OF THE CUBS*
Special Edition of
From the Bullpen
Guest Editor: Shamu
Edition No. 22
July 29, 2003
Greetings once again, my
fellow baseball brethren! It is indeed an honor again for me to share
some thoughts with you about baseball. Authoring two bullpens in the
same year is an extremely difficult task as frankly, I have no new
material, which will become abundantly clear to you in the next few
moments. I do promise that this Bullpen will keep the focus on baseball
although I was more than a little moved by some of the heartfelt comments
concerning my faith testimonial in my previous Bullpen. Dave, I am even
more impressed that you have been able to churn out these publications for
I had considered performing some preliminary analytical comparisons but Ted’s last Bullpen pretty much nailed every conceivable comparison, several of which I found somewhat fascinating. Maybe my wife is right, I do need some real hobbies.
Watching Bob Uecker’s induction into the Hall of Fame was as entertaining as expected. Some of his better one-liners:
About playing for manager Gene Mauch: “I’d be sitting there and he’d say, grab a bat and stop this rally.”
About catching some knuckball pitcher: “The key is to wait until it stopped rolling and then just pick it up.”
Uecker’s comical quips reminded me of the greatest baseball ambassador of all time, Yogi Berra. Some of my favorite Yogi quotes: (I warned you that I had no material of my own.)
“You got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”
“Slump? I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t hitting.”
When someone asked him what time it was, “you mean right now.”
“Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”
“If I didn’t wake up, I’d still be sleeping.”
“It’s pretty far, but it doesn’t seem like it.”
“If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”
About taking the train to Brooklyn for the World Series, “I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early.”
As a near lifetime long Cubs fan, I recently saw my favorite T-shirt in Wrigleyville: Any team can have a bad century.
One of my favorite moments in baseball that epitomized what a class act Cal Ripken was, taken from George Will’s book, Bunts, talking about the September 20, 1998 night when Cal’s streak ended at 2,632 games: “By the time the Yankees leadoff man, Derek Jeter grounded out, the 48,013 fans in the stands were buzzing with the recognition that a rookie was playing third base for the Orioles. And the Yankee dugout was seized by the sense of the moment.
The Yankee players were among the very few people in the ballpark who really understood how draining and damaging a 162-game season is, and how astonishing Ripken’s 17-season, 2632 game streak was. So the Yankees stepped in front of their dugout, tipped their caps and applauded until Ripken stepped onto the field, acknowledged the Yankees and the fans, and bade the game go on. By their unplanned gallantry-the only genuine sort-the Yankees exemplified the comity that is common in baseball.”
Cal’s moment was extra special to me knowing that our own beloved Scott attended the 2,131 record breaking game in 1995, along with an unknown friend, and even managed to make national headlines by shaking Cal’s hand on his glorious trip around the stadium.
Who will win the coveted 2003 HSL crown? Having already jinxed half of the teams in my previous attempt to pick the winner, let me now attempt to jinx the other half. It should be pretty clear to everyone that once again Mitch has assembled the best team. Is this enough to win? Probably not, although Mitch’s squad will definitely be in the thick of things down the stretch, especially with RJ finally becoming healthy.
Let me be the first to publicly state the obvious: This year HSL crown is Dave’s to lose. With Suppan, Redmond, Bengie Molina and Jose Guillen having career years and with Helton and Pujols having absolutely monster years, if his other overachievers can stay healthy and if Dave can refrain from over-managing his team, he could find himself in the winner’s circle on the last day of the season.
Please allow me to state another obvious fact: beware of Johnny’s team. He has quietly assembled the greatest infield of all-time: Piazza, Delgado, Soriano, A-Rod and Chavez. Approximately 15 years ago, Dave and Big Guy slapped a restraining order on me which prohibited me from discussing trades with Ted. I think we need to consider this same treatment for Blongo’s dealing with Johnny. For the second year in a row, Johnny has picked up a first round 750 point infielder for an obvious first half pitcher. Last year it was Odalis Perez for Bagpipes and this year, Moyer for Soriano.
Bob, keep those trade proposals coming. You are only one or two trades with me from actually making a run at the title. So far, in only 3 days of action, you have netted 30 points in the Rivera for Tejada deal. Actually, if Vidro can stay healthy, if Green can find his stroke and if Willis can keep mowing hitters down, I like your chances of finishing in the money.
Note to the rest of the teams: a lot can happen in the final 9 weeks of the season. Last year at the all star break, I was a mere 10 points behind Johnny and 50 points ahead of Mitch. Both teams dusted my squad by more than 600 points in the second half. Also, someone else recently chronicled the exploits of Blongo’s championship squad, which came on in the second half and became arguably, the greatest team of all time.
I anticipate another great HSL pennant race. I will see most of you very soon in Cincinnati!
