I continue to be blown away by the mainstream media's reactionary coverage of the Cubs (and all Chicago sports teams, but today I'm talking about the Cubs). The game in San Diego was tremendously bad for the health of the Cubs season. There is no getting around that some losses are bigger than others, and that one was huge.
It reminded me a little too much of the Hawkins blown save at Shea in 2004. Its the kind of game that can start a death spiral.
So we all hate Kevin Gregg today. Many people have hated him the whole season, despite that he was probably the best reliever in the bullpen while Marmol was walking or hitting everybody he faced, Guzman was hurt (again), and the rest of the merry men were being who we thought they were. Marshall is the only guy who can make an argument for transitioning to a very useful LOOGY at the time.
But we didn't care about all of that last night as the ball left Kevin Blanks' bat on its way to the left field bleachers. All you wanted to do was reach through the television and gut Kevin Gregg like a fish. You wanted to have him drawn and quartered. You suddenly found yourself turned around on water boarding, sleep deprivation, and any other kind of torture that Dick Cheney can dream up.
It's natural. The Cubs had just slipped six games behind a surging Cardinals team, and lost ground on three of the four teams ahead of them in the wild card standings. We lost to the friggin' Padres after holding Adrian Gonzalez to an 0 for 4 night with a double play. We lost after Ted Lilly came back to us and pitched like he had never left (except on a pitch count).
It was just plain brutal.
I considered doing a post then and there, describing how I would kill Kevin Gregg and anyone who tried to stop me (please let it have been Aaron Miles). I would rant and rave and scream and shout to the interwebs until my fingers could type no more. But then I decided to sleep on it and see where I came out after a night of rest and reflection.
Mr. David Kaplan of WGN radio did not wait. He got right on his computer and blamed Lou Piniella for the loss in his blog. It is Kaplan's assertion that Lou should have known that Gregg was not a closer and that he should never be in the role, and that every loss from a Gregg blown save is Lou's fault.
Well, that is all well and good when you are cursing the heavens like a lunatic in a postgame venting of emotions, but seriously? Kaplan, you are an employee of the Tribune. You are a paid journalist and supposed sports expert. In the midst of your diatribe, did you even think for one tiny moment how you would have handled the situation differently?
Of course not. He just threw something together in the heat of the moment like he did after Gregg blew a save in Detroit in June where he demanded that Marmol be put in the closer role. Marmol proceeded to shit himself so badly on the mound that Kaplan finally had to post a reluctant admission that Gregg was the best closer for this team on the roster.
Now, Gregg is broken. Whether he is tipping his pitches, or was tipping his pitches, or the Marlins are just f---ing with his head, the Marlins series broke Gregg. He has been brutal since that fateful series in Florida. It doesn't matter anymore if he's tipping his pitches because half of them are straight down the middle of the plate.
So, in less than three weeks, Gregg went from closer who was locking down multi-inning saves because no one else could get out of a damn inning without walking everyone in sight, to a pitcher that Lou should never have trusted in the first place? Are you joking?
Who the hell else would be the closer, Kap? Before last night proved almost without a shadow of a doubt that Gregg is now damaged goods, the options were what? Marmol? Mr. Consistency. I call him that because he consistently finds ways to allow batters on base without having to swing the bat. That is always a recipe for success in the 9th inning.
Angel Guzman? This may very well be Lou's move now because he has no other choice, but making Guzman the closer rests the season on a rookie pitcher with the glass arm. That hasn't worked out too well in the past for the Cubs, but they're kind of due.
If Lou pulled the plug on Gregg after the Florida series, he would have sent a message to the team that they are desperate, which is exactly what you want going into a series with the defending World Champions. Using the gift of hindsight, its obvious it wouldn't have mattered in the slightest, but at the time, it would have been like putting all of your life savings on black seventeen in roulette.
Now the Cubs are desperate. Six games behind a Cardinal team that doesn't seem to be phased by playing the NL leading Dodgers in their home park is quite a mountain to climb. Getting past four other teams for the wildcard is not going to be easy. It's time to go all-in and Lou is doing it with his announced change in the closer role.
Whether it works is any one's guess, but the timing of it is correct. Making that move prior to now would have been panicking before it was time to panic. Of course, you would think that Dave Kaplan, sports talk host extraordinaire would know that. People wonder why Cubs fans are depicted as morons, it has to be in part due to the fact that people who are paid to inform the casual fans are clearly reactionary idiots themselves.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Check this out at Aisle 424: We Could Punish Gregg By Making Him Read Kaplan's BlogTweet this! Posted by SixRowBrewCo at 11:22 AM