If you're like me and the rest of the nation -- heck, world -- then you can't get enough of this enthralling ESPN "Who's Now" contest that perfectly captures the best of the erudite American Idol Zeitgeist of our cultural-rich nation. I think I speak for everyone when I say nothing will ever be the same after the most now athlete is revealed. Nor should it be. Thank you, ESPN.
In that spirit, let's go to the Yosh Kawano bracket and decide who's more now, Cubs bench guy Daryle Ward or the Astros' Morgan Ensberg?
While neither, sadly, has been "linked" to any member of the stable of emaciated, drug-addled c-list skanks, Ensberg does count weasel-faced teammate Adam Everett as a close friend. And Ward once had his picture taken with this guy.
Ward named all four of his children names that begin with the letter "J" -- Jordan, Jaylen, Josiah and Jaxon. How cute. Ensberg is known to ... Well, honestly I can't find anything else interesting about Morgan Ensberg. Keyshawn will have to settle this one.
As for the Cubs, man, they're so now they're later. They've gone 22-12 from June 3 to the All-Star break and today is the first day of the rest of the season. The Cubs play host to the Houston Astros. Carlos Zambrano looks to keep the mo' rolling from the end of the first half when he won three of his last four starts. Jason Jennings, meanwhile, looks for that elusive second victory.
On the news front, . Enter Geovany Soto, who will catch Zambrano today. Since Koyie Hill is out of options, the Cubs will carry three catches for now, which is always great for pinch-running situations. Fan favorite Jacque Jones will be the everyday center-fielder. It's anyone's guess who's in right.
Wait ... the lineups tell us it's Cliff Floyd.
And I was told to give this update by some teammates, we lost our softball game last night to a team that hadn't won all season. I committed numerous errors at short and popped out to end the game. Sweet. At least there was beer.
OK, Wayne Messmer is great with the anthem and what I'm about to say may be considered a sacrilegious offense, but I'm not down with the way he pronounces perilous "per-ee-lous." H-town on the message board points out that Ensberg was once robbed at gunpoint in his hotel room, so, yeah, that is interesting and frightening. I also found this funny from his wiki page:
"Known by Astros fans simply as "Mo," it is not uncommon to hear fans wildly chanting "Let's Go Mo!" at an Astros game. Ensberg has been nothing but a disappointment for the Astros since the end of 2005. He is batting a measly .206 in 2007."
Wow, they turn on you quickly.
Sorry, and now we start the first inning. Craig Biggio, who recently joined the 3,000 hits club, flies out to Alfonso Soriano in left. Rookie Hunter Pence (Ahoy, polloi) is leading the NL in hitting with a .342 average. Zambrano shaves a few points off that with a strike out. Fat Elvis (do they still call him that?) Lance Berkman draws a walk. El Caballo (do they still call him that?) Carlos Lee strikes out.
And who the heck is Yosh Yamano, you dope? Soriano strikes out after a lengthy at-bat. Ryan Theriot singles to left. Yes, the outfield looks park district-esque thanks to those hoodlum Police fans. Derrek Lee flies out to left. Aramis Ramirez does the same.
Mark Loretta, who always makes me think of Sarkis in Evanston even though the disaster sandwich is better than the Loretta, flies out to center. Zambrano strikes out Lamb looking at a hard sinker in the inside corner. Insane, gun-toting nutjob Luke Scott strikes out trying to check his swing.
I'd like to think I have something to do with the new presentation of the Walgreen's Celebrity Bat Kids. No longer are they seen waving zombie-like for an uncomfortable 30 seconds. Instead now they show them getting autographs in the dugout. I'm sure I had nothing to do with that. Cliff Floyd grounds out to first. Mark DeRosa flies out to right. Jones, lying .233, beats out an infield hit to short. Here's Soto. And there goes Soto. He strikes out quickly.
Catcher Eric Munson ground back to Zambrano towards first and Big Z lumbers to the bag to step on it himself. Derrek Lee ran for his life with Zambrano motoring towards him. Zambrano strikes out Jennings. Biggio rips one right at Ramirez, who has all day--and uses it--to make the throw to first.
