Cubs Now!
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
  More Random Thoughts

I think there is a hint that the HIPPA law prevented the Cubs from being completely upfront with the Prior situation. The evolving story--from just needs to rest for five days to maybe missing a start to maybe missing two to no problems with the elbow to slight inflamation in the elbow--is just strange. Dusty said that privacy interests were in play. That's what I meant by we weren't getting the full story. I hope at this time, the mid-May return is the full story. Please, please, let this be the whole story.

With Mitre getting shelled in four innings, Pratt getting shelled, etc., I'm wondering if an equally important piece of information is when Angel Guzman will be ready. If Mitre gets shelled and pitches 3 or 4 IP per start, that will have serious effects on games that he doesn't start. Mitre is not going to do the trick (neither was Cruz). If Guzman can be ready by May 1, I'll feel a lot better. 
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
  Rob Neyer's in bad shape. That's a pretty pathetic way to go through life. On the other hand, the guy gets paid to be a baseball columnist, so I'm a little envious. 
Monday, March 29, 2004
  Prior's Injury

The Northside Lounge takes the position that the Prior injury will only have a one or two game effect on the Cubs standings. I'm not sure that I agree.

Let's assume that with a healthy Prior the Cubs would have gone 3-1 in the games in which he would have started. Let's further assume that the Cubs go 2-2 in the games that Sergio Mitre starts instead. I think those are reasonable assumptions, and may be optimistic as far as Mitre is concerned. That accounts for one game right there.

However, this does not account for the bleedover effect. I suspect that in 2 or 3 starts Mitre is going to go 3 innings or less. Even assuming that the Cubs pull off one of these games, the effect on the bullpen will bleed over to other games, with some pitchers not available. It will also have an effect in piling up the IP early in the season. I also suspect that there will be more pressure on the other four starters to go deeper into the games to make up for the shorter starts. I think that this could have a far reaching effect throughout the year.

The Cubs are likely now to take 12 pitchers on their opening day staff (as Steve Stone confirmed on Sunday's broadcast). This means that the Cubs are counting on Mitre, Andy Pratt, Todd Wellmeyer and either Jimmy Anderson or Gary Glover to eat up a lot of innings in April. As such, I think Prior's injury could have a much larger effect than just a one or two game set back in the standings. In other words, hurry back Mark!! 
Sunday, March 28, 2004
  Pat on the Back

Giving myself credit since credit is due. I picked all four final four teams in the View from the Bleachers and the Rooftop Reports NCAA contests. I've never done that before. Something to feel good about until next Monday. 
  Not Prior

I've said we're not getting the full story. I still believe that. He's going to be out until May. The Cubs probably wanted to acclumate people to the idea he wasn't going to be ready, so it's drip, drip, drip. We'll see.

Anyway, I saw this Old Cub Today, the documentary about Ron Santo. I liked it, but I would have liked to see more highlights of his playing days. He's definitely a trooper and a credit. When you think about the fact that there was no way to test for blood sugar in a quick way, what he accomplished on the field was even more extraordinary. 
Friday, March 26, 2004
  Really Cool

This story is really cool. For all of the environmental problems that we face, the comeback of the American Bald Eagle is a tremendous success. My family has a cabin in northern Wisconsin, and where there used to be 2, 3 eagles in the area, they're everywhere. Never expected to see bald eagles in Chicago, though. 
  Robert Fick

Robert Fick signed on with the Devil Rays this year. He never showed his ugly mug in a batters box after his cheap shot against Eric Karros last October. I'm wondering if that will carry over to this year. The A's (Karros' new team) get a shot at him early May. Maybe the dislike for him will be universal and the first time he stands in, he'll be a marked man. Someone's gotta nail this guy. 
  Mike Kiley, the Cubs beat writer for the Sun Times, "reports" that "speculation is that ... Nic Jackson or David Kelton is likely to replace Macias." Kiley continues "Jackson might have the edge, giving manager Dusty Baker late-inning speed on the bases." Kiley has a tendency to use his own speculation as his reporting so take it for what it's worth.

