Hey there, lawn darts, this is the venerable Joseph T. Schlombowski, comin’ at ya from the cheap seats. [Sidebar: I don’t know what “venerable” means, but it sounds good whenever I hear it comin’ outta some big shot ESPN mouth piece.] The Reds are comin’ to town and you know what that means — time to break out the foam middle fingers, pal.
Yeah, my normally militant persona is ratcheted up a couple a hundred notches, but when you’re in the Schlombowski zone, does it really matter? That’s like addin’ a couple of extra buckets of water to the Pacific. Know what I’m sayin’?
Annnnnywaaaaay … it doesn’t take much for me to get up for a series against the Reds. Why? Cuz of the pin-headed Marty Brennaman — the uncontrolled fog horn of the Cincinnati Reds. I’ll get back to his mouth in a moment. First, though, I gotta hand it to the guy: In spite of the burr he has permanently wedged between by ass cheeks, Brennaman is definitely on the right side of Rob Womanfred’s new slide rule. Which is to say his brain waves are hittin’ the same beach as mine for a change. In fact in April, Brennaman said he thought the Commish was legislating baseball “into a game of sissies.“ Totally. Almost sent him a thank you note for that one, but then I remembered why I’d rather eat off the floor of a gas station bathroom than hear his name mentioned again.
Which brings me back to Brennaman’s pie hole, and gettin’ up for the Reds.
For those of you who don’t remember: During a game between Cinci and the Cubs in 2008, Adam Dunn plunked one out onto Sheffield. Now you’d expect that one to come flyin’ back over the bleachers somewhere in the vicinity of then right fielder Sammy Sosa (former Cubs superstar turned roided up DB). Instead, Dunn’s blast initiated a symphony of baseballs — not just the one — being tossed back onto the field. Friggin’ laughed my ass off! (Not enough of it according to the missus, though.) But Mr Brennaman and his steel reinforced sphincter reacted to it differently.
Now, all I gotta do to get my fan face on for the Reds is spend 2 minutes on YouTube listenin’ to that loud speaker tellin’ me that Cubs fans are far and away the most obnoxious in baseball.
You’ll have to excuse me now. I gotta go take a Brennaman.
Hey there, fuzz buttles, and happy Independence Day. I gotta tell you, the 4th has me feelin’ a little Joe Dirt-y, especially after the Mets decided to start their fireworks show early, unleashing a 4 game long grand finale of spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don’ts, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers — with and without the scooter stick — right up the whistlin’ bungholes of the Cubs. What I’m hopin’ for is a little pyrotechnics of our own at the considerable expense of the Reds. Yeah … I’d like that.
Better stand back, cover your ears and put your dogs inside. This could get noisy.
Boris Spasky? Garry Kasparov? Bobby Fischer? Pfft. You wanna talk about the grandest master of ’em all, you’ll be throwin’ the name Joe Maddon around, my friend. If you saw last night’s game, you know exactly what I’m talkin’ about. If I didn’t know better — but I do, cuz guys were wearin’ uniforms instead of suits, and the game was in Cincinnati not Reykjavik — I’d have sworn I was watchin’ a great chess match.
Maddon opened with the Zobrist Attack — nearly impossible to defend against — and then began to slowly and methodically dissect the Reds like the pawns they are. It was masterful; different than the night before, though, where he basically commanded the entire game with a single piece — a tactic known as the Bryant Challenge. But last night … last night’s middlegame was almost cruel. Maddon lulled the Reds into a sense of over-confidence by toyin’ with ’em. Even lettin’ them back in the game when he had a chance to close it out. This is known as the Rondon Gambit. There are similar Gambit moves — the Wood, the Grimm and the Stroup — that Maddon will attempt on occasion, but last night he went with Rondon.
You could see the Reds thinkin’ they had an opening, especially when they shut the door on the Cubs with their semi-brilliant (nothing the Reds do can technically be called “brilliant”) execution of the Votto Defense. But then Maddon started movin’ pieces around like a friggin’ tornado and exchanging ’em like teenage girls sharin’ a closet; Grimm for Rondon, Goghlan for Almora, Szczur from left to center, Edwards for Grimm, Montero to Edwards’s spot then Cahill for Edwards. This kinda chess-like mastery continued for the next 5 innings, with Maddon makin’ one of his most blinding moves — the Patton-Wood castling — in the 14th. Filthy. Really filthy.
It wasn’t until the 15th, though, that Big Joe pulled out the rarely-used Javier Baez Slam. An end game I don’t think anyone expected, least of all the Reds. That just friggin’ crushed whatever hope they’d been clinging to and 3 outs later … check-friggin-mate, my friend.
Tip of the Joe cap to you, Joe Maddon. That was 4 hours and 43 minutes of brilliance.
Unless you’re still weeping over the fact that Game of Thrones is done for the season, you know that Kris Bryant leapt a few tall buildings in a single bound last night on the way to becoming the first player in Chicago Cubs history to have 16 total bases in a single game. Those came at the expense of the Cincinnati Reds in the form of 3 yard shots and 2 doubles. In fact, no one in the 177 years we’ve been playin’ the sport of baseball has ever had that particular combination of five hits in a game. Not even once. Seems to me parents oughta be marchin’ their kids by a plaque somewhere that commemorates this feat of basballian heroism.
