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Game Thread: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals- 2008 Game 24 of 162.

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Curse vs Curse...

MLB.com's Carrie Muskat wrote an article recently entitled, "Bartman exonerated by Alou admission", which quoted former Chicago Cubs' left fielder Moises Alou's take on the infamous outfield incident in foul territory along Wrigley's left field stands, in which a fan, the aforementioned Bartman, interfered with Alou's attempts to corral a foul ball off then-Marlin Luis Castillo's bat in Game 5 of the '03 NLCS...a game which the Cubs led, and eventually lost. Alou's current take on the play and its aftermath:

"'Everywhere I play, even now, people still yell, 'Bartman, Bartman,'" Alou said. "I feel really bad.

"'You know what the funny thing is? I wouldn't have caught it anyway.'"

Please...No more Curses...It's silly...

Do we even want to get into, "The Curse of "Billy Goat" Sianis? Is the whole North Side of Chicago collectively crazy? Ron Santo, the black cat, and the Cubs' Collapse of 1969? And then Santo's 1998 Call? That damned cat, or was it the goat that time?! Buckner's Batting Glove? Who doctored that photo? Seriously, admit it, that photo's more suspicious than that shadow-challenged photo of NAME REDACTED...from Washington, DC's own past...(cubbiesbaseball.com)

There are no such curses associated with Washington, DC baseball history, according to USA Today sports writer, Steve Kluger, who writes in an article at the time of the Nationals return to the District entitled, "Washington Senators: Baseball as it should be", that:

"Unlike the Boston Red Sox or the Chicago Cubs, either of whose victory in a World Series could only be interpreted as a gree light for the Apocalypse, the Washington Senators lived under no curse, offended no goats and never got rid of Babe Ruth, What they had going for them was pure luck -- and most of it lousy."

No curses, see, just a long history of mediocrity...at best.

Dukes and The Flat-Brimmed Closer Updates...

According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in his article entitled, "Dukes close to return, Cordero to pitch", Elijah Dukes believes the time for his return is approaching, or in Dukes' own words:

"'My hamstring is about right,' Dukes said. 'I figure I should be out there as soon as I get some running in and show them that I'm OK.'"

...and Mr. Ladson also reports that the Flat-Brimmed Closer Chad Cordero will, "...play catch on Friday and to appear in a game the next day," which would have Cordero most likely getting some middle relief work on Saturday against the Chicago Cubbies, as he tries to rebuild his arm strength in an attempt to regain velocity on his fastball.

More DC Bullpen Notes...

As for the other change in the bullpen, in case you haven't heard, Nationals' lefty Ray King was replaced on the roster by Mike "Lefty" O'Connor, who came on for one scoreless inning last night against New York, and prompted one federalbaseball.com reader, "Doghouse", who was at the game, to wonder when he saw #54 in white who O'Connor was,

"I didn’t realize he’d been called up, and I was trying to figure out why Hanrahan looked so skinny. And so left-handed." (-Doghouse, in the federalbaseball.com comments section.)

O'Connor, 27, was (2-0) in 4 starts with a 1.96 ERA in 23.0 innings with the Nationals' Triple-A Columbus Clippers affiliate before getting the call to DC, where the left-hander started 20 games and made 21 appearances in 2006, going (3-8) with a 4.80 ERA in 105.0 innings pitched.

Washington GM Jim Bowden is quoted in Washington Post baseball writer Barry Svrluga's most recent post at his "Nationals Journal" entitled, "King and Bowden on the move", where Mr. Bowden explains O'Connor's promotion and pretty clearly defines the role O'Connor's expected to play while in DC, quoting Mr. Bowden:

"'O'Connor's throwing extremely well down there. He pitched well in the spring. We're very pleased with how he's throwing. His velocity has come back from the surgery a couple of years ago. Our bullpen is such that right now, the way we are, we don't have a lot of innings in the bullpen, which has been a problem. If a pitcher gets knocked out early in the game, we don't really have a long guy to come eat those innings...'"

On the Hill...

Ryan Dempster starts game one of three for the visiting Cubbies. Dempster's unbeaten against DC(Montreal) in 10 starts and 18 appearances since 1998, over which the right-hander is (6-0) with a 3.40 ERA and 2 saves and 53 K's in 76.2 innings. So far in '08, Dempster's (3-0) with a 3.00 ERA.

"Opening Night" Odalis Perez is (3-1) in 4 career starts and 28.0 innings against Chicago, with a 3.54 ERA and 17 K's. Perez is (0-2) with a 3.37 ERA in 5 starts for Washington since signing late this offseason, allowing 10 runs, 3 HR's and 12 walks through five starts, of which he's lost three and recorded no decision in his two other appearances.

Nationals' #'s against Ryan Dempster...

Cristian Guzman - 2 for 2, 2 doubles.

Felipe Lopez - 3 for 14, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI's.

Odalis Perez!, Watch Out For...

Aramis Ramirez - 4 for 9, .444 AVG, 2 HR, 4 RBI's.

Game Time - 7:35 PM...

Check the NatCast if you're heading to Nationals Park...

(ed. note - "PS. The SB Nation's Chicago Cubs blog, www.bleedcubbieblue.com, is one of the best in the blogosphere...make sure to check out Chicago's persective before, during, and after the game and all weekend long...")