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BIRD FLIES AT CITI FIELD, GETS SHOT DOWN BY MANAGEMENT.

· 2017 Cubs, Joe Sez, News · , , , , , , ,

MR-MET-FINGER

Hey there, sponge cakes. I got a question for ya: Is anyone over the age of six and a half, besides Lee Corso, a fan of team mascots?

Unless your team is the Penthouse Pets or the Playboy Bunnies, I can see payin’ as much as zero attention to a mascot when I’m at a ball game. Okay, maybe if they passed out sling shots to the first 10,000 fans and painted a target on the San Diego Chicken (last name omitted for obscenity reasons) I could get interested. But other than that … no. So why am I writin’ about ’em? Well, I just saw where Mr. Met has been relieved of his duties as one of the major annoyances in baseball for communicating in a non-verbal manner.

This makes absolutely no sense to me for the following reasons:

1. Mr. Met is a mascot. And like every other mascot that’s been farted outta someone’s brain, Mr. Met is supposed to be mute. How the hell else is he expected to communicate?!

2. I’m willin’ to bet the Mets don’t FedEx someone in from Walla Walla to wear that get-up. You gotta figure the guy is from New York — born and raised — and it’s a well-known fact that New Yorkers learn how to flip the bird before the ink is dry on their birth certificates. So … in the words of every New Yorker since Henry Hudson, “What the fuck did you expect?”

3. One thing is certain: Whoever Mr. Met is, he’s a total die-hard. Probably has a Daryl Strawberry tramp stamp. I mean who else is gonna dress up as a friggin’ baseball and march up and down the Citi Field steps for the duration of the swamp-like New York summer? Combine that kinda rabid fanaticism ($3 word bonus) with the fact that the Mets are playin’ about like the Cubs are playin’ (they positively, totally, completely suck*) and you’re gonna have some frustrations spill over in ways that aren’t always ready for prime time. It’s to be expected.

4. Mr. Met only has 4 fingers, not 5 like you and me. Actually it’s 3 fingers and a thumb. But I ask you: How do you give someone your middle finger if you don’t, technically, have a middle finger?

5. The guy flipped off a Mets fan, but if anyone deserves the bird, it’s Mets fans. I’m still so sore from what they did to us in the playoffs a couple years ago, the Schlombowski man cave turns into a veritable aviary whenever we play the Mets.

6. Two words: Milton Bradley. When the monopoly guy was playin’ for the Cubs, he musta given the Mr. Mets’ high sign to the faithful a dozen times. This is a guy in uniform, mind you, and he didn’t get booted. And keeeeeyyy-ryyyyyyssstt … if there was ever a guy even remotely associated with baseball that shoulda been pink-slipped, it was Bradley. And maybe Bud Selig. Rob Womanfred is a good candidate, too.

Some will make the argument that Mr. Met represents the ball club and, as such, flippin’ off the fans casts a shadow over the organization. To which I ask, how do you back that up when there’s been plenty of guys who smacked their wives around (Chuck Knoblauch, etc.,) or impregnated women in practically every major league city (Steve Garvey, etc.,) or were drug cheats (Barry Bonds, etc.,) — all much more damning offenses? How come nothin’ happened to those guys? Are we to believe the Mets organization is classier than say, the Dodgers? Debatable, I grant you, but probably not.

Personally, I’d like to see the rule-happy Rob Manfred finally institute something that actually IS in the best interest of baseball and give mascots the Shoeless Joe Jackson treatment.

Joe

*Full disclosure: The Mets suck (music to my ears) mostly because of some key injuries. The Cubs, on the other hand, appear to have forgotten how to play baseball. Or they think winning a single Series is good enough … WRONG! Or they’re more concerned with pickin’ out their costumes for the next theme’d road trip.

WHAT’S THE OVER / UNDER FOR WHEN MANFRED SKATES ON TONIGHT’S CUBS-CARDS OPENER?

· 2017 Cubs, Instant Replay, Joe Sez · , , , , , , , , , ,

NIGHTENGALE-MANFRED-TWEET

Hey there, sponge cakes. Welcome to Opening Day — not Opening Week, as baseball has taken to calling it. That’s gotta be a Manfredism. Speaking of which … Bob Nightengale reports that commissioner Rob Womanfred will be in attendance at the Cubs opener in St. Louis tonight. My question is: When does he adios the game? I figure it’ll be after the 7th, cuz that’s how long he thinks major league games oughta last.

