Hey there, popcorn balls. You know how ballparks are addin’ all kinds of entertainment crap to pacify the simpleminded between innings? Well last night the Nats took that whole genre of stupid a step further by introducing us to the Montero-go-round — a cruel carnival ride of base stealing madness like nothin’ ever seen outside of Ricky Henderson’s nap time. And it wasn’t between innings, it was during the friggin’ ball game! It was, in a word, embarrassing. If it had come with that obnoxious carnival ride music that I can’t get outta my head for three days after, it would have been the ultimate in base stealing torture.
7 swipes in one game. It was like unleashing a bus load of escapees from Sing Sing on a 7-Eleven with a blind cashier. Anything that could be stolen, was. Worse yet … half the time, Montero didn’t even so much as fake a throw! He just stood there like a friggin’ zombie, wonderin’ what the hell just happened again. And again. And again. And when he did let loose, it didn’t always hit the mark. Unless left field (in one instance) was the mark.
I don’t wanna make it sound like it was all Montero. Guys who steal are stealin’ off the tandem, not just the backstop. In this case, it was the dynamic duo of Montero and his faithful ward, Jake Arrieta. And Arrieta has a certain measure of turtle in his delivery. But Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Every time Turner or Tailor got on base they’d swipe 2nd AND THEN SWIPE 3rd! It was makin’ me dizzier than a convention of blondes. After a while I had to run and get the Dramamine so as not to puke up my brats.
So … Montero came into the game with an 0-24 record tryin’ to nab base stealers. Left the game 0-31. It was painful to watch and wasn’t the kinda ride you wanna go on again. Thankfully, we won’t have to. After the game, Montero unleashed a river of venom on Arrieta, blamin’ him for the carousel of Nationals runners, resulting in gettin’ his ass … and his mouth (Is there any difference?) designated for assignment. Too bad, too, cuz today’s visit to the White House was a chance for Montero to rub elbows with another guy whose mouth is often confused with his ass.
The downside is all of the potential promotional opportunities the Cubs are gonna lose out on:
1. Whenever Montero catches, it’s “Dramamine Night” at Wrigley.
2. Half price tickets for anyone out on parole for grand theft.
3. Montero “Carnival” Night: The first 10,000 fans with fewer than six teeth get a Montero Bobble Head doll, which is just like a regular bobble head except the head doesn’t bobble, the right arm is missing, and the left hand is pointin’ a finger.
Anyway, the Montero-go-round has been shut down for the time being. In fact, last night could possibly be his last game in a big league uniform. I hope not. I got all my fingers and toes crossed that the Cards pull his sorry, whining, selfish ass off waivers.
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.
“This is it! This is it! It’s two, they’re gonna turn two! Eeeaaaaaahhhhhhh!” The moment the ball was hit to Russell, I jumped outta my chair, screamin’ like a banshee. I don’t really know what a banshee is, but it’s gotta be loud and somewhat unhinged. (That would make my sister in law a banshee.) I bear hugged the missus who was already workin’ on a full set of raccoon eyes. If I was a woman, or Johnny Depp, I woulda had ’em too, cuz I realized she wasn’t the only one cryin’. That’s what happened at the Schlombowski household Saturday night. And I’ll tell ya … except for the Swedish Bikini team servin’ me beers without their bikini’s, blubberin’ like a newborn was the last thing I expected to happen. I guess the Cubs going to the Series means more to me than I thought it did … And believe me, I thought it would mean one helluva lot.
More than anything else, I feel gratitude towards Mr Ricketts who, as the Cubs owner, sorta takes a back seat to Theo, Jed and Joe in terms of getting credit for puttin’ this club together. But if it weren’t for Mr Ricketts, none of those guys would be here and, in all likelihood, our season woulda been over by the mid-season classic, like usual. So … thank you, Mr Ricketts. On the 10 million to 1 chance that you’re readin’ this, I want you to know how grateful I am that you brought Major League Baseball to Wrigley Field. Yeah, there’s always been some sorta reasonable or unreasonable facsimile, but until you started signin’ the checks, it’s never been anything like this. Thank you for givin’ so much joy to so many people who have patiently waited for so very, very long. We do, however, need a sit down about concession prices, my friend.
