You know, Pete Rose and I aren’t exactly on each other’s Christmas card lists. But tonight, the former Cincinnati gambler took the reason the Giants choked on a 3-run, 9th inning lead, and folded, wrapped and very neatly packaged it into a single word: “Stinko.”
“That was a stinko bullpen, man.” said Rose. Then he went on to paint the picture — much to my personal delight — of an on-field disaster that rivaled anything that Hollywood special effects wizards coulda dreamed up. “Five pitchers give up 3 runs before they get an out in the inning? … They didn’t deserve to win. That’s the worse collapse I’ve seen in a long time for a bullpen playin’ for what they were playin’ for.” Pete is no George Will, but those words … those were pure Shakespeare, baby.
“Idiotic” is another word that comes to mind. I came up with that one on my own, though. But at least I’ll combine it with “thank you” and a big wet kiss for Bruce Bochy for takin’ Moore outta the game when he did. Perhaps the stupidest move I’ve seen by a manager since Dusty Baker came to work at Clark and Addison. Moore had 10 K’s and had surrendered just 2 hits. And you take him out?! With the Giants’ bullpen? Wow. Bochy and Pete Carroll gotta be in the same knitting circle.
Full disclosure: I had to employ the “don’t watch cuz you’re jinxin’ the team” strategy during the last half of the game. I haven’t had to use that one all season, which may explain why it worked; it wasn’t expected. Anyway, tonight around the 5th, it became obvious that if I kept watchin’ we were gonna lose for sure, but if I turned the TV off, the Cubs had a chance. Yeah, it was a sacrifice, but that’s part of baseball. The missus headed upstairs and started yellin’ the blow-by-blow down the stairs, and in between askin’ me, “Don’t you wanna turn it on? They’re doin’ good.” (One of the million reasons why she winds my watch.) I resisted.
Deep down inside, where the corndogs and brats are processed, I know my watchin’ probably has nothin’ to do with whether the Cubs win or lose. It’s just a superstition thing. Like black cats and goats and Steve Bartmans. They’re like Justin Beeber fans — they can’t be explained with logic.
Whatever it was — me, or the Cubs finally startin’ to play like the Cubs — our visiting grays are gettin’ a champagne wash cycle tonight. And so is everyone in Wrigleyville. That doesn’t stinko.
Holy meat balls, that was some friggin’ game last night, wasn’t it?! Am I happy we came up short? No, I am not. Was it a friggin’ epic battle royal cage match fought by two teams refusing to yield to the bloody gloves of the other? In spades, my friend. In spades.
It was Godzilla vs King Kong; the Federation vs the Clingons; the Sharks vs the Jets (no, that ain’t hockey vs football); Neo vs Agent Smith; the Crows vs the Wildlings. You know that scene in Gangs of New York where the Natives and the Dead Rabbits have it out in the square? Last night’s game was like that, my friend. EPIC! It reminded me of the Thrilla in Manilla. Howard Cosell’s grating New York cadence was in the back of my head, deliverin’ the blow-by-blow. Only insteada “Frasier goes down! Frasier goes down! Frasier goes down!” it was “Bryant has tied the game! Bryant has tied the game! Bryant has tied the game!” That was electrifying. No matter what happens through the rest of the playoffs, you’re not gonna see a better game than that.
When Arrieta went yard, I went in my pants. No, not really, but holy crap! I usually need an elevator to get that far off the ground. Whatever Maddon has been feedin’ our staff, it’d be nice if he started givin’ it to some of the rest of the guys. Bryant has obviously discovered where he’s hidin’ the magic dust. But Rizzo? Keee-ryste … he looks like me at the plate. The offensive prowess of our Murderer’s Row pitching staff is probably somethin’ we should not totally rely on if we expect to beat theses yayhoos.
Kudos to Montgomery, last night, too. He gave it up in the end, but I think he did a lot more than anyone expected, including Maddon. And speakin’ of Joe, who is a certified, Grade-A, Wagu genius, I can’t say I thought bringin’ in Chapman when he did was his most Einstein-ish move of the season. What do I know, right? But I read it like a sign of desperation; like we couldn’t play regular and still win. We had to bring the Saturn V rocket arm in early. And that’s what the Giants thought. They smelled blood in the water, started circling and then takin’ chunks outta Chapman’s hide. Hindsight. I know. But I’m just sayin’.
So now Bochy is 10-0 in elimination games. Ten and oh! Unreal. Someone has gotta put an end to that. Personally, I’d like it to be John Lackey and the re-ignited bats of the best offense in baseball. And, if it’s not askin’ too much, it’d be nice if the game is more like we’re playin’ Cincinnati, so when we have a 10 run lead by the 5th, I can relax and enjoy myself a little insteada bitin’ my fingernails down to the second knuckle. Go Cubs!
