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.
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.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Then it was the best of times again. After last night, Dickens is sorta, kinda, almost startin’ to make some friggin’ sense to me. (At least the part I read.) Especially after Montereo — perhaps the most unlikely of heros — whiffed at a Joe Blanton meatball slider that my grandmother coulda plastered. So what does Blanton do? He serves up the identical pitch, and suddenly Montero — like Dickens’ characters Al Manatte, Chuck Darnay and Syd Carton — is recalled to life, and resurrected in the middle of all the turmoil caused by Adrian Gonzalez. If that’s not, to quote Dickens again, “the epoch of belief,” I don’t know what the hell is.
But this is a tale far bigger than Montero’s bat against Blanton’s arm, or the chess game between Maddon and Roberts, or even the Cubs vs the Dodgers. This is a smack down between two cities — Chicago and LA; the Second City and Tinseltown; wholesome midwesterners and blinged-out dreamers. These two places are about as foreign to each other as a World Series title is to the Cubs.
Everything is different. The architecture, the culture, the weather, the hot dogs. Like night and day, pal. Most especially the people. And that’s what a city is; it’s the people. It’s the stuff, too, like smog, and traffic and no seasons, if you’re LA, but mostly it’s the people. So when you got a ball club representin’ your city, it’s really a proxy for the fans that live and die with them. Like me. (I may be livin’ large at the moment, but over the years I’ve needed resuscitation 20 or 30 times after somethin’ the Cubs or Steve Bartman did.) So what does that mean? It means that whatever the Cubs are in this series, all of Chicago is, too. Ditto LA. Well, that got my mind doin’ the Chicago River thing — meandering backwards — thinkin’ about what the Cubs stand for and how that reflects on us fans.
Ask most anybody born after 1908 what the Cubs stand for, and usually they’ll tell you that they’re the all-time, ever-lovin’ mascot of futility. And that’s not just on Earth, either. That would include all 9 rocks makin’ rings around the sun, and everyone of their moons. And yeah, it’s 9. Not 8, like National Geographic says. In the Schlombowski universe, it’s still the Sears tower not the Willis tower, and Pluto is still a planet, my friend.
That said, I gotta think that after averaging 100-wins over the last two seasons, and makin’ consecutive trips to the NLCS, some of that baked-on, decades-old crap we’ve been caked in has been chipped away. Most especially cuz we had the best record in baseball this year. But also cuz of how we taunted the Giants by danglin’ that shiney even-numbered year thing in front of ’em right before we snatched it outta their greedy little Donald Trump-sized hands. Ha! A purely orgasmic feeling I normally don’t associate with baseball. Then we bleached the Dodger blue a bit by doin’ virtually the same thing to them last night. Hmm. How far apart can orgasms be and still qualify as “multiple?” Just wonderin’.
No longer are the Cubs the lovable losers, my friend. Uh uh. Who they are now is beginning to unfold in 2 cities, 2000 miles apart. Might as well be 2000 light years apart, though, cuz what LA is known for … well, I don’t even know where to start. But how ’bout I take a shot, anyway?
There are 9 and a half million people in Los Angeles and I’d say only about six or seven of ’em don’t have a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. They hand those things out like hot cakes … or Joe Blanton sliders over the middle. David friggin’ Spade has a star. Hell, half the hawkers at Dodger Stadium probably have ’em! Seems like everybody in LA is famous, or is tryin’ to be famous, or moved there cuz they wanna be famous. And when these honyocks aren’t tryin’ to become more famous, they’re at the Forum Club rubbin’ elbows with somebody else who’s famous, or giving themselves little statues for things like pretending, and rhyming. Isn’t that the height of culture. They even got a particular sorta famous in LA for just being famous. The Kardashians, Paris Hilton, Katie Price? That’s what I’m talkin’ about. The Dodgers are playin’ for them.
