True Stories from Wrigley Field

This was just too good not to pass on. An email came across the desk at Towel Drills corporate headquarters the other day relaying this almost too-good-to-be-true story from the April 29th Cubs/Brewers game. But it's legit. For your reading pleasure, here's the fantastic recap of the incident from Section 202, as skillfully told by Rick Thornhill (big thanks to Rick for allowing us to pass this along-it deserved to be heard):

Last night was one of the most ridiculously hilariously awesome nights at Wrigley. As a buddy of mine said, the cold weather just tends to make people a little bit meaner.

So, a bunch of pretty gals from the Waukegan area settle into the seats a few rows in front of us. They are moderately attractive but with a certain Waukegan flair – an even mix of ghetto-ness and red-neck-ness. You know the type. They are loud and drunk and have signs. They badly want to be on TV. One sign is for Len & Bob, and the other is for Fukudome - which actually said Fuk-u-do-us! Not bad. Anyway, they are hammered, loud and blocking everyone’s view of the game with their obnoxious signs.

Let the standard Chicago taunting begin…

“Sit down!” “Put down the fu*kin’ sign!” “Take it off!” “Let ‘em breath!” … This goes on for a very long time, like 3 innings. At this point she is turning around and egging on our entire section. Shaking her ass, waiving the signs, yelling “fuk-u-do-us” … In response, our section begins chanting “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry…” Note to self – It’s all fun and games until the Jerry chant…

And here’s where things took a real turn…

The guy in the row in front of us – yes, the guy who comes to every game with his wife and son. He doesn’t drink, and is always very low-key. In fact, I think putting peanut shells on his ears is the craziest thing he’s ever done at a game! Yes, in the midst of all the drunkeness and name calling.

That guy decides to start waving dollar bills at our friend from Waukegan. Note to self: This is a huge insult. She begins to yell back at him about not being a real Cubs fan and random nonsensical stuff like that. Then he proceeds to up the ante by waving a 5 dollar bill and allegedly calls her a whore. Yes, ALLEGEDLY he shouts the word “WHORE” … and there happens to be a couple of elementary school kids sitting there to hear the whole exchange. (EAR-MUFFS!!)

This makes Waukegan girl furious. She is completely offended. She cannot believe that he would say the word “whore” in front of those kids. Two important things to note here –No one actually heard him call her a whore, and for some reason she doesn’t think anything that happened prior to being called a “whore” was inappropriate. Remarkable.

So… for some reason, possibly the game, the scene starts to settle down for a few minutes. The focus is back on the Cubs and every one is quietly watching. It is at this point that a full plastic cup of beer comes flying through the air and lands all over him...and his Wife!! He is now completely drenched in beer and stunned... and his wife is livid - rightfully so!!! And by livid, I mean she wants to murder the pretty gal from Waukegan! Now there is some serious yelling going on. Waukegan chick is saying stuff like “ha ha looks like I win, ha ha ha, you’re all wet” and his Wife is saying things like “that is not funny! That is NOT funny!!!”

It is 30 degrees outside and she is covered in Old Style!

We are all wide-eyed and nervously laughing. So, the wife goes to get security, security escorts Waukegan gals crew out of the park. She comes back absolutely covered in beer and tells her husband what an idiot he is in front of our whole section. She is not happy. He is still completely stunned by the situation and casually denies that he called the girl a whore. Then (and this might be my favorite part) he goes to sit down to watch the game! His wife reacts by hitting him in the arm and saying “We can’t stay!!! OMG, are you kidding me!??!! We are leaving!!! I can’t believe you! Why are you waiving money at girls! What is wrong with you!!??” his response… silence.

His son is sitting there looking at both his parents fighting and covered in beer. He gets up to leave and they all walk out.

And yes, this is the same section where Mark puked on opening day. Long live section 202.

Go Cubs.

Cubs All-Stars...Vote Early, Vote Often

It's May 1st. We've played 28 baseball games. Yeah...probably about time to get the All-Star ballots up, wouldn't you say? Well, MLB would say. Taking off from Mav's recent comment on the subject, let's get some Cubs All-Stars discussion going.

The Cubs have 8, count 'em, ocho players on the ballot. Rookies Geo Soto and Kosuke Fukudome and first-timers Ryan TheRiot and Felix Pie (seriously? Felix Pie?) join actual All-Stars Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, and Mark DeRosa (okay, so he's probably not an All-Star).

