October 2007

Thanks for coming

Linotype_2Though an alarming number of bloggers are doing so, it collides with our self righteous character to formally "Thank" everybody and anybody in some thinly veiled, self-aggrandizing, season-ending post. Our readers are acknowledged every day in the "Dear Readers" sidebar and let’s face it, Diamondhacks is really about me, not you. I write the copy that makes hordes of grown men instantly hit their back buttons and sets schoolgirl’s hearts aflutter. I set the type in hot metal. I score the galleys and ready the plates. I collate the finished print, stack it in bundles and secure it with baling cord and then around and around with the shrinkwrap. Rain or shine, with the bad knee.

You just sit there. Late at night, friendless, hours on end in a cozy stupor with your cup of tea and Hostess Ho-Ho, rear end imperceptibly sliding off the ergonomic chair until your double chin brushes the spacebar.

So you should be thanking me.

That said, I still desperately need to foster the illusion that Diamondhacks is a more dynamic online nexus than it really is, so on with the charade:

Thanks to several Venerable Media Poobahs who relaxed (some might say "Demeroled") their journalistic standards by showcasing sophomoric Diamondhacks rants from time to time. SI.com. and Deadspin were particularly magnanimous. A thousand Thanks, Your Dual Majesties. Also, CBS Sportsline. The Arizona Republic. Bronx Banter.  By plugging a second-rate, meaningless sh*t, you give big sh*ts everywhere a good name.   

Sincere gratitude to our lively, opinionated core of commenters who bother to show up and share here regularly. Paul from I Was a Jewish Finesse Guy, Kellia of Eric Byrnes Love Connection, Michael Norton at If It’s Tuesday, I Must Be a Rays Fan, Russell over at I Kant, You Kant, We Kant Get Enough (Hits or Alyssa Milano), and So Mad My Face is Purple, biggerunit.

Memorable ad hoc skirmishes with newcomers josh and cavscout, the managerial wisdom of bobbrenly2001. Other commenters of note include Geoff from Bleeding Pinstripes (day in day out, MLBlog’s finest), Trevor, kayleexxx, Javier, quirky quintero, Yankee fan # 194,663,079 levelboss, dimwitted unnameddbackfan aka garyphelps, Tracy from sadly dormant Chicks Dig The Long Ball, Joseph, imarie, Matt Orgy_charles_doudeletLeach from Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer, Patrick, shoewizard, phurrballe,  jserv3, yankeegirl23, DiMag luvin’ Coral, firstbase17, dbt333, fork tongued Jim McLennan, adevandry, ziastar, elizabethfrantes, classy Astro blogger Rafael, Joseph, Vinnie from leading off.mlblogs, iragoldstein, James, doplgangr, pm9911, and lastly, our arch adversary, that devious Dr Noh, the Pan Asian homosexual, ping.

This place, this simple baseball plot, this Diamondhacks, has blossomed into a anarchic virtual orgy for which I am grateful but no longer responsible. Thanks so much for coming!

(painting by Charles Doudelet)

Stepping Out Of The Box

Tedwilliamskissesbat_1It’s been said that when Ted Williams strode into the left handed batters box at Fenway Park, he never once left it until his At Bat was officially over. No fussy rituals, adjusting one piece of equipment or another, or compulsive contrivances to regain focus. No point in that, if you’ve never lost focus to begin with.  Williams’ obsession was hitting, and once he locked into that 60’6" visual frame of reference, nothing could distract from that task.  For two decades, this unrelenting sense of purpose ensured Williams’ consistent success.   

If that approach applies to fans as well as players, then I guess this sweep is on us. This, apparently, is what happens when you abandon your team in October for a ritual as frivilous and fussy as a New England foliage tour. You get swept faster than you can say "Splendid Splinter". Like a bunch of leaves in a gale. Or as that nepotistic, sing songy head of hair, Dip Caray, inarticulated every other inning, you get "swept away" – like someone in love, evidently. Serves us right, I suppose, slurping buttery chowdah in the very shadow of Fenway,******** down steamers Down East without a cable connection in sight, while our diamond boys were starving for measly two out knocks three time zones away. Feel free to vent. This one’s on us.

Speaking of sweeps, how did Rockie Blowingleavesfans sneak that many brooms past Coors Field security? If this was Boston or San Francisco, we imagine ticketed locals could easily hide the sticks up their rears by force of habit, but Denver’s hardly that "upstanding" a town. In this officious era of homeland security, that sea of long handled brooms wielded by frostbitten drunks remains very much a Rocky Mountain mystery.

