THE OFFICIAL JOE SEZ BLOG-O-RAMA

WHERE CUBS FANS RULE, AND SOMETIMES DREAM ABOUT SLIPPING EXLAX INTO THE CARDINALS' GATORADE.

SOMEWHERE IN A CORN FIELD LIES KYLE SCHWARBER’S SWING. HE’S HEADED TO THE FARM TO FIND IT.

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez, News · , , ,

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Hittin’ a Major League worst .171, it’s no wonder there’s a cast on Schwarber’s bat.

Word is out this mornin’ that the Schwarbmeister is headed to Iowa to see if that’s where he left his swing. A temporary setback for the Kyle-driver and the Cubs, but maybe a good thing, nonetheless. Funny how a guy can lose his swing in Chicago and find it in Des Moines. Somebody oughta invent a Find My Swing app or somethin’, where if you’re normally the spittin’ image of Babe Ruth, like Schwarber, but then somehow turn into Mario Mendoza, you just open the app and — presto — there’s your swing! In the corner of the friggin’ dugout the whole time!

Or maybe there could be some kinda lost-and-found for stuff like swings, exploding fastballs, command of the strike zone, or your gold glove — whatever happens to be missin’ and because of that has turned, say … the former human no-hitter, Jake Arrieta, into the current no-way-he’s-gettin’-a-$250-million-contract Jake Arrieta. If we had one of those, Schwarbs could just go rummage through the big, overflowin’ box of sun glasses, cell phones, umbrellas and the occasional folded and dog-eared picture of Scarlett Johansson and … voila! … the swing! Findin’ it there would always be a huge relief cuz there are a ton of guys who, if they happened across Babe Ruth’s swing lying around, wouldn’t turn it in. They’d show up at a Major League tryout tryin’ to pawn it off as their own.

Isn’t that right, Mets fans?

Anyway, Schwarber is on his way to Field of Dreams country. Hopefully it won’t be too long before he starts hearin’ voices — something on the order of, “If you come, we’ll rebuild it.” Seems like if you can get a bunch of dead ballplayers to come back to life in Iowa, doing the same thing for a swing oughta be a piece of cake. And — no disrespect to Schwarber — he does look like he knows his way around a cake. Know what I’m sayin’? If it works out, I can think of another 24 guys who could use a little AAA tune up.

In fact, I’d like to see the whole AAA thing bein’ applied to other jobs besides baseball. For instance, that team we got in Washington — mind you I’m talkin’ about the whole friggin’ ball club; Republicans, Democrats, the lot of ’em — is about as productive as a box of hair. They don’t even have the friggin’ fundamentals down. You’d have to send ’em all the way down to low A. You know, for the ultra-basic crap … “This round thing with stitches … this is a baseball.” That kinda stuff. To which half of ’em would reply, “Hey, coach, can you take it a little slower?”

I’m lookin’ forward to seein’ Mr Schwarber back in Chi-town, with his swing back to the “stand back or you could get hurt” setting. In all honesty, I don’t know if Iowa is gonna make that much difference, cuz 99 times out of 100, when a swing is misplaced, you don’t have to look any further than that patch of grass between your ears to find it. But, hey, if the smell of corn or the sound of hogs (7 of ’em for every man, woman and child in Iowa) will put the fear of God back in Schwarbs’ swat, I’m all for it.

Joe

CUBS LAUNCH A PROMOTION THAT P.T. BARNUM WOULD HAVE ENVIED.

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez, News · ,

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Hey there, weed whackers. The other day, I was readin’ in the Trib that the Cubs are sellin’ individual ivy leaves from last season. FOR $200 A PIECE! Shipping, handling, taxes and brain surgery (which is what you need if you buy one of these things) are not included. I was so flummoxed ($10 rare word bonus) that it’s taken me until now to gather my thoughts.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.” — P.T . Barnum

A box of rocks. That’s what comes to mind, right off the bat. And in spite of the fact that no one would ever confuse me with Stephen Hawking, at least I know how to count to ten without usin’ my fingers, I know the Earth ain’t flat, and I know that anyone payin’ $200 for a single leaf of ivy, allegedly plucked from Wrigley’s outfield wall after the Series last year, is dumber than a friggin’ box of rocks. Or maybe a hub cap.

I feel compelled to warn any of you rocket scientists out there that already plunked down a couple of bills for your hologrammed yard clipping (and you know who you are) that, in spite of the deceptive name, urinal cookies are not for human consumption. It’s a head-scratcher purchase of gargantuan proportions, my friend — like I could wear a hole in my noggin with that kinda scratchin’. Seriously. You gotta wonder how the hell anyone who’s sittin’ next to their mailbox — probably drooling — anxiously waitin’ for their leaf-in-a-box, ever got successful enough to achieve “premier” status (which I thought was somethin’ you got for spending half your life in the friendly skies, by the way) or afford Cubs season tickets. That’s who gets a shot at this botanical rip-off. 2016 of ’em. Cute number, if not a bit obvious. Anyway, I’m at a total loss to explain why some weed whacker who probably spends his days asking the question, “Would you like fries with that?” has the scratch for season tickets. Makes no sense.

