Tonight's game in Milwaukee is the first time I've seen the Cubs in person this year, and man, what a difference. (This is, of course, based on tonight alone and disregards the unpleasantness earlier this week, at which I was not present). A few notes -
I can't remember who posted in the game thread that they had a man crush on Lou when he came out and tongue-lashed Dempster, but I am right there with you. It's tough to figure out where to begin, but I am going to put Rich Hill's amazing work aside for just a moment because my overwhelming impression from tonight is of an overall transformation of the team, and the appearance (tonight, at least) that everything Lou touches turns to gold.
Three examples - first, and most obviously, the overall aggressiveness in the top of the first. Bush obviously wasn't pitching terribly well tonight, but the fact that he calmed down and stayed in the game as long as he did suggests that the offense at the start of the game was not entirely caused by awful pitching. (Note also - Bush only walked one batter the whole game.) I can't remember the last time a Cubs team came out and kicked the other team around so hard, but I certainly hope they keep up the fire. (Dude). Second example - Theriot comes in to pinch run. Before I can even get his name down on my scorecard, he's flown in from second base to score on a single. Third example - Ronnie Cedeno. He comes up to pinch hit, and homers. Dude, see what happens when you make some moves?
Moving on to Rich Hill, he was indeed absolutely filthy. I was sitting behind the plate, and it seemed to me that every one of his breaking pitches was a fat target just hanging there waiting to get hit - until the very moment when it made the batter look silly. For the first inning or so, I was pretty dubious that that was going to last, but I figured out pretty fast I needed to be concentrating on appreciating the skill.
Finally, wanted to throw in a quick note on Soriano's fielding. Let me try to put your worries to at least this rest - I watched him play left field for about 60 games in DC last year, and it certainly looked to me tonight like he has only gotten better playing center. Is he perfect yet? Obviously not, but the performance notably surpassed what my practiced subconscious was expecting to see.
The game was sold out tonight (contrary to the estimate I saw earlier in the day on the tour), and it looks like we will have a similarly full house for the rest of the weekend. And what's not to like, with a comfortable playing temperature (despite the cold outside), brats, secret sauce, and a mini bobblehead? Oh, yeah, tomorrow Z is pitching against Ben Sheets.
Every game isn't going to be like tonight, but we can only hope.