OK, all the sickos on the message board, this is how Cesar Izturis 'congratulated' Aramis Ramirez after Ramirez's walkoff homer beat the Brewers. Zambrano fans. Soriano fans. Theriot goes the other way for his second hit of the day. Theriot swipes second on the first pitch to Lee. Homer-starved Lee takes ball four on a pitch that nearly hits him. Ramirez flies out to polo star Hunter Pence in center.
With his yacht safely moored in Montrose Harbor, Hunter Pence pokes a single down the right-field line past Lee. Berkman bloops one to DeRosa and Pence, perhaps letting his mind wander, is doubled up off first. Lee grounds out to short. To those or you asking on the board, Zambrano looks sharp. His pitches are moving, his sinker sinking. He's allowed just the one hit to Pence on an ugly swing.
Floyd leads off the Cubs' half of the fourth with a single to center. DeRosa singles to left and Floyd, creaky everything and all, cuts the bag at second and slides into third. Nice play. Jones knocks in Floyd with a flyball to left. DeRosa takes second. That's two extra bases the Cubs have taken on Carlos Lee in two batters. Soto grounds to Lamb, who makes a nice play, but then throws it in the dirt by Berkman. DeRosa takes third and Berkman decides to air it out across the diamond and nearly throws it in the crowd. DeRosa scores on the brain cramp. Soto takes third. DeRosa already was standing on third when Berkman threw it. Shades of softball last night. Zambrano dumps one over the head of the drawn-in Lamb for an RBI single. Soriano strikes out for the third time today. Theriot flies out to former America's Cup skipper Hunter Pence. The only thing missing from that inning was a little "Yakety Sax" as the Cubs score three runs on two loafs and two hideous throws.
Cubs 3, Astros 0
Loretta lines out to Lee. And all of a sudden there are like six Astros lying on the grass near the bullpen stretching. What is this, a soccer game? Full-scale substitutions coming? Lamb skies one to left-center. Jones has got it, got it, got it until Soriano takes it and nearly elbows Jones in the head. Scott bounces it back to Zambrano and, as usual, he sticks his bare hand out, but this time knocks it up in the air, grabs it and throws it to Lee for the third out.
Lee strikes out looking at a cut fastball right down the middle. Ramirez swings at the first pitch and flies out to Lee, Carlos that is. Floyd grounds to Berkman, who knocks it down, finds the ball and throws to Jennings covering. Floyd is safe because Jennings foot came off the bag. DeRosa bloops a single to center and again Floyd takes third. Like it. Jones swings at the first pitch and grounds out to Berkman, who made a nice diving stop on the play to rob Jones of a hit.
Cubs 3, Astros 0
Here's what I think, Mark Cuban can throw his bowlcut in the ring, but you just know the other MLB owners will never approve a sale to him. Seriously, the guy's worth a billion dollars and he's got a $5 haircut. Munson lines one back through the box for the Astros' second hit. Jennings tries to bunt him over but Lee is all over it and throws to second to get to the lead runner. Biggio, the Great Gazoo, flies out to Jones in center. Zambrano strikes out Pence and we move on.
Soto strikes out. Zambrano lines an ankle-high pitch the other way and makes an aggressive turn around first, but thinks better of taking second. Astros pitching coach Dave Wallace strolls out there. Soriano rips the first pitch down the left-field line for a double. Zambrano barrels into third standing up. Phil Garner goes and gets Jennings in favor of Chad Qualls. For the pitch-count crew, Zambrano's got 91. He's also standing on third, so let's worry about that. Theriot's swinging bunt gets by a sprawling Qualls, but Lamb charges and makes the play. No one on the bases moves. The Astros put Lee on to load the bases. Is that the best move with Ramirez coming up? Maybe. He's 0-for-8 lifetime against Qualls, Bob says. Qualls isn't pitching like it and falls behind 3-1. Ball four is way inside, nearly hits Ramirez and gets by Munson. Zambrano scores. Ball one to Floyd and this guy can't find the plate. Floyd hits it in the air to center and flings his bat in disgust.