Full disclosure: I was more than skeptical at times over the last 5 years. 55 seasons of nothin’ will do that to a Cubs fan. So for me, bringin’ in Theo wasn’t an instantaneous Kyle Schwarber moon shot. Not that I didn’t wet myself with excitement when Theo first signed. I mean he came with the Red Sox miracle on his resumé, which was huge. Still, it took a while before all the ingredients started to come together. That’s when the intoxicating aroma of Theo stew with Maddon sauce started wafting out over Wrigleyville, and I realized that Mr Ricketts was really baseball’s Charlie Trotter. So sue me if I’m a little slow on the uptake. Nobody except Javi Baez is perfect, pal.
“Try not to suck.” That was the mantra this year. A Joe Maddonism that’s Yogi-esque in its utter simplicity and purity. And the Cubs lived up to every bit of it. They did not and do not suck, my friend. The same can’t be said for the Dodgers. Sorry, it may be unsportsmanlike to kick your opponent when he’s down, but somethin’ has got to be said about what happened to the Dodgers and their messiah, Clayton Kershaw.
Holy meat balls, that was some friggin’ game last night, wasn’t it?! Am I happy we came up short? No, I am not. Was it a friggin’ epic battle royal cage match fought by two teams refusing to yield to the bloody gloves of the other? In spades, my friend. In spades.
It was Godzilla vs King Kong; the Federation vs the Clingons; the Sharks vs the Jets (no, that ain’t hockey vs football); Neo vs Agent Smith; the Crows vs the Wildlings. You know that scene in Gangs of New York where the Natives and the Dead Rabbits have it out in the square? Last night’s game was like that, my friend. EPIC! It reminded me of the Thrilla in Manilla. Howard Cosell’s grating New York cadence was in the back of my head, deliverin’ the blow-by-blow. Only insteada “Frasier goes down! Frasier goes down! Frasier goes down!” it was “Bryant has tied the game! Bryant has tied the game! Bryant has tied the game!” That was electrifying. No matter what happens through the rest of the playoffs, you’re not gonna see a better game than that.
When Arrieta went yard, I went in my pants. No, not really, but holy crap! I usually need an elevator to get that far off the ground. Whatever Maddon has been feedin’ our staff, it’d be nice if he started givin’ it to some of the rest of the guys. Bryant has obviously discovered where he’s hidin’ the magic dust. But Rizzo? Keee-ryste … he looks like me at the plate. The offensive prowess of our Murderer’s Row pitching staff is probably somethin’ we should not totally rely on if we expect to beat theses yayhoos.
Kudos to Montgomery, last night, too. He gave it up in the end, but I think he did a lot more than anyone expected, including Maddon. And speakin’ of Joe, who is a certified, Grade-A, Wagu genius, I can’t say I thought bringin’ in Chapman when he did was his most Einstein-ish move of the season. What do I know, right? But I read it like a sign of desperation; like we couldn’t play regular and still win. We had to bring the Saturn V rocket arm in early. And that’s what the Giants thought. They smelled blood in the water, started circling and then takin’ chunks outta Chapman’s hide. Hindsight. I know. But I’m just sayin’.
So now Bochy is 10-0 in elimination games. Ten and oh! Unreal. Someone has gotta put an end to that. Personally, I’d like it to be John Lackey and the re-ignited bats of the best offense in baseball. And, if it’s not askin’ too much, it’d be nice if the game is more like we’re playin’ Cincinnati, so when we have a 10 run lead by the 5th, I can relax and enjoy myself a little insteada bitin’ my fingernails down to the second knuckle. Go Cubs!
