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Predictable, and Open Thread: Cubs vs. Cardinals, Saturday 8/26, 12:20 CT

Yesterday, I was going to take Mark to see "World Trade Center". He didn't feel like going, so we stayed home.

No, I'm not going to make any "disaster" comparisons here. The events of 9/11 deserve too much respect for that. I'll just say that we stayed home and watched the game instead.

Shouldn't have bothered. The Cubs lost 2-0 to the Cardinals, and I don't have to tell any of you that a lineup that has Freddie Bynum batting second, a .220-hitting John Mabry hitting sixth, Ronny Cedeno hitting anywhere, and Jacque Jones left in to flail away against a left-handed reliever with Phil Nevin right there on the bench -- with two runners on base and a chance to score actual runs -- isn't going to score those runs.

Frankly, Dusty Baker strikes me as someone who gets more pigheaded with each game. Every day, with obvious evidence mounting that the players involved are incapable of doing what they're being asked to do, he sends them out there anyway. Jacque Jones is a decent ballplayer, particularly against RHP -- he's hitting .308/.349/.535 against them, an .884 OPS, which is fine, fine production. But his .200/.221/.355 numbers vs. LHP are -- well, they're worse than poor. Why is it that ANY manager would send a player out to perform in a situation where he is almost 100% certain to fail?

I just don't get it. It's as if Baker is thumbing his nose not only at any reasonable statistical analysis, but also at Jim Hendry, at sportswriters who point this out, and at all of us.

No, I take that back. Baker is DEFINITELY thumbing his nose at us. Last night's game was winnable, if Baker had simply made some better decisions. Sure, maybe Phil Nevin would have failed in batting for Jones. His numbers vs. LHP -- .230/.326/.451 -- aren't that great. But they are better than Jones' numbers.

Sigh. Juan Mateo and two relievers gave the Cardinals thirteen hits, two walks, a batter reaching on an error (resulting in the second run) and a hit batsman -- seventeen baserunners -- and somehow, they managed to keep the game close; St. Louis left fifteen of those seventeen on base. I like Mateo -- despite all the hits, he seemed to keep his head in the game, and hasn't had any really bad outings yet.

And yet, I note that he threw 96 pitches in five innings, and Jeff Suppan threw 98 in more than seven. Same old story -- Nibblin' Larry Rothschild has Cub pitchers throwing far too many pitches, and Cub hitters hack away.

This has to end at the end of this year. Get people in here who know how to win baseball games.

Of which there is another one this afternoon.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Hill
R. Hill
vs. Chris Carpenter
C. Carpenter
3-6 W-L 12-6
6.44 ERA 3.05
38 SO 138
26 BB 29
11 HR 18
vs. StL -- vs. Cubs

Fox-TV has this one again -- the last of eight "network" telecasts involving the Cubs in 2006. I put "network" in quotes because that would imply a national telecast, and this is not one. Fox is also carrying the Nationals/Braves, so most of the Southeast won't see the Cubs, and in the late-afternoon timeslot, the Yankees/Angels game, which means the rest of the East Coast and all of the West Coast won't see the Cubs, either.

If you're anywhere else, you've got a shot -- depending on where the monkey hits the coverage map dartboard.

Carpenter finally beat the Cubs (and Mateo) last Sunday at Wrigley Field, after a loss and a no-decision against them earlier this year.

All of this, of course, is weather permitting -- there's a pretty good chance of all-day storms in the St. Louis area.

Finally, there is a brewing controversy in baseball over the use of maple baseball bats, as opposed to the more traditional ash. Players like maple bats:

They like it because it's harder than ash. It doesn't break as often as ash (it's just more noticeable when it does). It doesn't flake like ash. Some believe maple provides more distance than ash.
That, says a batmaker, isn't true:
According to Chuck Schupp of Hillerich & Bradsby, the leading bat manufacturer and maker of Louisville Sluggers, balls don't fly off maple bats any quicker than ash bats, and they don't travel farther.

"It really doesn't make any difference," said Schupp, citing "exit velocity" studies in which speed cameras and lasers were used. "The big difference is, ash will get softer and the grain will separate. Maple has a harder surface, doesn't split and doesn't get soft."

The problem is -- and the reason you're seeing more shattered bats lately -- that maple, while it doesn't break easily, when it does, it shatters, possibly causing injuries to players, umpires or fans. More than half of major league players now use maple bats, but a possible ban on maple bats become a sticking point this winter when the Basic Agreement renewal is negotiated. Cubs Gameday

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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