There is a white blues band outside my office window. They are doing very bad things to music. I never thought of Howling Wolf’s Killing Floor as elevator music until today. What they did to Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door should be illegal.
Make them stop.
Anyway, they are not the controversy in question today. This week saw the homecoming of several players to cities that dumped them for one reason or another.
Ozzie Guillen, Mark Buehrle & Carlos Zambrano came back to Chicago. Kevin Youklis went with Chicago back to Boston.
Since we have a pretty good idea of how the various receptions went here I thought I’d share an email I got from a delicate Boston fan who seems to have taken some minor umbrage at the Youklis trade.
“What the f**k is wrong with V? That POS needs to be dropped off a pier with a concrete jacket. How dare that f*8k go and f**k up our team like he did. F**k him!!!!!!! He could f**k up a date with a $2 whore. The f**k!!!! Losing youk for the kid dick is a f***ing insult.”
She goes on but I think you get the idea. She is not a happy camper. And, judging by the various Boston blogs I would note that she’s one of the calmer fans. There is a reason Youklis got such a warm reception. It’s because fans let management know that they did not appreciate what their poorly trained lap dog did to a local legend. As one fan pointed out it would like trading Konerko for Bryan LaHair. Not that the latter is a bad player but he’s a visible step down from Paulie.
I feel their pain but I am not about to apologize for us getting YOUK!
Since we’re on that subject, let’s get Darryl van Schouwen’s take on the whole affair.
Can Kevin Youkilis’ week be any better?
A night after reacquainting himself with adoring fans who applauded and “Youuuked” his every move, the White Sox third baseman reacquainted himself with Fenway Park’s Green Monster, clearing it for a three-run home run Tuesday night against left-hander Jon Lester in a 7-5 victory.
Youkilis connected in the fourth inning with Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham on second and third. It looked as though Lester was issuing a semi-intentional walk, running the count to 3-0 with left-handed-hitting Adam Dunn on deck, but he took it to 3-2 before Youkilis hit his fourth homer since the Red Sox traded him June 24.
“He’s showing off now,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s rising to the occasion for us in big spots.’’
The home run, his first as a visitor after hitting 65 at Fenway as a Red Sox player, was a “take that, Bobby V” moment captured by TV cameras that zoomed in on manager Bobby Valentine, who more or less set the stage for getting Youkilis shipped out of Boston by saying Youkilis was not “as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past.”
“When you get traded, there’s something to prove, and that all goes into it,’’ Ventura said. “Not that he says anything. It’s nice for him to get in those situations and come through.’’
On Monday, Youkilis received standing ovations and a video tribute while scoring the Sox’ only run on a heads-up play when he scored from first on a ground out. He also hit two doubles.
The only thing lacking for a perfect night, he said, was a Sox victory, which he got Tuesday thanks in part to right-hander Philip Humber’s six strong innings in his return from the disabled list. Humber exited with a 7-2 lead.
“It’s a great win, and that’s the key,’’ Youkilis said. “We’re trying to win, and we’re in the playoff race, and that’s what it’s all about.
“The fans have been unbelievable, and I can’t thank them enough and all the kind things they keep saying every day, every inning. Not too many opponents get to come in here and have that opportunity.’’
Youkilis, who received another standing ovation when he stepped up to bat in the first inning Tuesday, collected his 16th, 17th and 18th RBI in his 18th game with the White Sox to give Humber (4-4) a 6-2 lead.
With John Danks on the DL and Gavin Floyd joining him Tuesday with elbow tendinitis, Humber’s return was a shot in the arm for a rotation that needs yet another rookie, left-hander Pedro Hernandez, from Class AAA Charlotte for a spot start Wednesday. Rookie Jhan Marinez was returned after the game to make room.
After giving up two runs on singles to Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez in the first, Humber finished with five scoreless innings, allowing three hits in that span. He walked none and struck out three in a 104-pitch effort.
“That’s a big one,’’ Ventura said.
The elbow “feels good,’’ Humber said. “It was a good test. I made some pressure pitches in a couple of innings and held up pretty good.’’
