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Beep! Beep!

This is how bad it's gotten. Last night's 8-4 Cub loss to the Rockies got so boring, I started flipping through my digital cable channels and landed on HBO Family West, which was showing "The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie", a 1979 compilation of many great Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck/Road Runner cartoons over the years.

When they got to the Road Runner collection, I couldn't help thinking of Dusty Baker. Wile E. Coyote (and isn't that a perfect picture of him above? Can't you see Dusty standing up in front of the dugout asking for help in that way?) exists only to catch and eat the Road Runner. And he tries things over and over and over again, failure after failure, seemingly coming close to success, only to wind up falling off a cliff, or having a huge rock fall on him, or having a catapult fall in the wrong direction, or having something explode in his face...

Well, you get the idea. That's how the 2006 Cub season has felt. No matter what the club has done, it's pretty much exploded in their -- and our -- faces.

Angel Guzman. Once a top prospect, he pitched about the most brutal first inning I've seen from anyone this year -- and that's saying a lot. And here's what he had to say about it:

"I think early in the year I was having a lot of problems with my command," Guzman said. "(Now) everything is coming good. Today wasn't one of those days."
Huh? So which is it, Angel? Is everything coming good? Or are you STILL having trouble with your command? You don't seem to have a clue, and neither does our feckless pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, who sat in the dugout wearing his natty-looking dark blue pullover (why is Rothschild exempt from wearing a uniform top like everyone else?) while Guzman helped Rockies hitters blast balls all over the yard, topped by a 446-foot, 3-run HR by Matt Holliday which pretty much ended the game before it had even started.

Here's all Dusty Baker had to say about this loss:

"It's frustrating," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "That one inning we were really threatening. That was a big, big double play they got us to hit into."
Wow, Dusty, wow. That's IT? He's talking about the fourth inning, when the Cubs had "closed" to within 7-2, had the bases loaded with nobody out, and Ronny Cedeno hit into that DP, scoring the third run, but leaving only one man on base and two out, and since Guzman had been knocked out early, the bullpen depleted, David Aardsma had to bat for himself, with predictable results.

Matt Murton had a nice day, going 3-for-4 with a HR. What you may not realize if you didn't see the game, or don't remember his at-bats, is that he saw a grand total of eight pitches in those four at-bats. He grounded out on the first pitch in the 2nd; hit a RBI single on the first pitch in that abortive 4th-inning rally; ran the count to 2-1 before homering in the 6th (that's four of the eight pitches), and took ball one before singling in the 8th.

I guess that would make both those of us who like Murton (now hitting .298/.365/.427) and Dusty Baker happy; Murton fans because he was 3-for-4, Baker because, well, he was up there hackin', dude.

And to make this latest loss complete, the Cubs actually had 13 hits and a walk, getting baserunners, but left only seven on base, thanks to two caught-stealings (again, Juan Pierre, his 15th CS, making his SB% 73.2, below the generally-accepted 75% minimum that you need to make steal attempts even worth trying), and two Rockies double plays.

The bullpen did OK (5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER), but they shouldn't be throwing that many innings. There's nothing new here, and I should point out that the club record for appearances, which is 84 (set by Ted Abernathy in 1965, and tied in 1980 by Dick Tidrow), is likely to fall this year. Bob Howry's got 62, Scott Eyre 59 and Will Ohman 55. In no way can this be construed as a good thing.

Finally, the Cubs MUST have known how serious Mark Prior's situation was before last night, because Juan Mateo never even left the club, even though he was supposed to be sent back to the minors to make room for Guzman; instead, Prior's DL move was the roster change allowing Guzman to be recalled. It was suggested here yesterday that Prior's elbow break last year, and possibly coming back too soon from it, could have caused a change in his mechanics leading to the shoulder trouble he's having now.

Makes sense to me. Time to tell the truth.