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Sunday, July 21

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Cubs in Five

Free Rocky Cherry
by Jeff Webber

One: How Did Lilly Get Ejected?
Follow along with me: Soriano hits three homers against the Braves; in the next game, Soriano gets plunked in retribution; in the game after, Lilly plunks Brave shortstop Edgar Renteria "accidentally"; Lilly gets ejected. If we're going to overlook the Braves going after Soriano, why not overlook the payback? The old school code is getting lost here.

Two: Dealing Sosa Brought Us Who?
Mike Fontenot. That's the answer. Dealing Sosa brought us Triple A second baseman Mike Fontenot. Actually, we got Jerry Hairston, Jr. too, but he sucked and that amounted to nothing, so let's talk Fontenot. Remember last year when Ryan Theriot got that surprise promotion to the bigs? No one was more surprised than Fontenot, whose sterling production had earned him a big league shot. Don't get me wrong, he's no star, but a Mike Bordick-like career as a semi-regular isn't out of reach. Dig that .930 OPS this year in Iowa.

Three: Jacque Jones Gets a Reprieve
As long as Aramis Ramirez is on the DL, the Cubs can afford to keep all of their six outfielders, but once he's back... well, Felix Pie isn't going anywhere... not anymore. Ward's our pinch-hitter, Murton's the future, and Soriano's the $136m man. Jones is going, sooner or later. Nice move waiting until his value plummets before unloading him. That .614 OPS sure is going to help him sell, right? Maybe we can net a AA reliever for him! Ack.

Four: Soriano in Line to Make All-Star Team
And I'm glad, too. I could deal with the Cubs stinking and I could deal with them not making the playoffs, but if we got all the way to the All-Star break and had our representative hand-picked out of pity, Ron Coomer-style...

Five: Newest Promotion to Big League Club, and, Saddest Omission
Now along with the big club: top prospect Sean Gallagher, freshly promoted from AAA Tennessee where he had 54 strikeouts in 61 innings of work as a starter. It seems strange to us here at Cubs in Five to rush him past Triple A and shove him into relieving rather than give Rocky Cherry another shot. But then again, Cherry's 7.71 ERA in Iowa probably isn't helping his case any. Demoting him after one bad outing probably didn't help the guy, though.

Sox in Five

Hope Is a Willing Slave; Despair Is Free
by Steve Gozdecki

One: New Arms, Same Results
Youngish pitchers in the bullpen not getting the job done? Send'em down and give a non-prospect and two retreads a try! And then watch them try the fans' patience! While Chicago White Sox rookie Dewon Day hasn't embarrassed himself too badly yet, his poor control and lack of strikeouts portend darker days ahead. Already experiencing their dark days are the two major league veterans who were called up just over a week ago, righthanders Ryan Bukvich and Bret Prinz. Coming into last night's action, the pair sported identical 20.25 ERAs, which they each racked up by allowing three earned runs in three appearances totaling 1-1/3 innings. Basically, they enter a game, fail, and get pulled. You get the feeling that Mike MacDougal, Andrew Sisco and Davd Aardsma will be back up sooner rather than later.

Two: Or Let's Just Not Use the Bullpen, Period
Say what you will about Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, he generally does a good job managing the pitching staff and making sure that his starters don't rack up the insane pitch counts that are associated with pitchers hitting the disabled list. But there is a small cause for concern in this area, as Javier Vazquez, Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle have all gone into the red zone in their most recent starts. As a general guideline, today's managers and pitching coaches consider removing the starting pitcher after he throws 100 pitches. But on Sunday, Buehrle was left in long enough to set his season high in pitches thrown, chucking 119 over eight innings. The night before, Garland threw 116, three fewer than he did in his previous start, when he set his season high. And last Wednesday Vazquez threw 114 pitches, second only to his 115-pitch effort from May 1. While only a masochist would want to bring in any of this team's crop of crappy relievers in a winnable game, abusing the big-money starting pitchers — also known as the Sox's most tradable resource — is not the answer.

Three: I Feel a Draft
Owing to their 90-win season last year, the White Sox had the 25th pick in last week's draft. And with that first round pick, they opted for a tall left-handed pitcher who is as much a suspect as a prospect. The pitcher in question is Aaron Poreda, who pitched the last three years in relative obscurity for the University of San Francisco. Poreda's tall, he throws hard, he only averages six strikeouts per nine innings last season, and he's said to be somewhat lacking in terms of a second or third pitch. But the Sox braintrust and a few observers like ESPN's Keith Law are pretty high on Poreda, confident that he can be made better with the right coaching and that he'll throw a heavy ball to keep his pitches from flying out of homer-friendly U.S. Cellular Field. He may have been a reach, but coming off a series of drafts that have seen the Sox take "safe," low-upside college pitchers like Lance Broadway and Kyle McCulloch, it's clear that Kenny and Co. figured a high-risk, high-reward guy was better than another middling talent. A bit more troubling is that a farm system that is starving for position players was stocked with pitching, pitching and more pitching in the early rounds of this draft. On the positive side, second and third picks Nevin Griffin and John Ely were widely expected to be picked far higher than they were. Of course, sometimes there's a reason a player falls down teams' lists on draft day. Give it a few years, and we'll know a lot more.

