I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend. I know I did. I didn’t get to go to a party Saturday night because I felt like crap, but by Sunday I was among the living and yesterday I got a last minute invite to hang with some friends who came in from the Dominican Republic. We shared the traditional holiday tacos, watched baseball and knocked back a couple of frosty cold cervesas. Fortunately for all involved I did not attempt to dance bachatta.
We had a lot of fun when the Len and Bob pointed out that Rodrigo Lopez was the 7th Mexican to play for the Cubs. They said this as though the Cubs had signed every Mexican player in the history of baseball. They would be would be wrong, but that didn’t seem to matter. I should also note that, team owner, Tom Ricketts was there for his obligatory 2 inning interview (that guy spews more spin than Himmler in his hey-day) and they gave hot wings & burgers to some fans in the bleachers.
ALEX RUPPENTHAL was at the game, sans free wings and burgers, and reports on the rest of the stuff.
All the injuries that have hurt the Cubs’ record are starting to take a toll on their manager.
Mike Quade has given injury reports on a near daily basis this season, which is why he wouldn’t even entertain the possibility of an injury to catcher Geovany Soto after the Cubs’ 12-7 loss to the Astros on Monday. Soto, who returned Monday after being sidelined since May 10 with a strained groin, was hit by a pitch on his left hand in the eighth.
“I don’t even want to think about it,” Quade said.
Soto was hit on the fatty part of his hand and is expected to be OK. Alfonso Soriano could be the next player to land on the disabled list after leaving the game in the first inning with a strained left quadriceps. Results from an MRI are expected Tuesday.
After two months of rain and cold, it finally felt like summer at Wrigley Field with a game-time temperature of 88 degrees. The wind was blowing out, and the Astros took advantage, hitting a season-high four home runs to spoil the Cubs debut of Rodrigo Lopez.
“You kind of walk out there with the heat and the wind blowing out and you thought it might be a long one, and sure enough it was,” Houston manager Brad Mills said.
The Cubs gave Lopez a three-run lead after four innings, but the veteran right-hander couldn’t make it out of the fifth.
Lopez, the seventh Mexican-born player in franchise history, pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on 10 hits.
His day started shaky, with the Astros taking a 2-0 lead in the first on RBI doubles by Hunter Pence and Jeff Keppinger.
The Cubs answered with three in the bottom half. Darwin Barney tripled and scored on Starlin Castro’s single. Carlos Pena then hit a line drive into the basket down the right-field line for a two-run homer, his seventh.
Rookie center fielder Tony Campana led off the second with a single, stole second and third and then scored when Houston catcher J.R. Towles’ attempt to pick off Kosuke Fukudome at first bounced away from first baseman Brett Wallace to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead. With his steal of third, Campana became the first Cubs player to steal two bases in a single inning since Soriano did on Aug. 25, 2008. Campana, who turned 25 on Monday, stole four bases in the game.
“The pitcher today was pretty slow to the plate, and I was able to get on base a few times,” Campana said. “A couple [of the stolen bases] were kind of cheap ones. They didn’t hold me on and didn’t really care.”
After the Astros got a run in the third, the Cubs responded with an RBI triple by Blake DeWitt in the bottom half of the frame and another run on an error by Pence in the fourth to jump ahead 6-3.
But Houston tied the game in the fifth on back-to-back homers by Clint Barmes and Pence. After two singles, Lopez was replaced by Jeff Samardzija. The right-hander got out of the fifth with a strikeout, but Towles tagged Samardzija (3-1) for a go-ahead home run to lead off the sixth. The Cubs have been outhomered 29-16 at home this season.
“I’m not satisfied,” said Lopez, who was 6-1 with a 2.59 with the Braves’ Triple-A Gwinnett club before being traded to the Cubs on May 26. “I think I let the team down. I got a lot of run support from the team. For one moment, I thought we could have got this game, but just in three batters, the game changed.”
If the Cubs keep with their rotation, Lopez’s next start will be in St. Louis, where it’s likely to be hot but without the wind playing as much of a factor.
“I’m not here to make excuses, but it’s a tough place to pitch [when the wind blows out],” Quade said. “We’ve actually been dying for these conditions, and I thought he did a decent job. ... [He] got a few balls up in the fifth.”
Houston capitalized on an error by Castro in the seventh to make it 8-6 and scored again on Chris Johnson’s RBI double. Keppinger hit a three-run homer off Scott Maine in the ninth. Castro scored on a Pena groundout in the bottom of the ninth to complete the scoring.
Sergio Escalona (1-0) pitched a scoreless fifth and got the win for Houston.
I felt sorry for Blake DeWitt when he went to catch a fly ball and then ended up slipping and sliding all the way to the wall. Had you seen a scene like that in any of the Major League movies you would have groaned from it being so implausible. Yet, there he was like a penguin sliding down the ice into the ocean.