Kiley also reports that Andy Pratt will make the opening day roster. Sergio Mitre will begin the season at # 5 starter and Wellmeyer will round out the bullpen. An interesting sidenote is that Antonio Alfonseca has been so bad this spring that the Braves felt compelled to get another right hander for the bullpen.

I'm not unhappy witht his deal. The Cubs got a young lefty who strikesout a lot of people out. They gave up a flaky and inconsistent Cruz. As Hendry points out, with Angel Guzman coming up, there was no room for Cruz. Good luck in Hotlanta, Juan.  
Thursday, March 25, 2004
  Wood's Tough Again

Kerry Wood pitched very well (except for the 3 walks) again today. What's nice is that Patterson drew his 4th walk of the spring in only about 50 plate appearance. Considering he only had 15 in 344 PAs last year, maybe he's ignoring Dusty and figured out that getting on base has advantages. 
  Separate Note:

I'd never root for an injury, but Jose Macias is out.

"The Chicago Cubs suddenly need another bench player in April because Jose Macias will be sidelined at least three to four weeks with a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Macias, 32, was to return to Chicago on Thursday to undergo arthroscopic surgery. His knee has been bothering him for a couple of weeks, Cubs manager Dusty Baker said."

Adding Scott McClain is not as simple as I had thought:

"Replacing Macias isn't as simple as finding another body. Infielder Scott McClain leads the Cubs in home runs this spring but he is a non-roster invitee and the team would have to drop someone from the 40-man roster to make room."

"Anything's possible," Hendry said.
Update: The Cruz trade opens up a spot on the 40-man roster. Perhaps this could be an opening for McClain. I admit to knowing nothing about what happens if you drop someone from the roster. Are the players then entirely unprotected? Do the Cubs have to put Andy Pratt on the roster. Hmm. 
  Breaking News

ESPN 1000 is reporting that the Cubs have traded Jaun Cruz to the Atlanta Braves for two minor leaguers. More details to follow.
Update: Here's the Cubs press release.
Cruz and lefty Steve Smyth for left-handed pitcher Andy Pratt and infielder Richard Lewis. Pratt seems to be a decent lefty prospect. Well, Sergio is in until Prior gets back. 
  Bitch Slapped by Richard Simmons

How do you go on with your life after getting beaten up by Richard Simmons?

"Simmons, 55, known for his tank tops and outrageous manner, was ticketed for misdemeanor assault after allegedly striking the man across the face while in line at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Wednesday night, police said."

"He apparently said 'Hey everybody, it's Richard Simmons, let's drop our bags and rock to the '50s,"' said Sgt. Lauri Williams, a reference to a series of his well-known videos. "Mr. Simmons took offense and said he had to 'bitch slap' him."

Wednesday, March 24, 2004
  Interesting Bill James Interview

The Petco Padres blog notes an interview with Bill James by the American Enterprise Institute (a generally conservative thinktank). What I found interesting about this article is James' statement:

"I've tried for 25 years to keep sabermetrics from being taken over by the bad habits of academicians--overspecialization, discussing issues that are of interest only to other academics, and discussing them in a manner which is inaccessible to anyone who hasn't been following the discussion for years."

While James may have tried to avoid this quicksand, I'm not sure that baseball bloggers haven't fallen into it. Often, I read blogs which site so many different statistics which I am not familiar with and in fact have to research what they mean that I think the love of the game qua game is lost. Do we really need a lot of discussion of EqA to understand and enjoy the game? OPS seems to do the trick while still being understandable to those who don't spend hours a day with an Excel spreadsheet doing regressions on baseball offense.
Update: A little blogrolling. Brian at Petco Padres says that it's possible to root for two teams in the same sport. I agree. However, while I think the Padres will be a vastly improved team this year (Brian Giles is the most underrated player in the bigs, IMO), I can't bring myself to root for them. The memories of 1984 are still too fresh for this Cubs fan. I will hate Steve Garvey until the day I die. 
  Opening Day Roster

Based on everything I've been reading, the opening day 25 man roster will consist of:

C (2) Bako, Barrett
1b(1) Lee
2b(2) Grudz, Walker
SS (3) Gonzalez, Martinez, Macias
3b (1) Ramirez
OF (5) Sosa, Alou, Patterson, Hollandsworth, Goodwin

SP (5) Wood, Maddux, Clement, Zambrano, Mitre
RP (6) Borowski, Hawkins, Farnsworth, Wellmeyer, Mercker, Anderson

The only one I'm not really confident about is Anderson. It sounds like Mercker will be ready. Is Anderson necessary? Well, Cruz hasn't done anything to help his cause. Gary Glover seems less likely than Anderson. I think Anderson gets it by default.