I tend to pick on commissioners, and Manfred is no exception. But, hey, they bring it on themselves. Bud Selig, for example, decided to end the 2002 All Star game in a tie. It’s baseball. There are no ties. And that “World Series home field advantage to the league that wins the All Star game” rule was his, too. I’m tellin’ you … listening to baseball commissioner ideas is like walkin’ your dog — you gotta bring a plastic bag along to pick up all the turds. I’ll give this to Manfred: the guy flushed the ASG/World Series advantage brain fart. But that’s it on the plus side of the Manfred board. Everything else he wants to do — most of which revolves around makin’ games shorter — screws with the fundamentals of baseball.

Some people want shorter games. Yeah, I read about that all the time. But I ask: Who are these people? Are they millennial types raised on iPhones, video games, and blaring music so loud during any break in the action that it makes my toenails hurt? I think maybe so, cuz I don’t hear people my age complaining about watchin’ a game for 3 hours. (Except for Mr. “if it ain’t broke, fix it anyway” Womanfred.) I’d even be willin’ to bet that it was Robbie’s idea to broom the nudie pictures from the pages of Playboy — another institution that didn’t need to be “improved.” I’ll tell ya … if congress wants to investigate something that’s truly un-american … that would be it, my friend!

Point is, maybe it isn’t baseball that needs fixing. Instead, maybe it’s the binge-watching, instant-gratification, short-attention-span generation that can’t spend four seconds away from their social media feeds without breakin’ out in a sweat that needs fixing. Baseball has been around for like a million years, and other than stupidly not lettin’ black players in until Jackie Robinson, it’s pretty much been perfect. It doesn’t need the pathetic DH. It doesn’t need instant replay … especially when the umps still can’t get it right. (See today’s Yankees-Rays opener.) Baseball doesn’t need a fake intentional walk, or a protective bubble around middle infielders, or a special purpose rule puttin’ a guy on second in extra inning games. And it SURE as hell doesn’t need two innings clipped off the tail end. If anything in baseball needs to be clipped, it’s Rob Manfred’s self-important wings and Noah Syndergaard’s goldilocks. Other than that, unless you wanna make American League pitchers man up and take their swings, or turn that F-ing head-banging noise off between batters, or hire the displaced Playboy models as bat girls, we should just leave baseball the hell alone, pallie.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.

Joe

THE SOUR TASTE OF ARMAGEDDON.

· 2017 Cubs, Baseball Rules · , , , , ,

BONEHEAD-MANFRED

Greetings and salutations from the glow of the cheap seats, fellow Cubs fanatics, where I still bask in the Cubbie blue afterglow of a World Series championship. It’s like sex … only it smells like leather, cheesy fries and beer. Actually, that would be sex for Cardinals fans. But I digress.

One might think winning the last game of the playoffs would take the edge off the Schlombowksi razor. And one would be correct. Right up until Rob Womanfred poked his head outta the backside of his jackass.

That’s right, sports fans. Manfred is back at it — attacking the perfection of baseball by tryin’ to institute pinheadian rule changes to “speed up the game.” Thankfully, just one of his brain farts snuck through this season, leaving Robby Boy foaming at the mouth in frustration with the MLBPA.

This new rule is a perfect illustration of just how friggin’ constipated Manfred’s whole speed-up-the-game movement is. According to ESPN’s Howard Bryant, Major League Baseball plans to use a dugout signal in place of issuing four balls for a intentional walk this season. If you look at the numbers you’ll see that eliminating the 60 seconds saved by not actually, physically throwin’ 4 balls is like takin’ a bucket of water outta Lake Michigan. If the average game is 3 hours long, that 60 seconds represents 1/2 of 1% of the time it takes to play it. Wow! Brilliant move, Baseball. I can only imagine how the Gross National Product is gonna soar with all that extra time that won’t be wastin’ on a ballgame. Friggin’ genius.

This whole thing reminds me a Star Trek episode, appropriately titled, “A Taste of Armageddon.” During this episode the crew of the Enterprise visits a planet whose people fight a computer-simulated war against a neighboring planet. Even though the war is just pretend, the citizens of each planet have to submit to real executions inside “disintegration booths” to meet the casualty counts of the simulated attacks.

Well, this walkin’ guys without walkin’ guys is the same kinda thing.

It’s complete donkey doo. It doesn’t speed the game up (as if that needed to be done anyway) in any noticeable way, and it robs fans of the chance … the possibility … the anticipation that some yay-hoo pitcher with the control of a young Randy Johnson tosses one of his pitches to the backstop. Pathetic.

If you really wanna improve the game of baseball, consider gettin’ Manfred together with one of those disintegration booth thingies.

Of course, I could be wrong. But I’m not.

Joe

UP 2-0 IN THE NLDS, CAN THE CUBS PULL THE PLUG ON THE GIANTS?

