Looking on the Bright Side

Today we have an off day from Cubs baseball -- which tragically becomes an extra day to ruminate and contemplate about yesterday's shellacking. Fortunately, I was in class for most of the game, so I did not see the score until I could safely assume all was lost -- which, according to the chart below, was around the end of the first inning. But instead of focusing on the dour and depressing today, let's examine some of the good things from this lopsided result:

Courtesy of Fangraphs.

I think one of the most enjoyable Fangraphs tools is the above featured Win Expectancy Charts. Basically, it says the game was over at the end of the first inning, which is both sad and also good to know. If we acquire that assumption, then a comeback victory is made all the sweeter, and it keeps our blood pressure at close-to-normal levels.

Isn't it great to hope for a comeback?

Our pal, mb21, investigated Zambrano's effort over at Another Cubs Blog. Appropriately, he noted that this first game has very little meaning for the Cubs or Zambrano moving forward:
...5 of the 8 playoff teams a year ago started the season 0-1 leaving them with such unbeatable odds to reach the postseason. The 2 World Series teams began the season so horribly that they were each 0-1.

I don't think the Cubs have a great team this year and I don't think they'll be playing ball in the postseason, but it has nothing to do with losing yesterday. No, the reason they likely won't be playing that late is because the Cardinals are a very good team. Also, the Phillies and Braves are quite good...
Isn't it great to know we still have a (bad, but still existent) chance?

It's easy to overreact to an initial outpouring of suck, so that's why it's always healthy for baseball fans to add a measure of statistical calm and general silver-lining-ishness to the mead of Cubs Fandom. Take, for instance, Tim Souers' fun depiction of our starting-yet-why-the-hell-not-platooning second baseman, Mike Fontenot:

Courtesy of Cubby-Blue.

Isn't it great to make fun of facial hair?

It was also a pleasant surprise to see Sean Marshall -- one of my many undeservedly favorite Cubs -- shutting down 2 plus innings while striking out 5 batters. I've liked Marshall since he and Rich Hill were battling for starter spots (oh, how the times change), and though it would take a slew of terrible injuries or perhaps total collapses (I'm looking at you, Carlos Silva) for Marshall to make the starting rotation, I still love to see him flourish -- it makes me feel like we've got this secret, 6'7" lefty that could dominate be a little above average if given the chance.

Also, Marlon Byrd hit a homerun! But don't get to comfy with that sentence, Cubs Fans. Byrd is not a power hitter. Please don't Milton Bradley him.

Isn't it great to see some guys playing above their potential?

Meanwhile, the oft-abused, ill-appreciated Carlos Zambrano is keeping his focus forward:
"I have the tools to pitch good in April," Zambrano said. "I just had a bad game. I've put it behind me. Today, it happened, I gave up eight runs and like I say, 'I will concentrate on my next start.'"
I'm pretty damn-near sure that Big Z is going to be good this year. Will he be great? Maybe, but I doubt it. Will he be awful? Barring some calamitous injury, no. But: we can take heart because listening to Zambrano recycle 100 years worth of post game interviews can only mean it's baseball season!

Isn't it great to be listening to old and tired baseball platitudes again?

Lastly, I must recommend this article by Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball. The article, entitled "Commie Ball," details the world of baseball for Cubans within and without of Cuba (hat tip to Steve Slowinsi). It's an eerie and well-written piece, more than worth the ten hours it takes to read in it's entirety. My favorite quote thus far:
...and for 109 of these dear pesos, or six months’ salary of a tenured professor of international economy at the University of Havana, you can dine alone on the roof of the newly renovated Hotel Saratoga, survey the ruin of Havana, and contemplate the consequences of anti-materialism.
Isn't it great to not live in Cuba?

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