Well, The Weather Was Nice

MILWAUKEE -- Here's the best thing about today.

Howard was up at Miller Park too, sitting with some clients, and he called me and said, "I have a CD for you, stop by and get it later." So I went by his seat in the top of the 9th, figuring by then I was going to position myself to get out of the park quickly, and he hands me a CD he made of "The Album Of The Soundtrack Of The Trailer Of The Film Of Monty Python And The Holy Grail".

This is something I owned long ago on vinyl, but it got ruined in a flood in my house several years ago, and it was nice to hear it again. Howard said, "You'll probably need something to cheer yourself up on the drive home."

Turns out I did, of course -- but right after I got the CD, that's when Corey Patterson struck out for the second out in the 9th inning, and I hurried myself over to the standing-room area behind the LF bleachers, which is where the quickest exit was to where my car was parked.

BLAM! If Aramis Ramirez' homer hadn't hit the support beam next to the scoreboard, I'd have been in perfect position to catch it.

All that did was give us false hope, as you know, and the Cubs lost again, depressingly, 6-5 to the Brewers, their fifth straight loss and even worse, the Brewers' seventh straight win.

This leaves the Cubs three games under .500 -- the last time the Cubs were that many games under .500 was the last day of the 2002 season, pre-Dusty Baker, when they wrapped up a 67-95 season.

It was indeed a lovely day, temperatures in the upper 60's and light winds, so the roof was open at Miller Park. Phil was supposed to go but he backed out on me, leaving me with an extra ticket.

They now have an area at Miller Park, near Helfaer Field -- the Little League park which was built on the exact site of County Stadium's infield -- where you can sell tickets legally for face value or below. After a few fruitless minutes trying to sell to a guy who I later saw ten rows behind me, I traded my pair for a seat four rows behind the Brewers' dugout.

That wound up in the shade after the third inning -- before then, it was actually kind of warm, but after that, I had to put my jacket back on. The crowd of 31,721, as predicted, was the largest of the series, likely because of the nice weather, and also because the Brewers put a fair chunk of their seats on sale for half price on various Thursday afternoons for "kids and seniors". Whoever was there, it was once again about half Cub fans, as is generally the case these days for all Cub-Brewer games at Miller Park.

About the details, you don't have to be reminded of much, only that every time the Cubs did something good (Ronny Cedeno's first major league homer; Michael Barrett's two-run jack, and Ramirez' shot in the ninth), they gave it right back (Wes Helms, pinch-hitting a homer with two out and no one on; Chad Moeller also homering with two out and no one on, and finally, the ball that Jerry Hairston should have caught, that landed just out of his reach, for the winning run).

You know, Hairston came to the Cubs with a reputation as a good defensive player. I haven't seen that at all -- not in spring training where he stunk up the outfield, and not in his time at second base with Todd Walker out. Walker's much better defensively, in my opinion, than Hairston. Plus, Hairston made yet another baserunning blunder today, walking to lead off the game and then promptly getting picked off.

Here's how out of sync the Cubs are. After Greg Maddux uncharacteristically walked the bases loaded after a Cedeno error, that would have been the time for a take-charge catcher to go out and talk to him. Instead, Maddux had to walk halfway to the plate to call Barrett out to talk to him -- why isn't Barrett going out there right away when it's clear that Maddux was off?

In the fourth inning, Maddux also spotted something behind the plate that was interfering with his concentration, and asked the plate umpire to do something; umpire Rob Drake went back and asked a photographer with a very large lens to move. Maddux then threw three straight balls, which made several people in my section give extremely derisive comments such as: "Gee, that helped!", to general laughter.

That's what we've been reduced to -- laughter. Cub-killer of the past Carlos Lee was a cipher in this series, but people like Moeller and the pesty Brady Clark were the guys who killed us.

Maybe it's just an ebb and the Brewers are riding a high right now. But the way I look at it, there's absolutely no way that a pitcher like Gary Glover ought to be doing this sort of thing to the Cubs. None whatsoever.

And here, Dusty, let me spell it out for you:

Cub batters drawing walks = good.

Cub pitchers issuing walks = bad.

How much easier can it get? One of these days, if I feel like absolutely focusing on it, I'll sit and chart each and every pitch, whether a Cub batter swings at it or not. The box score says that Glover threw 57 strikes in 91 pitches, but that's not because he was in the zone. It's because Cub hitters are up there hacking at anything and everything.

I won't even get into Dusty's Jose Macias fetish. After Ben Grieve pinch-hit (and drove in another run with a nicely placed single down the RF line), why wouldn't you leave him in left field? Macias never came to bat anyway, fortunately. But let's say the game had gone to extra innings. That would have left Henry Blanco and Jason Dubois as the only bench players. Once again, Todd Wellemeyer, the 12th pitcher, is a waste -- why not send him back to Iowa where he can pitch, and bring up another bat?

Like I said, it was a nice day.

And tomorrow is another one. Keep the faith, before it falls too much further down the NL Central standings.

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