Denny Matthews, as Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star reports, gave a knockout speech at the Hall of Fame ceremony yesterday. He was greeted with a standing ovation, spoke for 11 minutes, told several funny stories and choked up twice. Here's the KC Star story. The comments section is worth looking at.
On another front, check out some of the names bandied about in trade talks for Octavio Dotel. Tony Abreu, Chin-Lung Hu, Franklin Gutierrez, Ben Francisco, Wladimir Balentien (yes, with a W), Adam Jones. I don't know how close Dayton is to getting any of those guys -- not very would be my guess -- but this kind of (wild and completely unrealistic?) speculation over blue-chip prospects makes this time of year feel like spring all over again. I'm praying to the baseball gods to protect Dotel from injury before the 3 p.m. trading deadline tomorrow.
UPDATE: Just hit the refresh button on this website and learned that the Braves are suddenly the front-runners for Dotel. Does this really surprise anybody, that Dayton, a former assistant to Braves GM John Schuerholtz, would be dealing with the organization he knows best?
Meanwhile, in honor of the Cubs, who are just a half game back of the Brewers in the NL Central and seem intent on never losing again, I present this excellent Sports Illustrated feature. Excerpt:
Now in their 99th year of rebuilding, the Cubs' losing is just a few rungs below death and taxes on the inevitability scale. But having perfected the art of defeat, losing in tragicomic ways that challenge the mind and numb the soul, maybe at long last, to paraphrase scripture, the lion will lie down with the billy goat and the Cubs will do something as delightful as win the...
No, the Cubs don't need to be burdened by another jinx. But they are looming, within 3 1?2 games of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, despite a 3-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday that left the Cubs with a 7-3 mark for the homestand. And even the players are beginning to believe that maybe, just maybe, It Could Happen. "It has to, it's inevitable," says Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot. "We keep playing hard, sooner or later it'll happen."
K was so inspired by this story that he sent me a 650-word email, excerpted below (my ellipses), and made "It's Gonna Happen" his g-chat profile liner.
...the thing that i like most about the cubs this year (and the article does a pretty good job of reflecting this) is that there's not a huge feel good warm and fuzzy outporing right now. the cubs as an organization are not pushing the hokey "believe" slogan, of which i still have a blue rubber lance bracelet. they are not trying to get you caught up in feel good, warm your heart, magical shit that they did with dusty (remember when he sprinkled some unnamed dust on the infield in september 2003?). they are just good, and playing good, no nonsense baseball.... they know it. the fans know it. the brewers know it, and are crapping their jocks right now thinking about it. it's gonna happen. it's happening.
Let's take a vote: What's the worst way for the Cubs to lose it this year?
a) Injuries take out their star players, leaving Koyie Hill as the team's cleanup hitter.
b) Carlos Zambrano decides his true calling is in the UFC and quits baseball just before the Division Series.
c) Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez fight to the death, with the winner suffering incapacitating injuries.
d) Kerry Wood, returning from injury, loses on purpose in order to get back at the organization that ruined his career.
e) Jacque Jones, finally entering the game in the 18th inning of Game 7 of the NLCS, commits three outfield errors that allow the go-ahead run to score, then strikes out in the bottom half of the inning to end the season.
f) A meteor falls on Chicago, wiping out all inhabitants just as the Cubs, 100-game winners, are about to sweep their NLCS opponent.
g) Anything involving blown saves, failure to lay down sacrifice bunts, shortstop errors on easy double-play balls and fan interference.