The Northside Lounge
A Chicago Cubs blog with an occasional tangent on pop culture
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Wednesday, March 30, 2005
 

Mexico Scenes

Here are a few pics posted by a fellow Atlantan and Azteca vet on his US Supporters site:

- Outside Azteca

- Azteca stairs

- Me and my amigo, postgame

I mentioned an American fan that proved particularly popular with the public in Mexico City in the earlier post. Here she is in one of my pictures. She was pursued by Mexican security guys, police, photographers, and cameraman, and the object of chants from the section to our left and (when she was on the video message board) cheers from the whole stadium. But the hillarity didn't end there- the next day she made ESPN Mexico and five different Mexican newspapers. Check these scans out in order for maximum hillarity. Not that I condone such blatantly sexist behvaior, but as your faithful correspondent I must present the facts on the Mexican media coverage as it was. I've linked them with English translations of the newspapers captions:

- Who is she cheering for?

- (front page collage, no particular caption)

- Not even with the support of these stripes could the team of Bruce Arena (the US) be inspired to victory at the Azteca

- Two reasons to root for the Unites States!


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Tuesday, March 29, 2005
 

Everyone's your friend in Mexico City...

... and everything is beautiful, when you're young and pretty
The streets are barely paved and there's just so much to see
But the best thing about Mexico City is you and me

I already wrote up a bunch of stuff from the game for posting on Big Soccer, so I am going to take the lazy way out and just paste it in here. Hopefully this will give a taste of what it was like. I'm going to Birmingham for the USA/Guatemala game tomorrow night, so starting Thursday I'll be back to talking about my other passion (the one that plays at Wrigley.) Thanks for indulging me until then.

Part One
Aside from the fact that we lost, that was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. There are about a million things I should share, but I got two hours sleep last night and I need to nap, so I'll bullet point a few highlights:

- Holding our flags up to the windows on the bus as it raced alongside a train full of people waving the Tri back at us.
- Listening to one of the Jersey guys in the back of the bus singing the Jetsons theme en Espanol
- Meeting a certain celebrity press credentialed photographer with a "CLEVELAND ROCKS" chant as he saluted us from the field before the game
- Singing the Star Spangled Banner at the top of my lungs under the BabyBAF and not being able to hear anything but other people singing.
- The roar when Mexico scored their first goal. Not a happy moment, but the sound was something to be appreciated nonetheless.
- The comedy of seeing hundreds of Mexican fans begging a comely young lass with a Stars & Stripes bikini top to "take it off!"
- The adrenaline surge when Eddie ripped the ball into the side netting. Wow.
- Our section and the entire Mexican section to our left applauding each other after the game.

Amazing, amazing stuff. I'll be in Azteca in 2009- will you?
Part Two
To try to answer a few questions posters have asked:

- I would guess there were between 200 and 300 people in our section, a few of which were rooting for Mexico but in our group somehow. Probably half stood and chanted and sang throughout. This was my first cap (what a way to break my cherry!) and I feel I should give some love to the folks in the first row. Their energy and creativity was amazing and a big part of making it such a memorable event despite the final score.

- I am pretty sure the poster who mentioned Americans throwing beer at the Mexicans was kidding. I doubt anyone would be so foolish with 200 police surrounding us at all times, not to mention the tenth of a million Mexican fans.

- I could hear the music for the anthem. I fully expected it to be drowned out in boos, but I definitely heard the music at the start. I cant remember if I heard it all the way through, becuase by the end I was paying more attention to the pride I felt singing the Star Spangled Banner at the top of my lungs in the heart of Mexico City.

- We were located at the goal line on the end where all three goals were scored with the field stretching out to our right. We entered the stadium around 10:30 (90 min before kickoff) and they moved us back and forth from the goal line to maybe 30 yards upfield before settling on the corner. There was a large chain link fence to our left- maybe 10' tall- separating us from the large section of fans on that side. To our right there was a smaller section of fans (due to the architecture of the sats) but there were cops separating us from them. The large section to our left is where most of the interplay between us and the Mexicans took place. That section produced the beers and the Osama chant, but also the applause they gave us when we applauded them after the game as well as the shirt and flag traders. They were also the main targets for our "Ko-re-a", "Cor-tez", and "Silencio, Mexico, Shh-shh-shh!" chants.

