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Fire Lou Piniella! Closed for Weekend

Loyal readers, I’m out of town skiing until Sunday, so Fire Lou Piniella! is taking an (un)deserved break. I will try to post Sunday, but I will at the latest be back on Monday as The Bottom 126 countdown continues. Have a great weekend.

Cubs Release Rusch, Claiming He’s Been “Phoning it in” Since A Farewell to Kings

CHICAGO–The Cubs announced Thursday that they have released veteran left-hander Glendon Rusch, who missed the latter part of the 2006 season after suffering a blood clot in his lung.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry stated that Rusch had peaked with his 1977 album A Farewell to Kings, and that he had “really gone down hill” since that point.

Rush

Because they’re here.

“Have you ever actually listened to ‘Tom Sawyer’?” Jim Hendry asked. “Every single thing about that song pisses me off. The lyrics are idiotic. ‘Today’s Tom Sawyer, he gets high on you, and the space he invades he gets by on you.’ What the f@#$ does that even mean? And, no, Rusch, I don’t want to ‘catch the spit.’ That’s disgusting.”

Don’t even get Hendry started on “Fly by Night.” “Oh, you have got to be kidding me bringing that crap in here,” Hendry said. “What’s going on with that garbage? Is it supposed to be an airline commercial? This is why he’ll never get into the Hall of Fame. Hack. Oh, and RuschCon is a f@#$ing ripoff. Good riddance to him.”

Fire Lou Piniella! Takes Lazy Way Out, Links to Analysis of Offseason Improvements

I was sent this interesting analysis of the Cubs’s offseason improvements from Beyond the Box Score. It’s written objectively by a Brewers fan who predicts 86 wins for the 2007 Cubs.

#116: Chico “Bad Penny” Walker

I remember growing up having a Weebles playset that was basically a track for the Weebles. You’d set four Weebles at one end, and then start the track, which would shake back and forth, causing the Weebles to spasmodically move down the track. It was a dumb toy, but I enjoyed it. In one of the spring cleanings around the house, my parents got rid of the Weeble race set without asking me. I was devastated enough that they actually ended up buying a new one. Of course, I played with the second one a handful of times and then tossed it aside. My parents, of course, thought they could get rid of the Weeble set again. I, of course, raised hell again when they did. My parents dug through the trash and were able to recover the Weeble set for the third time, God bless ’em.

Painting courtesy of Jason Chase. Original at http://suburbanamerican.com/WeebleSuperHero.html

My Weeble set was the Cubs’ Chico Walker. Except the Weebles played a better outfield.

Here, Chico turns up in AAA Iowa.

If Chico Walker had been any good, I could certainly understand the Cubs signing him once. Heck, I could even understand them signing him the second time. And, yeah, I might question the third time they signed him, but if he produced, I’d say, “Hey. They know what they’re doing.”

One problem. Chico wasn’t any good. He showed the same kind of power at the plate that you might expect from a guy swinging a paper towel roll. A wet paper towel roll. But he was the Cubs’ white whale in the mid-80’s and early 90’s. They had to have Chico, and so they did. And we watched. And we laughed. And we died a little inside.

Low Point: When even the Cubs realized that they needed to release him as he put up a .115 average with a .200 OBP in the first month of the 1992 season.

Did You Know? Walker holds the record for the most at-bats in a professional game, collecting 14 at-bats for the Pawtucket Red Sox in a game against the Rochester Red Wings in the triple-A International League. The game went 33 innnings, and Pawtucket eventually won 3-2. Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. and Wade Boggs also played in the game.

“Piniella’s Intriguing!” Reports “Wrigleyville 23,” Reporting on an ESPN Report

Since I hate all things ESPN, I would have never found this story, so go over to Wrigleyville 23 and read about Piniella’s intriguing managerial storyline.

Hendry Finally Signs Floyd, Gets Oil Change

CHICAGO–The Chicago Cubs finally got around to signing veteran free agent Cliff Floyd to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2008. Immediately after signing Floyd, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry decided it was just about time to get that oil change that he’s been meaning to get since before Christmas.

“Well, you know, the old guy has been around the block quite a few times,” Hendry said, presumably about Floyd. “It was just about time to replace the oil inside of him with some new, clean oil. For lubrication.” Scratch that. He was talking about his car. “Because without lubrication, that’s why his joints have been breaking down lately,” Hendry continued. Hold up. He has to mean Floyd, right?

At least itís not his groin.

Looks like someone was a little overdue for a lube job.

“I normally get things done on time,” Hendry continued. “I’m usually right in there at three months or three thousand miles, whichever comes first.” Car. “So when I traveled over three months and three thousand miles before getting the deal done, it was a first for me.” Wait. Maybe he means both.

Whatever the case, Floyd is now a heck of a left-handed bat coming off the bench, and he will be used to spell Jacque Jones and Matt Murton in the outfield. After Cubs manager Lou Piniella indicated at the Cubs Convention that Murton will get the lion’s share of the starts in left, Floyd looks to be a good signing. Also, Jim Hendry’s Oldsmobile is not due for an oil change until March 24, 2007, or 106,571 miles, whichever comes first.

