Cubs

You're Talking, But You're Not Saying Anything

You're Talking, But You're Not Saying Anything

Friday, Jan. 15, 2010
12:54 a.m.

I dont know why the Talking Heads came into my head as I watched the Bob Costas interview of Mark McGwire, but they did. Same as it ever was? Upon hearing the news on Monday afternoon, I was like, whatever, and moved on with the rest of my day. Honestly, do I really need to watch? That night as I was lying in bed and flipping through the channels, I found myself watching the MLB network and its coverage of the interview and its aftermath. I was riveted. I watched it all, TWICE! It was as compelling as it was revealing into this mess. Where did that come from? As I have written here many times, Ive become, like many Ive talked to at the bar, numb to all of the baseball steroid talk. Ive moved on. Still as much as I didnt want to watch, I couldnt stop. Unfortunately, my love of baseball and the perpetrators of this continued farce, wont let me not pay attention. They wont because they think that if they recite a mantra often enough, that everyones supposed to believe it. In this, the day of the scripted apology, weve seen enough that we all understand the playbook. Whether its a politician, athlete or any other person of social prominence, they say theyre sorry, show remorse and promise not to do it again, lets move on.

You would think its pretty simple. But of course lawyers being lawyers, they always want to see what level they can take it to. (You can make your own interpretation of whether that level is up or down!) I have no doubt in my mind, nor does anyone else that I talk to at the bar, that McGwire was lawyerd-up and came upon a new type of coaching. Although I found his raw emotion and inner turmoil to be very real and heart felt, it was off-set by the fact that what he was saying, for the most part, was very vague and unbelievable. Ill start with the fact that he seemed fixated on the premise that he could do this and move on quite easily. What? Maybe if it was about him, but he doesnt get it, its about way more, always has been. But I got this feeling that he was thinking, I said it! All right? There! Can I go now? Sound familiar? Thought so. I think its incredibly naive or arrogant or both that he thinks he can control how this is all going to play out. His story is going to last for more than a while, I think.

Also, if this was not scripted, how could one of the smartest men on TV, and a baseball fan of the highest order, not get specific about the roids? When he asked McGwire how long he took them, the response was ten years. Then when asked what he had taken, the response was, I dont know. Really? You took drugs off and on for TEN years and you dont know what they were? Then how did you know what or how much to take? That would seem like a logical follow-up question. Bob? Bob? Hello? Or, how about, Where did you get them? That ones simple. These two questions also would provide the insight into the fact that he repeatedly said that the people that knew him the best in the world had no idea. Family? Maybe. I could understand them not asking or not wanting to know, but LaRussa? Seriously? A man who depended on your performance and who was around you for most of your adult life had no idea?

Then there is the part where he repeatedly talked about the steroids not having an affect on his abilities as a player and what he was able to do, that he used them to be able to heal from injury faster and be able to play. He said that he hit homeruns all of my life and could do it with or without them. They did not enhance his ability. All right, say you are right, although not one other person Ive heard in the last 4 days would agree, especially players, but wouldnt the fact that you were able to play, when youre saying you otherwise would not have been able to do so, enable you to set cumulative records? You know, like the single season homerun record? How do you consider your number to be legit when you say you used enhancers to enable you to play? Im waiting for the answer to that question.

As always, how can you say steroids in baseball without saying, Bud Selig. The commish put his usual goofy spin on it by saying that he was pleased by McGwires confession and that it should make Marks reentry into the game more smooth and easy. What? Wheres the shock and outrage? Did you know about this before? Why didnt you just shove your hands in your pants pockets, like when your other monstrous creation, Barry Bonds set the all-time homerun record? I worry myself when I find that loon Jose Conseco to be the guiding light in all of this mess. As usual, Jose has something to add, and he says that Selig knew all along. At this point who could dispute him? Will he be this approving when Bonds and Hippity-Hoppity come clean? Will he welcome them back with open arms? (After he takes them out of his pockets!) Somewhere, Kennisaw Landis is spinning!

Another one of the things that has me baffled is the timing. How about you Bud? Steroid conversation right on top of the Hall of Fame announcement? Is it just me, or does that just make this all the more unseemly? 5 days after Andre Dawson finds out he is going to be enshrined, we have this? Hey Mark? Do you think the roids would have helped Andres chronically injured knees? Or, did the fact that he played through the pain and limitations to be a shining example, make him a Hall of Famer? When I picked up this weeks USA TODAYS SPORTS WEEKLY, was the new inductee on the cover, as many in the past have been? Nope. Steroid boy was. Is that good for baseball Bud? Are you pleased by McGwires reentry into the national sports media? No sense in having the media fawn on Dawson for a few weeks is there? Does Dawson need this? I cant wait for his speech. Think hell have a few respect for the game comments? Wheres Barry Rosner?!