Anyway, while Len and Bob blamed the previous rains for that little faux pas, none of the Astros seemed to have any problems. And, for some bizarre reason that probably proves that God hates the Cubs, the wind only blew out when the Astros were at bat.
On the Southside we were guaranteed a Sox win with the Red Sox battling the White Sox. Jake Peavy took the bump for the Pale Hose the day before his 30th birthday and did his best to keep the good guys in the game. The game was tied at 3 in the 4th when Carl Crawford launched a missile to right that looked like it was gone but Brent Lillibridge launched himself into the air, snagged the ball and suddenly Big Mo, the older brother of A. Little Momentum, took a seat next to Ozzie and the game was on. SCOTT MERKIN was there and brings us all the news.
No word on whether he got any free wings or burgers.
Birthday No. 30 should be a celebration Jake Peavy remembers for a long time.
That official getting a year older comes on Tuesday, but with his father, Danny, and grandfather, Sonny, in attendance at Fenway Park on Monday night, watching him pitch in a big league game for the first time in this comeback, Peavy pushed the White Sox to a 7-3 victory. His solid seven innings of work helped the visitors best Jon Lester, one of the American League’s top pitchers, and ended a three-game losing streak for the White Sox (25-31).
So, it was more than OK for Peavy to get this party started a few hours early.
“To go out and compete against that lineup, and there’s no better lineup in baseball than that one right there,” said Peavy, who threw 78 of his 112 pitches for strikes. “To do it at their ballpark and to come away with a quality start and a win, I’m as happy as I can be.”
“Every time this guy goes out there, he puts his heart on it and gives his team the best chance,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. “It’s nice when you see this guy on the mound. It’s fun to watch.”
Peavy (2-0) gave up a first-inning home run to Adrian Gonzalez, his one-time teammate in San Diego, and Dustin Pedroia touched him for a game-tying, two-run single in the third. But it was two at-bats against Carl Crawford truly defining this winning effort.
In the fourth, with the game deadlocked at 3 and David Ortiz on first, Crawford launched a drive looking destined for the right-field stands. But Brent Lillibridge made the catch near the wall in the right-field corner. Following Drew Sutton’s sacrifice bunt, J.D. Drew popped up, and the Red Sox (30-24) did not score.
The White Sox scored four against Lester (7-2) and Dan Wheeler with two outs in the sixth, but singles from Gonzalez and Ortiz with one out in the bottom half set up Crawford with a chance to do damage and significantly cut into that deficit. Instead, Crawford lined out to right and Peavy struck out Sutton to end the threat.
There were just two strikeouts over seven innings for Peavy. He didn’t issue a free pass, meaning Peavy has fanned 16 and walked one in 25 innings of work covering his four starts.
Although the final numbers look impressive, Peavy admitted that a muddled opening made this start a little more difficult than it appeared.
“Tonight was a grind, but we got through it,” said Peavy, who talked about altering his pregame throwing program to make the first few innings of his next start a little easier. “Just had to mix and match. I really didn’t have anything to put guys away with. Location was OK. But it was nice. Make or break your season, nights like tonight.”
“You know going in he’s a strike thrower,” said Boston manager Terry Francona of Peavy. “He’s not going to walk people. Fastball, slider and he just pounds the strike zone. We hit some balls pretty good. [Pedroia] hit a ball, Carl thought he hit a home run, just couldn’t break through.”
Alexei Ramirez broke the tie in the sixth when he dropped a bases-loaded double over the head of Gonzalez down the right-field line to score Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham. It was Ramirez’s 14th double in May, which leads the Majors. Carlos Quentin added a two-run single off Wheeler.
Lester, who had won seven straight decisions, stayed in the game to face Ramirez despite being over 120 pitches at that point and the right-handed Wheeler warming in the bullpen. Ramirez expressed surprise Lester remained after Juan Pierre walked to load the bases, but understood the confidence the Red Sox had in Lester.
“Out of that whole at-bat, that was really the only pitch I didn’t execute down and in,” said Lester of the 2-2 pitch on Ramirez’s go-ahead double, ending his night at 127 pitches. “It was more of a flat cutter.”
“I was just going up there to try to make contact with the ball,” said Ramirez through translator Jackson Miranda. “I was really zoned in where that ball was going to be coming.”
Paul Konerko chipped in his 11th home run with two outs in the third, marking the 376th long ball of his career. That blast tied Konerko for 66th place all-time with Carlton Fisk, who was in attendance.
