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I Hate Steve Finley

Now, I know what you're thinking. Finley's never done anything to me, he's never done anything "wrong" in baseball terms, and Jeff, who went to SIU and was a senior there when Finley was a freshman and even knew him a little bit, says he's a nice guy.

But man, does he kill the Cubs. He's been doing this for years, all the way back to his time in Houston and San Diego, up to and including last week's games in Phoenix, and tonight he was pretty much a one-man wrecking crew, driving in both D-back runs in a boring 2-0 Cub loss to Arizona, and note the headline on that ESPN article:

Jennie Finch's fiance scatters four hits

Do I care who Jennie Finch is? If you don't know, and I didn't, she's a star college softball player who is engaged to tonight's Arizona starter, Casey Daigle, who got his first major league win by indeed "scattering" those four hits over five and a third innings, though he got some help from his infield defense in the fifth, when Alex Gonzalez hit into a DP, and from that darn Finley, who was everywhere, including after Daigle was long gone, in the 8th in the moment that Mike described as "the moment you get even in a rather boring game", when the Cubs loaded the bases and Moises Alou sent a shot to left-center that Finley ran down.

Apart from that, Finley hasn't done anything against the Cubs this year, other than hit six home runs with eight hits, eight RBI and nine runs scored in the five games played. And he turned thirty-nine two months ago.

After tomorrow, the Cubs don't face the Diamondbacks any more this year. Good riddance.

The most interesting thing about tonight was a young couple who sat down in front of us, with a sign playing off the "Mastercard" theme. Most of those are pretty trite, but this one, I thought, was clever and charming (and I'm paraphrasing because I pride myself on writing these posts without taking notes and even though I asked the young woman about four times to show me the sign, I can't remember the precise wording):

Cost of bleacher tickets: $100

Cost of losing scholarship due to failing a midterm: $10,000

Getting to see the Cubs play tonight: priceless

OK, so it's not Shakespeare, but I thought it was nice. Even more interesting was the back of her sign, which was a large blow-up of a newspaper article about a baby girl who was born at the precise moment that the Cubs clinched the division in 1984, at a hospital in the south suburbs.

Took me a minute, but I realized -- this was that girl. Anyway, she and her boyfriend were nice people, but left disappointed like the rest of us.

The blame goes to Jeff, who had forgotten his light-up cap last night. He found it today but the battery was dead, and of course this cap takes some kind of specialized camera battery which he didn't have. Now, he's got two weeks to find one before the next night game.

Or, I could blame Joe, the gate chief in the bleachers tonight, who told me before we went in that the Cubs were 1-4 on days that he worked. Nothing against Joe, who's a nice guy, but I hope he's not there tomorrow!

So, the little voodoo doll that the group in RCF had, brought back by one of their number from New Orleans, had no effect. There were white pins stuck into it, and from my understanding those are supposed to be for good luck (they'd be black for bad luck), but the two pins stuck in for good luck for Kerry Wood had no effect on the rest of the team.

And thus we reach the real guilty parties, and blame the Cub offense, which simply could not move runners along tonight. No one reached till the fourth, and then it was all singles and walks; the Cubs left seven on base including that bases-loaded eighth, and to blame the cold weather would simply avoid the truth, that the ballclub seems overanxious (although somehow, Mr. Overanxious, Corey Patterson, actually drew a four-pitch walk tonight), swinging at everything and hitting it pretty much right at people. There was once again a foul ball (hit by Derrek Lee in the 9th) into the new seats behind the plate, but he flew out to center. The half-dozen or so balls that have gone into those seats have so far all resulted in outs, so the effect 12 games into the season is negligible.

The bottom line is this: when your starting pitcher throws seven innings of three-hit ball with eight strikeouts, at home, you ought to win. Oh, and Kyle Farnsworth got a sarcastic cheer when he threw a first-pitch strike to Luis Gonzalez and wound up striking him out. Then after walking Shea Hillenbrand and a force play by Finley, Farnsworth nearly blew an easy pickoff play by falling asleep while Finley got hung out to dry between first and second. Eventually he woke up and completed the pickoff. Kent Mercker also threw another efficient scoreless inning.

Dusty almost fell asleep too, because until the Cubs got a couple of runners on in the bottom of the 8th, Farnsworth was the only pitcher warming up. If Sammy Sosa had hit a three-run homer for the second night in a row, Farnsworth might have had to come in to close. Joe Borowski hurriedly got up, but didn't get into the game.

Tomorrow will be very different, and that's guaranteed because it's supposed to be near 80 degrees, with the wind blowing out, and a chance of storms by the end of the afternoon.