Which brings up a few questions of my own:

1) Can anyone be 100% sure — hologram and all — this ivy is actually from Wrigley and not Mrs Yonkers side yard? 2) Let’s say it is … how do you know it was clipped last year; the World Series year? 3) If it really was, why have the Cubs waited until now to go moron hunting? 4) Is it because moron season doesn’t open until mid-June? 5) Which is longer — moron season or baseball season? 6) Is there a limit on morons? (Not in St Louis.) 7) Besides foliage clippings and shiny objects, are there other equally-effective ways of attracting morons? 8) Wouldn’t DC be a waaaaaay better place to hunt morons than Chicago?

And here’s one more: What about the nickel-and-dimin’ Cubs? The least they could do for fans — no matter how bird-brained — who leverage the college fund to buy season tickets is GIVE ’em an ivy leaf. Every damn one of ’em, too, not just a couple thousand. I mean, how opportunistic can you get?! I don’t need to remind you that it took this franchise every last minute of 108 years to bring us a World Series title. How do they thank us for stickin’ with ’em through 4 generations of abject suckitude? They jack the wombosi outta the ticket prices, that’s how. And they’ve topped that off by preying on idiots, and servin’ up a team that looks a whole lot more like the 2012 Cubs than the 2016 Cubs, thank you very much.

“Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public.” — P.T. Barnum

This all takes me back to P.T. Barnum, who invented “the greatest show on Earth.” And it might have been, until last year’s Cubs-Indians World Series which was — no friggin’ question — the absolute greatest, most electrifying, ulcer inducing, bouncin’ off the walls show on Earth, Mars, Jupiter and any other planet you can come up with. Barnum created the circus and made his fortune off what he called “suckers.” As a lifelong Cubs fan who’s gotten to celebrate as many as ONE championship in 56 long, wait-until-next-year seasons — including the current reasonable facsimile of 1977, which so far has pretty much been a circus itself — I’m seeing a lot of similarities between Ricketts and Barnum, and Cubs fans and suckers.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.

Joe

AT WHAT POINT IN THE SEASON IS IT APPROPRIATE TO PULL OUT MY RABBIT’S FOOT?

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez · , , ,

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Hey there, cheese doodles. I’ve had my eyes closed for most of the season, for obvious reasons, so I was wonderin’ if anyone out there can tell me whether that was a corner the Cubs turned last night, or was that 14-3 enema we administered to the Mets just another one of those smooth spots in this bolder-strewn dirt road of a season?

Don’t get me wrong, pallie, I coulda poured last night over my pancakes this morning. Still, in spite of rackin’ up 15 hits, five of which left the yard, including a grand salami by Ian Happ, I’m not quite ready to head down to Party City. Yeah … we finally got some hits with guys on base — friggin’ amazing! I’d like to think that whatever it was — Rizzo hittin’ in the lead off spot, Lester still high from pickin’ Tommy Pham off of first last week, or Maddon puttin’ on his uniform in a different order — the Cubbies are about to catch fire. Of course, I’d also like to think that the missus is gonna put more hide-the-sausage days on her ‘to do’ list.

Take last week, for instance. The Cubs had won five straight, including a 10-2 A-bomb (that A is for Arietta, my friend) where the Cubbies treated the Marlins like a Donald Trump pinata at Elizabeth Warren’s birthday party. As a result, the wire was all abuzz with a heapin’ helping of hyperbole tied to the North Siders. Words like “surging” and “dominant” — terms that this year are usually associated with the Stros and the Nats — were actually being used in the same sentences with “the Cubs.” And lemme tell ya … I was pretty happy to read stuff like that about this year’s vintage. Still, I found it mildly entertaining — sorta like a guy juggling bowling pins, or Anthony Weiner’s last name.

What I mean is that beatin’ the Cards (26-30 at the time) and the Fish (24-33 at the time), although satisfying, wasn’t exactly a sign that the Cubs had rediscovered the lucky charms that made ’em magically delicious last season. It means they wrestled victory away from a couple of ball clubs that are slightly more mediocre than themselves. Yeah, I sound skeptical. Sue me! One incredible season (last year) — which, admittedly, was un-effing-believable — isn’t enough to break up the previous 55 years of scar tissue on my ass. History aside, though, winnin’ those five games was a distinct improvement over where we were a couple weeks before — limping outta Petco Park after being royally pants’d by the Preachers — the worst team in baseball, except for the Phillies. Kickin’ the Mets (29-34) around their own ball park last night comes with a certain measure of satisfaction, too. But winnin’ games we’re supposed to isn’t exactly somethin’ to do cartwheels over. Yeah, it’s nice, but was it a sign that the Cubs are finally runnin’ on all cylinders?