Seriously, a hearty congratulations to Rockie fans. Few triumphs bolster civic pride like a scrappy underdog advancing to it’s first Classic, and nothing knits a community closer than having garbage thrown at your team. Colorado hasnt had much to cheer about since the first Clinton administration – come to think of it, that makes several billion of us – and like long suffering loyalists in Cleveland or even Philly, Rockie fans just arent easy to hate. At least not yet.

Broom6I feel pretty detached from baseball right now. Sure, the sweep is a big part of it, but it honestly started before that. I thoroughly enjoyed the two NLDS games when in town, but once the family embarked on our New England pleasure trip, my Diamondbacks kind of faded into the background. Part of the reason, I think, is that there’s no big city villain, like the Dodgers or Mets here, transforming a relatively straightforward series into a David and Goliath morality play. This Colorado brush by hurts much less than the 1999 NLDS loss to the Mets, or if the Yankees had managed to pull out the rollercoasterish 2001 Series. Colorado’s angle was just as storybook as our own, and while I wanted the Diamondbacks to win, I’m neither surprised nor all that disappointed or hurt when they didnt.

Secondly, Arizona never really belonged in the playoffs to begin with. Oh, I know they won enough games and all that and I rooted for them to go all the way (when I wasnt gorging on lobster rolls in Rockland), but the truth was the Diamondbacks were a competitive but not very good team all year – at least not by widely accepted, holistic underlying measures. They were, at best, an average team in a very weak league that played uncharacteristically well in close games – until… they didnt. By virtue of established tools like ERA+/ OPS+ and run differential, it’s entirely reasonable to propose that the team with the National League’s best record, was, statistically speaking, no better than the seventh or eighth best team in the NL, and certainly no better than third in their division. ( If one goes strictly by run differential, and I dont think I would with this particular team, they’re slightly worse than that.)

So, as constructed and paid for, this was a spunky team you pull for, all the while knowing they’re playing on borrowed time. Eric Byrnes, the number three batter by default, was right when he said the Rockies caught a bunch of breaks this series. They did, and it helped them sweep the Diamondbacks so convincingly. Byrnes said the Dbacks "played better" and while that may be a bit of wishful thinking, it’s not outlandish.  The Dbacks had a better team BA and OPS in the series – mostly, they couldnt deliver clutch hits – and that can be a function of bad luck, or, luck plus not having enough good hitters in your lineup. In other words, maybe the "lucky" part of the Dbacks NLCS performance was the fact they outhit a superior offensive club in this short series, and Arizona’s relative inability to deliver with RISP, as one sided as it was, was actually more in line with the two teams’ relative seasonal performances.  Where did the Diamondbacks rank during the regular season in BA with RISP? Well, they didnt hit .163 or whatever it was, but they were dead last in the National League. They were who we thought they were. No surprises.

All the same, I dont think Eric said anything terribly wrong. What is wrong, in my view, is the silent inference some might make, that the Diamondbacks were somehow the better team who lost only because of "luck", when the truth is this motley crew of overacheiving veterans and not quite ready youngsters feebly strung together hits all year like a blind, arthritic man stringing a delicate pearl necklace. They didnt score runs.

Amidst defeat, there was also something mildly, and perversely, satisfying about seeing a doormat franchise stick with it’s basic godawful color scheme from 1993 and be rewarded with hordes of purple clad fans braving thirty degree wind chill to, in part, reciprocate that loyalty. Too bad that garish looking team with the unified fan base headed to the Series wasnt us. Well, in 2001, it was us, but that’s water under the bridge, or perhaps a horse of a different color. Maybe the baseball gods had input here, or maybe the Rockies were just better, but baseball history tells us Coors rafters will be proudly cloaked in original indigo, not painted over couleur du jour by soulless marketers.

We had a memorable time in Boston (the Yankees were eliminated while we were there) and with my brother up in Maine, and Diamondhacks will chronicle it before long; the disappointing Fenway Tour, Landsdowne Street during the ALCS, and other observations from the opposite side of our country. But today we acknowledge the Diamondbacks, one of the worst teams you’re likely to see in a League Championship Series. The worst hitting team in the National League, bar none. Who, despite all that, despite cynicism here and elsewhere, somehow made a fabulous second half run and gave Arizona fans a glimpse, perhaps, of better days to come. We promise, we’ll never step out of the box again.