Personally, based on the spring that Scott McClain is having, I'd like to start with 15 position players. Such a roster wasn't all that unusual before. The number 11 spot in the bullpen is looking pretty weak anyway. If anyone has ever earned a place on a roster in spring training, it's McClain. When Prior returns, send him down and move Mitre to the bullpen.

Also, should the Cubs be so right-handed in their starting lineup and so left-handed on the bench? If I were God, Macias would not make the roster, but alas, I'm all too human. 
  Macias it is

Well, any possibility of McClain taking the last position on the 25 man roster was put to rest by Jim Hendry's comments in the Sun Times today. Hendry states, " ''We got more left-handed with [Todd] Walker, [Todd] Hollandsworth and [Jose] Macias on the bench." Well, Jim, a left-handed scrub is a scrub nonetheless.
Monday, March 22, 2004
  That's more like it

Greg Maddux pitched 6 scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and no walks, as the Cubs beat the Oakland As 1-0. I admit that spring training games do not give a solid indication of how a team will fare in the regular season. That said, over the next two weeks, I really would like to see the Cubs starters (minus Prior) pitch 5-6 solid innings per start. Right now, I'm feeling good about Wood, Zambrano, and Maddux. Clement remains inconsistent (or more accurately consistently bad) for my taste. Sergio Mitre hopefully can have one good start to begin the year before Prior's return.

The Cubs lone offensive highlight comes from Scott McClain, whose solo shot provided the only run of the game. It is hard to see McClain making the team (Jose Macias's guaranteed contract seems to have taken care of that). Nonetheless, as the Clark & Addison Chronicle noted, McClain has simply had a tremendous cactus league season. Great spring, Scott, but I don't think there's room on the 25 man roster. 
  Richard Clarke's Revelation

I've heard a lot of conservatives bad mouth the Clinton administration for its failure to knock out Al Qaeda's training camps in Afghanistan. But it seems pretty clear that Al Qaeda wasn't the top priority of the Bush administration either. It's easy to look back post-9/11 and blame Bush and Clinton for their failures to act. But the truth is, going to war and doing what needed to be done is all dependent on political will. The country clearly didn't have the political will to take out the camps in Afghanistan prior to 9/11. I know that while I was aware of Bin Laden prior to 9/11, the press didn't talk about Al Qaeda and it wasn't something that I thought was a top priority either. It wasn't on the press's radar, and when it's not on the press's radar, it's not going to be a priority of the people. Without public backing, it's not possible to do what needed to be done.

Indeed, think if Clinton had acted against Al Qaeda after the USS Cole (right before the election). The right would have objected about an October surprise. Same thing if Clinton had done more than merely lob a few cruise missiles during the Lewinsky scandal (wag the dog calls all the way around).

Obviously, it would have been nice if Bush had come in and gone after the camps on day one. But, there was so little talk about Al Qaeda during the election, Bush couldn't just jump in and go to war. Bush even said that he wanted a "humble" foreign policy.

What's my point? Well, everything looks clear right now. But politics takes place in time and with certain constraints based on the circumstances of that time. We should have been more alert and proactive. We weren't. It's tragic that neither Clinton nor Bush had the political capital to take out the camps, but that's the problem with democracy. The regime is accountable to a population which doesn't have the same information the leaders have, and the leaders are therefore constrained.

To me, this is what makes the Bush administration's failure on WMD (whether it was intentional lies or merely false and incompetent intelligence, as I believe) all the more tragic. There will be real threats in the future, and the public will not have the trust in the leadership to enable it to act as needed.  
  Prior's on the Shelf

At least until mid-April. Well, that's unfortunate. It sounds as if the reasoning is that Prior's arm strength won't be there on April 8. I hope we're getting the whole story here. 
Saturday, March 20, 2004
  Grumble, Grumble

That was a great Badger game last night, huh? Down thirteen with just twelve minutes left. A stunning comeback... Didn't see it? Neither did I! Instead, we're treated to the Florida A & M game because they managed to hang with Kentucky for more than a half.

