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The city's at it again -- ordering another inspection of Wrigley Field and threatening to not allow Monday's game if they are not satisfied.

And why are they doing this?

Because a Los Angeles Times reporter, their Chicago bureau chief, with the preposterous name of P.J. Huffstutter was supposedly quoted as saying that she had heard an unnamed "Cubs official" say that the repairs were "shoddy and the cause of falling concrete."

Later she called city building inspector Stan Kaderbek and said she had mixed up some quotes and that no such official had said any such thing.

But does that stop Mayor Daley's minions? No way. I'm sure there are inspectors out there today, and they'll find exactly the same thing they found the last time -- that with the safety nets in place, the ballpark is perfectly safe, and that the Cubs will make the necessary repairs, this time we assume WITH the proper permits, over the winter.

Click here for Huffstutter's original article from the LA Times (free registration required). There's absolutely nothing in the article that suggests that repairs were "shoddy", or anything even remotely close to that. Mostly, the article's a rehash, seemingly aimed at Los Angeles readers who hadn't heard about this before, of the entire situation. The focus of the article is about the clash between the mayor and the Chicago Tribune, not on the Wrigley damage/repairs specifically.

And so it goes.

One thing I left out from yesterday's post: at Miller Park, when the umpires were introduced, they were introduced at the positions they had occupied on Wednesday night, rather than rotating one base as umpires normally do, and as they did in fact do on Thursday. Most likely, this is probably because the PA announcer (and incidentally, I found the PA VERY loud yesterday, and they had one of those smarmy idiot DJ-type announcers doing between-innings stuff, VERY annoying) had the wrong sheet in front of him.

The conspiracy theorist in me might think that it's because the umpires wanted to hide Wally Bell, who was behind the plate yesterday, after his missed call on Tuesday night. But I'd never say anything like that.

For whatever it's worth, Bell called a good game behind the plate yesterday.

Finally, I got e-mail from John in Phoenix, commenting specifically on my thoughts on Steve Stone's "marathon vs. sprint" comment the other day, and my thoughts about it:

I agree with both you AND Stoney regarding the idea of it being a marathon -vs- a sprint at this point in the season.

I agree with you in the sense that it is clearly too early to be going to the whip and treating each game like it was the 7th game of the World Series. In fact, I would argue that it is too early to be changing anything major with regards to the approach to each game. Tweaking is fine, going with what is working is fine, but there is still a long way to go and the LAST thing you want to give is the appearance of panicking. (See the 1964 Phillies).

However, I agree with Stone in that I believe the schedule affords the Cubs a MAJOR opportunity to create some separation between themselves and the other wild card contenders at this point in the season.

The bottom line is that the Cubs are a better ballclub, top to bottom, even with BP worries, than the Brewers, Reds, Astros, Pirates, etc. Now is the time to show it on the field and to be ruthless about it.

Because the BP problems are well documented at this point, the Cubs need to keep the pressure on when they get teams down by 3, 4, 5 or more runs. They need to make sure they don't "give away" at bats, as teams tend to do when they get a big lead.

In short, they need to develop a "killer instinct". They cannot go on cruise control when they build a lead when the starting pitcher is in the game. They need to approach each at bat as though it were a tie game, no matter how far ahead they are.

And they need to do it NOW. The fact that they are playing sub .500 teams will not help them as much in the last 2-3 weeks of the season. That is when the pressure builds on the contending teams (along with the propensity to fold under the pressure) and also that is when the non-contending teams are the most dangerous. They have no pressure on them and the motivation for them is to knock one of their rivals out of post season play. In other words, the Pirates, Astros, etc are less dangerous NOW than they are in mid to late September. So, it is time to take advantage.

Not to go to the whip necessarily, but just to intensify that killer instinct that has you go for the jugular when you get a team down.

I will be surprised and disappointed if the Cubs don't have at least a 3-5 game lead in the wild card race by mid-September.

I couldn't agree more. I think the Cubs did show that killer instinct the last two days in Milwaukee. Let's go get them this weekend in Houston.