Tag:Nick Lowe
Posted on: April 20, 2011 4:48 pm

Short Hops

Some quick mid-week notes:

-- Brandon Belt, who will be back and will be productive one day, made Wednesday's decision easy on the Giants by hitting just .192 with a .300 on-base percentage and .269 slugging percentage. It was a given since opening day that somebody would be the odd Giant out when Cody Ross (calf) was healthy. Belt's ongoing struggles combined with a weak defense with Aubrey Huff in right and Pat Burrell in left made it a no-brainer. The lesson in Belt's demotion to Triple-A Fresno (on his 22nd birthday, no less!): It's just not that easy. Not a new lesson, just one that needs reiterating from time to time. When Belt hit .282 with three homers and 13 RBI in 71 spring at-bats, Giants fans had visions of Buster Posey II. But Posey, who punched the accelerator as soon as he arrived last May, was the rare exception. Belt leaves with just one homer in 17 games (60 plate appearances).

-- What are the odds of the 8-8 Cubs splitting today's doubleheader with the Padres? So far this season, the Cubs have been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7 and 8-8. Even I can do that math.

-- And they don't even get paid overtime: Kansas City has gone extra innings in five of its first 16 games. At that pace, the Royals would play 48 extra-inning games this season. The major-league record is 31, held by the 1943 Boston Red Sox.

-- Into Wednesday's series finale in Oakland, the powerful Red Sox remained historically impotent: 0-7 on the road, their worst-ever road beginning, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, surpassing 0-6 in 1927. It's not historically bad by major-league standards, however: The Nationals started 0-8 away from home just two seasons ago.

-- The Padres were confident that they had a better-balanced lineup even without Adrian Gonzalez's bat, but they were shut out in four of their first 16 games. At that pace, San Diego will be blanked 41 times this season. Yes, that would be a record. The current NL mark for being shut out in a season is 33, held by the 1908 St. Louis Cardinals. The AL mark is 30, owned by the 1906 Washington Senators.

-- Yes, the Dodgers' Matt Kemp is off to a sensational start, leading the NL with a .438 batting average and ranking second with a .514 on-base percentage. But before declaring that he's turned it around from a disappointing 2010, let's let things play out another couple of months. Kemp ALWAYS plays well in April: Coming into this season, his career April numbers were a .312 batting average, .362 on-base percentage and a .538 slugging percentage -- his highest numbers of any single month all season.

-- That said, my favorite Kemp moment so far this season occurred in the second game against the Giants. At first base and running on the pitch, Kemp read a ground ball to third baseman Pablo Sandoval perfectly. Not hesitating, he blew around second base as Sandoval was throwing to first and easily made it to third. It was a great play that involved athleticism, talent, instincts and smarts. When Kemp is on like that, he's as electric as anuybody.

-- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips not only is a big fan of shortstop Paul Janish, but also of Janish's family. Phillips says Janish's mother is a mean cook.

Likes: The Farrelly brothers are moving along with plans to bring The Three Stooges to the silver screen, bringing in Sean Hayes of Will & Grace to play Larry. Better news would have been coaxing Sean Penn to change his mind on Moe, but, alas, no such luck. Curly is Will Sasso of MADtv. But with filming supposedly set to begin in Atlanta soon, still no Moe. Speculation: Hank Azaria, who voices in The Simpsons.

Dislikes: Rented Wild Hogs the other night. A couple of pretty funny moments but, overall, not so good. Strong cast, though: William H. Macy, Ray Liotta, Marisa Tomei, John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence.

 Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"As I walk on
"Through troubled times
"My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
"So where are the strong
"And who are the trusted?
"And where is the harmony?
"Sweet harmony.
"'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away
"It just makes me wanna cry
"What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?"

-- Nick Lowe, (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding


Posted on: March 22, 2008 6:52 pm

Piniella sets lineup; Santo sets autograph limits

MESA, Ariz. -- It's settled -- at least, as settled as a Lou Piniella lineup ever is.

Newcomer Kosuke Fukudome will bat fifth, Piniella proclaimed on Saturday after several days of tinkering with and pondering his lineup. Shortstop Ryan Theriot will be the Cubs' leadoff man, former leadoff man Alfonso Soriano will bat second, followed by first baseman Derrek Lee, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, Fukudome, second baseman Mark DeRosa, catcher Geovany Sota and center fielder Felix Pie.

At least, unless the Cubs trade for Brian Roberts, Jay Payton, Coco Crisp or anybody else in the next week.

"Right now, the way we're situated, Fukudome offers the best protection to Ramirez," Piniella says. "I know the two-hole is probably more suitable for the young man, but right now, the way we're put together, I feel Ramirez has more protection with Fukudome behind him.

"I talked to my coaches, and they feel the same way. So we're going to start this way."

Piniella juggled his lineup all season last summer but would prefer not to do that this year. Having a better handle on things entering his second season in Chicago and with better players in place -- the emergence of Theriot, the addition of Fukudome -- he should be able to accomplish that. Though he is notoriously impatient.

"We're going to be more prone to a set lineup," Piniella says. "I said we'd play around during spring training, see some things. The problem is, if something's not working, I get paid to find solutions. Then you've got to tinker some.

"But I'd prefer to stay as constant as possible."

Saturday was a gorgeous day at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, with a packed house for a spring game between the Cubs and White Sox. I spent some time in the Cubs' radio booth talking with Ron Santo about 45 minutes before game time, and it was quite a sight. You can walk up to the press box windows from the stands at HoHoKam, and a steady stream of autograph seekers lined up to get Santo's signature.

In 10 minutes I saw him sign baseballs, tickets, programs, a large white sneaker with a Cubs' logo, a baseball key chain, caps and many other items. One woman simply handed him a cell phone and asked him to say hello to her mother. Actually, it was more like she told Santo to say hello. It would have been incredibly awkward had he declined, but he didn't miss a beat.

"Hello, Rose," he said. "I wanted to say hello to you."

The only thing I saw Santo decline was a girl who asked him to sign her arm. He was gracious, but essentially said he doesn't sign body parts. I'm not kidding -- it was like Mick Jagger or Keith Richards or something. People love their Cubs.

"People have asked us to leave outgoing messages on their answering machines," says Pat Hughes, Santo's partner in the booth. "All in a day's work."

Likes: Ron Santo is just the sweetest man. He and broadcast partner Pat Hughes are terrific people, pleasures to be around. ... A couple of Cubs folks keeping watch over manager Lou Piniella as he met with the media Saturday on the field, perched precariously close to the steps of the Cubs dugout. Piniella is a notorious rocker as he talks, sometimes disarming people by leaning back and then taking a couple of steps backwards. Fortunately, no tumbles into the dugout Saturday. ... That game-winner by the Western Kentucky kid against Drake on Friday was the shot of the NCAA tournament, huh? What a great, great play. And I felt terrible for the poor Drake kids. ... When it comes to takeout pizza, give me Papa John's. Had that and worked in the room Friday night watching the NCAA games, and that's as fine a night as there is. ... My friend Ollie called to check in the other day after the Bull Pennings blog about Felix Pie's twisted testicle and reminded me that he did not have to have surgery, it healed on its own. ... Happy Easter.

Dislikes: Getting close to the time when I've got to turn in that Pontiac Solstice convertible I've been driving around here in Arizona. Fun, fun car.

Sunblock day? Heck yes. Temperatures into the upper 80s, where they're supposed to remain on Easter and the rest of this week.

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"There's a cut upon my brow
"Must have banged myself somehow
"But I can't remember now
"And the front door's open wide
"Lately I've let things slide"

-- Nick Lowe, Lately I've Let Things Slide

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com