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Ryan, We Hardly Knew Ye

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That's a little extreme, of course -- I doubt we've seen Ryan O'Malley's last game in a Cub uniform -- but really, this IS getting ridiculous.

The Cubs lost to the Phillies 6-3 last night, and O'Malley, who threw so well against the Astros in Houston, struggled early but had settled down by the fifth inning, only to leave shaking his left arm and winding up with what's being reported as a "strained left elbow".

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

We have ALL heard this one before. What is it about stepping out to a pitcher's mound wearing a Cub uniform that does this to a man?

So, what more can be said about this game? It was badly played just about everywhere by the Cubs:

  • O'Malley pitched OK, but Glendon Rusch did not. It is difficult to come into a game this late in the year with a 7.44 ERA and make it go UP, but Rusch did it by allowing three hits (a single and two booming doubles), and David Aardsma helped out by allowing one of Rusch's baserunners to score, making Rusch's ERA 7.80. Here, let me say two positive things about Rusch: he didn't walk anyone, and he didn't allow any homers, leaving his total at a frightening 21 in 62 innings.
  • Ronny Cedeno made another error, his 21st of the year. He had a hit -- a rather useless infield single, but then when he came up in the sixth with a chance to actually do something, with two RISP, he flied harmlessly to CF. ATTENTION JIM HENDRY! RONNY CEDENO IS NOT A MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYER!! Maybe Dusty Baker is figuring this out -- he sent up Freddie "Boom-Boom" Bynum to bat for him in the 9th. ("Boom-Boom" is Jeff's nickname for Bynum. I make no comment here on what that might mean. Draw your own conclusions.)
  • Bad baserunning follies: Juan Pierre got himself picked off after beating out what should have been an infield hit in the 1st inning (it was ruled an error on 67-year-old Jamie Moyer, leaving his no-hitter intact through four innings), and Ryan Theriot inexplicably attempted to steal third with Aramis Ramirez batting, to end the seventh inning. What is he THINKING? With two out, it takes a hit to score a run anyway. This may not have been Theriot's fault -- maybe this is part of Dusty Baker telling him to be more "aggressive". Aggressiveness has its place in a team's offensive makeup. This wasn't the place.
  • Buck Coats -- who I still think will become a good utility player in the major leagues -- made his debut by pinch-hitting, and reliever Aaron Fultz struck him out on three pitches.
  • OK, let me say ONE good thing. The rest of the bullpen (Wuertz, Howry and Dempster) threw three good innings after Rusch and Aardsma put the game out of reach.
There isn't a whole lot more to say about the 72nd loss of the 2006 season -- we were getting a bit punchy out there, it's been a long year -- so here are some of my thoughts on a couple of pertinent articles published in the Tribune today.

First, although this was in regard to Ozzie Guillen's meltdown and ejection in Detroit last night, I thought Mike Downey's column hit the nail on the head for me as to what sort of manager I do and don't want the Cubs to have:

You know, I don't always know what it is that I want out of a baseball manager, but I sure do know what I don't want.

I do not want him publicly feuding with the team's owner, the way Joe Girardi seems to be doing with the guy who runs the Florida Marlins.

I do not want him quarreling with the team's players, the way John Gibbons has done of late with at least two of the Toronto Blue Jays.

I do not want him held in such low regard by the team's upper management that one of his superiors rips him on a radio show, which is what happened recently to Charlie Manuel of the Philadelphia Phillies.

And in the case of Ozzie Guillen, what I do not want is for him to blow his top and get himself kicked out of a game with pennant-race implications, especially at a time when the White Sox need him most.

Exactly. And for those of you who still think Lou Piniella is the right choice for the Cubs, he could be the subject of any of the above scenarios. We do NOT need a "kick-ass manager", as my friend Phil puts it. We need someone who understands lineup construction, pitching staff use, and how to put a team together that can score more runs than the other team. Period.

There's also more today on the restaurant/Hall of Fame/parking/Cub office building that's supposed to be built west of the ballpark:

The cost of the building was estimated at $30 million five years ago. Mike Lufrano, vice president of community relations for the Cubs, said that amount has risen substantially since then, but he declined to say how much.

"Like any construction project, costs are higher than they were five years ago," he said. "It has become apparent we won't be able to break ground in November as we hoped. But we very much recognize the project is an asset for the team and community, and we're talking with developers and potential partners about how to address the increase in costs."

Lufrano said restaurants and parking lot firms have expressed an interest in joining with the team in developing the project, but he declined to be specific. Construction should take about 18 months once under way, he said.

I am astonished that a building like this could cost that much even now -- and the implication is that it could cost more than that. Selling the naming rights to such a building should be EASY -- there have to be large local corporations who'd be lined up to have such rights. Jeff, Mike, Howard & I came up with two names right away -- Motorola and Boeing. (Mike also said "U. S. Cellular", to which we just laughed.)

There's a problem here bigger than money. Part of this building was to be used for new Cub offices, and implicit in this was the idea that the full-time, year-round Cub baseball staff could be increased. The Cubs have fewer year-round employees than any team in baseball -- only about 90. I do not have figures for other teams, though I read not long ago that the Orioles have about 400 year-round employees.

Maybe 400 is too many, but 90 isn't nearly enough. It shows in the way they scout and sign players. The Cubs need this building not just for the revenue it can generate from parking and restaurants, but so they can hire more people for their baseball operations staff.

Get it done.

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