The Ordinary Wizarding Levels of Milton Bradley & the 2009 Chicago Cubs

We (dtpollitt n SWL) have collaborated to discuss the fantastic Chicago Cubs 2009 season. Some might akin this to Simmons' mailbag, others, rubbish. Modeled (a bit) after Joe Posnanksi & Bill James'email-exchanges-turned-columns, we've attempted summarize all things Cubs, BCB, and...........................Harry Potter.

Grab a Jimmy Johns, a big slurpee from 7-11 and read more, below the fold (I've always wanted to say that).

Basically SWL (Chad) and I (Dan) have worked on this FanPost off and on since the middle of August. Yup, we're that cool. We've emailed back and forth, chatted online, recruited some BCBers you may know, and generally wasted hours upon hours finding pointless links and facts for you to get your post-World Series baseball fix. There are A LOT of links (and in SWL's case, questionable images) here, so if you don't know how your browser's tab function works, now's the time to ask for tech support help. All links should be ours (not that annoying SBN auto-tab feature), open in a new window, and we're hoping this wastes an entire workday morning, or at least a long session on the toilet with your iPhone (formatted for SBN Mobile).

Why Harry Potter, you ask? Who the hell knows. I talk all the time about the books with students I work with, Chad apparently has real-life children (as you'll see), and I see no better way to sum up the ridiculousness of the 2009 season than to use imaginary wizards.

Okay, we're grading the 2009 Chicago Cubs (and Milton Bradley) on the Ordinary Wizarding Levels (O.W.L.s):

a subject-specific test taken during Hogwarts students' fifth year, administrated by the Wizarding Examinations Authority. The score made by a student on a particular O.W.L. determines whether or not he or she will be allowed to continue taking that subject in subsequent school years.

First, we need to understand a bit more about O.W.L.s. What exams are given, you ask?

Charms; Transfiguration; Herbology; Defence Against the Dark Arts; Study of Ancient Runes; Potions; Care of Magical Creatures; Astronomy, Divination, & Arithmancy; History of Magic; and Muggle Studies.

And what grades can we receive?

Outstanding; Exceeds Expectations; Acceptable; Poor; Dreadful; and Troll.

Let's start with an easy one, Care of Magical Creatures. On May 27, Carlos Zambrano threw a decent game--2 ER, 6.1 IP. However, after this wild pitch, ejection of Z and by Z, our magical creature The Gatorade Machine was annihilated. Exhibit A and B:


From our own eye-witness reporter, Sarah Spain, came this video update. Alas, after a repair by the Gatorade/Magical Creatures Caretaker, the Gatorade Machine was released into the wild.

Care of Magical Creatures, Carlos Zambrano: Dreadful
So, SWL, there we have it. We've started off with a failure of epic proportions. I bet it took quite the abdominal muscles to beat the crap outta that creature, good think Big Z has the strength. What says you for Defence Against the Dark Arts?

PS - Sarah, call me.


Defence Against the Dark Arts, also known as D.A.D.A., is a class taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that focuses on defensive techniques to block spells, charms, curses, hexes and jinxes cast by other wizards and witches, counteract the Dark Arts, and to protect from dark magical beasts and creatures such as the Boggart. As such, we need to look at the people that excel at this, as well as the ones that don't.

Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have no doubt been one of the better performers in this category for some time. One only needs to look at the steady, plodding way each goes about his business to see that no "curse", for lack of a better term, has affected them. Crane Kenney on the other hand has not fared so well when attempting to overcome the nefarious arts.

Some other persons of note are Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley. Soriano, aka "The best left fielder in the game", has obviously been under some type of hex this season. We cannot know the full extent to which he has been afflicted because, according to his agent, Alfonso requires at least a 6 month notice before he will submit to any palm reading, fortune telling, seances or MRIs. Milton Bradley has shown marked improvement in his D.A.D.A., he still has some work to do, but after some stumbles out of the gate he's seemed to have found the inner strength to overcome the early doldrums that were plaguing him. We knew all along that Milton wanted this aspect of his training to improve, and knowing that he wanted his D.A.D.A. was enough for most of us to remain patient and root for him to succeed.

Ryan Theriot is scheduled to repeat this course for the 2nd time and has been registered for the summer session.