As it turns out the answer is no, cuz in spite of the fact that tonight Rizzo, Happ and Schwarbs picked up right where they left off last night, the Cubs found a way to reach back to 2012 and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m at a loss to explain how the same damn team can play like they did last night, and then fertilize the lawn tonight. I’d consult my crystal baseball but in April it predicted 111 Cubs wins this season, and obviously can no longer be trusted.

Still, I have hope. I grant you … it’s Schlombowski hope, which means it’s tempered by that hemorrhoid, Steve Bartman, and a lifetime of other rash-inducing memories that the Cubs have scarred me with. Of course I also remember the 2006 St Louis Cardinals — a skid mark of a ball club that took their hairless 83 regular season wins all the way to the World Series title. Which is to say, hope will get you just so far. After that you can squeak by with just enough hitting and pitching to win 83 games, as long as you also have a shit load of luck. So rub it if you got one, my friend. No … I’m talkin’ about a rabbit’s foot, nimrod. Sheesh.

Joe

DUMPIN’ BRYANT FOR THE HARP IS DEFINITELY NOT MUSIC TO MY EARS.

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez, News · , , , ,

HARPER-AS-CUB-2

I have, for my entire 56 years, believed that Cubs fans have more character than … well, Mets fans, for example; that mid-westerners (except, of course, for St Louis fans), by nature, are way nicer than your average finger-flippin’ yay-hoo in a Phillies cap, and smarter than your typical show-up-late-and-leave-early Dodgers fan; that people who faithfully stick with a team through multiple lifetimes of abject futility, bad trades and nonexistent bullpens are the sort you want in your fox hole.

The Peter Gammons Principle.

This week, ESPN’s Peter Gammons brought all that into question by absent-mindedly suggesting Bryce Harper would like to play for the Cubs. The REAL story, though, isn’t whether Harper actually wants in, it’s how some Cubs fans are responding to it. Gammons’ statement has shined some light in the dark corners of the collective Cubs fan mind, revealing a few disgusting thoughts scurrying around like cockroaches. I gotta tell ya, I’m pretty friggin’ appalled, and feel the need to Orkin these guys. More on that in a minute.

Gammons’ initial remarks, and clarified, retracted, back pedaled, follow-up explanation on the subject of the Cubs signin’ Bryce Harper, and the possible ramifications of such a move, started a firestorm — albeit a speculative one — that would rival the inferno that burned Chicago to the friggin’ ground 150 years ago. Most of it confirmed my theory about the character of Cubs fans. Some of it, though, proves that every walk of life has some percentage of the genetically inferior.

And I’ll fully grant you that the little bit of gray matter I’ve got between my ears pales in comparison to some molecular biology, graduated-with-highest-honors Princeton grad. But I can tell you this, my friend … I’ve been rackin’ it day and night since Gammons’ wild and unsubstantiated speculation, yet I still can’t figure how some of the crap I’ve read can come from the mind of a Cubs fan.

For sure, the media is part of the problem. True to form, they jerked an offhand comment by a famous baseball writer right out of its context, and twisted it all up into a controversy pretzel. And probably on purpose. That’s today’s shit-stirring media for ya.

As for Gammons himself, he should know better. When a guy like him says, “I have people tell me that Bryce Harper really would prefer to play for the Cubs,” it means something. The rest of the sports press is gonna pick it up and run with the fucker. I swear, if Gammons farted, the sycophantic ($10 word bonus) press wouldn’t point fingers and curl their noses, they’d wanna talk about what it smelled like and compare it to other farts. To me, Gammons did the sports equivalent of a Trump tweet — said somethin’ outrageous and unsubstantiated — and now everybody has their jock straps in a wad.

It may very well be true that Harper would, to quote Gammons, “prefer to play for the Cubs.” Not a great insight, cuz who the hell wouldn’t? I’ll bet if you surveyed every active player, and they answered honestly, the vast majority would say the same thing. We’ve got Theo, we’ve got Jed, we’ve got Joe. We have Brizzo, Arietta, Zobrist and Baez. Contreras and Davis. Heyward and Russell. Lackey, Lester and Schwarbs. If you don’t wanna be a part of that, you probably don’t wanna have a naked pool party with the last 12 Playmates of the Month, either.

Still, sayin’ somethin’ like that nearly 2 years before your contract with the Nats runs out would be a classless thing to do. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting, intimating, hinting or otherwise insinuating that Harper did anything at all like that. Maybe he said nothin’. Maybe he said stuff to his friends in confidence. You gotta be able to do that without some sports hack floatin’ rumors on you. It also doesn’t matter one iota (How much is an “iota” anyway?) if I personally happen to think Harper is the kinda Milton Bradley douche burger that would crap on his own team. The bottom line is there’s no evidence that Harper said jack, and for Gammons to hang that out there over the plate like a waist-high Carlos Marmol meat ball, wasn’t journalism, it was sensationalism.

