Archives

THE 2017 CHICAGO CUBS’ RECIPE FOR DISASTER.

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez · , , , , , ,

CUBS-2017-RECIPE-FOR-DISASTER

Hey there, grease traps. You know, the missus happens to be a big fan of Chopped, a cooking show where the contestants have to make somethin’ tasty using surprise ingredients. If they don’t, they get eliminated … or chopped. Clever.

It got me thinkin’ about the Cubs, and how every season is like a mystery basket full of ingredients — winning streaks, slumps, heroes and goats, dazzling plays, mental errors and player chemistry. No matter what’s in your basket, though, you gotta put somethin’ on the field that can win. If you don’t, you get chopped. Or you’re the Phillies.

This season, the Cubs haven’t exactly been turnin’ the baseball world on its tastebuds. In fact, last night’s roasting of the Marlins — tasty as it was — was little more than one of those amusing bush things you get at a place like Alinea. It was a taste; somethin’ to get your appetite going. Problem is … you never know if they’re gonna follow it up with a gigantic slice of chocolate covered winning streak, or a dried out, nasty tastin’, stick-in-the-throat, pathetic two hit loss.

That’s been the recipe so far this year — outlined below — and it’s left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. I don’t know about you, but it wouldn’t break my heart if Maddon figured out how to serve up some of that 2016-style, deep dish Cubbie pie.

CUBS RECIPE FOR DISASTER

(Serves approximately 3 million people)

Ingredients:

1 fresh World Series champion baseball team
1/2 (approx.) season of baseball
37 wins
35 losses
47 errors
1 disabled list
newspapers

Instructions:

Remove any remaining glory from last year’s championship team and discard. Separate out Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist and set aside. Combine the 37 wins and the 35 losses until they reach an average consistency. Remove the skin from Jason Heyward’s hand, and fully strain one of Ben Zobrist’s wrists. Add both to the Disabled List. Let chill for 10 days. While chilling, bring Addison Russell’s marriage to a boil and spread it out all over the newspapers. Finally, take one partially seasoned Kyle Schwarber and send him down to Triple-A, Iowa. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients with errors or until fully bland.

Warning:

May cause indigestion, headaches, hair loss and occasional bouts of Tourette’s Syndrome.

Now I don’t think it’s time to go full on Gordon Ramsay or anything just yet. There’s a lotta baseball left. Plenty of time for the Cubs to whip up a batch of wins and make it to the playoffs. But they better turn the heat up pretty soon if they wanna pair any champagne with their season.

Joe

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

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez, News · , , ,

KYLE-SCHWARBER-TO-IOWA

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 · ,

PT-BARNUM-CUBS-BW

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 · , , ,

JOE-AT-HARRY-CAREYS

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