Cubs 4, Astros 0
Zambrano starts Berkman off with two strikes. Berkman strikes out and then has some words for homeplate umpire Greg Gibson. Carlos Lee singles to right. Loretta walks. Piniella comes out to the mound for a little gum-chomping chit-chat with Zambrano. Lamb sends it deep to left but not deep enough. Soriano tracks it down and Carlos Lee isn't going anywhere. Carlos Marmol and Will Ohman get up in the pen. The count goes to 3-1 to Scott and appears Zambrano is out of gas. Zambrano walks Scott and throws a minor fit about it. That's it for him. Piniella comes out and calls for the righty Marmol. Will Ohman comes trotting in. Lou keeps pointing to his right arm and has to walk towards the pen before finally throwing up his arms in exasperation as if to say "This is my right arm. Geez." Zambrano exits to a nice ovation. Replays show that whole mixup was the thir-base umpire Charlie Reliford's fault. He sent Marmol back. Anyway, the righty Marmol gets left-handed hitting Munson to fly out to center.
Jim Belushi will sing TMOTTBG. Ugh. I'll be turning the sounds down for a bit. Instead ... you know, the Cubs haven't had many proud moments in their history. But they do have this, in five parts. And it's beyond great. When I was a kid I taped this game and watched it when I got home from school. I hope the powers that be don't yank this from youtube. The internet used to be so much better.
Brad Lidge comes on to pitch and nearly drills DeRosa. DeRosa eventually strikes out swinging. I will not be reporting on the comedic stylings of Jim Belushi because I have the sound off. Jones takes a pitch right down the middle for strike three. He may have thought it was high. But too close to take, either way. Soto grounds to Loretta who sails his throw over Berkman's head. Berkman jumps in the air and then gets bumped to the ground by Soto, who ends up on second. Marmol hits and grounds out.
Cubs 4, Astros 0
It is now safe to turn up the volume ... just in time for that annoying "Can I have it like that/You got it like that" Heineken commercial. OK, Marmol is still in there and hit for himself to end the last inning. Sorry about that. I'm worse than Charlie Reliford. That's what I get for turning off the sound. Orlando Palmeiro pinch hits and strikes out. Biggio grounds out to short. Pence breaks his bat grounding out to Theriot. Good thing they kept Marmol in there: 1-2-3.
The new Houston pitcher is Matt Albers. Soriano greets him with a single to right. Yes, Trouble, THE Matt Albers. Initially I thought it was Marv Albert. Yes! Theriot walks. Marv throws one to the backstop and both runners advance. Lee rips one deep to right-center. Hunter Pence better hop on his polo pony. The ball goes to the wall and both runs score on the double by Lee. Ramirez pops up and Pence takes it in shallow center. The Astros put Floyd on. DeRosa bounces one to short. As Lee runs by, Loretta boots it for his second error today and the bases are loaded, albeit for Jacque Jones. Pitching change. Jones again swings at the first pitch and grounds to first. Berkman throws home and Lee is out on a close play. Replays show he was safe, I think. Lefty Trever Miller is the new pitcher. Soto lines out to third and the Cubs leave 'em loaded.
Cubs 6, Astros 0
Bob Howry on to pitch. Angel Pagan takes over in right. Berkman swings at the first pitch and flies out to left. Carlos Lee hits one hard at Ramirez and beats it out for a single. Actually, I'm not really sure what happened there. I wasn't paying attention. Loretta singles to center. Lamb flies out to Soriano for the second out and Len takes this opportunity to read the credits. Scott strikes out to end it.
Final: Cubs 6, Astros 0
So there we have it, Zambrano wins his 11th game, tops in the NL, and the Astros commit about 11 errors. The Cubs are four back of the Brewers, who play Colorado tonight. Good night, everyone. Enjoy the weekend.