Cubs

Take a vacation from your problem, baby steps and death therapy

Take a vacation from your problem, baby steps and death therapy

Friday, July 16, 2010
4:45 PM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Used to be that the time around the all-star break was spent talking about baseball and vacation plans. Well theres still plenty of that, but in this new world of the 12-month season for all of the professional sports, theres plenty of other topics to keep the conversations at the bar flowing. Get it? Flowing? Wheres my rim-shot?! Since your man behind the bar is leaving for a little R and R, (Relaxation with the family and the Recovery afterward!) I dont have the time to share with you EVERTHING thats on my mind here right now, but of course I cant leave without a few shots! SHOTS!

I guess if you live long enough, you see things repeat themselves over and over and during that evolution of time they might change form. The new age of self-promotion is upon us, and talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth. (Im on a roll!) From Joe Namath, to Muhammad Ali to Reggie Jackson, these were the masters of media manipulation when I was a youngster. They never met a microphone that they didnt like. Funny thing though, they were entertaining and, oh yeah, winners! The disaster known as The Decision was about as far over the top as you could get. I watched like everyone else, but I would more consider it rubber-necking than actually watching. Besides the unveiling of LeBrons massive ego for all to see, it also demonstrated the fact that his handlers are in way over their heads. If the Three Stooges do make it to the Finals, they actually made me a Lakers fan.

Talking about the legacy of George Steinbrenner was another topic, but how could you avoid it when it was on the World Wide Leader non-stop for 4 days. I understand that he was one of the largest sports figures of our times, but.. I guess thats the point, you can argue his merits, both ways for hours. My opinion is that in the last 40 years he and Marvin Miller might be the two most important non-players in sports. (with Pete Rozelle a close third.) That being said, my lasting memory, besides the sparring with Billy Martin, will be of him yelling at George to get him his calzone on Seinfeld.

Did you know that Major League baseball had its All-Star game this week? Apparently no one else did either since it got its lowest rating EVER. Hey, Bud! Do you realize that youre the only one who thinks that playing this game for home field advantage in the World Series is a farce? And if this is a game to promote the sport, why wasnt the hottest thing to hit your sport in years, Steven Strasburg, in the game? He, right now, is one of the top 10 pitchers in the game, plus EVERYONE wants to see him. Could you imagine him pitching against A-Rod? What? A-Rod didnt play either? Have you been talking to LeBrons people? (This is the first year I can remember that I didnt watch the Home Run Derby. Nick Swisher? Honestly?)

Locally, there are two baseball conversations: Can the Sox last? And, when are they going to blow up the Cubs? Well know by the end of the month when the trading deadline comes, it will tell us all we need to know. Then again if youve been coming into the bar, you already know how I feel about both teams. (Hint: Adam Dunn and TNT!)

In the, what a difference a year makes department, do you remember Cutler-Mania? I think with everything else going on around here, the fact that no one is really paying attention to them is a good thing. Its time for them to go to work and doing it under the radar will hopefully payoff. I dont think that they are going to get a lot of respect nationally, or maybe even locally for that matter. Thats why I think they are going to have a chance at a decent season. I think the keys will be the O-line and the pass rush. (What a football genius!) Naturally well beat this topic to death in the coming months.

I finally found a way to get interested in the World Cup. I had a little rooting interest, if you know what I mean. This time I wasnt bored out of my mind. I actually watched the games for what they were supposed to be. In doing so I realized that watching any competition being played at the highest level can be mesmerizing, even if I didnt get the payoff I was hoping for.

First there were the Go-Go Sox, now we have the Bye-Bye Hawks. Its another example with the mass exodus of playerscontracts of how truly special this past season was and how this organ-I-zation performed at every level. The good thing is that the core will be here for a while. The question is whether the new pieces brought in can play to the level of their predecessors.

