September belongs to football. Pennant races be damned. Last night, the Cubs and Nationals manufactured some drama for the specific purpose of earning suspensions, thereby allowing them to watch this weekend's NFL games. It all started with Nationals third base coach Bo Porter and Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk. "Why are you stealing bases up 7-2 in the 5th inning?" Quirk appeared to yell out to Porter. "You've already doubled the amount of runs needed to beat us."
"That's how we play, clown," Porter may have responded. "We score runs and win games. Don't matter the situation." Overcome by emotion and his team's unholy offensive output, Porter practically walked into the Cubs' dugout. Benches cleared. Quirk, not Porter, was ejected.
The following inning, Lendy Castillo, in typical Lendy Castillo fashion, threw at Bryce Harper and missed his spot. Harper stared and pointed his bat and the benches cleared again. Members of the Cubs bullpen made their second run across the field with smiles on their faces, apparently of the mistaken belief that this would count towards tomorrow's pregame workout. Darwin Barney calmly stood on the infield grass, discussing his expectations of the Democratic National Convention with Drew Storen. Steve Clevenger loudly proclaimed that this season of Louie was much weaker than the first two. Michael Morse took issue and needed to be subdued by teammates and coaches. It was an embarrassing scene for a sport that needs no help embarrassing itself. It had me pining for a basketball fight and there hasn't been a good basketball fight in 15 years.
September belongs to football and I would never try to suggest otherwise. Baseball, the spruced up summer placeholder, once again takes a back seat. But what, may I ask, do you watch Tuesday through Friday night? Don't try and tell me CBS sitcoms or Big East football or that you go go out on Fridays. Sure, baseball takes a back seat, but it's on in September when football isn't. For that reason alone, it deserves your attention. September call-ups are now sprinkled across MLB rosters, many of whom you've never seen before and will never see again. On bad teams like the Cubs, they sometimes see significant playing time. Who's that swinging at a 3-0 pitch with runners on first and second, no outs? Who's that on the mound making Adam LaRoche look like '04 Barry Bonds? Here's a quick primer on the Cubs' September call-ups, featuring some new and familiar faces.
Adrian Cardenas - World renowned, around these parts anyway, for breaking up A.J. Burnett's no-hitter in the 8th inning of a meaningless July game. He hasn't been heard from since. Rumors of Vermont and a $10,000 organic farming grant are unfounded. Cardenas will back-up 2nd base and rearrange all of Alfonso Soriano's equipment in the dugout until it's time to break up another no-hitter.
Tony Campana - They said he would never again make a 25-man roster. So he waited around until September. They said he didn't deserve to crack a 40-man roster. So he became a member of the Cubs organization. It's time to acknowledge that a) Tony Campana will never die and b) Everyone, especially your girlfriend, likes Tony Campana more than you do. Campana will mostly pinch-run, maybe even take a few at-bats if Dale Sveum is feeling especially cynical that day.
Dave Sappelt - The Sean Marshall trade keeps on giving! First Travis Wood, a solid no. 2 starter on a 60-win team, and now Sappelt. He was the Reds' minor-league hitter of the year in 2010, which translates to about .180 in the pros. He'll serve mostly as a reserve outfielder, with a few starts thrown in. Listens to 50 Cent unironically.
Anthony Recker - You can never have too many catchers, as the Cubs found out earlier this season when a string of injuries to the position ended with Koyie Hill and a near mass ritual suicide of the Cubs blogosphere. Acquired from the Athletics, Recker is of clear mind and broad shoulders. Challenge him at the plate and he will (w)reck you, son. Unfortunately, he'll mostly pinch-hit because THREE CATCHERS!
Miguel Socolovich - Pitched (poorly) in six games for the Orioles this year. The Cubs claimed him off waivers two weeks ago hoping some of that hot fire the O's bullpen has spit all year would rub off on him. You know the drill - it hasn't. Only Venezuelan distinguished for his bravery in the Battle of Stalingrad.
Chris Rusin - Rusin was so impressive in his start against the Brewers, on the mound (5 IP, 1 H, 1 ER), and at the plate (1-2), that Cubs fans clamored for him to be the ace of the staff and hit 6th in the lineup. Predictably, he surrendered 8 hits and 5 runs in an inning of work on Tuesday. We can realistically expect something in between those two performances. Let's say a 3-inning start with 3 or 4 earned runs.
Rafael Dolis - It seems like the opening of an unforgiving joke now, but Rafael Dolis was once the Cubs' closer. The options were slim: Shawn Camp, James Russell, and Dolis. Sveum chose the worst of the three. Dolis is back in the pen to throw 1-0 fastballs down the middle -- in the 5th or 6th inning instead of the 9th this time around.
Jaye Chapman - Reminds me a little of Aroldis Chapman. Relief Pitcher. Last name Chapman. The similarities end there.
BONUS: LATE AUGUST ROSTER MOVES
Jeff Beliveau - This marks Beliveau's second stint with the team, as he was recalled in place of starting pitcher Brooks Raley, who has reached his innings limit for the year. Beliveau will be used as the early inning lefty specialist, with James Russell appearing in the games of consequence. Beliveau also specializes in turning a 2-run deficit into a 6-run deficit.
Blake Parker - Was recently activated from the 60-Day DL. He'll appear in the games that look like football scores. And yes, this is the same 'Blake Parker' who works part-time as the shirtless model in front of your local Abercrombie & Fitch.