Welcome to From the Zellicle. We're back for another year. We think. In light of today's new, who knows what's going on.
The big news of the day besides why Neifi Perez wasn't brought back, is the new owner of the Tribune, Sam Zell, is . So the lovable/miserable losers are up for sale. We're taking bids. Put them on the message board on the right side of the page.
Let's catch up because a lot has happened since we last saw the Cubs and each other. They spent $300 million in the offseason, sent Dusty Baker on his way, gave Alfonso Soriano a lifetime deal, pried Lou Piniella out of retirement and let Andy McPhail sail his yacht into the sunset. Not sure what any of these changes mean, but I'm sure we'll find out soon. We've also moved out of the basement and into the fourth-floor newsroom here at the Zell nee Tribune Tower.
In other Z news, today's starter, Carlos Zambrano, magnanimously has .
Baseball soon between the Cubs and Reds from the Cincy's Great American Ballpark.
Welcome back, everyone. I've missed you. I really have. And I mean you, Linda S. ... The WGN folks, in an obvious attempt to impress their new boss, open the broadcast with a musical montage tribute to Carlos Zambrano. I question Cincy mayor Mark Mallory's manhood after that ceremonial first pitch. He one-hopped it to the umpire standing about five feet to the left of home plate. Plus, he's wearing a suit with lapels that would embarrass even Ray Lewis. OK, finally Alfonso Soriano digs in against Aaron Harang and swings through the first pitch. There's that patience you like to see in the leadoff spot. Takes a ball then missed on an offspeed pitch before bouncing back to Harang for the first out. Reds, by the way, got some new unis--all white button-up withs logo on the chest. Cubs, meanwhile, still going with their lame road grays that need some work. Matt Murton falls behind 0-2 on a check swing. Another check swing and home-plate ump Randy Marsh says he went around, so Red takes a seat. Behind three balls to Derrek Lee, Harang licks his fingers while on the mound, which is an automatic ball. Lee takes his base and then is thrown out trying to steal second.
A new edition to the GAP is a river boat in the outfield. A bit cornball if you ask me. We are talking the Nasty Natti, so I guess it fits. Zamrbano, slapping his glove and adjusting the furniture between each pitch, walks Ryan Freel on four pitches to start the inning. I haven't looked this up, but Adam Dunn has to average a homer every game he faces the Cubs. Anyway, the Reds have this donkey batting second, which tells you a bit about their lineup. Dunn turns on a 1-2 pitch and sends it way deep to right for -- I'm going to go out on limb -- his first homer of the year. Ripped that and keeps up his homer/Cubs game average. Zambrano should've signed that deal. I think his value just dropped. He comes back to strike out Brandon Phillips. Junior slaps a single to left-center. Edwin Encarnacion flies out to Murton in left. Scott Hatteberg grounds to new second baseman Mark DeRosa and we move on.
Reds 2, Cubs 0
Hey, who let Pete Rose in? Fittingly the ever-hustling Aramis Ramirez leads off the top of the second. Ramirez flies out to center. Fan favorite Jacque Jones grounds to second. Michael Barrett flies out to Junior in right to end it. Meet the new Cubs; same as the old Cubs.
Alex Gonzalez, not that one, pops out to Murton in shallow left. Len Kasper asks, "Can we finally remove the tag of journeyman from David Ross?" Uh, sure, go ahead. Hadn't really thought about it. He does have a point, though, because Ross had a good season in limited time. Ross grounds to Ramirez. Harang grounds to Izturis and Zambrano has little problem with the back of the Reds' lineup.
Reds 2, Cubs 0
Mark DeRosa rips a single to center for the Cubs' first hit. Izturis pops out to Dunn in left. That's never a guarantee with Dunn in the field. Zambrano swings at a pitch near his eyes for strike three. Soriano rips one off the third baseman's glove that bounces into left. DeRosa takes third. With Soriano dancing off first, Murton falls behind 0-2 and then chases one low and away for strike three. Cubs get two on with two outs and leave 'em there.
Freel chops one over Zambrano's head, Izturis bare-hands it and throws it away. The ball takes a Cubs bounce off a railing right to Lee, who throws out Freel at second. After all that, Dunn destroys the first pitch way the heck out to center. Not sure where it landed. Maybe in the river. Where's the river -- in left or right? Not sure. Dunn takes a curtain call. Zambrano walks Phillips. Phillips takes second on a ball in the dirt that gets away from Barrett. Junior walks. Oh, dear, pithcing coach Larry Rothschild makes his first slow trot of the season. He's still going with that oversized sweatshirt. We're in the third inning and Len finally mentions the impending sale of the team. Talk about burying the lede. Encarnacion bounces to Ramirez, who steps on third, double clutches and settles for the one out. Hatteberg bounces out.
Reds 3, Cubs 0
Jim Hendry is in the booth as Lee hits one foul down the right-field line. Lee flies out to Freel in center and Hendry adds nothing new to the news of the day or the Zambrano negotiations. Ramirez lines a single to right. Gonzalez makes a diving stop behind second on a Jones bouncer and lookee here, Ramirez hustles into second, beating Gonzalez to the bag. Two men on for Barrett, who pops out to right. With DeRosa up, Hanang tosses one to the backstop and both runners move up. DeRosa works the count full and fouls a few pitches back. Ball four and the bases are loaded with two outs for Izturis. So much for that. Izturis pops the first pitch up.
