That’s it, Milton Bradley, it’s On!

And just so you know, OBP is not a valid Scrabble word.

I’ve defended and ridiculed Milton Bradley over the past year, leaning heavily toward defending him. But his latest comments have me fired up. His Mariners are back in town to face the White Sox, so now that we’re in the same time zone, I’m issuing him a challenge.

It doesn’t matter to me that Milton said he was misrepresented or that the middle-aged white media couldn’t understand him (they couldn’t). I don’t care if he says he got along great with his Cubs teammates. His personality as a baseball player is of no concern to me whatsoever.

But Milton says he’s an 1180-SATs nerd. And he plays Scrabble. WHAT!!!?!!!?11! It’s so on.

If you really do play Scrabble on your phone, I hereby challenge you, Milton, to a game of Words with Friends for the iPhone. My handle is Adambuckled. The stakes: um . . . I don’t know. I really can’t offer you much. How about a glowing review of your ability to not make outs and a scathing diatribe against Paul Sullivan? Deal?

The gauntlet has been thrown down. Are you nerd enough to challenge me?

P.S. If you Google “Milton Bradley Scrabble,” Milton’s interview doesn’t show up for a long, long time. Apparently that was already a pretty popular search phrase.

Cubs Flashback: Ozzie’s Right. We are Stupid.

Without the time, energy, or emotional fortitude to post something original, here’s a rerun from last year . . . kinda suits the occasion.


Seriously. Ozzie is on to something.

When the White Sox first made Ozzie Guillen their manager, my instant response was one word: Genius. I didn’t think he was a genius, I just thought the move was genius. If any person in my lifetime has embodied what it means to be a part of the White Sox . . . thing, it was Ozzie. Perfect guy for the job. Perfect face of the organization. Perfect person for Sox fans to love and Cub fans to hate.

But something happened in the years that followed: Ozzie grew on me.
To be perfectly honest, I have come to acknowledge that Ozzie Guillen really is a managerial genius. I’m not talking about his X’s and O’s (whatever that term really means in baseball). I mean, Ozzie is the quintessential baseball evil genius.
Ozzie works the Chicago media (and, at times, the national media) like marionettes in his diabolical hands. He takes pressure off his players when they need that. He puts pressure on his players when they need a kick in the butt. He enters into the psyche of opposing teams and fans. And when he’s really backed into a corner, he can just ramble on unintelligibly for five minutes—and like an R.E.M. song or a Tarantino film, people just kind of get it, even though they don’t know why.
After the Cubs/Sox series, Ozzie responded to a Lou Piniella comment about the Sox and their inability to draw fans for anyone but the Cubs. His words: “Our fans aren’t stupid like Cubs fans. Our fans know we’re [expletive]. Cub fans will watch any game, because “Wrigley Field is just a bar.”
A lot of outrage exploded throughout Cubdom, but I’ve got news for you, Cub fans, and it really shouldn’t be news: Ozzie is right. We are stupid, and this team is [expletive] right now. Heck, not even right now. Have you glanced at the sports section in the last century? Cub baseball is not where it’s at. We’re idiots. We’re dumb. We’re mindless. We’re dreamers.
And proud of it.
Look, only an idiot would have anticipated that Rudy would see on-field action for the fighting Irish. Only a moron would have placed his money on Milan to win the 1954 Indiana high school state basketball championship. The dummies picked David over Goliath. Cheering for the Cubs is not smart.
But we do it because we long for that feeling of overcoming the odds (which were actually pretty good heading into the season). We cheer for the underdog (even though the Cubs have paid enough, but haven’t won enough, to shed that tag). We show up to watch an expletive team and put ourselves through expletive for the chance at seeing history, affixing ourselves to it, and proclaiming to the world, “Holy expletive! The Cubs won the Series!”
It is stupid. It is far-fetched. It is a terrible commentary on our intellect. But it is our hope, and it’s all we got. Well, that and a mighty fine bar in which to drown our sorrows.

Stat of the Week: Mark Buehrle Works Fast. Real Fast.

Normally I don’t like to focus my attention on guys who grow up Cardinal fans and become White Sox. But I have to make an exception just this once.

Obviously, Mark Buehrle faced the minimum today. That’s why they call it a perfect game. It’s common knowledge he’s a guy who likes to work quickly (he only spent 31 minutes on the mound in this game; Steve Trachsel has gone that long in between pitches). His fastball might be slow, but his games go by like blinks. But never in history has there been a pitcher who has been able to work this quickly through so many games. Sure, it’s Buehrle’s 1st perfect game. It’s his 2nd no hitter. But facing the minimum is old hat for the Missouri native.

