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The Big Boys Came To Play Today

That's what Dave said when the Cardinals were whacking Cub-pitched baseballs all over the yard, and he's right.

The Cubs' amazing streak against St. Louis (seven wins in a row at Wrigley Field) had to end sometime, and this gloomy, drizzly afternoon was "sometime"; the 11-3 loss to the Cardinals was actually a ballgame until the seventh, when David Aardsma (click there to leave comments for Dave on today's game!) decided to play batting-practice pitcher, and allowed five solid hits, three of which were home runs.

Eight different players (Chris Duncan, Preston Wilson, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Gary Bennett, Ronnie Belliard, Michael Barrett and Aramis Ramirez) homered today -- the ML record for such things is nine, and John Mabry nearly tied it with a ball high off the RF wall in the 9th. Instead, Mabry's hit was pretty much the most meaningless double you'll ever see.

Besides the home runs, there was just about the ugliest defensive inning you'll ever see, too. Dave, who as many of you know owns the independent Frontier League Rockford Riverhawks, said he's seen over forty independent league games this year and NEVER saw a defensive inning as bad as the Cubs had in the third.

Ugh, it's even painful to write about it. First, an easy ground ball to Ronny Cedeno hit by Jason Marquis was booted. Generously, it was scored a hit -- that likely cost Carlos Marmol a couple of earned runs. Then, after another hit by David Eckstein and a sacrifice fly caught by Angel Pagan, Pagan threw the ball away trying to get Marquis -- this allowed Eckstein to advance to second, where he scored on an Albert Pujols single. On THAT throw to the plate, Pujols took second and then rounded the base. The Cubs had him caught between second and third, but Michael Barrett, who actually DID do the right thing by running right at Pujols, threw the ball into center field.

Then Carlos Marmol hit Scott Rolen, resulting in warnings -- likely because the umpiring crew knows of the history between Dusty Baker and Tony LaRussa and wanted to head off trouble, and also was likely considering the two days of beanball wars between the Angels and Rangers this week. I'm actually surprised LaRussa didn't have Marquis throw at Aramis Ramirez anyway, especially after Ramirez homered to cut the lead to 4-3.

Anyway, in that horrific third inning, there were three errors, should have been four, the dumb hit-by-pitch, and basically, it was an inning that looked like a T-ball league.

Just when you think the Cubs are playing better baseball, they shock you back to reality. The Blue Angels Navy fighter planes put on a much better show for the 40,346 assembled at the ballpark, rehearsing for the Chicago Air & Water Show, to take place tomorrow and Sunday on the lakefront -- it's been three years since the Cubs were home on an airshow weekend, and the pilots know they've got another 40,000 possible viewers for their show not far from the actual showplace, so they frequently buzz the ballpark on their flyarounds. Back in 1997, on one of the Friday rehearsal days, the Cubs were playing the Expos and one of the Blue Angels decided to fly about 200 feet off the ground right between the light towers, behind home plate. We all laughed as Steve Trachsel and Mark Grace actually ducked. I can only imagine what visiting players, who might not know what's going on, must think when they first hear the planes overhead.

I did meet a couple of BCB readers who stopped by to introduce themselves today -- thanks, guys, for reading, and for saying hi. Please stop by any time. Other than that -- same old same old in the bleachers. Mark got three baseballs; Phil showed up late (about 2:30), to which I said, "Hey! Today's not a 3:05 game!" He claimed he had a work-related picnic, and even wore a work-related shirt to try to throw us off. I also heard rumors similar to what was posted in this diary; that is, that Fredi Gonzalez is high on the list of possible replacements for Dusty Baker. Also heard Larry Bowa's name batted around. To this, Phil said, "Yeah! Someone to kick ass!" (And yes, the occasional "ass" is permitted here.) To which I had to remind him that "kicking ass" is NOT the only thing that this ballclub needs. Furthermore, Bowa will be 61 years old in December. I'm firmly convinced that this club needs new blood, not another recycled manager.

One last thing, and I can leave you with at least ONE positive thing from today's debacle -- Cub pitchers didn't walk anyone today. OK, that's not much, but especially from Carlos Marmol, that's a good sign.

I'm trying something new today, thanks to Jeff of Brew Crew Ball, who is a programming whiz. If you click on the "e-mail this page" link below, a self-explanatory pop-up window (disable popup stoppers first!) will appear to allow you to e-mail this link to anyone you like. Let me know how it works, if you do it.

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