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This morning I'm really tired. And that's normal for my first day back at work after vacation, especially one this long.

But it's even more than usual because, yes, I stayed up till past 11 watching the end of the seemingly interminable, but ultimately satisfying 2-1 Cub win over the Braves in 15 innings.

Before I make some remarks about the win, let me share with you the post I had almost completely finished and was going to post last night:

I'm Gonna Take Some Glue...

... and glue the bats to the shoulders of every Cub hitter, because every time I looked up (and there were times I was averting my eyes), a Cub hitter was swinging and weakly grounding out or popping up at the first pitch tonight.


OK, done venting. That was also what I was saying all day after trying to get out from under the metric buttload of paperwork that you'd expect after being away from home for three weeks. Sure, it was nice enjoying the retirement lifestyle for a while (and you could get used to it too, right?) but now, back to reality, paying bills, making sure everything's OK in the house, and having to go back to work about six hours from now.

In the meantime, tonight's ballgame, another frustrating loss, 1-0 to the Braves in only a little over two hours, was so representative of the Dusty Baker school of hitting -- he never saw a pitch he didn't want his hitters to be "aggressive" with.

Seriously, what does it take? The pitching has actually been quite good this young season, and tonight, Carlos Zambrano threw really well, making the proverbial "one mistake", a pitch that Andruw Jones (and will someone please tell America's sportscasters that it is NOT pronounced "AAAAAHN-druw"? That's just the way HE says it in his Caribbean accent) smacked into the LF seats for a solo homer. Otherwise he was getting the Braves to smash the ball into the ground. This bodes well, I think, because once this offense does get untracked (and it's too good not to), the club could easily reel off several wins in a row.

To be fair, I thought the strike zone was pretty odd tonight -- Sammy Sosa in particular seemed to be victimized, taking a pitch that looked like it was on the outside corner for ball three, only to duck out of the way of the next pitch, way inside, that appeared to be ball four, and then was promptly called out on strikes.

I should have remembered this from last year, but the TBS broadcasts are now blacked out in Chicago so as to "protect" the local telecast on WGN. This is kind of disingenuous, as anyone who has cable or satellite can watch both telecasts -- anywhere except Chicago.

I wondered if there was anywhere in MLB's Basic Agreement where this "protection" was spelled out, but I can't find it. If any of you can, or know where this is stated explicitly, let me know and I'll post it here.

So, I am unable to report on Ryne Sandberg's appearance on TBS tonight, which according to my friend Dan in the Cubs newsgroup, was engineered perhaps by Cubs media types to hype Sandberg's candidacy for the Hall of Fame. This is kind of disingenous too -- the next HoF voting isn't till next January, and though retired players have done this sort of thing before (Ron Santo freely admitted the reason he got into broadcasting in 1990 was to get his name out there, and the Nellie Fox Society spent a couple decades trying to get their hero into the Hall), I think Sandberg will eventually make it on his own merits, and doesn't need a "media tour".

I was just about to click "Post & Publish" when Todd Hollandsworth skied his two-out homer off John Smoltz to tie the game.

And then there was just about a whole game -- six innings, populated freely by the Ex-Factor. The last three Atlanta pitchers -- Antonio Alfonseca, Juan Cruz and Will Cunnane -- are all former Cubs, and Cruz showed the brilliance that he flashed on occasion with the Cubs, shutting them down for three innings with five strikeouts.

I can't say enough good about the Cub bullpen, which threw eight scoreless innings, allowing only four hits (but also seven walks, which kept the Cub defense in trouble constantly in the extra innings), and there were just as many ex-Braves throwing for the Cubs last night (Andy Pratt, who was acquired in the Cruz deal, Kent Mercker, who wound up with his first Cub win, and even Joe Borowski, who, yes, pitched for the Braves in 1995 and 1996, and had once been traded for Mercker). In fact, the Cubs have no less than five former Braves on the 25-man roster (Greg Maddux and Paul Bako, in addition to the three who pitched last night), and given the Atlanta success over the last decade, maybe this is part of the plan.

Do NOT underestimate the value of a win like this psychologically, especially when the offense has been struggling. The last Cub game that went this long was the first game of that amazing day/night doubleheader last September 2, which the Cubs won 4-2 on a Sammy Sosa homer, sending them on a streak where, after losing the nightcap on a controversial call on Moises Alou's screaming line drive, they won six in a row.

Finally, I note that WGN has inaugurated a new camera angle, which is slightly above home plate from behind the catcher (but below the "high home" traditional camera position from the first row of the upper deck), replacing what I used to call the "umpire's butt" shot. This gives a nice panorama of the field and is especially useful with runners on. In switching back and forth to other games last night, I noted a similar shot also being used at Dodger Stadium by Fox Sports Net Los Angeles. Kudos to the innovative directors using these new angles.