Defence Against the Dark Arts:

  • Derrek Lee: Outstanding
  • Aramis Ramirez: Outstanding
  • Crane Kenney: Dreadful
  • Alfonso Soriano: Poor
  • Milton Bradley: Acceptable
  • Ryan Theriot: Troll

So, Dan, that's my take. I live in anticipation of your thorough analysis of the Study of Ancient Runes.


Bloody hell, thanks a lot, SWL, you wanker. I have no idea what the Study of Ancient Runes is, and frankly, nobody else does either, except Hermione Granger, who excels at O.W.L.s and bailing Harry Potter out of every damn year of Hogwarts. Seriously, if it wasn't for Hermione, the Harry Potter series woulda turned into Twilight. Oh, and speaking of Emma Watson, this:


Well, I can tell you who's failing the Study of Ancient Runes, the Chicago Cubs, that's who. I'm gonna go ahead and give out our grade ahead of time:

Study of Ancient Runes, The Chicago Cubs Organization: Inappropriate Spam Trolling.

Why, you BCBer you, do the Cubbies deserve a failing grade in Ancient Runes? Because this team still operates like its 1909, not a contending team in 2009 and beyond. Specifically, our organization is poorly run and managed, fans act like they're at US Cellular and not Wrigley Field, and there is little, if any, perspective for the future of this team's success. Taking a note from Mr. Meta BCB himself Al Yellon:

1 - Ancient Management

Management of this team starts with not with those atop the Wizard Hat, but those in the trenches: front office personnel, trainers training how to eat properly, and damnit, scouts. Mr. Yellon claims we have the second-smallest front-office staff in baseball, and other sources have backed-up the claim. Here's a fun exercise! Get your mouse ready, and click:

Look at our front office, specifically the scouting department. And look at the Cardinals. Or the Red Sox. Or the Dodgers. How is it that the team with the third largest payroll in baseball has the smallest infrastructure? Is this any way to run a business? Maybe we need more Under Armour ads.

2 - Ancient Fans

Douche bags--and I don't use that term lightly--like this guy, Johnny Macchione:


have turned the worst perceptions of Cubs' fans into reality. Chicago Cubs fans are amongst the best: We are knowledgeable, faithful and loyal, passionate, and above all, respectful for the game of baseball. We are not White Sox fans. Granted, White Sox fans are excellent fans too, but one rotten egg can truly destroy years of respectability [Editor's note: Big ups to my bro Crawdad]. We are not cave men. Get drunk at the game, hell, I'm drinking some Jameson right now, but please, do so in the best interest of your team, fellow fans, and the organization. You do, whether you believe it or not, represent all of us.

3 - Ancient Perspective

Have you been to Cot's Baseball Contracts, SWL? It is glorious. It's like Weasleys'Wizard Wheezes for baseball nerds, only replace the love potions for no-trade clauses and back-loaded contracts. If management did a better job of scouting, player, and personnel development, maybe we wouldn't have contract's like Jeff Samardzija's 5 year, $10M contract with a NTC attached. Or signing Aaron Miles, at all, ever. Or owing Soriano 5 years and $90M after this season. Plenty of examples to use here.

Now, don't get me wrong, signing players to long-term contracts is a good thing; we have Lee, Aramis, Lilly, and Harden because of excellent trades and/or signings. But using your pocket book as your only source of player development is both empty (in terms of in-house loyalty and development) and we run into a situation we will have in 2010 and beyond. We will have very, very expensive contracts like Zambrano, Soriano, Dome, or Bradley that not only may be ill-equipped to best help this team, but block younger players from making the jump to the big leagues. [LIKE HOFFPAUIR - SWL EDITOR'S NOTE] As some have stated on BCB, the "window" for winning a World Series with this team personnel may be swiftly closing.

Again, I repeat:

Study of Ancient Runes, The Chicago Cubs Organization: Inappropriate Spam Trolling.

Okay, SWL, it's time to get a bit more lively in here. Transfiguration, or the art of changing one's appearance, seems to be an O.W.L. Geovany Soto excels at. Any other significant transfigurations from the 2009 Chicago Cubs seasons you would care to highlight?


Oh, wait, I just got our first question in, from dat cubfan daver:

Why don't you guys Twitter?

I'll let you take this tweet.


