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Open Letter To Dusty Baker

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Dear Johnnie B.:

Are you watching the same games that the rest of us are?

Because if you are, you certainly must have seen Ryan Dempster walk three Pirates batters in the first inning. Result: a Pirates run. And it would have been more, except there was a double play turned among the three walks.

Why is this a bad thing?

You might have even noticed that Mike Fontenot, our latest call-up, also drew a walk pinch-hitting for Dempster, and scored on a Neifi Perez double, the eventual winning run in a 4-3 Cubs win.

Yeah, I know. Perez doubling in the winning run? A walk leading to this? LaTroy Hawkins getting the save? I know, I know, this makes no sense at all to you. It doesn't to us either.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to hit. That is, after all, the object of standing at the plate with a bat.

But if the pitcher's going to be willing to put you on base without hitting, why not take it?

This is something I simply don't understand, Johnnie B. Could you please explain it to us?

All's well that ends well, however, and the Cubs evened up the series after Dempster settled down, didn't walk anyone else (see, Dusty?), and even though he gave up a homer to Matt Lawton and yet another RBI hit (an infield single) to that darned pest Rob Mackowiak, Aramis Ramirez smacked a three-run homer, his second of the year, for the biggest blow of the game. And, oh, Johnnie B? How did the Cubs get one of those baserunners?

Yes, Nomar Garciaparra walked. Walked. WALKED.

The weird thing is, Baker's record as a player shows a hitter who was fairly patient, putting up a .347 lifetime OBA and generally walking sixty or seventy times in a full season.

Dusty really must be frustrated with Fontenot, who has now come to the plate twice in his major league career and walked both times.

This afternoon, Mike stopped by to drop off some more cartoons -- I'll post one tomorrow morning -- and then was off to see Ichiro and his Mariners play the White Sox.

He hardly had gotten there when it was over. Mark Buehrle, who is getting faster at pitching as he gets older, threw a three-hitter at Seattle, winning 2-1 -- in a time of 1:39.

One hour and thirty-nine minutes. Think about that. That's about an HOUR shorter than the average length of a major league game. It's the shortest game since at least 2000. Further, it's the shortest game in Mariners history --that's 28 years of games.

It appears to have been the shortest game played in Chicago since Jim Kaat, then with the Phillies, and Rick Reuschel met up in a 1:32 game on August 3, 1976 -- a nine-hit shutout for Reuschel, of all things. Steve Renko and Joe Coleman of the Cubs threw a 1-0 three-hitter on July 5, that same year, in 1:45.

The shortest game by time I've ever seen myself was 1:48, Jon Lieber's one-hitter of the Reds in 2001. Unfortunately, there was a two-hour rain delay during that game, negating the speed factor. The next day, Kerry Wood also threw a one-hitter, in 1:57.

Would that all ballgames could go that quickly.

So, Greg Maddux, having been pushed back a day, will try to win tomorrow to take the series, and even the club record at .500. Yes, this is a series the Cubs should have swept. But two of three will work.