Guillen’s crew came to Fenway Park with a 14-inning loss and a 13-4 blowout behind them in Toronto, not to mention a 5-9 record this season against left-handers and just a .227 average when facing southpaws as a team. But for the fifth straight time in Boston, the White Sox defeated the Red Sox and equaled their longest winning streak at Fenway since 1982.
They also improved to 11-2 in their last 13 games overall against the Red Sox and moved within 8 1/2 games of the American League Central-leading Indians, who lost for the fifth time in six games.
“Just a big win for the boys,” Peavy said. “To come out and score seven off a guy like Jon Lester, to come back after a few tough days in Toronto against a team as hot as anybody in baseball says a lot about the character and makeup of this team.”
“Everybody did contribute,” said Guillen, pointing to every starter in the lineup having at least one hit. “My hope is that we can stay like that at least for a couple of weeks. We’ve been like that for a couple of days and all of a sudden we disappear.”
From Ozzie’s mouth to God’s ear.
Now, with the Indians seeming to have hit a rough patch and the Twins completely out of it, would be a great time for the Southsiders to get their f***ing act together.
I’m just saying.
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Today is a day of hot dogs and Bar-B-Q’s and family picnics. A day when the great unwashed can relax and watch NCIS marathons while drinking beer and waving a little flag. All of that is well and good since the closest most of us ever get to war is watching a rerun of Patton on TV or reading a Tom Clancy novel. And that is the best tribute I can think of to pay our troops. They have sacrificed themselves on foreign lands to keep our shores free from violence. That is not some opaque abstraction, it is raw truth. Men and women from all walks of life have shed their blood and given their lives so the likes of you and I can rest a little easier.
Even so there are those who, from the safety of their recliners, demand extremism in response to every perceived slight. Some of those advocate pure pacifism even if it means the loss of whatever liberties remain. To them I can only say that the idea is sound, a world without violence is a laudable goal, but its execution is flawed since we do not live in such a world. Then there are others who demand, loudly, to know why we don’t deplete our nuclear stockpile whenever we are wronged. To them I note that there is a reason, and a very good one. Many people have issued a response to that call, but the clearest is probably Robert Heinlein’s from his 1959 book, Starship Troopers.
If you wanted to teach a baby a lesson, would you cut its head off? Of course not. You’d paddle it. There can be circumstances when it’s just as foolish to hit an enemy city with an H-bomb as it would be to spank a baby with an axe. War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government’s decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him...but to make him do what you want to do. Not killing...but controlled and purposeful violence. But it’s not your business or mine to decide the purpose of the control. It’s never a soldier’s business to decide when or where or how—or why—he fights; that belongs to the statesmen and the generals. The statesmen decide why and how much; the generals take it from there and tell us where and when and how. We supply the violence; other people—’older and wiser heads,’ as they say—supply the control. Which is as it should be
Today, as you may have guessed, is Memorial Day, a holiday first made official on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan. The original holiday was designed to honor the fallen, on both sides, of the Civil War. The holiday was just as divisive as the war until after World War 1 when it was rededicated to all soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country. In 1971 Congress passed the National Holiday Act which moved the observance of Memorial Day from May 30th to the last Monday of the month of May. Whether that was a good thing or not, I cannot say. Three day weekend = Good, forgetting why we have that weekend = Bad.
Speaking of people who forget, several groups in England want World War II re-enactments to ban any Nazi uniforms. Because, well, because ... who do they think was on the other side during WWII? They wrap it all up under flag of “not offending people” but it should be wrapped with the moldy fish in a newspaper and discarded in the trash. I’m not a big fan of re-enactments, but if they are going to do them, then both sides kind of need to be there for any of it to make sense.
There are millions of stories of heroism that can be used to define Memorial Day. Some of them I have heard personally from the men and, now, women who lived through them. I fear that picking any one over another would only serve to denigrate the ones I missed, so I won’t do that. Instead, I ask you to take a minute out of your busy life and visit a VFW Post or AMVETS Hall near you so you can hear the stories directly from the mouths of the heroes who were there.
In parting, I leave you with this memorandum from an Army veteran.
“It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protestor to burn the flag.
- Charles M. Province
This article originally published on Nude Hippo (NBC 5.2).
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Every action has an equal, and opposite, reaction. Isaac Newton said that on July 5, 1687. And while Sir Isaac was not noted for his sports knowledge, I don’t think anyone’s been able to dispute his intellect. You might think of his Third Law of Motion as the mathematical proof of Karma.
Another Law to keep in mind is the Law of Unintended Consequences. For example, in the late 1800’s, a group of investors in Texas built a series of irrigation ditches to water their crops and livestock. Unfortunately, in so doing, they built a perfect place for insects and other wildlife to flourish and they ended up spreading numerous diseases throughout the land. The Texans were forced to spend millions to close the ditches and shore up hospital care to stave off an epidemic.
