Chipper Jones’ UK Playboy Playmate girlfriend Taylor Higgins a.k.a. Lexi Ray Taylor

taylor-higgins

Atlanta Braves legend Chipper Jones is certainly enjoying retirement. He’s making the most of life after his second divorce.

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Cubbies are Consistently Inconsistent

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By Paul Schmidt

Nothing like an easy week or so of baseball to just get you relaxed.

The Cubs have always given their fans something of a workout, pumping them waaaayyyy up, then bringing them waaaayyyy down.  I feel as though, personally, that they may actually make my head explode.

Somehow, in their last 10 games, the Cubs are 6-4.  It seems ridiculous to see this in print, given how I feel about the end of their long home stand against the Dodgers and the beginning of their nine game road trip against the Braves, Reds and Astros.  In fact, I had to look that record up.  I assumed it would be somewhere around 3-7 or 2-8.

My own personal experience certainly shows in that, having been at Wrigley for both of the losses in the Dodgers’ series.  On Thursday night I saw an absolutely lackluster performance from the offense until the ninth inning, which ended with consecutive (awful looking) strikeouts by career minor leaguers Bobby Scales and Jake Fox.  Then on Sunday, on Illini Day, after schmoozing with Bruce Weber, Wayne McClain, and some short blonde guy apparently associated with the University, the Dodgers scored five runs off Cubs starter Sean Marshall before we could get to our seats in the nosebleed section.

4 of the last 6 have now gone to extras for the Cubs, which means if you’re reading this and you have some juice left in your arm, you might actually get a call from Jim Hendry to see if you want to throw in the bullpen this week.  Especially if you’re a lefty.

Another career minor leaguer, Randy Wells, continued to throw well during that stretch, throwing seven innings of two run ball in the Thursday night Dodgers loss, and then throwing almost seven innings of no-hit baseball against

Your 2009 NL Rookie of the Year?  Without winning a single game?

Your 2009 NL Rookie of the Year? Without winning a single game?

the Braves the following Tuesday.  He ended up giving up just one run, and handing the ball over to the bullpen with a 5-1 lead.  And then not factoring into the decision.

In fact, that game will forever be the game that I refer to as, “The game that caused me to consult a cardiac specialist the next day.”  I can’t, on advice of said doctor, go into what happened at the end of regulation innings and then in the bottom of the 12th (the mere mention of that inning makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up), but suffice it to say it involved Aaron Heilman pitching to Larry Jones, also known as Chipper…in extras, with the winning run in scoring position…with first base open…when ol’ Larry has hit 6-of-12 in his career against Heilman, including three doubles and two home runs.

If you can’t figure out what happened in that game, well, then you really mustn’t be a Cubs fan…

At any rate, that was the game that also caused me to realize how remarkably consistent the Cubs have been this season.  Usually this would be a good thing, but then, is anything ever really that good with the Cubs?

The fact is, they’ve been consistently inconsistent. From a game to game basis, I, personally, have no idea what to expect from this team.  I can’t believe that I’m the only one in that respect – I currently think that Lou Piniella throws darts at photos on the wall to determine who is going to play where on a daily basis.  If he’s not, it couldn’t honestly be any worse or yield any more unpredictable results than whatever method he is using.

Here’s the thing though: A Major League Baseball team can’t survive playing the way they are. You have to have consistency in some way, even if it’s just in the lineup that gets thrown out there every day.  In 2007 and 2008, that wasn’t a problem.  Injuries, for the most part, stayed away or were minor, so they could put their best foot forward most days.

The defense was solid on a daily basis.

There was always someone that was hot on offense, a bat that carried the team while others struggled.

Now re-read those previous three paragraphs. Do any of those three things sound like this years’ edition of the Chicago Cubs?

They really don’t.  Injuries are mounting, on offense and on the pitching staff (though it seems like the rotation is finally getting healthy with Rich Harden set to throw this coming weekend). The defense has been shoddy at best (with the Cubs posting a record that is something like 2-5,302 when they commit an error this season), and the offense has disappeared for long stretches of games, with only Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot showing consistent signs of life.

