About midway through the seventh inning, as the Cubs were getting mowed down yet again (they had only two baserunners from the second through seventh), Howard said to me, "The most exciting thing about today's game was the rain delay!"
Little did he know he'd be wrong about that, about 45 minutes later, as I got to my car to find that I had left the "power" on -- as many of you know, I have a Toyota Prius -- and the battery had died. Fortunately, Howard and Dave were within shouting distance of my car and both of them stopped to help me get it started again -- this required consulting the manual, as I had never jump-started a car with a hybrid battery before.
So, having gotten pretty much soaked (because the rain was falling sideways for a while), and having watched a rather boring 6-3 loss to the Mets, I drove around for half an hour trying to make sure the hybrid battery had enough energy regenerated (it works through braking) for me to get it started tomorrow, before I went home.
My college friend Tom, who grew up on Long Island as a Mets fan and who is now a professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, made the trek up here to see the Mets, something he's done nearly every year since 1998. Before the game he offered to make me a "no-sweep" deal -- he was that worried about the Mets having a letdown and somehow getting swept by the Cubs.
I should have taken him up on it; I asked him on the way out if he'd make the same offer and he said it was only good before the series began.
Now, it appears that the Cubs' best chance of NOT getting swept will be tomorrow with Carlos Zambrano on the mound.
About the game... well, it was pretty typical, except for the Cubs' two-out, no-one-on rally in the first inning which included an actual walk to Aramis Ramirez, and a two-run double by Jacque Jones. Greg Maddux matched up pretty well with Steve Trachsel for a while. But Trachsel, in fact, noticed what we've all noticed about Cub hitters this year:
Well, at least he acknowledges he's the slowest pitcher around, although he threw a fairly efficient 79 pitches in six innings today. A team like the Cubs ought to be right up Trachsel's alley when he's going well -- players hate slow-paced pitching, and the time of this game (not including the 45-minute rain delay) was two hours, thirty-two minutes, and would have been shorter if the Cubs hadn't decided to score a meaningless run off Billy Wagner in the 9th. Two things about that: first, why was Wagner in the game in a non-save situation? and second, I hope scouts saw Phil Nevin's line-drive blast of an RBI single and want to trade for him right away.
The game turned on a play once again not turned by Ronny Cedeno. If he turns a turnable double play with two runs in and one out in the fourth inning, the score is only 3-2 and the inning is over. Instead, not only does a run score on the forceout, with the runner not doubled up, but Cedeno's bad throw allows an additional run to score, and that was pretty much the ballgame. Greg Maddux didn't throw a bad game, but with a team as offensively challenged as the Cubs are, he has to be nearly perfect, and he wasn't.
Mark Prior, as you know, is back on the DL again, although this is apparently only to push his first start back a few days; it is retroactive to the last time he pitched, July 4, and thus he will be eligible to come back on the 20th, which is apparently when he will make his first start. He was throwing in the outfield for at least 30 minutes off flat ground today, with no apparent favoring of the oblique muscle. Yes, he was throwing actual baseballs, not towels. I'm getting tired of this, and from what I hear, so are the Cubs.
Ryan Theriot was recalled. I hope this means that he will get some actual playing time and not rot on the bench for an extended period of time. He could, in fact, start tomorrow against Tom Glavine; that's what I would do, but somehow I doubt Dusty Baker will.
I have heard no news about any upcoming deals, and further, I was puzzled as to why Scott Williamson was put in the game via a double-switch and then removed for Roberto Novoa; Williamson needs to be showcased as much as possible, and leaving him in for one batter didn't make too much sense to me (Dave said he thought Williamson might have been hit on the foot on the comebacker he retired Xavier Nady on, so maybe that's the reason he was removed).
About Greg Maddux, I see there has just been this diary posted on what his future should be, and I would tend to agree with it, sadly. Everyone can speak of whatever contending team might need starting pitching -- but honestly, even with his great history and reputation, if you were a GM of a contending team, would you want to trade for Greg Maddux right now? I wouldn't. All pitchers come to the end of the line sometime, and I'm afraid Greg Maddux likely has. Perhaps he'll put up a few more wins before the end of this season, but I doubt he'd attract much in return (and isn't that the point of making a trade, getting something useful in return?), and I do believe he will retire at the end of this year.
Oh, well. At least it'll be dry and sunny tomorrow.