The Northside Lounge
A Chicago Cubs blog with an occasional tangent on pop culture
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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Complete the sequence: Red Sox, White Sox, ______

Are you watching this, Jim Hendry?

The White Sox have won the World Series. Congratulations to their fans (the ones that don't slap Craig Biggio's wife or beat up umpires). Shame on Cubs management for not finding a way to accomplish said feat even once in 97 years. (Although in fairness, if we had gotten half the umpiring breaks in '03 that they got this year we'd have one already.) Let's hope somebody decides its time to get serious about winning now. (If I followed the pattern, this would be the paranthetical jealous slap at the Sox, but the infintesimal likelihood of anyone at the Trib getting serious about winning has depressed me so much I will instead return to my Civ 4 game now.)

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Rockin' in Charm City

Leo Mazzone is leaving Atlanta for the Baltimore Orioles, apparently mostly because they are doubling his salary to $500,000. That is to say, the Braves seem to be of the opinion that Leo Mazzone isn't worth 1/30th of what Mike Hampton is making this year.

Now I am generally skeptical that there is a huge amount of difference between one major league coach and the next. Not that they don't provide a worthwhile service, but I generally feel there is a large pool of potential coaches not much better or worse than the guys who actually hold the jobs.

Mazzone is an exception. He has had the most effective staff in the majors for fifteen years, with hardly a down year in the bunch. Year in and year out, he turns guys like Jorge Sosa (13-3, 2.55 in 2005), Jaret Wright (15-8, 3.28 in 2004), Damian Moss (12-6, 3.42 in 2002), and John Burkett (12-12, 3.04 in 2001) into upper-echelon pitchers despite their lack of success either before or after they work with him. He's built great bullpens just about every year, showing no hesitation to work in pitchers fresh out of A-ball and more often than not getting them to produce. At some point, its got to be more than a cooincidence.

But now the penny-wise, pound-foolish Braves have decided he isn't worth an extra $250,000, and the Orioles have themselves a new pitching coach. I don't claim Peter Angelos is any great shakes as an owner, but that blind squirrel has found a nut today. Meanwhile, the Cubs (79-83) have brought back their entire coaching staff, and there is nary a nut to be found. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Ninety-seven years and counting.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Playoffs? Pfff.

When I was in montessori school some twenty-four years ago, kids who misbehaved were sent to sit in "the no-fun chair," a red chair in the corner where you had to sit while not getting to participate in all the fun and excitement of the montessori classroom. That's about what October has felt like.

None of the four teams that made it to the ALCS would place in the top-half if I ranked the teams I'd like to see win the World Series from 1-30. Only the Angels (losing in an elimination game as I type) would escape the bottom quartet (Yankees, Cardinals, White Sox, and Astros). In fact, for a few days I had trouble repressing my hatred for all concerned enough to make a "lesser of two evils" pick to root for.

It is on that note that I would like to thank The Genius for reminding me that he and the Cardinals have earned their place in the gutter of my esteem. His petty tantrum after Jason Marquis walked Lance Berkman on four pitches each clearly outside the strike zone got that message through to me loud and clear. Aside from delaying the game to make sure everyone knew that everything revolves around him, he upped the ante by trying to bully his way past the crew chief to get at the home plate umpire. Kudos to Tim McClelland for standing his ground and getting the brat off the field so the men could go back to playing baseball.

By men, I am obviously not including Jim Edmonds. Not to be left out of the crybaby sweepstakes, Edmonds managed to get something meaningful attached to his name in the boxscore by moaning about balls and strikes and earning an early shower. La Russa and Edmonds, both putting their personal arrogance ahead of what's best for their team- shocking, isn't it?

Gonfalon Cubs Blog
What is Gonfalon Cubs Blog? Its the new Cubs blog at Baseball Think Factory. Their tagline is "Baseball for the thinking fan," a concept they have decided to throw out the window by asking me to run their Cubs section. The best part about BTF is the depth of knowledge their commenters have (no slight to you loyal NL readers), so that alone should be worth a visit. Also Mike Isaacs and Luke Jasenosky, two very sharp Cub fans from a mailing list I frequent, are going to be writing there as well. I plan to do mostly news and the more stat-heavy stuff over there while keeping more personal items (like trashing Tony La Russa) over here, so if you are in to the analysis side of things come check us out.

Hey, the Angels are up 3-2. Hope is not dead.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

2nd Annual CBA Predictions Contest: Results!

The key to a strong finish in this year's contest was faith in Derrek Lee and lack of faith in anything else wearing Cubbie blue. Our overall winner, a blogger, rode pessimistic predictions for runs scored and allowed, wins, and finish to a commanding nine-point lead over second place. That winner was...

wait for it...

ME! As much as it breaks my heart to have to tell you this, it seems that yours truly has won the 2005 CBA Predictions contest. I had the team down for 84 wins, 726/692 scored and allowed, third place, and Lee to win OBP and homers. Of course, it would be awfully fishy to claim the prizes in my own contest, so I have decided to pass the winner's prize to the runner-up, Paul Gibson of 1060 West. He takes home his choice of $100 in Wrigleyville Sports merchandise or a Ron Santo prize pack detailed below. The high-scoring reader was Brian Olmstead, who was a bit less pessimstic but nailed Jason Dubois as trade bait and Aramis Ramirez as a Cub All-Star, to name a few. He'll take the remaining prize that Paul passes on.

