As Rick Morrissey points out, the Cubs/White Sox series this year has lacked the intensity of some other years. Maybe it's because of the non-intense teams:
The Cubs seemed to gain momentum from their split with the Sox in the first series, putting together a four-game winning streak. But they have lost three in a row heading into Friday's game. The Sox have been similarly up and down all season.
Were blasé fans at the City Series simply reflecting the status of their teams? Maybe it's the other way around. I've been critical of Cubs manager Lou Piniella for not showing much life this season, and others have jumped on Sox manager Ozzie Guillen for the same thing. But perhaps the skippers are taking their cues from fans.
Two teams coming off playoff appearances in 2008 with playoff hopes for this season, and the prevailing theme on both sides of town seems to be listlessness.
Flip the rules: Major League Baseball has talked about letting the pitcher bat in AL ballparks and using the designated hitter in NL parks.
We couldn't have had a better situation for that than this year. How about Mark Buehrle hitting a homer at the Cell and setting off the fireworks?
Or every Cubs fan's new favorite, Jake Fox, belting a pair of homers as DH without manager Lou Piniella holding his breath every time the ball was hit to Fox at third base?
Let's hope at least the Cubs can ramp up their performance this weekend. Speaking of listlessness, what's up with the seemingly catatonic Lou Piniella?
Piniella wonders why fans want him to revert to his old form, as though that's all it would take to turn the Cubs' season around.
"I'm trying to have a little fun," he said. "What am I supposed to do? What does it do for me to go out there and get kicked out of games?"
Yet many Cubs fans are frustrated and want Piniella to do just that. If he won't take it out on an umpire, fans would like him to take a pound of flesh out of some of his high-paid talent. Like predecessor Dusty Baker, Piniella prefers to talk to his players behind closed doors.
"What do I need to yell at anybody for?" he said. "What is it that yelling at people is going to [ensure] you're going to get a better performance? I have meetings with people here in my office individually, and I talk to them and I try to help them. But I don't know what yelling and going out there and arguing [will accomplish].
"I have the passion. I want to win. Losses bother me. They hurt. I care about the players. But I don't play. I played at one time, and I could do something about it when I played. I had a bat in my hand, I had a glove in my hand, but I don't anymore. I'm basically here to direct things."
One thing Lou is directing is the benching of Milton Bradley. Why?
He's hitting .205 against right-handers with 30 strikeouts in 117 at-bats and .327 vs. left-handers.
Great. $10 million a year for a platoon right fielder. Aren't we already doing that in center field? And after all that -- Bradley plays today vs. a RHP (from Twittermyer):
Soriano, lf; Fukudome, cf; Bradley, rf; Lee, 1b: Hoffpauir, dh; Fox, 3b; Fontenot, 2b; Soto, c; Blanco, ss
|Today's Starting Pitchers|
|2009 - Randy Wells||1-3||8||8||0||0||0||0||49.0||43||15||14||2||11||35||2.57||1.10|
|2009 - Jose Contreras||2-6||9||9||0||0||0||0||51.2||52||33||30||5||19||30||5.23||1.37|
Jose Contreras is a mystery. He's officially 37 years old, but some think he could be years older. He dominates at times, but got so bad earlier this year that the Sox sent him to Triple-A. He is 2-3, 6.08 lifetime vs. the Cubs, and that includes a nine-run pounding the Cubs gave him at Wrigley Field last June 21. Of course, he then turned around and beat the Cubs six days later at the Cell. The best Cubs hitter against him is Aramis Ramirez. Oh, well. Milton Bradley is 4-for-12 against him with a homer, and Alfonso Soriano, who just has to break out of it one of these days, is 5-for-8 with 3 HR.
The White Sox are 3-9 this year against pitchers they have never faced before. Let's hope that continues today vs. Randy Wells, who is making his first career start vs. the White Sox.
Today's game is on WGN, but with those "other" announcers. Len & Bob will be on CSN Chicago. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.
To find out what Sox fans are thinking, visit our SBN Sox site South Side Sox.
Overflow comment threads will post today at 4 pm, 5 pm and 5:45 pm CDT.
Discuss amongst yourselves.