Things I have missed lately
I haven't seen much Cubs action since the beginning of June, for various reasons. I've been drunk a few times, which is normal, not to mention the Aurora Borealis-like appearance of the World Cup on my horizon. Being a limey, it's encoded deep in my DNA that I must pay attention and watch virtually every minute, a pact that I have almost delivered on so far [except for missing the 2nd half of Poland/Ecuador, and the 1st half of Argentina/Ivory Coast].
That being said, the Cubs have "picked up their shit" lately, and I've been largely absent for most of it. I can't help but think that there is a correlation there, and so amid reasonably-spaced, breezy Cubs information, a whole heaping shitload of World Cup deliciousness will be foisted on you unfortunate lot for its duration. It's bigger than the Cubs, it's bigger than you or I, and frankly, it's bigger than the US of A. But, since June 1, I've missed some stuff. For example:
- The Cubs winning some games and playing consistently.
Since June 1, the Cubs have gone 6-4, and generally have played a lot better baseball. Outscoring opponents by the narrow margin of 42-37, our pitching has performed admirably, and several bats have been swinging in unison.
- The appearance of Carlos Marmol.
I fear the day when our seemingly endless lake of servicable, spot-starting AA-calibre pitchers will run dry, but in the interim, yet another has caught my eye. Carlos Marmol, a man from the Dominican Republic who is 4 months younger than I am [thus strengthening my depression about not making something of my life yet], has looked sensational to date, putting up the numbers we wish we'd see from Kerry or Mark -- 1-0, 10 IP, 5 H, ER, 3 BB, 13 K, .80 WHIP, .147 BAA, 0.90 ERA. Of course these figures will not last, but his command of three quality pitches might make him a key member of the ramshackle Cubs if we are to challenge for anything yet this season.
- The disappearance of Kerry Wood.
I have to wonder if his career at this level is over, as he visits the DL yet again this past week, and once again, with no classifiable injury other than "shoulder soreness". It's horribly vague, and will only serve to put Kerry Wood in that horribly vague category of players with incredible talent who faded into obscurity. His pitching was holding together [just about] over his 4 season starts in 2006 [1-2, 4.12 ERA, 19 2/3 IP, .253 BAA, 8 BB, 13 K], and yet his shoulder ultimately was not. He's a far, sad cry from the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year, and I question whether we'll see him again for any prolonged period of time in 2006. I just don't see it happening.
- Welcome, Phil Nevin.
About 5 weeks too late, the Cubs trade away Hairy Jerry and receive the wan-faced listless Phil Nevin, whose reasonable MLB career became a bit of a ping-pong ball. To clarify -- since playing 147 games for San Diego in 2004, Nevin has been traded from Texas back to San Diego in 2005 after 29 games, played 73 games for San Diego, only to be traded back to Texas in the 2005/06 offseason where he figured in 46 mediocre games [losing his spot in the TEX lineup to a rookie because Nevin couldn't hit Right-Handed Pitching!] before landing in Chicago on May 31. That, my friends, is a drama unto itself. In 7 games for the Cubbie blue, Nevin's hit two big home runs and batted .238 [5-for-21, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, BB, 4 K] so far. With latest news that Derrek Lee might start swinging a bat "as early as next week", Nevin will provide a little more pop off the bench in August and September, although you have to wonder what could have been if the Cubs hadn't tried to roll up their shirtsleeves and make do with limited resources throughout one of the worst months in recent memory [7-22 in May].
Tonight we take on Houston at home for a three-game set, and after the confidence-building 10-game road trip within our division [6-4 at St. Louis, Houston and Cincinnati], we'll see if we can keep the momentum going. In the meantime, be forewarned, as there will be daily updates regarding La Coupe du Monde, the Jules Rimet Trophy, the biggest sporting event in the world, the World Cup. I wish I was there [but I will absolutely be there in 2010, when the World Cup hits South Africa and its first time on African soil].
This Series' Bitching Pitching
HOU -- LHP Andy Pettitte [5-7, 5.81]
CHC -- LHP Sean Marshall [3-4, 4.43]
HOU -- RHP Roy Oswalt [5-3, 3.11]
CHC -- LHP Glendon Rusch [2-6, 7.29]
HOU -- RHP Fernando Nieve [2-3, 4.85]
CHC -- RHP Greg Maddux [7-5, 4.68]
Is anyone else really impressed with Sean Marshall? In 12 season starts [his first 12 starts in the major leagues, coincidentally], he's allowed 2 ER or less in 8 starts, and despite being 1-4 in his last 6 starts, we really should be giving him better run support. He's done just about everything we could have ever expected from him, and he's only got a 3-4 record. Not to worry, I expect a victory this evening against Tutti Frutti Pettitte.