My first time through it, I reached Game 7 of the NLCS. The game was tied In the late innings and I had the option of bringing in a tired but dependable reliever or my rested ace, who would be ready to pitch Game 1 of the World Series. I decided to go with the reliever. He got bombed and on the last page of my misadventure the reader was admonished, harshly I might add, that you can't manage Game 1 of the World Series if you don't win Game 7 of the NLCS!
I mention this tale, of course, because last night Lou Piniella opted to manage four days in the future rather than in the moment. Far be it from me to question his baseball knowledge, having gleaned most of mine though flimsy paperbacks I checked out of the school library, while, you know, he has spent his life in the game, but I think he out-thought himself.
Whatever happens tonight, we're going to be talking about Piniella's decision to lift Carlos Zambrano after six innings and just 85 pitches until Sunday. That is if there even is a Sunday, which is the problem with his thinking.
people agreed with the move. When asked about it, Piniella got snippy.
Phil Rogers wrote the players were caught off guard. Arizona's Mark Reynolds was one guy who liked it.
Before tonight's game . "There's no sense in talking about this anymore," he said. "That's yesterday's news."
In his defense, it's not like he brought in some dud. Carlos Marmol has done it all year. And let's not forget Brandon Webb pitched a tremendous game and shut down the Cubs' bats all night.
All this said, if the Cubs win tonight, again on Saturday and Zambrano closes it out on Sunday, the gamble will have paid off. Until then...
We've got Game 2, featuring Ted Lilly against Doug Davis, the type of soft-tossing lefty who always gives the Cubs fits.
The lineups reveal Ryan Theriot moves up to the second spot; Jacque Jones down to eight. Matt Murton replaces Cliff Floyd in left. For the D'backs, Conor Jackson is at first tonight and 20-year-old Justin Upton is in right.
And am I the only one a little weirded out by Chip Caray and Bob Brenly in the same booth doing the Indians-Yankees game?
Computer/cable/programming update: That this game is starting on TNT is killing me. Our office cable has TBS but no TNT, which is a story for another night. But I'm now working on my laptop in someone's office who has a dish. When the game flips back, I'm going to hustle back to my desk like Aramis Ramirez. As for the people who were watching TNT and enjoying this Matthew McConaughey/Sandra Bullock/Samuel L. Jackson/Kevin Spacey/Donald Sutherland/Kiefer Sutherland/Ashley Judd/Charles S. Dutton courtroom drama you are out of luck.
We're off. Alfonso Soriano takes a breaking ball for strike one. Soriano fouls one back and then chases a ball in the dirt for strike three. Here's Theriot. TNT/TBS shows Zambrano in the dugout and ... we've got some nostril penetration. Theriot lines a single to left. Davis has a tricky move to first, as many lefties do. Lee takes a strike and falls behind 1-2. Lee grounds to second. Theriot is out at second but Lee beats Stephen Drew's throw to first. I'm told they patched TNT in on the cable. So what the heck am I doing in this hot office? I'm making the move between innings. Ramirez strikes out swinging. I'll be back.
I'm back. We're back and Ted Lilly walks Chris Young to start the bottom of the first. Lilly strikes out Drew. TBS's red-to-green leadoff graphic is a bit ambitious. If a base runner on first took a lead to the edge of that graphic, he'd be on second base. Lilly's taking his sweet time, with all the wiping of sweat, the throws to first base, the curve balls in the dirt to Eric Byrnes, who works a full count. Young takes off but Byrnes squibs it foul. I'm getting the feeling that last night's game was the first baseball game Dick Stockton has watched in years. Young gets hung up between first and second, but wait ... no, it's ball four. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild is on the top step. Geovany Soto runs out to talk to Lilly. Conor Jackson grounds to DeRosa, who flips to Theriot, who makes a nice turn, but Derrek Lee can't come up with the low throw. So first and third and two outs for Reynolds, who hit that big homer last night. Lilly goes to another three-ball count -- 3-1 to Reynolds. Lilly recovers and strikes him out. But that was 25 pitches in the first inning. If Lilly continues ot labor, maybe Carlos Zambrano can come on for some long relief. He's well rested.