Author Archives: John David

Opening Day – Nats 2, Cubs 1: Instant Analysis

Obviously it’s very disappointing to see the Cubs waste Ryan Dempster’s magnificent performance.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge Dempster fan.  But I also am a firm believer in giving credit where it’s due, and he certainly deserved a W today with an impressive outing.

Not to be too much of a Negative-Nancy after just the first game of the season, but I’m willing to hypothesize that today’s game offered a glimpse of what we might come to expect over the season, which is namely a team that will struggle mightily to score runs.  The simple fact is that no team is going to win many games in which it only scores a run or two, so to some degree it really will not matter how good or bad the pitching is if offensive output is practically nonexistent.

As for the bullpen, it is still a little early to castigate Carlos Marmol.  But if he does continue to struggle, then I know we’ll all wish he had been traded when still a  hot commodity.   All three of Ian Desmond’s hits today were variations of the Texas League Flyball.  So of course over time conventional wisdom demands that the law of averages will reduce  young Ian’s gaudy .600 average from today’s game back down toward his unspectacular .260 career average.   But knowledge of this offers little solace, if only because I instinctively know he’ll offset his productive games against the Cubs with goose eggs against the Cardinals or Brewers.

And then there’s Kerry Wood.  I love Kerry Wood.  He is one of my all-time favorite Cubs.  But honestly, please just retire and walk away from the game with whatever modicum of dignity you have left.  Every time he walks out to toe the rubber as a relief pitcher, a little piece of my heart dies.  This is the guy I used to wait every fifth day for with excited anticipation to watch him  mow down batter after batter.  Every time he took his start, you couldn’t help but wonder if he might nab that no-hitter he came oh so close to back on May 6, 1998, and you certainly weren’t surprised when he recorded double-digit strikeouts.  I can’t see him trot out as a reliever without thinking of those good times, and even when a serviceable reliever (which he’s been in the past, but that is certainly becoming an open question today) it made me cringe.

To me, it’s kind of like going to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert today.  Sure the name’s great, and maybe the band sounds okay, but today’s band only has one original member.  Really, the heart and soul, the uniqueness that made the band so great, well for the most part those things all died in that plane crash back in 1977.  And for me, the things that made Kerry Wood such a legendary hero, well, they died when he could no longer be a starting pitcher.  Maybe it wasn’t as obvious at first when he was the closer, because that is such an important role and it was nice to still be able to watch him play.  However, once he moved to the bullpen, he was no longer a mythical pitcher but instead closer to just being another guy.

So please, Kerry, try to make this whole situation as painless as possible for us sentimentalists out there.

Well that is quite enough negativity for right now.  There’s still plenty of season left for sad nostalgia and biting sarcasm.  So go grab a beer and enjoy the rest of the day.  After all, we’re only one game out of first.

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3/10 – Cubs/Brewers @ 2:05 CST

The Cubs’ first TV game of the year will be getting under way in just under three hours over on WGN.

Of course Dale Sveum was a long-time assistant with the Brewers (and also, briefly, their interim manager).  Expect today to be about as emotional as any spring training game you’ll ever see.

Saturday’s game could also mark Geo Soto’s spring training debut.

I am going to try to catch as much of the game as possible, but in all honesty, the lion’s share of my attention will be focused on the Ole Miss-Vandy SEC semifinal down in the Big Easy, as the Rebels look to inch a step closer to their first NCAA Tournament bid in a decade (yes, that’s excessively embarrassing).  Let the good times roll!

The comments section below will be used for any observations/thoughts on the game.

Reading Recs – The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream

Before the 2012 season kicks into full gear,  we thought this would be a good opportunity to share a few baseball books we have enjoyed reading over the years.  Mostly books from off the beaten path (i.e. no reviews of Moneyball), some  might be Cubs-related while others are not.

The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream by Jim Collins is a book about the Cape Cod Baseball Leauge (CCBL).  The league is made up of 10 teams that fill their rosters each summer with elite college baseball players.  Notable alumni of the league include: Nomar Garciaparra, Frank Thomas, Albert Belle, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Zito and many, many others.  According to the CCBL website, in 2010, 236 CCBL alumni played in the Majors.

Image courtesy of goodreads.com

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What to Watch For – Week of March 5

This week will offer a full slate of spring training games.  It’s still early days, so expect to see lots of young guys get significant opportunities while the established players ease their way back into things.  Of note:

Ryan Dempster will make his debut on Monday against the A’s.  Look for a few innings at most.  I’m glad Yoenis Cespedes is not scheduled to play, as that would just be aggravating for him to put up big numbers, even if it’s just a spring training game.

-The games next weekend will be broadcast on WGN TV.  Saturday against the Brewers and Sunday against the Dodgers, with 2:05 start times for both games.  I wonder if Ryan Braun and some of the Cubs players will spend time discussing their respective feelings about the type of job Dino Laurenzi Jr. does.  I’m guessing no.

We are not going to focus in too much on the box scores and results from these early games, but will analyze individual performances, etc., as is warranted.

’12 Preview: Outfield

In the second edition of our 2012 Cubs Preview, we take a look at the Cubs’ outfielders.

New Faces

David DeJesus, RF – Check out our earlier piece on him.  Really all I have to add is this picture of his truck, which is fantastic.

David DeJesus: Ridin' Dirty

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This Day in Cubs’ History

On this day in 1914, Harry Christopher Carabina, better known as Harry Caray, was born in St. Louis, Missouri.

This just goes to show that a person can be born in St. Louis and still be a Cubs fan (trust me, I should know).  I have many fond memories as a youngster watching the Cubbies on the SuperStation and listening to Harry.

’12 Preview: Coaches

As Spring Training gets under way TRR will provide a series of reports breaking down your 2012 Chicago Cubs.  Our first installment will cover some general info on the coaching staff.

Manager – Dale Sveum (substitute “w” for “v” and rhyme with game; or just click here to hear it pronounced)

Background: A former first-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers, Sveum played 12 seasons in the big leagues.  After a promising start to his career (25HRs/95RBIs as the Brewers 23-year old SS in 1987), he suffered a serious leg injury in 1988.  Following the injury Sveum was unable to duplicate his earlier form, and bounced around with more than a half-dozen teams as a utility player before retiring after the 1999 season.

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