clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Napster

That's what I was today.

I felt tired after I got home from work (yes, I work at the usual early hour on Saturdays), so I had an hour nap.

After that I went and watched my son Mark's Park District Diamondback team take apart a Cubs team (how poetic, right?) 22-7 (hey, it's Park District ball, where if you get a kid who can't quite pitch, it becomes a walk-fest), advancing to the next playoff game tomorrow.

Since the Cub game wasn't scheduled to start till 2:15 I figured I'd take another nap before the game, which I did.

Guess the Cubs decided nap-time was a good idea today, because they pretty well sleepwalked through a frustrating 4-3 loss to the Phillies, dropping their record in one-run games to 13-18 (as opposed to 27-17 all of 2003).

Oh, that's not the worst of it, either. The eventual winning runs were driven in by Phillies pitcher Paul Abbott, who in an 11-year career mostly spent in the American League with Seattle and Minnesota, had been 4-for-17 lifetime with zero RBI, on a two-run single off Carlos Zambrano.

Z was actually pretty good today, inducing quite a few ground balls, which is his trademark. Unfortunately, in the first inning he was a little too good, and leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins hit a roller that simply wouldn't roll, got on base and eventually scored. Rollins was one of Fox-TV's "Sounds of the Game" people, and I happened to notice that he was wearing his microphone even up at bat. This has got to be uncomfortable for a hitter, because it's not just a microphone, it's got a battery pack and antenna attached. Where do you put this? And wouldn't it interfere with sliding?

Wendell Kim was another of Fox's mike targets today, and they put him on the air right after Corey Patterson advanced to third base on a wild pitch. What Wendell said to Corey was pretty well incomprehensible -- I think, and so did Fox announcer Steve Lyons, that he was trying to tell Corey something about the way the ball bounces off the back wall in the new Philly ballpark, but it came out as gibberish, and not because the antenna on the microphone pack wasn't working.

Didn't matter. Corey got stranded at third base, as did every other Cub runner who didn't hit a home run today.

This is getting ridiculous. The Cubs have hit six home runs the last two days, and scored a grand total of eight runs on those homers. It's not so bad to rely on the long ball, as Earl Weaver's Baltimore teams did for years -- but there's a difference. Weaver's players also coaxed lots and lots of walks -- year after year, leading the AL in walks -- and so scored tons of runs when the Robinsons, or Boog Powell, or later Ken Singleton, homered.

This Cub team can't seem to figure out how to do this. They also can't seem to figure out how to score runners who do get into scoring position. Patterson, as noted above, got stranded at third with two out -- that was in the third inning. Mark Grudzielanek was at second with one out in the fifth -- nothing doing. There was a great opportunity after Michael Barrett singled pinch-runner Ramon Martinez to third with one out in the eighth -- all that was needed was a simple fly ball to tie the game. Nope -- Alex Gonzalez hit into a double play.

Then there was the ninth, the inning that'd have made me tear my hair out, if I had any. Tom Goodwin looked like he was going to have a typical lousy at-bat, looking at two strikes right down the middle. But he worked the count full, and then doubled off of Jim Thome's glove. Scoring position with nobody out. Great, right?

Nope again. Grudz couldn't lay down a bunt. Patterson struck out and looked typically bad doing it (now 86 strikeouts in 364 at-bats, nearly one out of every four times), and then...

Remember yesterday when I wrote that it'd be interesting to see Joe West, long-time Cub hater, as the plate umpire with Z pitching? Nothing at all out of the ordinary happened during Z's 6.1 innings, and 67 of Z's 104 pitches were strikes.

Nope, he had us all fooled. Joe waited till the game was on the line. On a 3-1 pitch to Sammy Sosa that was at least a foot outside, West called strike two. And did he do this right away? No, he waited till Sammy had dropped the bat and was twenty feet down the line, to embarrass him even more. Everyone in the ballpark and watching on TV and even the Fox-TV announcers, knew that was ball four.

Fox-TV didn't have such a good day either. They lost the feed from Philadelphia for a few minutes, and when they tried to switch back, lo and behold, there was the St. Louis/San Francisco game for a couple of outs. That'd have been more worth watching, anyway: the Giants blew a 3-2 ninth-inning lead, but won it in 10, 5-3 over the Cardinals, so the Cubs remain nine back in the division race, and pending the result of tonight's Dodgers/Padres game, either one or two behind in the wild-card standings.

We'll see Mark Prior throw tomorrow. Hold your breath, everyone.