When Joey Votto was ejected for slamming his helmet to the ground after being called out on strikes by Angel Campos on a pitch that wasn't even close to the strike zone, Mike said to me, "That could be a turning point in this game," referring to the way Votto owns Cubs pitching.
He was right, but for the wrong reason. Votto was replaced in the batting order by Paul Janish.
Janish is a shortstop. He was placed at third base (with Miguel Cairo moving to first), a position he had played exactly eight previous times in the major leagues. Janish also entered today's game hitting .207/.297/.298 in his big league career in 437 plate appearances with three home runs.
Naturally, Janish was one of the Reds' hitting stars in a 14-3 blowout of the Cubs. Janish went 4-for-4 with three runs scored, three RBI and one of the Reds' seven home runs, four of which were hit in the seventh inning when the Reds had ten consecutive men reach base after the first two hitters were routinely retired.
I just read that paragraph again and I shook my head. Just when you think this team has hit bottom, they get worse. This has to be the worst homestand in recent Cubs history -- a 2-5 record, outscored 35-17, unable to put opposing hitters away in virtually all situations.
The season has gotten so bad that at this juncture, there's no reason any more to replace the manager. A month ago, a new leader might have brought a fresh atmosphere and a chance to contend, when the Cubs were only five or six games out of first place. Now? Trailing by 11.5 games and hearing, "Look, what do you want me to do?" for the eleventy-gabillionth time, why bother? It's the same reason I told people here in 2006 that firing Dusty Baker during the season was pointless. No manager could have done any different with that club. There were some who wanted Lou, at the time a (bad) Fox-TV analyst, to take over during the 2006 season. What meaning would that have had? At this point, might as well just let Lou's contract run out and let him go home.
Baker, incidentally, came out and had several animated arguments with umpires during this series. I think we saw him come out more times in four games than in the entire four years he managed the Cubs. What's gotten into him?
Three of the Reds' homers reached Waveland, one of them caught on the fly by Ballhawk Dave. I saw our own Ballhawk Ken racing down Kenmore after another one. Meanwhile, the Cubs hitters couldn't get anything into the Waveland jetstream, but Tyler Colvin hit a pair, one each to left and right. He's hit 12 HR and driven in 32 in 162 at-bats -- that ought to get him some Rookie of the Year consideration, and also an everyday job in the outfield (whether in RF, CF or LF).
The crowd of 41,079 was the fourth-largest of 2010 and included a lot of people in the standing-room area. Most of them departed after that disastrous Reds seventh. I can only imagine what Wrigley will look like in September.
Finally, congratulations to Marlon Byrd on his first-ever selection to an All-Star team. Some of the choices and non-choices border on bizarre, and how Joey Votto, who is in the top six in the NL in HR, RBI, SLG and BA, could be relegated to the fan vote for the final NL player, is completely ridiculous. Maybe that's another reason he was so hacked-off at that bogus strikeout call. Everyone should vote for Votto, a fine young player.