In the words of John McEnroe, “You can’t be SERIOUS!”

Gammons’ motivation aside, I’m positively dismayed at some of the reaction by Cubs fans to this story. The comments posted to this article, for example, include the following:

Everyone assumes the Cubs would want to keep Bryant around for a long time, because he’s a great player. But Bryant’s first year as a free agent will come at age 30. Harper’s first free agent year will come at age 26!!!! It makes loads of baseball sense to want to have Harper for ages 26-33 (or whatever) more than to want Bryant for ages 30-37.

Harper’s free agency is still two years away and there are so many teams and variables to think through so it’s still a long shot that the Cubs will sign Harper. But really, from a baseball perspective, it is a no-brainer to take Harper at age 26 and wish Bryant well at age 30.

To which I respond with one word: Loyalty. It’s somethin’ I hold in the highest regard. Like a pizza from Lou Minatti. Along with honesty and integrity, it’s part of what defines character — somthin’ in short supply these days. Loyalty is the defining characteristic of a true die-hard Cubs fan. (That and a well-endowed beer gut in a mustard-stained tee shirt.) How else can you explain the complete lack of logic that goes into unconditionally loving the perennial doormat (until 2015) of the National League? I get the “baseball perspective” the guy above refers to. I just think it’s the kinda perspective that’s warped by a lack of character.

Dumpin’ Bryant for Harper would satisfy his one-dimensional argument, but not take into account the pinheadedness of cuttin’ out the soul of our team in exchange for a questionable clubhouse force. Winnin’ with what we already got isn’t a bad or necessarily impossible thing. We already did it once. We don’t need the Harp to do it again, and we don’t need to say sayonara to KB at age 30. Should the Yanks have cast away Jeter, Posada or Rivera at 30? Only a moron would have made those moves.

Lemme put it to you this way: If you’re datin’ Samantha Hoopes, do you F that all up by also tryin’ to date Kate Upton at the same time, with the ultimate plan to cut the Hoopester? No, you do not. You see where Sammy can take you, which I’m pretty sure would be somewhere between nirvana and heaven.

Let me introduce you to Marsellus Wallace.

The Cubs have somethin’ special, my friends. If they didn’t, jaggoffs like Harper wouldn’t wanna come here. In a perfect Joe Schlombowski world — the baseball one, not the Swedish Bikini Team one — the Cubs would hoist two or three more trophies before this group starts to suffer from the aforementioned “baseball perspective.” I suppose that’s inevitable (like the air quality resulting from a sixer of Old Style and a couple of Chicago dogs). But why orchestrate it in exchange for Papalbon’s punching bag?

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with that. Like this guy:

And I also think it’s foolish to assume that the Cubs can automatically re-sign Bryant. He may want a change of scenery. IMO, if you have a chance to sign Harper and let Bryant walk, you do it.

I’m sorry, but people who think this way should have their Wrigley privileges revoked. Additional sanctions involving boiling oil and fire ants are on my list, too, but run afoul of the Geneva Conventions. Besides, what’s more cruel and unusual than never again being able to set foot in the Friendly Confines? Maybe the Marsellus Wallace treatment, but that’s about it.

What guys like this don’t understand is that there happens to be a lot more to winning than gettin’ the most expensive (sometimes equals “best” often times doesn’t) player in the game to sign on the line which is dotted. It’s a crap strategy that usually guts a team financially, which totally undermines the friggin’ goal.

Two words: Barry Bonds.

On top of being a cheat, a liar and the Darth Vader of the Giants clubhouse, Bonds viewed himself as the epicenter of the baseball universe. Even more assholian, he expected his teammates to do the same. The bloated Bonds ego was matched by just two things, his paycheck and his body — the latter, the result of nothing that he ever admitted to, but that Helen friggin’ Keller coulda seen with her own two eyes. The Giants won exactly zero rings with Bonds, but about 5 minutes after they cut him loose and used his ransom for some good pitching … BOOYA! Three of ’em in 5 years. Pissed me off, I’ll tell ya, cuz I hate the friggin’ Giants.

You do see my point, right? And at least Gammons gave it a nod, himself, sayin’ that the cost associated with havin’ both Bryant and Harper on the same team would be prohibitive.

We don’t need a Harp to play “Go Cubs Go.”

I suppose there’s maybe a .000001% chance that the two yay-hoos I quoted up there were captured by the ISIS of baseball, St. Louis fans, made to kneel in Cardinal red jump suits and forced to say those things on video. I’d like to think that, cuz any Cubs fan freely willin’ to write off Bryant and bow to Harper represents a warped view of the Faithful — a radical Bryce Harper version that promises 72 season tickets for helpin’ to bring the Harp to Chi-town.

The Cubbies may not be havin’ the year they did last season … yet … but they are the defending World Series champs. They did that with Bryant. What has Washington done with Harper?

Joe

CUBS HONOR FOWLER IN DEFIANCE OF THE JOE SCHLOMBOWSKI SPECIAL THEORY OF RELATIVITY.