Let me first address Mr. Daver's question. I do in fact have a Twitter account, but I only set it up so that I could update my Facebook page while on vacation this summer in Orlando because my mobile updates from my phone to my Facebook page don't always work and sometimes you REALLY need to let all of your Facebook friends know that you're going to go see Transformers 2 and then go swimming. Dan has a Twitter account, but he's too shy to tell anyone what it is, plus, he only reposts whatever Steve Stone posts and adds "in accordance to the prophecy" at the end.

Now let's get back to the next topic, talking about Transformers.....I mean Transfiguration. Sorry.

Webster's defines Transfiguration as:

1 a : a change in form or appearance : metamorphosis;b: an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change;2 :a Christian feast that commemorates the transfiguration of Christ on a mountaintop in the presence of three disciples and that is observed on August 6 in the Roman Catholic and some Eastern churches and on the Sunday before Lent in most Protestant churches.

For the sake of all our sanity and to respect Al's guidelines for this site, I will limit my comments and analysis to definition 1a. We begin....

I will forgo the obligatory reference to Soto and jump right to the guy you're all thinking of when you think of "metamorphosis"....Aaron Miles.

Here are some numbers: .317 .355 .398 .753

Here are some different ones: .281 .322 .356 .678

And here are some more: .176 .218 .236 .454

Notice some things about these three sets of numbers? Yes, each set is smaller than the previous one. Those are Aaron Miles' BA, OPB, SLG, and OPS. The first set are his 2008 stats followed by his career average, and finally his 2009 stats (as of 8-30-09). Just looking at the last set makes me want to climb a tree and barf on unsuspecting passersby. The guy has been a serviceable middle infielder every single year of his career. Not great, not terrible, but a decent enough player that could be effective in a platoon situation and could help you as a backup if an injury were to leave you shorthanded. Every. Single. Year. Except. This. One.

2009 has seen Aaron Miles change into something the likes of which none of us may ever see again in our lifetime, and I pray that we never will. His utterly shocking about-face from what we should have expected was so bad that the mere mention of his name in the starting lineup immediately made most of us expect the worst from the entire team that day. That's in irrational reaction to one player being in the starting 9 of a baseball game, but that's what Aaron Miles' transfiguration did to us.

Some of you may have expected to see Milton Bradley mentioned here, but you shouldn't have.

The other person to have seemingly changed a great deal is Louis Victor Piniella.

Last year saw the 2008 Chicago Cubs do all sorts of wonderful, unexpected good things on a baseball field. Their manager got a lot of the credit for the "turnaround" we all witnessed. 2009 has seen the Chicago Cubs do all sorts of terrible, unexpected bad things on a baseball field. Their manager has taken a lot of blame for the "whatever the hell you call what is happening to this team this year." Some of the credit he got in 2008 was deserved and some of the blame he's getting in 2009 is deserved. Let's see what the difference has been between this and last year.

Lou Piniella has a reputation as a "hot head" or an "intense, fiery personality" when it comes to managing baseball teams. We got glimpses of that last year. This year has been marked by a noticeable lack of any emotion whatsoever. Instead of the angry, scowling Lou after the team turns in an all too common uninspiring game, we're treated to a calm, head bobbing introspective Lou. Instead of seeing a player (Cedeno/Pie) who makes mistake after mistake with the bat or glove getting sent into Lou's "dog house", we see that same player (Fontenot, Miles, 1st half LH hitting Bradley, Soriano) get to play themselves out of their "slump". What's behind the more patient, calmer, "I'm OK you're OK" Lou? Who knows. I'm just disappointed that he couldn't have picked a worse season to go "Cerrano from Major League 2" on us [Dan's note: I love President Palmer!].

These two guys are NOT the only reason 2009 has been a huge under performing disappointment so far, but their stories are just the bookends to the mess that this team has been. I close this section of the FanPost a sadder man for having to have thought and typed about it.

Transfiguration, Aaron Miles & Lou Piniella: To the Pain

Dan, please make the next topic more lighthearted and jovial, or at least include pictures of Erin Andrews.


Herbology, Geovany Soto: Outstanding, A+, 10/10, 4 stars

Herbology deals with plants and fungi. This one's a no brainer. Geovany Soto wins the Triple Crown of Herbology this year, with slash stats of .420/.420/1.420. He had 420 hits this year...har har har. Get it? Hits? His OPS+ was an incredible 420+, his WAR, 4.20, and his weight gain, an incredible 42.0 lbs. in 2009. Good job, GeoSoto, yous got the mojo in two-oh-oh-nine-oh. And for the record, Geovany Soto is 2/2 with 2 R, 2 H, 2 BB, and 2 RBI on 4/20 for his career. You be the judge.

