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Yet Another Microcosm Of The Season

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A taut pitcher's duel...

Followed by a maddening inning...

Followed by an inspired comeback, taking advantage of someone else's mistakes, for once...

Giving it right back on two pitches you absolutely knew the other guy was gonna crush...

And, just when you think everything is totally lost, another inspired comeback...

that fell just short.

That's not only a microcosm of the season, it's basically a summary of my forty-plus years as a Cub fan.

The Cubs lost to the Cardinals 6-4 this afternoon on a sun-kissed St. Louis day that had the promise of summer, only to remind us how close we are to the coldness and emptiness of fall.

Emptiness for the Cubs, that is; the Cardinals are rolling on to a postseason berth (they reduced their division-clinching magic number to 11 with this victory), and they showed the meaning of team today. Their first two runs scored on a single by the pitcher, an infield dribbler that Ronny Cedeno couldn't quite handle, one of those pesty David Eckstein singles that juuuuuust got through the infield, and a wild pitch.

And then their four-run decisive eighth, off Roberto Novoa and Will Ohman, was bang! boom! by Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds. The Pujols homer off Novoa was one of those where Novoa had made him look so silly a couple of pitches before, that you just knew Roberto was thinking, "Hey! I can get this guy out by just throwing that again!", while you're sitting watching saying, "Do NOT throw that pitch again!", and then he does anyway, and there's not a darned thing you can do about it except throw a brick through your TV, and why would you do that, because that's a waste of a good brick, not to mention your TV, and then you'd just have to do it again two pitches later when Edmonds takes Ohman deep to nearly the exact spot that Pujols just hit.

And then the Cubs, rather than laying down, decide to have the stirringest ninth-inning rally of not only this season, but the last few seasons, only this team isn't the sort of team that can do that; instead, what they do is knock Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen right out of the game, and even Corey Patterson gets a hit and scores a run in the rally...

and then there's the summation of the game and the season, when the Cubs' best hitter comes up representing the lead run of the game.

If it's your year, he hits a three-run homer.

Instead, Derrek Lee hits a ball that almost got by Mark Grudzielanek; instead, he knocks it down, barely, steps on second, barely, and doubles up Lee to end the game.

Hey, Mark Prior threw well. Nomar had two more hits, and raised his average to .271, and made yet another case for keeping him around no matter where he plays, and even Jose F. Macias had a pretty good at-bat in that abortive 9th-inning rally, running the count to 2-2 before he hit a sac fly.

Thus has been our summer.

So, I wound up spending a fair amount of the afternoon working on setting up my new laptop; say, if any of you out there who are computer-geekier than I am, have any suggestions on how to migrate my files, etc. from my old desktop to the new laptop (which I'm going to use as my primary machine now), let me know.

It wasn't a bad game -- it just wasn't a good game. Seasons like this will drive you nuts, if you let them. So, the Cubs must now go 16-9 to finish 2005 with a winning record, and since it appears that Andruw Jones, who hit his 45th home run today, is going to win the HR (and likely RBI) titles, thus leaving Lee with only the batting title as a consolation prize (and Jones ought to win the MVP, too, in this space's opinion), the winning record, a noble goal, ought to be the Cubs' quest for the rest of the year.

That, and getting Matt Murton some playing time.