This is the third time Mark Buehrle has thrown a complete-game shutout and faced the minimum 27 batters. Check it:
July 21, 2004. White Sox over the Indians 14-0. Buehrle 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 27 BF (Batters Faced)
April 18, 2007. White Sox beat the Rangers 6-0. Buehrle 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 SO, 27 BF
July 23, 2009. White Sox defeat the Rays 5-0. Buehrle 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 SO, 27 BF
And, although it must have seemed like a marathon outing, here’s one more just to make us jealous Cub fans squirm:
August 3, 2001. White Sox best the Devil Rays 4-0. Buehrle 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, 28 BF
I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to find a list of 9-inning games where the minimum 27 batters were faced by a pitcher or pitching staff. A comment on the latest baseball-reference blog claims that no other pitcher has duplicated Buehrle’s feat, but I can’t verify the fact.
Right now, I’m simply holding firm to the idea that it’s a pretty safe bet. Buehrle is in a league all his own. Congrats.

The ’09 Cub Fan Manifesto: I Want Ugly

I’m asking any Cub fan who will listen (and any Cardinal or White Sox fan who will mock) to join me in a sign of solidarity and pragmatic desperation. Just . . . repeat after me.
I want ugly.
I want the Chicago Cubs to go limping into the playoffs.
I want things to look bad.
I want the National League Central to be known as the worst division in baseball.
I want the Cubs to be forgotten.
I want baseball purists to question the validity of allowing any team from this division to play in the postseason.
I want as many Cubs as possible to perform below expectations.
I want the Cubs to ride the wave of midwest mediocrity straight into October.
I want the Cubs to stay out of first place until the very last day of the season.
I want ugly.
I don’t want to feel good about the Cubs’ chances in the playoffs.
I don’t want to draw a favorable matchup.
I don’t want the lefty-righty advantage.
I don’t want to hear Joe Morgan, Joe Buck, or Joe Mama telling me the Cubs have what it takes to win.
I don’t want the Cubs to play in a way that inspires us fans to cheer louder.
I don’t want respect.
I don’t want admiration.
I want ugly.
I want the 2009 Cubs to go down in history as the worst team ever to make the playoffs.
I want to hear boos cascading (and see booze cascading) down upon Cub outfielders.
I want to hear ESPN analysts dismiss the Cubs as the team everyone wants to play in the opening round.
I want the Cubs’ division clinching win to air in the second half of Sports Center.
I want shame.
I want low expectations.
I want the world to know just how overpaid this Cubs team is.
I want Triumph, the insult comic dog, to poop on the Cubs.
I want ugly.
I don’t want to be able to imagine the Cubs winning it all.
I don’t want to hear anyone tell me, “This is the year.”
I don’t even want to hear the question, “Is this the year?”
I don’t want Jayson Stark picking the Cubs as his dark horse.
I don’t want the insults from Sox and Cardinal fans to stop.
I don’t want walk-off homers.
I don’t want come-from-behind wins.
I don’t want any of the crap that made past Cubs seasons enjoyable.
I want ugly.
I want the Cubs to win it all, and I want to hate every step on the path that leads them there.
I want ugly.

Confirmed: Cardinal Fans Are Full of Crap

It wasn’t a surprise to hear card-carrying Cardinal Lovers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver lavishing praise on the St. Louis fans during the All Star festivities. But I had to giggle when they started discussing the respect the Cardinal faithful show to the opposition.
The hypocrisy was in full effect during the All-Star Game introductions, as evidenced with hilarity by this clip from a Chicago Sun-Times article on the All-Star proceedings:

Coming home

Among the American League All-Stars, White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle got the loudest ovation from the crowd at Busch Stadium during pregame introductions. Buehrle said he didn’t know what to expect, but doubted he would get booed.
Buehrle — a lifelong Cardinals fan — knows St. Louis baseball fans consider him one of their own.
”I remember when I was a kid, you come here and the Cardinals could lose 1-0 and they give the other pitcher a standing ovation if he pitched a good game,” said Buehrle, who grew up 25 minutes away in St. Charles, Mo. ”They enjoyed seeing good baseball. If someone hit three home runs or had a great game offensively, they were applauding the other team instead of booing them like most stadiums where they boo the opposing teams.”

Boos for Lilly

St. Louis fans have their limits and they showed that by booing Lilly — the Cubs’ lone representative. Lilly took it in stride, smiling as he tipped his cap.

