damn Pirates.  I never did trust Nate McClouth.
  • This is the most important series of the year.  If the Cubs are swept by the Cardinals, they'll be four games out in the standings.  No team has ever come back from a four game deficit with less than nine months left to play in the season**.
  • And how about those Cardinals?  Who knew you could fatten your record by playing the Astros and Pirates at home.  Oh wait. 
  • Carpenter is headed to the DL.  I did not see that coming.  HOLY CRAP!  WHAT'S THAT THING RISING OUT OF THE EAST?!?  Oh wait, it's just the sun.  When did that thing start rising in the east?

* in actuality, I don't even have a sister.  And in actuality, it sounds HOT

** May not actually be true

Match-ups

Thursday April 16th
Adam Wainwright vs. Sean Marshall

I'll tell ya, that Adam Wainwright has always given the Cubs the business.  I'm not sure what it is, but I think it's the Braden Looper/Todd Wellemeyer effect.  We just can't handle the converted relievers (much like Koyie Hill can't digest the converted rice).  Wainwright's been gold this year, so I expect that the Cubs will have their work cut out for them.

Sean Marshall is...well, he's well rested.  Other than a couple of very brief appearances, he's been spending most of the season watching reruns of Friends (that Joey!) while off days conspired to keep him off the hill.  I see good things in the future for Marshall and he had an exceptional spring, but I certainly worry about rust (you know, rust never sleeps.  That FREAKS ME OUT).  There's a very good chance that Marshall will be wild and ends up out early.  This will be a tough win for the Cubs.

Friday April 17th
Kyle Lohse vs. Carlos Zambrano

Lohse is another pitcher off to a quick start but, unlike Wainwright, hasn't had the recent success to back it up.  Lohse, in his career, has been decent but unspectacular, toiling in relative obscurity for the Twins and Reds.  In fact, last year was his first good season in, well, in ever.  Dave Duncan effect?

Carlos is anything but obscure.  Carlos is off to a pretty solid start, with a great first outing and a decent second, but I'm sure he's thrilled to be back at Wrigley.  Besides, Carlos is back with his good buddy Geo.  Good things are going to happen.  Good chance for the Cubbies.

Good.

Saturday, April 18th
Todd Wellemeyer vs. Ryan Dempster

Hey look, Todd Wellemeyer!  I was just talking about him!  Wellemeyer was pretty good last year and I'm happy for him (being a former Cub and all), but he's off to a bit slower start this year.  It's posible he's realized that he's Todd Wellemeyer.  It's also possible that he just needs to face the Cubs.  Someone just told me three paragraphs ago that the Cubs have issues with converted relievers.  And rice.

Dempster!  That crazy Canadian!  He's...well, he's almost off to the exact same start as Todd Wellemeyer.  How's that make you feel Ryan?  Proud?  I hope you're proud of ourself.  Maybe this game, you can try throwing strikes.

Someone sound the even matchup alarm!  We've got a barn burner!

Sunday, April 19th
Matthew Lesko vs. Ted Lilly

Want to get your moneyback from the government?  The crazies at the post office yesterday certainly wanted me to.  Well, just Ask Lesko!

I'd write something about Lilly, but he's currently enjoying his dinner and I have to help Koyie Hill find his fingers.  I know they're around here somewhere...


Conclusion
In conclusion, ESPN disagrees with each and every one of these predicted matchups.  However, our graphic is better, so screw ESPN.

Note from Kurt
I was up until effin' 1AM working on these graphics!  Damn ESPN for not updating their supposed schedule until this morning!  The issue was that, until last night, they still had Carpenter listed as the Sunday starter -- hence the ??? graphic and the Lesko joke.

Sidebar - I didn't know Lesko's name, so I googled something like "crazy question mark guy" and his wikipedia entry was the first hit.  Seriously.  End sidebar.

Anyway, I'm probably not going to go back and re-do the graphic.  Screw ESPN.  If they wait until the last minute to update their projections, then everybody has to pay the price of having inaccurate information!


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Shocking news

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.

Series Preview: Cardinals at Cubs; Playoff and Division Clinching Spectacular

Remember when the Cardinals had a stranglehold on the NL Central?  It wasn't all that long ago.  Since the 2000 season, the Cardinals have been playoff bound 6 times, including once when they won the fricking World Series.

I hate to give them credit, but the Cubs have been playoff bound like, 6 times since Truman was in office.*  Those are some pretty heavy figures there.  Serious props must go to St. Louis, who, for the past couple of seasons, have been second fiddle to the first-place Chicago Cubs.  Hell, let's be fair.  Even when St. Louis was winning, they were still less popular than the Chicago Cubs, although they will always be first in the hearts of the mullet wearing mid-west rednecks out there.

