The Northside Lounge
A Chicago Cubs blog with an occasional tangent on pop culture
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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Its done

Or at least it appears to be. Sammy Sosa's 13 year career in a Cub uniform seems to have come to an end as he has been traded to Baltimore for Jerry Hairston, minor league pitcher David Crouthers, and minor league second baseman Mike Fontenot. The Cubs will send along $10M to help out with Sosa's salary next year.

Sammy SosaPlayerJerry Hairston
.9183YR OPS.735
.3023YR EQA.271

Here we have two very different baseball players. Last year their offensive production was very simillar, although Sosa did it with nearly all slugging and Hairston did it with nearly all OBP. Each has been on a steady slope- Hairston's up and Sosa's down. Sosa has almost exclusively played right field in recent years, while Hairston was a second baseman before turning into Mr. Utility last year. He logged ten or more games at second, left, center, right, and DH last year.

Statistically, most players who trend in a certain direction for a while usually bounce back a bit. As such, I'd expect Sosa to hit a bit better than Hairston next year despite the age difference. Given their ages and histories, Sosa also has a moderate chance to explode for a .975 OPS while Hairston is almost certain not to. On strictly on-field grounds, I give Sosa a significant edge here. Throwing in money and chemistry issues, I think the consensus will be this is a good deal for the Cubs.

The two prospects coming our way aren't exactly world beaters. Baseball America lists Fontenot as Baltimore's #7 prospect and Crouthers as their #10. Fontenot is 25 and had a .776 OPS for the AAA Ottawa Lynx. Crouthers is 26 and put up a 5.03 ERA for the AA Bowie Bay Sox last year. He did have a respectable 138/68 K/BB in 139.2 innings. I really don't see either guy ever making an impact with the big club, but organizational depth never hurt anybody either.

If I were a simulation league owner I would not make this deal. In real life, I can see the arguement for it, if for no other reason than it will force the writers to do something other than bash Sosa all year. If Hendry can find a way to bring Ordonez or Aubrey Huff in to fill the talent gap in the outfield, it might work out pretty well for the Cubs.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005


As promised I am back a day later with some thoughts on this season of 24. First of all, I like the fact that they purged out of the players of the past. There is only one main returning character from last season (besides Jack) and she (Chloe) looks to be heading out for the remainder of the season. Taking out a lot of the old characters not only lets new people into the show, but it allows for watching by consistant fans of the shows without having to constantly remind yourself of a character's role in a previous season.

Given the format of 24 in real time the show has to walk the line between being suspenseful and cheesy. I felt last season fell on the wrong side of that line a few times. Jack literally missed making his life easier about 10 times by a combined timeframe of 10 seconds. Miss a critical phone call by one second once helps drive the show, missing it 10 times makes you think Jack is the unluckiest man in the history of the world - a contradiction since he has died at least once a season and is brought back from the dead all the time (usually around sweeps).

Jack might be lucky, but the same can not be said for the women he dates. His wife in the first season died, his love interest in season two gets kidnapped, and now his love interest is again captured by the bad guys. Shouldn't he have to divulge this on the first date. You think the Red Sox were cursed? One last little note about the show, who does the security checking at CTU? There is someone with ties to the bad guys on the inside again this season. I mean, I had to take a drug screen when I got hired for my job. You would think the government would be at least this stringent.

If 24 is anything like real life, then the second place I would look for Osama Bin Laden would be CTU because anyone can work there. I did say second, you might be asking what would be the first. I would contact the people from whatever university he attended. They can track down anyone if they think a donation is coming. I have moved three times since college without telling the University of Evansville (go Aces) and they still call and ask for money. One day I will say yes and freshmen math majors will use the "Goodman urinal" between classes.

Now for something random

I am watching House on Fox at the moment and must say that I am a fan of the show. I like the lead character and his interaction with patients and colleagues. This is only the second time I have seen the show. Both of the episodes I have seen contained seizures. I guess if I were writing a medical show with weird ailments I would use seizures to show people are sick. I will have more of an opinion after a few more viewings.

