Just as the game was ending, Mike reminded me of this quote from writer and satirist Dorothy Parker:
This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
That's about the best thing you can say about the Cubs' 9-5 loss to the Athletics, perhaps their worst loss of the year (and that's saying something), coming only two days after the team's best win of 2010 -- throw it aside with great force.
The energy got sucked out of Wrigley Field long before the delayed 8:45 pm starting time, with a long, hard rainfall that was only occasionally accompanied by a little thunder and lightning. Storms hitting much of the eastern part of the USA also delayed games in Atlanta and Cincinnati last night, making for a fair amount of scoreboard-watching despite the late start. The weather kept the crowd down -- 34,390 was the announced number, nearly 7,000 below capacity, and it couldn't have been more than about 25,000 in the house. The bleachers were barely half full, and about halfway through the game many turned their backs on Wrigley's turf -- not because of the bad play there, though that would have been understandable. No, it was because the Stanley Cup had returned to Wrigleyville; several Blackhawks players had it on one of the rooftop clubs, perhaps enticed by the "FREE BEER FOR HAWKS PLAYERS" sign that had appeared in one of the windows.
By the time the game slumped to a close on a Starlin Castro popup at 11:30, there couldn't have been more than 2,000 people left in Wrigley.
What more can anyone say? Could you blame the wet field for the Cubs' four errors, two by Derrek Lee, two by Tyler Colvin (and both committed their pair in a single inning, the fourth for D-Lee, the seventh for Colvin; that's the first time that's ever happened to D-Lee)? Sure, but the A's didn't have any trouble fielding. The Cubs looked dispirited and almost like they didn't even want to be there last night. And then, after they put together two nice-looking rallies (really? three hits in a row in back-to-back innings? When's the last time that happened?) to bring the game back to 5-4, Jeff Stevens gave up a pair of hits and a walk to load the bases. After recording two outs on a nice 5-2-3 double play, Cliff Pennington hit a ball out of the reach of Colvin, who then made his second error of the inning to make it 8-4. Carlos Zambrano, though he struggled at times, actually got out of this game with a "quality start" (three earned runs in six innings) and dropped his ERA under six for the first time this season.
Unless this kind of play ends soon, yes, there will likely be a fire sale. It's too bad that this team may have to be broken up in this fashion, but that's the way baseball cycles run.
And another change has to be the manager. There's a money quote regarding Cubs leadoff hitters from Lou in today's Tribune, but oddly, it doesn't appear in the online version of Paul Sullivan's game story, and I can't find it anywhere else online, so this is transcribed from the newspaper (yes, believe it or not, there are still actual printed newspapers around):
"We don't have too many choices. I think we probably hit Theriot and Fukudome No. 1 the most. I think (Marlon) Byrd led off a few games. I don't remember anyone else leading off here. Theriot has been leading our team in stolen bases, he has been getting on base more lately, he has been getting his base hits. We don't have that many choices is what I'm trying to tell you."
Oh, man. That's a whole heap of wrong, so let's get started. First, the manager says "I think" regarding who's led off this year? He doesn't know? This is the man you want in charge of your ballclub? It turns out he is correct. Theriot has led off 45 games, Fukudome 17, and Byrd 2. Team records with each of those players leading off: Byrd 0-2, Fukudome 5-12, Theriot 23-22. OK, so maybe that's good, although there are certainly other factors.
But what really got me is Lou's "he has been getting on base more lately, he has been getting his base hits" comment. This just isn't true. We already learned a while ago that Lou had no idea that Theriot had (at the time) not walked at all in several weeks' worth of games. Since May 15 Theriot is hitting .240/.269/.250 in 105 plate appearances covering 25 games (22 games started). He's started 12 of those 22 games in the leadoff spot. In those 12 games Theriot is hitting .209/.261/.233 -- 9-for-43 with one double and eight runs scored (four of those eight in one game, the makeup game at Pittsburgh last Monday). Oddly enough, the Cubs have gone 9-3 in those 12 games, obviously with almost no help from their leadoff hitter.
Now is that your idea of "getting his base hits"? Is that your idea of "getting on base more lately"? Not mine, either. He's got eight stolen bases in the 22 games. So what? You all know the old saying -- you can't steal first base. Put Mike Fontenot in the leadoff spot -- he should be playing most of the time anyway.
It's time for you to go, Lou. The game has passed you by.