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Do You Have Any Ideas?

Not about the future of this team; I know you guys have about 1,373,271 ideas about that, and we'll try to get to all of them between now and Opening Day next year.

No, what I mean is, do you have any ideas on how to keep writing interesting recaps of games like this? Loss after loss, dull game after dull game?

You know this: the Cubs lost 2-1 to the Braves this afternoon, their fourth loss in a row. They have now lost:

  • eight out of their last ten
  • fourteen out of their last sixteen
  • eighteen out of their last twenty-one
And, just so you can see it in absolute numbers, since Ryan O'Malley's fairy-tale performance in Houston on August 16, the Cubs are 4-19. That's worse than pathetic.

About a game like today's, if played in the heat of a pennant race by a good team, you would say, "Well, we just got beat." Sometimes that happens, even to good teams -- you play fairly well, but the other team just plays a tiny bit better.

But when you're going bad, it's just "finding another way to lose", and the Cubs did that today. The Braves' two runs scored on an infield out, and a double after a single. Cubs pitching allowed only five hits and two walks. Most of the time, that should be way more than enough to win.

But not when you have nine hits yourself, including three doubles, a triple (by the slowest guy on the team, no less) and a home run, and the home run accounts for the only run, and make a pitcher with an ERA orbiting Mars look good by striking out ten times (that'd be twice his previous season high), and not walking at all (come to think of it, that's not so uncommon for this team).

Same old song: the Cubs left RISP in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th, and the worst of it is, Henry Blanco actually led off the seventh inning with his triple (a ball that scooted by Jeff Francoeur), but the Cubs couldn't figure out a way to get him home. What, not even an attempt at a squeeze? What, with three catchers on the roster, you couldn't put a better baserunner on third base, so that he would have a better chance of scoring if one of the subsequent hitters hit a fly ball?

Sigh. The worst thing about this game is that the only run scored on a Freddie Bynum home run. I am reminded of the old "blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while" comment, and unfortunately, this home run likely means more playing time for Bynum, who has about as much business on a major league field as I do.

Juan Mateo threw pretty well, and David Aardsma was lights-out for two innings (18 strikes in 24 pitches); if Aardsma can continue to harness his control, he could be a very useful part of the 2007 Cubs bullpen.

The Cubs have lost 12 of their last 13 games against the Braves, and oh, joy! they have to play them again tomorrow, when Rich Hill -- who, with Carlos Zambrano out, appears to be the Cubs' most consistent starter -- will face John Smoltz. At least the pitching matchup is intriguing.

The best thing about this game is that it was quick -- two hours, fifteen minutes -- which allowed it to be over in plenty of time to switch over to the Bears game, which at this writing is being led by the Bears 10-0.

Finally, I didn't quite get my wish for the NL wild-card race this weekend, but I was pretty darn close -- the only two games that didn't fit my scenario were the Reds' loss to the Pirates last night, and Houston's loss to the Brewers today. However, the standings, courtesy of the Braves' three straight wins over the Cubs, read as follows, at this moment (a little after 4 pm CT on Sunday):

                W L GB Left
 San Diego     73 68  -- 21
 San Francisco 72 70 1.5 20
 Philadelphia  72 71 2.0 19
 Florida       72 71 2.0 19
 Cincinnati    71 72 3.0 19
 Houston       70 72 3.5 20
 Atlanta       69 73 4.5 20

If the Giants can complete their sweep of the Padres tonight, that will leave four teams within 1.5 games, five teams within 2.5 games, six teams within 3 games and seven teams within 4 games of the wild-card lead.

Oh, the next three weeks could be great fun!

At least for SOME teams. And, the Cubs will have a say in this, as they have seven games left with the Reds, and three with the Phillies.

One last thing. Who on EARTH decided to dress the Braves in those ridiculous red shirts on Sundays? They look like fire engines.