Also, Moises Alou still pees on his hands.


SWL and I have recruited one of the finest of our fellow BCBers, ballhawk. You may know him as "The Crazy Guy That Catches Homers Outside of Wrigley", but here we just call him...ballhawk. If I wasn't such an over-obsessive fan writing on a Cubs blog about imaginary wizards and baseball players I'll never meet, maybe I'd have some time to get outside and catch baseballs, too. Onward!

FIrst, let's selectively quote ballhawk:

First let me say that when using Harry Potter (or Star Trek, Star Wars, LOTR, etc.), you always run the risk of some know-it-all geek getting in your face and pointing out the most minuteness of deviation from the authentic storyline.

I don't think we have to worry about that here. Everybody knows we're all saber magicians anyway:


P.S. - Oh by the way - this all takes place at Wrigwarts, right?

Thaaaat's not funny, ballhawk. HOGWARTS. Like this:


Okay, Ken's gonna guest lecture on the O.W.L. "Astronomy, Divination, & Arithmancy", but SWL is the smartest saber magician this side of the Mason Dixion line, so he'll tackle the math one. Astronomy deals with planets or something, but it's best known to Muggles as the death site of Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (sniffle). Divination, I have no idea what that is. Without further ado, ballhawk:

Astronomy has been a required course at Wrigwarts since August 8, 1988 and is currently being taught by Professor Matt Sinistra. Players are required to provide their own telescope, which has led to many controversies in years past. Sammy Sosa was suspended after he was found to have inserted extra lenses in his telescope. And Moises Alou was known to "mark" his telescope to prevent others from using it.

Perhaps most famously, the late great Professor Arne Harris was constantly reprimanded by Dumbledore for holding secret classes outside the normal schedule and instructing students on using their telescopes to zoom in on the crowds at Quidditch matches.

The 2009 course objective was simple: chart the skies and figure out how to get to the Rings (of Saturn). While a few Cubs (DLee, ARam) did their best, many others spent more time with their telescopes focused on Uranus, with the media muggles there to report on every misstep. And poor Mike Fontenot was relegated to the corner of the classroom after he was found studying Pluto - evidently he empathized with Pluto being picked on just because it wasn't as big as the other planets.

Ryan Dempster: Exceeds Expectations (proved the North Star was actually named after a hockey team)
Ted Lilly: Outstanding (carryover from last year's demonstration of the Big Bang theory on that muggle Molina)
Sam Zell: Troll (constantly referred to Matt Sinistra as the ASStronomy Professor)
Ryan Theriot: Poor (kept changing all the star charts to say ORyan's Belt)

We'll get to ballhawk's thoughts on Divination a bit later.


Arithmancy is a branch of magic concerned with the magical properties of numbers. I hate Harry Potter.

Numbers can mean all kinds of things. Take the number 101 for example, you all know exactly what that number means. You all instantly got a picture in your mind when you read that number, just like when you read the number 1060. Some numbers can have multiple meanings, like 21 or 17 or 69. Let's look back at the numbers that defined the 2009 season, and the magical properties they had.

#1 - The Loneliest Number. Worn by a man that we we're hoping would give us a full year of production this time. The good news is, he hasn't completely disappeared at the plate in the second half this year. The bad news is, he won't end up with much better numbers than last year. This isn't because he's been awful this year. He didn't have a great first half, but he's put up solid #'s in the second. It's almost like last year reversed. If we could magically take his 1st half of last year and 2nd half of this one, he'd look like this - .287/.391/.440 that's a an OPS of .831. That would be a great leadoff hitter huh? Now what does this all mean? Hell if I know, we can only cross our fingers and hope he can put 2 good halves together next year I guess. That, and pray the manager will let him leadoff for more than 2 weeks at a time.

#2 - Ryan Theriot. Milton Bradley's spot in the batting order. Poop. Lt. Commander Data. Dr. Evil's right hand man.

#3 through 6 are not covered in this manual, please contact your local BCB service center for questions regarding these numbers.


.500 - search BCB for all posts by BLou with this number to understand it's meaning.

.254 - Who can guess what this number is? Probably nobody. That's the 2009 Cubs team batting average as of 9-12-09. That's good for a share of 26th place in MLB, yes our offense has been about the same as the Pittsburgh Pirates. Guh.