Did I mention the foliage around Penobscot Bay was absolutely fabulous?

Sorry.

(photo courtesy of sabr.org, viewimages.com, artvision.com)

On Vacation

No. This isnt about the Cubs or Yankees. This is about prescheduling a family vacation during the playoffs. October is usually so free around here. Turns out there’s only one October. Who knew?

We’ll be in and around Boston, where my latest Frommer guide tells me Internet hasnt really caught on, so no updates for a week. In the interim, those interested in superior Diamondbacks **** should consult their local listings or the blogs listed in the sidebar at right.

I brilliantly planned our visit so that we will be in Boston on the exact days the Red Sox are in Anaheim, and we will depart Boston for the wilds of Maine the very day the Sawx return to "Fenway", a professional sports facility just up the street fom our hotel. Oh well. I’m certain touring an empty shell of Fenway is at least as cool as watching a game there. They say the steel pillars and restrooms are what really make the place.

Gosh, I should take note of Game 2 before I go. Great fun to be there, but not quite the sustained electricity of Game 1. For one thing, the score wasnt as close and the game took considerably longer to play, due to the various pitchers’ styles and relative ineffectiveness. The upper deck sections in the corners (301 & 330) were speckled with green all night, and after Brandon Lyon escaped the eighth unscathed, up four, a surprising number of fans vacated the lower bowl to presumably beat traffic. The in house celeb Wednesday was none other than Muhammed Ali. Thursday was Donovan McNabb. ’nuff said.

But the win counts just as much, maybe more, considering so many expected Lilly to outpitch Doug Davis. Game 1 wasnt a must game for Chicago – it was a "nice to have". They needed game two. You know who the heroes were and can read about them on other blogs. Davis. Chris Short Young. And Augie "Shorter" Ojeda. As I close my bag for Boston with all my little essentials, allow me to close with a few of the Diamondbacks’ little things last night.

Eric Byrnes hit a double off the left field wall that Alfonso Soriano misplayed into a triple. Well, Soriano basically dropped it more than misplayed it into an extra base. Byrnes took the extra base. Later, Soriano hit a bullet to almost the exact same spot on the wall. Byrnes didnt catch it, but fielded it flawlessly and held the fleet Soriano to a single. Not a double. A single. Just sayin’…

Dback fans like to joke about how shaky Jose Valverde is – and he certainly can be. Allowed a couple runners on a walk and error with Chicago’s two best hitters up back to back. He whiffed them, back to back. People, that’s why he’s the closer.

During one of Justin Upton’s at bats, the centerfield scoreboard indicated that Upton had scored two runs in the NLDS without the benefit of a hit. One was on Doug Davis’s safety squeeze, a good but not particularly great bunt. Upton crossed the plate standing up, something you almost never see on a safety squeeze. His catch off Soto, in front of the 413 sign in right center, was even more impressive. The ball caught some air but was tagged to the furthest reaches of right center. Scratch that. That’s basically center field out there. Forget "right center". The kid ran forever but the really sick thing was how easy he made it look, waiting for the ball as it came down.   

Many Diamondbacks are doing less than obvious things, little things, to help this team accomplish big things. Lets hope they pack those essentials in their bags on the trip to Chicago. Dont need oversized baggage or that flashy extra carryon. Just pack the little things in a plain suitcase. Every man.

Sharing The Ball

Although I already wrote about my NLDS Game 1 experience, I wanted to make a separate entry about Jerry Colangelo and his ceremonial first pitch before the game. First of all, I missed it. Sitting in traffic. It’s funny how Diamondhacks has been calling for a public reconciliation between the previous and current ownerships for years now, more stridently than perhaps anywhere else, yet when the symbolic invitation is offered, accepted and finally realized, we’re like the last Americans to know. Ah, television and traffic, you make fools of us all!

ColangelofirstpitchI could talk about this all day, but frankly, I’ve got a load things to do in preparation for a family trip to Boston tomorrow. Maybe I’ll elaborate more in the off season, but suffice it to say that Ken Kendrick did the right thing, whether this was mostly a business decision, or personal, or some of both. And Jerry did the right thing by accepting. People who were in their seats before first pitch told me he got a great reception. I’m hardly surprised, but I’m glad. Glad that enough fans not only cherish the championship, but appreciate that today’s lofty thrills, indeed the Phoenix franchise itself, would be all but impossible without Colangelo and the foundation he built here. He had his excesses, he made his mistakes, but Randy Johnson is looking at the guy who not only turbochaged Johnson’s personal place in history, but who also turbocharged the city of Phoenix with an historically successsful baseball expansion franchise.

