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Archive for May, 2007

Mr. Hendry, Your Bullpen Flat Out Stinks

Posted by sportsmaven on May 17, 2007

I usually try to wait until after the emotions of a particular event subside before writing about that event, but today, I simply can’t wait.  I just finished watching the Chicago Cubs enter the bottom of the 9th inning against the New York Mets with a 5-1 lead and with closer Ryan Dempster on the mound.  Starting pitcher Angel Guzman pitched a heck of a game and has battled for over two years to get his first major league victory and was in line to do that today until that Cubs bullpen in typical format, gives up 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th to give away yet another game and lose in walk-off fashion, 6-5.

Cubs Lose A Heartbreaker to the Mets 6-5

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Now I realize that every man in that bullpen is working hard and trying to get outs.  Nobody is trying not to win, but this is just unbearable to watch.  I mean, I recall a bitter game on July 28, 2002 against the St. Louis Cardinals on an ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast when Antonio Alfonseca and others gave up a five run lead to lose a game by 1 in the ninth inning (Cards were losing 9-4 in the bottom of the ninth; Edgar Renteria hit a three-run homer to top off a 6-run comeback to win the game for the Cards, 10-9) and today’s game brings back memories of that painful night.  The Cubs went on to finish that season 67-95.

The end of today’s game was completely crushing for Cubs fans.  Yes, the Cubs are 3 games under .500 for the season, but this seems like a team that is going nowhere fast.  There is no consistency on this team, unless you count the fact that they are consistently inconsistent.  One day it’s the offense not hitting, going 0-16 in bases loaded situations until Aramis Ramirez’ grand slam homer on Tuesday night, one day, it’s the defense not making plays or making errors.  Most every time, it’s the bullpen blowing leads, giving up runs in mop up duty.  The bullpen has clearly been the achilles heel of this team, racking up a 2-12 record so far through the not so young season.  This is quickly turning into another lost season unless something is done now.  Better get some new bullpen guys and fast.

So, for $300 million, we get this?  The new ownership can’t get here fast enough, in my opinion…..

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Chicago Cubs Bullpen Give Another Game Away

Posted by sportsmaven on May 14, 2007

My posts on the Chicago Cubs this season have generally not been glowing. Tonight’s post will not enter that territory either. The reason being is that the Cubs are headed for a mediocre at best season. Tonight’s game against the New York Mets is a prime example of that. Too many Cubs seasons have either begun with a flourish only to be bogged down by the realities of the level of talent, injury, or futility. Since the division winning season of 2003, the Cubs have been flat, and fundamentally flawed. There have been too many games where the Cubs failed to get bunts down, advance runners, hold runners from advancing, throwing to the correct bases, making too many mental errors, the list goes on.

Cubs Bullpen Give Another Game Away to Mets

(AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)

This year, the problems again happen to be the same as other years — the bullpen has to be one of the worst in baseball. The Cubs bullpen is 3-10 this season. Ten losses in the first 36 games due to your bullpen. Tonight, 3 walks in the 9th inning, walking in the winning run, by P Michael Wuertz, up to now, the most reliable pitcher in the pen outside of Ryan Dempster. The timely hitting which seemed to appear at the turn of May has given way to the maddening inconsistency that dogged the Cubs in April.

The Cubs can ill afford to hover around the 2 games under .500 mark with roughly 25% of the season already in the books.  On Saturday, the Cubs bullpen gave up 6 runs in the bottom of the 7th after scoring 6 runs in the top of the inning to take a 7-5 lead, ultimately losing that game 11-7.  Some changes need to be made and quickly for this team. The surplus of outfielders might be a good start in picking up some reliable bullpen arms. The latest injury to 1B Derrek Lee is also a great concern. It was about this time last season that Lee was injured in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers that sent the Cubs into a downward, last place spiral for which they could never overcome. Losing Lee again would be a huge blow for this team’s chances. The Cubs have wasted brilliant starting pitching from Jason Marquis, Ted Lilly, and Rich Hill. The time for this team to come around is now. Excuses are running out, and so is time on a successful season at the rate it’s going now……

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Chicago Bulls Pull One Out On The Detroit Pistons

Posted by sportsmaven on May 13, 2007

Game 4 of the Chicago BullsDetroit Pistons playoff series was about one thing, and one thing only: Did the Bulls have any heart? I think the answer to that question was a resounding yes. As we have been reminded time and time again, no team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. None, nada, zippo. Heck, teams with a 3-1 defecit have come back to win the series a total of 8 times in 162 tries. So, nearly impossible?  Today’s 102-87 victory over the Pistons is a good start.
Bulls Beat Pistons 102-87

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Logic is telling me that the Bulls will meet their demise in Game 5 of this series, as the locale moves back to Detroit, but there is a growing part of me that thinks, “Someone has to be the first team to win a series being down 3-0, why not the Bulls?” So what will it take for the Bulls to win this series? Well, frankly, a miracle, but miracles do happen, but the Bulls need more. They need to:

1. Keep moving through the Pistons zone defense – The Bulls did this quite effectively today, but inexplicably, they stopped doing it during most of the 4th quarter. When they stopped being aggressive with their cuts, Detroit came back. Same thing happened in Game 3, and before we knew it, 19 point lead and the game were history.

2. Limit turnovers – The Bulls must drastically limit the amount of turnovers, with the main culprit being G Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich’s drive and dump passes have been sloppy, with the Pistons taking advantage to run their limited fast breaks. The Bulls did much better today in limiting the amount of devistating turnovers, and will need to continue this trend to have a chance.

3.  Ben Gordon, Hinrich, and Luol Deng need stellar performances — not one of the three, not two of the three, but all three need to step up and lead for this team to have a chance.  Deng dropped 25 pts. on the Pistons today with Hinrich and Gordon netting 19 each.  If the Bulls can get the same amount of production from their Big 3, that will go a long way towards getting back in this series.  If even one falters, go get the golf clubs.

4.  Play with energy, emotion, and intensity for 48 minutes – this is the Tyrus Thomas  rule, for he is the only Chicago Bull that has faithfully followed this rule whenever he steps on the court.  The Bulls need to, at minimum, match the Pistons intensity and more like exceed their intensity and energy to have a fighting chance.  The Bulls came out today and did that for most of the 48 minutes today.  They will have to continue this trend to continue playing on…

5.  Play for today, don’t look beyond today’s game — have to take it game by game, even quarter by quarter.  Small victories, win each quarter.  Look beyond any of that and y0u are dead in the water…..

So maybe the Bulls don’t have a chance, but maybe they do.  Which team will show up in Detroit on Tuesday.  The Bulls have nothing to lose at this point, so play all out and play hard.  Don’t leave anthing on the court.  That’s how you get back into the series.  It’s not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is….

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