It's a bit of a stretch to include Pie and DeRosa on the ballot, but having just completed voting, there's a lot of questionable inclusions on there. MLB basically just includes all the people they think are the starters at their respective positions for their respective teams. They must have made this list out in January because it's pretty flawed. Anyway...

In the true Chicago tradition, many of you will likely vote early and vote often for all of the Cubs players. But ole Jumbo doesn't subscribe to the "he's on my favorite team, therefore I must vote for him" theory. This theory is akin to the NCAA tourney pool theory of "I went to X school so, damnit, they're going to the Final Four!" There's also the "Tuffy Rhodes hit 3 bombs on Opening Day, so he has good stats, so he's an All-Star" theory. Jumbo doesn't roll like that either. Nah, I like to put some thought into my All-Star ballot. Some effort. Some energy. Not too much of any of those but, you know, some. I like to take a look at a player's career and a player's recent seasons along with the player's current season to make my vote. This process is going to award some guys who have been hot over the last year or two and who could potentially develop into perennial All-Stars. It's also going to give you some "lifers," like, say, Cal Ripken the Jr. who, no matter what they've done in a current year, just deserve to go to the game. I don't think any of the Cubs players have obtained this status, so they're going to have to work for the Jumbo vote.

Click here to get your vote in. Meanwhile, here are some thoughts as I run through my ballot:

First, the AL:
  • AL 1B, Casey Kotchman: There are basically zero good 1B's in the AL. What is that? There's a bunch in the NL-Pujols, Lee, Berkman, etc.-but all I can come up with on the AL side is Casey Kotchman? Seriously? Kid's off to a good start-you gotta give him that.
  • AL 2B, Brian Roberts: He's off to a decent start, has the track record, I'm okay with this one. I wish he were a Cub, but that's a different story. Dustin Pedroia will probably get a lot of votes here, as will all the BoSox, though they're not really deserved.
  • AL SS, Michael Young: He doesn't have a shot. Derek Jeter will win a "lifetime achievement" selection here. But screw Derek Jeter. I've always hated that guy. So overrated. Don't get me going on Jeter. But Michael Young is a good, underrated SS.
  • AL 3B, Alex Rodriguez: I don't like ARod much either, but he and Albert Pujols are far and away the best players in the game. Gotta slide him in here, even though he's not off to a ARod-ian start and is currently on the DL.
  • AL C, Victor Martinez: Another tough one here. Not much to offer from the AL backstops. I'd personally like to see Varitek play, but we'll go with VMart though.
  • AL OFs, Manny Ramirez, Vlad Guerro, Josh Hamilton: Plenty of good options here, but I'll go with these 3. Manny and Vlad are basically lifers in the All-Star game. They're talented, they've been doing it for a long time, and you'd be hard pressed to find more than a handful of players that are more fun to watch play the game. Josh Hamilton may not quite be All-Star level yet, but the guy is leading the majors in RBIs and is raking right now. Let's give this guy some props here.
  • AL DH, N/A: I protest the existence of the DH. It's an antiquated rule that should be abolished. David Ortiz is a lock anyway.
On to the NL:
  • NL 1B, Derek Lee: As I mentioned, I think Pujols and ARod are head and shoulders the 2 best baseball players on the planet. That said-are you going to tell me that DLee isn't an All-Star? That's what I thought. I'm a Cubs fan. DLee is our best player. He gets my vote from now until he retires (or Mark Grace is playing 1B for the Cubs again)
  • NL 2B, Chase Utley: And it's not even close. This guy has had the best season in the majors so far. And he's not slowing down. Lock this one in.
  • NL SS, Hanley Ramirez: Could have just as easily went with Rafael Furcal, who's off to a tremendous start, here. But Hanley is a stud. Sign him up for my ballot.
  • NL 3B, Aramis Ramirez: Lots of good options here. David Wright, Chipper Jones, Ryan Zimmerman, Edwin Encarnacion. But let's give our boy some love. He absolutely deserves it.
  • NL C, Geo Soto: First rookie selection and I actually think our boy might win this thing. He's off to the best start of any C in the bigs. He was great in limited action last year. He's got some "juice" in the public eye right now. Brian McCann and Russell Martin are also deserving, but Geo it should be.
  • NL OFs, Kosuke Fukudome, Nate McLouth, Ken Griffey Jr.: Wow...rag-tag bunch of ballplayers here. You've got my 2nd rook, some kid who seemingly came out of nowhere, and an old-timer. Fuku is a lock here. The guy is on the cover of SI for hay-zeus sake. McLouth is the most deserving of the NL OFs based on the season performance thus far. I'm just givin' the kid some love. And ya gotta have The Kid in there. Griff will be at 600 HRs by the All-Star game and, as a "lifer," deserves to be there.
So there ya have it. Who you got?

