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Blame Dusty

You know, many of us, myself included, have hailed Dusty Baker as the savior of this franchise. And clearly, he has this team playing in a motivated way, with a purpose, and winning, with first place definitely a possibility.

But we were warned by a lot of Giants fans that we'd be driven nuts by some of his lineup selections and other in-game choices. And today, the latter came back to bite us as the Cubs lost to the White Sox 7-6, an eminently winnable game.

Maybe next time the turns of Clement and Estes come around, the club should just forget it and start some of the relievers and tell them it's the fourth inning or something. Today, despite being used up yesterday, the pen threw 5 2/3 hitless innings, striking out nine and retiring the last fourteen batters in order. Unfortunately, that was after Matt Clement blew up in the first three innings, allowing eleven hits and seven runs. He has shown very little of last year's form.

Even so, with the bullpen throwing well, the tide seemed to turn after Moises Alou's 2-run HR, and when Damian Miller led off the seventh with a hit, and Ramon Martinez doubled... but unfortunately, Wavin' Wendell, our idiot 3B coach, sent the slowest guy on the team, Miller, home with nobody out, down four runs, and he was out by 20 feet. There was the ballgame, but no, we weren't done.

In the ninth, down by a run after Sammy Sosa singled in Mark Grudzielanek, Dusty sent Tom Goodwin out there. Gee, wonder what he's going to do? After not running on the first pitch, there went Tom, there went a pitchout, tying run thrown out.

Aggressiveness isn't a bad thing in baseball, but sometimes Dusty takes it too far. Sometimes being patient, letting the other team get itself into trouble -- especially the White Sox, who have had all kinds of bullpen problems this year, is the better way. Bad managing and coaching cost the Cubs this game; they had 15 hits and all kinds of opportunities. Now it's up to Carlos Zambrano to avoid the sweep. At least this felt like a ballgame, and as the Cubs rallied, the crowd finally got into it -- the blowout yesterday kind of took all the air out of the ballpark.

We met a nice young couple here in Chicago from London -- Lisa and (I think) Tom, who bought tickets for the game on eBay, and were exploring the city for the first time. We gave them some restaurant recommendations and they seemed to be having fun, though I don't think either of them really understood the game (they asked how many innings we play, and how the game ends, which we happily explained to them).

Sue came to the game -- she's doing radiation now and didn't wear her wig, since it was "too hot". I kept trying to get her to take her straw hat off, even offered sunscreen for the top of her head, but she wouldn't do it, not even for "rally cap time". (Kidding here!)

Sight seen (and a gratifying one): Hee Seop Choi in uniform during BP, taking grounders from Wavin' Wendell. I presume he'll be sent on a rehab assignment soon and maybe back in a major league uniform in a week or so.

Another sight seen: someone wearing a T-shirt with red spots and the words "Fear Farnsworth". I swear, everyone's out to make a buck.

After the game I got to see another team of Cubs lose; this one lost to my son Mark's park district Pirates team 24-17. Mark made a couple of really nice defensive plays. I got my first look at Sosa Field, the new park donated by Sammy at "Cubs Care Park" near North & Clybourn, where, if you were so inclined, you could watch the game from your rooftop across the street. There are sheltered stands for about 500 people and the field is nicely manicured -- a real treat for park district kids to play on.