· Joe Sez, The Playoffs · , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

GIANTS-FLATLINE

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:

The Giants have won three World Series since 2010 and they’re 9-0 in elimination games since 2012. Nine and friggin’ oh! Is that something to sneeze at? No, is the answer. It is not.

In 2012, San Francisco was given a stay of execution twice … TWICE! First, when they came back from a 2-0 deficit to the Reds in the NLDS. Then, after fallin’ behind the Cards 3-1 in the Championship Series, they not only Johnny Cochran’d their way outta the noose, they ended up with a friggin’ ring.

Jump forward to 2014 — yeah, yeah, another even numbered year. The Giants win the Wild Card against the Pirates.

Ditto 2016 against the Mets.

And let’s not forget the Giants figured a way to win Game 7 of the ’14 World Series in Kansas City after losin’ 10-nothin’ in Game 6.

Tomorrow’s starter, Madison Bumgarner is a whopping 12-3 as a starter in the playoffs.

Yeah, sounds like a real piece of cake, for sure.

If I’m Joe Maddon insteada Joe Schlombowski (and boy, wouldn’t that give the missus a reason to do cartwheels) I’m not countin’ any chickens just yet. I’m not even mentioning the word “chicken.” In fact I’m Google mappin’ things so the team bus avoids any route where there’s even a remote possibility of a KFC sighting between the hotel and the ball park. And I sure as hell am not havin’ one of those lighten-the-mood onesie parties. It’s time to keep the eye on the friggin’ ball.

Point is, the Giants are a damn good team. They aren’t about to roll over just cuz their waxed backs are against the ivy-covered wall.

However … there IS a silver lining. Yes, occasionally there happens to be one of those around the Schlombowski black cloud. And here why:

In their 3 post-season games so far, San Francisco has sent 102 batters to the plate and only 3 of ’em have produced runs. There are a lot of ways to describe that. Personally, though? I like “pathetic.” That kinda graveyard performance may be good enough to beat a team like the Mets, but we’re not the Mets.

Two words: Jake Arrieta. Our Cy Young winnin’, no-hit, cannon-armed flame thrower will be takin’ the mound tomorrow night. You wanna talk black clouds? I give you Hurricane Arrieta. Things don’t get much darker than that for the Giants.

Just for grins, let’s say the Giants escape one more time, by some fluke of whatever — like Arrieta is hit by lightning, or Rob Manfred institutes another one of his “speed the game up” rules, stipulating the Cubs get only 1 batter per inning. I’m still gonna bring my Alfred E. Neuman face out, cuz Hendricks is still fresh, Lackey and Hammel have yet to throw, and even Lester could come back for game 5 if needed (it won’t be).

Have I mentioned the stacked Chicago Cubs lineup? The Cubs are like Dolly-Parton-with-a-boob-job stacked. Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrist. Boom, boom and boom. I’ll put our bats up against anyone’s. So I don’t really give a crap if Madison friggin’ Bumgarner is on the bump. Gettin’ through the Cubs order without needin’ oxygen is highly unlikely.

Pinch hitters Wood and Hendricks.

Aroldis “you can’t hit what you can’t see” Chapman.

Rondon and Strop to set him up.

Joe Maddon’s King Kong-sized brain.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. That is: The Giants are a tough ball club, especially when the chips are down. But if the Cubs keep their eyes on the friggin’ ball, that’s just not gonna matter.

Joe

EVEN-NUMBERED YEARS, TAXI CAB COLORED HAIR AND OTHER BASEBALL VOODOO.

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

OUIJA-BOARD

There were 2,430 games played this season, and it took the very last one for the Giants to manufacture a chance at the Post Season. How you interpret that can either give you hives or a grin the size of Prince Fielder’s butt.

It’s hard to figure a team like San Francisco. They’ve got a good staff, a line up of veterans, a damn good manager in Bruce Bochy, and a ton of experience with the post season in the last decade. A little too much. Like there should be a special episode of Hoarders about the Giants. And yet they still sucked like Linda Lovelace with a Dyson since the All Star break.

This is also an even year, which holds sway over the superstitious. Not that Cubs fans are immune to that condition. Two words: Billy Goat. Me, personally? I never, ever change my underwear in the middle of a winning streak. Needless to say, I got a little crispy now and then this season. Totally worth it, though. Anyway, Giants fans believe that even numbered years belong to their team — that they own ’em. And I gotta tell you … it would give me a world of satisfaction for the Cubs to prove what a Mount Everest-sized pile of crap that is.

The fact that the Giants made it to the Wild Card game at all, in spite of playin’ the second half of the season like the fog had rolled all the way into their clubhouse, says a whole lot about them, none of which I like very much. But I think an even numbered year has about as much to do with the Giants makin’ the playoffs as the color red does.