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez, News · , , , , ,

FOWLER-RETURNS-TO-WRIGLEY

When Dexter “Benedict Arnold” Fowler returned to Wrigley yesterday you’d have thought Halle Berry was walkin’ through the aisles naked handin’ out $100 bills. The place went full on Mt Vesuvius. It was almost as if he’d stepped onto the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field and right then and there … on the spot … accessed the public address system to announce that he was activating some sorta double-secret Jared Kushner back-channel clause in his contract that returned him to the Cubs for the duration of the season.

Did he do that? No.

Still, the Cubs faithful made a spectacle outta Fowler’s return to Chicago — a guy who not only chose to leave a World Series Champion team, he defected to the baseball equivalent of ISIS. At least to the Cubs. If you’re a real Cubs fan — not the safe-spacing, snow flake, powder puff kind that marches to Katie Perry’s “just unite and love on each other” mantra — then you know that in spite of all the great crap Fowler did for us last year, he’s dead to us now. That’s why yesterday’s fan reaction boggles my Old Style altered mind.

When Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, did you see the Rebel Alliance embracing him when he came back to deal with that whole Dantooine thing? No, you did not. But yesterday, when the Cubs presented Fowler with his World Series ring, they did everything but have the Blue Angels buzz the friggin’ stadium. I grant you, he earned it. But if the ring exchange had been planned by me, 1) it woulda only happened if Theo had put a gun to my head or threatened to make me eat ketchup on my Chicago dogs and 2) I woulda placed his Series bling in plain sight somewhere in Garfield Park and invited Fowler to a game of Finders Keepers.

And the fans? They were just as goo-goo-eyed. They delivered an ovation for the ring thing, and then another one when Fowler goes yard in the first off Lackey. SERIOUSLY?! You’re gonna cheer a guy hittin’ a home run against us? And of all people a St Louis Cardinal?! In-friggin’-credible. That’s like throwing a parade for Osama Bin Laden or inviting Kim Jong-un over for Sunday Night Baseball. You never ever ever never EVER cheer for a Cardinal. Ever.

Now I know trades go both ways, and when we raided the Cards lineup before last season, I was plenty happy about that. Still not gonna throw any parties for St Louis … but a thank you note? That might have been appropriate. I can’ t imagine any die-hard Cardinals fans were firing up a Cuban or turning cartwheels, though. And I don’t blame ’em. Hating your arch rival is like jock itch, moronic questions from the media, and $14 Budweiser — it’s part of sports. The size of the rivalry should dictate the amount of prescribed venom. It goes something like this:

H = rc²

That’s the Joe Schlombowski theory of relativity, where hate (H) equals the rival (r) times the speed of light (c) squared. And lemme tell you, pallie, when you multiply St Louis by the speed of light squared, you get a number that’s light years away from givin’ Dexter Fowler a friggin’ ovation.

This whole thing raises a number of questions: What kind of a Cubs fan would cheer for a Cardinals player? Should they be summarily ejected? Should fans be required to submit to random “fan testing?” Should that test be multiple choice, essay or both? Should failures be reported to the proper authorities? Who are the proper authorities? If there are proper authorities, doesn’t that imply that there are improper authorities? If John Mellencamp were to fight these particular authorities, would they still win? What happened to John Mellencamp? Why did he drop the “Cougar” from his name? Is a cougar the same thing as a MILF? What does “summarily” mean? I’m definitely going to lose some sleep over this.

Joe

BIRD FLIES AT CITI FIELD, GETS SHOT DOWN BY MANAGEMENT.

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez, News · , , , , , , ,

MR-MET-FINGER

Hey there, sponge cakes. I got a question for ya: Is anyone over the age of six and a half, besides Lee Corso, a fan of team mascots?

Unless your team is the Penthouse Pets or the Playboy Bunnies, I can see payin’ as much as zero attention to a mascot when I’m at a ball game. Okay, maybe if they passed out sling shots to the first 10,000 fans and painted a target on the San Diego Chicken (last name omitted for obscenity reasons) I could get interested. But other than that … no. So why am I writin’ about ’em? Well, I just saw where Mr. Met has been relieved of his duties as one of the major annoyances in baseball for communicating in a non-verbal manner.

This makes absolutely no sense to me for the following reasons:

1. Mr. Met is a mascot. And like every other mascot that’s been farted outta someone’s brain, Mr. Met is supposed to be mute. How the hell else is he expected to communicate?!

2. I’m willin’ to bet the Mets don’t FedEx someone in from Walla Walla to wear that get-up. You gotta figure the guy is from New York — born and raised — and it’s a well-known fact that New Yorkers learn how to flip the bird before the ink is dry on their birth certificates. So … in the words of every New Yorker since Henry Hudson, “What the fuck did you expect?”