Well Id like to keep going, I know that youre interested in how my roto baseball team is doing and of course my opinions on one of my obsessions, The World Series of Poker, but the big fella has to get the car packed to the hilt and hide the charge cards from the boss as she makes her last minute preparations. Well have plenty of time for whatever is going on in sports, and then some, in two weeks. For now, when you think Clark Griswald, picture him making a drive to the beaches of Delaware in an out of control min-van. My one treat for myself as we drive? Im going to have the kids watch the movie I referenced in my title. There are only so many episodes of Sponge Bob that a father can listen to in one trip. Im sailing!!!

Ben Zobrist earned his first career ejection thanks to one hell of a zinger

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AP

Ben Zobrist earned his first career ejection thanks to one hell of a zinger

Two days after David Bote turned in the best moment of the Cubs' season, Ben Zobrist delivered the best line of the Cubs' season.

As the top of the ninth inning was getting underway, the 37-year-old mild-mannered veteran was seen talking with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.

As Jorge De La Rosa finished his warm-up pitches and the inning was about to start, suddenly Zobrist and Cuzzi got animated and the next thing anybody knew, Zobrist was slapped with his first-ever ejection.

"When you have good, quality at-bats as a hitter and you feel like it's kinda taken away from you, you want some sort of an answer," Zobrist said. "Or you want to be assured that they're gonna go back and make an adjustment and that's what I asked for.

"It was met with, basically, he didn't want to talk about that. He didn't want me to tell him that. I just basically said, 'Well that's why we want an electronic strike zone.'"

MIC. DROP.

This came after a passionate discussion between the two men in the bottom of the sixth inning when Zobrist was called out on strikes on a full count pitch he thought was clearly off the plate. On that play, Joe Maddon came out to intercede and was ejected, but Zobrist walked back to the dugout to collect himself and remained in the game.

So before his next at-bat, Zobrist wanted to say his piece. A calm discussion transformed into something more and while Zobrist didn't apologize for what he said, he was willing to admit his pride played a factor.

"It is what it is," he said. "I'm not gonna lie. When you're dealing with that and you're trying to have good, quality at-bats and you feel like it gets taken away from you, sometimes your pride gets in your way and you say things that are going to upset them. Obviously that upset him and he tossed me."

Zobrist's strikeout wasn't an altogether huge moment in the game, but the pitch — a breaking ball off from Jhoulys Chacin that started off the plate and remained off the plate — should've been Ball 4 and would've given the Cubs runners at first and second with nobody out for Jason Heyward. Sure, it was a 7-0 ballgame, but with the wind blowing out and the Cubs had 12 outs left, crazier things have happened (which Bote just proved).

The Cubs never went on to record another hit, but they didn't blame Cuzzi for that.

"Whenever Zo argues, as a manager, you better get your butt out there," Maddon said. "He's rare to be that way and eventually to get ejected, that's unfortunate. But regardless, there was a couple bad calls, but we gotta do a better job offensively. My god."

Zobrist said he's been more animated and riled up at other points in his career compared to Tuesday afternoon, but obviously that zinger was enough to get the job done to notch his first-ever ejection.

Almost a year ago to the day, Zobrist was very nearly tossed in a game against the Reds, but Maddon once again got in the middle.

This is the latest chapter in what has become a surprising trend of the Cubs vs. umpire debacle. 

For the third straight homestand, the Cubs have had an issue with the umpiring crew — from Javy Baez getting tossed against the Cardinals last month to Anthony Rizzo getting heated with Angel Hernandez two weekends ago to Maddon getting the boot a few days ago against the Nationals.

Only Rizzo's was related to balls and strikes, but between him and Zobrist — two guys who rarely argue — getting heated in the span of 9 days, it begs the question: Does Major League Baseball need an electronic strike zone?

"I'm just gonna leave it at that," Zobrist said. "I think that discussion will happen eventually. But I'm just gonna leave right now at the fact that I said that today. That's it."

White Sox Talk Podcast: Will the White Sox call up Jimenez and/or Kopech this season?

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AP/USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Will the White Sox call up Jimenez and/or Kopech this season?

With Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech dominating in Triple-A, we tackle the No. 1 question on the mind of every White Sox fan: Are either or both of the White Sox top prospects going to play in the majors this year?

Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber and Slavko Bekovic give their takes and predictions. Plus, which other minor leaguers should be called up in September?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: