Don't want to talk about it...
That's how I feel after this 2-4 disaster against the Mets and Reds. I have nothing interesting to say. The Cubs are choking, blowing two games when they were a strike away from winning. Next time some saber-geek tells you that there's nothing special about closing and all you need is a good pitcher to get the final three (actually, just one) out, mention that tall, African-American gentleman on the Cubs who couldn't fail in the eighth.
Note that I don't think there's a better option than Hawkins. Farnsworth would choke as well, and really, Saturday's game falls as much on Dempster for walking two sub-.250 hitters. But just because Rob Neyer or Bill James says that the final three outs are as easy as any other doesn't mean it's true.
Speaking of Jay...
Jay was all over ESPN tonight saying that the Cubs won't win the Wild Card because they are a disfunctional team. That certainly seemed to be true after losing 2 of 3 to the Expos, but maybe Jay hasn't been watching since then as the cubs have won 11 of their last 14
. But I have some sympathy for Jay.
Jay is a columnist, and columnists need a story line. I have tried very hard to write about the Cubs on a daily basis. I failed for a variety of reasons (getting married put a crimp in it). But one of the main reasons is I couldn't get my arms around this team. It's a good team, but a team that has just slogged along winning 5 out of every 9 games for 5 months. They whine and complain. They play like morons at times (especially when running the bases or failing to hit a cutoff man). On the other hand, they can look brilliant for a 5 game stretch. Then, they lose a game they should win (hello? David Weathers?). But now, in crunch time, they seem to be putting it together.
For an illustration of the Cubs year, look at this graph
. A pretty straight line up, but at a 56% winning clip. 5-4 does not make for a great story line. The best story line available is "this is a disfunctional team that has wasted a great opportunity provided by Jim Hendry and the Tribune." So Jay runs with it.
I'd like to hear your views on what the story-line of this Cubs team is. If you could describe this team's year to date in 5 sentences or less, how would you do it?
At the risk of being a Jay Mariotti wind sock, I have to say that after tonights win against the Pirates, I'm feeling pretty confident that the Cubs will win the wild card. As I am sure others will point out, the Cubs remain a half game behind the Giants and 2.5 games ahead of the Astros. The Giants should win tomorrow with Schmidt going against Backe and the Cubs should win with Maddux going against some AA rag arm spot starter for the Pirates. That should effectively bury the Astros in the race. The Padres and the Marlins are done.
But, the race is still a three team race, except that 2 of the teams are also fighting for the NL West. Moreover, the Dodgers and Giants play each other 6 times. Let's assume that the Dodgers lose tomorrow. The Cubs are then tied with the Dodgers. Regardless of who does what in the 6 games between the two NL West teams, the Cubs will have the opportunity to gain at least three games on either the Giants or the Dodgers.
All of this is to say that the Cubs have their destiny in their hands. With 11 games left, and eight of them against teams that the Cubs are clearly superior to, I'm pretty convinced the Cubs will win the wild card.
Unsure What to Think
I've not been updating for some time because I cannot get a grip on this team. This is a good team, a team that will look wonderful at times and than at others will just throw a turd in the punch bowl. Rather than cataloguing these events for you, I've spared you my up and down emotional ride.
But over the last 10 games or so, I thought I got a read on the storyline. This team is going to tough it out at the end and make it to the playoffs. But today's second game has left me more confused. With Prior stepping up big to win the first game against Carl Pavano, I really thought the sweep was in the bag. David Weathers was starting in game two for the Marlins, and that's generally pretty good. The Cubs did nothing in the first, and Matt Clement did what Matt's been doing lately. Pitch like crap for 2+ innings and shrink back to the clubhouse.
A split in this doubleheader was not a disaster; but it was a missed opportunity. A sweep would have put the Cubs up a half game (in the loss column) and put the Astros in a game and a half hole. Now, the Cubs are a half game out (and even in the loss column), and they're only advantage is an easier schedule.
I still believe they can win this, but they just haven't done it in the forceful way you'd have liked. So let's go Cubs, and finish strong.
One Out Of Three Is Worse
Let's face it; the Cubs were lucky they didn't have to play Florida over last weekend or this would be over. Tonight, game three of the Expos series showed the Cubs at their absolute worst. Scott Downs? 29 batters faced? Bako's inability to field a bunt; Lee's inability to field a hot shot; Bako's inability to throw to second. Guh!! What a sickening feeling I had tonight watching that steaming pile. And what's worse was that Maddux pitched very well.
Oh and I forgot, Sammy freezing on a line drive, leading directly to the first run, and Moises being doubled off on a line drive to the outfield for the 296th time this year.
What makes someone a fan? This team has underperformed all year; the players whine and complain; and they play with their heads up their butts. So why care? I don't know. I guess I'm just a masochist.
Two Out Of Three Is Bad.
The Cubs took two out of three from the decrepit Expos. I guess that's better than losing a series. But I've never seen a team as listless as this ball club. Watching the three games was painful. Really, a crowd of six thousand takes a lot out of the enjoyment of a game. And watching a team filled with unlikable complainers sucks.
I hope that this team makes the playoffs. I just bought the tickets today. Still, what a disgrace to go 20+ straight innings without scoring against the Expos. Rooting for a team is supposed to be fun. It hasn't been this year.