3. One thing is certain: Whoever Mr. Met is, he’s a total die-hard. Probably has a Daryl Strawberry tramp stamp. I mean who else is gonna dress up as a friggin’ baseball and march up and down the Citi Field steps for the duration of the swamp-like New York summer? Combine that kinda rabid fanaticism ($3 word bonus) with the fact that the Mets are playin’ about like the Cubs are playin’ (they positively, totally, completely suck*) and you’re gonna have some frustrations spill over in ways that aren’t always ready for prime time. It’s to be expected.

4. Mr. Met only has 4 fingers, not 5 like you and me. Actually it’s 3 fingers and a thumb. But I ask you: How do you give someone your middle finger if you don’t, technically, have a middle finger?

5. The guy flipped off a Mets fan, but if anyone deserves the bird, it’s Mets fans. I’m still so sore from what they did to us in the playoffs a couple years ago, the Schlombowski man cave turns into a veritable aviary whenever we play the Mets.

6. Two words: Milton Bradley. When the monopoly guy was playin’ for the Cubs, he musta given the Mr. Mets’ high sign to the faithful a dozen times. This is a guy in uniform, mind you, and he didn’t get booted. And keeeeeyyy-ryyyyyyssstt … if there was ever a guy even remotely associated with baseball that shoulda been pink-slipped, it was Bradley. And maybe Bud Selig. Rob Womanfred is a good candidate, too.

Some will make the argument that Mr. Met represents the ball club and, as such, flippin’ off the fans casts a shadow over the organization. To which I ask, how do you back that up when there’s been plenty of guys who smacked their wives around (Chuck Knoblauch, etc.,) or impregnated women in practically every major league city (Steve Garvey, etc.,) or were drug cheats (Barry Bonds, etc.,) — all much more damning offenses? How come nothin’ happened to those guys? Are we to believe the Mets organization is classier than say, the Dodgers? Debatable, I grant you, but probably not.

Personally, I’d like to see the rule-happy Rob Manfred finally institute something that actually IS in the best interest of baseball and give mascots the Shoeless Joe Jackson treatment.

Joe

*Full disclosure: The Mets suck (music to my ears) mostly because of some key injuries. The Cubs, on the other hand, appear to have forgotten how to play baseball. Or they think winning a single Series is good enough … WRONG! Or they’re more concerned with pickin’ out their costumes for the next theme’d road trip.

WHERE IS THE LINE BETWEEN DRESSIN’ UP LIKE RON BURGUNDY AND PLAYIN’ BALL LIKE HIM?

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez · , , , ,

RON-BURGUNDY-CUBS

Sometimes I wish I was a duck. Not the Anaheim hockey kinda duck or the Oregon football kinda duck. The kind that comes with orange sauce in hoity-toity French restaurants. The real kind. The waddling, quacking, flyin’ south for the winter kind. Cuz if I was THAT kinda duck, the whole junior-high-school-let’s-play-dress-up thing the Cubs do, instead of focusing on baseball fundamentals, might just run off my back.

“I’m in a glass case of emotion!” — Ron Burgundy

But I’m not a friggin’ duck, my friend.

I’ll admit that missus would say I have some habits that remind her of another barnyard animal. But a duck? No. And nothin’ — least of all the Cubs’ girly-scout-like penchant for celebratin’ Halloween during the regular season — is running, dripping, sliding or otherwise escapin’ the confines of my heavily forested back. At least not without me first stating the obvious, which is this:

If you’re a major league baseball club, and you’re routinely using your opponent for a doormat, you can dress up like Ronald friggin’ McDonald in drag all you want. Pull out your secret collection of Madonna poindexter bras. Go with the Sports Illustrated body painting thing. Whatever chalks your foul lines. Winning is everything, pallie, so if a team wants to dress like peacocks in heat when they’re doin’ it, who am I to say otherwise. I’ll always think it’s idiotic, but if you’re headed for a 100 win season, what the hell. My problem with the Cubs dressin’ like Ron Burgundy (or Walt Frazier, or Lady Gaga — honestly, I can’t tell with some of those get ups) is that they’re doin’ it in the middle of a .500 season. Yeah, they had just spanked the Reds and Giants before this Southern California trip — and, admittedly, I thought that was some kinda turning point in what has been a less-than-stellar season. As it turns out, though, that’s not the case. Instead, all they did was tempt fate. And fate — otherwise known as the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres — has given ’em a front row seat on the catwalk of “What Not to Wear.”

With the possible exception of the nine games preceding this Burgundy trip, the 2017 Cubs have been playin’ a lot more like the (PUT ALMOST ANY YEAR BETWEEN 1909 AND 2015 HERE: _______) Cubs than the “2016 World Series Champion” Cubs. Example: Last year when we had 25 in the W column, we only had a 6 in the loss column. This year? 26.

