I know it's early, but the Soriano in center field experiment appears to be a dud. The unpredictable wind and brick wall of Wrigley Field, make an already tough position to play even tougher. It's no place for a guy trying it out for size.
I'm not saying the Soriano signing was a mistake, but expecting a player with a questionable defensive past to not look exposed out there is a bit much. And who's to say it hasn't affected his offense? But from the sound of things, his injury doesn't appear to be serious and he should be back out there in a week, which no doubt will be Pie's ticket back to Iowa. So don't get your hopes up, Cubs fans, that this is the start of a monumental lineup and positional shift. Who know, maybe Jacque Jones will be back in the No. 3 spot.
If the much-awaited Pie callup isn't enough for Cubs fans, the symbol of all-time Cubs stupid personnel moves, Greg Maddux, returns--as a member of the once hated San Diego Padres, no less. I hear Lou Brock and Steve Garvey will sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
On the weather front, as of my 12:40 trip to Starbucks, it's really nice out. The sun even was shining. Apparently that's too much pleasantness for the evil Tom Skilling and his weather machine. The afternoon forecast calls for shifting winds off the lake, and, if you've spent any time in Chicago, you know that means cold.
On the lineup front, it looks like this. Much change. Pie leads off, followed by Ryan Theriot. Aramis Ramirez is back. Matt Murton remains in right and Jones in left. Ronny Cedeno looks for that elusive second hit of the season. And, hey, Henry Blanco in the house! Meanwhile, his agent likely going to a bigger house. Finally and most unfortunately, it says there Wade Miller is the starting pitcher.
Also of note, Pie will wear Mark Grace's No. 17.
The Brothers Giles, Marcus and Brian, bat 1-2 for the Padres. I've never met either of these guys but there's something off-putting about them, isn't there? Or maybe that's just me. Wade Miller starts off Marcus with a strike and then throws what's sure to be one of many balls on the day. Giles singles to right. The other Giles hits a sinking liner to right. Murton charges and misses it. The ball goes by him, he gets up and just looks at it. Let the rookie get it. Marcus Giles scores on the play, while his bro ends up on second. No new here, but Murton already proves to be a defensive liability in right. If you're going to dive like that, you have to keep the ball in front of you. Mike Cameron pops up down the right-field line and Derrek Lee makes a nice catch in the Padres' bullpen, wheels and keeps Giles at second. Adrian Gonzales lines a double into the right-field corner, scoring Giles. Murton's getting a workout out there. Khalil Greene, as far as I know, the only B'Hai major leaguer, grounds out to Aramis Ramirez. No doubt Greene will visit the B'Hai temple in Wilmette later, so any of you big Khalil fans, you know where to find him. Gonzales took third on that play. Terrmel Sledge, great name, grounds out to Lee to end the top half of the first.
Padres 2, Cubs 0
Felix Pie gets a nice hand from the sparse crowd. First pitch from Maddux is low and in the dirt. Maddux, meanwhile, is 11-3, 2.38 in 20 starts against the Cubs. Pie grounds out to second. Ryan Theriot tops one off the plate towards third and beats it out for an infield single. He then swipes second on the first pitch. Mark DeRosa, make yourself comfortable over there on the bench. You may be there a while. Maddux goes 3-0 on Lee before Lee files out to center. Theriot stays put on second. Ramirez, back from resting his sore wrist, works the count full. Ramirez rips one the other way towards the right-field Under Armour door to score Theriot. I think it hit off Giles' foot as he was leaping against the wall. Of course, no replay and no mention of it from Len and Bob. The ball bounces towards the line, Giles gets up limping and Ramirez gets himself a triple. Murton grounds out.
Padres 2, Cubs 1
To clarify some stuff on the message board, Angel Guzman was optioned to Iowa today and will be used as a starter. Miller retired Kevin Kouzmanoff somehow but I'm not sure; WGN lost its picture momentarily. They are back as the catcher Bob Bowen walks. With Maddux up, Miller nearly picks off Bowen. Maddux bunts Bowen to second. Giles knocks home Bowen with a single to right-center. Giles gets a good jump and steals second. Miller strikes out the other Giles.