Four: Live and Let Dye
Jermaine Dye. 2005 World Series MVP. 2006 regular season MVP candidate. 2007... makes you nostalgic for the past several years. As an aging slugger, Dye epitomizes the team's offensive problems. As a free-agent-to-be, he poses a severe flight risk. As trade bait, Kenny Williams would be nuts not to explore the possibilities, especially with power hitters expected to be in short supply on the trade market. With his value declining by the day, the time to trade Dye is sooner rather than later. Don't be surprised if it happens before month's end.

Five: Talk It Out
After Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros — which, like most recent White Sox losses, featured a bullpen implosion and weak offense — your Chicago White Sox held a players-only meeting. And lo and behold, the next day they came out and finally got Buehrle his 100th career win. Cause and effect? That's what the team's announcers would have you believe, which makes you question why the Sox aren't having these meetings each and every night. Oy vey, the kids just got out of school and it already looks like it's going to be a long summer on the South Side of town...

Fire in Five

Taking the Drunk Bus from Now On
by Steve Gillies

One: A Frightening Vision of the Future
When Armageddon comes, it'll look familiar. After spending an hour trying to escape the lawless, every-SUV-for-itself post-apocalyptic wasteland that is the Toyota Park parking lot after a sold out game, my ladyfriend turned to me and said, "I'm never coming back here." I couldn't really argue with her. I did point out that Matt Pickens looks a lot cuter now that he's sporting the clean cut travel agent look, but given how badly the team is doing this season this seemed little consolation. In fact, after narrowly avoiding a fender bender for the fifteenth time in as many minutes, I half-convinced myself I wasn't coming back ever again. That's despite the fact that I've already spent my money on season tickets and I am completely retarded for soccer. I can't take it that far, though. Instead, I'm planning on taking the Globe bus more so someone else will have to worry about the driving and I can get a head start on consuming the massive amounts of alcohol needed to make the Fire watchable. In honor of that decision, I drank six cans of Pabst before starting this column.

Two: Dave Sarachan's Job
Blah, blah, injuries, best start ever, blah blah, Blanco's on his way, Salas might play here if his girlfriend lets him, blah, blah, we beat the Crew. Nothing can hide the fact that this team has been in freefall since the offseason and needs serious rebuilding. The Fire got completely dominated by Chivas USA this week and was lucky only to lose by a score of 1-0. I don't want Dave Sarachan run out of town with torches and pitchforks, I don't want him drawn and quartered like some fans. But on principle, any coach in the world should be in serious trouble if his team only gets four points out of a possible 21.

Three: Total Sellout
A lackluster average attendance figure got a bump with the arrival of Chivas USA, bringing a sellout crowd. Chivas USA is the American franchise of the popular Mexican team renowned for its exciting, attacking play. As usual they brought in a large contingent of fans, but for the first time in their existence the Chivas fans didn't overwhelm the Fire fans. Every time a Chivas chant started up, the Fire fans would respond with a chant of their own. Unfortunately, the team's reaction to a really great atmosphere was to suck the energy out of it by fielding seven defenders and going for a 0-0 tie in front of a sold out home crowd. It's that kind of cowardly approach to the game that has fans so down on Dave Sarachan. Also, in the long run that kind of boring soccer prevents more sellouts from happening.

Four: At Least One Fire Player Had a Good Week
Justin Mapp got a start in the Gold Cup for the US National Team this week. He managed an assist against Trinidad and Tobago off a trademark run down the ring and cross. Even though Mapp faces heavy competition in his position for the US from DaMarcus Beasley and Bobby Convey, he's been proving he offers an ability to take players on that no one else in the country has. For me, that should at least get him in the squad as a role player off the bench for World Cup Qualifiers, but we'll have to wait and see. Hypothetical Fire savior Cuahtemoc Blanco had a less than good week, on the other hand. He was sent off for elbowing a player during Mexico's shock 2-1 loss to Honduras in the Gold Cup.

Five: Getting Nostalgic for Soldier Field?
What is this Gold Cup of which I speak? It's an international tournament, kind of like the World Cup, except it only covers North America, Central America and the Caribbean, so the US actually has a chance to win. The semi-finals and finals will be played at Soldier Field. At the very least, it will be a much needed distraction from the suck-fests at Toyota Park this year. But barring any further surprises (and international soccer is full of surprises) there should be a US-Mexico matchup at Soldier Field which will be a completely intense, amazing atmosphere. And hey, it's within walking distance of public transportation!

OK, time to sober up and fix my spelling errors. Even if I don't say it enough, I love you guys. I mean it man.

Sky in Five

by Anne Elizabeth Moore off this week, but returns with another spine-tingling episode in seven weeks' time.

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Steve / June 12, 2007 10:37 AM

Free Rocky Cherry? That's my favorite kind of ice cream, delicious AND costless! Can I get that in a souvenir mini batting helmet from the dessert stand up the third-base line?

Andrew / June 14, 2007 3:00 PM

Man, this year's Chicago baseball has been so depressing I've stopped watching.


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 Gozdecki has been a White Sox fan his entire life, with the exception of an ill-advised flirtation with the 1984 Cubs in the days when his town wasn't wired for cable. Because he swears by the work of the "baseball outsiders," who believe that statistical analysis trumps old truisms like subjective evaluation and team chemistry, he found himself pleasantly surprised when the Sox won it all last year. Each week through the season, Steve will bring you five crucial talking points you can use the next time someone says, "Hey, how 'bout them Sox?" Send comments to

Steve Gillies has 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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