50 - The number of games Aramis Ramirez missed with a dislocated shoulder. Little did we know that May 9th was the beginning of the end. Last year we had a player that would have simply played a majority of those 50 games and given us reasonable production with acceptable defense. This year we got to see Fontenot, Scales, Miles, and Fox play 3rd base while Ramirez was hurt. Fontenot wasn't a stiff defensively, but it exposed him for what he is...a backup player. Bobby Scales achieved folk hero status, and Miles just did what he had previously....sucked. Fox is really the only player to actually contribute something in Rammy's place, and of course Lou didn't let that happen until the middle of JUNE.

845,000,000,000 - No, it's not the combined number of times Ryan Theriot has double clutched in his life. That is the estimated amount of American Dollars the Ricketts family agreed to pay the Tribune Co. for this mess we watched this year. Suckers.

Arithmancy, Chicago Cubs: 845,000,000,060.754

Dan, let's dive back into some email take this ones from sue369:

Don't you two have anything better to do?

It's all yours Dan.


No, sue369, not really. My other option is to complete my dissertation and join the real world as a professor or researcher; this seems like a much more logical solution. Just for that, I wish Iowa the worst of luck [Footnote: Less than 36 hours after I wrote this, Iowa lost.]. What's the quote atop the BCB banner in the off-season? I think it goes something like this, no?

Lloyd: What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me... ending up together?
Mary: Well, Lloyd, that's difficult to say. I mean, we don't really...
Lloyd: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
Mary: Not good.
Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million.
Lloyd: So you're telling me there's a chance... *YEAH!*

The parallels are astounding. There's a chance we're gonna win sooner rather than later, right? All's I know ilast time we made the playoffs I woke up like this and my nostrils still sting. We've been swept our last two playoff series. The Cardinals were swept (with Wainwright and Carpenter!) this year. Can you believe that in the last three years, the ONLY DAMN TEAM TO WIN A PLAYOFF GAME IN THE NL CENTRAL HAS BEEN THE BREWERS?! THE BREWERS! YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! The Brewers constantly feel like a little annoying brother I cannot get rid of nor legally kill. For no other reason than my enjoyment:


Facebook update: Emelie and Allie just poked us on Facebook, SWL. Worf just gave us a cake for our birthdays, and Doggie Stalker wrote on our wall and just asked if we want to bid on some stupid Maddux jersey on eBay. And I'm almost out of Jameson. Fix this crap.


Get ready, because I'm about to fix the hell out of this crap.

Charms & Potions - These two generic terms are somewhat ambiguous, but for our purposes we will discuss them in relation to the teams injuries and chemistry.

Injuries - Getting hurt is part of life. Baseball is a game played in real life. Baseball players get hurt. See the logic? However, this is the Chicago Cubs, these baseball players don't just "get hurt"...they find newer and more ridiculous ways to both do it and reasons to play through it.

The 2009 Chicago Cubs broke came out of camp and began the season with the following starting pitching rotation:

  • Carlos Zambrano
  • Ryan Dempster
  • Ted Lilly
  • Rich Harden
  • Sean Marshall

Four of these guys were on the DL at least once during the season and Marshall only started 9 games (8 in the first half). That's pretty messed up for a Major League team to endure. On the mildly dim side, this did lead to the team discovering that a guy they had drafted and lost and then gotten back as a rule 5 guy from the Blue Jays could actually pitch pretty effectively. Heck, you could make a good arguement that Randy Wells was the ace of this staff. Think he even sniffs The Show if our starters play an injury free season? I know, Harden practically insures that's a statistical impossiblity, but you get the point.

Carlos Zambrano, if it's not his shoulder, it's his back. If it's not his back, it's his hamstring. If it's not his hamstring, it's his temper. He's built like an NFL Linebacker, but his brain seems to operate like a defensive tackle. We're all still waiting for the season in which he thinks better than he pitches. If and when that happens, he'll win the Cy Young award going away.

