The CSN production crew showed, at one point during last night's telecast, video pointing out the differences in Jeff Samardzija's motion in his first, disastrous, start on August 12, and last night. Back in August he wasn't bringing the ball fully back, more or less "pushing" it to the plate; last night he had more of a full extension, hiding the ball behind his back briefly before delivery. The results were better; he gave up only five hits and a walk in five innings and threw 54 strikes in 82 pitches. He had good velocity (hitting 97 on the CSN and stadium speed pitch meters) and his breaking ball looked better; the lack of a good breaking pitch has been one of the biggest criticisms of Samardzija becoming a solid major league pitcher.
Unfortunately, two of those hits were home runs; the one by Prince Fielder came with a man on base and the homer Shark allowed to Jody Gerut was the difference in a 3-2 Cubs loss to the Brewers that reduced their elimination number to 4.
There's no shame in giving up a home run to Fielder; Samardzija became the 39th different pitcher to allow one to him this year. Gerut? Not so much, although the Chicago-area native has had a good September (.327/.377/.551, with 3 HR in 49 AB, two of the HR off Cubs pitching) in an attempt to let baseball people know that he'd like a job in 2010.
Meanwhile, Samardzija's HR cut the deficit to 2-1 and Bobby Scales' RBI double in the 7th made it 3-2 after Gerut's HR. But once again, the Cubs could not get a runner home from scoring position with less than two out; Scales did make it to third but Felipe Lopez made a nice catch of a floater that Ryan Theriot nearly got into right field, and that was the end of the Cubs' best chance to tie the game. Credit also must be given to Brewers' journeyman starter Chris Narveson, who struck out ten.
Unfortunately, the Milton Bradley merry-go-round continues for another day; yesterday he issued an apology for his recent actions in a written statement, which read:
"I chose Chicago as a free agent," Bradley said in a statement, "because I wanted to be part of finally bringing a championship to Cubs fans. I expected to have a great season and I am deeply disappointed by my performance and the team's struggles. I played every game with everything that I had and wanted to desperately win.
"My frustration and disappointment boiled over and I said and did certain things that I regret," he said. "In hindsight, I wish that I had handled certain things differently and I apologize for those things that did not work out for the better.
"The air has been cleared," he said, "and we all want to move on and look forward to better days."
Wow. There's so much wrong with that statement that I can't even really begin to dissect it, except for this: it's yet another example of the 21st Century Celebrity Apology, which is vetted by a lawyer and carefully crafted to say nothing while appearing to apologize. Look at what he actually apologized for:
I apologize for those things that did not work out for the better.
What on Earth does that mean? No specifics, no people mentioned, no one specifically apologized to? All of a sudden "the air has been cleared"? I'm tired of seeing these sorts of apologies, which basically boil down to "I'm sorry you caught me being an idiot, please forgive me so I can keep making these enormous sums of money."
Here's what a real Milton Bradley apology should have looked like:
I truly did want to become a Chicago Cub to bring the team, the organization and the best fans in baseball the championship they have longed for, for over a century. My performance was beneath my own expectations for myself and I wish I had done better on the field and the team had won more games and we were headed to the playoffs.
Recently, I said some things to the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles that were said in anger and frustration and I want to apologize to those I offended.
I apologize to my teammates. I said I worked "harder" than anyone on the team. This is not true. Every single member of the Cubs works hard to better his performance and win, and I don't want them to think I didn't appreciate them as teammates. I am sorry.
I apologize to Jim Hendry. He put his faith in me by investing $30 million of the team's money for me to perform, and I let him down.
I apologize to the entire Cubs organization. I told Bruce Miles it wasn't a positive environment, and that they haven't won for 100 years because of "negativity". That certainly is not true of all the dedicated people on the coaching staff, the scouting staff, and the rest of the people who work hard every day in the office. They all want to win. I apologize to each and every one of them.
I apologize to the media. I'm a private person and sometimes I don't react well to some of the questions you ask. But that doesn't mean, as I told Bruce Miles, that you are "bashing" me. I know you have a job to do, just as I do. I am sorry.
I apologize to all Cubs fans. I wanted to win for you very badly, but I failed and because I was upset at myself, I took it out on you. There were a few bad fans who made nasty and uncalled-for remarks to me, but I don't want you to think that I believe you are all that way. I am sorry.
Now that would be a real apology and if Milton -- or, for that matter, any athete or celebrity caught doing wrong -- would issue such an apology, I think people would go a long way toward forgiving him.
But the "apology" he did issue? Nothing but cover-my-butt. The Cubs may have to eat a significant amount of Bradley's contract to move him, or possibly even release him and pay off the entire deal. It will be an expensive lesson learned for Jim Hendry -- who should have seen this coming -- and the organization as they move into the Tom Ricketts era.