Hey there, ice chips. How ’bout those friggin’ Cubs, huh?! I gotta tell ya, I luuuuuuvvvvv flyin’ the playoff W. I’d say it makes me feel like I’m on top of the world but that’s kinda stupid. I mean think about it. First — SPOILER ALERT — there’s no Santa Claus up there and second, it’s butt ass cold. It’d be a lot more accurate to say I’m feelin’ like I’m sittin’ on a clothing-optional beach in Bora Bora, the missus has exercised her option, and is feedin’ me pork sliders while I sip on a frosty Old Style. Yeah, that about captures it. Thank you for that, Cubbies.
Anyway, as the Central Division Champs are makin’ their way to the city of whackadoos for Game 3 against the Giants, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the meaning of the oldest phrase in baseball: Keep your eye on the friggin’ ball.
Lemme start by sayin’ that anyone who pays attention to my microscopic corner of the Cubs universe knows that I live and die with them. If that’s you, 1) thank you for payin’ attention and 2) you know that my 55 seasons have seen a whole lot more dyin’ than livin’. That’s given me a certain … let’s say … perspective. I tend to call it like I see it, rather than wearin’ Cubbie blue shaded glasses. Sometimes the Schlombowski forecast is “cloudy with a chance of losing.” Hey, I don’t make the weather, pal, I just report it.
Don’t get me wrong. I not only think the Cubs are in the driver’s seat right now, I think the Giants have been stuffed into the trunk and are about to get dumped on the side of a dark, winding road out in the middle of the redwoods.
IF they keep their eye on the ball, that is.
And I don’t mean pickin’ up the rotation on Bumgarner’s cheese and watchin’ it all the way to the plate. What I mean is that bein’ up 2-0 to the Giants, even in a best-of-5 series, isn’t a Labron James better-get-the-hell-outta-my-way slam dunk, unless we do one thing: stay focused on the ball that matters — winnin’ the World Series. To me, that mean’s not actin’ like we just won the friggin’ lottery cuz the first two games went our way, or cuz our pitchers have turned into Babe Ruth, or cuz Wood just penned his name in the record books. The Cubs gotta go about their business like they’re mailmen or something. You know … that whole “neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night” thing. Only with us it’s “Neither Mad-Bum, nor Posey, nor wicked line drives off our pitchers will keep us from our appointed victory over the Halloween-colored San Francisco Giants.” Do I think that’s gonna happen? You bet your sweet ivy-covered ass I do. Do I think it’s gonna be easy? Read on, my friend:
I just read Steve Rosenbloom’s piece in the Trib, where he says “Kyle Hendricks is pitching like Jake Arrieta with a learner’s permit.” His words exactly … all the way down to the imitation road-to-the-White-House snarkiness. I’m not quite certain why he felt compelled to say that about the Cubs’ best pitcher, but the piece reads like Rosenbloom keeps a life size blow up from Arrieta’s ESPN The Magazine spread push-pinned to his bedroom ceiling.
To be fair, Rosenbloom does point out that Hendricks is “pretty close” to Arrieta in a number of stats, and that he “pitches efficiently and quickly” and has a brilliant changeup. He’s also actually makin’ an argument in an “excuse me” kinda way for why Hendricks oughta win the Cy Young this year. But man, you gotta read between the Arrieta syrup to tell. Almost every paragraph compares Hendricks to Jake, one statistic after another. And, hey … I wouldn’t have an issue with that at all except for this: Rosenbloom is crunchin’ this year’s Hendricks numbers against Arrieta’s last year. Is that kosher? Not in the Schlombowski deli, it’s not. That’s just a large, economy-size serving of twisted statistical crap with no pickle on the side. It’s the same kinda shady comparison tactics used by this year’s vermin-like presidential candidates. You might wanna just hang onto that $50 Pulitzer entry fee on this one, Steve.
