Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air!
The season is off to a bang with some pop chick singing “Make it happen! It’s always a brand new day!” I don’t know who she is or what she’s doing on WGN, but she is singing over a montage of 2004 “highlights” of the Cubs season. You know. Like Todd Hollandsworth bashing his head into the right field wall of Turner Field to make a catch. From what I could tell, The Gladiator was missing from all of the “highlights.” Also missing were Latroy Hawkins’ eleventy bazillion blown saves.
Well, here is the annoying voice of Len Kasper and the Fu Man Chu of Bob Brenly. And HOLY CRAP! The Cubs signed Aramis for four years! Thanks a lot, Comcast, for the internet being down. It would have been nice to see that going into the game. Now Kasper and Brenly are going to pretend that the Diamondbacks are good now, after they lost 111 games last year. What a waste of time.
I’ll tell you what. It’s weird to not hear Chip’s voice doing broadcasts. Like him or hate him (usually hate), he had become a familiar voice at least. Wouldn’t you think WGN’s logo would have either a “W” a “G” or an “N”? Nope. Just an “S.”
Apparently, the Diamondbacks are going to be “leaning heavily” on Javier Vasquez to anchor the rotation. Apparently Shawn F. Estes isn’t a top-of-the-rotation guy, despite his OPENING DAY START last year. Ah, drop dead, Shawn. Those Geico caveman commercials are pretty funny. I’m sure they’ll get annoying the 19th time I see them during this game.
Top of the 1st
Some greaseballs watch in Cubs jerseys as the D-Backs take the field. Ah, Patterson leading off. Dusty is still a raging moron. It’d be nice to get the first hit out of the way in the first inning. The way this offense is structured, it may also be the last hit.
Sounds like the fans can barely contain their excitement. You could hear a freaking pin drop in Bank One. Or Chase Bank. Or whatever the hell it’s called today. Oh, good Tim Tschida is umping first base. I hope Latroy gets a chance to punch him in the face.
Patterson took a pitch! Considering he didn’t walk at all during spring training, that’s a good thing. And he smacks a 1-1 pitch into center for the first Cub hit of the season! Holy crap! And he’s running right away! It looked like he got a good jump. Walker should have noticed that and not swung at the first offering. Oh, well. He got to 2nd on a past ball a couple pitches later. Then he threw a heaping handful of seeds into his mouth. Don’t worry. You probably won’t need that saliva later, Corey.
Walker BLASTS one to center, but Jose Cruz Jr. got it, allowing Corey to tag up. I thought he had a double. Corey proves that you can run and spit seeds at the same time. And Nose-Mar drives Corey in on a grounder for the first run of the season. Holy freakin’ small ball!
Aramis Ramirez is a fricking stud, by the way. Not only in real life, but in my MVP Baseball 2005 Owner Mode. He almost drags Royce Clayton, star of Disney’s The Rookie, into center field with a base hit. Zambrano is already exhausting his first piece of gum.
Here comes Burnitz. He follows Dawson and Sosa in a bid to be the next Cub right fielding legend. Good luck, Popeye. Holy crap! Even Burnitz has a hit! Did Mel Stottlemeyer destroy Javier Vasquez, too? Thanks, Mel. As an aside, can you imagine the difference if Randy Johnson were starting this game? Thank God that bastard is out of the NL. He could pitch until he was 80 if he only started against the Cubs.
Zambrano is not going to like this strike zone. I promise you that.
The Cub hitters are tattooing Vasquez. Lee singles in Aramis with two outs. The three two-out hits in the first match the entire two-out hit total of the 2004 version of the Chicago Cubs. Somewhere, The Gladiator and Moisty Alou are crying.
Hollandsworth has the exact same batting stance as Burnitz, doesn’t he? I edited him in MVP Baseball to have the same stance, at least. Holla chases a high strike, but that’s okay because I still love to yell, “Holla!” Good first inning for the Cubs, as they lead 2-0.
Bottom of the 1st
I sort of like Kasper so far. He shuts up every once in a while, which is a quality that eluded Chip Caray. Also, Kasper’s eyebrows don’t terrify me.
Craig Counsell, while a fellow Notre Dame grad, is an embarrassment. For God’s sake, man, your stance is ridiculous. Zambrano comes back from being down 3-0 to get Counsell to fly out to Burnitz.
