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Baseball And Human Nature: Cubs vs. Phillies Preview, Wednesday 8/12, 7:05 CT

Bob Brenly has become a popular announcer in his five seasons (yikes, can it really be five seasons already?) paired with Len Kasper on WGN and CSN. Part of this is because he's never pulled punches about criticizing Cubs players for what he thinks is a lack of hustle. I'm not posting this to campaign for Brenly as manager, because being able to manage 25 players effectively (and, granted, he did that in winning a World Series with the Diamondbacks) and talking glibly about baseball on television are two very different skills.

I bring this up because a Paul Sullivan article in today's Tribune specifically praises Brenly for this, and asks what reaction it gets in the clubhouse:

"What will it take to get these guys to start running hard?" Brenly asked aloud in Denver after Ryan Theriot barely scored ahead of Bradley getting thrown out trying to stretch a single. Brenly also suggested a "cattle prod" might do the trick.

Brenly's blunt analysis is one reason why he's one of the most popular announcers in Chicago. But it sometimes can rankle players and coaches.

Brenly has a point, absolutely. But this quote from Theriot is the most interesting thing in the article:

"I have a lot of respect for Bob," he said. "Obviously, we're not winning ballgames, and maybe instead of pointing a finger at one particular player, it's easier to [criticize the team], and probably easier on the players to do that. I know I prepare the same way, and have prepared the same way since 2005. On getaway day, yeah, we didn't have much intensity that day. I'll agree with him on that one. It was kind of a lull, a blah feeling."

"Those long road trips, sometimes they those long ones do that to you. We were [in Denver] there five days, a three-city road trip and you haven't been in your bed a while. Sometimes that happens. That's only human nature."

Huh. Human nature affecting the way a human being plays baseball? Why, I thought they were automatons, performing exactly the way statistics on a stat sheet say they will, every single time they pitch, bat, run the bases or field. At least, that's what I've been told.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Jeff Samardzija
Jeff Samardzija
vs. Pedro Martinez
Pedro Martinez
1-1 W-L making
6.29 ERA his
13 SO 2009
12 BB season
4 HR debut
vs. Phi -- vs. Cubs

2009 - Jeff Samardzija 1-1 16 0 0 0 0 0 24.1 31 17 17 4 12 13 6.29 1.77

In all the time Pedro Martinez spent with the Mets -- four full seasons -- he made only one start vs. the Cubs, and it also marked the last time he was on a major league mound, last September 25 in New York. The Mets won the game after a bullpen meltdown ruined a Rich Harden start. (Does this sound familiar?) Martinez is 3-3, 4.71 lifetime vs. the Cubs, but all of those starts (except last year's) were in his Expos days, 1997 and before, so they're irrelevant. Alfonso Soriano is one of his main victims -- 7-for-43 with 15 strikeouts -- but that's from Pedro's Boston days, where he was dominant. I don't expect him to be that way tonight.

Jeff Samardzija is making his first major league start. He's 1-1, 7.36 in three career relief appearances vs. the Phillies. I don't think I have to remind you about the last one, where he gave up a game-winning HR to Jayson Werth in Philadelphia on July 21.

Today's game is on WGN and CSN Philadelphia, but if you do not have access to those, ESPN is picking up the game for national telecast. For other games today see the Mediacenter. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Phillies site The Good Phight.

Overflow comment threads will post today at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.