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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

I PITY THE FOOL THAT GETS IN OUR WAY. INCLUDING KLUBER.

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez, The Playoffs · , , , , , , , , ,

CUBS-INDIANS-GAME-1

Hey there, wing nuts. Well, watchin’ Game 1 was about as much fun as gettin’ a colonoscopy from the Tasmanian Devil. Things didn’t go well from the start. The “start” being the stupid friggin’ Bud Selig All Star game rule which takes World Series home field advantage away from the team that actually earns it. So let’s see, Bud … Umm, a game that doesn’t count at all steers the direction of the most important series in the entire baseball season. Great friggin’ idea, ass hat. We shoulda been in Chicago last night for the opener. Period. Would it have made a difference? Well let me put it this way: If it doesn’t make any difference, why then are the best teams in every sport in the known universe (except for baseball) ALWAYS given home field/court/ice/pitch (whatever you wanna call it) advantage in a championship series? If it were up to me, I’d throw Selig in a poorly lit basement with Marsellus Wallace, the Gimp and a blow torch. Maybe a pair of pliers, too. That rule has gotta be flushed.

Anyway, let’s take that outta the equation. It still didn’t start out well. I mean it did, but then it didn’t. Lester threw 5 pitches and had 2 outs in the bottom of the first. Total cruise control. And then it started raining dirty diapers on us. When you’re the Chicago Cubs, Lester is on the mound, you’ve got two outs, and the bases are 100% Indian-free … you oughta get outta the inning unscathed. Not last night.

On top of that, Kluber Lang struck out almost everybody in the first 3 frames. What a fascist. Reminded me a lot of NLCS games 2 and 3 when the Cubs pretended they couldn’t hit. They did a convincing job, too. We snuck a few in last night, though, and had some excellent scoring opportunities, especially against Andrew Miller, that sky scraper they brought in for Kluber. Even Schwarber, who’d had 11 at bats all season before steppin’ into the batter’s box in the 2nd, smacked a double. On balance, though, we looked like Tim Tebow at the plate.

And … AND … the home plate ump had two strike zones — one for Kluber and another for Lester. It was as plain as the blank stare on Bud Selig’s face. Seriously, the quality of the umpiring in the playoffs — at least the games I’ve been watchin’ — is like it was made in Taiwan. Pathetic.

We got KO’d by a team that’s not nearly as good as we are. Personally, I don’t think that’s gonna happen again. We didn’t win 103 games by accident, my friend. As nice as Cleveland’s story is — gettin’ to the Series with so many injuries and all, and not even being in the thing for 68 years — I just don’t think it’s gonna hold up against the Cubs. We only have to do one thing — play like the 2016 Chicago Cubs instead of the Wexley School for Girls.

Joe

BASEBALL IS FULL OF SIGNS, RIGHT? TODAY, LOS ANGELES GOT ONE FROM GOD.

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez, The Playoffs · , , , , , , ,

BASEBALL-SIGN

It rained in Los Angeles today. Normally that’s not exactly a film-at-11, David Muir-esque breaking news kinda thing, but then it hasn’t rained in LA since May 5th. (By the way … what the hell does Muir put in his hair … glue? You could do a reverse 3-1/2 somersault off of that do.) Anyway, until today it had been 165 consecutive days without so much as a peep from heaven, unless you count Kobe retiring and takin’ his .350 field goal percentage with him. Not every sign from God is a good one, though. Sometimes it’s more like a No Trespassin’ sign, or a Keep The Hell Off The Friggin’ Lawn sign or, in this particular case, a Closed For The Season sign addressed to the Dodgers.

I found it interesting that today’s sprinkles came right on the heels of last night’s prognostication, in which I predicted a wicked Chicago storm is about to blow through Tinseltown this week. I was talkin’ about the Cubs, of course, but I think the chocolate mess that a few raindrops made outta LA’s freeways today was definitely a sign of what’s about to happen to the Dodgers. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

And they totally deserve it, too. Why? Dave Roberts’ laugh. Last night, when Baez flew out in the 7th about 3 eyelashes from the wall, Roberts unleashed a laugh that coulda gotten him the roll of #1 understudy for Dr. Evil. Michael Clair called it “maniacal,” So true. And I ask you, do normal people laugh like that, or just the possessed, mad scientists, and devil incarnates in the form of Major League managers? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Don’t be surprised if there’s an eclipse or somethin’ over Chavez Ravine tomorrow, or maybe some sort of pagan sacrifice bunting or somethin’ else on the part of the Dodgers designed to conjure the demons of baseball — like Bud Selig — in an effort to skew the game’s outcome through satanic influence.