I’m going to take a calmer approach to the 2005 Cubs season. I almost gave myself a nervous tick last year. Of course, if Zambrano keeps working every single hitter to a 3-2 count, I’m not going to enjoy this. Clayton blows, Z. Get him. And he does. Sweet.
Luis Gonzalez is up, and he couldn’t have a more appropriate nickname than “Gonzo,” because he looks like a Muppet. Z almost beans him in the nads. Ali is there. He’s either keeping score or passing out, God bless him. Z whiffs Gonzo, and the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” cries out briefly, and is suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened to Mick Jagger. Cubs still up 2-0.
I thought I would be able to avoid the Fever Pitch ads this game. Is there a worse person on earth than Jimmy Fallon? Seriously. My kingdom for a license to kill. I hope the Pope badmouths Jimmy Fallon to God.
Top of the 2nd
Michael Barrett, my favorite non-pitcher Cub, steps to the plate. Jim Hendry’s kid apparently told Hendry to sign Aramis. I wonder if his dog told him to sign Neifi and Macias. Barrett pops out in foul ground.
Z hits a frickin’ double down the line. I want this kid to win the Cy Young this year. I love Kerry Wood, and I love Mark Prior, but I want Z to win the thing this year. Man, he’s good.
Corey is 2-2, driving in Z to make it 3-0 Cubs. If I were Mike Bradt ver. 2004, I would be peeing in my pants with glee. This Mike Bradt is a calmer, gentler, less-stressed Mike Bradt.
Walker pulls one through the right side of the infield for the 70th Cub hit of the season. This is starting to look like my MVP Baseball season. Except I traded Jose Macias for Ryan Freel and Neifi Perez for Bobby Hill. Straight up. Make it happen, Jim.
Now Nose-Mar drives in Corey for the 8th hit and the 4th run. Corey has some wheels, doesn’t he? Holla and Barrett need hits to get in on this sweet, sweet action. I hope my “Top of the . . .” sections stay a lot longer than my “Bottom of the . . . “ sections.
Aramis hits a ball that hasn’t landed yet to make it 6-0 Cubs. Great baserunning by Nose-Mar to score from first. A-Ram ends up on second. By the way, that was an 0-2 count to Aramis.
After a Burnitz whiff (it’s okay, because it was a high pitch), Derek Lee doubles to bring home Aramis to make it 7-0. Save some of this, fellas. They already have 10 hits.
Matt Williams is there with his hot wife as the Cubs already get into the vaunted D-Backs’ bullpen only 1 2/3 of an inning into the game. I guess Javier Vasquez can’t handle the pressure cooker that is Arizona, either.
Some stupid old man fell onto the field trying to catch a Holla foul ball. I’ll call him Bartman Sr. Sorry to invoke his name. Holla grounds out, keeping it 7-0 Cubs. It looks like the official Commercial of the Game will be a Robocop ad. Fantastic.
Bottom of the 2nd
The D-Backs needed to bring out Ryno for the ceremonial first 4-3 put-out. I guess all the D-Back legends were unavailable.
Z whiffs Glaus to start the inning. I’m warming quickly to this broadcast team. They’re generic, but that’s okay. Shawn Green tries to step into a Z slider. Not a good idea, fool. I see the White Sox actually won a pitchers’ duel. Don’t get used to it, morons. Z also whiffs Green for his 3rd straight K.
I don’t like the fact that Z has had 3, 3-2 counts already. It finally cost him, as Jose Cruz, Jr. hits a solo shot to make it 7-1 Cubs. He hit a pretty good pitch to take it out. That’s fine. Brenly just said you’d rather have a solo shot than a walk in that situation. Odd.
What the hell? A bird just came plummeting to the field, and the ump for some reason gave it to Ryan Dempster, who coddled it like a babe in swaddling clothing. Looks like Ryan’s dining well tonight! Chad Tracy, inspired by the bird, singles. Z needs to settle himself. Z whiffs Koyie Hill to end the inning, but ran him to a 3-2 count. I wonder how many pitches he has. Dusty wonders how many more he has before he gets to 300. Cubs lead 7-1.
Unrelated note: For a good, reasonably-priced beer, go with Labatt Blue. Those Canucks know what they’re doing.
