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Cubs Lose To Astros 7-3: A Rant

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Think about this for a moment: The Cubs have just lost to the Astros 7-3, blowing a ninth-inning lead after coming back with a nice rally in the bottom of the eighth.

And what do we hear from Mike Quade in his postgame remarks? Platitudes and more of his nonsensical high-school nicknames ("Marm", "Z", "Demp", "Cassie", even one for Astros manager Brad Mills -- "Millsy" -- when someone asked about whether Quade was surprised at the intentional walk given to Carlos Pena in the eighth inning).

Those of you who have read this site for a long time know I am an eternal optimist, always trying to find the good side, always hoping things will turn for the better, not one to be part of a torches and pitchforks mob yelling and screaming for everyone to be fired every single day. I don't usually do rants well.

But damn, Mike Quade, can't you get angry when things like this happen? Don't you show your frustration with the way things have gone? Can't you just once say something like, "We were awful in that ninth inning and we can't do that any more, we've got to change things around here"? Show some emotion?

Yes, the Cubs have had unusually bad luck with injuries lately -- the DL move of Alfonso Soriano and recall of Tyler Colvin makes 15 roster moves in the last five days. But eventually, the players you put on the field have got to produce. Tonight, we saw the worst game from Carlos Marmol since he became a full-time reliever in 2007. Was he tipping his pitches? Or was everything just flat? Marmol just got pounded. What IS it with this team? Can't they even enjoy one single game against the worst team in the league where they make a nice comeback and win? Or maybe "worst team in the league" isn't the right appellation for the Astros, not after the last two days.

Carlos Zambrano threw a really nice game, and it's a shame it got ruined. He made only one mistake -- Brett Wallace's home run that made it 1-0 going into the last of the eighth -- and didn't walk anyone. He broke another bat over his leg; I wish he'd stop doing that silly stuff. It got a rise out of the crowd, but seriously, what's the point?

Jordan Lyles, making his major league debut, did what pitchers the Cubs have never seen before usually do -- shut them down for seven innings. He got into trouble in the eighth, at which time the game time was about 1:50, and then "Millsy" slowed things down with three pitching changes while the Cubs were fashioning a nice three-run rally which included timely hits from Darwin Barney and Aramis Ramirez and a nicely-placed bunt from Colvin which eventually scored pinch-runner Brad Snyder when Sergio Escalona threw the ball into left field.

That really should have been enough. Look, I know closers have meltdowns every now and then, and this one certainly isn't the manager's fault. But how much more of this can we all take? Every single day, something else goes wrong. What more? Is this what it's going to mean to be a Cubs fan, now and forever? Loss after loss, year after year? It's getting frustrating and frankly, not very much fun at all. I would like to see hope down the road, but right now, there doesn't appear to be much.

I debated long and hard about whether to do this recap tonight or wait until morning, and decided to get it all out now, before sleep softened what happened at Wrigley Field on a gorgeous evening. I'm still not part of the torches and pitchforks mob, but it does appear to me that Mike Quade is totally overmatched as a major league manager. Either that, or he's decided to cash in the season already.

Why else would you start Blake DeWitt in left field when Tyler Colvin is in the ballpark? Regardless of whether this is a move to see if DeWitt can handle the outfield (and he slipped and fell again today, making a catch anyway, but don't tell me it was the "wet field" -- it wasn't), you don't make these types of decisions in May. You do them in September, or in spring training. Doing this in season game #53 is waving the white flag, and why would a manager do that? The Cubs haven't played anyone with this little power in left field since Todd Hollandsworth played 107 games there with a .689 OPS in 2005. And there wasn't much point to that, either.

If the season is indeed cashed in, why not find out what Colvin can do on an everyday basis? These decisions are mindboggling, and more of them appear to be being made -- every day.

I'll probably get up in the morning and feel better; the sun will be shining, and there will be another game at Wrigley Field. I love baseball and the Cubs, and off I'll go for an afternoon at the ballpark. But something's missing from that scenario, and right now I'm wondering if the Cubs can ever get back to the point we all were, five outs away in 2003, and past it into the World Series. It seems very, very far away.