SOMEWHERE NEAR CLEVELAND -- Finally in for the evening after driving halfway to NYC from Chicago, before I recap the Cubs' 5-0 loss to the White Sox on Thursday, I wanted to say a few words about some of the behavior in the game threads.
We are all frustrated with the play of this team and particularly Alfonso Soriano, who's had a tough year while being injured and not really telling anyone for four months and trying to play through it.
Today's dropped fly ball really summed up not only his, but the Cubs' entire season. However, threatening him with death really isn't called for. This is baseball. It's a sport that's supposed to provide us with enjoyment, and perhaps one day the fulfillment of our dreams of a Cubs World Series. All I ask here is that you try to behave as you would around other people when you're on this site, particularly in the game threads, which I know can get kind of heated. Please keep it clean and don't make threats -- I know it doesn't feel very good to see losses like this. Just try to keep things in perspective. Thanks.
At this point in the season, with Soriano clearly still hurting -- it was impossible to tell, even sitting as close as I was to him in left field, whether his attempt to do his usual "hop" under A.J. Pierzynski's fly ball, or he just slipped on a piece of turf -- maybe it's time to shut him down. Soriano didn't make excuses:
"I slipped, and when I slipped I lost my balance," Soriano said. "I don't make an excuse, but that's the first time it happened -- that I slipped and missed the ball."
That wasn't the only problem, and in fact, as Aramis Ramirez went on to say:
"The last time I checked, we didn't score any runs," Aramis Ramirez said, "so even if [Soriano] makes that play, we lose, 1-0. Nobody wants to make a mistake on the field. 'Sori' doesn't want to make mistakes. Nobody wants to be embarrassed like that. We have to pick it up, that's the bottom line."
Ryan Dempster nearly matched Tom Seaver -- er, Carlos Torres, he just looked like Seaver out there Thursday afternoon -- by allowing no earned runs in seven-plus innings. Jake Fox's error on a routine pickoff throw allowed Chris Getz to go to second base in the second inning, where he scored on Alexei Ramirez's single. A 1-0 loss is tough enough to take, but then there was the managing problem.
When Fox led off the seventh inning, there was absolutely no excuse for him to still be on the bases. Your best bet defensively is to get him out of there in the next inning for Micah Hoffpauir, so why was he still running with nobody out? That is the one place, the ONE possible place, where Aaron Miles could have been useful. If Miles is running for Fox, he probably scores on Jeff Baker's single. Or maybe Mike Quade holds Fox (or Miles) at third base and there are runners on the corners with nobody out and then maybe Ozzie Guillen lifts Torres for Octavio Dotel. The Cubs have hit Dotel well since he signed with the White Sox -- and maybe then the whole game turns out differently.
Lou compounded his mistake of not using Miles in the one possible place where he could actually have been useful, by sending him up to pinch-hit in the last of the eighth for PH Mike Fontenot, who had already been announced to PH for Angel Guzman, when Ozzie called on lefthander Matt Thornton.
Now, think about this for a minute. Miles hasn't done anything useful all year. He's hitting .226 vs. LHP coming into this game, and .095 (2-for-23) as a pinch-hitter. Why on Earth would you put him in that situation at all, much less trailing 3-0 in the 8th inning? Send up Andres Blanco. Or Geovany Soto. Or even Carlos Zambrano, for heaven's sake. Miles grounded to short, which was utterly predictable.
Thanks, Lou. It wasn't all your fault, but it was yet another situation in which you used the wrong player in the wrong situation at the wrong time. Lou seems, again, disinterested and defeated, as noted in his postgame remarks, where he said about three sentences and didn't take questions. Maybe it's time for him to go.
It just wasn't the Cubs' day, and that started two hours before game time when a snafu resulted in anyone who had actually had their ticket scanned on June 16 (the original game date, and that included me) denied entry until the Cubs released those barcodes from their system (it took a few minutes before they figured it out, even though they had had two other postponed and rescheduled games earlier this year where no such problems occurred). Fortunately, they worked it out and everyone got in with a minimum of fuss.
And, the Rockies actually cooperated Thursday by losing, keeping the Cubs six games behind (five in the loss column) with 30 to go. It's still not an impossible task, but winning a few in a row right now would be the thing to do. Maybe starting in New York. Keep the faith. I'll report from Citi Field after Friday night's game.