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Don't Give Up. The Players Haven't: Cubs vs. Mets Preview, Sunday 9/6, 12:10 CT

NEW YORK -- Derrek Lee and Rich Harden said all the right things yesterday. First, D-Lee:

Lee said he still will feel empty in October if the Cubs don't make the playoffs, no matter what his numbers are.

"I take pride in that I was able to stay healthy and play as hard as I can," he said. "But the best year of my career ('05) we didn't make the playoffs, and it didn't do anything for me.

"The last two years have been great. The postseason is where it's at. That's why you grind through 162 games. It's nice to do your job, obviously. You don't want to stink it up. But the goal is to win."

"No one would have expected us to be in this position, but we are," Lee said. "We have a month to go, so you can't hang your head or feel sorry for yourself. I mean, stranger things have happened, so it's not impossible. I guess that's how you have to look at it."

And Harden:

"I still don't want to get too far ahead of myself," Harden said. "But here I am, with 24 starts, and today was probably the strongest I've felt in I don't know how long. Hopefully I can build on that and get back to how I used to be late in the season."

Harden credited the Cubs' conditioning program, which bodes well for their chances of re-signing him. But Harden and Lee didn't want to talk about next year as long as the Cubs have a mathematical chance to get in the playoffs. They remained seven games behind the Rockies for the wild card.

All the teams ahead of the Cubs won yesterday, except for the Braves, who lost their second in a row to Cincinnati -- at home. The Cubs could pull even with Atlanta with a win and a Braves loss today. The players haven't given up -- look at Lee's quote above. I'm not giving up. Don't you, either. Not yet.

In addition to his knee problems, Alfonso Soriano thinks there may be another reason for his bad season:

The Cubs left fielder, who might be out for the rest of the season because of the knee, said he plans to have an extensive eye exam by a specialist after teammates and staff asked him about his eyesight.

"Not like a normal test," said Soriano, who added that he can't tell a difference in his sight from other years but wonders if an imperceptible difference has contributed to the worst-hitting season of his career. "I had four or five people ask me about that."

Sure, why not? Maybe all the Cubs should do this. It can't hurt.

Finally, in talking to some Mets fans, not only are they upset with the way Citi Field was designed in homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers, ignoring their own team's history, but they also don't care for the all-white uniform that is the Mets' primary garb -- apparently, it's supposed to be modeled after the 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers, though it's odd that they'd pay tribute to a team that blew a 13.5 game lead, and the Mets' white home jersey resembles the '51 Dodgers road jersey more than the home shirt. One Mets fan said to me, "They've turned the Mets into the 'New York Dodgers'." And with the team's poor play and financial fallout from the Bernard Madoff scandal, the Mets could be looking at a period of serious decline.

I don't have a problem with this. Let's start it today.

Site note: once again, today's recap will be delayed, as I am leaving to drive to Pittsburgh right after today's game; I hope to have it posted by around 11 pm CDT.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Randy Wells
Randy Wells
vs. Mike Pelfrey
Mike Pelfrey
10-7 W-L 9-10
2.90 ERA 5.03
82 SO 88
35 BB 60
11 HR 12
vs. NY -- vs. Cubs

2009 - Randy Wells 10-7 21 21 0 0 0 0 133.1 128 49 43 11 35 82 2.90 1.22

2009 - Mike Pelfrey 9-10 26 26 0 0 0 0 150.1 173 91 84 12 60 88 5.03 1.55

Mike Pelfrey is a pitcher who is a perfect example of how goofy major league schedules are. He's been in the Mets' rotation for two full years and parts of two others, but has never faced the Cubs. He's also struggled this year, and particularly since the All-Star break; since then he is 2-6, 6.10 in nine starts.

Since 1945, only four Cubs rookie pitchers have won more games in a season than Randy Wells: Jim Davis, 11 in 1954; Dick Drott, 15 in 1957; Geremi Gonzalez, 11 in 1997, and Kerry Wood, 13 in 1998. Drott, incidentally, was kind of the Kerry Wood of his day; he finished 2nd in the NL in K's, led the league in walks, and was third in ROY voting. Randy Wells isn't a strikeout pitcher, but he does have an outside chance of having the most wins for a Cub rookie pitcher since Drott. Today would be a nice time for win #11. Wells has never faced the Mets.

Today's game is on WGN for national distribution, and on SNY in New York. For other games today see the Mediacenter. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Mets site Amazin' Avenue.

The overflow comment threads weren't too busy yesterday -- I assume because of the holiday weekend -- so I'm only going to post two of them today, at 1:15 pm and 2:30 pm CDT. If things get too busy, please post a FanShot overflow.

Discuss amongst yourselves.