The cops lined the front of our section and the right side. The placement seemed odd since an attack from the field or the small section to our right seemed less likely than an attack from behind/above or the massive section to our left, but there weren't really any problems so it didn't really matter anyway.

- The lovely young lady pictured above was all over Mexican TV this morning and in five different Mexico City newspapers today. One had a full page color shot of her with the caption (translated) "Not even these stars could inspire Estados Unidos to victory." Another had a color shot of only her chest, with her head and the rest of her body cropped out. I am not even kidding.

- Some of my Mexican hosts mentioned that there was some sort of violence (I don't want to throw around the word riot since I don't really know the details) surrounding a club match a few weeks ago, and they suggested that the fans might have been toned down as a result.

- There were the Osama morons, the beer throwers, and some just vulgar drunks, but the vast majority of Mexicans at the game and every single Mexican I interacted with away from the Azteca was friendly and sporting. An example- one of the security guys at the apartment I stayed at helped me get a cab Saturday night even though we spoke none of each other's language. I tried to explain that I was going to the game the next day but I didn't know if he understood. Sunday morning I locked up the apartment and came outside. He hurried out of his guard booth to show me his green "Viva Mexico!" shirt. I told him "2-0" in my terrible Espanol. He shook his finger "no no." When the game ended he was waiting for me to tell me "dous a uno", but he shook my hand and when I said "Bueno juego" he said "Si, si!" and clapped me on my shoulder. (Disclaimer: I only knew "juego" because I saw it on the folder that held minesweeper and solitaire on the computer in the apartment.)

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Sunday, March 27, 2005
 

Azteca

That was an experience I won't soon forget. Over 100,000 chanting, singing, screaming Mexicans. Maybe 200 brave gringos chanting, singing, and screaming back even louder (on a per person basis). I got a bit less than two hours sleep last night so I am going to take a nap, but I'll try to do today justice in a post as soon as possible.

There is only one Drew Carey!

We are Bruce's Yankee Army!

Estados Unidos!!


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Friday, March 25, 2005
 

¡Hola Amigos!

I've seen six people wearing baseball caps in Mexico City and only four were Yankees hats, meaning this place is already a cut above England. No Cubs hats yet, but there is time left. Our flight was relatively empty so our Buddy Passes got us up to business class, the first time I've ever gotten to fly with the special people. A Dayquil bottle burst in my luggage sending sticky orange cough medicine all over the place, but my apparently waterproof bag from REI limited the damage to my new digital camera and kept it away from my clothes.

I did get to talk baseball with my travelling companion's cousin. He's a Red Sox fan, so we talked about Theo Epstein and Moneyball and all that good stuff. He says Rodrigo Lopez of the Orioles is the next Oliver Perez, so consider that your hot roto tip for the day.

We're headed out to the pyramids at Teotihuacán. ¡Hasta luego!


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Thursday, March 24, 2005
 

South of the border, down Mexico way

I'm headed to Hartsfield in a few minutes to try to get on a plane for Mexico City where the US will face Mexico in a World Cup qualifier this Sunday afternoon. The game will be in the Estadio Azteca, the largest sporting stadium on the continent with a capacity around 115,000. Despite some success against El Tri in recent years, the US has never won in Mexico so we have to be considered heavy underdogs. The game is at 1 EST Sunday on the Deuce, so check it out and see if our boys can pull off the upset and see how the brave 200 gringos in red do in the midst of 114,800 amigos in green.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005
 

And the hits keep on comin'


Borowski will miss the six weeks with a broken hand and now the Cubs are left with a few more questions in the bullpen. It was uncertain that Joe would be the closer in the first place, there was little doubt that he would make the team. Now we have to decide whether to let LaTroy have LaBall or if we try Dempster, Chad Fox, or a committee get the final outs.


A lot of this will depend on the status of the two most valued right arms in Chicago and their reap. Bottom line is that the Cubs have a lot of questions to answer and not many remaining days to answer them. Most of the time little stuff like this would worry me, but I guess I am blissfully ignorant given the insane work schedule I have been keeping.


I have only seen 4 innings of pre-season baseball and heard a handful more on the radio. I have read a few articles, but to be truthful, after the injuries to Wood and Prior I read enough soapbox stampeders talking about pitch counts to last me all year. True, I agree on merit that Dusty pitches people harder than they should, but once you get past that point, what else is there to talk about?