Take a look at Randy’s uncharacteristic body language in the picture. Johnson is the most valuable player in Diamondbacks history, but he knows he’s looking at the most valuable person.

Kudos to the fans in the background, on their feet, and to Ken Kendrick for initiating the call to make it happen. It’s something he didnt have to do, and something I wasnt expecting.  Like the time, ten years ago, when most everyone in the ballpark knew Colangelo would throw out the first ball, christening his Diamondbacks’ franchise at that glorious inaugural game. Instead, Jerry picked two shocked kids from the upper deck, a boy and a girl, to symbolize that in baseball, as in life, anything is possible. With leadership and love.

(photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Being There

(Note: This is not a game summary, but merely chronicles one local’s experience at Game 1 of the NLDS. )

Traffic_1 Took the boy to Game 1 of the NLDS and had a blast. Didnt start off great, with the worst ballgame entry traffic I can recall – and I grew up in New York. Maybe ubiqitous light rail construction along one’s favored route, with the Cubs in town, will do that.  SR51 was backed up all the way to Indian School – it took 55 minutes to get from Bethany Home to the ballpark, normally a 20 minute trip, even for a crowded weekend game. Our favorite sleepy little lots and pullouts in the warehouse district, east of the stadium, were auto-filled, flashing meter maids ticketing hundreds perched unevenly on curbs and easements.   

We saw the glow and smoke of pregame fireworks from the car, as I impatiently shelled out a Jackson for a garage space of last resort.  That’s never a good feeling, hearing the crowd when you’re not there yet, but we hustled to the gate and at least didnt miss any game action. While walking the centerfield concourse, the Dbacks took the field and the 2007 NL West banner was unfurled right over our heads. The roar from the crowd was…well, it was spectacular, like it had been a long time coming.  As we strode to our bleacher seats, my son and I silently glanced at each other, corners of our mouths smiling, knowing this would be a special night.

By my count, about 2/3 Dbacks fans vs 1/3 Cubs overall, but the Cubs fans were very vocal, making for a lively mix of shoutdowns and cheering. And Dbacks fans were as loud and engaged as I’ve ever heard them. ItSorianowhiff_1 was just a marvelous atmosphere. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano took quite a bit of gas from our section, but one Dbacks fan in particular made me laugh out loud.  When Soriano returned to his position after whiffing on a Webb sinker in the dirt, this guy in a golf cap repeatedly pantomimed an exaggerated, slow motion golf swing, pulling his head way off the ball. I’m sure it’s an old joke, but he was tall, very visible and the stiffness of his movements, the dorky way he looked off into space before his backswing even began, really hit my funny bone. He did it again and again and Soriano must’ve seen him.

There was a mildly obnoxious Cubs fan right behind me, who was gratuitiously negative about the Dbacks all night and who’d yell stuff like “Sit down, loser!” when Zambrano retired Brandon Webb – as if Webb were Babe Ruth or Micah Owings. Whatever, dude. But most of the Cubs fans in the bleachers were really great. Vocal without being profane, centered on the team and the game instead of on their own dysfunctional egos. Soused midwesterners who made a point of not bumping you as they moved past, to down and drain more beer on the concourse. Better than most Dbacks fans, honestly.

How mad can you really get at folks who root so passionately despite such limited historical success? I have respect for these people, their curious allegiance, the way they wear their hearts on their pinstriped sleeves, that I cannot muster for Yankee or Red Sox fans. They exude great desire and energy without the obvious payoff or oblivious entitlement. Even when a Cub rowdy says objectively the same thing as a Yankee fan, it’s less obnoxious somehow.  

The game itself, wasnt an all time classic in terms of astounding play or back n forth drama, in that the Cubs never took the lead and there’s really no bona fide villain (ie Yankees, Dodgers, Barry Bonds) or lightning rod here. But it was quite well played, close throughout, and was an extremely well paced (2:33) playoff game – almost like watching a hockey or basketball contest with very few whistles. Every single at bat was important, the crowd tensed with every pitch, and then exhaled. 

For nine innings, we didnt leave our seats, other than to stand between frames. You didnt want to miss anything, on the field or in the seats. In the seventh, I uncharacteristically joined in on “God Bless America”.  It’s not my favorite song for a variety of reasons, but Wednesday I, and almost 50 thousand others, felt like singing. I felt not only glad to be there with my son, but privileged, and it was my tiny way of saying Thanks – to somebody out there.   

