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



You know, Pete Rose and I aren’t exactly on each other’s Christmas card lists. But tonight, the former Cincinnati gambler took the reason the Giants choked on a 3-run, 9th inning lead, and folded, wrapped and very neatly packaged it into a single word: “Stinko.”

“That was a stinko bullpen, man.” said Rose. Then he went on to paint the picture — much to my personal delight — of an on-field disaster that rivaled anything that Hollywood special effects wizards coulda dreamed up. “Five pitchers give up 3 runs before they get an out in the inning? … They didn’t deserve to win. That’s the worse collapse I’ve seen in a long time for a bullpen playin’ for what they were playin’ for.” Pete is no George Will, but those words … those were pure Shakespeare, baby.

“Idiotic” is another word that comes to mind. I came up with that one on my own, though. But at least I’ll combine it with “thank you” and a big wet kiss for Bruce Bochy for takin’ Moore outta the game when he did. Perhaps the stupidest move I’ve seen by a manager since Dusty Baker came to work at Clark and Addison. Moore had 10 K’s and had surrendered just 2 hits. And you take him out?! With the Giants’ bullpen? Wow. Bochy and Pete Carroll gotta be in the same knitting circle.

Full disclosure: I had to employ the “don’t watch cuz you’re jinxin’ the team” strategy during the last half of the game. I haven’t had to use that one all season, which may explain why it worked; it wasn’t expected. Anyway, tonight around the 5th, it became obvious that if I kept watchin’ we were gonna lose for sure, but if I turned the TV off, the Cubs had a chance. Yeah, it was a sacrifice, but that’s part of baseball. The missus headed upstairs and started yellin’ the blow-by-blow down the stairs, and in between askin’ me, “Don’t you wanna turn it on? They’re doin’ good.” (One of the million reasons why she winds my watch.) I resisted.

Deep down inside, where the corndogs and brats are processed, I know my watchin’ probably has nothin’ to do with whether the Cubs win or lose. It’s just a superstition thing. Like black cats and goats and Steve Bartmans. They’re like Justin Beeber fans — they can’t be explained with logic.

Whatever it was — me, or the Cubs finally startin’ to play like the Cubs — our visiting grays are gettin’ a champagne wash cycle tonight. And so is everyone in Wrigleyville. That doesn’t stinko.


PS. Merry Christmas, Pete.


· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez · , , , , , ,


When it comes to All-Star Games, Major League Baseball kicks football’s, basketball’s and hockey’s asses. No question.

And football? Pffft. The Pro Bowl ain’t even played until the season’s over; we’ve slept through a playoff system that includes, like, every stinkin’ team in the league; and nasty Miss Jackson’s boobs have already exploded from her Super Bowl outfit. I mean, after that, who the hell gives a crap about football?

That said, MLB’s All-Star Game ain’t exactly a chew-on-your-fingernails, glued-to-the-chair, don’t-miss-a-pitch event. It’s a vehicle for sellin’ beer and cars and Viagra (Oh … and just for the record, there have been 6 phone calls from the Schlombowski household seeking immediate medical attention, but each has been 100% attributed to the God-given charms of Mrs Schlombowski.) to the average couch potato like me, sittin’ at home takin’ in the spectacle or pageantry or whatever the hell Joe Buck will undoubtedly call it. Point is, the All-Star Game may not be as riveting as the missus, but I haven’t missed one since I was old enough to pee. I have no idea why … I mean, why give a crapola about one game that doesn’t really count and is wedged into the middle of 162 that do?

No clue.

So let’s put things on the Schlombowski Scale and see where the pros and cons net out.

THAT’S PRETTY COOL: In 1939, the American League All-Star team featured 10 guys … 10 friggin’ guys! … from one team; the Yankees. Only 6 of ’em played, but still, that gives you an idea of exactly how good the Yanks were in ’39. This year the Cubs have 7: Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Dexter Fowler, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. And except for Lester and Chicago’s very own nudie pitcher, they’re all startin’. Think about that for a minute. The Chicago Cubs have gone from being a team with a token guy on the All-Star roster (cuz you gotta have at least one player from every team — smells like Bud Selig to me) to havin’ 5 starting position players. I’d say that’s pretty damn good. In fact it’s just shy of 1939 Yankees good. Maybe better, cuz the Yanks were already a dynasty in ’39, whereas the only thing the Cubs have ruled over is the National League door mat.

YOU GOTTA BE JOKIN’: The Mid-Season Classic is an exhibition. It doesn’t count. But thanks to one of Bud Selig’s aggravated brain farts (and he had more than one related to the All-Star Game) the game’s outcome decides who has home field advantage in the World Series. If you took all the moronic baseball ideas and stacked ’em in ascending order of stupidity, that one would hold the cherry position, my friend. Yes, it even beats out the White Sox short pants fashion “don’t” from 1976.

Bob Ryan, when he was with The Boston Globe, put it like this:

“So now we have a game that’s not real baseball determining which league hosts Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 in the World Series. It’s not a game if pitchers throw one inning. It’s not a game if managers try to get everyone on a bloated roster into the game. It’s not a game if every franchise, no matter how wretched, has to put a player on the team … If the game is going to count, tell the managers to channel their inner Connie Mack and go for it.”