This will seem like a weird statement from a math guy, but I feel like they will do fine this season. Do I have any rationale for this? Have they done or said anything to bring confidence? Do they have a history of winning? Well, the answer is no. I guess I just want to spend a few months believing before facing the cold harsh truth - if it does have to be faced.

NCAA Tournament


I decided to step out on a limb this season with my picks. My general theory was that everyone and their brother would pick Illinois or UNC to win it (well in this neck of the woods you get a lot of Kentucky and Cincinnati as well), so I would pick different. I figured I would either finish near the top or at the bottom. Well, since I had Syracuse winning it all along with Kansas in the final four I am headed for the bottom.


I just flat out stink at these things. I stink in years where I follow the game heavily, I stink in seasons where I don't follow the game. I just stink. I hope my wife is able to get into the money at the work pool this year (again) to cover our loses. I think poker will remain my only form of gambling since the sports betting is not working (minus $5 this year).


One story line I am happy to see is Bobby Knight and his return to the sweet 16. With no Indiana teams in the tourney this time - you read that right, no teams from Indiana not even a token Butler, Valpo, or Evansville, I will root for the old Indiana coach. People in Indiana have a feeling for this man much like Cincinnatians have for Pete Rose. You cannot explain it, so you don't try. Lets just say I will be very pleased if they make the final four. At least IU decided to keep Mike Davis.

Television


I hope to be back later in the week with a more comprehensive post on 24. Suffice to say I like this season a lot. I like it quite a bit more than last season and I am happy to report the Cubs mug made its appearance - which is a good thing.

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Monday, March 21, 2005
 

Damn Cardinals

This past season, the Cardinals were a ruthless machine. We had a good team, but injuries hurt us and with the overwhelmning nature of the Cardinals offense there just wasn't much we could do. Of course, their defense was better than ours too. They just jumped on top of us and wouldn't let up, and the next thing you know we were just roadkill in the rear-view mirror of their championship drive.

I refer of course to the Louisville Cardinals, who kicked the hell out of Georgia Tech in Nashville yesterday. If both teams were at full strength I feel we would have had a shot at them, but the polls and computer rankings agree that they are one of the five best teams in the country. How they got a 4 seed I'll never understand. Add in the injuries to Muhammad and Jack, and the impressive Louisville crowd that outnumbered we in white and gold probably 10 to 1, and the result was nearly inevitable. Not that Tech didn't fight- Jarret Jack reinjured his ankle maybe two minutes into the game but got back in and played another solid game, and we missed a shot that would have cut it to seven in the middle of the second half. I'm proud of the team and what they accomplished the last two years. Well done, guys.

Not that the weekend was a total loss. We did get to see Michael Wilbon walk twenty feet away from us in the Nashville arena. We got two days of basketball in at the Vanderbilt gym (a pale imitation of the palace on the Flats.) And whats better than standing on a street corner talking smack with drunk Louisville fans who think Conference USA is as good as the ACC?

Anyway, now I need to get warmed up for Sunday. 20,000 Lousivlle fans against 2,000 Techies isn't going to compare to being one of 200 Americans surrounded by 119,000 Mexicans. Remember the Alamo, baby. I just hope this time it ends with the Americans walking away victorious, or at least uninjured.


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Saturday, March 19, 2005
 

1 down, 5 to go

All things considered, yesterday was a good day. Granted, I had my doubts when the PA guy announced as "from the Southeastern Conference, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets." I mean really- we are one of the top three or four engineering schools in the country and we have two College World Series, two Final Fours, and a football national championship in the last fifteen years. You would think they might have heard of us. I suppose I should be greatful they didn't bust out the old "Georgia Tech University" on us.

Anyway, Tech held off GW for a twelve point win, although it GW led as late as six or seven minutes to play. Jarrett Jack had an amazing game considering a bad ankle took away his usual lightning quick first step. There must have been 15 different times when on any other night he would have blown right by someone to break a trap or take it to the hole on the break. Last night he had to pull up his dribble and pass out of those situations. Still, he played within himself, picked his spots, and led us to a win. It was absolutely the smart way to play, but I don't know that we can beat Louisville without the real JJ at 100%. Here's hoping Tech's trainers are more competent than the Cubs' crack medical team.