Padres 3, Cubs 1
For those of you having trouble with the comment board, go here. Fan favorite Jacque Jones lines a single to right. Cedeno flies out to center. Jones takes off for second but Blanco lifts a fly ball to center. Jones hurries back to first and likely will stay there with Wade Miller coming up. Miller bounces out to second to end the inning
Padres 3, Cubs 1
Cameron starts things off with a double off the wall in center. Gonzales flies out to right and Cameron tests Murton arm. For good reason: Murton two hops a throw into third and Cameron doesn't even have to slide. The B'Hai Spicoli, Khalil Greene pops up near the Cubs dugout. Ramirez has no idea where it is. Luckily Cedeno hustles over to make the catch, saving Ramirez the embarrassment of taking another ball off his head. Sledge walks. Man, Blanco has saved a number of balls in the dirt this inning off his chest protector and places to the south. Full count, Sledge takes off and Miller just misses outside. He's not happy and hasn't been with a number of calls from home plate umpire Chris Guccione. Here comes Lou ostensibly to talk to Miller. This could get ugly. The entire infield convenes on the mound. Guccione comes out to break up the confab. Lou has a few words. And nothing happens. Bases loaded with two outs for Kouzmanoff. Meanwhile, Padres announcer Mark Grant has been in the booth with Len and Bob the entire inning and it's rather distracting. Doesn't he have a game to call somewhere? Kouzmanoff lines one to right and Murton makes a sliding catch to end the inning. I'm thinking early candidate for right field Gold Glove. Nice play by the Red Headed One. And more promising, that inning and those close pitches may have set the stage for a future Piniella tirade. A boy can dream.
Padres 3, Cubs 1
Pie flies out to Sister Sledge in left. Theriot grounds out to short. Lee grounds to the right side where Giles boots it. Lee safe on the E-4. Yes, as someone on the board pointed out, Bowen lined out to end the top half of the third. Sorry about that. I was so caught up in the prospect of Lou Piniella tossing bases, I lost track of all of Miller's walks. Furthermore, thanks for comparing my scorekeeping to that of Ron Santo. Lee steals second. Likely overheard somewhere in the bleachers today: "Wait, I thought Derrek Lee wore No. 42." Ramirez grounds out to short. Innings Miller pitches vs. inning Maddux pitches: We're talking about a difference of at least 20 minutes.
Padres 3, Cubs 1
Maddux bounces back to Miller for, gasp, a quick out. Giles, the one batting leadoff, lofts a fly ball to right-center where Pie runs under it. Two quick outs. Miller gets Giles, the other one, looking. Wow, seriously quick inning for Miller. Maddux-esque. OK, I'll stop.
Message board matters: Tim Duncan-Joey Crawford must happen. If Charles Barkley can race Dick Bavetta, Duncan certainly can get it on with Crawford, no? Man-U over Chelsea. And Pie's last name is pronounced Pee-yeah. Murton grounds out. So does Jones. Ben Bohn, I have no idea where Rahula is. My guess is he's at home dipping into his extensive collection of "A-Team" DVDs. Cedeno grounds out to third. Sprinkle it around the infield, why don't you?
Padres 3, Cubs 1
Cameron pops up the first pitch behind home plate and Blanco gloves it. We're really rolling along here. Not that I have anything better to do. Suppose I could go vote. Aldermanic runoff fever, catch it! Gonzales singles to right. Miller walks Greene. Piniella jabs Larry Rothschild in the side with a pen, awakening the pitching coach from his usual middle-inning nap. Rothschild stirs but stays in the dugout. Cesar Izturis grabs a glove and it looks like we'll be blessed with the excitement of a double switch. Not if Miller has any say in the matter (which he doesn't). He strikes out Sledge looking. Kouzmanoff flies out to center, stranding two runners, the Padres sixth and seventh of the afternoon.
Speaking of today, Zzzz. Frankly I wasn't going to vote. I live in the 43rd ward where Vi Daley and Michelle Smith are squaring off. But the Michelle Smith campaign has called non-stop for months. Beat it, people! And yesterday they littered the entire neighborhood with little door-knob fliers. I wonder if her trolls are going to come around Wednesday and clean up this mess. Doubt it. So I may vote for Daley out of spite. OK, who am I kidding?
Blanco leads off the sixth with a lazy fly ball to center. Cameron has no clue. Giles runs over but the ball drops. Blanco hustles into second just beating the throw. Izturis pinch hits for Miller and lines out to the shortstop. Blanco gets back to the bag in time to avoid the double play. Pie goes the other way with a double to the left-center gap for his first major league hit. Blanco scores and the ball is retrieved. Theriot grounds to second, Pie takes third and, in what has to be a first, Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish makes an appearance on the message board. Scottish brogue and all. Lee dumps a two-out single into right to tie the game. Lee steals second and I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Padres catcher Rob Bowen is not so good at throwing out the runners. The count goes full to Ramirez before he draws a walk -- the first given up by Maddux. Murton pops up to right, Brian Giles tells his brother Marcus to get lost and takes it himself.