A Trip Around the Minors...

This Week's Trip Around the Minors is being delivered to all of you a day early, as the entire TD staff is heading for a business trip to Louisville, Kentucky this weekend. At least I assume it's a business trip; I don't know of anything else going on in Louisville this weekend. I am installing a new feature in the Trip Around the Minors this week by including all of the Top 10 prospects in the minors (Soto and Hart being in the bigs) according to a compilation of BA and BP's lists, plus one bonus guy or stat from every team who is worthy of note.

Sean Gallagher-as mentioned in the Minor League Short Hops from earlier this week, Gallagher had his worst outing of the year last time out. Despite that, his WHIP is still at 1.03 and his K/9 is 9.31.

Bonus-Les Walrond, the 31 year old reliever for the Cubs, has been released. Walrond will be remembered as about the 20th guy the Cubs called up to start for them in that horrid 2006 season.

Tyler Colvin-Colvin's meteoric rise may be slowing, as he has struggled out of the gate at Tennessee. Colvin is hitting a mere .236 and struck out 26 times in 26 games.

Jeff Samardzija-Jeff ND, as we here at TD like to call him, has been a bit wild. While his ERA is a respectable 3.77, he has walked 18 batters compared to 16 K's.

Donnie Veal-Veal is walking a lot of batters as well, giving up 14 free passes in one fewer start than Jeff ND. But, his ERA hasn't suffered, as he has posted a 2.38 so far this season.

Bonus-Doug Deeds, the PTBNL in the Craig Monroe trade, is hitting .317 with an OPS of .955 this year.

Tony Thomas-Thomas is hitting .299, up slightly from last week. He is up to 6 steals, but is still striking out a lot (21 in 24 games).

Jose Ceda-Ceda is an even 2-2 on the year with a 4.05 ERA in 5 starts. The ERA seems a bit baffling, as he is holding hitter to a .211 BA and has only yielded 10 walks in 20 innings.

Bonus-Jeremy Papelbon, the brother of the Red Sox Papelbon, has a 2.76 ERA in 9 relief appearances.

Josh Donaldson-Donaldson has rebounded a little bit, bringing his BA up over 30 points in the last week, though it still sits below the Mendoza line at .191. He leads the team in RBI's, with 10.

Josh Vitters-Vitters recently joined the Chiefs after being sent there from extended spring training. In 14 plate appearances, he has 3 hits and 5 K's (a .214 average).

Bonus-The Midwest League continues to be a pitching dominant league, as the Cubs only have two pitchers on staff with ERA's over 4, while only have two hitters with averages above .270.

Mad Dog Loves Pulling a Constanza

While we here at Towel Drills usually leave the "entertainment" baseball news to Arthur, I uncovered something this morning that I felt was important to share with the world. On the Dan Patrick Show, DP asked Jake Peavy if Greg Maddux had pulled any pranks on him. Peavy responded with these gems:

"Maddux loves to go to the bathroom in the shower. He likes to make sure no one is too close to him, so you have to watch out when you are showering, because he'll go for your legs if you're not paying attention."

"He also likes to spit on the roof of the dugout and wait for it to fall on someone. He can really hock a loogie. He'll spit it at one end of the dugout, where the rookies sit. He'll just stare at it for innings. Eventually, it'll drop on someone's head. Or if he see's a guy leaning against a pole, he'll spit on the pole."

