What they're saying about Sammy Sosa

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Let’s take a quick stroll around the blogosphere to see how others are reacting to the Sosa news:

Goat Riders of the Apocalypse: I
hated the punk BEFORE he even joined the Cubs. I hated him when the
White Sox’ GM, Larry Himes (yep, HIM) traded Harold Baines, a friggin’
Sox icon, to Texas for the sideshow fraud. He came up and became a
free-swinging whiff machine. Sure, he had speed and power, a strong
arm, and obvious filling out to do. Physically, Sosa was a specimen.
But his arrogance rubbed his teammates wrong from Day one . . . I’ve
known he was a fraud for nearly 20 years, and if the damn corked bat
wasn’t enough to convince you, the truth is now out here.

Bugs & Cranks: It’s
expected because Sosa’s career progression and statistics smack of
performance enhancing drugs; there’s such a dramatic spike in his power
later in his career it almost moronic no one though to question Sosa at
the time. Sosa’s halfhearted denials and severe drop in performance
after baseball began drug testing only amplified the expectation that
his superstar turn was aided by the juice.

Deadspin: The
real outrage here, as it was with A-Rod, is not who’s on the list but
who’s doing the leaking, a story that for obvious reasons The New York
Times will not be writing. You’ll remember that those tests results
were supposed to be confidential — a perfectly reasonable expectation
of any employee who submits to a drug test — yet now they’re
trickling into public view, merely because somebody wants to remind you
to care deeply about steroids in baseball again.

Bleed Cubbie Blue: We now know, presuming the report on Sosa is true, that the joy [of the 1998 home run race] was
indeed stolen from us. The numbers put up were put up by cartoon
figures, not baseball players as we had known them for decades earlier.
I know, I know, amphetamines in the 50s and 60s, other PEDs, other ways
of cheating, ad nauseum . . . we were sold a bill of goods. They all
swore up and down that they were honest — “Flintstone vitamins,” Sammy
told us with a straight face. Now we know that face was lying to us,
presuming the report is true.

Cant’ Stop the Bleeding: The
obvious attempt to demoralize the Cubs on the eve of this year’s North
Side/South Side Chicago Civil War Reenactment fools no one, Mr. Obama.
It smacks of Cub fan Rod Blagoevich’s fall from the grace as you
ascended to the White House. A cheap shot, SIR, and I hope Bobby Jenks
gets bitten by a clubhouse rat tonight and Ozzie gets hit on the head
by falling concrete in the Wrigley media room.

Baseball Prospectus: I’ve
always followed the steroid story as something of an epidemic. It often
follows the same models, centering around hubs and nodes. The hubs are
players like Jose Canseco or Bill Romanowski in the NFL who were
evangelists for the substances, but the nodes are usually the drug
distributors. The Bay Area had BALCO, Baltimore had their “star”, and
Dallas had their Hollywood connection, while the NFL had doctors in
Pittsburgh and Charlotte, among others, who were willing to supply.
Chicago, however, doesn’t have this issue or at least hasn’t. Looking
at the Cubs roster in 2003 and a year previous, there’s *no one* that
tested positive or that has even had much speculation surrounding their
production. It will be interesting to see if the 2003 list shows such a
cluster existed or if Sosa was one of few singular users.

A fan was attacked, injured outside Dodger Stadium on Friday

Dodger Stadium


The Los Angeles Times reports that there was a fight in the parking lot outside of Dodger Stadium on Friday night that put a fan in critical condition. The fight occurred following the Dodgers Game 1 loss to the Mets when an argument between fans escalated. It is unclear whether the fight was between fans of the rival teams.

Of course fan-in-fan violence is nothing new to Dodger Stadium and everyone recalls the Opening Day 2011 attack of Giants fan Bryan Stow which left him severely injured and brain damaged.

Here’s hoping the hospitalized fan recovers quickly.

Playoff Reset: The Cards and Dodgers have their backs against the wall

Clayton Kershaw

Historically speaking, the Cardinals and Dodgers are the class of the National League. A couple of organizations which have won a ton, have had a lot of classy alpha-types running their respective shows over the years, no shortage of glory, no shortage of history and enough evocative and grand footage in the can to make Ken Burns sepia with envy.