Hey there, ice chips. How ’bout those friggin’ Cubs, huh?! I gotta tell ya, I luuuuuuvvvvv flyin’ the playoff W. I’d say it makes me feel like I’m on top of the world but that’s kinda stupid. I mean think about it. First — SPOILER ALERT — there’s no Santa Claus up there and second, it’s butt ass cold. It’d be a lot more accurate to say I’m feelin’ like I’m sittin’ on a clothing-optional beach in Bora Bora, the missus has exercised her option, and is feedin’ me pork sliders while I sip on a frosty Old Style. Yeah, that about captures it. Thank you for that, Cubbies.
Anyway, as the Central Division Champs are makin’ their way to the city of whackadoos for Game 3 against the Giants, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the meaning of the oldest phrase in baseball: Keep your eye on the friggin’ ball.
Lemme start by sayin’ that anyone who pays attention to my microscopic corner of the Cubs universe knows that I live and die with them. If that’s you, 1) thank you for payin’ attention and 2) you know that my 55 seasons have seen a whole lot more dyin’ than livin’. That’s given me a certain … let’s say … perspective. I tend to call it like I see it, rather than wearin’ Cubbie blue shaded glasses. Sometimes the Schlombowski forecast is “cloudy with a chance of losing.” Hey, I don’t make the weather, pal, I just report it.
Don’t get me wrong. I not only think the Cubs are in the driver’s seat right now, I think the Giants have been stuffed into the trunk and are about to get dumped on the side of a dark, winding road out in the middle of the redwoods.
IF they keep their eye on the ball, that is.
And I don’t mean pickin’ up the rotation on Bumgarner’s cheese and watchin’ it all the way to the plate. What I mean is that bein’ up 2-0 to the Giants, even in a best-of-5 series, isn’t a Labron James better-get-the-hell-outta-my-way slam dunk, unless we do one thing: stay focused on the ball that matters — winnin’ the World Series. To me, that mean’s not actin’ like we just won the friggin’ lottery cuz the first two games went our way, or cuz our pitchers have turned into Babe Ruth, or cuz Wood just penned his name in the record books. The Cubs gotta go about their business like they’re mailmen or something. You know … that whole “neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night” thing. Only with us it’s “Neither Mad-Bum, nor Posey, nor wicked line drives off our pitchers will keep us from our appointed victory over the Halloween-colored San Francisco Giants.” Do I think that’s gonna happen? You bet your sweet ivy-covered ass I do. Do I think it’s gonna be easy? Read on, my friend:
There were 2,430 games played this season, and it took the very last one for the Giants to manufacture a chance at the Post Season. How you interpret that can either give you hives or a grin the size of Prince Fielder’s butt.
It’s hard to figure a team like San Francisco. They’ve got a good staff, a line up of veterans, a damn good manager in Bruce Bochy, and a ton of experience with the post season in the last decade. A little too much. Like there should be a special episode of Hoarders about the Giants. And yet they still sucked like Linda Lovelace with a Dyson since the All Star break.
This is also an even year, which holds sway over the superstitious. Not that Cubs fans are immune to that condition. Two words: Billy Goat. Me, personally? I never, ever change my underwear in the middle of a winning streak. Needless to say, I got a little crispy now and then this season. Totally worth it, though. Anyway, Giants fans believe that even numbered years belong to their team — that they own ’em. And I gotta tell you … it would give me a world of satisfaction for the Cubs to prove what a Mount Everest-sized pile of crap that is.
The fact that the Giants made it to the Wild Card game at all, in spite of playin’ the second half of the season like the fog had rolled all the way into their clubhouse, says a whole lot about them, none of which I like very much. But I think an even numbered year has about as much to do with the Giants makin’ the playoffs as the color red does.
And that’s the thing. If they didn’t get in because of some voodoo, witchcraft, hocus pocus BS, then what’s the reason? As much as the legacy of Barry Bonds still sandpapers my backside, I gotta hand it to the Giants; they’re a grizzled lineup that plays team ball, doesn’t give up, and somehow finds a way to survive when they’re nose-to-nose with the grim reaper. Those are admirable qualities in a ball club, no question, and even though the words are gonna taste like the south end of a sick rhino, I gotta say that the Giants are probably for real and, unlike the geeked-out, cucumber mist bottled water-drinkin’ fans they got, they’re probably not big believers in the make-me-laugh, even-numbered-year thing.
Full disclosure: I was pullin’ for the Mets last night. And I gotta tell ya, after what happened last year, that felt a whole lot like havin’ a heart transplant without anesthesia. I just figured the Cubs would have an easier time with them than San Francisco, and that they’d do the same thing that the Giants did — chip away at the Mets’ pen.
Was it just me, or did anyone else (besides Phillies and Rays fans) feel that even if you used the $27 million microscope at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory you wouldn’t have found one fly speck of drama in this year’s Series?
I kid you not, this was one anti-climactic Fall Classic, was it not? I mean, tip of the Joe Schlombowski lid to the Phils (though, personally, I thought Dick Cheney would appear in drag on Dancing with the Stars before Phily would win it all). And that Cole Hammels guy. He was Mr. Nastypants, I’ll give him that, pallie. But if a rain delay is the defining moment of a not-exactly-down-to-the-wire showdown, well, ’nuff said. Wake me when it’s over.