“Don’t act like you’re not impressed.” — Ron Burgundy

That’s a pretty impressive collapse, in my book. Especially when you consider that the Cubs have the same basic team as last year. Practically the same lineup. Same skipper. Same coaching staff. We’re playin’ in the same ballparks. Stayin’ in the same hotels, probably. Dating or married to the same women. Puttin’ the same uniforms on in the same way. What we’re NOT doin’ the same is catchin’, throwin’, pitchin’ or hittin’ the friggin’ baseball. In fact, if defense wins championships, the 2017 Cubs might as well punch out right now, cuz they’re currently ranked below every major league ball club in that department, except for the Athletics. And they’re like not even a real baseball team.

Ok, how about our offense? “What offense?” you might ask. Exactly. Kris Bryant is leading the team with a whimpering .277 batting average. He’s also tied with Rizzo for the team lead in steals. They have four apiece. Wow. Ricky Henderson used to swipe that many in a single game! In 2016 we had five guys ranked in baseball’s top 50, offensively. This season, we’ve got one in the top 65 — Bryant, again — but his name doesn’t register until #22. Out of the 30 major league baseball clubs, we rank 24th in team batting average (.237), and we strand 15.73% of our baserunners (29th). Although I suppose I should be thankful that we even have baserunners.

Then there’s our pitching … if that’s what you wanna call it. It’s more like batting practice. We’ve got a 4.09 team ERA (13th), a 1.325 WHIP (14th), we give up 8.40 hits (12th) and 1.27 dingers (18th) per 9 innings, and we hand out up a whopping 3.53 walks per 9 innings (23rd). You know that new (and completely idiotic) rule where a team can opt to wave a batter to first rather than intentionally walk him? Well, at this point, our pitching is so inept, I’m thinkin’ they might as well just turn around and throw the ball in the gap.

But then what do you expect for $175,000,000, right?

The dress up thing reminds me of Crash Davis deliverin’ the “shower shoes” message to Nuke LaLoosh. “If you win 20 in the Show, you can let the mold grow back on your shower shoes and the press will think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the Show, however, it means you’re a slob.” Same principle applies here. If you’re 35 and 16 you can dress like friggin’ Liberace and everybody will think you’re loose. But if you’re 25 and 26, it just means you’ve taken your eye off the ball.

And THAT, my friend, is winning another Series.

“I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal.” — Ron Burgundy

Sure, winnin’ one was a big deal. Not as big as winning two, though. Am I thankful I was alive to witness last year? Damn right. Would I like to see more while we still have a chance with this lineup we got? Who wouldn’t? But even if that doesn’t materialize, I’d much rather the Cubs acted like playin’ ball mattered as much as playin’ dress up. Cuz right now, they’re not only lookin’ like Ron Burgundy off the field … they’re playin’ ball like him on it.

Of course I could be wrong. But I’m not.

Joe

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN.

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez · , , ,

TRY-NOT-TO-SUCK

It’s the middle of May and the Cubs are 19-19. That’s a long way from where we were at this point last season, my friend. Light years away. About 108 of ’em. I don’t mean to sound negative, but what in the hell happened to the new and improved Cubs, I ask? Was 2016 it? Is that all we’re gonna get: The baseball equivalent of Ben Simmons’ one-and-done? I mean in all honesty, I’m havin’ a hard time swallowing Tom Ricketts’ 2017 pricing structure when he’s servin’ up the 2012 Cubs. Not cool.

Yeah, it’s early. And, no, I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. But I am gettin’ my arm loosened up. Besides, sayin’ it’s early is the exact same thing as sayin’ Joe West has a crap strike zone. It’s the same friggin’ Helen Keller strike zone for both teams. And it’s just as early for the Snakes, who finished 22 games outta first last season, as it is for us. In spite of that, some how — magically — the Nats, the Cards, the Rockies and, yes even the Snakes have all figured out how to play actual major league baseball. The Cubs? They’re swingin’ the bats like my grandmother, and she’s been pushing up daisies for like 20 years. Defense? That’s just something covered in ivy.

One can hope that the current series against the pathetic Cincinnati Reds — who we spanked last night but with whom we share identically anemic 19-19 records — will signal the return of last year’s mantra, “Try not to suck.” Or maybe it oughta be updated to, “Stop sucking.” Either way, if we don’t start hitting, pitching and fielding like we actually have some previous experience with these tasks, Tom Ricketts can take his inflated pricing and stuff it wherever our starting pitching in currently storing their heads.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.

Joe

ONE DOWN. ABOUT 110 MORE TO GO, ACCORDING TO MY CRYSTAL BASEBALL.

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez · , , , , , , , ,

JOES-CRYSTAL-BASEBALL-2

A few thousand Old Styles and about forty pounds ago, when I was a freshman, I dated this hot blooded Italian chicadoodle for a while. Her old man flew Corsairs with Pappy Boyington in the South Pacific. He was an Ace, too, whose face looked like somebody chiseled it outta granite … and none too carefully, either. He was about as broad as a house, spent some time coaching the US Boxing team, and had a temper that was perfectly suited for someone who’d been shot outta the sky a few times.

