I do not want to see the 2009 Cubs succeed. To do so would be to go against every baseball sensibility I have. It would be to go against any sense of justice and fairness in this world. To see the 2009 Cubs succeed would be a slap in the face of the baseball gods (sorry, Dusty Baker). To see the 2009 Cubs succeed would validate stupidity. When a G.M. takes a 97 win team and needlessly overhauls them in the offseason with head-scratching, nonsensical moves, it should not be able to win. I want to see the Cubs win a World Series, but my God, not this team. Cub fans deserve better than this ill-conceived team Jim Hendry has put together and Lou Piniella has watched over. I’ve heard people say the Cubs will actually make the playoffs because they play most of their remaining games against sub .500 teams such as the San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals. Sure. I’m so glad that we have the MLB Extra Innings package on DirecTV so I can actually watch real baseball this September.
Today’s trade of Ivan Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers reminds me of a missed opportunity for the Cubs. After Rodriguez’s Marlins stunned the Cubs in the 2003 NLCS and went on to win the World Series, he became a free agent. At the time I thought it would be a good idea for the Cubs to bring in Rodriguez. I felt the Cubs could use a strong, smart catcher like Rodriguez to work with the trio of young pitchers the Cubs had, Wood, Prior, and Zambrano. Rodriguez is also a winner and would quickly become a team leader the Cubs also needed to put them over the top in 2004. Well, it never happened. The Cubs went cheap and signed Michael Barrett instead. We all know how Michael Barrett worked out. Let’s just say I think it was no coincidence that the Cubs took off in 2007 after Barrett was shipped out. All this led me to think about the Cubs of the past three years. Who is the team leader or leaders? I don’t think the Cubs have any. The Cubs have a good collection of talented players, but they don’t have any leaders. You know, the kind of player that will push others, get in others’ faces when need be, driven with a passion to win. The Yankees have Derek Jeter. The Red Sox have Jason Varitek. The Cardinals have Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. The Cubs don’t have any such players. Derrek Lee is a great talent, but watch his body language after a strikeout or an 0-4 performance. Head down, walking slowly back to the dugout, dejected. Not inspiring. Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs most important offensive weapon, seems shy and doesn’t say much. Soriano and Bradley are all about themselves. Zambrano is a headcase, who admits his recent injury problems are due to his being out of shape. Great. Soto’s a mess. The Cubs should have signed Pudge this past offseason. He could have mentored Soto. Maybe then Soto wouldn’t have become the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Ivan Rodriguez to the Rangers leads me to believe we might in fact see the Rangers in the postseason. Pudge now gets to work with the young pitchers over there as well as Mike Maddux, who is quickly becoming one of the elite pitching coaches if he isn’t already. The Cubs seem to lack a team leader. Maybe that’s one reason the Cubs have disappeared in the postseason and are quickly disappearing from this years pennant race.
It’s only August 11th, but the Cubs are well on their way to being C.U.B.S. (Completely Useless by September). Sure, the guys that tow the corporate line on TV will say the Cubs are only three games behind St. Louis and they have the best NL record since the All-Star break (well they did before this weekend; they may not have that distinction anymore), but anyone watching the games can’t be fooled. I feel a need to debunk five common myths about the Cubs right now.
As bad as Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol have been, the Cubs should start praying for rain in the seventh inning if they’re winning.
Tom Gorzelanny, the Cubs’s trade deadline acquisition, makes his first start tonight against the Reds. Can he close?
I find it rather interesting that Bud Selig is once again reconsidering his decision whether or not to reinstate Pete Rose. I, for one, have always felt that Rose should be in the Hall of Fame based on his play. Baseball should not let him hold a job in the game anymore. I think the reason that this is coming up again is that baseball needs to pave the way for the steroids guys to get in the Hall of Fame. Many of the greatest players of this generation may not get voted in because of steroids. Some people may say how can you let them in and not let in Pete Rose. If Pete Rose is allowed to be voted into the Hall of Fame, then the steroid guys may not seem so bad either.
Speaking of the steroid list, should all the names be listed at once? I think that they are being leaked one at a time to soften people’s reaction. There seems to be less furor each time a name comes out. It’s almost like people are like, “another player on steroids…whatever.” Leaking the names on at a time is numbing people’s reaction to the accusations. It’s a P.R. move, I think.
Since the All-Star break, the Cubs are 9-2 and have moved into first place in the NL Central. They swept the Washington Generals…er…Nationals. A National disgrace, the Nationals have been. They’re 37 games under .500. The Cubs should have swept them. They swept the Reds, who really have the look of a team that has thrown in the towel. The Reds are falling faster than a skydiving elephant. My point is I can’t judge how good this team is playing right now. The Cubs lost two out of three from the Phillies. This current stretch of games between the Astros, Marlins, Rockies, and Phillies will go a long way in telling me how excited I should be right now.
On the weekend of July 18th and 19th, my brother and I took my father to St. Louis as a retirement gift. We got to see a game at the new Busch Stadium on Saturday the 18th. I had a great time in St. Louis with my father and brother. New Busch Stadium is a great stadium, but very expensive. I thought I was in Chicago for most of my time there. Nine dollars for a beer. Really? Eight dollars for four chicken strips? It seemed like most people in the upper deck with us were eating at Hardees because the food prices were more manageable. It was like a fast food place in the mall that charges a little more because of the rent. O.K., a little more expensive than that.
There is a big chili debate going on at our house. It all started when we stopped in Cincinnati on the way home from our road trip. My wife, Tina, knows some people who have been to Cincinnati and she was told that one of Cincinnati’s signature foods was Skyline Chili. Usually this chili is eaten over spaghetti with mild cheddar cheese on top. Apparently this is called a “three way”. At the ballpark, they serve the chili over a miniature hot dog as a “cheese coney”. We agreed when we got to Great American Ballpark we would sample this local fare.