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Groundhog Day

On a day when actor Bill Murray tried to lighten up the atmosphere by entertaining the Cubs before the game, the feeling we all get is just like Murray's signature film, in which he had to live the same day over... and over... and over again.

(Thanks to BCB reader San Diego Smooth Jazz Man, who emailed me several times during the game, for the idea for the title of this post. See below for more on this.)

And say -- was that Dan Aykroyd sitting next to Murray during the game? If it was, good heavens, does he look old.

So did the Cubs -- old and tired, in losing to the Marlins 6-4, their tenth straight loss to Florida, and if I never see the inside of Whatever They're Calling It Now Stadium in Davie, Florida again, I'll be tremendously happy.

I remind you again:

There are still seven opportunities to get that "three" down to "zero". And keep in mind, that even if only TWO of those three numbers are taken off the total, the Cubs would play a tiebreaker with the Brewers at Wrigley Field on Monday.

Let's not think that way. Steve Trachsel, in what very well could have been his last major league start, got off to a poor beginning, getting hit all over the yard in the first two innings, and before you could even look up, the Cubs were down 3-1, even though they'd taken the lead in the top of the first on an Aramis Ramirez single (A-Ram was 4-for-5, although I find myself wishing he'd been a little more patient in the ninth inning, when he grounded out on the first pitch he saw).

After Trachsel made it 5-1 in the fifth, I decided, superstitiously, that changes had to be made. I got up from the couch and went and sat by my computer and answered some email (I didn't have the heart to look through the game thread, and I still don't!). That's when the Cubs had their three-run rally, cutting the lead to 5-4.

I stayed there while the Marlins loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, and Kerry Wood struck out Jason Wood and got Hanley Ramirez to hit into an inning-ending DP, and I got this email from the SDSJM:

Can't get any more Groundhog Day than Kerry Wood pitching against the Marlins in a crucial situation.

Maybe the karma closes as he actually got out of the jam.

I'm guessing he's referring to Wood's loss to the Marlins in game seven of the NLCS in 2003. Now, you know that's just wishful thinking -- there are nearly as many members of the 2003 Marlins on the Cubs (Derrek Lee) as there are on the 2007 Marlins (Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis are the only ones left).

And Wood threw another good inning after that, reaching 97 MPH on WGN's radar gun display. He looks as if he's gotten both velocity and command back, finally (21 pitches, 14 strikes), and he may play a critical role in the bullpen this weekend.

The sun was shining on South Florida today after two days of rain, and the crowd -- 24,809 -- was the largest of the series, and seemingly 80% pro-Cubs (if any of you were there, please let us know if this impression is true). It'll be that way in Cincinnati this weekend again, and the games are likely to be lively near-full houses, with so many Cub fans within driving distance of Cincinnati.

That will include me -- I'm leaving at 9 am tomorrow, heading toward the Queen City to join all of those Cub fans, and I know many of you will be there as well. Hope to see you there to celebrate!

I don't know what else to say. The team looks flat after winning twelve of sixteen from September 8 through September 23. But the Cubs have gone through stretches like this before and recovered. And I remind you again, several other contending teams have been playing poorly this last week, including the Mets, who are currently losing to the Cardinals. That would be their fourth consecutive loss to a sub-.500 team.

I know it has nothing to do with the team's play. I know this, I know it, I know it. But I have decided to, at least temporarily, take the magic number down. It can't hurt to have it NOT there for a while.


The Cubs still lead the division, with three games to go. Onward to victory in Cincinnati! Gameday for the Brewers/Padres game -- you can move the discussion of this game to this thread. I'm off the computer now to watch this game on EI. Till tomorrow.