(*Guh.  Hate the Tribune.  Hate P.K. Wrigley.  Embarrassing.)

But, you know, the important thing is that the Cubs are very likely to clinch their second consecutive division title while the Cardinals are in town.  That's kind of cool.  Cooler still - St. Louis is headed toward a 4th place finish.  It must sting, those salty tears.

Anyway, let's take a gander at the matchups.

Friday, September 19th - Carlos ZambraNo-hitter (14-5, 3.41 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (9-3, 3.20 ERA)

In his last start against - of all teams - the Pittsburgh Pirates, Adam Wainwright went 4 innings, surrendered 6 earned runs, and cried into a Nike brand bath towel.  Carlos Zambrano did ... oh, just a little bit better than that.

Here's what I've learned about The Big Moose: every little arm scare we've seen this year, and in past years, stems from mechanical issues.  Carlos, the big lug that he is, sometimes fails to use his legs the way he should.  So, he uses his arm, his shoulder, his back, his most vulgar Spanish sayings, and whatever else he can think of to bring the heat.  Except it doesn't work, and Cub fans sweat bullets over a guy tossing 91 MPH fastballs instead of 98 MPH'ers.  Hopefully, the no-hitter taught him his lesson.  If Carlos keeps his mechanics sound, he will dominate the Cardinals again.

Saturday, September 20th - Theodore Roosevelt Lilly (15-9, 4.13 ERA) vs. Joel Piniero (6-6, 5.24 ERA)

If only.  If only.  If only we could pretend that the first 4 games of the season never happened to Ted Lilly.  If only we could subtract every game he pitched against the Reds.  Do you know what would happen if we could?  The Cubs #4 playoff pitcher would have an ERA in the neighborhood of 3.24.  What we do have, regardless, is a pitcher who's won 30 games in his first 2 years as a Cub.  ERA be damned, I'll take it!

His opponent is Joel Piniero, a 29-year-old who's half a decade removed from his last good season.  Piniero has avoided the potent Cub offense all year long and he already has an ERA of 5.24.  Good luck, buddy.

Sunday, September 21st - Ryan Clownsevelt Dempster (16-6, 3.02 ERA) vs. Braden Looper (12-13, 4.06 ERA)

Dempster has done pretty much everything possible to ensure himself a lucrative contract this off season, short of punching out Albert Pujols in a game.  But don't worry, there's still time for that.  At this point, it remains a mystery as to whether or not Hendry will make much of an effort to pursue this surprise All Star, but one thing we know for certain is that Jim Hendry has yet to lose a free agent Cub who he wanted to keep.  Remember all those bullets we sweated over Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano?  Remember how he kept them in Chicago for less money than what they would have made elsewhere?

Braden Looper has been a thorn in the side of the Cubs ever since St. Louis converted him to Starterism.  (It's like Judaism, but without all the laws.)  However, despite his uber-impressive 2.37 ERA this year against them, Looper has yet to win a game against the Cubs.  May his streak of failure continue.

Predictions: I have a pretty good feeling that the Cubs, on a gust of momentum, will blow right by the Cardinals and into NL Central Championship Clinching Goodness.  Pity St. Louis, a team with expectations as big as the unnaturally large muscles on Albert Pujols.  Why, one would suspect that their second consecutive year of playing crappy baseball might even be enough to drive their manager to drink.  (Cue photoshop)

Drinkin' Tony

...naaaah.  Low blow.

Series Preview: Cubs vs. Cardinals

Apologies for the belated nature of this post.

The Cubs have started out September just like we hoped they wouldn't. Loss after loss, a team that was once an unstoppable force of motion and ... uh, force ... ahem .... well, the Cubs have been playing like refried shiz ever since the Phillies took the last 2 of their 4 game series to end August.

Consequently, Cub fans have been jumping off the ledge faster than stock brokers when befallen with the crash that perluded the Great Depression. It's pretty sad when you think about it. Despite losing 7 of their last 8, the Cubs have the best record in the National League. They've got a 4.5 game lead on a Brewers team who's lost 6 of their last 8 - and that's the largest lead of any playoff-bound team in the NL, by the way - and there are multitudes of Cub fans who have already declared this a lost season.

I'm sorry, but that's embarrassing. It's tough enough for me to read all about it on the net. If I was in Wrigleyville listening to these guys lament their sorrows while drowning in Old Style, I'd probably start throwing punches. Now, I mean no disrespect to those of you who have lost your courage and are no longer capable of believing that anything good will come of this season, I'm happy we have your patronage and I welcome your comments, but you depress me far worse than any Cubs losing streak possibly could. My one piece of advice to you is this: in 2009, any time you feel that the Cubs are done, stick a fork in 'em, cancel Christmas kitchen's closed, deposit $100 into a high interest savings account. In late October, when they really will be done one way or the other, withdraw that money. At the very least, you'll be able to take your family out to an expensive dinner. In all likelihood, you'll have enough money to take a nice vacation some place warm. And, extremely, if you find that you cannot afford to keep up with your doom and gloom mentality, then use what money you've been able to tuck away in order to book an appointment with a top-notch therapist in order to analyze behavior that I would characterize as being Immensely Unhealthy. Either way, you win, just like the Cubs will.