#117: Rick “Two Rights Make A” Wrona

Is it fair to pick on a guy who had only 345 career at-bats and who likely now appears in those books they give people to help them choose their haircut? I say yes. Considering the torment we suffered as Cubs fans watching Rick Wrona flail about both behind and at the plate, I say it’s my duty to pick on him.

THE Rookie

“Hey, sweet Wrona rookie card!” “Really?” “No.”

Wrona spent two full years backing up Damon Berryhill and Joe Girardi as the Cubs catcher. It probably would have made more sense to have Berryhill and Girardi crouched behind Wrona, in hindsight. Wrona collected 31 hits in just over two seasons as a Cub. If you went to a Cubs game from 1988 through 1990, you were more likely to nail Cindy Sandberg than you were to see Wrona collect a hit.

Even for a backup catcher,Wrona was awful, but hey, give him some credit for being one of the few guys to actually have his best years as a Cub. Yikes.

Low Point:† His 5 at-bats during the 1989 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, during which he collected no hits and struck out three times.† Thanks for punching in, Rick.

Did You Know? Wrona’s son is following in the grand Wrona tradition of, you know, not being good at baseball. From an article discussing Oklahoma’s Bishop Kelly high school:

“Sophomore Will Wrona, the son of former major leaguer Rick Wrona, did not have any varsity at-bats. The 5-7, 158-pounder will be battling for a spot in the outfield.”

#118: Leonardo “The Crappiest Ninja Turtle” Gomez

When you’re lying in bed in the inky darkness of night and you start getting visits from all of those unanswered questions, rising from their graves to haunt you, isn’t one of them, “How the f@#$ did the Cubs end up with Leo Gomez at third base?”

Leo Gomer
A face you can trust to connect solidly with a frying pan.

Gomez came to the Cubs from Baltimore in 1996 to play third. And he actually played all right. For a while. And then, sometime after the smell of fireworks had faded from the Chicago skies, Gomez started to get worse. And worse. And worse. After the All-Star Break, Gomez hit a miserable .199, with a Patterson-esque .315 OBP. His power also disappeared, as he hit only 4 of his 17 home runs in 1996 after the break. Gomez alone didnít kill the Cubs that year, but he certainly helped. Plus, he looked like that one kid from Detroit Rock City.

Giuseppe Andrews
Him.

I guess the Cubs got Baltimore back by sending them Sosa and Patterson, but the price paid was great.

Low Point: August 11, 1996. Gomez whiffs three times (twice looking; once with the go-ahead run on second in a 3-3 tie in the top of the 8th) in an eventual 10-inning loss to the Montreal Expos.

Did You Know? You can still see Gomez flailing away wildly and missing the collection plate of the Biligual Christian Church on Erdman Avenue in Baltimore?

Increased Ticket Prices! Commemorative Bricks! Crappy Bands! “Meet Cubs Business Management” Seminar a Success!

CHICAGO–It’s a good thing everyone in Chicago was watching the Bears dismantle the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, because if anyone had stuck around to listen to the “Meet Cubs Business Management” Seminar at the Cubs Convention, they would have heard the following:

  • Single-game tickets will increase $2 apiece, and the premium seats — the Dugout Box, Bullpen Box and Bleacher Box seats — will increase $5 apiece. 66-96 last year, and the ticket prices increase? Cubs fever! Get vaccinated!
  • Cubs management expects to begin installing the commemorative brick pavers in March. Fans who purchased the bricks will receive a grid map showing where their brick is located. Maps will also be sent to all of their friends, so that purchasers may be relentlessly mocked for connecting their name to the Cubs franchise for eternity.
  • The team is still working out details regarding a concert at the ballpark during the All-Star break and was “hopeful” to have the Dave Matthews Band perform. And by “perform,” management meant, “take a steaming dump in the middle of the infield.”
  • The seminar sounded like a great way to wrap up the Cubs Convention, especially after the Cubs had to cancel the originally planned three-hour-long, “Conversation with Ronnie Woo-Woo.” Did anyone go to this seminar?

    Cubs.com Says Cubs Near Deal With Floyd; Fire Lou Piniella! Enters Wayback Machine, Returns to Simpler Time When Story was Fresh

    CHICAGO–The Cubs are allegedly close to signing a one-year deal with free agent and Chicago native Cliff Floyd. In response to the article, Fire Lou Piniella! entered its wayback machine to December of 2006.

    Chicago was wondering whether the Bears’ asses would be crowned, Jack Bauer was still being tortured in China, Saddam Hussein was still alive, and the weekly “Cubs Near Deal with Floyd” story was being run for the first time. Yes, times were simpler then.

    At least itís not his groin.
    I, for one, can’t wait for the Cliff Floyd Era!

    Sources close to Jim Hendry say this deal will be wrapped up by mid-August. Of 2009.