Ryan Dempster is a good Major League starting pitcher. When he's on, he commands a plus 2-seam fastball and sinker, when he's not on he leaves pitches up in the zone and fans get souviners. Dempster had such a fantastic career year in 2008 that most of us were expecting to see some kind of regression this year. We did. However, it wasn't just a case of Ryan performing back to his career norms. He had to deal with an infant daughter being hospitalized, and those of you who have kids can understand how something like that could affect you at work. The fact he took the ball every 5th day during this ordeal was more impressive to me, as a father of 3, than the numbers he put up. Now about his injury...he could have broken his toe in a home plate collision barreling over a catcher to score a run, or he could have broken it fouling off a tough inside pitch on an full count and worked a BB to move the runner at 1st into scoring position for the top of the order, or he could have broken it giving a druken Sox fan a roundhouse kick...alas...he broke it jumping over the dugout railing while celebrating beating the Brewers.

On May 18th 2009 Ted Lilly was placed on the 15 day DL due to a "shoulder impingement", and behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Also, kittens died.


Harden...he only needs 3 more days on the DL to make it an even 400 for his career.

Aramis Ramirez is the gas that the offense runs on. He dislocated his shoulder and the team tried to run on bio-diesel for a month and a half. It didn't work.

Derrek Lee should invest one of those massage chairs from The Sharper Image and sit in it between innings instead of the hard wooden benches in the dugouts. He was "day to day" five times last year with "neck spasms".

Milton Bradley was never put on the disabled list in 2009. This is not only remarkable, but somewhat disheartening because if he had been DL'd instead of just listed as "Day to Day" SIX times, he might have gotten a break from baseball long enough to come back and start fresh at some point. Instead he played a lot, and walked a lot, and heard negative stuff a lot, and got out slugged by Reed Johnson, Bobby Scales, Sam Fuld and Carlos Zambrano a lot.

Geovany Soto did go on the DL with an oblique strain. The running joke for 2009 would read something like this: He's switched his primary care physician to a guy in San Fransisco and he's been taking his perscriptions for pain 4 times a day with food. -- Ha ha ha. Not funny. Soto was supposed to be a force in the lineup we could count on for 20 HRs and some timely hits. He came to the team from the WBC overweight (according to some) and with a slow bat. Then he lost the starting job to Koyie Hill, which was like a starting SS getting replaced by Ryan Theriot in the late innings for defense. Another piece of the team we thought was going to give us decent to above average production...gone.

Aaron Miles went on the DL. Then for some unexplainable reason Hendry decided to activate him and Lou decided to start using him again. I don't want to talk about it.

Alfonso o man. Most of us were perfectly willing to accept the fact that he was going to have some cold spells and frustrate us with lots of K's now and then. We could accept it because in between those times he hits the ever loving cheese out of the ball. 2009 was missing the cheese hitting. There were a couple glimmers of hope from Soriano during the season, but they were only glimmers. He stunk. Lou couldn't explain it, Gerald Perry probably got fired because of it, and we had another virtual automatic out in the lineup to go along with Miles. Yea us! Only at the bitter end of this nightmare did we learn that Alfonso had been playing on one knee for most of the year. The question I want answered is, who knew this and when did they know it? I'd like at least one head to roll for the galactically stupid decision to keep playing him when they knew he was hurt. And since we're granting wishes, after that, I'd like a lifetime supply of bacon and this in my bedroom.

So to summarize, virtually all our starting rotation was hurt during the season, our two biggest bats were MIA for extended periods of time, our biggest FA aquisition never got going and had nagging leg/hip/knee stuff all year long. How the hell did we win 83 games?

I'm sure some other people got hurt and I probably left out someone very important, but this is Dan and mine's FanPost, so go make your own to whine about whoever I forgot about.

Chemistry - Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble. That pretty much sums up 2009 from a team chemistry standpoint. You look at the team that won 90-something games last year and you think, what did those guys have that these guys don't? The quick answer is: a healthy Armais Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano, but this is the chemistry portion of my meaningless little diatribe that most of you will skip over, so I can't hang my hat on that answer. Rat farts.

The single biggest change from 2008 from a chemistry standpoint....

...let me take a moment to again remind you gentle readers that this is only my opinion, it is of course the only right one, but it's still just mine...

Where was I? Ok, the single biggest change from 2008, from a chemistry standpoint was the subtraction of Jim Edmonds and the addition of Milton Bradley. Let's look at what really was subtacted and what was added.

Subtracted - A veteran multiple Gold Glove winning center fielder who had a reputation for making the big catch and hitting the big HR.

Added - A veteran multiple suspension winning right fielder who had a reputation for making an ass of himself and wanting to hit broadcasters.

Minused - A seemingly team oriented guy who got along with teammates and smiled alot.