Let's not say things we can't take back

In a Sun Times article yesterday, The Glass Ego said "If I can play the rest of the season healthy, 100 percent, I can steal 30 bases." Look Sori, you can't. I'm sorry that I have to be the bearer of bad news, but you can't. For one, you aren't going to be healthy the rest of the year. I understand that the injury was serious enough that you had to go on the D.L., but that doesn't mean that 2 weeks will heal it. You were supposedly "healthy" most of last year, yet you stole only 18 bags. In fact, you only stole over 30 bases once in the past four years. Yes, I know, in 2005 you stole exactly 30. But that was in a full season without a DL stint. To be honest, I don't know that I want you trying to steal bases. In case you haven't noticed, this team has been hitting (except for that weekend in Washington). In fact, D-Lee is hitting .375 with runners on base. So maybe if you have to lead off, you can just be content to get on base.
But you are not the only person making stupid comments. Your manager, Sweet Lou, said in that same Sun Times article that you can put runs on board with one swing of the bat. I agree that you can, but not if Lou puts you back in the 1 hole. Lou may be a little dilusional, possibly because he was angry at himself for not getting tossed from last night's game. Thankfully for all of us, Lou hasn't gone to a pitcher hitting 8th philosophy like Ned Yost or Tony LaRussa, so you are going to be relying mostly on Felix Pie getting a hit or the pitcher getting a hit if you are going to put plural runs on the board. You had 390 AB's with the bases empty last year. Lou may have grand visions of you plating Mike Fontenot late the game with a big fly (despite hitting only 4 HR's in 85 AB's when the game was close and late), but I think he needs to get out of his dilusional and move you down in the order, where you will be protected.

Fukudomania Invades Sports Illustrated.

Well...that was fun while it lasted. With the news breaking that Kosuke Fukudome will appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated along with the Japanese translation of "It's Gonna Happen," the Cubs season is officially screwed. Get 'em next year, I guess.

What's that? You don't believe in the Sports Illustrated cover jinx? Really? Well how can you subscribe to this and NOT believe in this?

Too bad Joe Sheehan, normally of Baseball Prospectus but here writing for Sports Illustrated, didn't get the inter-office memo on the Fukudome cover. Because in this article, he seems to think pretty highly of our Cubbie's chances of winning it all in 2008. Oh well...there's always next year.

Minor League Short Hops

  • 3 Days after E-Pat was returned to Iowa, he found his way to the DL with a strained hammy. He has yet to return to action.
  • Sean Gallagher won PCL player of the week honors for last week. He responded by going out a giving up 5 earned in 5 2/3 innings yesterday, nearly doubling his walk total for the season.
  • Both Chad Fox and Scott Erye have returned to action. Both are currently pitching for the High A ball Daytona Cubs. Fox has looked sharper than Erye, giving up a hit, a walk, and a hit batsmen in 4 innings of work, while striking out 4. Erye has seen action in 3 games, pitching 2 2/3 innings, giving up 4 earned runs. Opponents are hitting .417 against him.

Cubs Mailbag

The Muskrat had this on her little page:

As DeRosa's biggest fan, I would like to know what uniform number he wore as the quarterback at Penn. I need to order a jersey for my DeRosa shrine. -- Nicolas B., Bloomington, Ill.

muskrat - DeRosa wore No. 16, just as Joe Montana did.

Nicolas B...Will you be my wife?

April 1908

(Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown)
Today being an off day, let's play a bit of catch up. A couple weeks back Carrie Muskat had up the first of what will be a series of monthly articles on chronicling the Cubs last World Series team. Here is the first piece, which looks at the month of April in the Cubs 1908 run. The Cubs were 8-3 at the end of April 1908. The Cubs of April 2008 are 16-9...let's hope that's 18-9 by the end of the month.

Edgar Tovar?

  • Interesting article on Sunday about Cubs bullpen catcher Edgar Tovar and Carlos Zambrano. I hadn't heard this anywhere before. Turns out that the Cubs sent a babysitter to Venezuela with Big Z over the winter to make sure he stayed on his team designed fitness regime. Tovar is also Venezuelan and used to play ball with one of Z's brothers. Tovar met Zambrano when Z was a "skinny teen." I'm not sure if this has any significance or not, but Zambrano is off to his best start ever. No word on whether Red Bull and coffee was part of Tovar's workout plan for the Baby Bull.

No Florida Recount?

Despite a technical glitch that shut down the polls a day early, the voting for week 3 has ended and the votes have been tallied. Pending any legal challenges filed by the Chad Meyers camp, Chico Walker has been named the fan favorite backup 2 sack in the 90's. Walker received over 50% of the votes, with Chad Meyers, Domingo Ramos, and Eric Yelding all receiving votes. This week, we move on to third basemen. This seems to be a much anticipated race among the loyal Towel Drill readers. Vote early, because you never know when the TD Voting Machine 3000 might go down and for some reason, major league parks haven't started distributing our ballots at games just yet.

