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Bring Me The Head Of LaTroy Hawkins, Part Deux

Here's what Dave said after Hawkins blew another save eerily reminiscent of the one last Saturday in New York:

"How long do you have to wear a major league uniform before you learn not to throw pitches like that on 0-2, with two out and nobody on?"

Hawkins got a ball up, rather than wasting one, and D'Angelo Jimenez, who has been a Cubs pest, tripled, and then he got another pitch up and Austin Kearns doubled, and that blew the save, and the Cubs lost in 12 to the Reds, 4-3, when Kearns hit a two-run homer off Jon Leicester.

That homer, hit after about half the crowd had gone, sucked pretty much all the life out of those of us who were left. Howard remarked to me that he couldn't remember a time when the Yard had been that quiet.

The Cubs tried to come back in the bottom of the inning, and we all thought that when Joe Valentine made a throwing error on a comebacker, putting two on with nobody out, that it was a sign -- but to no avail.

Moises Alou (more on him anon) hit into a double play, scoring a run, and then Aramis Ramirez singled.

It was then that Dave said, "Why aren't they running for him?" Ramirez is running VERY slowly right now, and he wouldn't have scored on anything but a triple or homer. Now, the Cub bench was depleted, but a pitcher (Greg Maddux? Sergio Mitre?) could have run for him, and the Cubs have two other catchers, and Michael Barrett has played over 100 major league games at 3B (OK, not very well, but you get the point), and in an extra-inning emergency, you have to think outside the box.

Dusty doesn't do this well, and Derrek Lee made it moot by swinging at a pitch about 100 feet out of the strike zone to end the game.

This was after our savior, Glendon Rusch (without whom we wouldn't even be sweating out this final week of the season), not only threw six excellent innings (allowing only an Adam Dunn bomb and a harmless third-inning single before running out of gas in the 7th), but hit his second homer of the season, a shot that Jeff and I both said was one of the longest right-field homers we'd ever seen hit by anyone, much less a pitcher. The announced distance was 390, but it had to be at least 450, as it bounced across the street on Sheffield.

Rusch and the Cubs deserved better, though they also left eleven men on base and nearly blew the game open in the third, when Sammy Sosa hit a ball caught by Kearns with his back to the wall with the bases loaded.

Sammy had a good day today -- two hits, some good at-bats, and played well in the field. Unfortunately, most of his teammates phoned in their performances, especially Corey Patterson, who struck out three times before drawing a useful leadoff walk in the 12th. That's 164 strikeouts for Corey, which, I suppose I don't have to tell you, is awful for a leadoff man.

OK, more on Moises, as promised. He had a lousy day, going 1-for-4, and hitting into the aforementioned double play. We all agreed that the Cubs were absolutely getting jobbed on every check swing, including several on Moises, and while it's inexcusable for umpires who are supposed to be professional and impartial to do this, you can see that Alou brought it on himself by his incessant whining.

This is NOT the way to win championships.

It was another gorgeous early-fall day, with the temperature in the mid-60's and bright sunshine, I was able to sit the whole game in the "Greetings From Wrigleyville" T-shirt I bought at the Cubs' "tent sale", that they have every year during the last homestand. Howard arrived in the fifth inning, having to put in some extra work, figuring he'd see four innings, and getting eight, and wishing it had been only four. Therefore, there was no sandwich (and I'd pigged out at work earlier, since both our morning and 11 am shows had food today, and food that's WAY off my diet -- pizza, cheesecake and tacos -- but it was a rough work day, and I was hungry, so I indulged), and so no Tomato Inning today. Would it have helped?

We will never know. However, the sandwich will return tomorrow.

And then, to add mess to insult, my sweatshirt, which I had taken off and put on the bench along with a jacket and Howard's jacket, in a pile, kept falling on the ground and now it smells like beer. Bleah.

It's just this simple. At this writing the Astros/Cardinals game is just beginning, and the Padres/Giants is two hours away.

It is absolutely possible for the Cardinals and Padres to win, and if so, the standings will remain the same for another day, and the Cubs will still be tied for the lead, with four games to go.

We cannot give up. The players cannot give up. Dusty Baker has brought teams too far, too many times, to give up. I know he won't, and I know they won't.

Keep the faith, everyone. The Cubs passed the 3 million mark in attendance today (3,015,993, to be exact, with four dates left), and every one of those people must remain hopeful.

But just to make sure, I wouldn't let Hawkins near a ninth-inning lead again.