Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cubs-Sox points to ponder, and the All-City Team

With the Cubs and White Sox finished beating up on each other for now - freeing them to get back to the business of losing to other teams - here are some thoughts about baseball in Chicago. My All-City Team follows.

1. Progress: Instead of smashing umpire Brian Runge over the head with his bat Sunday, Milton Bradley seemed to count to three after striking out in the sixth inning. Milton then seethed quietly as he walked calmly to the dugout.

2. Not progress: With a play that could kindly be called tentative (and could unkindly be called lack of hustle), Bradley turned what should have been a routine single by Chris Getz into a double.

3. Also not progress: As the media gathered around him after Sunday's game, Bradley grumbled to no one in particular: "Is this necessary? Didn't get no hits, didn't get no runs. Unbelievable!" Hey Miltie, you're not in Arlington any more. This is the big city. Chicago fans hold their $30 million ballplayers accountable.

4. Bradley just might make Lou Piniella quit - though perhaps not before Bradley gets Jim Hendry fired.

5. My, hasn't Mr. Hendry built a mentally weak, emotionally fragile team of underachievers? I'm not sure this group can even be close enough to collapse in the season's final week, the way the weak, fragile underachievers of '04 did.

6. Both times Carlos Zambrano plunked batters Sunday, the White Sox reacted perfectly. After Cra-Z hit Getz in the third, Alexei Ramirez followed with a homer to give the Sox the only runs they'd need against the anemic Cubbies. Obviously irate that he let Getz steal home in the sixth, Cra-Z nailed DeWayne Wise. Wise then stole second and eventually scored. The next inning, John Danks hit leadoff man Ryan Freel in the arm and the silliness ended. Of course, it helped that Cra-Z had been yanked by then.

7. Freel knew what was coming and even jokingly asked the umpire to issue a warning right then and there. And once Danks did the deed, Freel never thought about charging the mound: "Absolutely not. I believe in peace. I believe everybody should get along."

8. Overheard in the Cubbie clubhouse about 3 hours before Sunday's game: "Nothing! They got DeRosa for (bleeping) nothing! Chris (Bleeping) Perez! Jesus H. Christ!" That was before new Cardinals superstar Mark DeRosa went 0-for-3 in a lopsided loss to Minnesota.

9. The Cubs convinced themselves (and more than a few fans who should have known better) that they had turned things around when they won three straight games via walk-off hits last week. Hello! Reality time! Baseball's a difficult game, kids. You can't keep winning with luck, smoke and mirrors.

10. Loved the Sun-Times headline Sunday morning: END IT LIKE BECKHAM.

11. When was the last time a team scored in the same inning on an error after the infield fly rule was invoked and on a steal of home that was supposed to be a suicide squeeze? Miss a little Cubs-Sox action, miss a lot.

12. Several Cubs were upset about the "security leak" that led to Sun-Times reporter Gordon Wittenmyer finding out about Piniella calling Bradley a "piece of (poo)" during their Friday altercation. Piniella, meanwhile, was upset that Wittenmyer wrote the story. The only thing the Cubs didn't seem upset about was their own wretched play.

13. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I'm pissed off. I didn't think we'd get him anyway, but he's going to the Cardinals. What am I supposed to say? I'm happy for him? I don't wanna see him in our division, much less see him on the Cardinals." - Ryan Theriot on DeRosa.

14. LOU-ISM I: "I still cling to the fact that we're gonna have a good second half of the season. The second half, I'm not talking about after the All-Star Game. It could start the first of July. It could start today, for that matter. And I think that when it's all said and done, people will be pleased with what we do here the rest of the year." (Note to Lou: That's not a "fact" you're clinging to, it's an opinion. And right now, it's a minority opinion.)

15. LOU-ISM II: "We went to Detroit and we lost three ballgames, but you know what? There were 42,000 people at the ballpark every day and it was great for the economy over there. And I saw where the Dodgers came in here the other night, a good baseball team, and 22,000 people were here. The Cubs were in town for the city series and there's 40-some-thousand people here. Let's look at it from a different standpoint than just a baseball standpoint. There are a lot of positives ... a lot of good things that people just don't think of. My job is to win baseball games but I understand the ramifications of everything else, too." (Yay! The Cubs are No. 1 ... for the economy!)

16. OZZIE BEING OZZIE: "Maybe they want to talk about the visiting clubhouse rather than the problems they have." (Nah, much easier to blame clubhouse attendants and the media.)

And now ...

The 2009 Post-City-Series All-Chicago Team

(I know, I know, a rainout has necessitated a Sept. 3 makeup game at Wrigley, but it wouldn't be any fun waiting until then.)

FIRST BASE: Paul Konerko

Derrek Lee has been hotter recently. And as Konerko demonstrated again Sunday, when he couldn't save his pitcher an error on a slightly off-target pickoff throw, Lee is a superior fielder. But Konerko gets the slight nod because he has been more consistent since Day 1.


As is the case at many positions, a player on one team wins by default by being less bad than the other team's candidate. All you need to know about the Cubs' woes at 2B is that Lou actually considered putting Alfonso Soriano there ... and the idea didn't seem all that ridiculous.

SHORTSTOP: Ryan Theriot & Alexei Ramirez (tie)

What a couple of teases! Theriot flashed a little power but his average suffered and he finally settled back into his slap-hitting ways. Ramirez has flashed some amazing leather but all too often has gotten lackadaisical on routine plays. And then there's this: SS might not be the best position for either one of them.

THIRD BASE: Aramis Ramirez

With Mark DeRosa, Joe Crede, Jake Fox and Bobby Scales as close runners-up. Yes, it's been quite a season so far for Chicago third basemen.

LEFT FIELD: Scott Podsednik

Since the Sox picked him up off the scrap heap, he has been a savior with Carlos Quentin sidelined. He has far fewer K's and a far better OBP than Soriano. And, it's worth mentioning, more RBIs than Bradley.

CENTER FIELD: Kosuke Fukudome

He's doing that screw-myself-into-the-ground thing again. And he's been forced to play CF, which isn't his best position. But who's been any better on the South Side? Center field: another Windy City abyss. 

RIGHT FIELD: Jermaine Dye

No drama, just typically productive.

CATCHER: A.J. Pierzynski

Though Geo Soto is coming on fast now that he's stopped indulging in herbal glaucoma medication.


In a town that over the last decade has featured - with great fanfare and/or at great expense - Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Matt Clement, Bartolo Colon, Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, Todd Ritchie, Javier Vazquez, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Esteban Loaiza, Almost Cub Jake Peavy, Almost Sox Jake Peavy and others whom I no doubt have forgotten ... all Buehrle keeps doing is showing up, throwing strikes and winning games.


The crazy thing isn't that this unknown Cubbie rookie with 2 wins and some amazingly hard luck is the choice. The crazy thing is that it isn't really even close.

SET-UP RELIEVER: Matt Thornton

Though it sure is tempting to go with Angel Guzman, whose latest injury has become Lou's latest excuse du jour. Carlos Marmol? He's so 2007!

CLOSER: Bobby Jenks

Almost a sure thing. Too bad he'll be one of the first out of town if the Sox fall hopelessly out of contention.

MANAGER: Ozzie Guillen

Lou has more talent to work with but also considerably more divas to deal with. Still, you don't hear Ozzie whining about Carlos Quentin's injury every day the way Lou boo-hoos about Aramis, so that's the tiebreaker.

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