In China, the one child per family rule has had a horrible effect on the workforce. Children no longer accept entry level jobs since they have no reason to. Families can easily support them well into their 30’s and beyond so the kids just stay home.
All of these Laws are in play in the U.S. Federal courts right now.
On the one hand we have the players. Those poor wage slaves who barely eke out a living. On the other, the owners. The misunderstood icons of all things that are good and holy in America.
Most of us can’t figure out how these stunods can destroy a sport that’s worth billions, but one quick press conference with Drew Brees shows that the sides aren’t even close to solving this thing. Check out this quote from Sports Illustrated online.
“Ever since Gene Upshaw passed away—I’m just going to lay it all out there—the owners saw blood in the water. They felt like, ‘This is our opportunity to take a significant piece of the [financial] pie back at all costs, a piece that we will never have to give back again. This is our chance, while they don’t have leadership, while they’re scrambling to find a new executive director. This is our time.’
“I can point to about five different things to prove to you that they were ready to lock us out. They opted out of the last year of the [CBA] deal; they hired Bob Batterman [who oversaw a lockout of NHL players]. They tried to take the American Needle case to the Supreme Court to basically give them an antitrust exemption or single-entity status, but were defeated 9-0; they established new TV deals to pay them in the event of a lockout, but we were able to put a freeze on that money because they did not negotiate in good faith and broke the law. And they had an internal NFL document that was leaked—a decision tree—that said smack dab in the middle of it ‘financial needs in a lockout.’ That was in 2008, OK? So you’re telling me that they had no plans to lock us out and really wanted to get a deal done? I don’t think so.”
Simply put, it’s come down to one side must win. Which means someone loses. And, now, the losers are starting to be known, and it’s none of the people mentioned above. NEIL HAYES writes today about how the careers of rookies are being scrapped just to keep the owners and players happy.
Next month’s NFL rookie symposium has been canceled, making it the first event on the NFL’s 2011 calendar to be wiped out because of the lockout and the latest example of how rookies and fringe players have much to lose in the ongoing labor dispute.
The symposium, scheduled for June 26 at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, is designed to help rookies make the transition to the NFL. Drafted players are advised by experts and current and former players on how to conduct themselves on and off the field, how to handle their finances and a variety of other subjects.
“The symposium is a large, complex event involving many professionals and others,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said. “In fairness, we could not continue to keep their commitment on hold.”
The absence of organized team activities, minicamps and voluntary conditioning programs during the lockout won’t affect established veterans under contract as much as drafted rookies, rookie free agents and players yet to prove themselves in the league who are hoping to impress coaches during the offseason.
“There’s no question guys that are later-round draft picks, [players who] are trying out for a team or players who weren’t drafted, the OTAs, the offseason programs and training camp are where a team can understand your work ethic, your energy and what you bring to the table,” Chicago-based agent Mark Bartelstein said. “Those are critical elements in making an impression. To lose that opportunity can be devastating to their careers.”
The NFL’s appeal of an injunction lifting the lockout will be heard June 3 by the U.S. District Court of Appeals in St. Louis. Players and owners will have little urgency to jump-start negotiations until a decision is reached. That could be in late July, creating an abbreviated preseason that would make matters worse for players hoping to earn a roster spot.
With another crop of rookies and rookie free agents coming out next year, the window of opportunity could close quickly for players hoping to establish themselves before the 2011 season. Not only will they be less prepared when training camp begins, but if the lockout drags into the preseason, they will have less time to prove they’re NFL-ready.
“Really, OTAs are for the younger guys, to get them acclimated,” Bears safety Chris Harris said. ‘‘That’s what minicamp is for. They get introduced to the playbook. During OTAs, they get introduced to the playbook a second time, and in training camp, they get introduced to it a third time.
‘‘The younger guys, they need that structure.’’
First off, given the trouble that players get into after they’ve had all this counselling and help, one wonders what they’re going to be like without it? Should we all arm ourselves with tranquilizer guns in case we meet an NFL rookie in the wild?
Okay, humor (such as it is) aside, let’s take a look at what could happen here. Assuming the court moves at lightning speed, for a Federal court, and comes back with a decision by late July, what happens if the lockout is upheld? An appeal can easily take a year. Or, if it is overturned, then what happens to the ancillary suits that are clogging up various courts? The court could easily rule, and I know several lawyers who argue that it should, that the players no longer have representation and thus should not be allowed to play no matter whether there’s a lockout or not.
After all, every stadium is maintained by union workers. If they let non-union players on the field it would be a violation of their agreements.
Think of that as an unintended consequence of decertification.