At least we got to watch the entire UIC flames game instead of flashing to a somewhat competitive game. 
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
  The Lincoln Park Pirates

I vaguely knew that there was a song about the Lincoln Park Pirates. After yesterday, I researched it and discovered that the late, great Cubs fan Steve Goodman was the lyricist. As many of you know, Goodman also wrote the song, "Go, Cubs, Go!" for WGN and the 1984 Cubs (which was reprised for the 2003 Cubs prior to the playoff games).

An interesting tidbit in its own, but the Lincoln Park Pirates are alive and well. True story. My fiance had cleaned out her closet (sorry, mama) and filled three Hefty bags with clothes to donate. There's a hospital donation center on Diversey near Halstead. I filled the car with these bags to deliver the clothes. Needless to say, there was no space to park on Diversey. I pulled into the Dunkin' Donuts lot and went across the street to donate the clothes. Unbeknownst to me, this parking lot employs the Pirates. There's a sign there saying you've got to patronize an establishment or you're screwed. I didn't see it. Well, five minutes later, I return to the car, and some skank Pirate put a boot on my car.

There were 7 open parking spaces, I pleaded. I'm donating to charity, here, for Christ's sake. Tough, she replies. You didn't go into the Dunkin' Donuts first. You should have double-parked. You're out of luck. Pay $115. Without recourse, I did so. I complained to the manager of the Dunkin' Donuts. He said, we don't deal with them in these matters. I said you don't have to employ these people. He didn't reply.

So, we tried to do something nice, and I'm out $115. That's a Karmic injustice, so I'm due.

Update: Steve Goodman also wrote the Arlo Guthrie classic "The City of New Orleans." Never new that either. 
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
  I know the Sloth was talking about the Illinois senate race. Looking at the results, Obama is dominating in Chicago and the collar counties. Hines is holding his own downstate, but at this point it looks like Obama is going to win.

On the Republican side, Ryan seems to be winning everywhere. What's really notable is the disparity between the voters in the two parties. Dems showed up, out-polling Republicans about 3 to 1. I'm not sure what to make of this. Maybe it's further evidence that Illinois is out of play for the Republicans, but it could also be that when there's an incumbant president, you don't care. Even with the Dems' race sewn up, Dems may still want to vote against Bush. I don't know.

I had a funny experience voting today. I walked up to the VFW on Wrightwood to vote. I asked the judges when the hearses were going to show up with the dead. They looked confused. I said, well, the dead get to vote, right? I figured that was a common enough joke, but one of the judges thought it was hilarious. Anyway, they gave me a Dem ballot. I said, "no, Republican please." They looked at me like I was some sort of weirdo. The Republican voting booth didn't even have a needle to vote with. I eventually got one and voted.

I promise when there's Cubs news, I'll be there.

Update: For those of you visiting from Kausfiles, greetings. The final disparity between Reps and Dems actually was 2 to 1. At the time of posting, most of the votes counted were in Cook and the Collar Counties. Obama scored big in the Chicago area, and the early results were therefore more pro-Dem than the state as a whole. But the point remains, Obama starts from an early advantage based on who showed up on primary day. Jack Ryan will be nagged throughout the campaign about the sealed records from his divorce from Jeri "seven of nine" Ryan.

