The former Royal and present and future Renaissance man shines a light on his baseball past.
Al Fitzmorris didn't win a Cy Young Award in his 10 seasons as a major league pitcher, but he just might win a Grammy or an Oscar someday. A middle-of-the-rotation sinkerballer who was mostly with the Royals in a career stretching from 1969-1978, Fitzmorris is now a creative entrepreneur, having traded in the baseball life for documentaries, stage musicals, rock and roll, and more. An analyst on Royals' broadcasts for several years after hanging up his spikes, Fitzmorris had his best seasons in 1975 and 1976, when he won 16 and 15 games respectively. Fitzmorris talked about his life in the game during the Ball Four era, including his memories of Amos Otis and Lou Piniella, and the many projects that he immerses himself in today.
The Tao of Lou may involve the Rules of War, MLB Network elects the mayor of color analysts, plus news and notes from around the majors.
The Cubs have won 182 games over the past two regular seasons, but they are 0-6 in the last two postseasons, having been swept in the NLDS by the Diamondbacks in '07, and then by the Dodgers in '08. In today's baseball climate, where it seems that anything less than a World Series title is considered a failure, those six post-season games tend to wipe away all of the good the Cubs have done while winning the last two National League Central Division titles.
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A more evenly matched series than it may appear at first glance, and one whose outcome may be decided in the trenches.
Is this "the year" for the loyal legions of Cubs fans? Disappointment comes a little more frequently in Wrigleyville the last two decades. It used to be that just mentioning years like "1969" or "1984"—without providing a single detail—could cause a confidently well-perched fan in your nearest hoodie to tumble from his stool in despair. That's no longer the case, not when we get to muck through the messier details of what hurt worst lately, the humiliatingly quick exits in 1989, 1998, and 2007, or the more elaborately agonizing NLCS loss in 2003, or their more infamous losses involving black cats or Leo Durocher or Gatorade-soaked gloves or Steve Garvey. Whatever the self-reinforcing certainty in circulation in the city that this year will be different, the Cubs come into the postseason with a team that makes for a study in contrasts when it comes to its assets: a broad and deep collection of hitters to attack the other team's pitchers with, balanced against a stars-and-scrubs pitching staff that runs perhaps no more than six men deep before you start getting into trouble.
One member's picks for the various BBWAA awards, friction in San Diego, and long schedules afford extra options in playoff rotations.
It will not be an easy task for the Baseball Writers Association of America, those who have been asked to select the American League's Most Valuable Player. Ballots filled out by the 28 voters (two in each city in the league) must be e-mailed back to the BBWAA headquarters by the time the postseason begins on Wednesday afternoon, and it is easy to picture a many of them mulling over their choices until the very last minute, because there is no easy choice.
The ChiSox manager discusses handling pitchers, perception versus reality, and the way of Ozzieball.
Ozzie Guillen is his own man. Outspoken and sometimes misunderstood, the mercurial White Sox skipper is not only colorful, he is also smart as a fox. Considered one of the most cerebral players in the game during his playing days, the 44-year-old native of Venezuela has shown himself to be no less wise as a manager, having led the South Siders to a World Series title in 2005. Now he has his charges-considered second-division fodder by most prognosticators when the season began-atop the AL Central as the pennant race enters its home stretch. A big-league shortstop for 16 seasons and a third-base coach for three more, Guillen took over as the White Sox manager in November, 2003.
The Cubs will avoid hibernation, Grady goes 30-30, and instant replay begins tomorrow.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella and general manager Jim Hendry are in the middle of a pennant race, and they realize that there is really nothing either can do to make a difference. That's not at all frustrating for the veteran duo; they are savvy enough to realize that the best thing they can do for the National League Central-leading club with the best record in the major leagues is to stay out of their way. "My strategy is simple right now, just let my guys play," Piniella said. "We're playing good baseball. Our offense has been good all year and our pitching is as good now as it has been all season. There is nothing to change, nothing to tinker with, just go out and keep playing good baseball."
The AL East has undergone a changing of the guard at midseason, with the shocking Rays blowing past the Red Sox, who are dealing with some off-field issues.
The Rays have crossed the midway point of the schedule with a record that is 19 games above .500. That may be stunning to many because the Rays never won more than 70 games in any of their first 10 seasons, and finished out of last place in the American League East just once in their existence. However, the Rays are 51-32 and have a 2½-game lead over the defending World Series champion Red Sox in the division, having beaten Boston each of the first two games of their showdown series in Tampa Bay, which concludes tonight.
"We left spring training knowing we would be better," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We had expectations coming into the season for the first time ever. We felt we would win our share of games. At the same time, I don't think anybody saw this coming. I don't think even the biggest optimist could have foreseen that we would have one of the best records in the major leagues at the beginning of July."
Lou Piniella's decision to move Alfonso Soriano back to leadoff echoes a similar, far more damaging story from the 1920s.
It is probably obvious by now-after years of watching managers who are light on X's and O's expertise like Joe Torre and Dusty Baker get employed and re-employed-that running a baseball team is at least as much about managing personalities as it is about calling for bunts and deciding who gets to pinch-hit when. Asked the secret of his success, Casey Stengel famously remarked that managing was about keeping the five guys who hate you away from the five guys who are undecided. Sparky Anderson once said that managing is not, "running, hitting, stealing. Managing is getting your players to put out 100 percent year after year." Even Billy Martin, who was not exactly Mr. Accommodating, once said, "I could manage Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Hirohito. That doesn't mean I'd like them, but I'd manage them." Why would you want to? Because it's a manager's job to get the most of his talent, even if they are megalomaniacs who wake up each morning thinking about how it would be such fun to crush Poland. Maybe they can platoon against lefties.
The Cubs' long drought could come to an end this season in a wide-open National League playoff race.
The Chicago Cubs are marking an ignominious anniversary this season. It has been 100 years since they beat the Detroit Tigers in five games to win the 1908 World Series. Chicago hasn't won a Fall Classic since and hasn't even participated in one since 1945.
"Yeah, a few people have mentioned that," first baseman Derrek Lee said with a smile.
The league's best-record playoff team against its worst, but you might be surprised who the favorite really should be.
Who would have thunk that we'd see the Diamondbacks playing the Cubs in a postseason series? Well, you'd might have thunk it if you'd done been reading PECOTA, which predicted both of these mild surprises. That not withstanding, this is not the even matchup that you might expect from two teams that took until the last weekend of the season to confirm their date at the prom. One of these clubs, if fact, has no excuse for losing.
How is Jim Hendry's spending spree working out so far?
The Chicago Cubs are trying to answer the following riddle over the course of the 2007: What do you get for spending $296.05 million on free agents in one offseason? It wasn't much in the first month, as the Cubs finished April with a 10-14 record. The team has picked up the pace in May, going 5-1.
"We're playing more relaxed now and everyone is having fun," said Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano, their biggest off-season catch. "I don't think we were relaxed early in the season. I think it's taken us a while to kind of put everything together."