This apples and oranges way of evaluating the effectiveness of anyone is beneath someone of Rosenbloom’s journalistic achievements. I mean, we could just as easily compare the 2016 Arrieta against the ’73 Tom Seaver, the ’00 Pedro Martinez, the ’69 Bob Gibson (among others) and paint a picture that makes Jake look like the bat boy. Hey, I got an idea, Steve, why don’t we put the 2016 Hendricks up against the 2013 Arrieta? Or the 2012 version. Or 2011 or ’10. The only true, honest, level-playin’-field comparison between these two hurlers this year is lookin’ at this season’s numbers. You do that and the balance tips in Hendricks’s favor. Plus, there’s no arguing the fact that Hendricks has picked up a lotta the slack created by Jake misplacin’ his cape this year. That’s not to say he hasn’t had a solid year … he has. But it wasn’t the other-worldly thing he conjured up last year, as you’ll read in Rosenbloom’s piece.
Hendricks came outta Spring Training desperately clingin’ to the 5th starter role, while Jake was struttin’ around Ho Ho Kam like the Cy Young winner he is. I woulda too, if I was him. And for the first couple a months of the season I’d have sworn we were watchin’ instant replay of the second half of 2014. In fact, it wasn’t until Arrieta started chatterin’ about a $250M contract that the wheels started wobblin’ on his wagon. Coincidence? I tend to think focusing on money 2 years before your contract is up puts demons between your ears, which is especially bad for pitchers cuz they’re often borderline head cases already. He seems to have found his cape again, though. Which is good for everyone except whoever the Cubs face in the playoffs.
The fact is, the entire rotation has been mostly great, most of the season. And, with Lester, Hendricks and Arrieta we’ve got 3 of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. But Hendricks has gone from 5th starter to being the man behind the wheel … and it hasn’t been with a friggin’ learner’s permit.
It’s mid-summer, hot in the big city. I’ve been workin’ a stake-out on the north side outta the Fraud division. My partner, the ever faithful Cubs fan, and I have been watchin’ the alleged perps — a group calling themselves the Cubs and masquerading as a possible World Series contender — since April. As stake-outs go, this one has been a cake walk; I get to watch baseball everyday and drink on the job. Perfect.
Stake-outs are curious affairs. You can watch your ass off for weeks — months, even — and nothin’ seems unusual. Until it is. I guess the Cubs bein’ the best team in baseball for 3 months shoulda been the first sign that somethin’ was rotten in Denmark AND Chicago. But everything has seemed Jim Dandy.
That’s the thing about a baseball season — it’s friggin’ long, my friend. Because of that, it has a way of betraying you, of trippin’ you up and revealing the truth — stuff you’d rather keep hidden from fans so they keep thinkin’ you are who you’ve led them to believe.
You know how detectives get hunches? (What the hell is a “hunch” anyway? I know there was a guy from Notre Dame that had one on his back once. Probably kept him off the football team. And there’s no way he was gettin’ lucky lookin’ like that.) Anyway, detectives get hunches a lot, and they seem to help get to the bottom of things. A couple of months ago, I had what I’m guessing was my own hunch-like thing about our bullpen. I let it go for a while, cuz everything was Jake. Now … after 3 months of waiting and watching, and watching and waiting, it looks like I was right, cuz we’re startin’ to see exactly what kinda pen we’ve got. And I don’t think it can be trusted.
Hey there, bottle rockets. I just read where Mr Arrieta has to get a Coastal Carolina University tattoo cuz he lost a bet with Tommy La Stella over the College World Series. La Stella’s Chanticleers beat Arrieta’s Horned Frogs, putting the roosters (that’s what a Chanticleers is, but — full disclosure — I had to look that one up) in the College World Series finals.
The question remains: Where to inscribe the aforementioned barnyard animal?
At the risk of being indelicate — although really … this is Joe Schlombowski talkin’ here, so would you expect anything less? — I think there’s just one rather OBVIOUS anatomical appendage of the sculpted Arrieta frame that would be ideal for an image of a Chanticleer, otherwise known as a … rooster. (Unless you’re a White Sox fan, you can probably figure that one out.) Now, I have no personal knowledge of just exactly how obvious Mr Arrieta’s rooster is … but given he plays for the Cubs, is one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball, and has put a couple of notches in his no-hitter belt in the last year, I think we can agree that it falls into the “Big Swinging” category.