Thankfully, his offspring didn’t look anything like him, but hoooooo boy … she had every bit of his vein-poppin’ temper! I mean if Bashar al-Assad had just gotten the Marcellus Wallace “gimp” treatment from Zed — that kinda temper. BANG! KASHWACK! BAAAMMM! When doors started slammin’, you knew she was on the war path. In her case, though, it was more like the war interstate highway.

Fast forward to opening night. Just when it looked like the Cubbies were about to pull a little of that World Series magic outta their seat cushions … KAPOOWWW! The Cards handed us a foundation-rattling helping of the angry girlfriend treatment in the form of Randal Grichuk. That shard of light peeping through the door to victory got vaporized by Grichuk’s bat.

Can’t say I liked that.

Not to worry, though. We’re just toying with ’em. Think about it, pallie. After putting 17-1/2 games between us and the Cards last season and winnin’ the last game of the playoffs in THEE best World Series ever, Theo does the equivalent of spotting your kid sister 19 points in a game of 21 by letting the devil incarnate — the Cards — make off with Fowler. (Fowler is dead to me, by the way.) Then, just to make things interesting, our lineup decides to close one eye at the plate Sunday night, Lester is about as sharp as a bag full of overcooked pasta, and Strop … well … Strop was Strop; the human question mark. And still — still —  we come within a Grichuk of winning anyway.

Let’s just say I’m not worried.

Why? Cuz last night we gave the angry girlfriend treatment right back to St. Louis, turning Matheny’s review of the last play of the game into a broken hinge in the House of Cards. Some killer base running early and an amazing grab in left by Almora didn’t hurt either.

I’m thinkin’ about 111 or 112 wins this season. Optimistic? I know, I know. Who am I and what did I do with the real Joe Schlombowski, right? Hey! Sue me for riding the wave, pal. I’ll get off when I’m damn well ready … or when the Cubs turn back into the Cubs. Whichever comes first.

Joe

WHAT’S THE OVER / UNDER FOR WHEN MANFRED SKATES ON TONIGHT’S CUBS-CARDS OPENER?

· 2017 Cubs, Instant Replay, Joe Sez · , , , , , , , , , ,

NIGHTENGALE-MANFRED-TWEET

Hey there, sponge cakes. Welcome to Opening Day — not Opening Week, as baseball has taken to calling it. That’s gotta be a Manfredism. Speaking of which … Bob Nightengale reports that commissioner Rob Womanfred will be in attendance at the Cubs opener in St. Louis tonight. My question is: When does he adios the game? I figure it’ll be after the 7th, cuz that’s how long he thinks major league games oughta last.

I tend to pick on commissioners, and Manfred is no exception. But, hey, they bring it on themselves. Bud Selig, for example, decided to end the 2002 All Star game in a tie. It’s baseball. There are no ties. And that “World Series home field advantage to the league that wins the All Star game” rule was his, too. I’m tellin’ you … listening to baseball commissioner ideas is like walkin’ your dog — you gotta bring a plastic bag along to pick up all the turds. I’ll give this to Manfred: the guy flushed the ASG/World Series advantage brain fart. But that’s it on the plus side of the Manfred board. Everything else he wants to do — most of which revolves around makin’ games shorter — screws with the fundamentals of baseball.

Some people want shorter games. Yeah, I read about that all the time. But I ask: Who are these people? Are they millennial types raised on iPhones, video games, and blaring music so loud during any break in the action that it makes my toenails hurt? I think maybe so, cuz I don’t hear people my age complaining about watchin’ a game for 3 hours. (Except for Mr. “if it ain’t broke, fix it anyway” Womanfred.) I’d even be willin’ to bet that it was Robbie’s idea to broom the nudie pictures from the pages of Playboy — another institution that didn’t need to be “improved.” I’ll tell ya … if congress wants to investigate something that’s truly un-american … that would be it, my friend!

Point is, maybe it isn’t baseball that needs fixing. Instead, maybe it’s the binge-watching, instant-gratification, short-attention-span generation that can’t spend four seconds away from their social media feeds without breakin’ out in a sweat that needs fixing. Baseball has been around for like a million years, and other than stupidly not lettin’ black players in until Jackie Robinson, it’s pretty much been perfect. It doesn’t need the pathetic DH. It doesn’t need instant replay … especially when the umps still can’t get it right. (See today’s Yankees-Rays opener.) Baseball doesn’t need a fake intentional walk, or a protective bubble around middle infielders, or a special purpose rule puttin’ a guy on second in extra inning games. And it SURE as hell doesn’t need two innings clipped off the tail end. If anything in baseball needs to be clipped, it’s Rob Manfred’s self-important wings and Noah Syndergaard’s goldilocks. Other than that, unless you wanna make American League pitchers man up and take their swings, or turn that F-ing head-banging noise off between batters, or hire the displaced Playboy models as bat girls, we should just leave baseball the hell alone, pallie.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.

Joe