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Thursday, March 17, 2005
 

I think he really means this

Dusty on Nomar from cubs.com: "So much for the theory of going deep in the count and watching pitches," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

If my day started with a good laugh/cry, yours should too.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2005
 

Ow

I'm sure you've heard about Mark Prior's elbow by now. It was three days after we opened that we first started fretting about pitch counts for these two guys. Maybe we'll get long apology emails now from all the people who laughed at our concerns in 2003 when Dusty was sending out young pitchers for another inning with big leads and 110 or 120 pitches thrown already. Maybe not.

Anyway, Aaron Gleeman talks about whether Mark Prior or Joe Mauer was the right choice for the Twins with the #1 overall pick in 2001. It reminds me of the guy I wanted the Cubs to draft back then- Georgia Tech's own Mark Teixera. My arguement was that Teix's ceiling was very nearly as high and he didn't come with the massive baggage of a large chance of suffering a career-stunting injury that all pitchers carry. This story is far from over- Prior's elbow inflamation could subside next week and he could pick up his Hall-of-Fame career right where he left off. Heck, if nothing else I think its reasonable to conclude that we would have never made the playoffs in 2003 without him. Still, I can't help but wonder if a healthy Mark Teixera (.930 OPS at age 24 last year) wouldn't have been the better choice. Here's hoping the Cubs get a manager who cares about the health of his pitchers, Prior gets some competent medial attention, and I turn out to be dead wrong about that 2001 draft.

Speaking of Tech, my college roomate called me from Nashville where he is in grad school at Vanderbilt. He pointed out that Tech is playing right around the corner this weekend, and the next thing you know we are getting the band back together if for one weekend only. Here's hoping Paul Hewitt's Jackets can make it worth our while.

And since I've closed two straight topics with the lazy "here's hoping" phrase, I'll stop now.


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Sunday, March 13, 2005
 

Quickie

My intro post is up over at TCR. That's really all I have to say right now, since I need to go gargle some more water to try to get the vomit out of my mouth after seeing the call J. J. got to effectively end the Tech game today. I really shouldnt be surprised. It seems to be just an inherent property of basketball that its officiating is far more subjective and far less consistent than that of other sports. I love to play the game, but watching it is just terribly frustrating when every time the court the refs have one or more moments where they could call a foul or just as easily not call one. Even good refs are bound to blow games when every play is subject to such wide interpretation. Throw in the Munich Olympic refs that Duke brings with them to every game they play and what do you think is going to happen?

Anyway, this is a big reason I can never love basketball like I love baseball. An umpire can cost you a championship in baseball sure, but the percentage of games decided by the umps is an order of magnitude lower than the percentage decided by the three blind mice running up and down the hardwood.

Edited to add: I've seen the bracket now, and Tech gets a 5th seed in Washington's region. I was hoping for a win over UNC yesterday to push us up out of the 8/9 hole that has to play a #1 seed in the second round. Instead we get a surprise #5 seed and a #1 seed opponent in the sweet sixteen. I'll take the trade off, and all the more so since the committe took the fifth best-team in the country as a #1 to avoid having three ACC #1s, and then put said gift #1 in our region. On the other hand, they put the #6 team in the nation (#7 by the Sagarin ranking) as a 4th seed and make us play them in round two. Can't say I like that. Ah well, time to fill in GT all the way through my bracket again. Maybe this year it will finally pay off.


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Monday, March 07, 2005
 

New Beginnings or the Same Old Stuff?

I had the privilege of visiting the teeming metropolis of Birmingham, Alabama for work today. The meeting finished up and ducked out of the lunch that followed, meaning I got home in time to catch a couple innings of the game with the Rangers from Arizona. It was awfully nice to see some baseball again. The occasional Latin World Series highlight on ESPN News didn't do much to help get me through the winter, you know? I did have a little trouble telling which team in dark blue shirts with red and white letters and trim was the Cubs and which was the Rangers. You would think if they have to wear those tacky colored jerseys they could at least get different colors. I mean the whole idea of uniforms in the first place is to tell the teams apart, right? If you are wearing the same shirts then everyone might as well play in street clothes.

