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Just Another Manic Monday...

It's just another manic Monday (oh-woe)
I wish it was Sunday (oh-woe)
'Cause that's my Funday (oh-woe)
My I don't have to runday (oh)
It's just another manic Monday.

Well, it wasn't all that manic, actually (and neither was Sunday, for that matter), not after the first couple of goofy innings today at the ballyard, but that twenty-year-old Bangles song has been running through my head for some reason, and so I thought I'd make sure it pounds through all of your heads tonight.

Have fun with that!

That's just about as much fun as was had at Wrigley Field today in the Cubs' 5-4 loss to the Pirates, which, when you come down to it, was decided by yet another poor Ronny Cedeno choice and execution, when he decided to try for an out at the plate rather than turn over a reasonably certain double play in the second inning, which would have ended that inning with the score still 4-0.

And after that, when the Cubs actually had a decent-looking rally, scoring four runs, including three after two out, and I told Mike that this looked like another one of those goofy 13-12 games, it would have settled down and who knows, maybe I'd still be there sitting through extra innings, rather than here, writing about the loss that clinched a losing season for the Cubs and put them in danger of falling into last place tomorrow.

Wow. Last place. I know some of you thought this might be possible in April, but I didn't, even if I thought this team might have collapsed, I wouldn't have guessed it would have collapsed this badly.

Dave asked me how many games were left and I said "26, including today, and they have to win eight to avoid losing 100." He replied, "Oh, they'll do that."

After today, I'm not so sure.

Carlos Zambrano joined the Grand March Of Injured Cubs Pitchers when he left with what is being described as either "back trouble" or "arm trouble". With no chance to win more than 18 games, and his ERA at 3.50, it might make sense to shut Z down for the rest of the year, but we'll see what is officially annouced before his next start. He clearly had nothing; we noticed his release point was too low, which resulted in three walks in the first inning and a ringing double in the gap by Xavier Nady, clearing the bases, and by the time he'd reached 43 pitches in the second inning (43 pitches to get four outs -- that's pretty bad), Z was yanked, making this the shortest start of his major league career.

The Cub comeback was well-done, actually; a walk, a Henry Blanco single, the just-recalled Scott Moore joining the Adam Greenberg Call-Up Club by getting hit by a pitch in his first ML at-bat (at least he didn't get hit in the head!), and then Ryan Theriot matched Nady with a three-run double of his own, but this was after Cedeno's error had made it 5-0.

And after that, the game was, frankly, pretty boring. Cub relievers threw 7.2 innings of five-hit, six-strikeout ball (and I could not believe Dusty Baker left David Aardsma out there for three innings, making him useless tomorrow -- although, I will say that Aardsma threw extremely well, and if he continues to develop a breaking ball that he can throw for strikes, he might become a very effective bullpen guy next year), but it was all made meaningless when a ninth-inning rally turned stupid.

Stupid? Yes, stupid. Jacque Jones led off with a pinch-single, and then Buck Coats was sent up with what every single person in the ballpark knew would be a sacrifice attempt. He bungled it, bunting too hard back to Pirates reliever Salomon Torres, and Torres threw Jones out at second. Juan Pierre flied to center, and then, for some unfathomable reason, Baker sent out a guy with back problems to pinch-hit for Theriot.

What on Earth is he thinking? Platoon advantage? John Mabry couldn't start yesterday because his back was bothering him, and you could have sent ME out there to take three better swings than Mabry had, striking out to end the game.

The Pirates are now 19-50 on the road this year. Three of those wins have been at Wrigley Field, out of six games they've played there so far. That's worse than embarrassing.

This team is embarrassing, truly. Dave, Phil, Mike, Jeff and I have all been watching Cubs baseball for decades. We agree this is the worst Cub team we have ever seen. They will probably not set the club record for losses -- they'd have to win only three more games all year to do it -- but this team is far, far worse than the 94+ loss teams of 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002. At least those teams had a Sammy Sosa to watch pound home runs, even though they may have been artificially enhanced. This team doesn't really have anyone interesting to watch -- Derrek Lee isn't what he was a year ago, and now Z may be hurt, and besides, Z only throws every five days.

But we are Cubs fans. If you don't have any hope for the future, why bother being a fan of a sports team in the first place? Yes, many, many things will have to happen to fix this disaster. Jim Hendry has to look in the mirror and understand that the responsibility lies primarily at his feet, and start on October 2 to fix what's wrong. It has been argued here and elsewhere that perhaps the Cubs should eat the contract extension that Hendry was given in April and seek a new GM. That's a fair argument, actually, but the reality is that this franchise doesn't do stuff like that, and so right now I press for Hendry to do the right thing.

The announced crowd of 37,994 looked like it was maybe 25,000 in the house -- partly, I suppose, kept away by the poor play of the Cubs, and partly by the threat of rain (it did rain, but only a sprinkle, and only for a few minutes in the eighth inning). What will really be interesting is tomorrow's attendance; a quick check of the Cubs website ticket link shows many, many tickets available at all price levels. I'd expect the announced crowd to still be in the 35,000 range, but probably less than half that in the ballpark, particularly with it being a school night everywhere in the area and with an iffy weather forecast.

Actually, you should come out. Celebrate the Cubs dropping into last place if they lose. The Cubs have not been in last place this late in the season since October 1, 2000, the last day of the 2000 season, nearly six years ago.

Sheesh. It's all we've got left, a little reverse pride. If you're going to be bad, might as well be the worst. Till tomorrow.

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