This brings up a couple of other questions, neither of which I have any intention of devoting even one second of thought to: 1) Would the artist have to order additional ink to finish the job? and 2) Would the Chanticleer be applied before or during the stretching of the proverbial canvas?
Alright. That’s just headed to a place that I don’t really wanna go. Time to watch some Baywatch reruns or somethin’.
Remember this, my friend: Tattoo bets always end badly for one participant, and you got a 50% chance of it bein’ you. Think before you bet with ink.
Now I don’t have anything against nudity. The missus will definitely confirm that aside from the Cubs using the Cards for a roll of Charmin, I’m at my jolliest when she’s all dressed up in her birthday suit and there’s nothin’ good on TV. And I’ve let more than my share of guys cut in front of me at the barber shop cuz I was busy checkin’ out the naughty bits of the Playmate of the Month. But I gotta draw the line at Jake Arrieta, my friend.
First of all — and this point is so major it counts for 3 points all by itself — Arrieta is a guy. I don’t really give a crap that he has some super human healthy lifestyle and is built like the Rock. Nobody wants to see the J-man’s bat swingin’ in the wind. Maybe Mrs Arrieta. Maybe some of the bimbettes I see swooning at Wrigley when 49 is pitchin’. Maybe the guys over in Boystown. But that’s it. If I wanna see a guy naked, I can look in the mirror. In fact, it’s because of the naked guy starin’ at me in the mirror in morning that I don’t wanna see Arrieta, or Dwyane Wade, or all 300+ pounds of Vince Wilfork pretending their in a Michelangelo fresco. No offense to athletes and their athletic bodies, but as long as the Internet is still plugged in, there’s greener grass. Know what I’m sayin’?
Hey there, sponge cakes, Joe Schlombowski, unofficial Cubs weatherman here, reporting on location from the apparent source of global warming; Jake Arrieta’s right arm. The human funnel cloud leveled everything in his path today, taking his record to 11-1; best in the National League. In weather terms, Arrieta’s got some kinda convection thing going; a transfer of some serious heat; updrafts and downdrafts which make for a pretty unstable atmosphere around home plate, my friend.
I’m no meteorologist — and what do meteors have to do with the weather anyway, I’d like to know — but it doesn’t take a guy with a weather map to see that the jumbo-sized WWF smackdown the Cubs are unleashing on the rest of baseball this year is lookin’ one helluva lot like a Cat 5 hurricane. In fact, you know how hurricanes get names like Isabel, Alex, Bonnie … Fred maybe? Well, I’m thinkin’ what we got here oughta go by Harry, in honor of the best baseball broadcaster to ever utter the words, “Holy Cow!”
Lemme just digress here for a moment and say that I don’t get the whole naming thing. I mean, naming I get, but wouldn’t you wanna name hurricanes after people you DON’T like, instead of just regular people. Hurricane Hitler or hurricane Saddam or hurricane bin Laden seem more along the lines of appropriate names for a hurricane. How ’bout Blogojevich? Yeah, I like that one. Maybe Hillary. I’d say Trump, but he’s just a prevailing wind; a lot of hot air but not much else. Anyway … back to Harry.
What’s curious about Harry, is that unlike every other hurricane ever recorded, it’s pretty much 72 and sunny wherever the Cubs happen to be, while just across the diamond — literally, like as far as Robbie Alomar can spit — it’s time to climb down into the storm cellar and wait it out. It’s definitely some kind of baseball version of wind shear mixed with a large Canadian low or somethin’. Whatever the hell it is, I friggin’ love it. It’s beach weather for Cubs fans, for sure.
So, the extended forecast is lookin’ good. Let’s hope hurricane Harry doesn’t blow itself out.