Joe

PS. By the way, cry me an LA River on the 165 day thing, Los Angeles. You wanna talk drought? I give you the Chicago Cubs, who have gone somewhere in the vicinity of 39,420 days without a ring.

CLINCHIN’ THE DIVISION: SWEET. DOIN’ IT IN ST. LOUIS: PURE COTTON CANDY.

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez · , , , , ,

MCGWIRE-SOSA

Hey there, corn nuts, Joe “I can’t stand the friggin’ Cardinals” Schlombowski here to remind you that we start a 3 game series against the Redbirds tonight. I bring this to your attention cuz if we broom these cupcakes we claim the Division title for the first time since 2008. I’d call that pretty sweet … but doin’ it against the Cards? Well, that’s more like cotton candy pancakes smothered in whip cream covered Snickers-infused molten chocolate syrup. With an Old Style.

Clinchin’ in St Louis has a much higher calorie count cuz of the long history of discontent between the Cubs and the Cards. It’s like the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, Ali and Frasier, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. Takin’ the title on the Cards’ home turf would have the added benefit of rubbin’ their noses in somethin’. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Anyhoo … this reminded me of Sosa and McGwire — two guys that, back in 1998, became a microcosm of this long standing rivalry. That was before they became a microcosm of the cheatin’, roided-up jaggoffs who crapped all over the game of baseball. That aside, their chase for the single season dinger record seemed other-worldly at the time, and it probably did a lot to help bring the national pastime back out from the shadow of the players’ strike, which cancelled the 1994 World Series and part of the next season as well. Assholes.

Seriously. How the hell do you strike when every guy in your industry is makin’ mad money for playin’ a game?! That drives me friggin’ bat guano. Of course the owners pretty much brought it on themselves, and much of that can be laid at the feet of Captain Lame with Lame sauce. Uhh, that would be Bug Selig.

I digress. Point is, Sosa and McGwire spent the ’98 season makin’ like NASA with all the crap they put into orbit. It was mind-boggling. All you had to do was look at either one of ’em to know they weren’t do it the way Maris did, but baseball let it go cuz it was puttin’ butts in seats and makin’ players rich beyond Barry Bonds’s wildest dreams. Anyway, they’re still at it in September when McGwire swats number 62 off Steve Trachsel in the fourth inning of a 6-3 Cubs loss. And what does Sammy do? He makes his way in from right field to embrace his home run rival like a couple of horny grizzly bears. Full disclosure: he wasn’t alone. Hell, half the Cubs lineup practically tried to get his autograph as he was trottin’ around the bases like Secretariat. Which brings me back to the Cubs-Cards rivalry. Or in this particular case, love fest. I’m sorry … I totally get what sportsmanship is all about, but puttin’ your arms around a Cardinal oughta get you fined, my friend. Say somethin’ nice at the press conference, send him a bottle of scotch, maybe. Whatever. But a public display of affection for the arch enemy?! Are you friggin’ kidding me? That’s like Montgomery givin’ Romel a big wet kiss after getting his ass kicked in North Africa. I’m talkin’ oil and water here, my friend. No Cubs player should ever betray the rivalry by doin’ anything that could be construed as “fraternizing” with a Cardinals player.

Fraternization is a term defined as “to become like brothers” and undermines the goals and objectives of war, or in this case a ball game. Providing covert aid or even extending cordiality to the enemy is an offense typically prohibited by military codes of conduct. When it comes to the Cubs-Cards rivalry, I think we’re talkin’ about a similar code, and breaking it oughta be subject to some sort of harsh military-like punitive measures. Like pickin’ up all the sun flower seeds in the dugout between innings, or couple weeks of cleanin’ up Wrigley after each game. I’m just sayin’.

McGwire finished the year with 70 round-trippers, while Sosa had 66. In spite of Mac’s juiced performance, the Cards went nowhere. Chicago finished 90–73, earning us a wild card berth, but we were swept by the Braves in the first round. Typical. So, in the end, all that cheatin’ didn’t do a damn thing for either club.

The animosity between us remains intact, though. Should we respect the Cards? Absolutely. They’ve won a helluva lot more Championships than the Cubs have, so they kinda deserve it. Of course that’s just one more reason to hate ’em.