But anyway, the yin and yang of things demand that I drag out a relic from the past, and this story on Cubs front office philosophy does the trick. Its a pretty darn good article by Bruce Miles in the Daily Herald concerning the divide between "traditional" and "modern" approaches to player evaluation. A few highlights:

First, Hendry tells Miles that they came up with Michael Barrett and Glendon Rusch when stat-heads (the article's perjorative term) wouldn't have. Hendry is quoted as saying "You're not going to go to the extremes we did for Michael Barrett if you don't have scouts say, 'Hey, look, he's better than a .208 hitter. He's on the verge of being a really good player.' You can't get those things in statistical analysis."

Well, you can get those things in statistical analysis, if you understand what you are doing. Barrett was a .208 hitter in 2003, true. Of course, a "stat-head" wouldn't have been focusing on his batting average anyway- he would have been looking at the small sample size (252 PA in '03), Barrett's decent power (.190 ISO in '03), his track record of success (.750 OPS in '02, .781 in '99), and his age (27 in '03, the median peak year for hitters, statistically speaking.) Or look at this post from "stat-head" Bryan Smith back in December of '03, in which he pushes for acquiring Rusch based on his numbers. If you want to get really edgy and play with the cutting-edge numbers, you could have seen that Rusch was one of the DIPS-unluckier pitchers in baseball in '03 and forecast that he might just improve.

But don't think Hendry is a complete Luddite. He looks at stats, really. For instance, he defends the Burnitz signing by saying "People just dismiss Burnitz - 'He strikes out a lot. He can't do this, he can't do that," Hendry said. "If you look at it objectively, he was sixth in the game in slugging percentage of people who struck out more than 120 times. He hit .307 with men on base. He hits left-handers well. He hit .287 with men in scoring position. To me, he's not striking out at the wrong times. The analysis is being done."

Where to start? First, he is quoting batting averages again. It is 2005 for crying out loud. Doesn't everyone know by now that batting average is a canard? It ignores power. It ignores walks. You can't ignore power and walks and have a remotely useful tool for evaluating offense, and yet there he goes. Second, even if he wasn't using batting average, what the heck kind of stat is "sixth-best hitter with at least X strikeouts"? I honestly can't see what he is trying to prove there. Is that a good thing? How many hitters had at least that many whiffs? Was it more than six? And finally, he closes by saying that he has just illustrated the fact that "the analysis is being done." He seems to be saying that because he has quoted some numbers- regardless of whether they are numbers that have any relevance at all- he's got it covered.

The good news is that it is possible to win like this. Traditional methods can identify some good players and possibly even put together a winning team. Hey, the Diamondbacks did it just a couple years ago, and our front office isn't any more backwards than theirs. Its just that all else being equal, you are far more likely to win by combining traditional approaches with some basic understanding of modern ideas. Willful ignorance is like choosing to fight with one hand tied behind your back. You never know- you might get lucky and win a fight like that. I just don't think I like your odds against the guy putting more than just one duke up.


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Saturday, March 05, 2005
 

Fairness

When I was growing up and I'd complain to my parents about how unfair something was, I'd often get the response "Life isn't fair." They had a point- its not. If fate deals you a bad hand at some point in life, you just have to try to overcome it.

Baseball though, is different- or at least it ought to be. When the umpire shouts "Play ball!" on Opening Day, every team ought to have an equal chance at success. Every fan ought to know that his team is going to rise or fall this year based on the actions of the team's management and players and those of their opponents, and not as a result of other outside factors that tilt the balance before a pitch is thrown. (This is why I believe in heavy revenue sharing, although that's not what I'm writing about today.)

Take a look in the top left corner of the page. You'll see that the Cubs have a 23% chance of making the playoffs. You may remember from when I started posting the Playoff-o-meter last August that its based on the record, run production, and run prevention of the Cubs and their opponents. There have been no games played yet, so every team has an 0-0 record, with no runs produced and no runs prevented. So every team must have a 23% chance right now, right? Wrong.

The Cubs are in the NL Central, a six team division. If every team had identical talent the Cubs would win the division once for every six tries, or about 16.7% of the time. Similarly, the Cubs are in the sixteen-team National League. Assuming identical talent and excluding the three division winners, the Cubs would win the wildcard once in every thirteen years that they don't win the division, or about 6.4% of the time. That's a total chance of going to the playoffs each year of roughly 23.07%.

