Regardless of what you now think about the Cubs' shrinking postseason chances in 2009, I'm sure we can agree on one thing:
Dick Stockton should never, ever, EVER again be allowed to call the play-by-play of a Cubs game.
Between missing pitches entirely while reading off reams of irrelevant stats, and pronouncing Kosuke Fukudome's name "Koh-SKEE", Stockton has to be the worst national baseball announcer currently calling games -- and that's saying a lot, because there are quite a few bad ones. It occurred to me while watching this game and thinking about the 1969 Cubs/Phillies game that ran on the MLB Network this afternoon, called by NBC's Curt Gowdy, that Stockton and Gowdy were contemporaries calling NFL games in the late 1970's.
Couple that with the fact that Stockton was the announcer for the Division Series games involving the Cubs the last two years -- I don't think the Cubs have ever won a game that Stockton has called -- and he has to go. The commentary would have been better, more informed and useful if Fox had just let Eric Karros call the game himself. Incidentally, when the time comes that Ron Santo will have to be replaced on WGN radio, I'd love to see Karros get a shot at the gig. He's well-informed, has a good broadcasting voice, and is young enough (42 in November) that he could keep the job alongside Pat Hughes for many years to come.
The Cubs lost to the Dodgers 2-0. More below the fold.
About the game itself -- what else can be said when the offense refuses to show up? Thanks primarily to Sam Fuld, who walked twice and stole two bases, the Cubs left RISP in the first, third, fifth and eighth innings. Fuld also made two outstanding catches in left field, otherwise the Dodgers would likely have scored quite a few more runs. The Cubs nearly got a big break in the 8th when Matt Kemp lost Derrek Lee's fly ball in the sun, putting runners on second and third with one out, but Aramis Ramirez's line drive -- which would have scored both runs if it had been two feet to the right -- was right at Mark Loretta, and Fukudome struck out.
I don't know what else to say. Ted Lilly threw an outstanding game today, making only two mistakes, that were hit for solo homers by Kemp and Casey Blake. He allowed only one other hit, a single, and walked no one. He'd certainly have been allowed to go more than six innings -- he threw only 80 pitches -- had the Cubs not had a runner on base in the seventh. Mike Fontenot pinch-hit and flied to left. Lilly probably could have done that. The bullpen did a good job at keeping the game close; Aaron Heilman allowed a pair of singles but John Grabow snuffed that before a run could score.
When you hold a good-hitting team like the Dodgers to that little offense in their home park, you should have a real good chance at winning the game. Instead, the Cubs suffer their third straight loss to LA and are only a game over .500. All we can do is hope the Padres can keep the Cubs "only" seven games behind and hope for better things tomorrow.
Don't give up. Not yet. Keep the faith.