It’s been maddening, and difficult to watch.  And yet, every time I say I’m going to take a break for a few games, I sit down and turn it to WGN or Comcast Sports Net come game time.

The face of a waffler.

The face of a waffler.

I’m as consistently inconsistent with my convictions as the Cubs have been playing baseball this year.

Funnily enough, those might be the only two things you can count on.

Do We Care About the World Baseball Classic?

By the TSB Staff

PAUL M. BANKS

I love this idea in theory, hate it in practice. With all the major stars more concerned with not getting hurt than actually winning, it just feels like a bunch of glorified preseason games. It’s also hard to root for my native country in this made-for-Bud Selig event. Now before the jingoistic ultra-conservative nutjobs out there do to me what they did to the poor Dixie Chicks in 2003, consider this: how many of you would root for the New York Yankees in a tournament where they competed against minor league teams?

Now I’m not saying the talent disparity between the Americans and the rest of the world is on a level with the exaggerated scenario I just put forth, but I am saying this event’s best results should spread the love of the National Past time around the globe. If we dominate it, no one will care, so parity is therefore in our best interests.

Also, I CAN’T STAND how the uniform of EVERY country is written in English! I’m not sure what this means: racism, xenophobia or whatever, but it’s just awfully offensive when you consider the U.S. isn’t even hosting all of it. And aren’t some non-English speaking countries tuning into this event as well? How would you like it if you really wanted to buy a Team USA jersey, but the team name only came printed in Japanese?

MELISSA S. WOLLERING

In the words of Napoleon Dynamite, “[WBC]; you’re eating all our steak and ruining our lives!”

Basically, you’re taking the world’s best talent from THE baseball platform of the world during SPRING TRAINING and using them to play non-meaningful ball for countries that don’t care about the sport.

Now soccer, that’s different. Soccer has no single platform, no singular professional world showcase of a league.  No one country can claim soccer as its own.  Therefore, soccer can by all means pull together national teams and have it mean something.

Baseball is MLB.  Talented players from all over the world do come here and are showcased as such, so a World Baseball Classic becomes meaningless when more world-class athletes are playing in an AL Championship Game than an Australia versus Dominican Republic game. Although, I will give props to the DR guys.


DAVID PALMER

I have been surprisingly intrigued by the WBC so far this year.  Three years ago I didn’t watch a game, but now I find myself putting it on in the background while I do other things.  I’m not even rooting for the US; I’m going for Canada.  Call me un-American, but who wants to root for guys like Jeter, Youkilis, Chipper, David Wright and Curtis Granderson?  Why did we get all the d-bags?  The Asian and Central American teams are surprisingly fun to watch because of their raucous fans and talented pitchers.  It seems like the other team’s fans (except Canada) care about a thousand times more than we do.

It’s not an event that appeals to a large American audience because of East Coast bias and the relative amount of “no-namers” on many of the other teams.  I don’t blame people who don’t care, but I happen to have a serious itch for some competitive baseball right now.

I still think it needs to be at a different time of year, with the format tweaked a little bit.  I’m way more excited about the MLB regular season, but as a baseball addict, the WBC is granting my fix right now.


RIKKI GREENBERG

I tried watching the World Baseball Classic and ended up changing the channel. There’s too much NCAA excitement to care about baseball right now. I’m going to wait until April 6th when baseball really matters and than I’ll get my baseball swerve on. I’m too busy counting down the days to Selection Sunday to put on the WBC cap right now.


ANDY WEISE

I have watched very little of the WBC mainly because much of my time right now is dedicated to March Madness as well as every other sport: NFL Free Agency, NBA and NHL season’s winding down and spring training for baseball.

I must say I like the concept of the WBC but I think the timing needs to be fixed. The issue with putting it at the same time as Spring Training is tough because baseball is such a long season and players need this time of the year to get practice in and focus on the upcoming season. They could move the tournament to the middle of the off-season every 3 years (think December). The only other reasonable option I’ve heard is having a week off for All-Star festivities in July with the games played around that time.

I like the concept because we’ve seen the NBA expand their sport globally and already commentators like Steve Phillips are saying international players have improved since the last WBC. Expanding the game globally and getting more attention over the world will only help baseball and the MLB (think $$$$).