NEWS

Mike Nadel: In August, baseball's the hot blog topic

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Alfonso Soriano is hurting, which means the Cubs are hurting, too. Then again, so are the Brewers and Cardinals. During August's dog days, the NL Central is one big fire hydrant.

As the following excerpts show, I did lots of talkin' baseball this past week in my blog, The Baldest Truth. For much, much more, see www.thebaldesttruth.com.

SO SORI

There will be much hand-wringing concerning whether the Cubs can win the division without Soriano, who is expected to

miss up to a month with a quad injury. Hello? Have these hand-wringers seen the NL Central? I doubt the Pirates will win 30

games in a row just because they acquired Matt Morris in the most head-scratching trade of the decade.

Still, the Cubs do have enough trouble scoring runs without losing their top home-run man. I thought it would be a swell time for Felix Pie to show he’s finally ready to hit big-league pitching, but the Cubs threw a curveball Monday and called up Eric Patterson instead - even though Pie outperformed Patterson in Triple-A.

COREY II?

I wonder what Pie is thinking after watching Patterson get the call. Pie is the best defensive outfielder in the entire organization, while Patterson is a second baseman who might be forced to play some outfield. Or maybe Mark DeRosa will be playing lots of outfield until Soriano returns; if so, the Cubs need him to do much better than he did Sunday.

Pie had a problem hitting during his two stints in the majors, but he’s batting .330 with a .371 on-base percentage since the Cubs sent him down July 13. Over the same span, Patterson batted .300 with a .355 OPB. Yeah, but Pie strikes out a lot, right? Over the last four weeks at Iowa, he fanned 17 times compared to Patterson’s 21.

The latter number shouldn’t be too stunning. After all, Eric is free-swinging ex-Cubbie Corey Patterson’s little brother. Can't you already hear the Wrigley boo-birds warming up their throats?

EVERYMAN'S HERO

As one power hitter after another reaches a career milestone, it sure was nice to see Tom Glavine get his 300th victory Sunday. The man is so easy to root for. He’s not some big beast who throws 100 mph. He doesn’t have the kind of curveball that buckles a hitter’s knees. He’s just a regular guy with extraordinary control and toughness.

His entire career has been a victory for Everyman, a validation that hard work, determination, intelligence and attitude can trump size and brute strength. It will be an honor to cast my Hall of Fame vote for Glavine as soon as he becomes eligible, but I’m guessing he has a few more games to win first.

FINE WHINE

Talk about nerve. Jose Contreras says he wants to be traded if he’s not in the White Sox’s rotation next season.

Jose, can’t you see ... nobody wants a washed-up, 79-year-old yahoo with $20 million remaining on his contract? Then again, maybe the Pirates will want to pair him with Morris.

NINE MORE

The previous items were just four of the baker's dozen baseball points in the most recent edition of The Baldest Truth, which I put together as I prepared to take a few vacation days.

Others feature Tony La Russa, Francisco Cordero, Barry Bonds, Bud Selig, Steve Stone, Miguel Tejada, Kerry Wood, Angel Pagan and Jermaine Dye. Happy reading, everyone.

STREAK-BUSTER

Pat Hughes, WGN’s remarkable voice of the Cubs, recently missed three games to an illness - costing him a consecutive-game streak that had dated back to 1989.

When I reminded him that Michael Jordan scored 38 points in a 1997 NBA Finals game while battling a similar illness, Hughes, quick as a whip, cracked: "Yeah, but he didn’t have to work with Santo."

THIS WEEK'S LOU-ISMS

After Carlos Zambrano had to leave Friday’s game because of cramps relating to dehydration, Piniella said: “We tell the players to make sure they drink a lot of fluids. I don’t know what else to do. I’m not a hygienist.”

No, but he plays a dentist on TV.

Asked if he considered leaving starter Sean Marshall in Thursday’s game for longer than 2 2/3 innings, Piniella said: "We could have ... we could have not ... I flipped a coin and it came out tails.”

Heads, the opponent wins; tails, the Cubs lose.

NEW GREEN GIANT

Kevin Garnett’s five biggest concerns about getting traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics:

1. He’d rather not have to play in green Chuck Taylors.

2. He’s afraid Boston fans will make fun of him just because he thought parquet was a margarine.

3. He’s pretty sure his scoring average will plummet after Paul Pierce greeted him at the airport, shook his hand and said: "Just don’t think I’m passing you the rock."

4. He hates hearing his name pronounced: "Gah-nett."

5. How is he supposed to keep tabs on his fantasy ice-fishing team?

Mike Nadel (mikenadel@sbcglobal.net) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service.