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Sunday, December 3

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Cubs in Five

Cheering from the Wrong Side of Town
by Jeff Webber

One: Our Catcher Can Beat Up Your Catcher
Big news from the Crosstown Classic this week: hot catcher on catcher action. Here's the short version: White Sock Pierznyski's coming around third and while there could have been a close play at the plate, there wasn't, as Barrett hadn't even gotten his hands on the ball yet when Pierzynski made it home. A.J. took him out in a hard slide anyway, and Barrett took it kind of personally, slugging everyone's favorite South Side sociopath in the face. And what's for an encore? How about a suspension? Barrett will be lucky if it's only five games.

Two: Hill Goes Tumbling After
You know what would be pretty stupid? Let's say you were a struggling rookie pitcher with a 9.31 ERA. Probably an idiot move to go shooting your mouth off and aggravating a crosstown feud by telling reporters that a veteran player involved in an altercation with your team is "pathetic" and "gutless?" Yeah, that would probably work. So long, Rich Hill, welcome back Michael Wuertz. So who takes Hill's turn in the rotation? Anyone but Glendon Rusch.

Three: Kerry Wood Struck Down with Necrotizing Fasciitis, CDC places Him Under Quarantine, Says He Has Just Weeks to Live
All right, fine: that's a bunch of BS. Kerry Wood is not dying from a flesh-eating virus. The CDC has not put him under quarantine, and he looks ready to live a long healthy life. Truth is, he's just got a sore shoulder and may yet miss another start. But chrissakes, who wants to talk about that kind of crap again?

Four: I Am Only Recommending This for Science
One of the boobirds at Wrigley threw a ball onto the field and nearly hit outfielder Jacque Jones in the face. Jones, who started the year well below the Mendoza Line, has now hit .328 over his last 21 games. And while I could not responsibly claim a causal relationship between the former event and the latter phenomenon, I would be willing to see a half dozen or so more balls whiz past JJ's head, just to be sure. You know, for science and all.

Five: Hendry Not Yet Ready to Offer Baker a Contract Extension
Yeah, and in similar news, my landloard hasn't come barreling up the stairs with a new lease in the two months since I nearly burned down the kitchen in a cooking accident.

Sox in Five

On the Move
by Steve Gozdecki

Sox in Five is currently buried under approximately 17 tons of boxes and bins, all waiting to be unpacked before things like baseball can be pondered again. Oh yeah: a desk would be good to have, too.

Coming next week: the best Sox in Five column ever!

Fire in Five

Almost Home
by Steve Gillies

One: The Finish Line is in Sight
With two games left in their epic nine game road trip, the Fire have already managed to avoid disaster. With two wins, four ties and one loss, the Fire have gone about their business professionally, keeping their heads above water in the middle of the very competitive Eastern Conference pack. One more tie or win out of the next two games and you can definitely pronounce the trip a success. Hopefully during the nine game homestand over the summer they can use the fact that they aren't getting on planes and staying in hotels every weekend to their advantage and turn more of those ties into wins.

Two: No Jimmy, No CJ, No Segares, No Problem
When CJ Brown was subbed out with neck spasms this weekend, it meant that three out of our four regular defensive starters were off the field injured. The Fire's makeshift backline responded by posting the team's first shutout of the year. Dasan Robinson, two games into his professional career, looks to be a real find and should push CJ and Curtin for a starting spot even when they're healthy. Guys like Logan Pause and Ivan Guerrerro showed how important their versatility is to the team, playing out of position to cover for injured players. And Zach Thornton has recovered the form of three or four years ago that made him a National Team prospect. A lot of credit, though, has to go to the team's attitude as a whole. It's not unusual to see a battling midfielder like Chris Armas making goal line clearances when needed, but when Thiago's throwing his body in front of blistering shots, you know this is a team that just doesn't want to let people score on them.

Three: And How About That Thiago?
I haven't seen all the highlights from this weekend's other MLS games yet, but Thiago should definitely be in contention for his second Goal of the Week this season. Even without the goal and the heroic shot blocking, this was probably the best game Thiago has played for the Fire. However, in the two years he's played here, he's been frustratingly inconsistent. I'm fully expecting him to disappear completely from next week's game. Still, when you have a player capable of taking a nothing play, nutmegging the opposing team's best defender and curling the ball into the top corner to win the game for you, you've got to be happy having him out there.

Four: Chris Rolfe, Tired Already?
The ESPN commentators made a lot of noise about Coach Dave Sarachan's observation that Chris Rolfe has looked tired lately and that he considered resting (a polite euphemism for benching) him. I thought the commentators, particularly color man Eric Wynalda, were a little rough on him during the game, but they did have a bit of a point. Despite a few good touches and a couple of nice passes, Rolfe struggled every time he tried to run at players, losing the ball frequently. Hopefully it's just the grind of so many games on the road affecting a young player with so much responsibility on his shoulders, and not the beginning of the dreaded sophomore slump. At least with Jaqua regaining fitness and Andy Herron coming back from suspension the Fire can afford to rest Rolfe if that's what is needed.

Five: Brian Ching Wasn't Playing for the Houston Dynamo
It's not much of a talking point for the Fire, I'll grant you that. I just thought I should mention it once since the ESPN commentary team mentioned it two thousand times during the broadcast. You have to wonder why a player who wasn't on the field had his name called more than anyone that was actually on it. Promoting the World Cup is one thing, ignoring the game you're broadcasting is another.

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Joseph J. Finn / May 23, 2006 10:18 AM

There's an extra character at the end of the URL for "Mendoza Line."

Andrew / May 25, 2006 3:54 PM

(Fixed the link error.)

Roni runs down just how bad the Cubs are:
"Batting Average: .244 >>> 2nd to last in MLB
Runs: 167 >>> 2nd to last in MLB
Hits: 369 >>> 2nd to last in MLB
On base percentage: .300 >>> LAST in MLB
Team ERA: 4.92 >>> 5th to last in MLB"

That's pretty damn bad. I wonder if this'll be the first year since '92 that the Sox outdraw the Cubs.

Roni / May 25, 2006 5:00 PM

That would assume that Cubs fans are smart to vote withtheir money. Even those who already bought tickets - scalp 'em. As for the 70% of crowd who aren't real fans, just there for the party. Go someplace where the cover is cheaper.

Me bitter? Nah...just pissed off.

Kates1 / May 26, 2006 2:06 PM

Er, it's Pierzynski. You're showing your colors.


About the Author(s)

Jeff Webber spends hours and hours every day taking in every printed, spoken, and broadcast word he can find about the Chicago Cubs, and each week till the end of the season he's boiling them down into five simple crib notes you can use to stay on top of any watercooler or corner bar Cubs discussion. Send comments to

Steve Gillies watches too much soccer to be completely healthy. He's been a Fire fan since he stood in a torrential downpour while the Fire beat New England 6-0 and he realized watching American soccer games in person was a lot better than watching European football matches on television. Each week he'll give you five things to talk about if you happen to get cornered by one of those soccer people at a party. Send comments to

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