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This Has Got To Stop

Umpires are supposed to be impartial arbiters, favoring neither team.

After two days of having the crew headed by Mike Reilly (including, so as to name all the guilty parties: Chuck Meriwether, C. B. Bucknor, and today's anti-hero, Eric Cooper), I wonder if the Cubs will ever get a break from this particular crew again.

Cooper, today's plate umpire, broke the unwritten code when, after Kerry Wood gave a dismissive wave toward him after a called ball four, actually began to charge the mound after Wood; only Michael Barrett stepping out in front of Cooper stopped a confrontation.

This is ridiculous; umpires are never supposed to do this, and Cooper ought to be severely disciplined for this. Naturally, after Wood was taken out of the game after surrendering the lead in the 9th, he had a few choice words for Cooper and was ejected; I guess he figured he was leaving anyway, so why not say his piece?

I trust there will be a report filed by the umpires and the Cubs on today's fiasco, and that appropriate discipline will be taken against Eric Cooper. Sure, Kerry Wood will be fined, and that's deserved, but what Cooper did is absolutely inexcusable.

The umpiring isn't the reason the Cubs lost to the Reds 3-2 today. Wood was terrific, but his luck ran out in the 9th, and frankly, the pitch count borders on ridiculous at 131. 19 of those pitches were thrown in the 9th, so at 112 after 8, I think Dusty should have taken him out. LaTroy Hawkins, who finally got up in the bottom of the 9th, was available, but no one warmed up at all until a couple of baserunners got on; first, Joe Borowski, who never did get into the game, and finally Kent Mercker, who did get the last out of the 9th by throwing exactly one pitch.

The Cubs seemed to generate enough offense on a day when the wind was blowing in at a stiff pace; three singles in the sixth inning generated two runs, and it looked like a crisply-fashioned 2-1 win was in store even after Adam Dunn homered into the teeth of the wind -- a ball that would have wound up way onto Sheffield on a normal day.

From a 69-degree game time temperature the temp dropped into the 50's and I had to put on the jeans and golf pullover that I brought with me, though Howard and Jeff stayed in shorts & T-shirts. They're here at my house right now changing into nicer clothes before we all go out to dinner for the first stage of Brian's bachelor party, which will continue tomorrow. UPDATE! Had a nice dinner with all our bleacher group, plus about 15 other of Brian's friends and co-workers, at Harry Caray's, which, believe it or not, I had been to only once before tonight. Mike told us some stories of the history of the building in which the restaurant is located, originally built in 1905; we had tons of food, and I know most of the guys are still there; I must get up for work at 3 am Sunday, so here I sit typing about it.

There's another ticket update too. After the scandals of the first few days, when scanned but untorn tickets were re-sold on the street, now security wants to make sure they watch if you hand a legitimate ticket to a friend through the gate, as I did today for Phil. This is totally understandable, and if it helps reduce scalping and fraud, so much the better. I'm still puzzled as to why they are ripping only season tickets, not the single-game variety, but that's the mystery that is sometimes the Cubs.

The operators of the new scoreboard did figure out something else to do with it, but it was hardly useful -- it was a pitch count, which was up for about three seconds, then vanished, and it was the only time I saw it all day, while Cory Lidle was throwing for the Reds in the sixth. The board did attempt to keep the Cubs in the game, showing a 2-2 score even after the Reds scored the third run.

After the umpiring snafu, there was the inevitable beer-cup throwing for the second consecutive day -- but this time, I give kudos to security, who must have thrown 40 or 50 people out of the park afterwards. Good. Maybe doing stuff like that will make people think twice about this stupid action.

I've opened up this forum to Howard & Jeff, since they're right here, but neither of them have anything to add to today's post.

And frankly, neither do I. It's not a crushing loss, but after the excitement of yesterday, it has to be a letdown.

Greg Maddux had better keep the ball down tomorrow, because the wind is supposed to be blowing out at 30 MPH.