Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hit Me Again, Cubs, and This Time Put Some Stank On It!

Last night's game was the kind of game that one would think, that as a Cubs fan, I would be immune to by now. It's not like we have never seen the Cubs grab defeat from the jaws of victory before.

I remember Jon Lieber throwing a perfect game against the Cardinals at Wrigley. He had retired 20 straight batters and here came Mark McGwire to the plate. The crowd booed him and the guy next to me said, "Oh come on, it's Mark McGwire. Let's see him dent some cars on Waveland."

This man clearly did not know what Lieber was doing, so I decided I would point it out as best I could without committing the sin of saying it out loud. I said, "Dude..." and pointed to my scorecard.

He didn't get it.

I pointed to the bottom where all the zeroes were for the runs and hits in each inning.

He didn't get it.

I pointed to the three outs per inning in each inning he had achieved up until then.

He didn't get it.

"He's throwing a perfect game."

I said it quick and just loud enough so that hopefully only the idiot next to me would hear it. The baseball gods heard it.

The next pitch was hit very high and I didn't think that McGwire had gotten enough of it. There was no wind, but the center fielder just kept drifting and drifting until he ran out of room and the ball landed in the basket in straight-away center.

The perfect game, the no-hitter, and the shutout were all gone in a split second. Lieber then proceeded to not get anyone else out. Someone can check me on this, but I believe that he was finally charged with six earned runs in his 6 2/3 innings. It went from being a masterpiece to a fantasy team-wrecking line.

Last night will be a game that will live in infamy along with the Lieber game. It had the same quality of giving you the sense that you were seeing something special. You started wondering if Yunel Escobar's faked hit-by-pitch was really going to be the only blemish of the night for the rookie pitcher seeking a well-earned first career major league victory. Then it turned to outright shit before you even knew what was going on.

The difference is that Lieber really had no one to blame but himself for the onslaught that destroyed his night. All Randy Wells could do was sit in the dugout and watch his teammates f--- up everything he had worked so hard to achieve.

First, maybe Wells never even has to come out of the game if Derrek Lee doesn't forget how to play defense immediately following the solo homerun given up by Wells. It stands to reason that Wells could have (and given hindsight, probably would have) managed to get more than one out while not walking two guys and hitting batter in the process.

Kevin Gregg actually came in and got three straight outs to record a perfect save opportunity. That is, if Geovany Soto could block a strike-three pitch in the dirt, or manage to find where the ball was after letting it get by, or if he had let it get by, been slow to find it, and then not tripped and smacked his face into the netting behind the plate. Any of those scenarios probably would have resulted in Garrett Anderson being thrown out at first to complete the strikeout. But he managed to turn an otherwise unspectacular strikeout into the Inspector Clouseau routine from hell, allowing the runner to reach base.

So, I can't be too pissed at Gregg. He essentially came in and got three outs. Unfortunately, he had more trouble getting the fourth out of the inning and grooved a two-strike fastball right where Jeff Francouer probably would have requested it, if given the opportunity. The result was a ball that was hit so hard the only question was whether it was hit high enough to clear the wall. It was.

So the culprits were all around. Lee, Soto, Marmol, Gregg, and later Heilman all contributed to the Cubs demise and the preventing of Wells winning his first game despite having an ERA of 1.69 after five starts. Son, if you wanted to beat the hell out of a gatorade machine, throw some equipment around, or junk-punch one of your teammates, no one will blame you.

Meanwhile, Cubdom is left dazed and bewildered by how poorly this team is playing. Some are clinging to the idea that it is still early with a death grip. Some have been playing the "I told you so" card and beating the trading of DeRosa horse to death. Some are just pissed as hell.

Everybody handles the emotional scarring differently, but the one similarity is that we keep going back for more. Clearly, there is something wrong with us.


Derek said...

I took the dog to the park last night to get him out of the house and used my phone to monitor the game while there. I remember checking the phone just before returning home and seeing "Chicago 5, Atlanta 0 Mid 8" and thinking, "Hell yes!"

When I got home a half hour later and found the game tied at 5 in the bottom of the 10th, I just shook my head. There was no surprise. No anger. Just a quick sigh and a mutter of the words, "Of course."

The wife came home a few minutes later with the Cubs batting in the 11th. She--hopeful that she could take control of the TV for a while--asked what I was watching; I told her, "The Cubs."

"Oh. I guess you want to watch this then."

"Nah. I know how this is gonna end," I said and handed her the remote.

The only comfort I can take is that at least I was wrong about which inning would be the last; I had my money on the 11th.

Tim McGinnis said...

If only I lived further from where I work. I left the office right after Chipper broke up the no-hitter. I get home and turn on the TV and literally the first thing I heard was, "...and the tying run will come to the plate."

I then got to settle in and watch the horror unfold before my disbelieving eyes. I think I would have preferred having the immediate slap and sting of finding out that they had blown the lead, instead of the constant virtual kicks to the ribs and groinal area that came with watching it happen in live time.

Sean Gill said...

I watched from the 6th inning on, occasionally flipping to Ghost Busters in AMC (come on, it's Ghostbusters!). I, once again, made the mistake of shooting out a blast txt msg about Wells no-no in the 7th. No sooner did I hit send then Chipper (I still have his rookie card from when I collected cards when I was a long has he been playing?) Jones got a solid hit. Obviously the baseball gods are temperamental people.

After Geo muffed the drop 3rd strike in the 9th, I could practically already see what was going to happen. Especially with how obvious it was that Francoeur was ONLY swinging for a HR.

I then half-watched half read a book through the extras waiting for the Cubs to lose or for the Daily Show to start, whichever came first. (The Cubs lost 10 mins before Jon Stewart came on).

None of this shocked me. And that is so sad.

I was one of the very few people that kept saying they weren't going to make the playoffs before the season began. Most of my buddies didn't believe me.

Unfortunately, they all now do.

Derek said...

Personally, I feel it is acceptable to watch the atrocity known as Ghostbusters II instead of the Cubs right now.

Tim McGinnis said...

I'm not to the point where I will watch bad sequels instead of the Cubs. I did, however, take a break from them tonight to see a play at the Goodman Theatre. "The Crowd You're In With" is a very good play.

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