Okay, cheap shot. But Kerry's blasting the guy who asked him which leaders wanted him to win was low class.  
  Season tickets came in. It's looking like I'm going to be traveling in April and will have 4 tickets to the 4/24 and 4/25 games against the Mets. Again, if you are interested in tickets this year, e-mail me and I'll put you on my Cubs tickets list. I'll e-mail you a picture of the view. It's aisle 204, row 6 (near the men's room!) and unobstructed by the poles. 
Monday, March 15, 2004
  Cubs send Felix Sanchez to AAA Iowa and Angel Guzman to AA West Tenn. I think this means that Jimmy Anderson is going to make the team to start the year. With no other lefty having thrown in a game this year and Jimmy Anderson having pitched well this spring, he's gotta be the choice for Remlinger's spot. Angel Guzman hasn't pitched in a game this spring either. I haven't heard much about him pitching on the side, but this makes sense in that he'll get more opportunity to get attention at minor league camp at this point in the spring.  
  Well, I have my first sponsor. www.showmetickets.com They're linked on the right (thanks Joe) for "Hot baseball tickets" and concert tickets. If you need tickets, give them a try. 
  Correlation to Past Performance

I've been stewing on the Wisconsin seeding for about a day now. It seems to me that if seeding is done using something other than national polls, who won the conference tournament, who beat the other top teams in the confence down the stretch (3-0 against MSU and Illinois over the last two weeks, 5-1 overall), then maybe it should be something like RPI (but Wisconsin was #12 in RPI, i.e. deserving of a 3 seed).

But really, you'd think that the committee would want to go back and correlate a team's current season with how similar teams did in the past. Other than that, you're just stating your own opinion without anything to back it up. That is what the analysis of baseball statistics is all about. Baseball fans always looked at batting average and made a conclusion of a player's worth based on that. Analyzing statistics against performance tells you that there's a better way to analyze a player's worth.

In any event, if there is no correlation between seeding and how similar teams fared in the NCAA tournament in the past, then the seeding system is busted. I wonder what factor (other than the perception that the Big Ten was "down" this year) justifies Wisconsin getting screwed like this.

Done venting on this now. 
Sunday, March 14, 2004

I'm a Wisconsin grad. Wisconsin came into the Big Ten tournament ranked 10 in both national polls. They completely out-played Illinois and won the tournament. So, I'm thinking they'd get a three seed. Well, not even close. They get the sixth. Illinois got a five (despite UW beating them 2 out of 3 times). It turns out that the selection committee pretty much had the brackets made up before they even played the game. That's stupid. Either the Big Ten needs to move up the final or the committee should announce its results an hour later. I can't see the Badgers getting past Pitt in the second round, which has me grumbling tonight. 
Friday, March 12, 2004
  White Sox Post

Here's the thing. I'm a Cubs fan, 100%. But I don't believe that entails rooting against the White Sox. I've never understood that (and, yes, I've lived in Chicago or thereabouts for my whole life). But I think the White Sox are going to be a lot worse this year. Colon is gone, Flash is gone, and Loaiza's season seems to be an outlier (or a fluke, to be less pretentious). I'm wondering if there have been any other pitchers who have had a career like Loaiza's with a season similar to his last year. Really, that's pretty weird.

Also, look for a bunch of stupidity from Ozzie this year. He seems to be the classic believer in small ball. He'll probably get on Big Frank for walking too much, not advancing runners, etc. Ozzie will get praise from boneheads like Mariotti and others who will like his spunk (I think Mariotti likes spunk ;) ), but it's not going to lead to squat for the Sox. 
Thursday, March 11, 2004

Okay, it's time for Juan Cruz to show up. Also, when you don't light up Shawn Estes, it's not a good thing. Zero earned runs? I think Beltran is looking less and less likely to make the team. Well, at least Sergio Mitre pitched well. Same with Farns. Otherwise, let's just pretend this game didn't happen. 
  One more thing...

Isn't it odd that Dusty would cite Vlad Guerrero as someone who lacks patience? I mean, he's got a career .390 OBP. His walk total last year was very impressive (a walk every 7 or 8 plate appearances). You know your argument is weak when the examples you choose (i.e. Guerrero and the Yankees) prove the opposite of what you intend. 
  Dusty's Ramblings

Dusty's take on OBP is embarassing. "Have you ever heard the Yankees talk about on-base percentage and walks?" he said. "Walks help, but you don't walk across the plate. You have to [run] across the plate. Getting a guy's pitch count up? Yeah, I agree with that … but it depends on the hitter.

"Everybody can't hit with two strikes. Everybody can't walk. You're taking away some of the aggressiveness from a kid when you tell him to go up there and work for a walk."

