Gulls share the center field bleachers with a few fans near the end of a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on May 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
As a public service, I am presenting this list of things you could have been doing Friday afternoon instead of watching today's 4-2 Cubs loss to the Pirates, in which even the sun got bored and went away around the sixth inning; virtually all of them would have been more fun.
- Balance your checkbook
- Have a root canal
- Have your back waxed (legs waxed if you are female)
- Skydive naked (presumably, after back/leg waxing)
- Get a tattoo or body piercing (that would have been less painful, for sure)
- Write a 25-page paper for a college class you are auditing
- Take a few garbage bags and clean up all the trash on Chicago's lakefront
- Sit in traffic on the Kennedy Expressway for three hours and 15 minutes (the length of today's game)
Things are getting worse, seemingly, by the day at Wrigley Field. Friday afternoon, it was once again the defense deserting the Cubs; the inability of Doug Davis to make a simple play on an attempted sacrifice by Ronny Cedeno, followed by an error by Aramis Ramirez on a play he has made literally hundreds of times. That led to two Pirates runs. The other two runs scored because Doug Davis issued three walks and hit a batter in the fourth inning, followed by an infield single.
Everyone at Wrigley Field might as well have left at that point, because there really seemed no chance at all that the Cubs could come back. Kevin Correia -- who leads the National League in wins, somehow, with seven -- shut the Cubs offense down into the eighth inning on only five singles. When he walked Kosuke Fukudome in the eighth to put two runners on base, that was enough for Clint Hurdle. Jose Veras, Correia's replacement, walked the bases loaded.
Up came Ramirez. How many times over the course of Aramis' career have we seen him come up in those situations and drive in a couple of runs with a gap double, or even hit a grand slam?
Not this year. He hit a weak popup to second base and is now 1-for-22 with one RBI in two-out, RISP situations. He has one HR and 17 RBI. He used to be an RBI machine; now he has fewer RBI than ... Ryan Theriot. That's a scary thought, isn't it?
A little bit of credit is due to the Cubs bullpen; Casey Coleman, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Maine and John Grabow kept the Pirates to just three hits in the last 4.1 innings, keeping the game "close", even though the Cubs never actually seemed close to doing anything. Somehow, Alfonso Soriano woke up the very small remnant (maybe 3,000 of the 34,105 announced crowd, of which maybe 24,000 showed up) of people still awake in the cold at Wrigley Field by smacking a two-run homer in the ninth inning, cutting the deficit to 4-2. However, all that did was make Hurdle call on his closer, Joel Hanrahan, who struck out three really overmatched hitters (Tony Campana, Koyie Hill and Blake DeWitt) to end it. Campana got another start after his good performance yesterday; his 0-for-4 might put him back on the bench tomorrow.
I don't know what else to say; this team is maddening, one day putting on a nice offensive show against the Mets, the next, not being able to touch a league-average starter in Correia. This afternoon we learned that on Monday, Rodrigo Lopez will start against the Astros. Honestly, he couldn't really be any worse than Davis or Coleman has been so far this season as a replacement starter. It's truly unfortunate that the Cubs have not been able to find suitable replacements for the injured Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner and now Matt Garza, because according to Len on the WGN telecast today, their replacements have made 16 starts and gone 2-11 with an 8.04 ERA.
With even slightly better performance, the Cubs could have gone .500 in those games and be three or four games over .500 instead of five games under. Sad to say, it didn't happen.
It is what it is. Wells is listed as tomorrow's probable starter at cubs.com. It'd be nice if he could come back and pick up where he left off in spring training.