Look, wing nuts, home-field advantage in the World Series oughta be based on regular season records, not on a friggin’ exhibition game filled with enough “fan experience” bullshit to overload the senses of a Fuller Park police dispatcher. You got the best record, you should have the advantage. Period.

What Selig did in 2003 has impacted the World Series in a ginormous way: the league that won the All-Star Game has won ten of the last 13 October Classics. That’s Perry Mason-like evidence that home field advantage is significant. So why is it decided by something as random as the final score of the All-Star Game? You might just as well just flip a coin cuz they’re both equally arbitrary. How ’bout lettin’ the winner of the Home Run Derby decide who gets home field advantage? Or maybe the 10,000th fan to enter the park? Better yet; a rochambeau between the bat boys.


Plus — and this really winds my weed whacker — when you’ve got Adam Wainwright suggesting that he purposely … PURPOSELY … floated some meatballs to Derek Jeter in his last appearance in the Mid-Season Classic, you gotta question the integrity of usin’ the All-Star Game to decide anything. Except maybe who gets the Douche Bag Award — in this case, Adam Wainwright (a Cardinal, of course).

THANKS, I NEEDED THAT: 162 games is a long season, my friend. Hockey and basketball are long, too, but baseball is ultra-extra long. Biblically long. Football? A whopping 16 games. Doesn’t even deserve a coffee break, pal. A baseball season, on the other hand, is like all 1,037 pages of Gone With the Wind that Mrs Bednarski tried to get me to read in the ninth grade: great, maybe, but too damn long to sit through without an intermission.

So, the break is good. It’s a way of standin’ back and evaluating where you are; lookin’ at what you’re doing right (Cubs: damn near everything on the field) and what you’re doin’ wrong (Cubs: the bullpen, and playin’ dress up on road trips). The All-Star Game gives the whole organization a chance to catch its breath. Or, if you’re the Twins or the Braves, set your tee times for the day after the regular season ends.

By the way, Mrs Bednarski was pissed at me for not finishing Gone With the Wind. Hell, I barely got passed the title cuz it pretty much summed up the Cubs’ post-season chances for all of my first 14 years on the planet. There have been a few hopeful moments since, but I’m not crackin’ that book again until the Cubs are sportin’ rings.

YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS: In 2002, that colossal bobble-head, Bud Selig, decided to call the All-Star Game a tie. I still can’t believe it. You got a collection of some of the best players in baseball playin’ against each other, broadcast around the world, and you decide to have it end in a tie?!! That’s like kissin’ your sister. (Uh … that’s a bad thing, White Sox fans.)

The game had gone into extra innings, so in the middle of the 11th both managers met with the Commish, explaining that they were out of pitching. Instead of doin’ what they’d have to do if they were playin’ A REAL FRIGGIN’ GAME, Selig decided that if the National League didn’t score in the bottom of the inning, the game would be ruled a tie. Are you friggin’ kidding me?! This was the big cheese of baseball layin’ down his Milwaukee bowling league rules on the Mid-Season Classic. Lemme tell you, lugnuts, the fans in Milwaukee were none too pleased. No real baseball fan was happy with that. Yours truly did his best John McEnroe imitation when it happened and spilled an Old Style all over the sofa. Had to get rid of it cuz we couldn’t get the smell out. It was like havin’ Bud Selig in the room. Anyway, that’s gotta be the worst thing that’s ever happened in, at or to an All-Star Game.

WISH I’D BEEN THERE: By contrast, I think maybe the best moment in All-Star game history was in 1941. With the American League trailing by 2 with 2 outs in the 9th, Ted Williams steps up to the plate and swats a 3-run homer to beat the National League 5-4. Of course, he hit it off the Cubs’ Claude Passeau, but, hey … I wasn’t even an itch in my daddy’s pants yet, so it’s not so hard to take that one. Anyway, Williams’ blast was the first of the walk-off kind in All-Star Game history.

But beyond that little factoid, think about the chances of the American League winnin’ that game. Zippo. Well, actually about 20% … but basically that’s zippo. That was an unbelievable shot when the chips were down by arguably the greatest hitter who ever lived. (BA of .406 that year.) If there was ever a meaningful moment in a game that’s 100% meaningless, that was it. Killer.

BAN THAT GUY: In 197o, long before we ever knew what a jaggoff he really was, Pete Rose demonstrated a bit of his assholian inner self when he barreled into Ray Fosse at home, essentially ending the All-Star backstop’s career. Mind you, this was pre-Bud, when the game had no significance whatsoever. It didn’t count, it didn’t matter, the Series home field advantage wasn’t ridin’ on it. It was just a pick-up game filled with ringers. Rose mowin’ Fosse down like an 18 wheeler was the most unsportsmanlike, jackassian display of testosterone I’ve ever seen, but par for the course for Rose. And hey, I totally give that move to him in the regular season and the playoffs. But the All-Star Game? Let’s just say, a Rose by any other name would still stink.

