I caught a little of both the Score and ESPN 1000 prior to the Cubs game that didn’t actually happen tonight. Two things stood out.
On ESPN 1000, they were talking about the revelation that Sammy Sosa had a positive drug test in 2003. John Jurkovich was all over the issue, in a good way. His reaction was basically “So what?” Nobody is surprised by this. Sammy was far from the only person who did it, and as Jurko pointed out, it’s a joke that Sammy and Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and even Pete Rose are being kept out of or will be kept out of the Hall of Fame. So I have to give him credit for his take on that issue – I think it’s exactly right.
Then there was the Score. They seemed to have their morning guys doing the pregame for the Cubs/Sox game. Brian Hanley was complaining about the Cubs lineup, and how Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano were in it even though it was a cool, wet night. He pointed out that Soriano hasn’t been given a day off in a few weeks, and that given the weather, Bradley was an injury risk. He also pointed out that Lou said he was going to try to rest players more this season. But Hanley failed to consider that a) the Cubs have had the last few Mondays off, so the players have been getting rest every week, and b) the Cubs actually had yesterday off. Hanley also, in the same bit, criticized Piniella for the lineup he ran out against Tim Lincecum and the Giants where most of the Cubs starters got the day off at the same time. So, to recap – Hanley wants Piniella to rest his good players against the Sox, but he will criticize him if he rests his good players. I think maybe Hanley just wants to to rip Piniella no matter what he does.
Soriano’s Win Probability Added is now at 1.28 over the first ten games of the season. That’s second in the majors behind Aaron Hill, who is at 1.30 I thought it might be interesting to see the ebb and flow of WPA for Soriano this season. I didn’t start the graph at 0 at bats, so it starts with the result of his first at bat (a home run), which is why it doesn’t start at 0 WPA.
The giant spike there is his 9th-inning go-ahead homer off the Brewers last week. The second-largest one is, of course, his home run yesterday to put the Cubs ahead in the eighth. Since they had another frame coming up to bat in, there was a chance they could take the lead back there, too, which is why yesterday’s home run didn’t add quite as much win probability as the one against the Brewers. In fact, five of the top six win-probability-adding events for Soriano this season were his five home runs. The other? A bases-loaded walk against Jeff Suppan on April 12 that extended the Cubs’ lead. The biggest negative event (good for -.104) was Soriano’s two-out flyout against Adam Wainwright in the sixth with the bases loaded on Thursday.
I have something coming down the pipe tonight or tomorrow that I hope people will find interesting, but for now, check out this 2002 feature article on the hero of last night’s game, Alfonso Soriano. In spite of its age, I’d never seen it before, and it’s phenomenal. An excerpt, from when Soriano tried to make the move from Japan to the US and ended up playing in California in a sort of semipro league:
He looked around and wondered, Who are these people? Or at least he wondered that in Spanish because his English was limited to two words: ball and baseball. What was going on? This certainly wasn’t the American dream that Soriano had envisioned. He thought he would be wearing a crisp white uniform in front of 40,000 fans, competing against Pedro and Sammy and Big Mac. No, this was a nightmare. Somehow, in a world gone terribly wrong, he was the newest member of the Southern California Angels of the National Adult Baseball Association, playing once a week in a glorified rec league before, oh, 20 people and a couple of dogs on a field on the east side of Los Angeles.
You can find the rest here.
Here’s one of the comments on Carrie Muskat’s gamer from last night. If you’ll recall, the Cubs led the game from the second pitch on because Alfonso Soriano hit a home run in his first at bat. Fangraphs says that hit increased the Cubs’ win probability from 50% to 60%. Commenter “BarCode” disagrees.
no legit leadoff hitter, no closer. the cubs are LOSERS!