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CABRERA’S TANTRUM REVEALS THE HIDDEN “S” IN “ASDRUBAL.”

· Joe Sez, News · , ,

ASDRUBAL-CABRERA-TANTRUM-2

Hey there, double wides. What’s shakin’? (Besides Asdrubal Cabrera’s voice, that is.) The Mets activated the self-proclaimed center of the universe from the DL before yesterday’s game and listed him as the starting second baseman. And what did he do? He got his jock strap twisted all up in knots, and started cryin’ to the press about it.

Full disclosure: I don’t have any first or even second hand knowledge that Asdrubal (Wouldn’t his natural nickname be “Ass?”) actually claimed to be the center of the universe. But any trouser snake that huddles the reporters to announce he’s “not happy about the move to second base” and “has asked his agent” to facilitate a trade, thinks he’s the friggin’ big bang itself.

News flash, Asdrubal … you ain’t no Ernie Banks, my friend.

He ain’t Derek Jeter, Ozzie Smith or Cal Ripken Jr, either. And as much as I can’t stand that gargantuan cheat, A-Rod, the fact of the matter is that he was a helluva good 6. Better than Asdrubal could ever hope to be … even in his wildest fantasies. (The baseball ones. Not the ones involving a whip cream-filled hot tub and every last model from the 2017 SI Swimsuit Edition.) In spite of how good he was, the Yanks still moved A-Rod to third. Did he go all Veruca Salt on ’em and demand a trade? No, he did not. He acted like he was part of a team. (He also acted like a total douche bag, but that’s a whole other TMZ topic.) Anyway, the last time I checked, baseball was a team sport. Even the version the Mets try to pawn off.

This year’s record aside, the team sport thing is a concept that the Cubs have perfected. Take third baseman, Kris Bryant, for instance. He spelled Rizzo at first yesterday, but you’ll see him roamin’ the outfield a lot, too. How ’bout Baez? He’s a shortstop that plays second base, cuz we got Addy at short. He’ll play third, too, like yesterday when KB was covering for Riz. Last year’s World Series MVP, Ben Zobrist, was brought to Chicago to play second, but when Baez came along, Zo headed to the outfield, though still plays second, too. Contreras and Schwarber, both catchers, also play the outfield.

Now, you could load up Chicago’s clubhouse with all the NSA spy shit you want, bug every cell phone, intercept the collective social media streams of the entire roster, and you ain’t gonna hear a single whining peep about gettin’ moved to whatever position. That’s called team baseball. You do what’s best for the team in team baseball, unlike whatever it is that Cabrera plays, in which he does — or at least expects to do — whatever is best for Asdrubal. Not only that; in a move that would put him at the top of his class at the Alex Rodriguez School of Douche Bags, he punctuates his ass-holian behavior by publicly announcing his dissatisfaction with the Mets’ decision. He’s gotta be a natural blonde.

So on one hand you’ve got former Rookie of the Year and NLMVP, Kris Bryant, playing first and left and right, instead of his natural position, third base, without turnin’ into Kanye West. And on the other you’ve got Cabrera, a mediocre glove, an average bat, and an arm like my sister demanding to be traded cuz he’s been asked to start at second base instead of short. Can you detect an attitude difference there? Any at all?

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

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

WHERE DOES KRIS BRYANT GO FROM HERE?

· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez, News · , , , , , ,

SCARLETT-JOHANSSON-HOT-TUB 2

In the past four years Chris Bryant has loaded up his trophy case with the Collegiate Player of the Year, Minor League Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and now Most Valuable Player of the National League. The guy could put a True Value sign on his house with all that hardware. One question comes to mind: How in the hell to you top all that?! Personally, I think it would involve Scarlett Johansson and a hot tub full of whipped cream, but that’s just me. If I’m Kris Bryant — who’s less than half my age, much taller, way thinner and with movie star looks and all — I think I’d be talkin’ swimming pool instead of hot tub, and probably addin’ Charlize Theron and Salma Hyak to the roster. Talk about a Hall of Fame line up…

I digress. But who could blame me?

Anyway, I totally think KB deserved this year’s award. He was, in a couple of words, friggin’ awesome! What’s most amazing to me is that he’s just a kid, and has only been in the league for 2 years. Think about that.

