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by Derek Smart
There was baseball all over the place yesterday, so it seems like a perfect opportunity to clean my metaphorical firearm and let a few bullets fly.
The Cubs won their Cactus League opener yesterday, 8-7 over the A's, and while I didn't get a chance to witness any of the action (there was absolutely no television coverage in Chicago), I did listen to some of the radio broadcast.
Admittedly, I don't have any particular affection or lack thereof for Pat Hughes and Ron Santo - Hughes is able enough, if uninspiring, and I'm one who isn't especially bothered by Santo's particular brand of expressiveness - but my goodness, did it ever feel good to hear Mr. Hughes cut loose with a hearty, "Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the air!" It may not be "real" baseball yet, but that little moment still made me feel like it was.
So while I didn't see anything, it was apparent from the stat line and from what I heard on the radio that Big Z was sharp, efficient, and on his game. If there's one thing I'd love to see from both Z and Prior this year, it's increased efficiency.
Zambrano in particular has the type of stuff where he has the choice to either make batters hit his pitch, or make them swing and miss. What I'd like to see is a little more of the former and a little less of the latter. Strikeouts may be the most risk-free way of eliminating an opponent, but there's something to be said for a few seven pitch innings, too.
Most of the regulars only got a couple shots at the dish, so it's not surprising that there was only one Cub player with more than one hit, that being Aramis Ramirez, who hit two singles and drove in two runs. What's surprising there is that one of the RBI singles was of the infield variety.
Now, like I said, I couldn't see any of the game, but I was shocked that on a ball Aramis could beat down the line that there was no mention of intervention by a giant, alabaster bunny. After all, as Cub fans know, just about the only way the Third Musketeer reaches first on a play like that is if the ball heads down the rabbit hole.
I'm not sure there's anyone out there who's still under the impression that Marquis Grissom (aka: Cleanliver Goodbody) has a battle ahead of him to make this year's team, but just in case there are some of you still out there, here's a tidbit from this morning's Sun-Times to ease your troubled minds.
Manager Dusty Baker said outfielder Marquis Grissom doesn't have to have the best stats to win a job on this team. The criteria are different for a veteran who turns 39 next month.
"He doesn't have to have a great spring," Baker said. "Spring training is for the young. I'm looking for health, for bat speed and for leg speed. I'm looking for what's left."
He's also looking for proof of consciousness, the capacity to stand sans support for up to ten minutes at a time, and the ability to consistently, without the aid of a guide or the repetition of directions, find the clubhouse bathroom.
Look, I'm not necessarily arguing against Goodbody's inclusion on the roster - there's little else in camp to inspire in that regard - but if that's the criteria he has to meet, why not just say you're giving him the job? It'd save Dusty a lot of time, and then I wouldn't have to be a snarky little prig. In short, everybody wins.