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The White Tiger

And no, I'm not talking about Shane Halter. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

"The White Tiger" was the name of the short play put on by my daughter Rachel's summer class, kind of an introduction into drama for kids her age, and to learn not only acting but all the nuts and bolts of how to put on a production. In addition to her role in the show (quick plot synopsis: it's about a child whose father is killed by a white tiger, and he spends years learning how to hunt, so he can hunt down the tiger. In the process of doing so, he also rescues a young girl and brings her home), she was the stage manager. A great job was done by all!

And this is the reason that I missed my fourth home game of the season, a delightful 9-4 Cubs win over the Giants. Now some of you are probably saying, gee, if they won and you didn't go... but no, the club is 2-2 in the four games I've missed (April 11, a 3-2 loss to the Pirates; May 30, a 9-1 loss to Houston; May 31, a 1-0 win over Houston, and today). So I'll return to the Yard tomorrow, and look! The Cubs have now won four of their last six, two of three in each of the last two series, and if they can continue this pace, things ought to look a lot better.

I heard and watched a fair amount of this game via radio and FSN. By the time I arrived at the play, the first run had already scored. This is why this team is so maddening. You look at a game like today's, and Tuesday's, and wonder how they could ever look as bad as they did yesterday, with their supposed ace on the mound. They also wound up winning the season series from the Giants 4-2, against a team that's got the second best record in the National League. I guess I could say that's a classic .500 team mode of playing, that they play up or down to the level of their opponent, but I'm still hoping this club shows better in the last two months of the season. Carlos Zambrano threw his second good game in a row, despite losing a bit of concentration in the 8th, balking in a run after the game was already well in hand; and Sammy Sosa took over 11th place on the all-time list with his 522nd HR.

I don't listen to a lot of games via radio, since I'm either at the home games or watching road games on TV, so today was a different experience. I normally don't care for Ron Santo, since he doesn't give me what I want from a color commentator, which is analysis from a player's point of view that I can't get elsewhere. From Ron, I get grunting and yelling, a lot of "I don't know" even though he has a sheaf of press notes in front of him, and some really bad play-by-play when Pat Hughes has to go to the bathroom. I give him credit for loving the Cubs and being passionate about the game.

But today he was actually pretty good when they started talking about all the trades that were being reported at the deadline, and especially when he mentioned that he really couldn't figure out what the Reds were doing, trying to sell a new ballpark at the same time that they finished decimating the team by trading Aaron Boone and Gabe White to the Yankees. Last winter, "The Onion" ran an article saying satirically that the Yankees had bought every player in baseball, and it's turned out to be not too far from the truth. The Yankees also traded Robin Ventura to the Dodgers, which means Ventura, who's already played a series in Wrigley Field this year, will play six more games against the Cubs. It was mentioned last Saturday on the FOX-TV telecast that due to the way the schedule has panned out, that Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton will probably play 26 games against the Astros this year (they'd already played 16 while with Pittsburgh, and the Cubs had 10 left with Houston after the deal). Let's hope they both love to hit Astros pitching.

But the Reds are going to wind up like the Tigers if they keep getting rid of all their good players -- they're left with Austin Kearns and... well, Sean Casey isn't panning out like they hoped, neither is Adam Dunn (.217??) and their marketable guys, well, Barry Larkin is done and probably going to retire, and Ken Griffey Jr. is a huge financial and performance bust.

Who cares, really, except for the fact that I actually enjoyed listening to a radio broadcast. And today, the Cardinals lost to the Expos 3-2, so the Cubs creep a game closer to second place, and all of us, of course, will be rooting for the Braves to beat the Astros tonight. If they do, the Cubs will have picked up two games in the standings in the last six games, and that's not a bad pace at the end of July.

One last note on trades: I was pleased to hear today that the Royals acquired Al Levine from Tampa Bay for cash. Al's a friend of Dave and Brian's, and he really got screwed over when the Cardinals cut him at the end of spring training. The Cardinals could have used some bullpen help. Instead he threw well for Tampa Bay, and now he gets to be in a pennant race, plus the Royals need the help too. Good for Al!