I’m going to let you in on a secret: I agree that Cardinal fans are good fans. They follow their team, they wear the silly Cardinal gear, and they actually pay attention to the game. They do all the things fans are supposed to do . . . including booing the opposition. But I hate it when commentators like Buck and McCarver promote the ridiculous positive stereotype that all (or even most) Cardinal fans are prim, proper, dignified saints transported straight out of Victorian England. They can be just as rude, vulgar, vindictive, and disrespectful as the next fan.
And, like their White-Sox cheering counterparts, St. Louis fans are often consumed with anti-Cub obsession. Yes, despite the fact that both sets of fans have enjoyed multiple World Series championships since the Cubs last sniffed World Series glory, they are still preoccupied with hating on the Cubs. Why?
The answer is pretty simple. Cardinal fans are jealous. Jealous of the losing? No. Jealous of the drunken idiots populating Wrigley in ever-increasing numbers? Not so much. They’re simply jealous of the national adoration poured on a team they find undeserving of praise. Cardinal (and White Sox) fans who spontaneously spew insults at the Cubs and their fans are like People magazine readers who don’t understand why Julia Roberts keeps showing up in the “50 Most Beautiful People” issue. They just don’t get the fascination, and they hate us for it.
Okay, maybe they hate the drunken idiots and the loudmouths and the hypnotized drones who fail to recognize the success of other teams, too. But most of all, I think Cards fans resent the Cubs for being the default fan favorite of people who don’t really know or care about baseball.
If you’re a fan of the Cardinals and/or the Sox, I understand the sentiment. I understand why you don’t like the Cubs and their fans. But when you go out of your way to bash them, it just cheapens your image and your love of your teams. If it’s any consolation, a lot of us hate you, too. But most of us have the self-respect to avoid talking about you unless it’s absolutely necessary. This is one of those times.
Moving on . . .

July 7, 2009 question – Glee

The Bright Side
It only took me four years to find one.
Glee: noun The feeling evoked by the 2005 World Series Champion White Sox sharing a theme song with a series about show choir


Today’s Question
Really Cool Literature
Who is the alter ego of Steve Rogers?

Previous Answer
And the people who knew it
For real, it wasn’t a trick question yesterday, and the answer was The Sun Also Rises, as Karen H (the H stands for Hemingway) knew quite well. Nicely done!

Ozzie’s Right: We Are Stupid

Seriously. Ozzie is on to something.

When the White Sox first made Ozzie Guillen their manager, my instant response was one word: Genius. I didn’t think he was a genius, I just thought the move was genius. If any person in my lifetime has embodied what it means to be a part of the White Sox . . . thing, it was Ozzie. Perfect guy for the job. Perfect face of the organization. Perfect person for Sox fans to love and Cub fans to hate.

But something happened in the years that followed: Ozzie grew on me.
To be perfectly honest, I have come to acknowledge that Ozzie Guillen really is a managerial genius. I’m not talking about his X’s and O’s (whatever that term really means in baseball). I mean, Ozzie is the quintessential baseball evil genius.
Ozzie works the Chicago media (and, at times, the national media) like marionettes in his diabolical hands. He takes pressure off his players when they need that. He puts pressure on his players when they need a kick in the butt. He enters into the psyche of opposing teams and fans. And when he’s really backed into a corner, he can just ramble on unintelligibly for five minutes—and like an R.E.M. song or a Tarantino film, people just kind of get it, even though they don’t know why.
After the Cubs/Sox series, Ozzie responded to a Lou Piniella comment about the Sox and their inability to draw fans for anyone but the Cubs. His words: “Our fans aren’t stupid like Cubs fans. Our fans know we’re [expletive]. Cub fans will watch any game, because “Wrigley Field is just a bar.”
A lot of outrage exploded throughout Cubdom, but I’ve got news for you, Cub fans, and it really shouldn’t be news: Ozzie is right. We are stupid, and this team is [expletive] right now. Heck, not even right now. Have you glanced at the sports section in the last century? Cub baseball is not where it’s at. We’re idiots. We’re dumb. We’re mindless. We’re dreamers.
And proud of it.
Look, only an idiot would have anticipated that Rudy would see on-field action for the fighting Irish. Only a moron would have placed his money on Milan to win the 1954 Indiana high school state basketball championship. The dummies picked David over Goliath. Cheering for the Cubs is not smart.
But we do it because we long for that feeling of overcoming the odds (which were actually pretty good heading into the season). We cheer for the underdog (even though the Cubs have paid enough, but haven’t won enough, to shed that tag). We show up to watch an expletive team and put ourselves through expletive for the chance at seeing history, affixing ourselves to it, and proclaiming to the world, “Holy expletive! The Cubs won the Series!”
It is stupid. It is far-fetched. It is a terrible commentary on our intellect. But it is our hope, and it’s all we got. Well, that and a mighty fine bar in which to drown our sorrows.