And that’s the thing. If they didn’t get in because of some voodoo, witchcraft, hocus pocus BS, then what’s the reason? As much as the legacy of Barry Bonds still sandpapers my backside, I gotta hand it to the Giants; they’re a grizzled lineup that plays team ball, doesn’t give up, and somehow finds a way to survive when they’re nose-to-nose with the grim reaper. Those are admirable qualities in a ball club, no question, and even though the words are gonna taste like the south end of a sick rhino, I gotta say that the Giants are probably for real and, unlike the geeked-out, cucumber mist bottled water-drinkin’ fans they got, they’re probably not big believers in the make-me-laugh, even-numbered-year thing.

Full disclosure: I was pullin’ for the Mets last night. And I gotta tell ya, after what happened last year, that felt a whole lot like havin’ a heart transplant without anesthesia. I just figured the Cubs would have an easier time with them than San Francisco, and that they’d do the same thing that the Giants did — chip away at the Mets’ pen.

Of course if Mad-Bum and his band of Halloween-colored honyocks think it’s gonna be more of the same against the Cubs, they’re sorely mistaken. No way Chicago is first pitch flailing at anything in the northern hemisphere like New York. LlNot a chance. Just 21 pitches got Bumgarner through the first 3 frames. That was epically-stupid on the part of the Mets, who wasted a brilliant outing by Thor and now will be swingin’ golf clubs this weekend instead of bats. And by the way, I don’t take Syndergaard out. He’d given up a grand total of 1 hit and had somethin’ like 10 K’s over 6 innings. Yeah, yeah … Granderson saved his narrow hiney on that deep drive to center, but that had more to do with where he was positioned than Thor runnin’ outta gas. It was a long out, nothin’ more. Look, all I’m sayin’ is if my horse has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown … do I replace the jockey at Belmont? No. I do not. What idiots.

It’s that kinda moronic hitting and coaching that played right into the Giants’ hands, and was a big factor in last night’s outcome.

And what about Yoenis Cespedes? He looked like a friggin’ crayon with that hair. I’m sorry, but if you’re doin’ that sorta crap as you head into the playoffs, you’re not focused. You’re tempting the gods to make an example of you. And did they ever? He went 0-4 with 2 strike outs, and got nothin’ on the ball when he did make contact. But, hey … LOVE your hair, Yoenis.

The gods weren’t done by any stretch, either. Enter Conor Gillaspie. Seriously? Conor … Gillaspie? A Conor Gillaspie could be a bank manager. A Conor Gillaspie might sir on the Supreme Court. But steppin’ into size 16 hero shoes in a win-or-go-home game? No. That’s the gods at work, my friend. Plain and simple.

If you look at the last week of the season, and last night’s game on top of that, you might conclude that the Giants have reacquired their mojo, and will now be an even-numbered foregone conclusion to be reckoned with. And that’s fine. The Force has a powerful effect on the weak mind.

But as the Wizard so emphatically put it to Dorothy, “Not so fast. NOT so fast!”

Anyone — and I’m mostly talkin’ to you Giants fans, now — anyone thinkin’ the Cubs are gonna pull a Golden State Warriors against the G-men oughta get a CAT scan right now. The best record in baseball means nothin’ to a team that hasn’t won a ring since William Howard Taft was diddlin’ interns in the Oval Office. There’s a whole lot more they’re playin’ for. On the very tip-top of that list would be writin’ the biggest sports story on the planet in the last 7 decades. The entire city of Chicago and, hell, half the country wants to see the Cubs doin’ the champagne boogie. I’ll bet the Giants won’t even be all that broken hearted when Rob Manfred is handin’ the hardware to Ricketts. Point is, the Cubs have a distinct purpose, and it’s one helluva lot bigger than just winnin’ the Series. It’s about healing. It’s about burying the damn curse. It’s about givin’ something to back to Cubs fans for 108 of stickin’ with a team that coulda been mistaken for a possum. And I believe the Giants are about to find out just how important that is to Chicago.

Thus, in spite of San Francisco’s do or die last night, and their willing themselves past LA to even get that far, there happens to be another possible scenario besides them findin’ their mojo. In fact, there may be no mo jo in their mojo. That is possible, my friend. What they’ve had to do just to get there may be all they could muster.

Whether they’re runnin’ on fumes or emotionally topped off with full-octane Willy Mays karma, I don’t think it’s gonna matter one iota. (What the hell is an iota, anyway?) I think the Cubs are bound and determined to finish what they started in April, and unless they come down with a team-wide case of the Black Plague, nobody — not Mad-Bum, not Posey, and certainly not Conor Gillaspie — is gonna be able to do a damn thing about it.

Joe