Which brings me to the point of this diatribe. What the hell do we do to get us through to mid-Feb when pitchers and catchers report to spring training?
Regarding Manny’s whereabouts next year, I quote … “I want to see who is the highest bidder,” Ramirez said after the Dodgers’ NLCS loss to the Philadephia Phillies. “Gas is up and so am I.”
What a friggin’ a-hole.
I grant you, he’s not alone. Everywhere you turn you got guys hitting a buck-75 going to arbitration cuz they think they’re lightin’ the world on fire. But, exxxxccuuuuuuuusse me! This guy was basically asked off the Red Sox by his teammates because he couldn’t be counted on. He made it crystal clear that he didn’t want to play for Boston anymore by dogging it, and pretty much treated Epstein, the owners, the rest of the team, and the fans the same way a baby treats a diaper. Well let me tell you Manny, you are not well-loved when your team dumps you but pays the remaining $7 million on your contract while you play for someone else. That pretty much says it all. In fact, it says you’re not just a garden variety a-hole, you’re a large, economy, only-available-at-Costco sized a-hole; with a capital ‘A’ and a ‘hole’ you could drive a cement truck through.
Here’s reason number 2,727,891 why I hate the Mets:
I’m sitting here watching the Sox and Rays in the 4th, when the plate umpire has to punch out because of an injury. So now we got a delay in the game until the crew chief figures out what to do. But it’s not like the guy was carried off on a stretcher. He just strolls over to the Rays’ dugout on his own power. So … Just give another ump the gear and let’s go already! Nope. Gotta call the blue off the field, like the safety of the free world hangs in the balance.
Anyway, while all this is going on, we’re treated to the analysis of the TBS announcers, including former Met, Ron Darling. (Nice last name, pal.) Well, you know where the conversation goes, right? How it’s gonna be really difficult for the pitchers to sit there for an extra 5 minutes while the umpires are grabbing a sandwich or two in the clubhouse, deciding who’s gonna call the rest of the game. Of course the resident expert, Darling, chimes in, explaining what a hardship it is for a pitcher in this situation — like the unbearable 5 minutes he’s having to endure is gonna totally unravel his mojo.
Hey there, ballot box. So, last night, after the Phillies finished wiping their feet on the Dodgers, I flipped the channel to one of those talking head news things. Well hoo-boy! They’ve all got their panties in a wad, screaming and cuttin’ each other off while reviewing the instant replay of the game I shoulda watched; Obama vs. McCain.
So here’s my take.
Obama? He’s your Mark Mulder type — smooooooth delivery; deceptive. Plus he’s a lawyer (like Scott Boras). I trust him about like Billy Martin trusted Steinbrenner. Then you got McCain. He’s like Joe Torre — been around a while; nice guy; spent time in a prison camp which, by all accounts, was almost as bad as working for the aforementioned Yankees owner. I think he’s here for the old-timers game, but that’s almost over. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what happens, or whether you like one of these guys and hate the other one — or vice versa — you will be disappointed in the end, I guarantee. In 4 years we’re all gonna be shakin’ our heads wondering what the hell happened. Again. High hopes followed by disappointment: one helluva lot like being a Cubs fan, my friend. Plus, I don’t see either one of them getting serious about legislation that would outlaw the designated hitter, which is what America really needs.
Alright. So you know how when your team wins the Series (I actually have no first-hand knowledge of this but I’ve seen it on ESPN) it’s expected that the city throws a big party, right? And you gotta have a parade down the biggest street with bands and confetti, and a buncha people screaming like Jesus himself is in the lead car and has just agreed to a 10 year contract for a dollar a year. So I wanna know … where’s the other side of that coin, my friend?
Leading off, Alphonso Soriano:
I am — and anyone within a few blocks of my house will confirm this — pretty miffed about what I’ve been hearing out of a few of the Cubs who allegedly ‘played’ in the NLDS. Leading off, for example, we have the always eloquent Alfonso Soriano. The other day he says, “We’re a good team for  games, but we don’t do nothing after that. That’s the difference. We’re not put together for [a short series].”
I got this nice pep talk email from a woman in California, today. I know, I know. Left coasters — besides rooting for the likes of the Giants and Dodgers and stuff — are generally, you know, genuine whackos. Usually you’re just rolling your eyes when they’re lips are moving, while you listen intently for anything of substance that falls between the word ‘dude’ and the next use of the word ‘dude.’
So little surfer girl was wondering if I’m gonna keep writing the blog now that the Cubs are out of it, as though the previous 47 years of misery hadn’t taught me what rooting for the Cubs means. (See? Left coast.) I mean, it’s not like the Cubbies ever really had a chance after friggin’ Sports Illustrated started writing about our chances like the Series was a foregone conclusion. That brain trust has never picked a winner, so as soon as the first kind word appeared, Lou shoulda just had them clean out their lockers and hit the links. The season was over.