Anyway, let's take a look at the series preview, Cubs vs. Cardinals.

Tuesday, September -9th Ryan Dempster (15-6, 2.94 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (13-6, 3.82 ERA)

I'm tempted to write, "if Ryan Dempster can avoid the wrath and fury of Albert Pujols, then the Cubs will be in a good position to win," but I think you'd be smart enough to see through my facade. I will say this. Dempster - like the rest of the Cubs - has been slumping as of late. But, through 6 innings of work, he's allowed 3 runs. Most months, the Cubs kill a team if their pitching holds the opponent's offense to 3 runs, but lately our Cubs have struggled to produce.

They've been coming close to punishing the Cardinals, however, and after 5.1 innings were able to chase Lohse from the game. The Cubs of any other year lose tonight because they have failed to take advantage of early situations. The Cubs of 2008, the past 8 games excluded, score 5 runs after the 7th and make it a blow out. Tonight's Cubs score 2 more and then scare the crap out of us in the 9th.

Hey, nobody said anything was easy, and nobody promised any kind of reward. It is what it is. You know what it isn't, though? Cliff jumping time.

Wednesday, September 10th - Ted Lilly (13-9, 4.43 ERA) vs. Braden Looper (12-11, 4.09 ERA)

Theodore Roosevelt Lilly was, at one point, on the brink of being an above average #4 guy. Then he faced the Reds again. I'm not sure what Cincy knows that the rest of baseball doesn't, but he got lit up like a doobie in a college dorm room. In 2007, Lilly was an effective guy at stopping a losing skid; in 2008, we've been happy during the long stretches when he was effective at all.

Braden Looper is a converted reliever. I can't believe the luck the Cardinals have had with those guys. It's not getting them into the playoffs, though, and while Looper has fared well against the Cubs this year, they are overdue to a) beat the holy hell out of a team, and b) demolish Looper.

Thursday, September 11th - Rich Harden (9-2, 1.99 ERA) vs. Todd Wellemeyer (12-6, 3.74 ERA)

Rich Harden quietly skipped his last start due to arm soreness. Wouldn't it just be so damned Cub for both of the team's top starters to go down in September, allowing us to instead witness a ghost of the team flail and fall in the playoffs? Well, as somebody who does not subscribe to superstition, and as somebody who does not believe in curses, I'm having a lot of trouble accepting my previously stated premise. In other, less confusing words, I have to believe that Harden will be fine.

Todd Wellemeyer, meanwhile, is a converted reliever. Like Looper, he also has had a tremendous amount of success this season, but he's done only "ok" against the Cubs. He's in over his head against Harden, assuming the Cubs ace isn't a shell of himself. But why would he be?

Predictions: I remember a few years ago, I was standing with my boss outside of this little shop I worked in. We were looking down the street, which on a bit of a hill, at a very large kid on a bicycle. He was huffing, puffing, sweating and swearing, but he just couldn't get his bike to pedal. He was stuck on the hill. My boss looked at him and laughed, and he said "inertia is a bitch." He was right, and it works in both ways.  The Cubs are right now at the bottom of a hill trying like hell to get back up to the top again. Once they get back up there, they will have momentum.  They have time to muscle their way on up. It starts tonight.

The next time I post on this blog, things will already be different. Maybe the Cubs will surprise a lot of us tonight and pull off a very satisfying win. Or maybe they will dog it out with the Cardinals, giving and getting, playing into extra innings before Bob Howry steps up to the mound and incinerates the game with another of his meaty fastballs.

I don't know if the Cubs will win this series. I don't know if the slump is over. What I do know is what I've always known - the most important games this month are the last 10. No, scratch that. The last 10 are important, but the last 5 are huge. Right now, everything in between is sound and fury, signifying nothing, scaring the crap out of everybody.

St. Louis decaps Milwaukee

A few hours ago I stumbled across the Cardinals-Brewers game.  To my dismay, in the 8th inning Milwaukee held a 3-1 lead against the Cardinals, but I noticed two things: 1. Milwaukee had turned to their bullpen and 2. the heart of the Cardinals lineup was due up.