Plussed - A seemingly perpetual victim of everyone around him who apparantly also got along with teammates because he never was around them enough to get into any arguments, has been photgraphed smiling at least 6 times....during the press conferences for each of his new teams.

Seriously, take 5 minutes of your life and look at the GIS for Jim Edmonds and compare it with the GIS for Milton Bradley. It's not very scientific, but just look and compare. I realize Edmonds wasn't signed by any other ML teams and is probably happily retired, but I'm only pointing out what Hendry got rid of and brought in to replace it. I'm not saying I wish Edmonds had been brought back for another year...wait, in hindsight...yes I am. I'd rather have had Edmonds and won < 83 games than had to watch/listen/read what Milton did and said.

The team even tried to mix it up a bit and get some good vibes by replacing the hitting coach in the middle of the season. This served two purposes. One, it gave most fans the impression that they were trying to fix something, and two, it took some of the criticism off Lou and the players for about 48 hours. Ultimately it didn't do jack diddley for the offense, and next year will bring another new hitting coach, who will no doubt be given the task of turning Theriot into a power hitter, developing Soriano's strike zone judgement and adjusting the feng shui in the dugout to permanently ground the Fukucopter. I won't hold my breath.

Charms & Potions, Chicago Cubs: better luck next time.


Okay, let's get back to ballhawk's evaluation for Divination. But first, think how much this kid's life must suck. His name is Harry Potter (!), well before that billionaire woman wrote this bloody series of books. He can't even use his real name at work. What could be worse than that? Being named after a board game manufacturer?


Divination has been around as long as Wrigwarts...longer, in fact. The first recorded coursework in Divination was noted in September, 1909 when student/professor Frank Chance comforted his fellow students by predicting great things would happen next year.

Many professors have taught Divination over the years, most notably Professor Severus Sinias and the current Professor Emeritus, Ronaldo Santo. While enrollment was limited to only players in the early days, Divination quickly became more of a fan-based course.

Fans who sign up for the course are assigned to one of two groups - House of Gutfeeldor and House of Statstherin. These fans then use a variety of tools to divine the future, including beer dregs, crystal balls, chone charts, and war ratings.

Unlike other courses at Wrigwarts, no grades are given in Divination - it's just pass/fail. For this reason, it has become very popular with many fans taking it year after year after year... The renewal rate is very high, with a waiting list well over 100,000. On the rare occasion when a fan considers not renewing, other fans will gather round and eventually convince them things will be different - all they have to do is...

Divination: Wait 'til next year...

Muggle Studies - Muggle Studies is a course in the history, culture, and psychology of non-magical people, aka Fans. So as we bring this FanPost to a close (whew), we end with a brand new feature here at BCB. A lucky fan has been chosen at random* to ask any player or employee of the Cubs a question. The question is submitted to an open chat session and several members of the Cubs have a chance to answer or comment on the answer given. We hope to make this a monthly feature, so get your webcams fired up and we'll be providing more details as they become available.

*selection criteria based on who was sitting on the sofa when I decided to do this.

Between the Ivy

(P.S. - Modeled after Fanhouse's The Dugout)

       This month's lucky fan has a question for Cubs RF'er Milton Bradley.