The Ron Santo Package
1961 Topps Ron Santo Rookie Card
1969 Sports Illustrated- Ron Santo Cover
1971 Ron Santo Appreciation Day Pin
Ron Santo Bobblehead
2003 Topps Ron Santo Autograph Card

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for participating. I fully intend to run the contest again next year, so come back and compete next year, and for goodness sakes, dont trust in Dusty if you want to win anything.

1Scott Langehttp://northside.blogspot.com120
2Paul Gibson
3Jason Steffenshttp://www.cubsnet.com110
4Kurt Evans
5Brian OlmsteadReader97
6Phillip DauerReader92
7Christian Ruzich
8Dave MiyakeReader86
9Mike WeberReader83
9Chris TrohaReader83
11Jeff BiddleReader82
11Brian PackReader82
11Bob Sandheinrich
14Jason ColeReader79
15Doug PapentheinReader78
16Patrick LindseyReader77
17Ned Maceyhttp://manofleisuresports.com76
18Joe DiMariaReader74
19Tony ScottReader73
20David M. GeiserReader72
20Jessica RosnerReader72
22Ken Kocandahttp://cubsfun.blogspot.com70
22Chris ButlerReader70
24Joel WilsnackReader69
24Graham Funk
24Joel Reyeshttp://cubsfun.blogspot.com69
24Dave RehmReader69
28Kevin CreutzReader67
28Jay RudakReader67
30Dave Lowitzkihttp://cubs.brendoman.com65
31Todd Andrews
31Michael GrottanoReader64
31Jason Rieger
34Danial BognichReader63
35John Quelle
35Al Yellonhttp://www.bleedcubbieblue.com62
37Rob Glowacki
37Michael Jansen
37Sean HoganReader61
40Full Servaishttp://discowolf.blogspot.com60
41Michael RothReader59
41Chris Yarbrough
41Derek BruinoogeReader59
44John Hill
45Cody CahillReader57
45Rob Letterly
47Joe Aiellohttp://www.viewfromthebleachers.com56
48Jeff HajdukReader54
49Brian StephensReader53
49Eric HanauerReader53
51Alex GartonReader52
52Kermit FrancisReader51
52Shawn Killian
52Aaron DavisReader51
55Michael KenneyReader50
55John Marcus
57James Crockett
59Greg HarperReader42
60Byron Clarke
61Caroline Basile 36
62Scott G. F.Reader27
63John WrightReader25
63Mike Donohue
65Dan SchillerReader5

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Sad Sunday

There is no joy in Mudville, or in my house this weekend. Georgia Tech dominated N. C. State Thursday night, but scored only 14 points and dropped the winning touchdown pass into the hands of an opposing safety to blow the game. Georgia won a big game Saturday, which brought me about as much joy as listening to Sox fans wax braggadocious this winter will. Saturday night Costa Rica annihilated the US 3-0 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. Admittedly, we were playing a B lineup with nothing on the line (since we've already qualified for Germany), but losing 3-0 is still losing 3-0. The Falcons lost their star quarterback, managed a heroic comeback behind backup QB Matt Schaub, tied the defending champs with three minutes left, and let them drive down the field to kick a game-winning chip-shot field goal. Then the Braves...

I was playing disc golf early yesterday afternoon on a heavily wooded course that I somehow forgot I had vowed to never play on again. Through twelve holes I was 15 over par and had walked through more than enough brambles, spider webs, and poison ivy for one day. I quit and remained the parking lot while the rest of my group played the last six holes. One of the softball players in the parking lot had a score- 5-1 Braves.

When my fellow disc golfers returned and got in the car, it had become 6-5 Braves in the ninth, and Kyle Farnsworth was on. This pleased me, since

  • The Braves were winning
  • Kyle Farnsworth, who has been dominant as Braves closer was in
  • I feel a bond with Farnsworth since he is both an ex-Cub and recipient of this blog's most famous nickname
  • I didn't know Farnsworth had given up a 325 foot grand slam in the eighth already

As you probably know, Farnsworth mowed down the first two hitters before giving up a drive to center that cleared a painted yellow line by a couple inches for the game-tying home run- off the bat of Brad Ausmus no less. I hate yellow-line home runs. There should be a fence, and if the ball goes over it it's a home run and if it doesn't it's not.

From there, an amazing nine more innings of baseball. A would-be game-winning homer misses the foul pole by maybe an inch (Chip Caray said on the radio that it might have hit the foul pole had it had raised seams.) 7+ innings of no-hit baseball from the Braves bullpen. Two at-bats from Roger Clemens, who ended up the winning pitcher when Chris Burke finally overcame Down Syndrome to hit a game-winner in the 18th.

All in all, I can't say this game matches the 16-inning classic in Houston in 1986, but it might be the second greatest baseball game I've ever seen. Clemens being the winning pitcher bugs me, not so much because I hate to see him win as because it was a missed opportunity for him to be the goat, an outcome that would have warmed my heart.

So all in all, it was one of the most amazing sports weekends imaginable, only with every outcome worse than the one that preceded it. Oh, and everyone in Louisiana, Guatemala, and Kashmir is dead. Wheee.

I'll have CBA Predictions results and that promised announcement maybe as soon as this evening. Till then, may our Mondays be better than our weekends.

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