Top of the 3rd
Barrett creams one, but he’s out. Kasper answers my question: Z has 46 pitches through 2 innings. Surprisingly, neither Kasper nor Brenly has made a “Who’s picking up the check?” joke. That’s a good thing. Z whiffs. I love watching him swing. If Happy Gilmore had a baseball swing, it would be Z’s.
Corey is up for the 3rd time already, but he’s begun chasing high pitches, too. Nerts. He swings at three straight out of the zone, and the old Corey briefly rears his ugly head. No big deal yet, as the Cubs still lead 7-1.
Bottom of the 3rd
Z needs a quick, 10-pitch inning. Quinton McCracken, whose parents would be far cooler if they had named him “Phil” is up, and he singles.
Z could use a double play, but he runs the count 3-0 to Counsell, finally losing him. Z falls behind to Clayton, too. Ah, sweet frustration. There you are. Rothschild comes out to say hello to Z, who pretends he understands English. Z gets the double play he needed out of Clayton, as McCracken moves to 3rd. I’ll tell you what, Nose-Mar made a heck of a play on that double play. He basically had to catch the ball over his shoulder, turn, and fire to first to get the relatively speedy Clayton.
Gonzo bunts his way on and scores McCracken to make it 7-2 Cubs. Smart move. I don’t like how Z decided to just throw the ball away for no reason, but Gonzo didn’t see it and stays at first. Z quickly gets Glaus on a check swing to end the inning, anyhow. Cubs up 7-2.
Top of the 4th
The third D-Back pitcher makes his appearance, a lefty by the name of Gosling. He’s greeted by a bloop single from Walker. Then Nose-Mar bloops one. Great baserunning by Walker to get to 3rd on the hit. That’s 12 Cub hits. I smell a 3-run homer with A-Ram at the plate. Especially now that he has a 2-0 count on him. Instead he ground into a double play, but at least he brings home the run, making it 8-2 Cubs. A-Ram swings so hard. I also believe I heard him use the “fudge” word on his way back to the dugout.
Burnitz drives one the opposite way for another Cub hit. There looks to be some lady in a white robe and a pink hat walking behind the backstop. If I were to draw Resurrection Mary, it would have been that lady. They only come out on Opening Day.
I wish Derek Lee could learn the art of leaning into a pitch. He could do it at least once a game. Sissy. They showed some slob in a red Cubs shirt chowing down on nachos. I implore you, Cubs fans, to please not wear red Cubs shirts. Cardinals wear red. Cubs wear blue. Don’t be stupid. Lee fouled off a few, but struck out looking on a breaking ball right down the pipe. Annoying. Cubs still up 8-2.
Bottom of the 4th
Have you bought your Cubs blue “BELIEVE” bracelet? No? Good. I try to only wear bracelets that support good causes like fighting testicular cancer or breast cancer. Not that my team wins some games. It’s a rubber band, for God’s sake. Another 3-2 count to Green, and Z loses him. Z desperately needs a low-pitch inning, and he’s not off to a good start. Has he started anyone with a strike?
Z throws over to first, and I realize how much Tim Tschida looks like an old-timey bartender. I hope the next time Z throws over there, he’s spitting into a mug and wiping it with a dirty rag. I think Z is actually fooling the home plate ump with these pitches, so he strikes out Cruz the old-fashioned way, swinging, in honor of Tim Tschida’s saloon.
FINALLY! Z gets Tracy down 0-1. Good. He fists the 0-1 offering into right, though, for a base hit. Holy crap! A-Ram just made a great catch in foul territory to get Koyie Hill. Awesome. Z needed that badly, as he got Hill with one pitch.
Tony Clark (or Tony Clark’s rotting corpse) comes up. Can you imagine a worse fate than being on the 2004 Yankees and then being relegated to the 2005 Diamondbacks? Other than being a Cardinals fan? I didn’t think so. Z makes quick work of him, striking him out on three straight. Good, quick inning for Z as the Cubs still lead 8-2.
Top of the 5th
Aquino, yet another D-Back pitcher, as Tony Clark hit for Gosling. Holla needs a hit. And he gets one! Barrett is the only hitless Cub today. Unless you include Macias. He’s symbolically hitless for his lifetime, though.
