Mike Nadel column for Tuesday, April 29 editions.
Should be a fun week in the National League Central.
The Amazing Cardinals try to keep their Smoke & Mirrors Tour going as they play home series against the Reds and Cubs.
The Cubs, clinging to first place after losing two of three at Washington, are home against the Brewers before visiting St. Louis.
In the Cubs-Brewers series, Milwaukee gets Mike Cameron back from a drug suspension tonight while Alfonso Soriano promises a Thursday return from the
Cubs’ disabled list. The Cubs-Cardinals series, starting Friday, marks the only time the two rivals meet until July 4.
After facing Arizona, the league’s most complete team, the Astros host Milwaukee. The Brewers are thinking of leaving their entire relief corps home; those stiffs are useless, anyway.
The Reds, still waiting to benefit from the Dusty Surge, have tough series at St. Louis and Arizona.
And congrats to the Pirates, who won their first game of the Post-Morris Era.
The Pirates are brutally cheap, so when they traded for $10 million-a-year pitcher Matt Morris last year, it was among the most confounding baseball moves of the new millennium. Sunday, they finally decided to eat the washed-up righty’s contract.
Gee, why don’t the Pirates ever contend?
Baseball and other subjects have been featured in recent editions of my blog, The Baldest Truth (www.thebaldesttruth.com). More excerpts follow.
Five observations from the NFL Draft:
1. Biggest loser: Aaron Rodgers. The Packers had so much confidence in Brett Favre’s replacement that they drafted not just one (Brian Brohm) but two (Matt
Flynn) quarterbacks. Oh, and they still have Brett on speed-dial, too.
2. Biggest winners: Everybody who had something better to do than watch the NFL Draft.
3. Former Illinois stud Rashard Mendenhall could have ended up in a lot worse places than Pittsburgh. Yes, the Steelers already have a fine tailback in Willie
Parker. But he gets hurt often, his style is different than Mendenhall’s, Pittsburgh uses several backs each game and the Steelers are infamous for letting
expensive veterans go -- especially if they have capable replacements.
4. No, the Bears didn’t select a quarterback among their 12 picks. But at least they added two players from Vanderbilt, that perennial football powerhouse.
5. Even if the Bears had drafted Will Ferrell, it would have been less embarrassing than the ditty Pat McCaskey (of The Singing McCaskeys) belted out (to the tune of “Edelweiss”) last week in honor of Brian Urlacher receiving the team’s Brian Piccolo Award:
“Urlacher, Urlacher, fills gaps and makes tackles ... orange and blue, Cover-2, you have won the Piccolo ... forces fumbles, sacks quarterbacks, makes key
interceptions ... Urlacher, Urlacher, we hope you play forever.”
The only way that could have been more perfect: If McCaskey -- grandson of George Halas, who undoubtedly was spinning in his grave -- had tacked on three words at the end: “… at our price.”
Bears GM Jerry Angelo went out of his way to talk about what solid citizens top draft picks Chris Williams and Matt Forte are.
Later, on the subject of character -- something lacking in many Bears of recent vintage -- Angelo said: “Will we bend, compromise? Certainly. We have, as we all know. These two guys are exemplary. They’re not the average kid.”
In other words, they’re not Tank Johnson or David Terrell or Cedric Benson. Or current linebacking stars (and rotten role models) Brian Urlacher and Lance
While Urlacher pouts about his zillion-dollar contract, Briggs, last year’s brooding ‘backer, has done hardly any of the 120 hours of community service
he was ordered to complete in the aftermath of LamborghiniGate. After concocting a tall tale about his $350,000 toy being stolen last August -- he actually crashed the car and then left the scene -- he also was ordered not to leave Illinois without permission. He ignored that mandate as well and now must appear before a judge in June.
And by the way, the Sun-Times is reporting that Briggs already is unhappy with the $36 million deal he signed... just last month!
Joe Crede only seems to come through in the clutch every game.
That would be impossible, but he delivers so often for the White Sox that it’s almost shoulder-shrugging time whenever he does.
Last Thursday offered just the latest example, as his ninth-inning hit off Joba Chamberlain drove in the winning run to give the White Sox a 7-6 victory over the Yankees.
Crede also made a couple of excellent plays in the field. No surprise there, either. But here’s something you might find surprising about one of baseball’s best
“I was terrible in high school,” he said. “I remember our coach saying, ‘Congratulations to Joe Crede for setting a school record.’ I was, like, ‘Wow, I didn’t
know I did anything.’ And he said, ‘Most errors in a season.’ Hell, I didn’t even know they were keeping count.”
They weren’t keeping count, Joe. The coach was just busting your chops.
Besides, Crede hardly was terrible at Fatima High School in Westphalia, Mo. He batted .559 with 36 HRs and 106 RBIs during his career and went 6-0 as a pitcher.
But what about all those errors?
“The fields weren’t the greatest,” he said. “Before games, everybody had to fan out and pick up rocks.”
You know what? Joe Crede probably was good at that, too.
Mike Sherman of Springfield chimes in on Mars Inc. buying Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.: “Hey, Wrigley Field has just been renamed the Mars Barn!”
And here's a note from Drew Stout of Cary: “I'm anxiously awaiting the day when whatever sub-sub-sub-sub-channel of ESPN offers live coverage of NFL Draft coverage. Not coverage of the draft itself, but coverage of the coverage.”
Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada, long suspected of fudging his age, finally has admitted he isn’t really 31.
He says he’s 33.
Give or take.
“You can see right now: This is nothing but doubt!” -- Hubie Brown.
The ABC-TV analyst got so excited while watching a replay of Delonte West hitting a 3-pointer to give Cleveland a playoff victory over Washington on Sunday, he didn’t know whether to say “nothing but net” or “there was never a doubt.”
Either that or Hubie was talking about the Bears’ quarterback situation.
Mike Nadel (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service. Read his blog at www.thebaldesttruth.com.