If the lockout is upheld, and the owners don’t appeal, you’re still looking at another year of court time to straighten out the financial fallout. And, this is fun to think about, even if the owners and players come to an agreement the court is under no obligation to accept it. That little nugget could cost the parties two or more years of down time.
No matter how you look at it, these fine gentlemen have really screwed the pooch on this one.
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Lucerfina. Isn’t that a lovely name for a play date? Lovely, lusty, lascivious, Lucerfina. Doesn’t the mere thought of it, the name - not her, tripping off your tongue just imbue you with the kind of joy normally reserved for children? Don’t worry, I’m not in love or anything permanent like that but I have been having fun and, as those who know me are aware, I was in need of a little fun.
Maybe I should introduce her to the Bulls.
They looked kind of bummed last night.
Hell, Rose sounded borderline suicidal. If I heard him say “It’s all on me” one more time I was going to call 911.
Primarily because he’s wrong.
You can point the fickle finger of blame in numerous directions, and many are spending their - seemingly - last breaths doing just that, but to do so ignores a season’s worth of work and acclaim. The Bulls won together and they lost together. From Tibs down to the towel boy, they were all in it together.
It’s easy to say “so and so should have stepped up,” it’s harder to do when Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are in your face. It’s easy to talk smack from the comfort of your couch, it’s a little harder to do on the court. Besides, all season long, the Bulls were doers and not talkers.
David Haugh at the Tribune talks glowingly about James, as well he should, but (intentionally or not) lays the blame for the Bulls’ loss directly at the feet of Rose.
Rose is incredibly talented, but he’s not “HEY! I can guard five dudes!” kind of talented. No one is. Not even James. The reason the Heat went on a roll to win the game is because no one, not just Rose, could stop them.
Or, to be more blunt, I’ll quote Joakim Noah after the loss; “They’re Hollywood as hell, but they’re good.”
The Bulls will have some needs going into the off season, but it’s not like they’re the Clippers or something. Fans should sit back and enjoy. This rivalry is going to be around for many more years and looks to be a good one for us, the NBA and casual basketball fans the world over.
Let’s face it folks, even with the loss, Chicago basketball is now relevant again. And if you don’t think this four game sweep, let’s call it what it was, is going to inspire Rose and the rest to work harder and learn more, then I think you’ve missed the whole point of these guys.
RICK TELANDER at the Sun Times takes a very clear headed look at what transpired, and what may be in store.
He came out and he did it, Chicago.
He gave his all.
He cranked it up past 11 on the exhaustion meter.
If you can mix a metaphor like this, Derrick Rose had pride oozing out of his new adiZero Crazy Light, 9.8-ounce, Road-Runner-Blows-Past-Wile-E.-Coyote shoes.
His back was against the wall, and he launched himself off the concrete.
That he ultimately splattered against the mountainside with the rest of his Bulls teammates in these Eastern Conference finals is sad but informative.
You play as hard as you can, but it’s a fact: Young guys in the NBA don’t know how to win. Literally. It’s like learning advanced calculus. Just knowing complex algebra won’t cut it.
Rose emptied his tank, but it wasn’t enough in this heart-breaking 83-80 loss.
Still, he gave what he had.
He missed that second free throw with 26.7 seconds left and the Heat ahead 81-80.
What a difference a swisher would have made. We’ll forgive him that. That it was the only free throw of the night he missed, we’ll also forgive him for.
We should forgive him for a lot because he is only 22, and he is phenomenally gifted, and he is learning.
And what joy he brought us this year.
Don’t forget that. His MVP award was for the regular season, and he led the Bulls to the best record in the NBA, 62-20 — the same record Michael Jordan led the Bulls to in his sixth and final NBA championship season 13 years ago.
But it’s a fact: A superstar in his prime — a Hall of Famer — will not miss a tying free throw like that, because of urgency or whatever it is that makes intangibles tangible.
Rose’s final desperation three-point attempt barely counts because, well, the game had already been blown.
But back to Rose and his focus. If you saw him at courtside before the game, during it, after it, the kid from Englewood was intense and geeked.
He knew, as everyone did, that to lose Game 5 to the Heat, to give up four straight to the James-Wade-Bosh triumvirate, to stink it up in front of the home crowd that loves him like a son, would be almost inexcusable. It wouldn’t sit well with pride.
Yet just trying hard in basketball won’t get it done. You get too amped, and you can’t make a free throw or a smooth three-pointer or sometimes a driving layup that takes so much control it’s ridiculous.
Fuel for the engine
Rose is the point guard for the Bulls, the engine that must keep itself in control while running deep in the red zone without blowing everything to kingdom come. He’ll be that piece of machinery for years to come.
And he almost did it.
Until the bitter, bitter end.
Rose clearly didn’t like the chatter about LeBron James being better than him.
