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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