After the game, we waited in our seats a good 15 minutes for the bleachers to completely clear out. We were parked on the roof level of the right field garage and knew it would be a while before cars on the levels below started flowing out. So we meandered slowly to the garage, up the stairs, where deluded drivers, radios blasting and air conditioners dripping, sped to form an immobile queue, that didnt budge for forty minutes. Instead, we and about a hundred others, stood on the still warm concrete roof, chatting about the game, listening to fire engines and sporadic, celebratory car horns. Headlamps inched over the hump of the Seventh Street bridge to the west, and roaring lights above us from Sky Harbor in the east, as the marvelous aroma of dawn’s freshly baked bagels wafted through the air from the Chompies plant below.  

A full hour passed from the time Jose Valverde retired the side til we actually hopped in our car, a mere hundred yards away. The boy was due in school that morning, but we were in no hurry, up on the roof. No hurry at all.  Watching, listening and breathing in a city, our city, on this night.

(photo courtesy of rick scuteri/AP)

I Back, You Back, Dbacks Back Into the Playoffs

Since I’ll be at tonight’s NLDS game and not serving up the usual hash here, Diamondhacks’ loyal horde (hi Mom!) is encouraged to channel it’s collective enthusiasm towards any of these fine online establishments.

For lively, real-time fan threads, we recommend Az Snakepit or Bleed Cubbie Blue, depending on where one bases his or her balls. Passionate, informed insight Globeabounds at Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes – and decidedly "un-American" musings at Arizona via Slough – both worth a trip and proof that Diamondbacks faithful aren’t so much one "nation" as we are "The World".

Like the Yankees, we eschew and digest mere nations for breakfast, "owning" as we do, select apartments in Oakland and isolated sectors north and west of London, the way they dominate China, India, Japan and the Jerome Avenue corridor.  It’s basically a wash.

I am something of a virgin when it comes to cheering on a fiscally responsible outfit, so I wouldnt dream of wearing red. Purple or black? Hmmm. I feel like a giddy schoolgirl at my first wedding reception!  Let me know on the colors, as I’m too excited to decide for myself. Oh, I’m extra large and have been draped as an "autumn", if that helps.

My kid is getting over a cough, so I hope he can go with me. We played hooky in 2001, which was mandatory to accomodate Dad’s overblown, life culminating passion play – but this time it’s more of a fun thang. ****, it’s only the Cubs. We’ll see. We’re ticketed near the Dbacks pen, and hope to cheer on Brandon and Byrnsie, Aww-Gee and Chris Short Young, when not sneering at our pinstriped "guests" and the usual scarlet battalions.

Cubsfight_1 Prediction. I hope I’m wrong, but Cubs in three. Sorry. But how will the Diamondbacks score runs, now that Piniella has gone to a three man, and replaced Jason Kendall behind the plate with a kid who can actually throw?  I know we’re scoring more lately and are confident, loose, but the Cubs are tightening up. I know the Dbacks beat up Jake Peavy in a big game earlier in the year, but generally speaking, Arizona’s offense has been underwhelming against quality pitching – and the Cubs have plenty of that. Memo: John Van Benschoten and his Pirate "relief" corps have officially left the building. Only Conor Jackson has a penchant for smacking around dominant right handers, so of course, he’s not starting against Zambrano. Far be it from me to question Mr Bob Melvin in 2007, which is, not coincidentally, the Chinese Year of the Melvin. Perhaps BoMel has another fortune cookie with CoJack’s future inside:

Pinch hitter’s patience will be rewarded with late inning glory. Oh, and nice lady can wax your eyebrows, cheap. (555-1412)

Chicago finally has all three impact hitters playing together. Webb may be able to dance around the cracks in that lineup and the volatile Zambrano could falter, in which case it might emerge as a great series, but if the Diamondbacks cant score today (Zambrano didnt allow a run in his previous two starts), Brandon wont get that second start. Indeed, the entire progression of the series is riding on this game. If the Diamondbacks win, the Cubs will hear Billy Goats and anything can happen. If the Cubs win today, have a broom at the ready.