Obviously, anyone who has looked into what makes an offense effective knows that OBP is the one factor that has the best correlation with scoring runs (you can get a better correlation by combing OBP with SLG and other factors, but it's the best single factor). In fact, as the Clark and Addison Chronicle notes, the Yankees have emphasized OBP over the years.

Dusty further said "if you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps, but the guy who walks and can't run, most of the time he's clogging up the bases for somebody who can run." Dusty obviously has a fetish about running, as if that is the way to generate runs. Think about what he said. If you got a guy on first who is slow and a fast guy gets a single, the team is in a worse position because the fast guy can't steal second? Pretty silly.

Well, a few days ago I posted some goals for the Cubs. I said 40 walks from Patterson and 550 walks for the team as a whole would be good and realistic. Clearly, Baker doesn't agree, and I doubt the Cubs will come close to 550. With no one urging better patience, I doubt Patterson will make any effort to increase his walks this year.
UPDATE: The Rooftop Reporter notes that Corey has taken 2 walks already this spring. Hey, small sample size or no, maybe Corey's rethinking his approach a little bit. 
  Confused again.

I think the news in this story is that Prior may not be ready to go for his first scheduled start because his conditioning will be a week behind. But when the Cubs shelved him for 5-10 days, it was self-evident that his conditioning would be 5-10 days behind. However, when his shelving was announced, there was no speculation that Prior wouldn't be ready for his first start. I'm not sure what's new (and there's no indication in the Trib or the Sun Times) that would require him to miss a start or two. In other words, we're not getting the full scoop.
UPDATE: I picked up a copy of what used to be called Baseball Weekly (which came out yesterday) and they quoted Prior thusly: "I might not be able to go as much as I want [in pre-season], but I don't think it's going to affect me for the regular season." Again, what has changed?  
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
  Why Spring Training Games Don't Matter
Look at the Cubs pitchers in this game. Jimmy Anderson pitched okay, which I would contend is a bad thing. He's going to get a spot unless Remlinger and/or Mercker show they can pitch. Because Remmy won't pitch until late April, Anderson looks likely to me.
  I'm still trying to figure this out. Michael Barrett says, "I don't want to give up at-bats, but there are going to be times I may need to stay back and talk to the pitchers about what they want to do the next inning and not worry about my at-bat." Huh? Is he saying he's not going to try to get on base because that would prevent him from talking with the pitcher about the next inning? That would be ridiculous, giving up outs to talk about how to pitch next inning. Let me know what you made of this statement.

The next sentence doesn't give much context either, "You are retaining probably 80 percent of the information you are getting on your pitchers and maybe 20 percent of the information that you are gettting on your hitting. That's just the way it goes." I guess he's saying that he has to devote 80 percent of his attention to being a good defensive catcher. Yikes. The whole tone of this article seems to be, don't expect anything from this guy offensively. Both he and Dusty seem to be making excuses before the season starts. Okay, why did we get him then? 
Monday, March 08, 2004
  I've been thinking about what to keep an eye on for this season. I think if the Cubs can score 800 runs, they should walk away with the division. I want to see Patterson draw 40 walks (he would have been around 30 last year). I think Wood should shoot for 210 IP and less than 90 walks. Zambrano will probably give up more than 9 HR (9HR!!), but we should hope for less than 85 walks. Let's hope Clement goes 200 IP and strikes out 180.

But the offensive key, I believe, will be the Cubs ability to draw walks. Lee drew 88 BB last year. Let's hope he stays that patient. Sammy's walk total last year was a drastic drop from the prior seasons. He needs to get 80+ this year. I think 550 BBs is a realistic and important goal for the team.

The rotation's innings pitched will be crucial. The more I'm thinking about it, the more concerned I am about the bullpen. I like Farns, Borowski, and Hawkins, but I'm not sure about how much we'll get out of Mercker, Remlinger and whoever gets the 11th spot. I didn't realize how much of an anomoly Mercker's season was last year. Let's hope for 30 starts for the five and 200+ IP. We'll see. 
  Despite my warnings about sample size, I'll grasp at this straw today. Zambrano pitched very well today. Seven Ks in three innings.

