NLCS Game Two

What's worse, getting Steve Lyon again, or having to put up with that blowhard Tim McCarver? Well, the Cubs get relegated to FX and the Brennaman, Lyons, Leiter crew.
My palms are sweating. There are never any guarantees in baseball, even with Prior pitching. Cubbies need this one badly. In the playoffs, every game seems to be a must win, doesn't it?
Top of the 1st: Good, Fox has the radar gun back on tonight. Hard to tell how a pitcher is feeling late in the game without some raw data, like velocity.
Fox shows a stat that Grudzielanek had a fielding percentage of .986, third in the NL this year. I've never thought his range was all that great, though. What was his zone rating? Range factor? Do any sites online keep those stats?
That dude in the red shirt in the front row? Cubs fan? Throw him out for interfering with Bako on that pop-up. If IRod comes back to do some damage, that fan should be tarred and feathered. The fans start chanting "A$$hole, a$$hole." Serves the guy right. Rich yuppie idiot. This is the NLCS, you fool! If Pudge ended up with a hit and I were at the stadium, I would have run down there and whupped his butt.
Fortunately, Prior is smart enough not to throw the free-swinging Pudge a strike. Prior's pitching IQ is high. Whiff.
Cabrera's going to be a good hitter. Prior wins this matchup, but I'm definitely renewing Cabrera in my keeper league next year.
Bottom of the 1st: Pudge gets crossed up on signs on a pitch two to Alou and nearly takes a fastball in the, uhh, jewels. Brennaman miscalls it as a pitch in the dirt, and Leiter correctly notes it was a cross-up. Leiter's commentary on the pitching is growing on me. He doesn't have the best TV voice, but as a smart pitcher he's offering the type of insight which Steve Lyons, as the color commentator, should be providing.
Bases loaded. Simon up. Swings at everything. Penny is wild. Who will win?
Simple Simon wins, taking a fastball away through the hole b/t SS and 3B! Simon is a love-him/hate-him player. Most of the time you're screaming, wondering why he's swinging at every pitch, no matter where it is. But then he'll swat some ball a foot out of the strike zone for a hit and you find yourself cheering wildly. Plus, he has that whole crazy routine where he points at the dugout with his right hand as soon as he reaches first while his left hand gropes madly for his 10 pound gold chain. I feel you brutha, and hope you keep bringing the bling.
Top of the 2nd: My first near heart attack as the Fish get men on 1st and 3rd, nobody out. But Prior pitches out of it. On the topic of Prior's baseball IQ, one always feels Prior is using pitch selection and location to attack hitters, while pitchers like Zambrano and to an extent Wood worry about pitch selection but can't execute on the location. With the stuff those guys have, it's not always a problem, but if they had the ability to locate they'd be, well, like Kevin Brown and Roger Clemens.
In between innings, they show the Rafael Palmeiro Viagra commercial for the eight millionth time. I wish the Cubbies had kept Palmeiro and his 500+ home runs, but I'm not sure I'd be that excited to see him pushing Viagra while in a Cubs uniform either.
Bottom of the 2nd: Penny's location is off. C'mon Cubbies, let's give him the early knockout. Let's give the Fish bullpen a workout.
Grudzielanek doesn't agree with the check swing call. Again, I reiterate, a check swing is not defined in baseball's rule book. The umps just make a guess. If everyone works on a common understanding, then fine, but what is that common understanding? C'mon MLB, let's clean up this hole in the rule book.
Lofton swipes 2nd. Good baserunner. On offense, Lofton is just plain fun to watch. He's a classic pesky leadoff disrupter.
SAMMY! Dear lord, he hit that one halfway to Michigan! Yeeeee haaaaaaa! WOW! The expression on Lofton's face as he watched Sosa's bomb sail out? Priceless.
Top of the 3rd: Wow, that Pudge is a tough hitter. You'd think someone who swings at everything would be easy to pitch. He can hit the fastball away and the fastball in, but given that he's taking the pitch away to right so well right now, I'd like to see the Cubs pound him on the fists and then go away with the breaking stuff.
These Fish are tough on offense because they're good fastball hitters, and they all happen to be pretty hot right now. They'll make it tough on Cubs pitching the whole series.
