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The Little Things

Here is an example of how the Cubs turn their anger the wrong way.

In the bottom of the second, with the score still 1-0 Marlins, Derrek Lee fouled a ball into the seats in left, right near the bullpen.

Yeah, near that seat.

Marlins LF Miguel Cabrera did a mocking imitation of what Moises Alou did back on that dreaded day last October, slamming his glove down and jumping up and down.

So what, you say.

Well, someone in the bullpen must have told the boys in the dugout, and when Cabrera next batted in the fourth, Glendon Rusch smacked him in the back with the first pitch he threw.

Now how stupid is that? All that did is wake the Marlins up, four of the next five hitters hit line drives, and before you could catch your breath it was 5-0, Rusch was out of the game, having thrown 89 pitches to get ten outs, and the Cubs weren't going to touch A. J. Burnett anyway today, and the Marlins blasted the Cubs 11-1, splitting the series.

I guess I could blame my son Mark, who I invited to come today on another gorgeous weather day (let's see -- we had June in April, July in May, May in August and now we are having June, in this confused weather year), and maybe I should have thought twice, because he occupied the same seat for game six of the NLCS. I told him he's not coming back to see the Marlins any more (kidding, I think), and he occupied himself most of the day with one of the plastic tubs of sugar -- er, cotton candy, that they sell at the ballpark these days.

This was all after Moises Alou decided he wasn't going to make any baserunning blunders today, so instead we had the Alou Fielding Screwup, when on an ordinary single to left with a runner on first, Moises airmailed the ball not only beyond the cutoff man, but all the way back to the new seats behind the plate, thus scoring a run. The Cubs kept doing this most of the day -- two other runners in the sixth advanced on ill-conceived throws, though by then the score was 7-0 and it mattered not.

I've been looking up and down the scorecard to see if I can find anything positive to say, and all I can say is that it smells funny. Why is this?

Because Howard was going to be late, I asked Carole (who was riding the bus up Clark past Jimmy John's) to pick up a sandwich for me. The order has to be placed carefully because as good as the sandwiches are, the employees seem programmed to dump lettuce and alfalfa sprouts on them, even when you ask for them not to. So Carole wrote down the info, got the sandwich, and when I opened it -- not only were there no tomatoes, but it was filled with sprouts.

This was obviously a sign, even though I had received a plaintive e-mail yesterday from Andy Weishaar, who wrote in regard to the thought of changing vegetables:

In regard to doing away with the tomato inning in exchange for the onion - I know it's an odd request from a man you don't even know - but could you stick with tomato? I feel at this point in the year, the tide could be turning and we're just gathering our momentum and to switch now could be devastating - go with what got us to this point - i.e. the Tomato - and if you're feeling superstitious - try ketchup. I know it's crazy but don't change for of all things an onion at this point in the year.

And I was going to stick with it, despite what Mike and I had discussed yesterday, but had to improvise. The onion landed on three different innings, and we settled on the third as being the largest portion, but all that accomplished was a couple of force plays and a caught-stealing after a leadoff double, and the fact that the card still smells of onion.

Even so, it smells better than this game did. I go back to Mike's comments of a couple of days ago, when he reminded me that in the 1998 wild card race, we suffered through ridiculous losses like this, only to rebound later. There were just as many heartwrenching or stupid losses last year, and the club won anyway.

As of now ESPN's website shows the Pirates without a listed starting pitcher for tomorrow night's game, when the Cubs will send Greg Maddux to the mound (the Cubs website lists someone named Frank Brooks). Maybe this means that the Cubs can send their own BP pitcher out there, or maybe the Pirates will recruit one of the Expos or Marlins, who will both be in town tomorrow afternoon to play the first of two games at the Cell. Those teams are used to playing in front of mostly empty stadiums, and I'd expect about the same tomorrow.

You know what, I ought to be more upset about this game but I'm not. Rusch has been terrific all year and he was due a bad outing, and as I've said before, it still only counts as one loss.

Keep the faith. There are still twenty-two games remaining.