Alfonso Soriano-The Big Pink Elephant

As the Cubs head in to the week on a off day, the big, fat, pink elephant in the middle of the room, Alfonso Soriano and his return from the DL, is coming in to focus. According to this article by Greg Couch for the Sun-Times, Sweet Lou has stated that Sorinao will in fact return to the leadoff spot at some point after he returns from the DL on Thursday. Lou says that first ''We want to make sure that he can do all the things that a leadoff hitter needs to do.'' God help us.

Lou...buddy...when has Soriano ever shown that he can do all the things a leadoff hitter needs to do? He doesn't get on base at a good enough clip, he doesn't take enough pitches or walk enough, and he doesn't change his ABs to advance runners or simply try to get on base. He has a huge, somewhat wild, rip every time he swings the bat. That is not what you want out of the one hole. The only skill that Sori ever possessed was his speed. But with last year's quad injury still lingering (and it will likely never fully heal) and now with the calf injury (which is a likely cascade injury from the quad), Sori has clearly lost that skill. He's lost a step. Actually, if you listen to Cubs 3rd base coach Mike Quade, who probably knows better than some dude "blogging" from his parent's basement, he's lost a step and a half: ''There's no question,'' Quade said, ''that he's lost a step, maybe a step and a half.''

I agree with Couch in that Sori needs to be out of the 1 hole. But I disagree that he should be moved to 6th. Soriano is too valuable a player, despite what we've read about him in the last 15 days or so, to be that far down in the lineup. Put him at 2 or 5, moving Fukudome to 2, or even at 3 and move DLee and ARam down a slot...but just don't put him at 1. The Cubs don't have a very good leadoff hitter, but some combo of ReJo, TheRiot, Cedeno, and Fontenot at 1 are serviceable and far better options for the team.

I was disappointed when I read that Lou already seems to have made up his mind here. I thought that Johnson had shown enough to deserve a shot to stay at the top of the order. It seemed like these 15 days would be the perfect time to sit The Glass Ego down and explain to him that he's hurting the team with his Little-Leagueish demand to hit leadoff, but I guess not. What do you guys think?

Geovany Soto and his Platinum Sombrero

I had to look it up. I knew that 4 strikeouts in one game earned one a "Golden Sombrero," but what about 5? In last night's 7-0 drubbing of the Nats, the Cubs first shutout of the year and an otherwise good time, Cubs catcher Geo Soto struck out 5 times in 5 ABs. That, folks, gets you a "Platinum Sombrero." The feat can also be dubbed the "Olympic Rings." And in case you're as curious as I am, striking out 6 times, a feat that has only been accomplished in extra innings games, is known as a "Horn," after Sam Horn, or the "Titanium Sombrero." God, I love baseball.

Geo is doing his best to make these Nat pitchers look decent. In his last 8, count 'em, 8 official ABs, Geo has Ked all 8 times. (He does have one BB to break that up, but BBs don't count as official ABs). I tried, and failed, to find the MLB record for most consecutive ABs or PAs where a batter struck out, but didn't have any luck. Let me know if you do. But I can tell you that Geo is in rare company with his Platinum Sombrero night. Geo is only the 48th player to accomplish 5 Ks in a single game. Only 7 batters have the distinction of the 6 K game.

I don't think anything is wrong with Geo-he's just going through a rough patch where he can't seem to make contact. Soto will likely get the day off in today's day game following the night game, and the Cubs are off on Monday, so hopefully Geo can get some extra time in the cage and be ready to go Tuesday night against the Brew Crew.

UPDATE April 28th: The Chicago media is finally catching up after Towel Drills scooped the Cubs' beat writers on the significance of Geovany Soto's "Platinum Sombrero" and 8 consecutive ABs with a K yesterday. The Muskrat gets on board here. And G-Dub has one up in the Sun-Times this morning that contains the quote below, which all but answers the question we posed yesterday:
"It was not immediately known what the record is for most consecutive at-bats by a non-pitcher with a strikeout. But Cubs pitcher Bill Hands once struck out 14 straight at-bats in 1968, one short of the major-league record held by pitchers Juan Eichelberger (1980) and Mike Thurman (1998)."
Yeah, those guys are pitchers, but 15 Ks in a row is still ridiculous isn't it?

Go Cubs Go

There's a great article in today's Daily Herald about how the Cubs new-found running game is forcing changes on our opponents and opening up the offense, despite our success rate being under 2/3rds. And a similar article here from G-dub at the Sun-Times.