Full Moon Over Opening Day

By JCB on Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I was hoping that a full moon waiting to rise over the end of opening day would be a harbinger for strange currencies in a good way. And then it seemed like maybe it would, when the agreement for the sale of TribCo was announced. Around the Texas law school, chatter among baseball fans immediately turned to Mark Cuban’s potential ownership. Consensus: it might be kinda fun to have him own the Cubs.

But on the field, recurring problems recurred: Cubs pitchers walk too many batters, and when the team falls behind, Cubs batters swing at pitcher’s pitches early in the count. Losses follow.

When Adam Dunn looks for a fastball and gets it, you can certainly blame the pitcher especially for location, but you also gotta hand it to the guy. But the walks – those just kill me. By the time the game was seemingly decided and I shouldn’t have really cared all that much, Michael Wuertz walked Alex Gonzalez, the first man he faced, and I felt like throwing my clipboard and scorecard at the TV. They just gotta cut down on that crap if they want to win more ballgames, no? I know, it’s too early to call it a pattern, but somehow it just felt like last season, and that’s exactly the feeling I was hoping wouldn’t show up on opening day.

Plus, the only two walks the Cubs drew were 1) Derek Lee on a ball 4 that was never even thrown, a rule-induced walk where Harang licked his fingers on the mound which counts as a ball and 2) DeRosa’s walk in the fourth that came after a wild pitch left first base open with Cesar Izturis on deck – not exactly a scenario where a pitcher would want to challenge a hitter like DeRosa.

Let’s just say that’s not how we hoped opening day would go, and leave it at that then, moving on.

Dominating the chatter now is the pending team sale, and how it will affect Zambrano’s contract negotiations (as in, how it will freeze them). I couldn’t help but laugh at McDonough’s quote, saying that ''Jim and I need to dialogue a little bit more,'' seeing as how dialogue isn’t a verb. But it’s not hard to read his comments in context to see that they’re not sure if they can make a deal with Zambrano with all of this business clouding things.

Who knows though, right? It’s not like Zambrano is a bad investment. It’s not like the inevitable sale stopped them from spending a lot of money last offseason. On the other hand, business is business, and a team in the abstract may be more attractive the fewer encumbering contracts it has. Or it may be as simple as the team will be cheaper and therefore easier to buy the fewer assets it has, so that means no purchasing new assets. To me though, balancing, I would think any owner in his right mind would be more inclined to buy a team with a 5-year contract for Zambrano at market rates or below than a team without such a contract. Sometimes an expensive asset is still a good asset.

And surprisingly, there’s not much else right now. KEJ reported to me on the side that there’s a pretty weak amount of enthusiasm for the team right now, even in Wrigleyville. As in, he’s having a hard time finding people to go with him to a couple of upcoming games. I suppose everyone is taking a wait-and-see attitude, so if it turns out they’re good the bandwagon will open its doors by the time the weather is warm, but otherwise... whatever. Even the newspapers aren’t putting in all that much time or space writing about the club, it seems. Maybe the pendulum has finally swung the other way on some of that.

The easy fix is for the club to start winning games. The first month is practically all against division opponents, so April matters more than most years even. The signs on opening day weren’t good, but still – it’s only opening day. The full moon has passed, and by the time the next one rolls around, we’ll actually know something about this team. Maybe wait and see makes some sense. Same old problems? Same old reactions in fans like me? Better give it some time, I suppose.

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2007 by JCB


Joel, are you doing game notes this year?? Understand if you are not--am sure law school is hectic!


Afraid not -- not enough time. Wish I could.

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