Cubs 3, Padres 3
And "Citizen who votes" on the message board, I do vote. I'm just saying I probably won't vote in this runoff. And technically I'm complaining about an unelected official. So spare me the self righteousness. Neal Cotts takes over for Miller. Rob Bowen reaches on a Theriot error. Jose Cruz Jr. bloops a single to right. Murton was asleep out there and totally had Bowen at second. Alas, no throw. Giles bunts and Cotts gets the lead runner at third. Nice play. The other Giles bounces into a 4-6-3, inning-ending double play. Cotts got out of that jam quickly and nicely.
Cla [cq] Meredith, whose parents forgot the "Y," comes on to pitch and gets Jones to bounce out. Kouzmanoff robs Cedeno of a sure double with a diving grab to his right. Kouzmanoff then goes the same to Blanco, though with fewer theatrics. That one was hit right at him.
Cubs 3, Padres 3
OK, what's the deal with liners to third? Cameron lines one right at Ramirez. Cotts still in there, by the way. OK, "Citizen who votes" has shamed me into possibly voting. We'll see how I feel when I get home to find a thousand messages from the menaces at Michelle Smith's campaign headquarters. Gonzales drops a bloop single in front of Jones in left. Cotts walks Greene. Michael Wuertz up in the pen. Here's Larry. Rothschild strolls out to the mound, hands in this pockets. Whatever he said worked, because Cotts threw an 3-0 strike to Sledge. Count goes full before Cotts comes back to strike out the lefty. Lou takes the walk this time to yank Cotts for Wuertz. Michael Barrett will catch. Wuertz strikes out Kouzmanoff.
"Actor and director" David Arquette-Cox will sing TMOTTBG. I will take this opportunity to use the bathroom. Barrett lines out to first. Let's make this a quick inning so this tool will leave the broadcast booth and go spend some more of his wife's money. Pie grounds out and seriously this inning couldn't end quick enough. He's plugging his new movie staring Jason Mewes and Pee-Wee Herman. Where's the Padres broadcaster when you need him? Thank you, Ryan Theriot. He bounces out to second to end the inning. Goodbye, David Arquette. Hello, Jim Belushi? Ugh. He's on a commercial for something. Where's Bob Rohrman when you need him?
Cubs 3, Padres 3
Wuertz remains and will face Bob Rowen. Or Rob Bowen, who grounds out. Paul McAnulty hits in the pitcher's spot. Took me a while trying to figure out how to spell his name. And just like that he bounces out to second. Giles pops out to Lee.
Scott Linebrink is the Padres' new pitcher. Linebrink walks Lee. Ramirez wipes out Lee with a 4-6-3 DP. Murton grounds back to the pitcher and so much for that inning.
Cubs 3, Padres 3
So, Mystery, according to your logic Courtney Cox married David Arquette for his money? She's not exactly hurting for cash. Wuertz still in there. Giles flies out to Jones in left. Cameron squirts one by a diving Izturis. Gonzalez rips one down the right-field line. It takes a Cubs bounce off the side wall right to Murton, who gets the back in to hold Cameron at third. Man, Gonzales can really hit. Fourth of the day for him. Greene swings through a 2-2 pitch. Big strikeout for Wuertz. Sweet Lou takes his sweet time strollilng out to the mound. He gives Wuertz some kind of pep talk. Wuertz will walk Sledge to load 'em up for ... anyone, anyone? Who's on deck? Kouzmanoff? Negative. Bud Black opts to go with White Sox World Series hero Geoff Blum. So much for Lou's pep talk. He walks out to go get Wuertz. Let's hope he's not bringing in Ezequiel Astacio. No, it's Scott Eyre, fresh out of a hospital bed. Eyre has to conserve his energy, doctor's orders, and thankfully gets Blum to fly out to Murton on the first pitch.
Linebrink still in. Jones digs in, red bat and all, and grounds out to Blum. Cedeno draws a walk. Meanwhile, Joey Crawford has been suspended for the rest of the NBA season (one game) and the playoffs. See, ya! Now when will David Stern get to Hue Hollins? Cliff Floyd hits and lines out to Greene, who flips to first to double up Cedeno.
Cubs 3, Padres 3
Bobby Howry pitches, Bowen hits and hunger sets in. Bowen pops out to Ramirez. Russell Branyan hits for Linebrink. He walks. Marcus Giles singles to center. Branyan rounds second and then takes a Carlos Zambrano like digger and has to crawl back to second. Pie shows off his arm with a laser back to the infield. Giles, the other one, singles to center and Pie nails Branyan at the plate on a line. Snap throw to third, but Giles is in there. Pie is no Juan Pierre. Man, sweet throw. I can't remember the last time I saw a Cubs outfielder do that. We're talking an Andre Dawson throw. Cameron bounces to Ramirez and just gets the runner at first. We just witnessed Felix Pie's Welcome to the Show moment. He hits second in the bottom of the inning.
