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The Dead Team Sketch

Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs tags out Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks after Upton got caught in a rundown at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs tags out Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks after Upton got caught in a rundown at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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The Cubs lost Sunday to the Diamondbacks 5-1, getting swept in Arizona and finishing up a 2-4 road trip. That dropped the team's road record to 10-29; they've also gone 9-28 overall since May 14. The .333 winning percentage again puts them on pace for a 108-loss season, and at 24 games under. 500 they are the lowest beneath break-even since the last day of the 2006 season.

Matt Garza pitched pretty well, but the Cubs got just three hits off starter Wade Miley. One of them was a home run by Alfonso Soriano; another a double by Darwin Barney to almost the same spot. I say "almost" because the ball literally hit off the yellow line that demarcates the difference between a home run and a ball off the wall; the ball has to go over the yellow line to be a home run. Instead of being a game-tying two-run homer, it put Cubs runners on second and third with no one out in the top of the eighth.

Easy scoring chance, right? Tie game coming, right?

Wrong, as usual. Joe Mather struck out. Luis Valbuena hit a ball right on the nose, but right at shortstop John McDonald. And David DeJesus hit a comebacker to an obviously tiring Miley to end the inning. That was the end of the game being close, as Manuel Corpas loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the eighth, and the D'backs blew the game open off Corpas before James Russell came in and stanched the flow of Arizona runs.

Meanwhile, a very angry Cubs fan entered a Wrigley Field office....

(Scene: A perfectly ordinary ballpark office. A tall Cubs fan wearing a two-sizes-too-small Cubs T-shirt, cargo shorts, and carrying a "W" flag in hand, enters and begins to speak in a ridiculously exaggerated British accent. Many apologies in advance to Monty Python's Flying Circus.)

Cubs Fan: 'Ello. I wish to register a complaint.

(A team executive has his back to the fan and does not respond.)

Cubs Fan: 'Ello, Miss?

Executive: (turning around, very angry) What do you mean, "miss"?

Cubs Fan: I'm sorry, I have a cold.

(The executive nods, understanding.)

Cubs Fan: I wish to make a complaint!

Executive: (hurriedly) Sorry, we're closin' for lunch...!

Cubs Fan: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this baseball team, for which I purchased some tickets not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

Executive: Oh yes, the, ah, the Cubbie Blue... What's, ah... W-what's wrong with it?

Cubs Fan: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. It's dead, that's what's wrong with it.

Executive: No, no, ah... it's resting.

Cubs Fan: Look, my lad, I know a dead team when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

Executive: No, no, it's not dead, it's, it's restin'! Look!

Cubs Fan: Restin'?

Executive: Y-yeah, restin.' Remarkable team, the Cubbie Blue, isn't it, eh? Beautiful ballpark!

Cubs Fan: The ballpark don't enter into it. It's stone dead!

Executive: No, no, no! It's resting!

Cubs Fan: All right then, if it's resting, I'll wake it up!

(shouting at no one in particular)

'Ello, Matt! Mister Matt Garza! I've got a lovely fresh contract for you if you wake up, Matt Garza ...

(the executive hits the side of a TV set)

Executive: There, he moved!

Cubs Fan: No, he didn't, that was him throwing another ball away!

Executive: No, he didn't!

Cubs Fan: Yes, he did!

Executive: Oh, never, never....

(The fan pulls a scorecard out of his pocket and screams out names.)


(He bangs his head against the store counter, horribly hard.)


(He does it again, harder.)


(He tosses a baseball up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor. Longish pause.)

Now that's what I call a dead team.

Executive: No, no.... it's stunned!

Cubs Fan: STUNNED?

Executive: Yeah! You stunned it, just as it was wakin' up! Cubbie Blues stun easily, major.

Cubs Fan: Look my lad, I've had just about enough of this. This team is definitely deceased, and when I bought these tickets not half an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it being tired and shagged out after a long loss.

Executive: Well, it's... it's, ah... probably pining for the pennant.

(The fan looks angrily back and forth, stuttering.)

Cubs Fan: PINING for the PENNANT? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did it fall flat into last place the moment Opening Day happened?

Executive: The Cubbie Blue prefers kippin' in last place! Remarkable team, isn't it, guv, eh? Lovely ballpark!

Cubs Fan: (coldly) Look, I took the liberty of examining those tickets when I got 'em home, and I discovered the only reason that they were so expensive in the first place was that they had been "dynamically priced".


Executive: Well, of course they were dynamically priced! If I hadn't dynamically priced those tickets, fans like you would have rushed the gates, bent 'em apart with their bare hands, and VOOM!

Cubs Fan: "VOOM?" Look matey, this team wouldn't "voom" if you put four thousand volts through it! It's bleedin' demised!

Executive: It's not! I-It's pining!

Cubs Fan: It's not pining, it's passed on! This team is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late ballclub! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't dynamically priced those tickets it would be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolical processes are of interest only to historians! It's hopped the twig! It's shuffled off this mortal coil! It's rung down the curtain and joined the Choir Invisible! This.... is an EX-BASEBALL TEAM!


Executive: Well, I'd better replace it, then.

(He disappears behind the counter; his estimated return date is 2015.)

Cubs Fan: (turning to camera) If you want to get anything done in this country you've got to complain 'til you're blue in the mouth.