Suffice to say, the Cardinals won tonight's game 5-3.   That is ultimately Milwaukee's fatal flaw.  C.C. Sabathia can't pitch 9 innings every time out, and even then he's saving the Brewers from their bullpen no more than every 5th day.   And while Milwaukee has a stellar offense and a scary rotation (at least, for a short series), their bullpen is mediocre at best.  They have a couple of stellar middle relievers, but in any game which requires the use of 3, they will be in trouble.

The Cubs enter the series tomorrow against the Phillies with the second biggest divisional lead in baseball.  They are up 6 games on the Brewers - who have the second best record in the NL - and 9.5 games on the Cardinals.  A strong showing against the Phillies is important, as Milwaukee faces the Pirates.  But wouldn't it just be awesome if the Pirates surprised the Brewers while the Cubs dominate Philadelphia?

Unlikely, yes.  Possible ... well, anything is. 

Looking for perspective

I'm sitting here entirely charged up, although my energies aren't directed toward blogging right now.  Actually, I feel a podcast coming on, so you should stay tuned for that this weekend as it will certainly be interesting and amusing.

As far as the Cubs go ... meh.  Look, I'm so sick and tired of panicking - and of panicking people - every time the Cubs hit a bump in the road.  We know that this is a solid team with good pitching and offense.  We know that even the best teams in baseball lose and lose often.  On any given week in any given season, the World Series champions can look like absolute tools.  And before we spout our inherent concerns and fears about our shaky set-up man, or our lack of starting pitching depth, I would heartily recommend that all Cub fans study the best teams in the NL and AL.  They all have holes, they all have flaws, and they all suffer from ridiculous losing streaks.

Now, the Cubs are headed into St. Louis, where they will be doing battle with the second place team in the division, the Cardinals.  It won't be an easy series, but I submit to you that it actually doesn't mean all that much one way or the other.  Put it to you another way - if the Cubs sweep the Cardinals, who here thinks that St. Louis is as good as dead and buried in the division?   Anybody?  Anybody at all?  I mean, sure, you'll feel a hell of a lot better about things and you won't be dancing on the ledge anymore, but I think we're all smart enough to recognize that a Cubs sweep of the Cardinals means nothing right up until the Cubs win the division in late September by 3 games.

Therefore, if the worst case scenario happens and the Cubs are swept straight into second place, I'd recommend that you maintain some perspective.  If you wouldn't be ready to declare the Cardinals dead and buried if they get swept, then you shouldn't proclaim that viewpoint if the Cubs get swept.  

Damn you, Cubs!

Although I have yet to see nor hear anything official, it would appear as though my cunning ruse will soon fail.

We've been planning on attending the Cubs-Jays series from the get-go, while intentionally skipping the stinking pile of poo that is Jason Marquis.  However, part of my hopes were on Carlos starting Friday's game against the hated Blue Jays.  Unfortunately, because Lou Piniella appears intent on the Cubs laying the smack down on the Braves, it's possible-if-not-likely that the Big Moose will be starting tomorrow night in Chicago.

The coup de grâce in this entire deal comes from the Blue Jays website.  We finally bought our tickets tonight to Friday's game, and the official website of the perennial third place AL East team reports that A.J. Burnett will be kicking off the three-game set by squaring off  against Cub phenom Sean Gallagher.  

Don't get me wrong, I like Gallagher quite a bit.  I'll enjoy watching him pitch.  But he is no Big Moose, not by a long-shot, and I am angry, fiercely angry at the Cubs for apparently trying their hardest to get to the playoffs by possibly enabling Carlos an extra start over the span of the baseball season.

But, hey, it's just one report and while I have intentionally avoided reading the Chicago papers, I have yet to hear anything official from the Cubs front office about it.  Besides, don't the Cubs know that A.J. Burnett is a tough pitcher and Carlos has a better chance of beating him?  Bastards.

Pujols wiped out

Get it?  It's a poo pun.  I'm sure the Desipiots aren't in the least bit surprised.

Anyway, it turns out that they don't make a band-aid big enough to cover all of the wounds on Albert Pujols.  ESPN is reporting that the man who broke the Major League color barrier will be out for the next three weeks, which is an excellent chance for the Cubs to spring toward sweet, delicious dominance.  You see, while the Cubs have a rough schedule ahead of them - they play 16 of their next 24 games on the road, including 18 against teams with .500 records or better - the Cardinals are also facing a difficult schedule.  They play 11 of the next 24 games on the road, including 9 in a row, including 9 against teams with .500 records or better.

Okay, so the Cubs definitely have a rougher ride ahead of them, but, without their key offensive player, St. Louis will not have any easy wins for the next three weeks.  This could have been a chance for the Cardinals to really close the gap between them and the Cubs - who definitely have a make-or-break month ahead of them - but now they will struggle to simply keep up.

Tough pu...jols.  (Couldn't resist). 

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