Friday Afternoon Meanderings

By JCB on Friday, April 18, 2008

I haven't been able to watch the games this week. Today, though, I'm taking a break to watch the game and let my mind wander through everything Cubs. Here, then, is a collection of mid-April meanderings jotted as I watch.

Editor's Note: If you watch the games on DVR or something, and you subscribe to Agony & Ivy's RSS or Atom feed, don't read any more until later! There's spoilers.

On the offensive t-shirts

So, has everyone heard about the t-shirts being sold outside Wrigley Field by now?

It's arrogant and insensitive to comically characterize another race for a cheap laugh. It's one thing to impersonate an individual who happens to be of another race--also potentially offensive, but not necessarily, if you tread the line carefully, in very limited contexts. (In this case, I think it would be equally offensive if there was a picture of Fukudome's face with the "Horry Kow" lettering. There's no way to avoid crossing the line, especially since Fukudome has done nothing to deserve derision.) But, to demean an entire culture?

I'm not going to go so far as to say that Japanese players breaking into the major leagues is as monumental as when Jackie Robinson broke in 61 years ago. I will go so far as to say that it goes to show that for all the progress we've made in 61 years, a lot of our culture still has a long way to go. It's not that far for the arrogance of humor to devolve into the arrogance of cruelty; to go from thinking it's alright to portray someone like this to thinking they deserve it. Heaven help us.

Cubs fans especially should respect Fukudome, appreciate the way he plays the game, and do our best to help him navigate our foreign culture. He's giving us his best. Does he not deserve the same?

On Respect

Even as I just wrote this, Fukudome triples to center. (Man, he's good.) As McLouth chased the ball down, a bleacher member poured a beer over the fence, and almost drenched McLouth. It touches on a similar vein: how can people not respect the game of baseball enough not to do this? Men play this game not only to entertain fans but to make a great living, and to participate in the tradition, a cultural institution. Fans have no right to do something like pour a beer at an opponent.

On Alfonso Soriano

All season, I thought something was off with Soriano. Either he wasn't hustling, or he was not 100% healthy. There were several plays in several games--like the one where the ball got past him after bouncing off the left field foul wall, and a gapper that he should have been able to cut it off, and a flare that was past Theriot that I thought he should have gotten to and caught--where he did not look like himself. Now, I wonder whether it's been health all season. I realize it's been the hamstring that's been reportedly bugging him in the past, and it's the calf that's strained, but still. Maybe favoring the hamstring led to tweaking the calf, or maybe the calf's been bothering him and we just didn't know about it. I guess it doesn't really matter, except to say that I hope whatever it is, I hope he's able to fully recuperate, and that we won't see little plays like we did early on that looked like half-efforts.

On Bob Brenly

Is there anyone better than Bob at over-explaining an obvious point? Like his exposition on outfielders breaking in their gloves compared to infielders last weekend? I was watching the game Saturday with AWL, and as Bob started in on how to bend the fingers of a glove, I said to him, "Here we go, a classic Brenly..." and Bob proceeded to go on, and on, and on...and on... Gotta love it. It's a long season, but there's no one like Bob at filling in the dead spots. As for Len? When Bob finished, he just deadpanned: "Good stuff." Nicely done.

On Daryl Ward

Someone needs to remind Ward not to pull everything. He's been trying to pull outside pitches and rolling them over to the right--the surest sign of a slump that there is. Today he lofted a low ball to the opposite field, so maybe that's an improvement, but still--he doesn't look like himself up there right now. And the Cubs are going to need him even more as they get into games against teams like the Mets, where I expect they'll be in close games and need to pinch hit for pitchers.

On Rich Hill

I was kind of hoping they would let Blanco catch Rich Hill today instead of Soto. The first few times out, it's been obvious that Rich Hill doesn't trust his fastball. What was worse is that a week ago, Soto didn't seem to realize this, and was calling for fastballs in counts where there was no room for error. I'm not saying it's Soto's fault that Hill has pitched poorly. I just thought that maybe Blanco could help Hill regain his confidence more quickly by guiding him through the early part of the counts.

Today, though, Soto did fine, and so did Hill.

On Kerry Wood

There are certain instincts you just can't teach, like when Kerry Wood took a bunt and threw to second to get the lead runner. It's one of those plays you hate a player to make...unless he makes it. I don't know how long it will take for Kerry Wood to become comfortable as a closer. So far, every scenario is still new. Sooner or later, they'll start to become familiar, and that's when we'll really know just how good he can be. But with instincts like that, and a blazing fastball and plenty of breaking stuff, I'm feeling awful excited about the second half of the season for number 34.

On Ronny Cedeño

From BMK: "why did they take the tilde off of ronny cedeño's jersey?"

Whatever's on his jersey, I don't trust him in a clutch moment yet.

On Eric Patterson (Or Rather, On Not Matt Murton or Sam Fuld)

A week and a half ago BMK also said: "bring back Sam Fuld." As Soriano got hurt, I thought they might. Then I remembered Matt Murton, and thought, "Nevermind." Instead of either, though, it's Eric Patterson.

Why? It's curious. Well, maybe not with respect to Fuld--he's 2 for 20 down at AAA. But why not Murton?

Murton & Fuld are both on the 40 man roster. It's not an options thing for either one of them. As long as they're both on the 40 man roster, they can come and go between AAA and the Cubs all season this season.

Back to basics: it seems like if an outfielder goes down, you might want to bring up an outfielder. Patterson and DeRosa can play the outfield and second in conjunction, but they're less natural. Is it all to make room for Fontenot to get some at bats? Doesn't seem like it. Is it because they need more options to hit leadoff? Is it because they're trying to work with Pie, and because Reed Johnson is also producing? All of these? I suppose any or all of them can explain it, but I can't see any of this outweighing the offensive production the Cubs can get from Murton in left field. What it comes down to is that I do not expect Patterson to produce as much as Murton would.

Murton, by the way, is hitting .317 in 41 at bats for Iowa, but curiously all his hits have been singles (and he's drawn 10 walks).

On Fan Cam Being Especially Weak This Season

What's up with that?

Cubs win!

1-2-3- for Kerry Wood, and that's that.

Posted Friday, April 18, 2008 by JCB


i know we are way into the season and this is my first stop at agony & ivy but... you must be working way to hard because your writing isn't up to date!? or maybe you're on the quest for the holy grail? hopefully its just a flesh wound.

i've been watching more games since i am now working morning shift. good times since my brother-in-law, wisconsin born cheesehead brewer fan, is living with me temporarily. im on the fukudome wagon as i fed my ebay addiction by buying a fukudome jersey, "horry kow" shirt, and bleacher tickets to the may 27th game vs the dodgers (fukudome bobblehead night). i wore the jersey to the game and people were asking me where i got it. it was a memorable night since erin, my wife, and i each received our fukudome bobbleheads, sat in the right field bleachers, and chanted FU-KU-DO-ME as we wore multiple layers of clothes on a 40 degree night.

before we went to the game erin asked if i was going to wear my jersey or my "horry kow" shirt. i told her i'd be wearing the jersey. i thought about the "horry kow" shirt and figured some people would have a negative feeling toward it. when i bought it, i didn't think of it that way. i just wanted it because it was something Fukudome related and probably going to be limited; like the Fukudome bobblehead (if you don't have a Fukudome bobblehead ~ $60 on ebay). so i hope i'm not going to burn for my fanatic purchase.

i'd like to see a post relating to jim edmonds: cardinal for life or welcome to wrigley? either way, i love it since i know many cardinal fans.

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