April 2005 Archives for Agony & Ivy

On Greg Maddux

By JCB on Friday, April 29, 2005

Everyone is talking about Clemens and Maddux, so I thought I'd toss in a few more thoughts before the game. After all, unless these two meet up again, this could be the last time two 300-game winners meet up in this era. It seems like a good chance for a little bit of a personal narrative, because it isn't often that circumstances remind you of how important something like baseball was in your life. Baseball's deep history is unique in American sports not only because we can compare players across eras but because we can trace players across our lives.

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The Yin and the Yang

By JCB on Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Despite the title, this isn't going to be another self-indulgent column about non-western mystic philosophy. We'll only meander like that on rain outs, and maybe in the offseason. Right now, there's the matter at hand of appraising the team three weeks into the season, a team struggling through far too much of a roller coaster ride for a mere 19 games.

Over a full baseball season, things even themselves out -- things like luck and talent and skill and fortune. Having had our share of bad fortune, I think that this week is the precise moment that will define the first half of the season. If the Cubs want to feel like early contenders for a pennant, they need to scrap out 3 of the next 4. If they can't, it will be May and they will be 5 games back from St. Louis.

It starts tonight with Cincinnati.

Tuesday Marquee

All Photos by KJM.

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Rain-out Meanderings

By JCB on Saturday, April 23, 2005

Well, Destiny, we got you yesterday: even the Cubs can’t lose when it rains.

(Now, if you could just clear things up for the next few days I would appreciate it, since I’ll be at Wrigley for three of the next four, starting today in the sleet and wind. At least I won’t be stuck with Len & Bob’s broadcast.)

When it rains. "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while." Crash Davis & Ebby LaLoosh, I am thinking about that, and if you’ll bear with me a while, I’d like to meander for a bit about how baseball is where Aristotle meets non-western philosophy and mysticism, and then tie it in with some thoughts about women. It’s a meandering I’ve been meaning to write on a rain delay for a while, and this seems like the chance. Footnote 1

Actually, let’s start with women.

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Sympathy From the Devil

By JCB on Thursday, April 21, 2005

Virgil, please lead us out of this Inferno. Sometimes we feel like we're crossing through the circles of hell to the frozen lake just to meet face to face with Lucifer. I mean, I don't want to exaggerate, but it's just so brutal when the Cubs seasons are sabotaged before they ever have a chance. I'll be optimistic again by tomorrow -- don't get me wrong -- but today I'm feeling distraught. Just for a moment, I feel doubt.

I'm talking about Nomar, and I will not resort to using the C-word that rhymes with "urse" but I keep waiting for some sort of sign that this team can finally make it happen and let's just say that a groin injury to the best career hitter in the lineup is not that sign.

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Best of Game Notes Vol. 1

By JCB on Monday, April 18, 2005

Knowing that many of you don't read my Game Notes, I've decided that two weeks in I'll post a "best of Game Notes" posting. And why would you read them, unless you watched the game? They're just observations I write down while I'm keeping score, then transcribe. For this one, I went back through and picked out humorous items only. Although, looking back, do you realize Dusty has double-switched Macias into the game like 4 or 5 times already, at multiple positions? Is he trying to set some kind of double-switch record?

Also: don't forget to vote in the new poll. I opened it up to guest voting this time, although I'd love to see more people register for the forum, especially to help me out with observations in the game notes, or links in the running links.

On to the list. (Items in chronological order)

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The State of Baseball

By JCB on Sunday, April 17, 2005

To be honest, major league baseball these days has more fans than it deserves – especially fans from my generation.

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Nervously Chewing A Toothpick

By JCB on Monday, April 11, 2005

One of the funniest lines in the bleachers last Friday was in the twelfth inning, when a bleacher season ticket holder suggested that, “They need to bring Bobby Valentine back into the league so there’s at least one guy Dusty can out-manage.” That seems a bit harsh, especially since Lloyd McClendon is in the league, but on the other hand, I was the first one screaming at Dusty Baker for double-switching Nomar Garciaparra out of an extra inning game. No double-switch made sense, I said, but even if you stupidly decide to double-switch at least bring Todd Walker in for Jerry Hairston.

Seven games in, at 3-4, I have to wonder, “Do we really trust Dusty?”

(I just realized that this reads an awful lot like a Carrie Bradshaw column, leading with a quasi-hypothetical question.)

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A Baseball Town

By JCB on Sunday, April 10, 2005

After living through a weekend like this one, I can reaffirm that Chicago is definitely a baseball town. By the time the weather turned and I closed the window on the weekend -- figuratively and literally -- Friday morning seemed like weeks ago, and inbetween there has been nothing but baseball. Not just the games either, but baseball culture.

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Red Sox, Curses & Simmons

By JCB on Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Let's get one thing straight: For 86 years, the Yankees made the Red Sox their bitch. The Cubs have been nobody's bitch. Losers for 97 years yes, but never anyone's bitch, let alone for 86 years. This makes all the difference in the world.

Just in my lifetime, the Red Sox have been the Fun Boy, Skank, T-Bird and Top Dollar to New York's Eric Draven. They've been the Val Resnick to the Yankees' Porter. They've been the Detective Kujan to the Yankees' Verbal Kint: like Kint, Keyser Soze has always been one step ahead. The Cubs? More like Michael Bolton in Office Space. (PC Load Letter?!? What the #U^! does that mean?)

Keep this difference in mind.

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Quick Admin Notes

By JCB on Monday, April 4, 2005

Be sure to follow the A&I game notes! (Link is on the side.) I'll be posting something up there every day, and I'll do my best to keep it interesting, with decent observations and humor.

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Sincerely, JCB

I founded Agony & Ivy about five years ago for two reasons. First...


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