Barrett’s hair is way shorter this year, making him look less “frat boy” and more “Major League baseball player.” Holla looks like he wants to run, as Aquino keeps throwing over there. One more dive back to first, and he’s going to shatter like Mr. Glass. Dang. I thought Barrett had his first hit, as he nailed one on the screws, but Gonzo caught it.
For a bigger dude, Z can sure get down the line. He’s barely thrown out on a chopper to short, moving Holla to 2nd.
Corey steps in as Kasper finally uses the horrendous cliché, “duck on the pond.” Corey shows great patience at the plate, working a 3-0 count. I like seeing him lay off a 3-0 fastball on the outside corner, too. Make him bring it, Corey. Aquino can’t, and Corey draws the first Cub walk of the season. How ironic.
Walker pulls a ball off the 1st base bag for the 15th Cub hit, scoring Holla and making it 9-2 Cubs. Everything’s coming up Cubs so far. Can I thank Nomar Garciaparra, by the way, in case he ever reads my blog, for making Cubs fans everywhere very, very happy. You’re an outstanding player, Nomar, and we’re unbelievably lucky to have you in Chicago. But you just whiffed. So what have you done for me lately? 9-2 Cubs.
Bottom of the 5th
Counsell singles and they cut to a shot of Brenly and Kasper. They’re both wearing “BELIEVE” bracelets. One good thing about this broadcast team is at least there’s not the height mismatch of Chip and Steve Stone. I swear, it looked like Chip could have just picked him up by his head, crushed him, and spread his jellified body on toast. Z whiffs Clayton. How about a double play now, Z? He whiffs Gonzo. Good enough.
Z gives up a double, and now he’s starting to get squeezed, so he walks Green. Bases loaded. Z completely getting squeezed now, and he walks in a run to make it 9-3 Cubs. He’s out, won’t get the win, and we get to see the chinless Glendon Rusch now. Now Z gets himself ejected. Good start, Z. You’re still up 6 runs. Shut your mouth. Certainly Bob Watson will suspend him for the season for this. Ass bag. Rusch comes in and gets a pop out to end the inning with the Cubs still up 9-3.
Top of the 6th
A-Ram earns a walk to start the inning. Burnitz with another hit. Derek Lee hits the living snot out of the ball to straightaway center to make it 12-3 Cubs. I think Kasper confused himself on the home run call. I think he said something along the lines of, “Ah! It’s gone!” He scared me. Another trip to the bullpen as Brad Halsey comes in.
Holla grounds out, setting the stage for Barrett to get his first hit. He hits a scorcher, but Counsell catches it. Rusch flies out to end the inning, and it’s 12-3 Cubs, as it’s turning into a laugher.
Bottom of the 6th
Koyie Hill pops out in the time it took me to run to the bathroom and get back. Have I made a snide “Koyie” comment yet? No? Well, it’s a dumb name. Glendon also makes quick work of Halsey. I like Glendon coming out of the bullpen. Of course, I don’t particularly like Dempster in the rotation. Sigh.
Glendon walks Counsell. I don’t know if it’s the beer or the blowout, but I’m losing my normally intense focus. Clayton singles. Counsell to third. Yawn. Get this last out, Glendon. Brenly is trying to make it seem like it’s crucial that Glendon get Gonzo here, even though the Cubs will still have a 6-run lead if he goes yard. Nice effort, but no dice. Burnitz makes a nice snow-cone catch to end the inning, keeping it 12-3 Cubs after a shaky Rusch inning.
Top of the 7th
WGN is now televising paintball. We’ve finally bottomed out, folks. So this is what it feels like. Corey gets good wood on the ball, driving it to right-center, but it’s caught. Hairston comes in for Walker. I like this guy, and I wish him the best in his Cub career. He’s exactly what many of the Cub hitters aren’t. He doesn’t strike out much, he’s fast, and he can bunt. He flies out to Shawn Green, though, exhibiting none of those three qualities. Nose-Mar hits one off Halsey’s glove and reaches 1st, but gets screwed out of a hit by a hometown scorer.
Aramis likes his new contract. He hits one to the opposite field off Halsey for his third hit of the game, his first homer of the season, and the 14th Cub run, leaving them one shy of the Cub record for runs scored in a season opener. Burnitz whiffs (get used to it) to end the inning, but not before the Cubs take a 14-3 lead.
