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Portrait Of Some Cubs Fans In Blue

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"Blue" referring to our mood, in addition to the team colors.

So, if you will, before I talk about the Cubs' seventh straight loss, 4-1 to the Phillies, let me tell you a bit about my son Mark's Park District game today, which I attended after the game at Wrigley Field was mercifully over.

It wasn't a pretty sight either -- despite Mark going 2-for-3 with a single, double and run scored, the Minor League Cardinals lost 14-7.

To the Marlins. Oh, the shame of it all. Not only does he come into the house wearing a Cardinals uniform every time he plays for this team, then they have to go and lose to yet another team that gives Cub fans nightmares.

This latest by Mike pretty much sums it all up:



(as always, click on cartoon to view full-size in new browser window; if you are using IE, you may have to click the lower-right corner of the image to expand it to its full size; in Firefox click anywhere on the image.)

During the ride home, Mark reminded me that since he last attended a game in person, on April 27, the Cubs have won only once -- the game after that, last Friday in Houston, and now are riding that seven-game skid, and that he is 1-0 for the season.

With that in mind, I have made arrangements for him to attend tomorrow afternoon.

I realize this puts pressure on the kid because if the Cubs do salvage a game from the Phillies tomorrow, there will be tremendous pressure from all of you to get him out there every day. With night games coming up on school nights, that may not be possible till the school year is over.

But we shall see.

Today's game was Good Corey, Bad Corey.

Good Corey led off the game with a home run -- his first leadoff homer since June 20, 2002. Good Corey walked twice today, once even leading off an inning.

Bad Corey broke the wrong way on a line drive by Mike Lieberthal, and it wound up going over his head for a RBI double, and after that Glendon Rusch, who had thrown quite well up to that fifth-inning hit, came unglued and had to be removed from the game.

This time, the bullpen did the job -- mostly. Someone replaced the Todd Wellemeyer who was sent down a few weeks ago with a guy who can actually pitch, and he retired all seven batters he faced, four on strikeouts.

And when the game entered the ninth inning 2-1, I said to Mike, "Here we go again -- another one-run loss."

Mike Wuertz, who had thrown an easy eighth, took care of that, giving up a popfly double reminiscent of the one that lost the game in Milwaukee on Thursday, then walking the nearly-impossible-to-walk Tomas Perez (lifetime OBA .301) -- and then could have gotten out of the inning when he got Lieberthal to hit what should have been a double-play ball to Aramis Ramirez.

Ramirez, who seems to have forgotten everything he learned about fielding last year (five errors already, ten all last season), booted it, and then professional pinch-hitter Jose Offerman (hmmm.... who would you rather have on your bench? Offerman or Jose Macias? And death is not an option.), of course, singled in two runs to pretty much end it.

Or did he? Billy Wagner was wild in the last of the ninth, walking Jeromy Burnitz and then giving up a seeing-eye single to Michael Barrett.

What does Dusty do next? The matchup you want is Jason Dubois, hitting for Todd Hollandsworth. Nope, Dusty sends Jerry Hairston up. Predictably again, he hits into a double play.

Only THEN does Dubois show up, batting for the pitcher, but all the air has been sucked out of the ballpark and the ballclub, and he was an easy strikeout victim.

There's no offense -- five hits again today -- and so that puts tremendous pressure on the pitching staff; every guy must be going out there thinking he has to throw a shutout and hit a homer himself to win, and that is a recipe for losing.

Perhaps taking a cue (ball?) from my open thread of this morning, Cub pitchers including Glendon Rusch and Mike Wuertz shaved their heads this morning.

Geez, if I thought I looked like Rusch before -- hey, maybe I'll run into him outside the park and really show him. He was spotted several times last year running around the Yard before the game.

It was cold today -- 45 at gametime -- and I had to work late today, so I arrived (thanks to a balky L train that took 20 minutes to get from Fullerton to Addison, a trip that should take about 5 minutes) after the top of the first had already taken place. It's odd to walk in with the bleachers full, rather than empty, it somehow just doesn't feel the same. There were plenty of empty seats everywhere today, and it got emptier as the wind started howling off the lake later in the afternoon; even before the Phillies blew it open in the 9th, more than half the crowd had departed.

The cold and the bad baseball is starting to take its toll in the bleachers; security had to break up a couple of fights in right-center and left-center fields in the late innings. If the Cubs' play doesn't improve, they're going to have to watch out for this more carefully as the weather warms up.

Toward the seventh inning or so, a couple of college-age women started peering over Mike's shoulder at his scorecard. I said, "You've got groupies!" With that, they left, to which Mike responded, "That's about as long as I can keep groupies."

Yes, we are reduced to that, and to this: in the 9th, I suggested to Mike that instead of thinking about how the Cubs can improve themselves, maybe the Cubs can be sellers at the trading deadline -- think someone might take Jeromy Burnitz off our hands?

It's too early to quit, too early to give up, but ominous signs are beginning to appear.

Let us right the ship beginning tomorrow.