Nevertheless, I can already hear Sport Illustrated, ESPN, Fox Sports and various other baseball prognostication epicenters yammerin’ out loud about how Bryant is headed for Cooperstown. Has he had a great four years? Let’s put it this way: If Donald Trump somehow puts together a string like that, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reed and Hillary Clinton will be petitioning to have The Donald’s face added to Mt Rushmore. My point is this: Bryant has killed it for four consecutive years. No question … that’s amazing. But let’s wait to see how his career plays out before retiring his number. My beer mug runneth over with talking sports heads and their so-called expertise proclaimin’ this or that player as the next incarnation of Mickey Mantle, if not Jesus Christ himself. And how many times have they been right? I can count ’em on zero hands, my friend. I say, let’s enjoy Bryant bein’ Bryant, and hope that he doesn’t slip on the whipped cream and tear somethin’. Or that Theo doesn’t get attacked by aliens, who steal his brain … so he trades Bryant or somethin’. Or that Bryant doesn’t decide to pull a “Grant Desme” and give up baseball to become a Catholic priest. (We definitely gotta get him in that hot tub with Johansson, ASAP.)

As a former long suffering Cubs fan who’s now basking in the joy of a World Series Championship, I’m just happy that Bryant plays for the team that I’ve loved since I was old enough to pee. As far as the future goes, my fingers and toes are crossed, so that when Bryant is starin’ free agency in the face, he chooses to value Chicago more than his slime ball agent, Scott Boras, tells him he should. In the mean time, we have a friggin’ ass-kickin’ team, FULL of most valuable players as far as I’m concerned. One of ’em happens to be Bryant. I’d like to think where he, and the rest of the team, goes from here is right back to the World Series next year. And I don’t think that’s Skip Bayless-like hyperbole ($10 fancy word bonus!) at all.

Joe

NLCS GAME 2: NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL A TEAM EFFORT.

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

KERSHAW-COOPER-TEAMWORK

Hey there, drumsticks. Well, that was fun, huh? Now I could be all magnanimous ($10 word bonus) and say what a great game it was, it bein’ a one-run ball game and all, but I’m not gonna do that.

Tonight, Clayton Kershaw and home plate umpire, Eric Cooper, teamed up to show the Cubs just how wussy their offense has been in the playoffs. Kershaw was text book Kershaw, no doubt about it. But the guy behind the plate — not Grandal, the one with the white cane … Cooper — he was masterful, incredible and 100% overpowering with his inconsistency. Look, I don’t mind a guy havin’ a wide strike zone or a narrow strike zone, or a high or low one … but when two balls are thrown in precisely the same friggin’ place, and one is called a ball and the other a strike, it makes me wanna mow the infield with the ump still on it.

And I don’t need the “well, he called it the same for both teams” BS, cuz he didn’t. The strike Cooper called on Bryant in the 9th is pretty much Supreme Court-worthy proof of that, my friend.

I’m not blamin’ the loss on Eric Cooper or Stevie Wonder or whoever the hell that was callin’ balls and strikes. I’m just sayin’ he sucked like a top-of-the-line Dyson. The Cubs did most of the damage on their own; standin’ in the batters box just watchin’ the pitches go by. News flash, Cubbies: This is the NLCS, not Shark Tank. Even Robert Herjavec knows what to do with a good pitch, and just standin’ there like a friggin’ zombie isn’t it.

I’m guessin’ the Cubs strategy goin’ into Game 2 was to run the pitch count up on Kershaw — typical for the Cubs no matter who’s on the bump. Just two problems with that: 1) Kershaw doesn’t walk people and 2) not swingin’ at strikes leads to outs, not gettin’ on base. Perhaps they shoulda rethought this approach at some point. Before the game woulda been ideal. I mean the Kershaw start wasn’t a surprise to anyone, was it? So his track record in the first 6 innings shouldn’t have been an unknown quantity, right, Joe? But, ok, so we go into the game thinkin’ we’re gonna run the count up. When do you reassess and start being aggressive at the plate? How ’bout 4 innings in when Kershaw has tossed a measly 40 pitches? Not then either? Hmm. Ok.

In spite of that, I never once thought we were out of it. In years past, yeah. But not this team. Not this year. In fact, it looked a whole lot like we were gonna show ’em the door again late in the game, thanks to a Rizzo walk, a Little League play by Grandal, and Javi at the dish. Not quite, though. So anyone shakin’ cuz we’re headed to LA for the next two oughta take a Valium. Think about it. Except for our staff, Javi Baez, Bryant and one notable AB from Montero, our bats have been sawing logs throughout the playoffs. And tonight, against LA’s best pitcher, along with the help of Colonel Frank Slade behind the plate, we still almost won.

When our bats wake up — and you know they will — it ain’t gonna be 72 and sunny in LA anymore. In fact, I predict a wicked Chicago storm to blow through Chavez Ravine for the next few days, with all manner of unseasonal disturbances raining down on their little mini-parade. This ain’t over. You’d have to be blind, or Eric Cooper, not to see that.

Joe