Bottom of the 7th
Good God it’s the first appearance of Neifi Perez. At least Dubois came in for Holla to make me hate Dusty less. The Cub starting infield went 11-17 with 2 homers today. Wow. Mike Bradt ver. 2004 says, “We’re definitely going to win the World Series this year.” I say the Cubs look good today.
A walk and a single, and there are two on with no out for Glendon. Now, the bases are loaded with a walk. Glendon’s miserable spring is carrying into the season, as he has three walks already. Crap, guys, we’re only three grand slams away from a loss. Tracy hits a sac fly to make it 14-4 Cubs. This home plate ump sucks, by the way. He’s squeezing Rusch now. Weak.
Yay! My first Henry Blanco sighting! I think he may be the ugliest Cub on the current roster. Patterson makes a good play on a sac fly by Koyie Hill, making it 14-5 Cubs. Rusch gets Halsey to ground out to Hairston, and the inning ends with a 14-5 Cub lead.
Top of the 8th
Somehow, this lady in the stands let her husband out of the house wearing a bright orange Illinois t-shirt with a red-brimmed, blue Cubs hat. Not to be the fashion police, but that it just downright ugly. Derek Lee is in the zone. He picks up his fourth hit, a double. It would really help if he didn’t take April off this year, like he normally does.
Dubois is up. He needs a homer to wake up Dusty. I want Dubois to homer every time he hits this year. Because of Dusty’s penchant for playing rookies, I would guess that would give him 35 homers. Dubois rips a single for the 20th hit of the day for the Cubs. Gene Clines must be sexually aroused right now.
This is Barrett’s sixth chance to get a hit, and he FINALLY does to drive in Lee and make it 15-5 Cubs. This is getting somewhat out of hand. Now we get to see Jose Macias, who promptly grounds into a double play on the first pitch he sees. Is there a more useless player in the game of baseball than Jose Macias? The answer is no. I hate him. It’s a travesty that he made this team and David Kelton was sent down.
Bob Melvin looks like he wishes he were wearing adult diapers. Corey Patterson helps set a Cub record by driving in Dubois to make it 16-5 Cubs, the most runs the Cubs have scored on Opening Day in Cub history. Way to hit the ground running, fellas. Your success has made my sarcastically-planned column much more serious than I would have liked, but I’ll take it. There are 12 people left in Bank One. What troopers. Hairston grounds out to end the inning at a whopping 16-5 Cubs.
Bottom of the 8th
Cliff Bartosh throws his first pitches as a Cub, getting Counsell to ground out to the mostly-useless Macias for the out. Good thing Lee is playing first, because Jose threw that thing directly into the ground, which is slightly above eye level for him. Bartosh whiffs Clayton. Bartosh has a nice and easy 1-2-3 inning to send the Cubs into the 9th with the score still 16-5 Cubs.
Top of the 9th
Sweet. Neifi is up. He shatters his bat on a foul ball, exposing no cork inside of it. Surprise, surprise. He pops out, much to the chagrin of the Neifi Perez Bandwagon. Bartosh actually has a better at bat than Neifi, dropping a base hit into right. That’s his first career hit, and they gave it to Kerry Wood. Kerry pretended to throw it into the stands, and Brenly made some good jokes about what Kerry might write on the ball. Burnitz strikes out for the third time. Three hits. Three strikeouts. Good old Burnitz.
There’s another pitch Lee could have leaned into. In a 16-5 game, we need that run. Damn. Lee couldn’t get on. I wanted another Dubois at-bat. Barring an 11-run rally, I can’t see that happening now.
Bottom of the 9th
Wellemeyer comes in out of the bullpen. He has a quick inning, allowing only a few hits and a run. Wellemeyer’s shoulders are like a woman’s business suit from the 1980’s. Perfectly square. Good for him. Some bald jackass with a pony tail is wearing a “This Old Cub” shirt. Give it up, man. You’re bald. Lose the sandals, put on a suit, and support your drug habit the American way. Kasper just said that Burnitz decided to “Eat it out in right.” Put your own inflection into that sentence, but it sure sounded dirty.
CUBS WIN as Wellemeyer gets a K for the final out. Good start to 2005, boys. Keep it up now!