I believe that Z will be the Cubs second best pitcher this year. He's also my favorite Cub. I like his emotion. His reaction to getting Bonds out was one of the best moments of last year. He's fun and is a horse. They rode him so hard last year, that he was gassed for the playoffs, though. This year will be great, but think about having Prior, Zambrano, Wood, and Guzman for the foreseeable future.  
Sunday, March 07, 2004
  It's hard to have a daily blog on the Cubs during the off-season/spring training. I could say that it's a good sign that Corey started off with a dong, or that Maddux struck out three in two innings, but as any statistician would say, sample size says it all. The main concern for me, though, is that Mike Relinger will miss spring training and won't be ready until late April. Mercker's status is questionable as well. That seems to leave Jimmy Anderson as the only lefty available (eek). Granted, Remlinger's better against righties than lefties, but a pitching staff without a left-handed pitcher is not a good thing.
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
  Barry Bonds is a really, really big a-hole. Legitimate racial issues are difficult enough without some jerk claiming that his exposure as a cheater is evidence of racial injustice. "Black power" my ass. You cheated, you're getting caught, and you're going to have to pay the consequences.

What burns me about Bonds though is his sense of entitlement. He stands right on top of the plate, wears the equivalent of a chain-mail suit, and then cries like a baby when someone pitches him inside. Watch where he stands and ask yourself how a pitcher is supposed to get him out. So he pumps himself up like a freak, feels entitled to crowd the plate, and then threatens pitchers who try to even the playing field by pitching him inside. Too bad Bob Gibson doesn't still pitch. Barry might learn what black power really is.

Baseball should have seen the steroid problem coming. Unfortunately, in 1998, baseball pretty much said we need the longball to get back into the national consciousness. Sammy increased his homers by nearly 30 from the year before. What changed? McGuire became a giant and admitted to using andro. For anyone in baseball to express shock is a joke. I mean look at this guy's head:

He looks like the Wizard of Oz for cripes sake. 
Monday, March 01, 2004
  "They wrote signs of blood on the way they walked, and their folly taught that with blood one proved truth. But blood is the worst witness of truth; blood poisons even the purest doctrine and turns it into delusion and hatred of the heart. And if a man goes through fire for his doctrine--what does that prove?..."--Friedrich Nietzsche, "The AntiChrist."

Okay. Digression number two. I saw "The Passion of the Christ" today. Let's admit first off that it is a well made movie. It is moving and thought-provoking. That said, its violence is so overwhelming and unnecessary that the entire point of the movie becomes confused. The violence is meant to create a visceral reaction and thus to put the viewer in a raw state (evidently, to deepen the viewer's faith). But does the violence say anything about the divinity of Jesus? Jesus suffered on the cross. But that wasn't enough for Gibson. Jesus had to go through a beating beyond anything mentioned in the Gospels. His torturers decide to try out a new weapon on Him, one which digs in to the flesh when it strikes Him. They then rip it out and tear flesh away from His body. Jesus, in shackels, is thrown over a bridge and is suspended for a time. Why? After the first nail is struck through His left hand, Gibson decides that wasn't enough for the audience. The supervising crucifier instructs his assistants on how to do it right. He takes a rope tied around Christ's right arm and rips the arm out of its socket. His right hand is then nailed to the cross. After Jesus is nailed to the cross, the executioners flip the cross over twice, with Jesus being crushed by the weight of the cross.

As those familiar with the Gospels know, Jesus was crucified with a criminal on each side. On His right, is a criminal who mocks Him. On the left, is a criminal who recognizes His divinity. After Christ promises paradise to the criminal on the left, the one on His right laughs at Him. Inexplicably, Gibson decides that a crow should land on that criminal's cross. The crow opens its beak, lets out a caw, and proceeds to peck out the criminal's eyes. We get to see the whole thing.

These are merely the most glaring and unnecessary incidents of violence. What this movie said to me was not that Jesus was the Savior, but that man is fundamentally cruel. But the cruelty of man wasn't Jesus's message. The blood shed (and it literally showers down on one of the Roman soldiers who put Christ to death) tells us nothing about the truth. But what is truth? 
Me in front of Wrigley before game 7 of the Marlins game.
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