Is there some sorta ordinance in Los Angeles requirin’ women to have breast implants? I’ve never seen anything like it. Neither have the laws of physics or Mother Nature, cuz the ones she makes have some kinda built-in movement and all. Those things Dr. Hootermacallitz is bolting onto women are like granite. You could rest your beer on ’em.
And how ’bout the lips. No skinny little white girl from Tarzana is born with a Mick Jagger kisser. That’s not natural either. Add to that the butt implants, fake eye lashes, sprayed-on tan, over-whitened teeth, glued-on fingernails, tattooed eye-liner and you got yourself a real live tummy-tucked, face-lifted, hair-extended Barbie doll. The Dodgers are playin’ for them, too.
Sittin’ in traffic is a badge of honor in LA. You hear people dueling about their commutes: “It took me 90 minutes to get here this morning.” “Pfft. That’s nothin’. It took me 2 and a half hours to go from Mulholland to Westwood.” They love to whine about it, but take pride in havin’ the biggest nightmare. Of course everybody’s got traffic. We got our share in Chi-town. But in LA, it’s like herpes or somethin’ — it’s always there. No accident, no construction, no event. It’s just 3 in the afternoon. Traffic is the reason Dodgers fans are some of the lamest in baseball. Why? Cuz they’d rather beat the traffic than stay for the whole game. They show up late, cuz they’re sittin’ — that’s right — in traffic. Then they leave early — even if it’s a 1-run ballgame — cuz it’s more important to beat the rush outta Chavez Ravine than whoever they’re playin’. Pathetic. The Dodgers are playin’ for those guys.
In Chicago, we got air. Lots of it, usually movin’ along at a brisk pace. Hence the nickname. In LA, I don’t know what that stuff is that covers everything, but I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be breathin’ it. It’s not just regular smog either, it’s some kinda super smog that has the look of Joe Blanton’s shorts after the Cubs’ half of the 8th last night. You’d think Bashar al-Assad was in town or somethin’. They have days when they don’t want anybody goin’ outside cuz it’s so bad. So they don’t. The Dodgers are playin’ for those people, while Chicago fans somehow seem to get around when it’s 40 below zero or a scorching 100 degrees with 95% humidity. Which reminds me, when it’s 67º out, LA thinks it’s cold.
Lots and lots of cars.
Public transportation? What’s that? As much as Angelinos like to moan about traffic, they looooooovvvvvee to spend time in their cars. They drive everywhere. Walk? Are you friggin’ kidding me? Even if they’re goin’ to a neighbor’s to watch famous people get a statue for pretending, they’ll drive cuz who knows … they may need to suddenly go somewhere they haven’t thought of, and in the million-to-one chance that happens, it’s good to have the car close by. And these people — that the Dodgers also play for — they wonder why the smog is so friggin’ bad.
You call that a river?
So long as I mentioned the Chicago River earlier in this tirade, I don’t think I can finish this up without also bringin’ up the LA River. First, there’s no water in it. It’s got the occasional abandoned car, old mattress or whatever grows and multiplies in random puddles of inch deep runoff, but no water. And second, it’s made outta cement. CEMENT! The Chicago River, on the other hand, used to flow in one direction but was engineered to flow in the other. That’s friggin’ Einstein brain stuff, pal. Plus — and this is huge — it turns green on St Patrick’s Day.
Any way you slice it, it’s hard to imagine two cities any further apart than Chi-town and Tinseltown. In a few more days, one of the teams that represents ’em is gonna be doin’ another champagne shower and headin’ to the World Series, while the other will be watchin’ it on the flat screen just like their fans. I’m betting that Binny’s is gonna be makin’ a couple more deliveries to Wrigley this year. Hope so, anyway. Seven more wins. Seven. Damn, that’s close.
Fun facts: 1) Montero’s slam was the first ever pinch hit, go ahead, grand slam in postseason history. 2) The Cubs now have a 1-0 lead in a best-of-7 series for the first time since the 1945 World Series. Go Cubs!