Commercial for Kill Bill. I'm all over that this weekend. Tarantino gets far too much credit for originality [Any HK film fan can cite any number of action sequences and plot point he's borrowed from, and his mundane pop-cultural dialogue smacks of David Lynch], however, that doesn't mean his movies aren't entertaining. Kill Bill is supposedly based on those old chopsocky revenge flicks, and my dad used to rent a ton of those. Love that stuff. As Mike noted, it's not clear that Uma deserves to don Bruce's yellow tracksuit, but I'll assume it's homage and withhold judgment.
Commercial for Armageddon. Do you realize Michael Bay's silly action flick got a Criterion treatment? How did that happen? Years later, we'll look back and wonder how that happened, like Brady Anderson hitting 50 HR's in one season. In fact, Michael Bay has two movies that have gone Criterion: The Rock is the other. The Rock is a lot of fun, though.
On a positive note, both Le Cercle Rouge, Tokyo Story, and Schizopolis are getting the Criterion makeover and hit stores Oct. 28. Good stuff.
Bottom of the 3rd: Bringing in Nate Bump is like waving the white flag. Hopefully this means Dusty can keep Prior's pitch count down today. When Paul Bako gets in on the act and starts pounding balls off of the ivy, you know things are going your way.
This is just what the Cubbies needed today, a laugher.
Bottom of the 5th: Leiter provides more good insight, saying Pudge should have blocked a Helling pitch instead of trying to backhand it. Good call.
Then again, Leiter says Helling is coming in and stemming the bleeding, and then Gonzalez turns on a Helling fastball and hits it onto Waveland where hundreds of loonies fight over the ball. 10-0. I predict Juan Cruz will get some innings tonight.
Fox shows an ad for Skin [some absurd modernization of the Romeo and Juliet story, if the commercials are to be believed] on the faux green screen banner behind homeplate. What a disgrace.
Ken calls. We wonder if Prior can just sit down now and come back and pitch Saturday.
Top of the 6th: Leiter notes that a pitch to Conine, which was a strike, is called a ball because Bako set up inside and had to reach outside. Leiter is growing on me everyday.
Conine gets doubled off of 1st with his team trailing by 9.
I think it's time to get Prior out of there. C'mon Dusty, give the guy a rest.
Top of the 7th: Why is Prior still in this game? Sometimes Dusty Baker drives me crazy. I scream at the TV, and he never listens, leaving his young arms in to work and work and work. They're hitting Prior hard tonight. Is someone up in the Cubs bullpen? Why not? If Prior walks out to the mound the next inning I'm going to cry.
Bottom of the 7th: Why don't they show the 7th inning stretch on Fox? Because they're grubbing money. That's extra commercial time for Fox. Greedy bastards. I want to see who's singing. When are they bringing Bill Murray back?
Brennaman says Prior is heading back out there. I thought with O'Leary pinch-hitting they were going to the double switch. But no, Dusty will stretch Prior out for no good reason. Dusty!
Top of the 8th: I'm counting pitches now. Now the Fox announcers are talking pitch counts. Leiter says he isn't high on pitch counts, but Prior has gone over 130 pitches in 3 straight starts. This is plainly a weakness of Dusty Baker, and as much as I think he's a great leader and straight-up guy, as a manager of pitcher's he's just very poor. Why risk your franchise arm? In a 10 run game, no less?
I'm almost glad Simon drops that throw from Grudzielanek so Baker is forced to pull Prior. Even not at his best, Prior still fights the whole game. Stud. He deserves a rest. Prior shakes his head walking off the field. Competitive guy; he knows he wasn't at his best tonight. The Fish hit him pretty hard tonight, but with a big lead he didn't mess around and that's the right approach.
Bottom of the 8th: Michael Tejera's first pitch is one of the wildest pitches I've ever seen, landing in the stands. That will his claim to fame for the rest of his life.
We'll also be seeing shots of that little girl cradling that foul ball. Cute.
Speaking of Kill Bill, Ken and I ponder the utter stupidity of Ethan Hawke, who cheated on Uma Thurman. Uma Thurman? How do you even leave her lying in bed in the morning to go to work?
I know you have two kids, Uma, but I am here for you babe. My poetry is better than Ethan's, too.
Top of the 9th: And that's all she wrote, as Karros makes a nice diving stop and then flips to Guthrie for the barehanded catch. Think the Cubs are loose, what with a 9-run lead?
Not much suspense tonight, but I will take that every game if it means Cubs victories. Every game.