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Corey Patterson, Five-Tool Player

These tools are, I believe, as follows: chainsaw, ball-peen hammer, Phillips-head screwdriver, socket wrench and nail remover.

That last one is the one you hear all of us trying to use after having Corey Patterson, Superstar, pounded into our heads today.

My god, Corey, you're great. Got a bunt hit in the second inning. Gosh, that's what -- one or two this year? Oh, and then you smacked an opposite-field homer in the fourth with a man on. SSSSSSTYLIN'!!! You even drew another four-pitch walk today, the third one you've drawn this year!

So you must have been pretty proud of yourself, Corey, after the Cubs had fought back and went into the eighth inning down only two runs, 6-4, in a game that seemed like it started last week. You must have been thinking about seeing yourself on Baseball Tonight, or maybe getting your picture in the paper, or maybe Jay Mariotti would write a column saying how hopeful he was for you, because I can't think of any other explanation for the two bonehead plays you made in the Cardinal eighth that opened the way for their six-run inning that put this interminable game, a 12-4 Cub loss to the Cardinals, away.

If you didn't see it, let me describe these two plays to you. So Taguchi led off the inning with what should have been a routine fly to Corey. He didn't turn the wrong way. He didn't misjudge it. He basically ignored it until it flew way over his head for a triple. Howard, Jeff and I were staring at him in disbelief.

Three batters later, Tony Womack slammed a ball over Five-Tool Corey's head for a double, and that was basically the ballgame,, though Mike Remlinger could have gotten out of it with only three runs scored if the intentional walk to Scott Rolen (after Remlinger fell behind 3-0) hadn't been followed by a long opposite-field homer from Jim Edmonds.

Dusty Baker was quoted in Dan McGrath's column in today's Tribune as comparing Patterson's talent to Lou Brock's. The point of the column was that Brock was having similar woes to what Patterson is going through now, and after the June 15, 1964 trade to the Cardinals, he suddenly blossomed into the Hall of Famer he became. Patterson even wears Brock's #20 (Brock, however, wore #24 as a Cub).

Dusty sees Lou Brock in Patterson. I see Oddibe McDowell, or worse, Junior Felix, both of whom have very high "similarity scores" to Corey at this stage of his career. Both McDowell and Felix were talented and touted rookies who had some success young (as Corey did before last year's injury), but both of them couldn't stop swinging at horrible pitches (as Corey did today in the ninth to end the game -- no sense SSSSSSTYLIN'!!! if 3/4 of the crowd is gone and your team is down by eight runs, right?), and both were basically done at age 27.

The essential difference between Patterson and Brock is this: Brock was being mishandled by Cub management at the time. They were trying to turn him into another Billy Williams, a power hitter, which was not what Brock's skills were suited for. As soon as he got to the Cardinals, they let him play his game and he bloomed.

Patterson thinks he doesn't need coaching, and that he is a power hitter. That's not his skill set either, and he either won't listen to coaching or he's simply not getting any.

(For an explanation of Similarity Scores, click here.)

This was a dog of a game from the beginning. It was clear that Mark Prior didn't have command of any of his pitches, and even at that he struggled into the fourth down only 1-0. Then he lost his control completely and issued three walks and a long grand slam to Edgar Renteria, of all people. This was one of the worst, if not the worst, starts of Prior's career.

Jon Leicester did wind up making his major league debut, in a situation where the Cubs were down only two runs, and he made it three. This was necessary because the game was in danger of getting out of hand early. And, once again, I rail against the 12-man pitching staff because as a result, Dusty was forced to use Glendon Rusch to bat for Leicester in the fifth. Rusch homered in his start on Monday, and he did actually make good contact and it took a nice running catch by Marlon Anderson in left field to rob him of a line-drive double.

But still -- why should you have to use a pitcher to pinch-hit in the fifth inning of a game you are losing by three runs, with a runner in scoring position?

And in the inning prior to that, batting for Francis Beltran (who was more or less wasted today, facing one batter and throwing three pitches), why did he have David Kelton bunting?

For heaven's sake, Dusty. There's nobody out and a runner on second and two runs in and Kelton's a power hitter, or at least that's the rumors we've heard. LET HIM SWING THE BAT!!! After three meek attempts to sacrifice Ramon Martinez to third, Kelton struck out.

As if that weren't enough, the bad blood that started last September between these clubs came out today. Tony LaRussa apparently took offense at Prior's wildness (he threw way inside to both Taguchi and Edmonds, but he was just off, not doing any purpose-pitching), and either he ordered Matt Morris (or more likely, Morris, who can't stand the Cubs, did it himself) to throw up and in to Derrek Lee in the fifth, knocking him down. Predictably, both benches and the dugouts cleared, and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina had to grab Lee and pull him away from the scrum. Guess who was the first one racing out of the Cardinal bullpen? Yup, that noted head case and ex-Cub Julian Tavarez.

No punches were thrown (where were you, Kyle Farnsworth?) and order was restored quickly. Lee wound up drawing a walk and scored on Ramon Martinez' double, which at the time cut the lead to 6-4.

It was either the muggy weather (it sprinkled for about five minutes at gametime, then was partly sunny for the rest of the day) or the poor play, but there seemed to be more of the drunken beach party attitude out there today. One very drunk woman (who had to announce that she was from Texas) spent an inning harassing Bill, the nice security guard who helps keep our section under control. I don't think she even knew what zip code she was in.

Sign seen: "ESPN: Give Us A Job". I don't know if they were successful or not, but I'll bet they got themselves on TV.

Sight seen: two guys wearing full Phillies garb. I thought they were lost, then I remembered the Phillies are in town playing at the Cell tonight and tomorrow night. Cool for those two to see their own team, and also be able to catch a National League game at the same time.

Carlos Zambrano, who has been our most consistent starter all year, will go tomorrow, and a win will at least salvage a .500 homestand, to prepare for a tough road trip to Anaheim and Houston. There is a forecast of thunderstorms tomorrow, and the Cardinals return to Chicago only once more this year, for a two-game series July 19 and 20, so you know they'll do whatever they can to get this one in.

Finally, I didn't have Howard pick me up a sandwich today, so there was no tomato spill on my scorecard. In fact, I spent the first inning trying to keep it dry from the sprinkles that came out of the sky. Maybe I should have let it rain.