Keeping Pace

Before we talk about last night's 4-3 come-from-behind Cubs win over the Cardinals, I know you are probably most concerned, as am I, with Mark DeRosa's injury, described as "left hamstring tendinitis."

Well, I dunno. This could be serious, or could be nothing. We'll know more later today. DeRosa, as you know, has been just about the MVP of this team, playing five different positions and producing offensively (though he was hitting only .233 in his last ten games).

But look. The Cubs have survived the following:

  • Alfonso Soriano missed 5 games after a minor hamstring pull and wasn't 100% after that, and didn't really start hitting until May. Felix Pie was recalled and the Cubs went on a bit of a run.
  • Losing Aramis Ramirez for two weeks.
  • Losing Ryan Dempster for three weeks.
  • Missing Derrek Lee for five games during his suspension.
  • And, having Carlos Zambrano get off to a 5-5, 5.62 beginning to his season in his first 12 starts.
This year's Cubs have been incredibly resilient, and I'm going to give credit to Lou Piniella for instilling this within them, getting them to believe in their own abilities to win, and putting (for the most part) the right combinations of players on the field.

Since that start, Z is 8-2, 1.56 and now leads the National League in victories with 13. He wasn't dominant last night, but the Cubs had just enough to get by St. Louis, and they needed the ninth-inning run that Ryan Theriot (and I find myself agreeing with CuboftheSouth15's diary -- Theriot is rapidly becoming a favorite of all of us with his hustle and desire and sparkplug play) helped generate with a two-out walk, because Dempster decided to make things interesting by giving the Cardinals a ninth-inning run.

And so, since all the teams the Cubs are chasing for either the division or wild-card lead (Milwaukee, Atlanta, Arizona, San Diego) also won last night, leaving the Cubs 3 games behind the Brewers (2 in the loss column), and 1.5 games behind the Padres for the wild-card lead (though only 1 in the loss column), here's a look through some of today's headlines, all of which have some significance beyond last night's win.

  • The Cubs' base coaches won't commit to wearing helmets in the wake of the tragic death of Mike Coolbaugh, saying "the best protection is staying alert." Right, guys. Whatever you say. Sometimes, as we saw the other night, that isn't good enough. Would you rather be uncomfortable or dead?
  • Kerry Wood could be in a Cubs uniform as soon as next week if his back-to-back outings for Peoria tomorrow and Friday go well. Says Jim Hendry, "... that would certainly be better than any trade we could make." Well, you know how many of us have felt about Wood for a long time. It's almost too much to expect anything from him, although I know I'm hoping, because it would not only bring a guy who has a tremendous clubhouse presence back, but if he is indeed healthy, you've got a 95+ MPH fastball back in the bullpen. And, Trader Jim may also be looking for a hitter:
    "It'll be a daily thing," Hendry said.

    "I'd like to tinker with it a little bit if we could. A lot of that will be dependent on how we swing the bat the rest of the week."

  • Both Rick Morrissey and Rick Telander wrote columns today about the recent events in sports that give us all reason to question whether the games we love are on the up-and-up. I'm not usually a Morrissey fan, but he's got it exactly right:
    We hold this truth to be self-evident: that when we watch a sporting event we expect the sweat and the emotion to be real. We expect the blood to contain red blood cells, not red food coloring. You might not know the outcome of a Harry Potter movie going in, but walking out you know that, as stunning as it might have been, someone's death from a backfired spell wasn't real. It was the product of the author's wonderful imagination.

    This is an especially painful time for anyone who cares about sports. We are being asked to consider a very unpleasant question: What's real anymore?

And this on the day after Bud Selig decided to try to be present for Barry Bonds' upcoming record-breaker after all:
"I felt, frankly, for me this was the right thing to do," Selig told the media in an impromptu press-box gathering during the fifth inning of Tuesday night's 7-5 Atlanta victory that lasted 13 innings. "I'm always confident in my decisions to do the right thing. This is one of those situations in life that somebody is going to be mad, but I've been in that role before. It's damned if you do and damned if you don't, but I think it's the right thing for me to be here and I'm here."
As I wrote last week, after much thought I decided I was glad myself to have been a witness to history. The HR record is going to fall. What to make of that is something that only the perspective of a few years' time will give to all of us. Until then, I agree with Selig. He doesn't have to "celebrate" with Bonds, but his action is the correct one; the presence of baseball's leader at a time when perhaps the most revered record in all of sports falls, is the right thing to do (and at Bonds' present pace, Selig may be piling up frequent-flier miles if he intends to be at every Giants game till the 756th HR is hit; Bonds has hit only three HR since June 29, one in Cincinnati on July 3, and the two at Wrigley Field last week).

Onward to tonight. Let's beat those Cardinals again.

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