He didn’t talk about it. Indeed, he didn’t speak to the media Wednesday before the game.
But we knew.
The fact is, when the 6-8, incredibly muscular, bow-legged, duck-footed James is focused and on target, he makes you wonder if there has been a better basketball player. Ever.
Rose couldn’t stop the Bulls from losing four straight to the Heat. The Heat simply is the better team. This would have ended in Game 6 back on Biscayne Bay this Saturday for sure.
But Rose and pals tried.
Holding what is likely the best team in basketball to 38 points in the first half is nothing but effort.
Rose finished with 25 points, eight assists, five rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot. Those are wonderful numbers. But he made only nine of his 29 shots from the field, and he missed that one free throw.
Mission now: Improve that shot
His frustration was obvious when would miss a high-rising jump shot, with the ball just nicking the orange rim in a slightly wrong fashion.
That’s how basketball is — ferocity tempered by the most delicate of touch which is needed to get a bouncy ball through a small and unforgiving iron rim.
Rose does not have a great shot. That is now fact. And that will hold him back until he changes the fact. And that will, or should be, his mission this summer.
‘‘He is a special individual,’’ said Heat coach Eric Spoelstra. ‘‘His game has come a long way.’’
That implies it has a long way to go, which is wonderful and intriguing. Imagine Rose with an Isiah Thomas or Tony Parker or even Jamal Crawford deadly jumpshot! The mind reels.
‘‘We tried to keep as many bodies on him as we could,’’ said Spoelstra, adding that the Heat changed its defensive scheme constantly just to make things hard for Rose.
He gave his all, that’s for sure.
‘‘Obviously, LeBron is an MVP himself,’’ Spoelstra added of his transcendent star.
That fact will inspire Rose for a long time.
Central Division Champs
Eastern Conference Champs.
Best Record in the NBA.
Derrick Rose - MVP
Tom Thibodeau - Coach of the Year
A bunch of other lesser accolades.
All of those add up to only one thing, the Bulls are good. And now that they’ve seen what it takes to be the best, I bet they’re on their way to great.
On behalf of all the admins here at Jay the Joke, I’d like to say to the Bulls, “Thanks for the tremendous season and thanks for giving us a reason to watch basketball again.”
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Good morning. How are you today? I hope you had a good night yesterday. My friend, Kimmy, wasn’t having a lot of fun. Her husband’s job had him in Joplin, Missouri yesterday and headed for Peoria today. He didn’t help ease her fears when he cut a call short with “Sorry, honey, I gotta go. The sirens are going off and they’re evacuating the hotel. Love you!”
He called back later, all hale and hearty, but she’s still a wreck. I didn’t want to ask if someone at his company was trying to get rid of him. She has enough to worry about.
On the other hand, my play-date last night went exceptionally well. We never once worried about tornadoes but we did have a lovely dinner and watched Wheel of Fortune.
Any information beyond that is none of your business.
Anyway, while I was finishing up my play date the Cubs were playing baseball. Well, some of the time. The rest they were hanging out watching it rain. During that time Mike Quade went completely bat-guano crazy in an attempt to get the umps to have the tarp removed so the game could continue. As CARRIE MUSKAT reports, Quade had a Milli Vanilli moment and blamed it on the rain.
The Cubs have played in conditions worse than Wednesday night at different points this season, so when crew chief Dale Scott decided to stop play in the seventh inning with the Mets leading, 7-4, Mike Quade was upset.
“[Scott] said he had a forecast and was concerned about the rain that was coming, and I was, too, because I knew it wasn’t going to stop,” Quade said after the game was called following a 41-minute rain delay.
“I just wanted to keep playing,” Quade said. “If we get that final out [in the seventh], stranger things have happened. It’s wet out there, and you put an inning together and who knows? Maybe you get even or find a way to get a lead.”
But the Cubs didn’t get the chance and the Mets evened the series with the rain-shortened win. Carlos Beltran hit a two-run double to highlight a five-run second inning and lift New York to victory over the Cubs, who had trouble finding the strike zone.
The Mets had two on and two outs in the seventh when Scott called for the tarp. Quade got into an animated argument with the umpires, trying to convince them to play at least another half inning. The weather was bad, but not as bad as it was May 14 when they played host to the Giants in rain, wind and cold.
“Everybody is frustrated, and not the least of which is me, with the weather and what we’ve dealt with,” Quade said. “If you’re going to play in it, I thought we keep playing. Dale had a forecast and I had a forecast and I think we were coming at it from two different directions.”
Plus, Quade had another motivation.
“I’m on the losing end so I want to keep playing,” he said.
“He was probably more cognizant of the weather than me,” Mets manager Terry Collins said, “and he knew if that tarp went on, this game was probably over.”
