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.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
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Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.