The Northside Lounge
A Chicago Cubs blog with an occasional tangent on pop culture
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Nan Kemberling has a website, so if you need a teacher for cello lessons in Atlanta, she's the perfect choice.

Go Cubs!

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Monday, May 07, 2007


They say hope springs eternal, but for most of the last two years I've had precisely no hope for the Cubs to contend. Finally, somewhere between Zambrano's win over St. Louis and this tidbit from Peter Gammons...

"Then there's the matter of plate discipline and on-base percentage. After one frustrating loss in April, Piniella went into the clubhouse and yelled, 'There's nothing wrong with taking a walk once in a while.' 'In reality, plate discipline and patience has to be taught in the minors and become part of the club's culture,' Piniella says. 'But we'll get more aware on the big league level. Believe me, it'll happen.'"

...that streak of uninterrupted despondency has come to an end. We picked some long overdue close wins this weekend, including our first one-run win of the season (!) yesterday afternoon. That has evened out the luck a bit, and the projected standings shows a two-horse race in the Central.

I would generally say it's too early to worry exclusively about Milwaukee, but a number of factors conspire to allow for some scoreboard watching. Milwaukee is a talented young team, playing well, with a healthy lead in the division. You can't say any of those three things about any of the other contenders. St. Louis was old coming into the year and has played like it. Houston has been holding it together with duct tape for years now, and now with no Clemens to rescue them it's hard to see them as a likely division winner. Cincinnati is 14-17, and only doing that well with a healthy Ken Griffey, a Pujolsian Josh Hamilton, and starting pitchers like Lohse and Arroyo performing far above expectations. Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh.

So that leaves the Cubs and the Brewers, a hundred miles apart on the Lake Michigan shore, battling for the Central for the next five months. Of course its baseball, so a million unexpected things could happen, but right now I see a strong likelihood that one of these teams will win the Central and the other will be hoping for a wild card. Neither looks like a great team on paper, and probably not a division winner in some other situations, but this year in this division its looking like we have an exciting season in front of us. Let's go Cubs!

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007


The Cubs mailing list I subscribed to had a little argument the other day about a Baseball Prospectus article (possibly this one although it's hard to tell since I'm not a subscriber.) Joe Sheehan was arguing that Cubs' problems are greatly overstated, and he predicted they'll be leading the Central by the All-Star break. He was met with derision on my list, which is understandable considering we've got 98 years of cynicism built up.

I think Joe overstates the case, but I agree with the thrust of his argument. The Cubs' OPS is sixth best in the league (Milwaukee is fifth) and our ERA is fifth best in the league (leading the division, Cincy and Milwaukee are seventh and eighth.) This team has major flaws, and would be essentially toast in either of the other two divisions. Nonetheless, they are playing like a .550 ballclub, and in the NL Central that gives you a real shot at the division and a trip to the postseason where anything can happen (tm Florida Marlins).

We've won three of four, so hopefully that's the start of turning decent looking numbers on the stats page into decent looking numbers in the standings. Ted Lilly (2-2, 2.18) against Tony Armas, Jr. (0-2, 11.57) tonight. Go Cubs.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cubs look for heavenly intervention

OK, losing all these openers is getting annoying. But, if you remeber back to 2002 the Angels lost the opening game of all three rounds of the playoffs yet eventually brought home the world series title. We are months away from even thinking about this scenerio, but we also have to remember that even though openers feel like they have more magnitude they are just 2 of the 162 games. The Cubs will have ample opportunities to prove whether they are a good or bad team.

The game turned with the bullpen again. After fighting back to tie the game at 3-3 the Cubs turned to Howry in the eighth. He game up three long hits - one a homer with a man on - to stake the Astros to the 5-3 score that eventually was the final score. He also managed to throw a wild pitch in there for good effect.

The bullpen was one of the relative strengths of the team last season. Howry and Eyre are off to horrible starts this season. The crappy part of this scenerio is that the starters are pitching well and deep into ballgames. The Cubs are setting themselves up for success if they can get normal performances from the pen.

Hopefully the Cubs can get to .500 and their first home win of the season all at the same time today. Even though the record is not optimal, I still think this team will be in the hunt (mainly because no one in the central is going to run and hide).

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Nice win

Wade Miller's 2007 debut is not one he will likely want to remember 6 earned runs in 4 innings. The Brewers got those 6 runs before the Cubs even put a crooked number on the board. But, the Cubs had some fight in them scoring 4 runs in the 6th inning to set up the most pivotal moment of the game.

With the score 6-4 the Cubs got the first two runners of the 8th inning on base. Mark DeRosa came up and struck out looking (his 4th of the game), Barrett lined out and pinch hitter Ward whiffed to kill the Cubs mini-rally. Three more Brewer runs in the bottom half pretty sealed the deal and produced the final score of 9-4.