I can't tell if the little guy at the end of the Carlos Mencia Bud Light commercial is a ventriloquist dummy or an actual human. "Bud Light. Bood Light." Gonzalez bounces one off the plate. Zambrano bare hands it and his throw is no where close. Clumsy-looking play. Trainer Mark O'Neal comes out to check on Zambrano but he appears to be OK. It's ruled an infield hit. Ross flies out to Jones towards the line. Harang bunts Gonzalez to the second. Freel grounds the first pitch to DeRosa at second and we move to the fifth.
Reds 3, Cubs 0
Zambrano, showing bunt, takes a ball, fouls one off and eventually strikes out. Soriano swings through the first pitch then lines one right at Dunn in left. Murton reaches on a swinging bunt to the left side. Lee sends one to center where Freel has no clue. He hesitated, tried to dive and couldn't come up with it. To make matters worse he throws wildly to third, allowing Murton to score. Lee ends up on third. But Ramirez grounds to third and can't get him home.
Reds 3, Cubs 1
Big Z walks Big Dunn and complains about a few pitches. Phillips is grazed by a pitch, bringing up Junior with two on and no outs. Rothschild's nap is interrupted again as he trots out to the mound. Angel Guzman and Neal Cotts are up in the pen, so it's clearly a stalling tactic. Junior dumps one over Izturis' glove to load 'em up. Zambrano just misses off the plate to Encarnacion and you can tell he thinks Randy Marsh is squeezing him. Encarnacion chops one to a charging Ramizez who flips to Barrett to get the lead runner. Hatteberg takes a few balls. Barrett saves a run with a nice block of a ball in the dirt. Zambrano can't hit squat. He comes back to work the count full before walking in a run. That has to be it for Zambrano. He can go back to the negotiating table or chat online in the clubhouse. Lou leaves him in there to face Gonzalez, who knocks in a run with a broken-bat flyball to left. Zambrano thought he struck out Ross but Randy Marsh thought it was low. Ross strikes out and he walks off the field Zambrano motions to Marsh who says something back and Zambrano just waves him off. Pretty minor exchange but funny still the same. Anyway, 5-1, Reds.
Reds 5, Cubs 1
Zambrano threw a minor hissy fit in the dugout between innings. Tossed his glove, asked Barrett if those pitches were strikes. Jones grounds out to second. Barrett sends one to the right-center gap where Freel makes a diving catch. Brenly calls him out, saying he made that look more difficult than it was and didn't need to dive. At any rate, Junior wouldn't have gotten there had he still be in center. Junior, however, gets to DeRosa's lazy fly ball down the right-field line for the third out, ending a really fast inning. I guess $300 million doesn't go as far as it used to.
Neal Cotts comes on to pitch, Ryan Theriot to play second and bat ninth. Harang hits for himself and strikes out. Freel drives one to left over Murton's head and off the base of the wall. He thinks about three but stops at second. Dunn takes a giant cut but gets under it and lofts it to Soriano, who makes his first putout as a center fielder. Phillips pops out to Lee.
Reds 5, Cubs 1
Izturis flies out to center. Brenly just gave props to Harang for "keeping this high-powered Cubs offense in check." Okaaaay. Theriot fans. Soriano, the engine that makes said high-powered Cubs offense go, flies out.
Here's the Bud Light Fan Cam, or an attempt to find a few attractive ladies in the crowd. I appears they've yanked Len's privilege of choosing the music for the feature because whatever they just played sounded like something off a 12-year-old's ipod. Cotts stays in there and gets Junior to fly out. Encarnacion singles to left. Hatteberg pops one to shallow left and we have our first Keystone Cops routine of the year. Murton, Izturis and Ramiriez converge on it. Murton takes it but not before Ramirez takes a stab at it and slaps Murton in the chest with his glove, which goes flying. That was a promising but nothing near pop-up-off-Ramirez's-head territory. But there's still time. It's only the opener. That's it for Cotts. Michael Wuertz tries his hand and walks Gonzalez. Ross strikes out.
Reds 5, Cubs 1
Righty Kirk Saarloos replaces Harang and strikes out Murton. Lee rips one over Junior's head and off the wall but it's hit so hard Lee has to stop at first. Ramirez grounds out to third; Lee takes second. Jones squibs one to short to end the top half.
Josh Hamilton, the former drug addict who apparently has straightened himself out, gets a huge hand as he pinch hits. Sweet Lou walks out and brings in Will Ohman. Murton robs Hamilton of a hit with a diving/falling catch in left. Freel strikes out. So does Dunn. Ohman has himself a nice inning. And we move to the ninth.
Reds 5, Cubs 1
Former Cub/everything David Weathers will try to get the Cubs in the ninth. Barrett flies out to center. The ever-fragile Cliff Floyd will pinch hit. Floyd pops out to second. But more importantly he makes it back to the dugout unscathed. Izturis prolongs the inevitable with a single to left. Theriot grounds into a fielder's choice to end this one.
Final: Reds 5, Cubs 1
No a promising start for the Cubs. Zambrano didn't pitch well and the offense couldn't manage anything. Looks like Sam Zell made another smart business decision passing on this group. Thanks for reading, everyone.