FOR WEEK 17
HITTERS -- WHO'S HOT
League MVP: Albert Pujols - 581
Cy Young of the Year: John Smoltz - 441
PITCHERS -- WHO'S HOT
Kudos and crisp military salute to Mouse and Shamu for sharing their deep insight and wit with us in this week’s issues of The Mousetrap and The Whale’s Tale. Good reading both.
Mouse’s comments about Garret Anderson and the disconnect between today’s player and today’s fan was on the mark. These guys just don’t get it, with the best hitter in baseball, Barry Bonds, being appendix A to Mouse’s doctoral thesis. It’s not just arrogance, it’s ignorance.
Somebody ask Tom Glavine how many warm fuzzies he is getting from the New York press and fans, and whether he thinks the game would survive another work stoppage.
I see that Shamu* has given up on prayer, hope and good karma in his quest for the 2003 title. Instead, he has turned to the dark side and is now relying on hexes and curses for help as he predicts HSL titles for every contending team except for his own Baby Bears. Instead of Shamu, perhaps we should re-nickname him Jinx the Cat.
Did anyone see Peter Gammons railing on the owners and the Commissioner on Baseball Tonight Wednesday night? Gammons was commenting on the fire sales going on in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and the likelihood that the Yankees would end up with Aaron Boone and more without giving up a single prospect, just wads of cash. Gammons was absolutely incensed that the so-called independent Commissioner would allow this type of thing to happen, arguing that Bowie Kuhn or any other truly independent commissioner would never have let such deals pass muster. The old New Englander’s neck was as red as Shamu’s favorite mesh jersey as he spouted his vitriolic comments at Mr. Selig. Of course, he was absolutely right.
Thank goodness we are seeing the San Francisco Giants play in Cincinnati on The Trip, so we will actually have a chance to see some real Major League players play. Imagine if the Pirates were in town to play the Redlegs. Talk about a great AAA matchup.
How about Billy Mueller hitting grand slams from both sides of the plate for the BoSox the other night, cranking out nine RBIs for the game. This from a guy who has never come close to the benchmark of 100 RBIs for a season. The bounce from Mueller’s big night allows Stretch’s Blues to avoid the league cellar for another week or two.
Not to be outdone by Mueller’s three-homer night, power hitter Jose Valentin cranks out a turkey last night against the floundering Royals, the second of his career. Nothing to sneeze at, particularly when you realize that Rafael Palmeiro, a member of the exclusive 500 HR club, has never gone yard thrice in a game. I am dead serious.
With RJ healthy once more, and the rest of his team clicking on all cylinders, Magpie’s boys are a virtual lock for the 2003 crown. Not that I’m a fatalist, but I see the Reds scampering past the Senators this week or next and never looking back. Unless, of course, I can buy enough booze for my pals in Cincinnati to help effectuate a couple of blockbuster trades (i.e., Affeldt for Halladay once Screech and B.T. get a snootful; Morgan Ensberg for Barry Bonds and Billy Mueller once Stretch cracks open the French beer; Victor Zambrano for ARod and Soriano after Itchie is in the cups and propositioning newlyweds, etc.). There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
And speaking of dumb trades, while I understand Itchie’s need to upgrade his team’s hitting a notch or two, our unbalanced friend has now managed to completely emasculate his once daunting pitching staff. Imagine if on Opening Day somebody told you that your five starting pitchers would be Brad Penny, Darrell May, Esteban Loaiza, Jose Lima and Ryan Franklin, the quintet that formed Itchie’s starting rotation as of July 30, 2003. You would go screaming into the night, resolved never to agree to spend a season with the likes of these five as your starting pitching corps. If Loaiza and Lima should happen to revert to the mean per Possum’s dogmatic but possibly flawed theorem, August and September ’03 may be the two most painful months of his adult life.
I can only imagine the pain that Big Guy must be in, being in last place and having Tom Glavine on his team.
Who on earth is this Jeff Duncan who plays center field for the Irates?
If Possum is right, when does Preston Wilson revert to his mean and start striking out four times a game?
Nothing like having your closer (Mike MacDougal) bunny hop backwards by ten points in the last three weeks, is there, Possum?
I’m quite sure that Shamu knew Sidney Ponson would have 14 wins and a 3-something ERA when he acquired him.
On the other hand, I doubt that Shamu thought that Troy Glaus would be something like the 15th-ranked third baseman when he picked him up in the early going of the draft. Comme ce comme ca.
If Marcus Giles has one more 4- or 5-hit game for Tricko, I’m going to need an air sickness bag.
Can you believe that Rod “Shooter” Beck is actually still alive, much less pitching, and who knows how he got his nickname?
U-Bob had to have been cringing when recent acquiree Claudio Vargas gave up seven earned runs in the first inning. Painful.
That’s it for this issue. See you down the road.
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