(photos courtesy of nwherald.com, intrelocation.com)

Imagine…and it’s true

This time of year, baseball blogs churn out earnest previews of imminent playoff matchups, like the Cubs / Dbacks showdown,  and rest assured, Diamondhacks has one drafted in our "Earnest Preview" file, but we decided some time ago, after the unseemly Ping episodes, that this blog will not be as informative as it can be. Besides, who needs to wade through another rehash of sortable split stats and paeans to team chemistry, when there are more off beat tidbits to ponder.

Imagine if the Padres had won the tiebreaker at Coors. The Rockies would have Johnlennon_1 suffered not one, but two, competitors’ clinching celebrations on their infield – within a week. First, Arizona gained their berth in Denver, on Sept 28th, then the Padres would have danced in the Diamondbacks’ mile high footsteps 72 hours later. Talk about crushing, after winning thirteen of fourteen regular season games just to qualify for the tiebreaker.

I admire the Padres for their play down the stretch, not just for the entertaining games, but moreso because their resilient play effectively assured that the wildcard winner would have more victories than the Mets.

We needn’t consult Martha Stewart to confirm that’s "a good thing." What a pity if, after the NL’s Year of Parity, it had ended with the same old, villanous hope crushing oinkers vying for the pennant. New York. Los Angeles. Atlanta. St Louis. It may be disorienting and less profitable television, but four fresh faces in the second season, ensures an uplifting underdog narrative in the World Series, and may even herald a long term changing of the intractable guard among the NL’s power elite. Such as they are.

Speaking of disoriented, what about Tim McClellan? Some claim he’s been confused for years now, on balls and strikes, but we’re still waiting for a definitive, timely signal from Tim before we pass judgement. Wouldn’t be prudent. Only two things should influence this type of play call, depending on the sequence. Either the runner touches the plate or the catcher applies a tag. First one wins. 

McClellan’s lack of an immediate safe call, suggests he never saw Holliday touch the plate (whether Matt actually did or not). The other variable here was that Barrett didnt initially tag Holliday cleanly…Barrett dropped the ball.  McClellan’s subsequent wishy-washy "safe" gesture suggests to me that Tim stored the dropped ball in his brain, at the expense of the other terribly pertinent byte – that Holliday never actually reached home. Two bytes. One in. One out. Blown call.

Had Barrett held onto the ball, but somehow not initially tagged Holliday, and later retreated to tag the prone runner, my gut tells me Mac would’ve called the runner out. There was something about the dropped ball, or maybe the injured runner, or the deafening crowd, or all three together, that made McClelllan "forget" Holliday missed home.

Raquel_welch_2 As if that’s not confusing enough, or insufficiently imaginative, our "baseball people" at Diamondhacks somehow just won MLBLogs’ inaugural Yahoo Fantasy Baseball competition, a 25 week head to head affair.  We thank comissioner Jay from Boogie Down Bronx for putting it all together, and we’d also like to recognize this lifesize poster of Raquel Welch(left), which prepared us for this victory thirty years ago, by introducing youthful Diamondhacks to equally unproductive fantasy sports, behind a locked bedroom door, lo those many years ago. 

Yahoo_standings_1 

Imagine…and it’s true.

(photos courtesy of triumphpc.com, movieposters.com and yahoo)

Firm Traditions

We learn from MLB.com that:

"Rally Monday is now a firm tradition that only select MLB markets can enjoy each year…"

KristenFor example, MLB’s most tradition rich franchise – the Yankees – so revere Rally Monday that they’ve disassociated themselves from it entirely. Couldn’t be bothered with yet one more untraditional, contrived imposition just prior to the playoffs. 

By contrast, eager Diamondbacks PR flunkies will corner passers by at some Tempe mall I’ve never heard of, to whoop and holler and hand out logo dishrags.  In house hosts Vanessa and Mike are scheduled to put on a grate show, flanked by firm breasted RallyBacks making the scene.

Firm tradition, indeed.

Playing hooky for a playoff game is one thing. Navigating rush hour crosstown traffic for a third rate pep rally?  No thanks. Not unless this svelte rally monkey’s phone number is on my dishrag.

We’re playing the Cubs and that’s exciting enough on its face. Lou Piniella. Zambrano. Alfonso and Aramis. Polish sausage. Derrick Lee. There’s more than enough fire and spice and heavy lumber to go around, without handing out hot pregame woodies. If the Cubs ever did conceive of a Chicagoland rally monkey, however, we imagine it might look something like their fans: doughy and undiscerning.

  Cubsrallymonkey_4

(photo courtesy of  sockmonkeyfun.com and dbacks.com)

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