Summer made its last windy gasp at Wrigley Field this evening, with temperatures in the mid-80s and winds gusting out at 25-30 MPH. Someone forgot to tell the Cubs, because they left all the hitting to the Giants in a 13-0 shutout of the Cubs, which included two home runs from Juan Uribe in the second inning, one of them a grand slam.
We all should have known that it wasn't going to be the Cubs' night when they passed out, as a promotion, a scorecard with a card stuck on the front with very sticky stuff. The card included a gift card from a certain oil company that sponsored a certain "cup" earlier this season. I won't name the company, but the card was stated as worth $5 -- $10 "if the Cubs win tonight." That, of course, almost insured tonight's result.
It was Ryan Dempster's worst start as a Cub, both shortest (1.2 innings) and most earned runs allowed (nine). After the Giants pulled away to an 11-0 lead after three innings, both managers started emptying their benches as if it were a spring training game. 37 players eventually took part in this blowout and the Giants turned over every batting order spot except leadoff -- which tonight was inhabited by ex-Cub Mike Fontenot, who went 2-for-2 in the first two innings and then did nothing the rest of the night.
The Giants set a major league record Thursday; it was the 17th consecutive game their pitching staff had allowed three or fewer runs. They're 12-5 in those games, heading to Colorado tomorrow -- that might end it. They've alllowed 24 total runs in those 17 games -- if they can hang on to make the playoffs, that pitching staff would be formidable for anyone to face.
But I don't want to talk about this game any more. After the jump, I want to discuss two recent Cub-related reports that got blown out of all proportion in the last couple of days.
On Tuesday, Fox Sports national writer Jon Morosi sent out this tweet:
Source: #BlueJays have a long list of managerial candidates, and Ryne Sandberg is on it. #Jays #Toronto #Cubs
Which, within a nanosecond of internet time, turned into this:
Now, stop for a second and think about that. All it says is that Ryne Sandberg is on a list of managerial candidates for the Blue Jays, and it's a long list. I imagine Sandberg is on many teams' radar. But think about it -- Toronto? A team that is, for the foreseeable future, going to have to climb over three other teams better than they are to have any chance at the playoffs? In a city, nice that it is (I love Toronto, wonderful city, friendly people), isn't a baseball town? And with an indifferent fanbase that has dropped average attendance under 20,000 this year? It's been real tough for the Jays to attract managerial talent (Carlos Tosca and John Gibbons both washed out and they had to drag Cito Gaston out of retirement the last two years). I can't see Sandberg taking that job, if he weren't chosen to manage the Cubs (which I think he will be).
Today, this report in USA Today about new Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers quoted Towers as saying, two years ago, to Greg Maddux:
"I told Greg two years ago as soon as you want to be on the field please make me the first call," Towers said.
Which led to this reaction:
It got wacky enough around the interwebs -- headlines appeared earlier today with titles like "Greg Maddux Leaving the Cubs to Be Diamondbacks Pitching Coach?" -- that Jim Hendry felt compelled to issue a statement late this afternoon:
"Greg and I have a really good relationship," he said. "Obviously Greg's intent is to stay with the Cubs in 2011, doing exactly what he's doing now. And I'm sure we'll have some other expansive duties for him. I've had numerous conversations with his since Lou (Piniella) left, including (about) the managerial process."So relax, everyone. Greg Maddux is staying with the Cubs, and I believe that the longer he sticks around, the better the chance he will find some sort of permanent role in the organization. Telling in that quote is the statement that Hendry and Maddux have discussed the managerial opening. I'm glad of that -- Greg Maddux is a smart baseball man and I imagine his advice to Jim Hendry will be taken seriously, whatever it is. That article also had some actual information about Ryne Sandberg:
"Kevin and I are friends. I'm glad Kevin is back, it didn't really bother me because I knew what Greg is going to do."
Hendry returned to Chicago Thursday after interviewing Ryne Sandberg in Arizona for the managerial job.
"I spent a good day and a half with Ryno," Hendry said. "We had dinner Tuesday night and met (Wednesday) for three or four hours. The process is continuing the way I've said it would."
The 24/7 news cycle with breathless tweets and "analysis" of those tweets, 99.9% of which is incorrect, ignores the realities of the sports world, which doesn't always run at that speed. I confess that I myself have been guilty of doing this sort of thing and really, I need to step back at times and think about it. Just because all of us can throw out stuff at light speed doesn't mean we should be doing that.
Meanwhile, the season continues to soft-land to its finish; it will be cooler, fall-like at Wrigley Field over the weekend for the final home series against the Cardinals, whose elimination number stands at three. With some good baseball and help from the Reds, the Cubs can eliminate the Cardinals on Saturday. And wouldn't that be nice?