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Boda de Laura y Sam

Run that through the Babelfish online translator (or any other online translator) and you'll see that it means "Laura & Sam's Wedding", which is where we were yesterday afternoon and evening.

It's in Spanish because Laura, a nice young woman who has been a babysitter for my kids for several years now, is originally from Colombia.

The wedding ceremony was at a small neighborhood church near my house, and I'm sure it was quite nice. Yes, I was there, but it was entirely conducted in Spanish and with the exception of their names and a few words here and there ("corazon", heart, and "amor", love), I didn't understand any of it!

At the reception, a few people giving toasts spoke English, but again it was mostly in Spanish, but it didn't matter. Of course the kids were invited, since Laura has known them since they were small. My son Mark made a couple of friends, playing with the toys that the bride & groom had thoughtfully left for him and for Rachel, and as for her -- well, she was cutting a rug on the dance floor with the groom, and with the other female guests when they danced around the room. She still refused to dance with me, however -- but she did promise to do so at her own wedding. I should hope so!

The last time I went to a wedding, not only did the Cubs win that night, but Carlos Zambrano came within four outs of throwing a no-hitter.

So I was optimistic about last night's game.

Apparently this only works when the wedding involves someone who actually sits with us in the bleachers, because not only did the Cubs lose to the Pirates 10-7, dropping them all the way into fifth place in the NL Central, but the game started going downhill almost at the very moment we got to the reception hall -- it was 4-1 Cubs when we left the car, and by the time I checked the score on my web cellphone, the Pirates had already had their five-run fourth and were ahead 6-5.

Incidentally, Carole and Ernie were at last night's game. So has that reversed the wedding good luck? We shall find out soon. Brian, who does sit with us, is getting married on June 12. So at least we hope that based on historical precedent, the Cubs should beat the Angels that night.

Is there a way that we could get Rob Mackowiak banned from the National League? Or, maybe just get him to retire and go straight to the Hall of Fame, since in this series alone he is 4-for-10, with four runs scored, three homers and eleven RBI. For the season he is hitting .320 against the Cubs, and who knows where he found this, because before 2004 he had hit only .208 with two homers in 125 at-bats vs. the Cubs.

Anyway, the good news is that the Cub offense finally woke up last night, getting twelve hits, three walks (including one to the nearly-unwalkable Rey Ordonez), two homers and seven runs.

Too bad the entire pitching staff couldn't stop the Pirates last night, until Francis Beltran finally managed to throw a scoreless inning. In fact, those who are wondering what'll happen to the 40-man roster once the Marks, Grudzielanek and Prior come back (they don't count against the 40-man roster limit while they are on the 60-day DL) shouldn't -- Mike Wuertz doesn't belong in the major leagues and could easily be waived or designated for assignment. I wonder if, even though Jim Hendry has denied it, the Cubs are going to ratchet up their interest in Seattle's Freddy Garcia, because Sergio Mitre, my friends, just isn't going to cut it as a major league starter, at least not at this stage of his career.

Some people have tried to make comparisons between Mitre, who turned 23 in February, and the 21-year-old Greg Maddux who stunk it up so bad in 1987, his first full season, that he had to be sent back to Iowa. Well, maybe. But the 1987 Cubs didn't have the weight of expectations that this team does, and while it's way too early to panic, especially with all the injuries, it would be a very good thing if Carlos Zambrano made a statement today and slammed the door on this five-game losing streak.

Which brings me to something I don't normally do... make comparisons to past teams.

But this stretch is beginning to eerily resemble 1985, a team which had similar expectations.

On June 11, 1985, the Cubs were 35-19, and four games in first place, ahead of the Mets.

They then lost 13 in a row, the longest losing streak in my lifetime up to that time. This has since been broken by the 1997 team, who lost their first fourteen games -- thanks (I think!) to David Geiser for reminding me of this.

When it was over the club was in fourth place, 3.5 games out, and even though the 1985 Cubs didn't go under .500 for good until August 25 (60-61, and by that time 15 games out of first place), the season essentially ended with that losing streak.

That said, this team is far more talented than the 1985 team, which had two starters (Cey and Matthews) who suddenly got old, and a rookie shortstop, and no bench or bullpen to speak of, and not a single starting pitcher started more than 25 games (13 different pitchers started games, including a desperation reacquisition of a way-past-his-prime, 37-year-old Larry Gura, who piled up an 8.41 ERA in four starts).

This Cub team will have Mark Prior back in less than a week, unless something really unexpected happens today in his rehab start for Iowa. Incidentally, if you are in Iowa, the game is being televised on various cable systems around the state at 1:05 CT.

Hurry back, Mark. We need you.

Dumb MLB thing of the day: in searching for something else, I learned that both the Blue Jays (at Tampa Bay) and Expos (at Philadelphia) are playing on the road on July 1, which is Canada Day, the equivalent of the 4th of July up there. And then they play each other in their annual interleague series, the weekend following July 1.

In Puerto Rico.

¿Es eso estúpido o qué?