I Used To Be Disgusted

I was going to title this "Witty And Clever Title", but the song reference seems more appropriate. Here's another:

Straight up, what did you hope to learn about here
If I were someone else, would this all fall apart
Strange, where were you, when we started this gig,
I wish the real world, would just stop hassling me
-- Matchbox Twenty
During one of the inning breaks at last night's game, whoever chooses the song to be played over the PA system picked that one. Eerily appropriate.

Seems like the Cubs are approaching every single game in this way -- in other words, as if the real world is just hassling them. Last night's 9-4 loss to the Marlins, a mess of bad pitching, bad baserunning, and bad fielding, felt that way. Really, at this point, if I were Lou Piniella, I might march into Jim Hendry's office this morning and quit in disgust. He's 63 years old. Why does he need this?

At one point, after the score had become 9-4, I said to Jeff, "Well, at least they didn't blow a lead tonight."

Oh, wait. Yes, they did.

By that time it felt as if the Cubs had never led in the game, though they actually had fashioned a nice 2-0 lead after three innings on Derrek Lee's fourth HR of the year and a couple of doubles. Then Jason Marquis started walking people. And Mark DeRosa made a bad defensive play on which he wasn't charged with an error, and to boot, made an inexplicably dumb baserunning mistake when he tried to take third base on a routine ground ball to SS after he had hit a double with one out in the third. And Dontrelle Willis drove in a run. And then, after Ryan Theriot's first HR of the year, a pinch-hit job, had brought the Cubs back to within a run at 5-4, Michael Wuertz -- who has been the most consistent guy in the bullpen all year -- had a horrendous inning, punctuated by a bases-clearing double from Josh Willingham, and it was out of reach, 9-4, although the Cubs meaninglessly filled the bases in the bottom of the 9th before Kevin Gregg once again came into the game and slammed the door by striking out Cliff Floyd and Lee.

Who, I had observed earlier, were two members of Marlins World Championship teams (Floyd was on the 1997 Marlins title team) now on the Cubs; the Cubs have as many Marlins WS players as the Marlins do (only Willis and Miguel Cabrera remain as current Marlins from their 2003 WS team).

I like Michael Barrett. He's a personable fellow, gave me a nice interview, and at the event I attended, he spent a great deal of time talking to people, far more than he was asked to do, and raised a lot of money for Derrek Lee's foundation. But really, he has played baseball exceptionally poorly this year -- and he admitted so, last night:

"Starting with me, I need to play smarter. It's one thing to play harder, but there is no excuse to play dumber," Barrett said.
Last night was worse than most -- after hitting a double, he got picked off second base (in the same inning that DeRosa had run himself into an out, and Angel Pagan walked, resulting in a scoreless inning), and once again failed to throw a runner out stealing (he's now thrown out only seven of 32 attempting to steal, a very poor percentage). I'm not saying that Barrett's performances are the entire reason for last night's debacle, but they may be symptomatic of the ills that ail this team.

Lou says he's going to address this. You'd think highly-paid athletes would already know this, and supposedly, the mental-error side of things was already addressed in spring training. We are seeing the same sort of mental errors that we saw last year. You can slam and rail against Jim Hendry all you want. Or you can, as I am these days, wonder why Lou Piniella took this job in the first place. But the onus is on the players. These are all competent to star quality major league baseball players wearing the white pinstripes. They simply shouldn't be making this many mistakes. Either Lou and the coaching staff can help them fix it, or they can't. It really is as simple as that. Early in the game, some kids in front of us were passing around one of those line drawings of the Walter E. Smithe furniture guys. Turns out it was the entire Smithe family -- including the guy on the left in the photo in that link, wearing a Cub jersey that said "SMITHE 45" on the back. They got disgusted and left after the score became 9-4. It got so bad that the rooftop building behind us in LF, which has a very large plasma screen that we've termed our own replay monitor, put all the chairs up by the 8th inning and the staff, having changed the channel from the Cub game, was standing around watching last night's NBA playoff game.

That's about all there is to say about last night's debacle. Salvage a game in the series tonight and press onward.

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