Can we please put an end to the debate? There is no question Chicago is the greatest baseball town in the world. In this first week of the season, not only did I have the privilege of getting sunburned and a bit intoxicated amongst the brick and ivy in the bleachers of baseball’s greatest cathedral last weekend (though I had to suffer through Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol defiling another solid start by Matt Garza), but I get to head down to Mobile Phone Park today to watch the Tigers avenge yesterday’s tough loss to the South Side nemesis.
Seven or eight games certainly isn’t enough of a sample size to draw any definitive conclusions about the long season ahead, but that’s not going to stop me from doing it here.
The Cubs 3-5 record masks what has been a surprisingly productive offense that ranks in the NL’s top five in Runs, RBI, and Avg. and better than average starting pitching. Despite poor outings by 4th and 5th staters Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm, Cubs starters have a combined 3.51 ERA with 50 Ks in 51.2 innings. Garza and Ryan Dempster have both had quality starts spoiled by the bullpen which is the only thing keeping them out of first place in the division. Is it too early to question the wisdom of the ‘Messiah’ Theo Epstein for trading one of the game’s best left-handed relievers in Sean Marshall for Travis Wood who is on a bus somewhere in Iowa now? Nope.
It wasn’t hard to predict the Tigers would have a good offense, but to lead the AL or rank second in Runs, Hits, Triples, RBI, Avg, OBP, and SLG% is even more than I could’ve hoped for. With an offense like that, the pitching only has to be average, which it has been, ranking in the middle of the AL with a 3.80 ERA despite having to rely on minor league call-ups Drew Smyly and today’s starter Adam Wilk due to Doug Fister‘s mysterious left side injury. Even the defense has been decent despite the lack of range. The only thing that worries me is closer Jose Valverde who has already blown a save and couldn’t stop the bleeding when Justin Verlander inexplicably imploded after eight dominant innings on Wednesday. Papa Grande needs to return to his 2011 form before I can give the Tigers full marks.
So now I’m off to 35th & Shields where the Sox have an awful record against staters they’ve never seen before—I’m sure PV has the numbers. A shaky Gavin Floyd looks to be the next punching bag for the Tigers potent offense. I’m just hoping Roger ‘Sodfather’ Bossard can draw the batter’s box correctly today.