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Someone Get Rewrite!

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It was one of those days that the local civic boosters wait for all cold, lonely winter -- bright blue sky with just enough wispy clouds to make the pictures of the city look terrific.

The temperature was in the low 70's, comfortable for everyone, and the sunshine was seemingly endless, and the crowds gathered all over the city, at Taste of Chicago, on the lakefront, and the largest crowd of the year at Wrigley Field.

And on this perfect weather day, the Chicago Cubs sent their fans home happy yet again with another w...

Oops. Someone forgot to read the script. The Cubs didn't win today, they lost to the Nationals 4-2, yet another version of the same song.

Didn't we see this game yesterday? Two out in the first inning, no one on base, Jose Guillen homers. The 0-0 score that broke was the last time the Cubs were tied.

Honestly, I didn't think Jerome Williams threw that bad of a game, despite giving up all four Nats runs. He allowed only five hits -- but again, the inability to get that third out, in both the first inning, and after a run had already scored in the fourth, is just killing this team.

We had a few additions to our group today -- Marion, who used to sit with Mike & me back in the 80's, came down from her northwest suburban home and was able to scare up a bleacher ticket, and David Geiser, who I know from the Cubs Usenet newsgroup (and who also posts here on occastion), was permitted to join us again since the Cubs won the last time he was with us, the 136-pitch complete game Carlos Zambrano threw on May 8.

Mike, in fact, got restless and walked around the bleachers several times during the game. For this he found himself on TV -- though he doesn't know it yet; I found out only because Ernie called me after seeing him standing in LF next to a sign, which we couldn't see from where we were, saying something about Derrek Lee for MVP.

And that's what Lee was today. He singled, tripled and homered (to the opposite field, which shows me how nicely he's made adjustments in the last few days, since teams have started overshifting on him) in his first three at-bats, so when he came up in the 8th he had a real good shot at hitting for the cycle, though we all agreed we'd take another homer. When the ball left the bat, it looked like it might indeed be one, but the wind, blowing in at a relatively leisurely 12 MPH at game time, seemed to puff up an extra gust right at that moment. Lee's hit settled harmlessly into Brad Wilkerson's glove for an out.

How ridiculous was this game? Nats starter Tony Armas hadn't won a game on the road in over two years.

Guess where that last win was? April 10, 2003, at Wrigley Field. (Incidentally, do check that box score. Look who led off for the Expos that day, and what he did, and shake your head.) We're the get-well card for anything that appears to ail opposing pitchers. Too many walks? Face the Cubs. Armas came in with more walks than strikeouts. He left having allowed only one walk, and struck out six, two of which were Corey Patterson.

Corey Patterson. Let us talk about Corey Patterson, shall we? Can you take it?

Patterson looks absolutely clueless in each at-bat. Yes, today he took more pitches and actually had 3-2 counts twice before two of his three strikeouts -- but he doesn't seem to have any idea how to attack each at-bat, he doesn't take into account the situation, the pitch sequence, the shadows around the plate. He just stands there and either swings or doesn't, it appears almost randomly.

Ross, in his diary today, notes Dusty Baker's press conference comment about how long he'd be using Corey at the leadoff spot:

Until I get a leadoff hitter.
I heard this on the radio driving home. This is a disingenuous comment. Either Dusty is, as Ross says, trying to make a point, or he's stupid.

I make no judgments here, but the Cubs HAVE a leadoff hitter. His name is Todd Walker. There's a guy who might actually be on base when Derrek Lee comes to bat. Neifi Perez got on base before Lee came to bat today, and Derrek singled... but then Jeromy Burnitz hit into a double play.

Each of the other three times Lee came to bat today, he led off the inning. Say! Maybe that's the ticket -- lead off Derrek. At least you'd have the chance of leading off the game with a home run.

This is about the level of cynicism we all felt sitting watching today's debacle. I kept looking at the sunshine, thinking about how nice a day it was, and how nice it would be to indeed cap the day with a win.

Even today's Tomato Inning felt promising. The tomato piece landed with authority in the sixth inning. BOOM! D-Lee homer. The square in which it landed was the square in which Todd Walker was to bat, and he singled. The key play in that inning, of course, was the rocket shot that Aramis Ramirez hit right at Wil Cordero at first base. What can you do? A foot to the right and it's a single, first and third, nobody out. Instead Burnitz was off base (you couldn't blame him -- the ball was smoked) and it was an easy double play.

Once again, Cub hitters in the 9th went up to bat like they were going to be late for dinner dates -- sure, Chad Cordero's been lights-out as a closer (his 29 saves in 80 games puts him on pace to threaten the record of 57 in a season, still held by Bobby Thigpen), but do you really want to make him throw only six pitches? Or maybe taking a few pitches would be a good idea?

I've been re-reading what I have written so far and it's pretty negative. So let me say that Mike Wuertz threw two very good innings in relief of Williams, keeping the game close and giving the hitters at least a chance to come back -- but they refused to take that chance, going down meekly in both the 8th and 9th innings.

We discussed various trade options for the Cubs, and you've heard all of them, I'm sure. Jim Hendry's got to do something to shake up this club. And Dusty Baker has to sit Corey Patterson -- for his own good, as well as the team's.

Shake this one off, I know I have to, and so does the ballclub. Z will go tomorrow, and he's stepped up big-time in the past.