The Cubs got off to a good start, erasing the Mets’ one-run, first-inning lead with four runs in their half. They loaded the bases with two outs, and Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano each hit two-run doubles for a 4-1 lead. That was a short-lived advantage.
Things turned for the worse quickly, as the Cubs needed three pitchers to get through the first two innings. Casey Coleman didn’t last long enough to get an at-bat. The right-hander entered the game having served up 40 hits and walked 25 over 34 1/3 innings. Unfortunately, he maintained that pace in the first when he walked Beltran with two outs and gave up back-to-back singles, including a RBI hit by Daniel Murphy.
“The first inning with Beltran, after two quick outs, I was telling myself, ‘Hey, it’s a great time to throw strikes,’” Coleman said, “and instead of just doing it, I thought too much about it and walked a guy, and then fell behind [Jason] Bay and he was able to get a hit and then they got another hit. I just need to bear down in that situation and throw strikes. If he gets a first-pitch hit, that’s fine. Throwing too many pitches and walking a guy like that, it’s not acceptable.”
The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the second to set up Josh Thole’s RBI single. Beltran then hit a two-run double into the left-center gap to tie the game and chase Coleman. Justin Berg took over but threw 12 straight balls, walking three batters and forcing in two runs to help the Mets open a 6-4 lead.
Berg was lifted for James Russell, who was cheered by the well-bundled crowd of 36,666 for a first-pitch strike to Jason Pridie. In the first two innings of the game, Cubs pitchers threw 63 pitches and only 29 for strikes. It’s the first time they needed three pitchers to get through the first two innings of a game since June 29, 1989, when Paul Kilgus, Jeff Pico and Les Lancaster did so.
Coleman (2-4) took the loss, giving up six runs on seven hits and one walk over 1 1/3 innings, the shortest start of his career.
Last year, the right-hander showed improvement with each start. That hasn’t happened this season.
“I’m trying to figure it out,” Coleman said. “Late in the season last year, to start off the game, I’d be down in the zone, but down in the middle of the plate and establishing a strike zone, and then later in the game, I was able to work the corners and start to get calls outside.
“This year, it feels like if I’m over the plate, I’m up in the zone instead of down, and if I’m not over the plate, I’m trying to pick corners too early instead of establishing the strike zone,” he said. “I need to be able to find a way to establish it down in the zone early—over the plate is fine as long as it’s down—and as the game goes on, move out to the corners.”
It is puzzling to Coleman’s skipper as well.
“I was a little surprised at Casey,” Quade said. “He made six, seven quality pitches in a row to get the first two hitters of the game, and then they scratch for a run. He got the ball up and didn’t make pitches.”
Dillon Gee (4-0) picked up the win and helped himself with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
The defensive highlight of the game came in the fifth when second baseman Darwin Barney chased Jose Reyes’ popup and dove to grab it.
“I kept thinking about talking about him as an over-achiever,” Quade said. “Maybe I just mis-evaluated him. Maybe he’s not an overachiever, maybe he’s just [darn] good. He’s a good player and does a good job every night.”
Barney doesn’t feel he did anything special.
“I looked at Carlos [Pena, first baseman] and it was over his head, and he looked at me and I was already gone,” Barney said. “I thought I was going to just camp under it. That wind was howling and fortunately I caught it. On the replay, it would’ve been fair. I’m just doing what I can.”
The Cubs are weary from all the rain that has soaked the Midwest, but they’ve gotten used to it. Quade wasn’t the only one bothered by Scott’s decision.
“I was upset,” Barney said. “I think a lot of us were upset. ... You knew the cell wasn’t going to pass. It hits [Lake Michigan] and just stops—it’s unbelievable. We were really hoping to get another shot. That’s his call and in that situation, it’s a dictatorship—is that the right word?—and we can’t do anything about it.”
The conditions against the Giants earlier this month were much worse, but because the Cubs kept playing that night, the infield was drenched and unplayable the next day.
“You can’t help this weather—it’s unbelievable,” Barney said. “I’ve played in a lot of rain in my life, but this is different. You look around the country and we’re fairly lucky to be in the sitaution we’re in compared to those other places.”
Yes Mr. Barney, unlike Kimmy’s poor husband, no one’s throwing your happy butt in front of a tornado. As to the Cubs, I’ve heard a lot of callers on the radio this morning blaming the pitching staff. I’m sorry, but I can’t jump on that bandwagon. Watching Soriano treat every ball hit his way as personal inconvenience means that the left side of the outfield is home for many hits. Also, watching Pena deflect balls that the redoubtable Mr. Barney was about to catch, means the right side of the infield is home for many hits. So, when the Cubs are on defense, 50% of the field is open to the offense. It’s kind of hard to keep your ERA down when you’re being protected by players wearing floppy shoes and rubber noses.