Now something even more random...and not quite evil

As I stated in my last post I am heading to Vegas at the end of next month. I might play some blackjack out there and have been looking at basic strategy. Doing all this made me think of a scene in the first Austin Powers movie. #2 is at the table with a 17 showing and decided to take a hit on the high number when his x-ray vision revealed a 4 on the top of the deck. When asked if he was sure by the dealer (played by the same guy who was the soup Nazi on Seinfeld I believe), he said yes because he liked to live dangerously. My question is shouldn't he have doubled down. I think yes for 2 reasons: 1.) If he was truly an evil henchmen he would want to maximize his winnings and 2.) if he truly wanted to live dangerously he should have bet double on his gamble. Granted, I don't know the whole history of this man, but I just don't think he has what it takes to even run an evil organization. In fact, getting to the #2 position might be the greatest example of the Peter principle in the history of business - legitimate or otherwise.

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Monday, January 24, 2005

Safe at home

After one more cancelled flight and frantic dash through Gatwick to make it onto an overloaded tiny little plane to go to Minneanapolis for some reason, I've finally made it home. The final score was 43 Yankee hats, one Pirates hat, and nobody else at all anywhere in London for eleven days. In other news, someone hacked the web page and put up a post yesterday. They signed it "Dennis"... it seems familliar but I can't quite place it. Whoever was responsible, at least they made a nice long mostly coherent post so I think I'll let them stay.

I'll be back if/when I dejetlag and get to work in time to catch up on all the stuff thats gone to pieces in my absence. Looking forward to hearing from everyone I missed while I was gone. Cheers!

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Thousands of possibilities...

I think this will be my first post in about 2 months. Maybe more, but I doubt the readers were missing me all that much. I have checked in from time to time and Scott is doing a good job of keeping the web space new and fresh.

The reason for my absence is 100% work related. I was not hired into a job where travel was a necessity, but that all changed. We stated work with a client based in the Minneapolis area (while I may not be able to say what it is, check out the headline and you might have a guess). In the beginning it was stated that I would be on the road for 2-3 days a week but it quickly turned into 5. It was a tough adjustment not only for me, but for my wife who was quickly left alone for most weeks. That meant I spent most weekends doing thing exclusively with her. Between having weak web access in hotels, doing projects that would normally take months in weeks and spending time with family over the holidays, the blog was the natural thing that slid.

But, we gave our final presentation to the client last week and have a cooling off period before knowing if we will have a long term engagement (which might mean a move to an American League city in my future). I should be able to blog a bit more during this period. I also need to use this time to relax a bit from the stress and get on the treadmill more. I visited the doctor near the end of the engagement and had a blood pressure of 160/100. I guess that is high for 50 year olds let alone for someone who turned 28 at the end of November. I suppose I should spend some time and go over thoughts on a number of things have happened since my travels began.

Hall of Fame voting

Ryne Sandberg was my favorite Cub growing up as is the case with a lot of bloggers since I would guess as a group we are of similar age. I was pleased to see him get in. I always thought he should have gotten in on the first ballot, but in the end all that matters is that he will be introduced as "Hall of Famer" for the rest of his life. Now, the vet's committee needs to purge the sins of voters past and get Santo in the hall making it a blue induction day. My wife and I are making preliminary plans to make the trip.

Vegas Baby! Vegas

Speaking of trips, I get to visit Vegas for the first time in my life come end of February. We have already bought some show tickets for a few nights and I have been practicing the poker skills and plan to hit the tables. To say I am excited would be an understatement. I think my poker game is coming along nicely and I should be a able to hold my own at the low limit tables and maybe in some low buy in tourneys. I am too risk adverse to play $100 buy ins yet, but one say when experience and bankroll make it possible I might take a shot at some bigger games. I am happy to patiently wait at this point.

Tick. tick. tick

24 is back with a vengeance and FOX got it right this season from a programming standpoint. Last season they showed 10-12 episodes and then took all of January and half of February off killing all the momentum before ending the season with no breaks. This season it debutted in January and will have no breaks.

I like the season thus far and it is a great chance for new viewers to get in on the action. The first three seasons followed a definite pattern and had repeat characters. This season is 1.5 years after the last in "24 time" and only makes sparse references to season's past. It is still the best drama on television and worth watching. I will make a post this week after the episode talking about more specific plot points (in hidden text for the international folks who are behind).

