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The Same Old Song

Early in the game we spotted a guy standing in the LF corner of the lower boxes, jumping up and down, holding a sign that read:


This, of course, reminded Jeff & me of that old Tommy Tutone song "867-5309". We didn't see any "Jenny", or any other woman, near this guy, and in the ninth inning, security, apparently tired of his antics, tossed him. This after Jeff & Howard kept yelling down to him, "I'll marry you!", which resulted in the inevitable Brokeback Mountain jokes.

They should have tossed the Cubs out of the park, too, as they played the "same old song" last night, cruising to a 9-2 loss to the Astros.

Sound familiar? Cubs get the first two runners out and are apparently about to load the bases on one of those "base-clogging" walks. Instead, in that second inning, Jacque Jones hits into a forceout, and the rest of the inning consists of strikeouts.

Sound familiar? The Cubs face a pitcher who's pitched poorly in every situation that could apply to the game in question: vs. the Cubs, on the road, at Wrigley Field. And instead, he throws a gem. This time, it's not one of those untested rookies who seem to beat the Cubs like the proverbial drum, but veteran Andy Pettitte.

It was one of those games where you felt the Cubs really did have a chance, even after going down 3-0, because Sean Marshall hung in there after having a really bad third inning -- but by the fifth, after he had allowed the first three men to reach base and two of them to score on a Lance Berkman double, and had thrown 88 pitches to get twelve outs, Dusty pulled the plug on him.

The bullpen did fine until the ninth inning, when Will Ohman decided to turn a 6-1 game into a 9-1 game, and then the Cubs dragged the ending out by deciding to score one of the most meaningless runs in the history of baseball.

And why did they do this?

Because I had started filling in the totals on my scorecard. I started from the bottom of the lineup, working my way up, and Mike dared me to fill in Juan Pierre's line -- since he'd have been the fourth man up in the inning.

OK, I did it. That, naturally, meant I'd have to erase it, which I did after John Mabry's pinch-double (we were surprised to even see him; I noted the #17 and thought maybe Mark Grace had returned. At this point Grace, who is 42, might be able to hit better than Mabry.) and then, of course, Pierre decided he had to break the RBI tie he's in with Henry Blanco, driving in that run.

I should have known it wasn't my day. Rachel had a show for her gymnastics class before the game. So I figured I'd park my car near the park, walk down to the Belmont L stop and take the CTA Brown Line over to the show, a couple of miles from the park.

Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention, so when a train pulled up on the Brown Line track and I got on it, I failed to notice that it was a Purple Line Express which took me all the way to Howard St., about five miles from where I needed to be.

Long story short, I got there on time, and figured I'd tell Jeff about it.

By the time I got to the ballpark, pretty much everyone I knew in the bleachers knew the story.

It was one of those days: I usually, as a diversion, mark down the other-game pitchers on the back of the scorecard, to keep track of out-of-town scores.

Last night, someone in the scoreboard either was not paying attention, or was dyslexic, or following a scorecard with different numbers than the one I had. They had Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon starting; Dustin Hermanson in relief for the White Sox (he's been on the DL all year); Ben Sheets and Tom Glavine coming in to relieve in the Brewer and Met games, respectively, and when they posted Randy Johnson as a reliever in the Yankees' 8th inning, I gave up.

If it appears I'm trying to avoid discussing the game, I am. The Cubs looked listless, had bad at-bats and didn't take advantage of RBI opportunities. Phil Nevin hit a HR off Andy Pettitte for the first run, but then when he had a chance to drive in some runs in the 8th, with the bases loaded and one out against RHP Dan Wheeler, he struck out and looked bad doing it. I guess he really can't hit righties any more. Then Matt Murton, who is one of the few players actually working counts, grounded out on the first pitch he saw.

There's no need to discuss the lineup selection. Yes, I know it's stupid. Neifi Perez should NEVER hit 2nd. Now that he's gotten two hits in that spot, of course, he'll probably be there again next time the Cubs face a lefthander.

Oh, yes: Chris Burke of the Astros reached base five times, with four hits and a walk, and scored five runs. This is an unusual feat, but frankly, despite the feelings of some that I'd rather see feats than a Cub win, I'd rather have seen him go 0-for-5.

Also, my sources say that the Cubs will definitely sign fifth-round draft choice Jeff Samardzija and he'll play at Boise this summer. Samardzija, of course, has football as well as baseball talent and is a likely first-round draft pick in next year's NFL draft. The bottom line is, he could get more money up front there -- but with a 99-MPH fastball, he could have a longer career and in the long run, make more money playing baseball. The Cubs will try to convince him of that this summer, even as he'll head off for his final college football season in August.

Michael Barrett's appeal will be heard at Wrigley Field on Friday morning. That doesn't mean a decision will be made then; the linked article says:

Arbitrator John McHale Jr., an executive vice president for administration for Major League Baseball, will make a decision on Barrett's fate after the hearing, though no timetable has been set for his ruling. "It could take days, it could be weeks," [Bob] Lenaghan, [assistant general counsel for the players association] said. "It's not a simple decision."
Actually, it is. Barrett was stupid. He punched someone on national TV. Maybe 10 games is too long. 7 or 8 is about right. Reduce it, enforce it, and be done with it.

I also have some sad news to pass along from our bleacher group -- Dave's mother passed away. She is, of course, also Brian, Kevin and Jake's grandmother. My condolences to their entire family.

Finally, Mark Prior allowed one unearned run, four hits and struck out ten last night for Iowa vs. New Orleans and the consensus was that he is "major-league ready". Depending on how he feels in a day or two, he could be penciled in to start on Sunday vs. the Tigers.