Joe

THE ALL-STAR GAME: THE GOOD, THE “BUD” AND THE UGLY.

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez · , , , , , ,

ALL-STAR-GAME

When it comes to All-Star Games, Major League Baseball kicks football’s, basketball’s and hockey’s asses. No question.

And football? Pffft. The Pro Bowl ain’t even played until the season’s over; we’ve slept through a playoff system that includes, like, every stinkin’ team in the league; and nasty Miss Jackson’s boobs have already exploded from her Super Bowl outfit. I mean, after that, who the hell gives a crap about football?

That said, MLB’s All-Star Game ain’t exactly a chew-on-your-fingernails, glued-to-the-chair, don’t-miss-a-pitch event. It’s a vehicle for sellin’ beer and cars and Viagra (Oh … and just for the record, there have been 6 phone calls from the Schlombowski household seeking immediate medical attention, but each has been 100% attributed to the God-given charms of Mrs Schlombowski.) to the average couch potato like me, sittin’ at home takin’ in the spectacle or pageantry or whatever the hell Joe Buck will undoubtedly call it. Point is, the All-Star Game may not be as riveting as the missus, but I haven’t missed one since I was old enough to pee. I have no idea why … I mean, why give a crapola about one game that doesn’t really count and is wedged into the middle of 162 that do?

No clue.

So let’s put things on the Schlombowski Scale and see where the pros and cons net out.

THAT’S PRETTY COOL: In 1939, the American League All-Star team featured 10 guys … 10 friggin’ guys! … from one team; the Yankees. Only 6 of ’em played, but still, that gives you an idea of exactly how good the Yanks were in ’39. This year the Cubs have 7: Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Dexter Fowler, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. And except for Lester and Chicago’s very own nudie pitcher, they’re all startin’. Think about that for a minute. The Chicago Cubs have gone from being a team with a token guy on the All-Star roster (cuz you gotta have at least one player from every team — smells like Bud Selig to me) to havin’ 5 starting position players. I’d say that’s pretty damn good. In fact it’s just shy of 1939 Yankees good. Maybe better, cuz the Yanks were already a dynasty in ’39, whereas the only thing the Cubs have ruled over is the National League door mat.

YOU GOTTA BE JOKIN’: The Mid-Season Classic is an exhibition. It doesn’t count. But thanks to one of Bud Selig’s aggravated brain farts (and he had more than one related to the All-Star Game) the game’s outcome decides who has home field advantage in the World Series. If you took all the moronic baseball ideas and stacked ’em in ascending order of stupidity, that one would hold the cherry position, my friend. Yes, it even beats out the White Sox short pants fashion “don’t” from 1976.

Bob Ryan, when he was with The Boston Globe, put it like this:

“So now we have a game that’s not real baseball determining which league hosts Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 in the World Series. It’s not a game if pitchers throw one inning. It’s not a game if managers try to get everyone on a bloated roster into the game. It’s not a game if every franchise, no matter how wretched, has to put a player on the team … If the game is going to count, tell the managers to channel their inner Connie Mack and go for it.”

Look, wing nuts, home-field advantage in the World Series oughta be based on regular season records, not on a friggin’ exhibition game filled with enough “fan experience” bullshit to overload the senses of a Fuller Park police dispatcher. You got the best record, you should have the advantage. Period.

What Selig did in 2003 has impacted the World Series in a ginormous way: the league that won the All-Star Game has won ten of the last 13 October Classics. That’s Perry Mason-like evidence that home field advantage is significant. So why is it decided by something as random as the final score of the All-Star Game? You might just as well just flip a coin cuz they’re both equally arbitrary. How ’bout lettin’ the winner of the Home Run Derby decide who gets home field advantage? Or maybe the 10,000th fan to enter the park? Better yet; a rochambeau between the bat boys.

Ridiculous.

Plus — and this really winds my weed whacker — when you’ve got Adam Wainwright suggesting that he purposely … PURPOSELY … floated some meatballs to Derek Jeter in his last appearance in the Mid-Season Classic, you gotta question the integrity of usin’ the All-Star Game to decide anything. Except maybe who gets the Douche Bag Award — in this case, Adam Wainwright (a Cardinal, of course).