Meanwhile, the Cubs and Mets, while they’ve won some and have some wonderful history too, are far better known for their failures. For dubious achievements and fan bases which have, collectively, spent far more time smacking their own foreheads than high-fiving the guy in the seat next to them. Nevertheless, by the time we go to bed tonight it’s quite possible that the classy organizations with the long resumes of winning baseball will have been eliminated by the sad sacks and that we’re going to be treated to a Mets-Cubs NLCS.

In short: today’s NLDS contests are “the big game” sequences in any late-70s-mid-90s “slobs vs. snobs” comedy movie. Camp Mohawk vs. Camp Northstar. Lane Meyer vs. Roy Stalin skiing the K-12. Thornton Mellon vs. Chas in the diving meet. Once these things are over don’t be surprised to see someone on the Mets or Cubs kissing some girl way out of their league and to be asking yourself, “wait, why are there cheerleaders at a diving meet?”

Of course baseball isn’t as scripted as all of that and William Zabka is, according to IMDb, in pre-production on some Civil War project, so he can’t make it. I have no idea what that’s about. I can only assume he’s playing some stuck-up Confederate General who will lose to Curtis Armstrong’s disheveled Union general in The Big Battle, after which we cut to credits over some tossed-off Dave Edmunds song he wrote for the soundtrack just for the money.

Which is to say: we have to watch these games to see what happens:

The Game: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
The Time: 4:37 p.m. ET
The Place: Wrigley Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: John Lackey vs. Jason Hammel
The Upshot: Wow, those were a lot of dingers given up by Michael Wacha and his friends last night, huh? The good news is that they’re running Lackey out there this afternoon and Lackey has owned the Cubs of late, going 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in four starts against them, including his gem in Game 1 on Friday night. The bad news: even a half dozen recent starts aren’t great predictively speaking, and Lackey is on short rest. TBS will show highlights of Lackey pitching on short rest in the 2002 World Series today, but think about what you were doing in 2002 and whether you’d be just as good at it today as then. Hammel has the ball for the Cubs. He has not fared well against the Cardinals this season (5.37 ERA) but the same small sample stuff applies.

Injuries could be a key consideration here, as Addison Russell may be on the shelf for the Cubs following his hamstring tweak in last night’s game. Likewise Yadier Molina left early, apparently having aggravated his thumb injury. Otherwise: wear a helmet if you’re in the Bleachers at Wrigley this afternoon. Balls may be flying out your way.

The Game: Los Angels Dodgers vs. New York Mets
The Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
The Place: Citi Field
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Clayton Kershaw vs. Steven Matz
The Upshot: The Clayton Kershaw Legacy Game. It’s not fair to Kershaw that, after eight years of completely dominating Major League Baseball people will deem him worthy or unworthy of, well, whatever, based on his 10th postseason start, but they will. If he falters today on short rest, with no reliable bullpen to bail him out, people will call him some sort of choke artist. If he dominates he’ll be considered redeemed, though he’s never been a guy in need of redemption. I don’t care much for that game, but it’s inevitable it will be played so let’s just silently roll our eyes and go with it. The Mets may have a bigger question mark on the mound in Steven Matz, who hasn’t pitched in a couple of weeks thanks to a tweak in his back in the last week of the season.

This should feel like a totally different game. The Utley drama has to subside now, especially given that he’s unlikely to get the start against a tough lefty. And that tough lefty is, with all due respect, no Brett Anderson. You can bet against Clayton Kershaw and win, but it’s not the sort of thing I’d make a habit of.

In any event, the Cubs and Mets should play this on a loop in the Clubhouse before today’s games. Because . . . it just doesn’t matter!

Yoenis Cespedes and his bat flip say good morning

Yoenis Cespedes

It was a late night last night. Especially for old farts like me. I turned on my TV at 12:30 yesterday afternoon and there was baseball on it for just about 12 hours straight. Not too shabby unless you happen to root for the Astros, Rangers, Cardinals or Dodgers. Oh well, today is another day. Or tomorrow if today is a travel day.

In the meantime, we have Yoenis Cespedes to keep us happy, alert and occupied. Again, unless you’re a Dodgers fan. Of course, if you are a Dodgers fan you got absolutely no right to be upset at a bat flip following a homer. And if I catch you complaining, you’re getting a time out.