Cubs Sox a Love Hate Relationship

I feel about the Cubs-Sox series pretty much the way I feel about roller coasters. They’re exciting. They’re nerve wracking. They’re rarely boring. But by the end, I kind of want to throw up. It’s essentially the same feeling I get when the Cubs play the Cardinals, except there is so much less at stake . . . and so much more.

With the Cards, each game is worth 2 in the standings (if the Cubs and Cardinals were to play today, a loss would send the Cubs 3 games behind St. Louis, a win would pull them within 1), so they all carry a ton of weight. But with the Sox, the competition is chiefly a battle for bragging rights, and there are a lot more Sox fans than Cards fans in my territory, so the bragging that goes on is real, prevalent, and annoying.
So here are a few of the pluses and minuses about enduring the Windy City matchups when I’m neither out of the country nor in a coma:
Love it
The intensity among the fans and the adrenaline in the players creates a playoff atmosphere.
Hate it
Have you watched the Cubs in the playoffs lately?
Love it
Ozzie and Lou are hilarious to watch and listen to, and uniting them in one building for three days makes for great TV and soundbites.
Hate it
Listening to people overreact to both of them, on the other hand, sucks rocks.
Love it
No matter how the season is going, this rivalry gives importance to at least 6 games at a time when either team might be irrelevant.
Hate it
Right now, these are two irrelevant teams.
Love it
The emotional high of seeing, say, an Aramis Ramirez walk-off homer is absolutely exquisite.
Hate it
My emotional high is on the DL.
Love it
After the World Series win in ’05, Sox fans turned into a bunch of placated softies. I attended the infamous A.J./Barrett game the next year, and the crowd at the Cell was as laid back as can be.
Hate it
After the World Series win in ’05, Cub fans effectively lost all bragging rights.
Love it
The series has been even, split down the middle, half Cub wins, half Cub losses.
Hate it
Those 33 losses really stunk. And I’ll never forget the 2001 Sox sweep at Wrigley in ’99 that effectively ended what had been a promising season. The Cubs never recovered . . . not sure I have either.
Love it
It’s one of those events that get people talking about baseball again, bringing national attention to both teams, and arousing interest in people who don’t usually care a lick about sports.
Hate it
At this point in my life, I just want a nice relaxing day at the park or in front of the TV or just driving easy breezy with the radio tuned to 720. Cubs + White Sox almost never = relaxing.
I’m not one of those who hates the Sox with a passion. I like quite a few Sox fans. The Cell is a nice place to go see a game. If we’re honest, both teams historically stink. I’m glad for the chance to watch some meaningful baseball, but will someone please wake me when things are meaningless again?
In the meantime, let me know what you think. Do you love or hate the Cubs/White Sox series?
UPDATE: With the recent disclosure from the NY Times about Sosa’s alleged 2003 positive steroid test (I’m not even going to honor that rag by linking to it), I have to say the pendulum has swung over to the Hate it side. These big moments provide the perfect occasions for pseudo-journalists to release bombshell stories with zero attribution of fact.

Day-Off Reflections: MJ rocks the Crosstown Classic

Ah, yes, the good ol’ days; back when Cubs vs. Sox was nothing but an exhibition of inane proportions.

I guess the promotional series (the official Crosstown Classic ran from ’85 to ’95) also gave Sox fans some consolation in their team’s lowly status in Chicagoland and perpetual 2nd-place finishes in the AL West.
The Cubs went 0-10-2 in the life of the series, but the lowlight for them may have been a game that ended in a tie.
April 7, 1994. Michael Jordan donned a real Sox jersey in what would prove to be the apex of his baseball career, as he racked up 2 hits, 2 RBI, and a game-tying, late-inning RBI double that prevented the Cubs from posting their first W in the Classic.
Thankfully, interleague baseball in the Windy City has been a completely different story since the games began counting. The series is tied 33-33, which is just fine by me. Seriously, I just want these games to be over without ruining the Cubs’ season or killing anybody. Just as long as the Cubs aren’t undone by any tongue-waggling Hall-of-Fame shooting guards, I’ll be fine.