THANKS, I NEEDED THAT: 162 games is a long season, my friend. Hockey and basketball are long, too, but baseball is ultra-extra long. Biblically long. Football? A whopping 16 games. Doesn’t even deserve a coffee break, pal. A baseball season, on the other hand, is like all 1,037 pages of Gone With the Wind that Mrs Bednarski tried to get me to read in the ninth grade: great, maybe, but too damn long to sit through without an intermission.

So, the break is good. It’s a way of standin’ back and evaluating where you are; lookin’ at what you’re doing right (Cubs: damn near everything on the field) and what you’re doin’ wrong (Cubs: the bullpen, and playin’ dress up on road trips). The All-Star Game gives the whole organization a chance to catch its breath. Or, if you’re the Twins or the Braves, set your tee times for the day after the regular season ends.

By the way, Mrs Bednarski was pissed at me for not finishing Gone With the Wind. Hell, I barely got passed the title cuz it pretty much summed up the Cubs’ post-season chances for all of my first 14 years on the planet. There have been a few hopeful moments since, but I’m not crackin’ that book again until the Cubs are sportin’ rings.

YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS: In 2002, that colossal bobble-head, Bud Selig, decided to call the All-Star Game a tie. I still can’t believe it. You got a collection of some of the best players in baseball playin’ against each other, broadcast around the world, and you decide to have it end in a tie?!! That’s like kissin’ your sister. (Uh … that’s a bad thing, White Sox fans.)

The game had gone into extra innings, so in the middle of the 11th both managers met with the Commish, explaining that they were out of pitching. Instead of doin’ what they’d have to do if they were playin’ A REAL FRIGGIN’ GAME, Selig decided that if the National League didn’t score in the bottom of the inning, the game would be ruled a tie. Are you friggin’ kidding me?! This was the big cheese of baseball layin’ down his Milwaukee bowling league rules on the Mid-Season Classic. Lemme tell you, lugnuts, the fans in Milwaukee were none too pleased. No real baseball fan was happy with that. Yours truly did his best John McEnroe imitation when it happened and spilled an Old Style all over the sofa. Had to get rid of it cuz we couldn’t get the smell out. It was like havin’ Bud Selig in the room. Anyway, that’s gotta be the worst thing that’s ever happened in, at or to an All-Star Game.

WISH I’D BEEN THERE: By contrast, I think maybe the best moment in All-Star game history was in 1941. With the American League trailing by 2 with 2 outs in the 9th, Ted Williams steps up to the plate and swats a 3-run homer to beat the National League 5-4. Of course, he hit it off the Cubs’ Claude Passeau, but, hey … I wasn’t even an itch in my daddy’s pants yet, so it’s not so hard to take that one. Anyway, Williams’ blast was the first of the walk-off kind in All-Star Game history.

But beyond that little factoid, think about the chances of the American League winnin’ that game. Zippo. Well, actually about 20% … but basically that’s zippo. That was an unbelievable shot when the chips were down by arguably the greatest hitter who ever lived. (BA of .406 that year.) If there was ever a meaningful moment in a game that’s 100% meaningless, that was it. Killer.

BAN THAT GUY: In 197o, long before we ever knew what a jaggoff he really was, Pete Rose demonstrated a bit of his assholian inner self when he barreled into Ray Fosse at home, essentially ending the All-Star backstop’s career. Mind you, this was pre-Bud, when the game had no significance whatsoever. It didn’t count, it didn’t matter, the Series home field advantage wasn’t ridin’ on it. It was just a pick-up game filled with ringers. Rose mowin’ Fosse down like an 18 wheeler was the most unsportsmanlike, jackassian display of testosterone I’ve ever seen, but par for the course for Rose. And hey, I totally give that move to him in the regular season and the playoffs. But the All-Star Game? Let’s just say, a Rose by any other name would still stink.

In a “what goes around comes around” sorta way, karma has done it’s a little Riverdance on Rose’s big fat head; the result of his bettin’ on baseball, a strict no-no. So while I was thinkin’ he oughta be banned from the game in 1970 for bein’ a total All-Star douche bag, little did I know that it would actually happen. For me, it was the ugliest moment in All-Star history, cuz a guy’s career was taken from him.

On balance I’d say I’m an All-Star Game fan. Besides, what’s better than another baseball game to break up the baseball season? Nothin’. Especially this year with 25% of the roster made up of Cubbies. Hopefully Rob Womanfred won’t rear his ugly bonehead and decide that we’re over-represented.

Joe