The last time I saw the kinda power Bryant put on display last night was when the Soviets paraded their military might through through the streets of Moscow. I’d suggest marching Bryant through the streets of whatever city we happen to be in, but he’s not that kinda guy. And that’s the part I like best about Kris. You won’t see him flippin’ his bat, or standin’ at home admiring one of his dingers, or showin’ up another team. He just goes about his business and lets the performance do the talkin’. Bryce Harper, put your comb down for a minute and pay attention.
What makes this even filthier than it already is, is the fact that he did it while playin’ 3 different positions. There are certainly exceptions, and the Cubs are filled with players who qualify, but most guys get all twisted when you move ’em around the diamond. It throws their games off. Bryant? He could care less. And why? My theory is that his game is a whole lot more about the team than it is about Kris Bryant. He doesn’t ever get sucked into a mind-funk if he’s goin’ through a rough patch, or he’s battin’ in a different spot in the order, or he’s playin’ right instead of 3rd. There’s no Hollywood in Bryant. Bryce Harper, I said put your comb down and pay attention.
Anyway, you can catch the details from Jesse Rogers or David Schoenfield or ESPN or Jesse Rogers again, or maybe graffitied on a box car somewhere. It’s everywhere. I don’t even think Donald Trump can say something that would derail this story for a few days.
That was some game, Kris. Thanks for the memory.
What is this, football season already?! Kinda sounds like it when you’re playin’ Cincinnati.
To clarify, so far this season, Chicago has outscored Cincinnati 46-7. Ouch! If this was September you might think I was talkin’ about the Bears and Bengals (except for the fact that baseball kick’s football’s ass, and I’d rather get a colonoscopy from Dr Jack Hammer than talk about football). Nope. It’s the Cubs and Reds, pal, and in football parlance we’re barely into the 2nd quarter with these guys.
At the current pace, the Cubs are gonna run up 156 runs over the course of our 17 meetings with Cinci this year. I know a lot of you are thinkin’ that we can’t sustain that pace. But I say, if the Warriors could damn near run the table this year, then why not the Cubs? Yeah, they have Stephen Curry … But we got Arrieta, Lackey, Bryant, Rizzo … hell, I could sooooo go on. And look at their history; a very Cubs-like futility on a basketball court. Plus, we’ve got the law of averages on our side; we’re due. Past due. Way, way, way past due.
And as far as football goes, they have cheerleaders, we don’t. That’s the one thing I have to tip the Joe lid to, and is the second thing I think (Hey, Womanfred, are you listening?!) the Commissioner could do to improve the game. The first thing would be to get rid of that sissy Designated Hitter crutch. Have you seen Arrieta hit?! Case closed, pal.
As noisy as the Cubs bats were tonight — and it was like a friggin’ Linkin Park concert on steroids — they couldn’t quite drown out the silence of Cincinnati’s, who failed to produce a single base hit (not a little squib, not a dying quail, nothin’) against the super-hero arm of Jake Arrieta. You’ve heard of the zone? Well, wherever the hell that is, Jake’s smack dab in the dead center of it.
To be honest, I felt a little sorry for Cincinnati tonight. I mean, not sorry enough to feel bad; sorry in a way that I wanted to spare them the embarrassment of stepping into the batters box against this guy right now. Plus, it was just a colossal waste of time. It woulda been easier for everyone if, instead of stepping into the batters box, they just penciled in a strike out, or weak ground ball or pop out in the score book and then headed back out on the field. (Probably would have made Rob Manfred, MLB’s official time-keeper, happy.)
Likewise, instead of pitching to the Cubs tonight, it woulda been easier if Finnegan had just turned around and thrown the ball into the gap, or over the fence or something. 16 runs on 18 hits. In tennis that would be called “abuse of ball.” Love it.
I feel like I oughta be drooling over the offensive production more, and normally I would. But holy crap!, Arrieta has 2 no-no’s in his last 11 regular season starts. And … AND … the Reds haven’t been no-hit in the regular season since 1971, which I’d guess is long before most of you were born. That’s 7,110 games.
And tomorrow, we get to play these guys again.
Off to Cincinnati today for 4 days of fun with the Red Stockings. This is a club — not unlike the Cubs — with a long, colorful past; one full of intrigue, deception, and moronic moves that rival anything the Cubs have been able to pull off during the longest championship drought in professional sports history. Still, the average guy on the street can’t tell you much about the Reds. Yeah, everybody knows about Pete Rose, but Reds knowledge basically starts and ends with his whining buttocks gettin’ broomed from the game, with some Big Red Machine thrown in for good measure. On the other hand, the same guy who flunks Reds 101 can recite in painful detail incidents like Bartman, and the black cat, and the billy goat, and Lee Elia’s meltdown, and tradin’ Greg Maddux, and a bunch of other things that have helped define the Cubs as the door mat of the National League over the past century.
So, to brighten my day, and maybe make you feel like we’re on an even playing field — historically speaking — I thought we’d have a little Red Stockings history lesson.