Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Taking The Day
2005-06-21 08:04
by Derek Smart

I missed nearly the entire game last night, instead enjoying an evening out with my wife while a babysitter chased our daughter around until the little one was too tired to stay awake. It was a lovely respite, however short, from responsibility, and a welcome break from the Cubs.

So, wouldn't you know it, the boys went out and got the job done. If I'd known that all I had to do to ensure a Cub victory was ignore the game while enjoying an excellent meal in one of Chicago's many fine dining establishments, I'd have been making the rounds of the steakhouses all season.

Of course, I'd also be on the verge of a heart attack and in hock up to my ears while eliminating any opportunity to establish a healthy relationship with my little girl, but if that's the price of success - well, screw it, I'll take my family, thanks.

And now, a couple quick shots over the bow.

  • There's something refreshing about a good old one-run, 5-4 victory, particularly in light of the epidemic run of crazy win margins and run totals in recent Cubs' games. To put it in perspective, it was the first time since the Cubs' 2-0 triumph over Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays on June 8, that neither team in a contest featuring the Cubs scored six or more runs.

    That's nine consecutive games where either the Cubs or their opponent saw at least a half-dozen gentlemen touching the plate in glee, a feat accomplished only seven times in all of May, and thirteen times in April (there are already thirteen such games the Cubs have been involved in thus far in June, with nine games left to play).

    I like being on the right side of blowouts as much as the next guy, but I've reached the point where a run of good, solid pitching, and good, timely hitting, with games that end 4-2 or thereabouts would be an extremely welcome sight.

  • Seems like every time I say something derogatory about Neifi! he responds with a solid game, and last night was no exception, as the sarcastically punctuated one went 2 for 5, scored a run, and made the defensive play of the night in the eighth, turning what could have been a weak base hit up the middle into an inning ending, rally killing double play.

    I was actually home in time to see it, and it was, indeed, a wonderful piece of glovework by all parties involved, greatly helped, of course, by Damian Miller's slothlike gait. It was the kind of play that the Cubs just missed making all weekend long - for example: if Neifi! isn't covering second on a hit and run Sunday, the Cubs get out of the fourth with their 2-1 lead intact - which just goes to show how games can turn on seemingly small moments.

  • On the other side of that coin, if Brady Clark doesn't muff Derrek Lee's seventh inning single, Geoff Jenkins' eighth inning RBI single would have tied the game. Naturally, one can't make the assumption that if the game was 4-3 instead of 5-3 that all future events would transpire in a similar fashion - maybe a different pitcher is in the game, or different pitches are thrown by the same pitcher - but those little breaks in tight games can make all the difference, and they certainly did last night.

  • I'll admit concern when I saw Dempster enter the game, not because he would be trying for a five-out, one-run save (if he's your best reliever, it was the exact spot he should be used in), but because I feared that his lack of recent work might adversely affect his already spotty control.

    I love it when my pessimism is proved baseless, and Dempster did exactly that, throwing nasty stuff to four hitters, and best of all, putting it right where he wanted to. That's the guy the Cubs want to see more of, and that's the guy that can be a dominant relief ace.

I'm looking forward to seeing Jerome Williams make his Cub debut tonight, but he'll need to be lights out, as Victor "The Cubs Couldn't Bloody Well Hit Me With A Cricket Bat If I Was Sleeping" Santos takes the hill for the Crew. Look for a tight game, as Santos has only given up more than three runs in an outing twice, and Milwaukee has only faced Williams once in his career (6 IP, 3 ER on April 12, 2004).

2005-06-21 10:45:33
1.   Tommy
So what are the good restaurants in Chicago you frequent? When I lived there in the late 80's I enjoyed Dapper's, Carsons and Ed Debevics. Once my boss even treated the office to dinner at the Eccentric.
2005-06-21 11:50:16
2.   Derek Smart
Well, at this point "frequent" is overstating the case by a wide margin. We're getting out once a month, but it's a far cry from our pre-child days, when not only would my wife and I go out a fair amount together, but I'd meet a group of guy friends once a month for a thing we called Steak Night - four men, a different place every month, some scotch, some wine, and four medium-rare porterhouses. Makes me cry just thinking about it.

To answer the question more directly, my favorite steak place at the moment is Keefer's (Morton's is great too, but it's a chain, and therefore gets disqualified), for seafood I adore Atlantique (yes, you can get decent seafood in the midwest, but you have to pay big for it), and if you want a knock your socks off experience where money isn't an issue, there's a french restaurant called Everest that's just wonderful.

On the less expensive side, there's a neighborhood Korean fusion place we like to go to called Jin Ju, a little french place around Division street called Bistro Zinc, and the recently converted back room of the Hopleaf (used to only be a bar, now it's a bar with a restaurant and the best selection of Belgian beer I'm aware of in the city).

2005-06-21 13:59:04
3.   rynox
It was good to see them squeak one out and that DP was beautiful, but Maddux didn't look very sharp last night. It looked like the problems he had last game carried over into the first few innings last night.

Am I underestimating the Brewer's offense, or is Maddux in a bit of a slump? I think they only scored 2 ER off him, but it wasn't pretty anyways.

2005-06-21 14:16:17
4.   Derek Smart

Unfortunately, I wasn't home for the part of the game Maddux was in, but from what I saw in his stat line and what you say, I'd guess that he's hit a bit of a rough patch and that he was lucky to be facing the Brewers. In fact, there was a quote from him in the paper to the effect that he got away with pitches last night that the Marlins didn't let him get away with.

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