Leadoff man Alejandro De Aza drove in two runs with a double and a single, and Paul Konerko poked two hits inside the first-base line for an RBI double and a single. Alex Rios had two singles and an RBI and ended the game with a running catch of Ellsbury’s liner to right-center.
The Red Sox scored three in the eighth against Matt Thornton, two on Kelly Shoppach’s pinch homer, forcing Ventura to use closer Addison Reed in the ninth. Reed pitched a perfect inning for his 15th save in 17 opportunities.
The Sox (50-40) won for the eighth time in 11 games and are 10 games above .500 for the fourth time.
This week also saw the return of the Mouth That Roared to Chicago. The Trib’s Paul Sullivan was at Wrigley and shares the joy.
The last time Ozzie Guillen stood in the visitor’s dugout at Wrigley Field wearing a Marlins jersey, he was taunting Cubs fans still shell-shocked from the Bartman game.
“Your ballpark is quiet tonight,” the Marlins’ coach yelled before Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS. “What, are you guys scared? It was just one game.”
That one game turned out to be the beginning of the end for the ‘03 Cubs, who came closer to making the World Series than any North Side team over the last 66 years.
Nine years later, Guillen now is managing an underachieving Marlins team, and the Cubs are in sell-off mode in the first year of a new regime.
The Marlins managed to end the Cubs’ six-game home winning streak Tuesday night with a 9-5 victory at Wrigley, knocking Travis Wood out in the fifth inning.
Guillen was booed vociferously during an eighth inning pitching change, the loudest Cubs fans got on a sweltering night.
He responded by pointing to his ring finger, a reference to his two World Series rings with the Marlins and White Sox.
Timing is everything in life, and for the Cubs, bad timing has been a hallmark. Just when it looks like they’re showing a pulse, the Cubs are shopping their two best pitchers, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, in hopes of building a better future.
Every general manager with a team in contention is seemingly on President Theo Epstein’s speed-dial, with Dempster and Garza considered two of the most coveted starters available, and even Yankees assistant to the GM Jim Hendry was on hand scouting the Cubs on Tuesday.
“Everything’s still rumors,” manager Dale Sveum said. “I’ve been in these situations before where there’s so many rumors and all of a sudden it gets there and nothing happens. In our world, we don’t dwell on it. We know it’s a reality with the rumors and things that are obviously out there.
“But there’s nothing you can do about it. If we did lose a couple of pieces of this puzzle it would probably be devastating to the team, but that’s part of the game, that’s part of building an organization. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is. You don’t dwell on it until it happens, and then you try to mix the pieces together and see if you can fix the problem.”
Despite Sveum’s contention it’s possible “nothing” happens, the players are braced for a sell-off that could even include some of the younger players as throw-ins.
“We’ve been preparing for that for a long time,” Jeff Samardzija said. “There was even talk in spring training about Garza getting traded. Things like that are part of the game. We’re going to look at the lineup card every day and go from there.
“We have a lot of professionals here that just love playing the game and they love being here playing for the Cubs … and they want to stick around. That’s out of our control though.”
If Dempster and Garza are both dealt, as expected, that leaves Wood and Samardzija figured to be slated as the cornerstones of the rotation of the future.
But Wood sputtered Tuesday, allowing eight runs over 42/3 innings, including a two-run homer to Omar Infante and a grand slam to Carlos Lee. The eight runs were the most Wood has given up this year and ended a personal winning streak that began on June 19 against the White Sox.
“We started out looking good, cruising kind of,” Wood said. “And the thing just kind of hit the fan. It happened quick.”
Sveum said Wood only threw around 10 off-speed pitches out of his 93-pitch outing.
“He just kind of got out of rhythm, and got out of whack,” Sveum said.
The Marlins are now 4-0 against the Cubs this year. Still, the Cubs remain at 12-4 for their last 16 games. And, as noted before, that pace will win them 90 games this season.
I should also note that no MLB team has been able to sustain a record like that for half a season.
Well, someone has to be first, don’t they?
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