Heath Bell, a pear-shaped fleshy sort, pitches to Barrett to start the Cubs' half of the 10th. Barrett's weak fly ball to right is greeted by the few still at the park with a momentary cheer quickly replaced by a deflating "Ohhh." Here's Pie. Well, so much for that. Pie weakly bounces back to the pitcher. Theriot walks but apparently the third-base coach Mike Quade had called timeout, so the pitch doesn't count. Theriot grounds out and then lifts his arms up as if to say, "What the hell are you calling time out for?" It wouldn't surprise me if that's the last we see of Mike Quade in the third-base coach's box.
Cubs 3, Padres 3
Howry remains. Gonzalez, whose name I've been misspelling all game, grounds out to second. Greene grounds out to a diving Ramirez. Sledge skies one to right. Murton fights the sun but grabs it.
Bell strikes out Lee with a 97-mph fastball. Ramirez grounds to his counterpart at third. Murton strikes out, Bell is tough and this game will not end anytime soon.
Cubs 3, Padres 3
Dempster will pitch, Theriot moves out to right, DeRosa will play second and Blum starts the inning with a walk. Bowen bunts Blum to second. Pete LaForest will hit in the ninth spot, the eighth guy to do so today for San Diego. LaForest flies out to Pie, who has to fight off some seagulls. Blum opts not to run on Pie. The Cubs again are bailed out by great defense. This time DeRosa robs Giles of an RBI hit with a diving grab.
Doug Brocail is the Padres' 34th pitcher of the day. Jones strikes out. I believe the Cubs' last hit was in the fifth. Don't get your hopes up here with Cedeno at the plate. Strike three. Two outs, 2-2 to DeRosa and he ... fouls one off. Couple of guys in cowboy hats out in the bleachers. Seriously, I've got nothing. DeRosa fouls back two more pitches. The seagulls are really swirling. They're usually having a feast in the stands by now. Ball three. Quick someone tell Mike Quade to keep his mouth shut. DeRosa gets ahold of one but it dies short of the track. It sounded promising. OK, laugh all you want, but I've got a yoga class to get to.
Cubs 3, Padres 3
Brian Giles chops one to Ramirez, who makes a great play just getting there. Lee picks the low throw out for the first out. Cameron grounds to Ramirez and this play is more of the routine variety. Gonzalez flies out to a running Pie in shallow center.
Alrighty here, maybe 1,000 people left in the park as Michael Barrett bats against Brocail. Barrett strikes out chasing an outside pitch. Here's Pie again with a chance to be a hero. He fouls two off to fall behind 0-2. He takes a ball and then chases a fastball near his eyes for strike three. Lookee here, a basehit for the Chicago Cubs. Theriot singles to right for the Cubs' first hit since the fifth. Lee flies out to center and we go to the 14th. C'mon now!
I see no possible way for this game to end. Neither team is hitting, the wind is blowing in, it's freezing, the ball isn't carrying, both teams are out of players, it's utterly hopeless. To top it off, the Cubs are catching the ball like it's no one's business. Daryle Ward will play first and Will Ohfortheloveofgodman will try his hand on the mound. Greene hits one over Theriot's head in right. Theriot was playing really shallow. Really shallow. Anyway, Greene ends up with a leadoff double. Sledge grounds back to Ohman, who makes a nice play, holds Greene at second before throwing the runner out at first. Blum pulls it down the line, Jones thinks about having a go at a dive, but instead it skips right by him and rolls to the wall, scoring Greene. It's official, there are more birds than fans in the park. And, yes, that's Theriot out in right not DeRosa. Thanks to the eagle-eyed reader on the message board who pointed that out. I changed it, so no one will ever know. Bowen (I think) pops out to Pie and pitcher Jake Peavy hits and flies out.
Len and Bob sing TMOTTBG and I'm a DNP at yoga. Jones charged that ball by Blum, pulled up and then it took a funky hop right by his glove, for the soul on the board who asked about that scoring play.
Padres 4, Cubs 3
Trevor Hoffman is on the mound in the bottom of the 14th and gets two quick strikes on Ramirez. As 14-inning games go, this is a quick one--just over four hours so far. Ramirez stirkes out swinging. Ward will hit for the first time and skies one to center. Cameron misplays it badly into a double. Cameron started back, charged in, dove and came up with nothing. Nada. Zip. Jason Marquis runs for Ward, which tells you everything you need to know about that guy's wheels. Jones flies out to left. Cedeno strikes out looking to end the game, which tells you everything you need to know about that guy.
Final: Padres 4, Cubs 3
Just as carpal tunnel, acid reflux and social security kick in, this one ends. Thanks for reading, everyone. Anyone there?