If you do the same arithmetic for teams in the other five divisions, you find that the chances of making the playoffs are actually much higher for teams in other divisions. NL East and West teams should make the playoffs 26.2% of the time. For teams from the AL Central and East, its 27.3%. And for those fortunate teams in the American League West? Its 31.8% of the time- a whopping 38% increase over the rate for the identical team if they had been placed against identical competition but in the NL Central.

I look at a 38% difference and it blows my mind. I am ready to throw a book through the TV every time an umpire blows a ball/strike call against the Cubs. Here we are talking a 38% advantage over the Cubs for Oakland, Seattle, Texas, and the LAAofA, and its just handed to them before the season even starts! Every single year! And nobody says a word!!

For the record, the slanted playing field is a byproduct of Bud Selig's choice to introduce interleague play. If you split the thirty teams down the middle, you would have fifteen in each league. You could match seven NL teams against seven other NL teams, but there would always be one left over. They could simply spread the interleauge games through the whole schedule, but Bud wants to make the interleague games special so he insists on having them all at once. God forbid we do anything to dilute the impact of the hotly anticipated Rockies/Tigers matchup this summer. Or Marlins/Rangers. Or Nationals/Devil Rays. I feel like typing out another fifty examples of these dreadful matchups all night just to prove my point, but I'm going to be merciful and stop here.

Here's a chart with the probabilities for teams in each division. Again, this assumes every team has an equal shot at winning every game. Ratio is an index of each team's playoff chances compared to the fair chance of each team being equal (8 spots for 30 teams equals 26.66%.)

DivisionDIVWCTotalRatio
AL West25%6.8%31.8%119
AL East & Central20.0%7.3%27.3%102
NL East & West20.0%6.2%26.2%98
NL Central16.7%6.4%23.1%87

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Thursday, March 03, 2005
 

Mailbag

I got an email today that got me riled up, so I'm sharing my response here. It came from Friend of the Lounge Tom, who joined us with his brother John at the NLDS tailgate party we had back in 2003. On the night of Game Two of that series, Tom had come up with the marvelous idea of making Ron Santo signs and handing them out to Cubs fans to carry into the ballpark. We handed out maybe 30 signs, and I don't have any idea if they made it on TV but we certainly did our best.

Anyway, Tom wanted to know how Ronnie's stats line up with the average Hall of Fame third baseman. Leaving out Ray Dandridge and Judy Johnson (Negro Leaguers with no MLB numbers), here are Santo's numbers alongside the average Hall of Fame third baseman.

SantoAverage Joe
PA93969085
HR342216
OBP.362.365
SLG.464.452
OPS.826.816
OPS+125123
EQA.293.288

First of all, note that Ronnie had more plate appearances than the average Hall of Famer. Second, look at the huge edge in power. Now I'll admit that its not necessarily fair to compare Santo to a group that includes some dead-ballers, so lets look at the last two stats. OPS+ and EQA each account for park effects and the differences in the offensive levels from era to era. Both numbers agree that Santo was slightly better than the average Hall of Fame third baseman. So to sum up, we've got a hitter that is better the average guy already in, with a great glove, with a plenty long enough career, at the most under-represented position in the Hall, who is a beloved broadcaster who gives everything he has back to the game even after losing two limbs to diabetes. How does Mike Schmidt (who turned in a blank ballot) sleep at night?

Not that I am bitter.


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Wednesday, March 02, 2005
 

Goodbye Mr. April

Rick MahlerRick Mahler, stalwart Opening Day ace of the 1980's Atlanta Braves, died of a heart attack today at the age of 51. His career highlights include a seemingly unending string of dominating Aprils and Opening Day shutouts, a World's Championship with the 1990 Reds, and being the starting pitcher in this July 4th game. If you are not familliar with it, read the boxscore. The start was delayed by rain. They played nine innings and were tied at eight. The Mets got two in the eleventh; the Braves tied it in the bottom half. Keith Hernandez singled to complete a cycle in the 12th. Davey Johnson and Darryl Strawberry were tossed for arguing balls and strikes in the seventeenth. In the top of the eighteenth the Mets got one to take the lead. Out of pinch-hitters, the Braves had to let pitcher Rick Camp (.074 career average), hit for himself. Naturally, he hit the only homer of his nine-year big league career. The Mets scored five more runs for a 16-11 lead in the top of the 19th. The Braves of course scored two and had two on with two out for... Rick Camp. Who struck out to end the game.

