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Deja Vu

Just about this time last year, Alex Gonzalez was winning games left and right with late-inning or walk-off home runs, including a 3-run homer on May 1, 2003 in San Francisco, in the 10th inning, to beat the Giants.

He's at it again. Despite Steve Finley's first career 3-homer game, Gonzalez' homer off D'backs closer Matt Mantei in the 9th (and boy, are the fans there down on Mantei, after giving him a huge ovation on Opening Day) gave the Cubs a 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks and they avoided being swept for the first time since the Reds did it in September 2002.

I missed it again. I had hoped to be able to watch all of this one, but I got called into work today, Thursday, which is normally one of my days off, so once again I had to get some sleep, after being at a meeting of the Chicago Coordinating Committee of the Directors Guild of America last night. I'm also running for election to the DGA's Eastern Directors Council, of which I was a member from 1999-2003. I doubt that any of you are DGA directors in the Eastern region, but if you are, hey! I'd love your vote. Ballots should be in the mail soon.

Back to baseball: the fairly fast pace of the game in the early innings gave me the opportunity to see the first six innings. Greg Maddux wasn't quite as sharp as he was last Friday against the Mets; some of the pitches that he was getting strike calls last week were either just a bit outside or called a little bit outside by plate umpire Ed Rapuano. Nevertheless, he managed six decent innings, allowing two runs (the first two of Finley's homers) and only two walks in his usual efficient number of pitches (eighty).

Joe Borowski finished up the ninth after Gonzalez' homer and seems to have his season back on track now with his fifth save, and third in his last three appearances.

All that and the fact that my new friend John from Phoenix didn't go to last night's game after attending the first two. He must now be banned from the BOB whenever the Cubs are in town.

Which gives me a chance to talk about the suspensions handed down to Dusty Baker and Kerry Wood yesterday.

Baker's was no big deal, and he served it last night (leading to the obvious question -- do we need him? Stop that. Of course we do!). I learned, however, that there is no appeal process for coaches or managers who are suspended, and that some fans sitting in the new dugout seats had complained about Baker's apparently profane language.

Oh really? You mean major leaguers SWEAR??? What a shock. I guess Baker will have to tell an umpire when he comes out to argue in the future, "Let's go out near the pitcher's mound, so no one hears us!"

This is ridiculous, of course. I can't believe that anyone at a baseball game wouldn't realize that they might hear stuff like this, if not on the field, then in the stands. I hear it all the time. Maybe this is another reaction to the Janet Jackson incident and the newfound prudity we seem to have as a nation these days.

Or maybe those were just Reds fans who wanted to hurt the Cubs.

Wood, for his part, is appealing his suspension, as expected, and so will make his scheduled start on Friday in St. Louis. Steve Stone, on last night's telecast, said that he expects the suspension will be reduced on appeal so that Wood won't miss any starts, so the penalty will simply be the Cubs forced to play with a 24-man roster for probably four games. Wood will also be fined, which should be the only penalty (along with the ejection he got, which wasn't that much of a penalty since Dusty was going to take him out of the game anyway) for something like this.

With yesterday's Brewers win, 10-9 over the Reds, the Cubs move back into first place by themselves. This game, the largest comeback in Brewers history, ought to prove to everyone that the Reds are no threat this year. The Brewers aren't a very good team, and for them to come back like this simply proves that the Reds aren't a very good team either. Brooks Kieschnick, of all people, threw three shutout innings in relief last night.

Nuff said. Bring on the Cardinals.