I think, what this gets down to is, once again, we are being told that we are being told the truth when its not. What I dont understand is that they truly believe that they can get away with it. Do I think McGwire is a bad guy? No, for the most part I dont, I hear from many people that hes a good guy. But, he did do something that we all know is wrong. The point is, the cover-up usually gets you in more trouble than the crime. Not entirely true with a crime of this magnitude, but close enough. Just come clean and you really will be set free. The half-truths and downplaying of what happened are only making it worse. Or more to the point, making Consecos claim that steroid use was institutional, more plausible by the day.

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

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USA Today

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

Joe Maddon needed Mike Montgomery to get through at least six innings given the circumstances presenting the Cubs' manager before Game 2 of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Not only were the Cubs short a man in the bullpen (thanks to Brandon Morrow’s pants-related back injury), but Maddon had to use four relievers — including Pedro Strop for two innings — after Tyler Chatwood managed only five innings in Game 1 earlier in the afternoon. 

So when Montgomery — who had only thrown over 100 pitches once in the last two and a half seasons before Tuesday — saw his pitch count sit at 40 after two innings, and then 63 after three, he knew he needed to regroup to avoid creating a mess for the Cubs’ bullpen. 

What followed was a start that, statistically, wasn’t the most impressive of the five Montgomery’s made since re-joining the Cubs’ rotation earlier this year. But it was an important start in that the 28-year-old left-hander didn’t have his best stuff, yet didn’t give in to a good Dodgers lineup. And holding that bunch to one run over six innings was exactly what the Cubs needed in what turned out to be a 2-1 extra-inning win. 

“Especially when you don’t have have your best stuff, you always gotta — that’s when you really learn how to pitch,” Montgomery said. 

It’s also the kind of start that could be a major point in Montgomery’s favor when Maddon is presented with a decision to make on his starting rotation whenever Yu Darvish comes off the disabled list. Knowing that Montgomery can grind his way through six innings when his team needs it the most without his best stuff only can add to the confidence the Cubs have in him. 

Montgomery didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday, issuing more walks (four) than he had in his previous four starts (three). He threw 48 pitches between the second and third innings, and only 25 of those pitches were strikes. Of the nine times the Dodgers reached base against Montgomery, six were the result of fastballs either leading to a walk or a hit. 

Even though the Dodgers were able to bother Montgomery a bit on his fastball, Maddon said that’s the pitch of his that’s impressed him the most over the last few weeks. 

“He never got rushed,” Maddon said. “In the past he would seem to get rushed when things weren’t going well, when he spot-started. Overall, fastball command is better — even though he was off a little bit tonight, the fastball command still exceeds what I’ve seen in the past couple of years on a more consistent basis. The changeup, really, good pitch. He got out of some jams but I think the fact that he knows where his fastball is going now is the difference-maker for him.”

Darvish will throw a simulated game on Wednesday after throwing two bullpen sessions last week. Maddon still doesn’t have a timetable for the $126 million right-hander’s return, and said he’s not entertaining what to do with his rotation until Darvish comes off the disabled list. But Maddon did mention Montgomery’s relative lack of an innings load — the most he’s thrown in a season in 130 2/3, which he did in 2017 — as a reason to perhaps not rush him into a permanent starting role the rest of the season. Going to a six-man rotation is a possibility, too, Maddon said. 

But the over-arching point is this: Montgomery will remain in the Cubs’ rotation as long as he keeps earning it. That can be the product of strong outings in which he has good stuff, or games like Tuesday in which he shows the Cubs the kind of resiliency most starters need to get through a full season. 

“I pitch well, good things happen,” Montgomery said. “I’ve always thought that. Opportunities, you just gotta make the most of them.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

For the second time in 1998, Sosa went back-to-back games with multiple home runs. After going yard twice on June 19 of that season, Slammin' Sammy again sent two balls into the bleachers on June 20.

He singlehandedly beat the Phillies that night, driving in 5 runs in a 9-4 Cubs victory.

But that wasn't the most impressive feat of the day from Sosa. His second homer was actually measured at a whopping 500 feet! It was the longest of the season, but not the longest of his career. On June 24, 2003, Sosa hit a homer at Wrigley measured at 511 feet.

The back-to-back big games raised Sosa's season OPS to 1.083 with a ridiculous .685 slugging percentage. He began June 1998 with a .608 slugging percentage.

Fun fact: Kerry Wood struck out 11 batters in 7.1 innings on June 20, 1998 to pick up his 7th big-league victory. As Wood marched to the National League Rookie of the Year that season, he finished with a 13-6 record and 233 strikeouts in only 166.2 innings for a career-high 12.6 K/9 rate.