In a “what goes around comes around” sorta way, karma has done it’s a little Riverdance on Rose’s big fat head; the result of his bettin’ on baseball, a strict no-no. So while I was thinkin’ he oughta be banned from the game in 1970 for bein’ a total All-Star douche bag, little did I know that it would actually happen. For me, it was the ugliest moment in All-Star history, cuz a guy’s career was taken from him.

On balance I’d say I’m an All-Star Game fan. Besides, what’s better than another baseball game to break up the baseball season? Nothin’. Especially this year with 25% of the roster made up of Cubbies. Hopefully Rob Womanfred won’t rear his ugly bonehead and decide that we’re over-represented.



· 2016 Cubs, Joe Sez · , , ,


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.

1) A charter member of the National League, Cincinnati was booted after only 4 years. When I found that out it made me warm and tingly all over. Until I found out why. They were selling beer in the stands! That was a deal-breaker for the league president so out the door they went. Can you imagine that happening today?! I mean, for a lot of people, beer is what makes baseball fun to watch.

2) They went bankrupt right after that: A theme that’s hung around Cincinnati like the mold growing in the corners of the clubhouse, and has reared its bigoted, cheating head in the forms of the morally bankrupt Marge Schott and Pete Rose.

3) Nobody wanted them after that, so the Bankrupt Machine formed a new league by sending a deceptive telegram to some of the other owners who’d previously been invited to a meeting for this very purpose, but had declined. The telegram to each stated that he was the only jaggoff who didn’t attend that first square dance, and that the other owners were enthusiastic about the new venture. The lie worked, and the American Association was officially formed with the new Reds a charter member. This adds fraud to bankruptcy. Nice.

4) Only 9 years later, the Reds bolted the American Association to rejoin the National League. Not a big deal, right? Wrong. The reason the National League was happy to have them back (along with the Brooklyn Bridegrooms — perhaps the stupidest name in the history of sports) was in part due to the formation of the Player’s League. This new league was an early failed attempt to break the reserve clause in baseball and, as such, threatened the status quo. So, the Reds made a decision that helped maintain the slave-like conditions of professional baseball for another 85 years. Thanks. Nice move.

5) The mediocre Reds didn’t do much for most of the next 30 years, but in 1919 the won the National League pennant, then won the world championship in eight games over the Chicago White Sox. Of course, that was the Black Sox White Sox, which totally calls into question whether the Reds would have won that Series had it not been thrown. Not likely. (Side note: This is one of the main reasons to despise the Sox by the way.) Anyway, it was a tainted victory.

6) By 1931, the Great Depression was in full swing and the Reds were bankrupt. Again.

7) When Crosley bought the team, things finally started to turn around for the Reds. Hey, maybe they could go for awhile without going bankrupt again. Yep, and they won the pennant in ’39. While they werebusy patting themselves on the back, though, they had their asses handed to them by the Yankees. They did repeat as NL Champs the next year and narrowly got by Detroit for the Series Championship.

8) Nothing much good happened after that for some time. And, in fact, fearing their traditional club nickname would associate them with Communism, the Reds officially changed it to the “Cincinnati Redlegs” in 1953. I guess I can understand that thinking, given the times and all, but if Horneytown, North Carolina, Hookersville, West Virginia and Hell, Michigan can go through life without worryin’ what people think, why couldn’t the Reds?

9) On par with the Cubs trading Maddux after his first Cy Young award, was the trade that is largely regarded as the most lopsided in baseball history. In 1965, Cincinnati sent former Most Valuable Player Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles for pitchers Milt Pappas and Jack Baldschun, and outfielder Dick Simpson. Robinson went on to win the 1966 MVP and triple crown in the American league, and lead Baltimore to its first ever World Series title in a sweep of the Dodgers. That pretty much killed the Reds until the rise of the “Big Red Machine.”

10) Sparky Anderson was pretty much the architect of that movement. And I totally admit, the Reds of the 70s were friggin’ great. And the ’75 Series against the Red Sox was monstrous. But … the best part was Carlton Fisk’s yard shot off the foul pole in game 6. It didn’t win the Championship, but it’s gotta be one of the greatest moments in sports history, and it happened at the expense of the Reds.

11) Along in there you have the human freight train, Pete Rose, betting on his own ball games and getting banned from the sport for life, and Marge Schott — the chain-smoking, bigoted, St. Bernard-towing owner with such an unfiltered mouth that she was forced to give up her team by Major League Baseball. Quite a classy pair.

12) More recently, I think Junior (Griffey) was a bright spot, along with Lou and Dusty as managers, cuz they also both managed in Chicago. In fact, under Lou in 1999, the Reds lead the league wire-to-wire and swept the heavily favored A’s in the Series. As a result, though, it was perhaps the most boring World Series ever.

13) I think we’ll end here, on lucky 13, where I’d like to draw your attention to the fact that the Reds finished with the second worst record in the league last year. A feat they topped by also trading flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman to the New York Yankees.

I’d say we look pretty friggin’ good compared to the Reds, history and all. And I say after the next 4 games we’ll be lookin’ even better.