The Cubs ended their first road trip at 3-3. Overall I think that is about as good as can be expected. Dominating at home and playing .500 on the road will give them a good chance of winning the division. The home portion of this plan startes tomorrow with the opener against the struggling Astros.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007
Q Blogging

I have no clue how this will look since I am trying to blog from a smartphone. Nice win today and a few moments that could be deemed most important. Aramis' homer is probably the most obvious, but I am going for something else.

For me and hopefully to carry over the rest of the season, Dempster's 9th inning was the most important thing. He threw strikes and whiffed the last two on nice splitters (or change-ups). The Cubs will hit so the bullpen becomes crucial for their success. Here is hoping Dempster keeps it up.

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Impatience is not history's friend

Continuing on my theme of pointing out what I feel to be the most interesting, impactful moment of the game I am going to again go to something subtle. Obviously Rich Hill was fantastic last night and the bats scored enough in the first to support him leading to an easy win.

Hill was so good though that he was flirting with destiny. He retired the first 15 batters. In the top of the 6th Hill batted with one out and grounded a ball to Milwaukee first basement Prince Fielder. Fielder sort of juggled the ball before flipping to the pitcher for the out, but the bad timing gave Hill a notion that he could beat the play so he hustled to the base. Personally I love it that the Cubs are trying this hard.

Soriano came up next. Soriano is many things - powerful, fast, athletic, but definitely not patient. He was out in two pitches. WGN flashed to the dugout showing Hill preparing to come out to the mound and he was clearly still gassed from running to first. You did not need an HDTV to see him huffing and puffing. Of course the first batter of the inning hit one into the bullpen breaking up the perfect game, no hitter and shutout. Would Hill have been perfect longer if not tired? The world will never know.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007


I could pick a few pivotal moments in the game where the Cubs messed this one up. I just hope that they don't decide to waste too many more good performances from the back portion of the rotation. Marquis deserved better - the whole team deserved better. But, bad fundamentals, a crappy bullpen and horrible situational hitting will sink a team every time. I just hope they get them all of out of their system now.

I think the game turned in the top of the 7th. Soriano got a two strike hit into left field. He then proceeds to get picked off for out #1. Murton follows the pick off with a hit to right field. Now, if Soriano stays put the Cubs have at minimum 1st and send for Lee and Ramirez.

Theriot replaced Murton and stole second so there is still a runner in scoring position with less than 2 outs. Lee hits a ball to third and Theriot strays too far off and gets nabbed at third. Cubs have now parlayed two singles and a ground ball to two outs and a man on third. When Ramirez grounds out the Cubs are left with a round number on the scoreboard for the inning and a singular run lead.

If they push across another run in that inning who knows how the game would have turned out, but I bet it would have been better for the Cubs. Of course, if Jones had not made the last out in three innings with runners on base it might have turned out better as well.

It was another cold day in Cincinnati and I was lucky enough to be sitting three rows behind the Cubs dugout. Let me tell you, Pinella is not afraid to hold players accountable. Theriot got an earful for running into an out in the aforementioned inning. Personally I like this style. Accountability and measurement leads to performance.

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Make the other guy make a decision

Read any books about poker and the headline is a common theme. The best players apply pressure to their opponents forcing them to make decisions. Making more decisions gives people more chances to make a big error. Personally, I have a friend I play with that I can tell within five minutes if he is having a good decision day. If not, I play ultra aggressive.

What does this have to do with baseball? Well, to me the pivotal moment of yesterday's game was a small thing that made Reds manager Jerry Narron make a decision. The boxscore will show that Lilly retired the Reds in order in the bottom of the 7th - not a strange thing to happen especially since he pitched well. But looking a little deeper into the lineup you will see that he retired the 6-7-8 hitters.

When David Ross was hitting with two outs, the Reds had a pinch hitter in the on deck circle. When Ross made an out, Narron had to choose whether to send out his pitcher for the 8th time with a high pitch count or send the game to the bullpen. He choose to stick with Arroyo. Lee and Ramirez led off the inning with hits knocking out Arroyo and setting the table for DeRosa's 2 RBI single that put the game away. Sometimes small things make a big difference.

Extra Innings Package

I figure most readers of this site kept track of the negotiations between Direct TV and baseball over the rights to the out of market baseball package Extra Innings. When the potential deal was announced cable TV subscribers (like myself) were up in arms about the hassle over switching to satellite (if they even had the choice where some in apartments would not). My basic stance was I did not care where the games came from I just wanted them to make a decision - announcing something after the season would be the worst thing that could happen.

A couple of weeks ago the proposed deal went final so I switched and ordered the package. I read this morning that late negotiations is bringing the package back to cable. Idiots. So I would up going through the hassle of switching and it turns out I could have stayed pat. The good news is that I am enjoying Direct TV. I get Extra Innings in all rooms of my house instead of one, I get more games in HD and in the fall I get use of the NFL network. The ultimate end is good and I suppose that is all that matters.

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