On the Southside, the Sox tried to wrap that rubber in Texas and, instead, made another pitcher look like Cy Young. TODD WILLIS explains why Ozzie was using naughty words and explaining to Adam Dunn why he may be sent down to 1A or 2A if he doesn’t learn to hit the little round ball.
The cruel world of baseball hit the White Sox right in the gut in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers. In the biggest moments of the final innings, the White Sox found the two hitters in prolonged slumps up at the plate at the most inopportune of times.
First, it was struggling outfielder Alex Rios grounding into an inning-ending double play with the tying run at second base in the top of the seventh. Then it was Adam Dunn continuing his hitless streak against left-handers, striking out as a pinch-hitter with the tying run at third and one out in the eighth.
Even with that, the White Sox almost got to Rangers closer Neftali Feliz after Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko drew one-out walks in the top of the ninth. But Rios hit into a 4-9-6 fielder’s choice with the tying run at second, and A.J. Pierzynski skied out to center field to end the game.
Those missed opportunities wasted a supreme effort by starter Gavin Floyd, who allowed three hits in seven-plus innings against the Rangers’ powerful offense. The three hits by the Rangers matched their fewest in a victory at Rangers Ballpark dating back to when the stadium opened in 1994.
Meanwhile, the White Sox had six singles and stranded five men on base as they bounced into three double plays.
“We had a few opportunities and those guys didn’t come up with the big hit,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We pitched very well. Gavin and the rest of the guys pitched well. We had a few chances and didn’t get the big hit today and that cost us the game.”
The White Sox missed out on a chance to win their fourth straight road series for the first time since 2006. They’re 12-6 in their last 18 games and 7-4 in their last 11 road games.
Still, it’s a particularly frustrating time for Rios, who has batted .273 in his last 21 games. But his road woes won’t go away. He hasn’t homered and has only four RBIs in 103 at-bats away from U.S. Cellular Field.
“It’s been tough,” Rios said. “It’s frustrating when you can’t help the team win. I hope things turn around. I don’t know. That’s it.”
The White Sox were uneven in the three games on offense, and still were in every game and almost won the series. They were shut out for the sixth time on Monday in a 4-0 loss, but seemed to turn things around Tuesday night with an 8-6 victory that featured three home runs by Quentin.
Quentin was limited to a single and a walk in four plate appearances on Wednesday, and White Sox hitters as a group managed six singles off Rangers starter C.J. Wilson and three relievers.
“We’ve been doing a good job lately,” Rios said. “Everybody’s been hitting the ball good and we’ve been getting some runs. Myself, it’s been an ongoing slump from the beginning of the season. I just want to turn things around and start doing well.”
Floyd mostly dominated Rangers hitters. But an error by second baseman Gordon Beckham to start the bottom of the third inning led to Floyd’s one bad inning. Yorvit Torrealba followed with a double over the head of Rios in center field, and Mitch Moreland’s sacrifice fly to center field scored David Murphy. Ian Kinsler then singled to left field to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
Floyd allowed only one more hit the rest of the way.
“I thought Floyd threw the ball well,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We got two runs off him, but he threw the ball as well as C.J. did today. I saw good pitching today.”
The White Sox finally got to Wilson in the top of the seventh. Alexei Ramirez, Quentin and Konerko had consecutive singles, the last scoring Ramirez.
The Rangers turned to reliever Mark Lowe with runners at first and second, and Rios hit the second pitch he saw into the ground to second base, and Texas turned an easy double play.
The White Sox again threatened in the top of the eighth. Pierzynski, pinch-hitting, walked and was moved to second on Brett Lillibridge’s sacrifice bunt. Beckham followed with a single to right to put runners at first and third.
Guillen decided to pinch-hit the left-handed-hitting Dunn, while the Rangers countered with lefty reliever Darren Oliver. Dunn worked the count full, but struck out on a fastball to make him 0-for-32 against left-handed pitchers this season.
Guillen didn’t second guess his decision to force the lefty-lefty matchup, even considering Dunn’s woeful numbers this season.
“When Adam is at the plate, I don’t care who is on the mound,” Guillen said.
The White Sox were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position in the last three innings.
“We’re all fighting out there,” Floyd said. “It was a day where their pitcher pitched real well. We had a couple of innings where we were trying to grind it out and it just didn’t happen today.”
Since Todd was kind enough to detail each failure is accurate detail, there’s not much for me to say.
I guess we could talk about Bigfoot or something.
Nah, maybe not.
Quite simply the Sox are 5-1-1 over their last seven series, so all is not lost. But until they start hitting consistently it’s not going to matter that their starting staff has posted a 1.50 ERA during this stretch.
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