Go Figure

Weren't we just talking about this the other day?

I'll say it again:

Any time anyone tells you they've got this game figured out, laugh in their faces.

The Vegas sports books must have taken a bath today on this one -- perhaps the best pitcher in the AL, trying to become the first ten-game winner, against a guy with no wins and an ERA near seven.

The Cubs shut out the Blue Jays 2-0 this afternoon, but that's not the real story... the real story, of course, is the guy with the painted-on goatee, Sergio Mitre. He dropped his ERA by two full runs, from 6.88 to 4.88, and picked up his first win of the year.

Just how dominant was he?

  • he retired the first thirteen batters he faced;
  • he had fifteen outs on ground balls, and, further...
  • except for Reed Johnson's line-drive single to right-center in the sixth, no one hit the ball out of the infield. The other hit was a grounder to third that Aaron Hill just barely beat out; there was one walk and the other six outs, of the twenty-one that Mitre retired, were strikeouts.
Not even Carlos Zambrano's two one-hit performances this year were quite as dominant.

Oh, and for good measure Mitre doubled in the only run he'd need, after another double by Todd Hollandsworth. Then Corey Patterson singled in Mitre for the second and last run.

Talk about the downtrodden rising up.

Jeff, Howard and I spent the day with Kurt Evans of Cub Fan Nation and Goat Riders Of The Apocalypse and his girlfriend Carolyn, who made the trip in from, of all places, Toronto, where they now live.

Kurt's a perfect example of the first generation that grew up watching the Cubs on cable on WGN, back in the day when you could watch 140 or more games a year. He grew up in western New York state. He's never lived in Chicago. And yet, he's just as devoted a Cub fan as those of us who live within shouting distance of the ballpark. His blog name (wish I had thought of it first!) is a perfect example of what we are -- yes, we are a nation. We're everywhere.

As he mentioned over at Goat Riders, he brought the Zambran-O-Meter sign with him -- this was invented when Z, in a silly moment, said the Cubs would win 120 games this year.

Better get on the stick on that, right, Z? Anyway, the sign shows Z with his laser heat-ray eyes heating up a thermometer-like object which now registers 31 wins. It looks very much like this, in fact:


(It now also says: co-sponsored by www.bleedcubbieblue.com.)

Kurt left it with me and I'll do my best to update it and display it in the bleachers on appropriate occasions. Kurt and Carolyn also brought a sign reading "M-V-Lee", which they'll be showing off in section 237 on Friday. If you see them there, take one of the BCB cards I gave to them to distribute.

I knew it'd be a good day today when I managed to squeeze my car into a parking space that was almost exactly the same length as the car itself. Even better, after the game when I returned, the car behind me had left, making it easy to get out.

You're probably wondering why I'm not saying that much more about the game -- well, there's really not that much more to tell. It was hot and sticky, and we watched towering thunderstorm clouds build up all afternoon and then miss the ballpark to the north and east, and if Ryan Dempster hadn't issued a walk and given up a single in the ninth, the game would have been even faster than the speedy two hours and fifteen minutes it took.

In twelve relief appearances covering thirteen innings, including today, Dempster has allowed 11 hits, three walks, four runs (only two in the last 11 of those appearances), has struck out ten, blown one save (got the win that day in extra innings), and saved seven.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have found ourselves a closer. The biggest worry about Dempster was his propensity to give up too many walks, but this hasn't been an issue at all. Today's base on balls was the first one he's given up in his last eight appearances.

Thus, the somewhat curious Phillies-Tigers trade today, in which the Tigers received Placido Polanco (good! this means the Cubs won't get him!) and gave up to Philly Ugueth Urbina, means the Cubs won't necessarily run out and grab Billy Wagner, if the Phillies are even considering putting him on the market. Incidentally, ex-Cub Ramon Martinez also went to the Phillies in this deal.

Which leads me to a trade I might consider pursuing, if I'm Jim Hendry. Even after Corey Patterson's RBI single today (the rest of his at-bats were the usual -- two swinging strikeouts and a weak groundout), I'd still consider trading him, and getting a stopgap till Felix Pie is ready (ETA, in my opinion, no earlier than 2007).

Think outside the box for a moment. The Reds are probably about to have a fire sale. You'd have to give up too much to get Adam Dunn. How about Ken Griffey Jr.?

No, I'm serious. He's healthy -- has played in 52 of the Reds' 57 games -- is hitting well (9 HR, 38 RBI, pretty good considering the rest of the Reds' offense), and can still play a good center field. The Cubs could probably get him without having to give up anybody of any import -- well, I suppose they'd have to send Patterson in return, but isn't that the point? -- as long as they assumed the contract.

Yes, I know Griffey's brittle. Yes, I know the contract calls for payments till the year 2176 or something like that.

But this would be a bold statement, a bold move, something that says, YES, we want to win now -- and right there you've got a guy who could step in to the #3 slot in the batting order. He could play CF this year and next, then slide over to LF for the year or two after that when Pie is ready.

Opinions welcome.

Finally, there were two guys at the game last night who I forgot to mention -- sitting in the front row waving a Canadian flag. I think they were confused -- one of them was wearing an Expos cap.

Anyway, Jeff said they spotted the two of them driving by the park before the gates opened in an RV, waving brooms out the window. Tim from LF yelled at them, "Good luck parking that thing!"

They weren't seen in the bleachers today, so maybe they've been driving around the city looking for parking. Say, in case you guys are reading this: your team lost and they wouldn't have let you bring the brooms in.

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