Some thoughts from high atop the Skybox on Sheffield.
I haven’t seen Wrigley’s seats this empty on a game day in more than three years.
The official attendance for Thursday’s game is listed at 35,174. That must be tickets paid or they’re now counting passengers on the Red Line.
Large sections of the upper deck were empty, especially down the left field line.
For certain, the weather was poor: overcast, rainy and a bit chilly, but empty seats, c’mon. This had to be the smallest crowd all season.
I’m not saying unfilled seats are a bad thing, either. What better way to show our frustrations and disappointments than by boycotting the ol’ ballyard?
The irony is laughable.
Milton Bradley isn’t feeling the love from Cubbie fans, saying he’s been uncomfortable playing at Wrigley all year.
This from a man who’s single handedly built a reputation of making cities, fan bases, and teammates in general, feel uncomfortable.
There’s a reason Bradley has changed teams as often as we change our socks, and it has nothing to do with Bradley the baseball player–the guy’s just not likeable.
I had my fill two-fold Tuesday night.
Bella Luna Cafe, one of my favorite hangouts, offered up the perfect chaser to Big Z’s and Aaron Heilman’s ghastly performances: linguini and mussels covered in a spicy marinara sauce, yum!
The Cubs were cooked, of course, before dinner was served. And my dish couldn’t have tasted any better unless garnished with Aaron Heilman’s meatball to Elijah Dukes.
The Washington series couldn’t have gone much better.
Aramis and Soriano both found their power strokes, the defense was superb, and of course, the pitching was sufficient.
Additionally, Chicago makes up a little ground against St. Louis, builds a little separation from Milwaukee and improves the road record to 20-25.
Taking care of business against the bottom feeders is so important, and they don’t get any worse than the Nats.
Nothing against Soriano’s home run, but this win belongs to the bullpen.
A pen, mind you, that’s come a long way since its April ERA of 5.37.
Ever since late April, however, the relievers have collectively lowered its ERA each month to a very respectable 2.44 come July.
Twice Saturday night the Cubs wiggled out of late inning bases loaded jams. But, that’s been the norm lately.
Of the pen’s last 20 inherited runners, just a single one has scored! That’s big time!
The Nationals posted the worst record in baseball last year (59-102).
They’re on pace to do the same in 2009, and may even end up with fewer wins than a season ago.
It’s no wonder DC fans don’t show up to the ballpark.
If the Cubs were this bad I wouldn’t spend the money, either.
Willy Mo Pena is the definition of a five o’clock hitter.
Two hours before the game the guy smashes baseballs to the moon, but come that first pitch, it’s a if he’s holding a toothpick in the box.
In seven seasons he’s a career .253 hitter with 77 home runs.
Not bad considering he’s never played more than 110 games in a single season.
Problem is, Willy Mo isn’t a situational hitter and his outfield defense is atrocious.
Yet, his 6’3 frame and 215 lbs of muscle have kept scouts celebrating his potential as a legit power-threat for nearly a decade.
No way Jim Bowden last through Spring Training.
Allegedly, the Nats GM has partaken in illegal scouting practices – specifically, skimming signing bonus money intended for Latin American prospects.
Bowden can whistle ‘white rabbits, white rabbits’ – an old wise tale rehearsed to clear smoke from a camp fire – all he wants, but there’s no escaping the smoke from this fire.
It’s inevitable the Nationals will cut ties with Bowden. He’s dipped into the company’s ink and that’s unforgivable…even in the nation’s capitol. But losing Bowden might be the best move the franchise has made since ditching Montreal.
Adam Dunn’s passion for the game of baseball has been in question for many years.
He’s often viewed as out of shape and underdeveloped for a player who entered the league in 2001.
Yet, he’s also been voted an All Star, has averaged 40 home runs the past five seasons and most importantly, he’s averaged more than 152 games played per year through seven full seasons.
So, is Dunn passionate about his profession or not?
I think Dunn understands that he’s got it good earning a paycheck to play baseball, but his true passion for the game is still in hiding.
This better explains why the Big Donkey joined the god-awful Washington Nationals (59-102)?
Specifically, they’re two reasons: first off, the Nats paid top-dollar to get him and secondly, D.C. is a perfect sleepy market for Dunn to play his game without coming under fire to lose weight or improve defensively: comments that slowly ate away at Adam’s ego during his final months with Cincinnati.
Considering Dunn’s biggest supporter is GM Jim Bowden and that he’ll be reunited with good buddy Austin Kearns, and you find yourself one – fat, content and underdeveloped - happy ballplayer.
- Friday April 25th – Nationals Park
- Record (15-8) – 1st place in the NL Central
- Record with A. Soriano on the 15-day DL (7-3)
The skinny: It’s too bad Reed Johnson’s incredible sixth inning catch won’t be remembered as part of a win. And worse, it’s a late inning loss against a sub-par Washington bunch.
Unfortunately, Chicago wasted its own late inning opportunity to win the game by scoring just one run with the bases loaded and none out in the eighth.
But, that’s not all; throw in Theriot’s failed steal of third base, a fielding error and five pitching walks and you’ve just given away an easy “W.”
Not to mention, just yesterday I was clamoring for someone on the Cubs to wake up Bob Howry. It appears my message didn’t get through.
Perhaps, tonight’s 0.1 of an inning and walk-off homerun will get the message across to the right-handed reliever. Wake up!
I know historically Howry gets off to a slow start, but this is looking worse for the big guy each time out. Plus, this isn’t week two anymore, Howry has to start pitching better or a change needs to be made, and soon.
Tonight’s loss gets under my skin because I felt the Cubs played down to the Nationals’ belly-crawling level.
And, just because it’s still April doesn’t mean these games are not important. It’s one thing to lose a well played game like yesterday’s loss in Colorado, but giving games away like tonight is no good either.
The good news is tomorrow the Cubs still get a rebound game against the lowly Nats, luckily we’re not talking about having to face a solid team like Arizona.
So, let’s not kid ourselves; the Cubs need the next two games in this series.
W: Rauch (2-0)
L: Howry (0-2)
- Notes: Johnson’s catch immediately reminded me of a very similar play I saw on television as well, it happened in August of 2006.
- Tonight’s loss is the second time this season Ryan Dempster (3-0) should have received a win. Instead, the right-hander’s (7 IP, 3-R, 2-ER, 4-H, 3-BB and 5-K) effort is a no decision.
- Walks will haunt…Dempster threw a four pitch walk to Ryan Zimmerman in the first innings, Nick Johnson followed with a two-run shot. Nats 2 Cubs 0
- Wil Nieves’ walk-off home run was his first big league dinger.
- I froze in fear during the third inning as Aramis slid into first base while colliding with starting pitcher Odalis Perez. Funny enough, Ramirez was safe. Thank goodness the Cubs’ third baseman wasn’t hurt on the play.
- I’m pretty sure Nationals’ catcher Johnny Estrada was wearing stirrups. Seriously, who’s the last player to pull that off? Besides, I’m more of a pant legs low guy myself.