**Online Host**
Welcome to Between the Ivy Chatroom!
MBStunnaz: user MBStunnaz has become active
MBStunnaz: test....hello? asdfjkl;asdfjkl;
HRiot: user HRiot has signed on
HRiot: Milton, do you need help with this chat thing?
MBStunnaz: Seriously shortstack, shut up. I just needed to close my Farmville on Facebook. I'm good now. OK kid, you wanna be a switch hitter?
HRiot: That what the kid asked.
MBStunnaz: I swear on my mother's eyes Theriot, if you don't logout right now I'll shove your punk ass into Soto's footlocker again, and this time I won't let your crybaby boyfriend Fontenot pick the lock to let you out.
HRiot: user HRiot has left chat
MBStunnaz: Alright kid, switch hitting is like everything else in's a skill that must be honed and developed with hard work and practice. But not too much practice, and not too many games played. Hit balls off a tee from both sides and concentrate on the making both swings feel the same.
IRawkZ: user IRawkZ angered his way into the chat
IRawkZ: concentrate on making ball go far
MBStunnaz: Jeeze man, the kid wants to get better and you're putting stupid ideas in his head about hitting for power? Did shortstack tell you I was online?
IRawkZ: Who had a higher slugging than you this year? Oh yeah, me.
MBStunnaz: You guys are real buttholes sometimes.
ThePenismightier: user ThePenismightier crappily scribed his way into Between the Ivy
ThePenismightier: Can I quote you on that?
MBStunnaz: What the hell? Paul Sullivan! I hate the media! Who gave you an account on here? You're not a team employee! I'm flagging you.
TomCat: user TomCat has bought this chatroom
TomCat: Alright Paul, it looks like I can create accounts on here! Honey, come here and look at this!
ThePenismightier: What do you think about your problem right fielder insulting his teammates Tom? Will there be any discipline handed down? Does this affect his trade value?
TomCat: I'm not sure what you're referring to Paul, I need to go back and read the thread to see what was said and in what context it was said. And if he had any trade value, we wouldn't have signed him.
ThePenismightier: So as the new owner, you're not current with the status of the day to day actions of the organization?
MBStunnaz: Are you serious? TomCat, this guy is just trolling. We need an ignore feature.
Fast_n_Lous: user Fast_n_Lous has woken from his 4th inning nap
MBStunnaz: Give us an ignore feature. I just said it.
ThePenismightier: Lou, care to comment on the rumor that certain players simply ignore you?
TomCat: That's certainly a troubling rumor, and if it's true, we can't comment at this time.
MBStunnaz: For the love of....will somebody ban this clown please or I'm gonna go all Marcellus Wallace on a biotch!
HRiot: user HRiot has made an error
HRiot: Ahem.
MBStunnaz: Oh right, you're supposed to be "fast".
IRawkZ: i beat him every year in spring training wind sprints
HRiot: I've led the team in steals for the past 3 years, Bozos.
IRawkZ: if ur so fast, why do so many of my sinkers end up hopping past you and our second basemen
SLYTHERIN RESIDENT IDIOT MORGAN: All your infielders suck.

MBStunnaz: Oh snap.
HRiot: user HRiot is crying
**Online Host** GUEST has entered chat
GUEST: Any females wanna go private? A/S/L? 22/M/Bristol
MBStunnaz: I thought this was supposed to be a private TEAM chat? If you guys don't want to talk baseball, I'm out. It's not in my contract to do this. It's not even in my contract to play, matter of fact.
TomCat: I can talk baseball! We're really looking forward to 2010 and competing for the division title in the NL East and a run to the World Series!
IRawkz: user IRawkz has changed his status to "ab crunchez!"
GUEST: Anyone want to trade birthmark pics? Type 9999
SLYTHERIN RESIDENT IDIOT MORGAN: …so you see, Tom (Ricketts) Riddle, by evaluating Bobby Scales off my analysis from watching ESPN Sunday Night Baseball rather than considering any statist....
MBStunnaz: Oh noooo you did-nit, Media Man. Nobody puts down Bobby Scales. I'm gonna have to choke a bitc....
ThePenismightier: 9999
RosataStone: user RosataStone appeared out of thin air
RosataStone: LOL, my account it still active? Wow, nothing's changed in here.

WIZARD RON SANTO: Joe Morgan you stop right there in your steps or I will be force to exile you a la Steve Phillips & Harold Reynolds from Wrigwarts, forever. (Raises Louisville Wand)



OH NO, I'VE BEEN HIT! GOSH GOLLY GEE WIZ SHUCKS MUMBLE MUMBLE! I'm disarmed and unable to grab my Louisville Wand! Please, help! Ryan Theriot! Los Zambrano! Paul help..Tom Ricketts! I COULD USEEEEEEE SOMEEEEBODDDDDYYYYYY SOMEONE LIKE YOUUUUUUU SOMEONE LIKE YOUUUUU!


Hey guys, remember when I made the playoffs? Well we got swept. And just between you and me, there's no team I'd rather get swept with than the Chicago Cubs. This is for you, Harry! And you, Bartman! And you, Wizard Ron Santo! EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!!!!!!


user account is being upgraded

JesusRosa: Hi EveryBody, This Is JesusRosa. I Have Transfigured Into My True Being, The Chicago Cubs Personal Savior. I Have Had My Patronus, A Goat, Kill Joe Morgan. Welcome Me Back To The Chicago Cubs & Wrigley Field In 2010, And I Ensure You A Championship. After All, I'm JesusRosa.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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