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Chomping At The Bit

No, that's not the Cubs, that's me, anxious to make this post, and I deliberately waited till this morning because I was hoping the Cubs would wake up in first place, this after going out to dinner with our friends Carole and Ernie, just back from their honeymoon, and then all coming back to our house to watch the game.

That wasn't to be since the Astros beat the Padres last night, so even with the Cubs' 4-2 win in Milwaukee, their fifth win in a row at Miller Park this year, they still trail the Astros by a half-game.

Then I tried to log in to the Blogger site this morning and it was down for two hours, so this is the first chance I've had to make this post.

Juan Cruz literally pitched the game of his life last night -- he went seven full innings, the longest outing of his career, in front of a noisy crowd of 42,909, the largest crowd at Miller Park since Opening Day last year. It had to be at least 3/4 Cub fans, judging by the cheering. The players noticed; Dusty Baker was quoted this morning as saying it was like a "secondary home game" rather than a road game, with all the fan support. I presume it will be the same tonight and tomorrow afternoon. I'd go up there myself if I weren't leaving for San Juan and the Cubs/Expos series down there.

I am of two minds on the Antonio Alfonseca suspension, which was announced yesterday as being seven games, and almost certainly will be appealed.

First is that Alfonseca really is an idiot. He raised his hands to the sky and did the "cut-throat" motion after striking out Richie Sexson, and though it's great to be enthusiastic, all something like that can do is incite the opposition. It's not like that strikeout was clinching the division or something; and it's not like Alfonseca is the closer to end all closers, because he's had the worst year of his career. Furthermore, yes, emotions can get the better of you, especially in a tense game like the Cardinals/Cubs thriller Tuesday night that resulted in the suspension, but you do not bump an umpire. Ever.

Still, I believe the Cubs are right when they say that Alfonseca's suspension should be in line with the suspension that Terrence Long of Oakland got for a similar incident earlier this week. That suspension was four games, and I believe that's what the Cubs and Alfonseca will ask for in their appeal. It's not clear when this will be heard; since the commissioner-for-life resides in Milwaukee, I suppose it could be heard this weekend and maybe it would be for the Expos series and a game beyond; but if not this weekend, it might have to wait till after the Cubs return.

Even with Alfonseca's bad year it would be bad to be down to 24 players; so it's lucky in a way that this happened in September, when rosters can be expanded. Dave Veres will be activated for tonight's game and it appears that the Cubs might call up either Willie Banks (unbelievable, I know, eight years after he stunk his way off the club, but he has thrown lights-out at Iowa), Alan Benes, Mike Wuertz, who would be making his ML debut, or Rudy Seanez, who also threw pretty well at Iowa.

With Mark Prior going tonight, as hot as he is, I am optimistic. Go Padres.