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Short People

Remember the old Randy Newman song?

Short people... got no reason to live...

OK, I won't go that far. But there are a couple of... um, vertically challenged individuals I want to talk about tonight, who must be gone from the Cubs, because they are costing us ballgames.

Wendell Kim is five-foot-three. You know, maybe that's the problem. He simply can't see over the fielders to see what's going on in the outfield. He got deked good by Jim Edmonds, who faked a catch on Corey Patterson's long single in the third inning. That fake was good enough to fake Wavin' Wendell into sending Sammy Sosa into an out at the plate; as usual with Wendell's coaching, Sammy was out by thirty feet, and so instead of having the bases loaded and one out, the Cubs were run out of yet another inning.

That's it, people. Wendell must go. Did you know he has his own website? Yeah, it hasn't been updated in a year. But maybe he has a future as a webmaster.

Another not-so-tall person is Rey Ordonez (generously listed as five-foot-nine), the second-best Ordonez in baseball history. (Also, as my friend Jon says, the second-best Rey in Cub history.) He's listed as five-foot-nine, and frankly, there is absolutely no reason for him to be on a major league roster. He cannot hit (three hits in 36 at-bats? You gotta be kidding me. There must be ten players in the independent Frontier League who could hit better than this), and his fielding error, trying to be slick and flashy, led the way to the Cardinals' four-run rally in the fourth. Furthermore, he is an automatic out at the plate -- if it were an AL ballpark, I'd let the pitcher hit and DH for Rey, if the rules allowed it.

So, I'm recommending a recall of Ricky Gutierrez from Iowa. He was a fan favorite in his first stint with the ballclub in 2000-2001, and though he's had some serious injuries since then, there is no way he could be worse than Ordonez, who has now officially taken over from Jeff Kunkel (who went 4-for-29 in his brief Cub stint) as Worst Cub Of All Time, in my book.

If Dusty wanted to play a hunch today, he should have started Tom Goodwin somewhere. Goodwin was 9-for-16 lifetime against Chris Carpenter, and he followed through on this by singling as a pinch-hitter. Here's a good one for you, Dusty: you ought to sit Sammy Sosa at least one game this weekend. Sammy never hits well at the Cell and his presence in the lineup just revs up their fans.

Want one that sounds stupid but that just might work? Jose Macias tomorrow. Macias is 3-for-7 with two doubles and a homer lifetime against Jon Garland. Trust me, Dusty. Sit Sammy tomorrow and play Macias in right field.

Remember, you heard it here first.

I had the sense after the Cubs' blown rallies that one run might have won this game, and Chris Carpenter was snapping off curveballs really well all night anyway, and the Cardinals shut out the Cubs 4-0, winning the series, evening the season series at 7-7, and putting the Cubs three games out of first place.

Steve Stone said that this wasn't a critical game; it is, after all, only the 24th of June, and I would agree with him. Nevertheless, it's never fun to lose to your arch-rivals (Chip Caray, given to hype, called Cubs-Cardinals the "greatest rivalry in baseball". He's nuts. Much as I love the Cubs, the greatest rivalry has to be Yankees-Red Sox.) and especially since the Cardinals are the team to catch right now, with only five games remaining with them, it's critical to win almost all of the remaining five.

Matt Clement deserved better -- he threw only eighty pitches in six innings and actually lowered his ERA (to 2.98) by allowing only one earned run. Bright spot: Jon Leicester has come out of nowhere to establish himself as a very effective long reliever, both from his appearance in Anaheim in the 15-inning game on June 13, and tonight, striking out four Cardinals in his two innings of work.

The desperate Astros traded for Carlos Beltran tonight, and that will improve their offense, though they have hurt their bullpen by sending Octavio Dotel to Oakland in the three-way deal that gave the Royals three top prospects. The Astros now count on Brad Lidge to close. It'll surely make the Central more interesting, especially with the Astros coming to Wrigley Field next week.

Tomorrow, I safari to the South Side for three games that ought to be, as always, raucous and hard-played. The White Sox are capable of scoring ten runs any time they take the field, but occasionally look clueless at the plate. I like the pitching matchups:

Friday: Mark Prior vs. Jon Garland
Saturday: Carlos Zambrano vs. Scott Schoeneweis
Sunday: Greg Maddux vs. Esteban Loaiza

With later starts (3:05 Friday and Saturday, and 2:05 Sunday), the hitters will be in shadow for much of the day, for all three games.

Finally, Joel, my brother-in-law, spent the evening on the couch while I was watching the game, reading "The DaVinci Code". I think he had a much more enjoyable evening than I did.