Too little, too late, maybe, but that's the Cub record on the current road trip after last night's 5-3 win over the Giants in San Francisco, yet another sign that this maddening team just doesn't make sense.
The win makes the Cubs 36-35 on the road. The only other NL team with a winning road record is the Cardinals. There are only four AL teams with winning road records (White Sox, Indians, Angels, Athletics) -- not even the Red Sox and Yankees have plus-.500 records away from their home parks.
What does this mean? First of all, it makes you wish the Cubs were playing the rest of their season on the road. But it also means that they have not tailored this team very well for its home park. Successful Cub teams in the past have always done well at Wrigley Field, particularly the 96-win 1984 team (the most wins by a Cub team since the 1945 pennant), which went 50-30 (with one cancellation) at home.
Beyond the obvious (outfield, bench, bullpen) things that Jim Hendry has to work on this offseason, this is the way he ought to look -- getting players who are well-suited to Wrigley Field. This doesn't always mean big bopper power hitters, either -- especially since in the last couple of decades, Wrigley Field plays as a pitcher's park for at least half the season.
Of last night's game, I don't have a lot to report, because as is often the case for West Coast games, I fell asleep about halfway through when the Cubs were leading 3-1, woke up briefly in the top of the seventh and saw the scorebox say 3-3 (just before they scored the two runs that put them ahead for good), turned off the TV and hoped for the best.
Woke up this morning to discover that they'd played yet another good game, and Nomar, in a salary drive of sorts, had two hits and three RBI, and despite Mike Kiley's writing in the Sun-Times nearly every day that the Cubs will go with Ronny Cedeno and not re-sign Nomar, I think that'd be a serious mistake. Cedeno does look good, and if the powers that be really do want him to be the starting SS next year, then sit Nomar down and talk him into being the 2006 Cub left fielder.
The rest of the game featured pretty good pitching from Z (though, according to the game summaries, he got bent out of shape when Matt Murton, starting in LF vs. the lefty Noah Lowry, hesitated on a throw after a J. T. Snow fly ball, allowing a run to score), a couple of Web Gem-quality diving catches by Jerry Hairston, and ... unbelievably, yet another pickoff of Corey Patterson, which prompted my friend Mark to text-message me from SBC Park (received in e-mail this morning)...
Seriously, there's no reason ever to play Patterson again. He's establishing lower and lower performance levels each time he gets into a game, despite the homer the other day. I can't imagine his trade value is going to change much with any more playing time the rest of the major league season; what he has to do is take the suggestions of everyone in management and play winter ball, if he EVER wants to have a chance to rescue his career.
Don't count on this happening.
Before the game I went to see "The Constant Gardener", the new movie based on the John Le Carr? novel. It's gotten four-star reviews just about everywhere.
Frankly, I was disappointed. The movie is told mostly in flashback, and I don't generally have a problem with that. But the flashbacks were disjointed and confusing -- it starts with what appears to be a murder, flashes back, then eventually gets back to that point in the middle of the movie, carrying on seamlessly from there, which leaves you wondering what the point of the flashback was in the first place.
The basic story is about a British diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) who meets and marries a political activist (Rachel Weisz). He's posted in Kenya; she's involved in political activities there. The story is about how drug companies "test" their new products on Africans but don't care about the results because, well... it's not really clear why. The entire movie is spent showing how drug executives and politicians attempt to stop these two from "revealing" what is going on, but I found myself, frankly, not caring that much.
It's beautifully photographed and the acting is good, but the whole package left me kind of cold.
AYRating: two and a half stars.
Which is about what this Cub season rates, too. September's been good so far; this is the second time this year the Cubs have been 6-1 on a road trip (the other, the LA/SD trip in late May/early June, a 7-game trip on which they went 6-1).
At two games under .500 now, the minor goal of finishing with a winning season is, at least, in reach. Play the kids. They're winning.