(as always, click on photo 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. Photo by Al)
This one's for those of you who have been calling for Dusty Baker's head.
First of all, I thought the guy went to a lot of trouble to have this sign professionally made, and he was sitting in the section right next to us. And we all thought the sign was pretty funny.
But really -- can you blame Baker for last night's 9-4 loss to the Reds, the sixth Cub loss in a row?
You can't, nope, not this one, anyway. He used the lineup many of us have been screaming for -- Matt Murton in left, Matt Lawton in right, Jeromy Burnitz in center. Nomar has returned; Lawton's leading off.
And they didn't produce. And Jerome Williams kept getting slammed for extra-base hits. Frankly, the Cubs looked like they'd rather have been anywhere but in Wrigley Field on what was yet another humid day that turned into a pleasant night when the wind started blowing off the lake -- although it was announced that the wind was "north", it was clearly blowing from behind us, in from right field.
That didn't stop Adam Dunn or Ken Griffey Jr., both of whom deposited opposite-field home runs into the basket in left field. By the time Griffey hit his three-run shot that iced the game, Williams had given way to Glendon Rusch, although two of those three runs were charged to Williams.
And someone explain to me how three weeks after the Cubs hit five home runs off Brandon Claussen in Cincinnati, he comes to Chicago and holds the ballclub -- which has added a hitter -- to two harmless hits in seven innings.
The Cubs did draw five of those base-clogging walks, including three leading off innings, but nothing came of any of them -- Burnitz helped out by hitting into a double play right after Michael Barrett led off the second inning by walking.
Not a single bit of this is Dusty Baker's fault.
No, seriously -- despite the sign, what manager could have changed the apparent attitude of the Cub players last night?
Mike said that he hasn't seen a corpse yet, but it's getting close. That reminded me of this Monty Python sketch, in which there is the following exchange:
Mother: Well, it was coughin' up blood last night.
Speaking of Jeff, I had called him in the afternoon for another reason to learn that he had to "do some stuff" and wouldn't be coming. Dave (who arrived in the second inning, saying it had taken him 2 1/2 hours to drive in from the near western suburbs, and told us, "This is why I don't come to night games") asked where he was, and when I told him, said, "Tell me he's not at home watching the Bears exhibition game!"
Sure enough, I called him and that's exactly wht he was doing. I put Dave on the phone, where he proceeded to tease Jeff unmercifully about blowing off a nice night at the ballpark to watch an exhibition game. This provided much-needed levity. To be fair, Jeff had told me he did have things he needed to do last night, which allowed Brian to get to the game. We were also joined by Mark and Mark's friend Jacob, who spent BP as usual, huddled next to the front row trying to get one of the Reds to throw them a baseball. During this time the crowd tried to get Adam Dunn to flip a ball up; his response was to throw it over everyone's head onto Sheffield.
When Reds reliever Jason Standridge finally did throw a ball up to the stands, a tall man behind the two kids reached up and grabbed it. He was quickly booed down, and gave the ball "to the kid!" -- to Jacob.
This was, in fact, just about all the booing I heard, except when Baker came out to pull Williams. It was hard to tell whether the booing was for Baker or for Williams, but to me it was clearly justified at the time, even though the score was "only" 5-0 and had Rusch not given up the homer to Griffey, the four-run rally in the ninth (off Randy Keisler, of whom Dave said after watching him throw about four pitches: "If this is all he has, the Cubs are going to rack him," and they did) might have meant something.
As it was, we mostly just sat there marveling at a team that had scored one run in their previous 27 innings, suddenly smashing line singles all over the place. They were two more hits away from bringing the tying run to the plate, but Aramis Ramirez ended it with a sharp forceout grounder to third.
Finally, it was 70's Night, with the 7th Inning Stretch sung by Jimmie Walker, who Mike called "perhaps the least talented person ever to be on television" -- I had to disagree with that, although he's got to be in the top ten. This day always brings out people dressed in ridiculous-looking Afro wigs (in fact, you can see a couple of them on the left in the photo at the top of this post), and the worst polyester clothes you could imagine. It also brought someone dressed in a gorilla suit -- I couldn't quite figure that out.
Meanwhile, Howard, Jon and Jon's brother Marc, who is visiting from California, went to the Brewers game in Milwaukee -- Marc's a big Brewers fan. That must have been the reason that Mark Grudzielanek had five RBI last night.
Finally, it appears that Corey Patterson is going to be recalled from Iowa today and if so, I'd expect him to be in the starting lineup. The above-linked article doesn't say who's being demoted, but I would suspect it would be Matt Murton, whose playing time would be drastically reduced with Patterson on the roster.
I'm not saying anything, but the last time the Cubs dipped to four games under .500 and looked pathetic doing it, a roster move (the Murton/Greenberg recall) sent them on a 8-1 run.
I hate losing. Let's see a win today. There'll be a game thread up in a couple of hours.