It was 3:53 a.m. on July 5th, and the 4th of July Braves game had just ended. What else to do but set off the post-game fireworks spectacular? The APD was swamped by calls from Atlantans who figured the end must be nigh. With the events of that night, who is to say they were so far off base?

Anyway, while I never rooted for the Braves, they were very much the team I grew up with. The Cubs were my team, but I followed them through boxscores, ten or twelve appearances on Superstation 17 each year, and if I was lucky one trip to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Seeing one of the guys who represented those Braves pass away... well, it makes me sad. I know I did a death post last week, but the grandfather of a guy who I probably haven't gone two weeks without talking to since seventh-grade died yesterday and now Rick Mahler of all people. Lacking the power to bring all these people back, I guess I just have to do the best I can with the time I've got. Be nice to someone tomorrow. Don't waste a single day.

And for cripes sake, never ever groove one to Rick Camp with a game on the line. That guy is clutch.


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Santo denied again

Read the sad news for yourself. How they keep a man who easily deserves election on his playing record out of the Hall of Fame when he happens to be a beloved broadcaster AND a double amputee blows my mind. Santo has the stick, the glove, the difficult position, the ambassador of the game factor, the sympathy factor... what in the Sam Hill is the problem here, people?

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005
 

Busy

Things have been hopping in the 404. First of all, I've finalized my arrangements for joining the contingent of Americans invading the Azteca this Easter Sunday. Click for a picture of the riot police shielding the hearty few who made the trek four years ago. Its kind of like the Alamo (we'll be outnumbered roughly 114700 to 300, or 380 to 1 if you like ratios. The difference is this time its the gringos who will be heading south instead of the other way around. Despite the steps forward we've taken over the years, I still see El Tri as heavy favorites when we enter their building. We have one tie and 21 losses in 22 trips to Mexico all-time, so even a draw would be a huge success. If we could pull off a win... well, let's not get greedy.

Second, I've agreed to write a couple pieces a week over at the monolith. Fear not- the Northside Lounge will still get my half-baked drivel and off-topic diversion filled ramblings. Its just that I'll be trying to sludge together some worthwhile posts over there as well. If you are a family member (and I know at least 50% of you are) and are only interested in me and not the Cubs in general, I'll link my Cub Reporter stuff from here so don't worry you are going to miss anything. In all seriousness, it will be an honor and a lot of fun to write for a great site like TCR. I'm grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to the challenge.

Third, on a personal note, I've lost right around 30 pounds so far this year. When I came back from London I found the excessive walking had removed about 12, so I started dieting and have gotten off another 18 or so. BMI says I should be down just under 200, so I've got another 20ish to deal with. My spreadsheet full of exotic Excel formulae says April 10th will be the big day. Its a quality spreadsheet, but I'm still taking the over.

And as always, there are the Cubs. Things have been fairly quiet so far, which strikes me as a vast improvement over last year's daily Prior-isn't-pitching updates. Tomorrow is the day we find out if Ron Santo is finally given the Hall of Fame spot he so richly deserves. I'm not just saying that out of fanboyishness- anyway I look at the numbers Santo is easily one of the ten best at his position of all-time. If that makes you a Hall of Famer at first, second, short, catcher, left, center, right, manager, and even pioneer/executive, it darn well ought to get you there at third base. If there is any justice, two Cubs will be going in at Cooperstown this summer.

A few other odds and ends: My poker game has picked up in recent weeks and I am making serious eyes at some 50" DLP televisions. They've been flirting back heavily but I haven't quite settled on one to go home with. They all look good, but which one will I be happy waking up bathed in the glow of? I got to speak with Dennis recently, and while he's still with us in spirit his writing may remain intermittent for a while. He's considering a move from chilly Ohio to downright freezing Minnesota. Did I mention it was 72 degrees here last week? Just checking.

Oh, and last but not least, my beloved sim team is finally busting out, and not a moment too soon. Any game recap that ends with the phrase "just past a diving Jeter!" works for me.


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