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Carole's Birthday

That's about the only nice thing I can say about the Cubs sleepwalking through another loss to the Giants, 5-3 in 10 innings today.

Sue showed up with brownies for Carole's birthday (which is actually on Monday), so I had to eat one, particularly when the Cubs were trying to rally. We all signed a card and someone wrote on it: "See me after the game - #44" -- that's for Carole's longtime "thing" for Kyle Farnsworth. Pretty funny, actually.

Sue is a breast cancer survivor and said she had gone on the low-carb diet, and lost 10 pounds so far. Congratulations to her, and knowing what cancer can do to you, more power to her for beating it.

For the first time this unusually warm spring, it was actually feeling a bit humid, almost August-like, as there was a forecast of thunderstorms (which never did hit, and I have bought the Weather Channel radar application for my cellphone for $4 a month, so we can keep track of approaching storms out there).

How warm and humid was it?

For the first time ever at Wrigley Field, I wore sandals to the game. I had done so in Arizona at spring training, but this was their first appearance at the Yard. I told Jeff that though I had broken through and worn shorts and sandals, I draw the line at tank tops. Nope. No way. Never. No, I really mean it this time!

How warm and humid was it?

The mirrors in the men's room were all fogged up (and for once, there were no lines for either restroom) and the ramps were wet even though it hadn't rained at all.

So with the wind blowing out we all played HR derby, where I got last pick -- that seems pretty traditional. At first I picked Paul Bako (who hadn't hit a homer in a year and a half), but then turned him in for Jason Dubois. Didn't matter. Pedro Feliz and Moises Alou traded homers and the Cubs managed somehow to turn a sleepy offense into a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning.

Greg Maddux, who passed Cy Young on the all-time strikeout list today with his 7 K's, pitched another creditable game, but this game started looking a lot like so many we have seen in the past. All five Giants runs scored in innings where the first two hitters made outs. These are situations where, as my friend Phil would say, you have to "close the deal". Maddux couldn't do that, and neither could Joe Borowski, who disposed of the first two hitters in the 10th inning, but then walked Michael Tucker (who didn't have the kind of bad attitude he's shown in this series when he was a Cub) on four pitches and then gave up a homer to Neifi Perez, who came into the game with zero homers and hitting under .200. Perez was once a hero for homering against the Giants when he was with Colorado, winning the last game of the 1998 season against San Francisco with a homer and forcing the 1998 wild-card tiebreaker game which the Cubs won.

The problem is, believe it or not, missing Sammy Sosa. Though Sosa can be maddening at times, he was having a good year before The Sneeze, and further, without him in the lineup, the bench is weakened tremendously by having to put Todd Hollandsworth in as a starter every day (my son Mark concurs with this, in comments made after the game. Glad to know that the city's eight-year-olds are up on current trends!).

There are other people hurting -- it's clear that Todd Walker's shoulder is still bothering him, because he was sidearm-slinging almost every throw, and one inning when they were throwing the ball around the infield in warmups, he uncorked one that landed in the seats behind third base. He could use a day off, and maybe Dusty will give him one against the Cardinals, to rest up for the series in Houston next week.

Jon decided today was going to be Bad Pun Day, as when Dustan Mohr came up, he said, "Do you know why the Twins traded him? Because they didn't want him any Mohr." That got a light tap on the head from my clipboard. But when Matt Herges came in to pitch and he said, "Herges is as good as mine" (say that out loud for full effect), I gave him a good whack, something he felt even through his ponytail.

But the blame must go to my friend Brian -- this isn't Brian who usually sits with us, but another Brian. Yeah, I know, it's confusing. This was his first time out there this year, and after the 9th he said he had to go coach his son's team. A fine excuse, but right after he left, that's when everything started to go wrong.

The Cubs really miscalculated on Kerry Wood. After all things seemed ready for him to pitch this weekend, he was placed on the DL today. Had they known this before, I'm sure he would not have dropped his appeal of his suspension. Players on suspension cannot be placed on the DL, so the Cubs are trying to figure out what date they can make this DL stint retroactive to -- they're hoping it'd be to his last start on the 11th, but it might have to be to today, since the last day of the suspension was yesterday. Michael Wuertz, who started out well but was sent back to Iowa with a 10.38 ERA, was recalled, which means Glendon Rusch inherits Wood's starting spot for a while (as of this writing it appears he will start Saturday against Woody Williams).

**** UPDATE to this... Sandy Alderson of the Commissioner's office allowed the Cubs to backdate the DL move to May 12, the day after Wood pitched last, which means he could pitch in the Pittsburgh series beginning the 28th, and will still have to have an appeal of his suspension heard later.

The Cubs thus far almost seem like a better road team than a home team (the records nearly identical, 11-8 at home, 12-9 on the road). The wind blowing out so many times this year may have sucked the team into thinking that hitting home runs would come easily. It doesn't. This team should not be losing two of three to a team with a pitching staff as bad as the Giants.

And yet, even with all the injuries, even without Mark Prior all year and now without Kerry Wood for a while, they still stand only a game out of first place, since the Marlins beat the Astros 6-2 tonight.

Besides that, Sports Illustrated did the Cubs a favor this week by putting Roger Clemens on their cover, thus jinxing him (and I replicate it here, to even further jinx him):