NFL season

I grew up one hour north of Indianapolis. My wife is from the eastern suburb of Indianapolis. I went to graduate school at Tennessee and traveled down Peyton Manning Pass everyday for two years. It is no surprise that I am a Colts fan. I even had the chance to see the first playoff game against the Broncos this season. I thought that they had the chance to get there this season and was disappointed in the game last week. Of course I was on an airplane for the whole game and did not see a lick of it. It was probably better that way. I think they are just going to have to dominate a regular season and get home field for the playoffs to finally make the Super Bowl.

The team in blue

I guess I should talk about the Cubs a little bit. It looks at this point that the OF will be Patterson, Sosa and a platoon of rookie and Hollandsworth in left. I might be missing something but unless Magglio comes to Chicago, this is the team. I have my reservations about Sosa, but I think that pride and of course money are huge motivators for him. Maybe this will make him put up some good numbers this season. There is no doubt that the trend line is heading in the wrong direction for him. Lets hope that he winds up somewhere between last season and '98 in terms of stats. Closer to '98 would be nice, but worse than last season would be a disaster.

IU basketball

Of how the mighty have fallen. When I was a young boy growing up in Indiana, I choose the cream and crimson to follow over the Purdue. The Hoosiers have struggled to open the season showing bad results in the pre conference schedule. They have started the Big 10 portion of the schedule strongly going 4-1. I am worried this is a red herring though. This is not a good team and I starting to think that Mike Davis is not a good coach. He prepares the kids well and is a good recruiter. But, I hate it when the game is close in the second half and I know that he will be outcoached. I only wonder if it is too late to wrestle the coach out of Steffens territory at Iowa. I believe he has some ties to Indiana.

That's It

OK, that is enough for now. I am going to continue watching the end of the Falcons/Eagles game. If the Falcons win, I am sure my partner will have a long happy blog to post if he can find a computer connection from across the pond.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

London Scoreboard

Most popular MLB hats, ranked by number seen worn since I arrived
  1. Yankees (8)
  2. Pirates (1)
  3. 28 tied (0)

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Monday, January 17, 2005

The Trouble With London is...

... that everything costs the same, except the money which costs double! A 10.00 meal costs 10.00. A 30.00 game ticket costs 30.00. A 20.00 bill costs 39 friggin dollars!

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Saturday, January 15, 2005


Apparently, yesterday I was in Detroit and only today did I find the actual London. As it turns out, the actual London is a place where I go to a sports bar and watch the Falcons whomp on the Rams with a bunch of folks from Atlanta. Go fig. Also, everyone here agrees that they hate the New York Yankees. Wild.

Tomorrow, Craven Cottage.

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Friday, January 14, 2005

London, Day One

Its not quite what I expected. No English accents, no english food, and everyone takes dollars. Oh wait, that's because I am in a Detroit airport internet cafe instead of at Loftus Road. A plane rolled off the runway at Hartsfield last night, leading to us missing our connection and spending 24 hours in Detroit and the Detroit Metropolitan Area. I did get to set foot in my first foreign country (Canada), so I suppose that's something. Here's hoping for better luck tomorrow.

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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Leaving on a jet plane

Beltran is apparently going to leave Houston and become a Met. I never expected us to make a run at him, so I'm just glad he's leaving the division. While he may not be too likely to be worth the money he would have cost the Astros, his departure leaves them a substantially weaker team on paper than they were last year. Not signing him gives them better payroll flexibility down the road, but for now I am going to concentrate on enjoying the spectacle of Craig Biggio trying to roll his wheelchair up that hill in center.

Meanwhile, I'm headed out too. I leave Thursday for a trip to London, Rome, Newcastle, Wales, and back to London. It will be my long overdue first trip to a foreign land, so I'm sure it will be an adventure. I wonder if a Cubs hat makes for a good conversation starter on the streets of Europe.

I'll be back January 25th, with loads of sights, experiences, and soccer under my belt. Till then...

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

He's in!

The BBWAA has elected Ryne Sandberg to the Hall of Fame with 393 votes, just six more than the required 387. The honor is well-deserved for the best second baseman to play the game since Joe Morgan. I'll try to write more soon, but for now: congratulations Ryno, and may an even more deserving Cub infielder join you sooner rather than later.

Edited to add: The veterans committee announcement is scheduled for March 2. If they do get off their rears and put Ronnie in, I'll mark my calendar and plan to see you all in Cooperstown on July 31.

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