Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Best Roadtrip Ever!

It's a bit hypocritical of me to get on a soapbox about the Cubs' seeming non-chalant attitude towards the 2009 season when I have half-assed my way through a couple straight posts, but the reality of the situation is that I get paid more to pay full attention to my actual job than I get from Google Ads for writing this blog.

If, perhaps, Alfonso Soriano was making rounds in a hospital at 5:00 AM every morning in an effort to save children from dying of cancer, we might understand how a flyball not hit directly at him might possibly slip down his list of priorities. The problem is that he makes almost $33,000 per hour (assuming each game lasts 3 hours) to make catching that fly ball his number one priority, even if it means moving a bit from the spot where he was standing when the pitch was thrown.

Cub fans have been trained over the years to not actually expect that every routine play will get made. We hear the various excuses from year to year. It's too hot during all these afternoon games. It's too cold for the dark-skinned guys (courtesy of Dusty Baker, just in case Gordon Wittenmyer conveniently forgets that and decides that I'm a typical racist Cubs fan). Wrigley is a tough place to play because of the sun and wind and KKK rallies in the bleachers. The dog ate my homework. There is an excuse for every situation.

So, despite how tough we now are on our players by actually voicing displeasure through the malicious act of booing after paying four times face value for a seat to a scalping service owned by the Cubs, we are actually a pretty understanding fan base.

We forgive alot of our players. We forgive Ryan Theriot for being a dumbass most of the time. We forgive Aramis Ramirez for actually running faster than a jog on roughly 25% of his total plate appearances. We even forgive Soriano for loafing after a ball that is catchable, either dropping or missing the ball altogether, letting the ball roll all the way to the wall, having a disturbing amount of trouble picking the ball up after it has come to a complete stop, and then making an inaccurate throw into the infield.

We forgive the entire team for a two-day crapfest in Philadelphia that, in my mind, wiped out the potential momentum they could have gained from sweeping the mind-bogglingly bad Washington Nationals. We forgive them because the Cubs DID NOT GET SWEPT TODAY!! WOOHOO!!! NO SWEEP! NO SWEEP! NO SWEEP! U-S-A! U-S-A!

I was driving home and listening to Crane Kenney on the Afternoon Saloon on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. Amongst his discussions about finding new ways to use Wrigley for events that are not baseball related, long-term plans to improve the ballpark amenities, and the ongoing Cubs sale, he mentioned the success of the 5-2 record on the just finished road trip.

He was thrilled with the 5-2 road trip because they had come really close to being 6-1. The fact of the matter is, they basically played Little Leaguers for four of those wins and then they beat Methuselah's older brother today. When the Cubs were faced with actual competition from an actual team with some actual talented starting pitchers, competent defenders, and batters who know the difference between a ball and a strike, they folded up.

I understand that Philadelphia is a hot team right now. I understand that Citizen Bank Park is a tough place to play. I understand that the Phillies are the defending champions. Nevertheless, the Cubs waltzed into Philadelphia on a four game winning streak and proceeded to have their intestines ripped out through their noses before the end of the first inning of the first game.

They managed one win to prevent a sweep and there is the Chairman of the Cubs talking about what a great roadtrip it was. At best, they managed to meet expectations, if their expectations are truly to make the playoffs and advance. This team needs to show that it can beat a team that is actually good at playing baseball.

They got owned by Rodrigo Lopez and Joe Blanton. Who the hell are Rodrigo Lopez and Joe Blanton? They are both slightly better than .500. Lopez has a career ERA of 4.76, Blanton has a 4.24. Whoopdee freakin' doo.

If the Cubs think they are going to face any pitchers worse than Rodrigo Lopez in the playoffs, they are deluding themselves. They are going to have to figure out how to score some damn runs against pitchers with pulses.

They are going to have to stop giving away runs like candy by having the worst defense I have ever seen. They are going to have to stop running the bases like they are wearing twenty pound ankle weights. They are going to have to notice that the Phillies outfielders damn near caught them lollygagging on the basepaths a number of times and stop f***ing acting like brain damaged morons on the basepaths.

The Cubs start up their upcoming homestand by facing Aaron Harang (.493 career win percentage, 4.24 ERA), Johnny Cueto (.459, 4.35), Micah Owings (.426, 5.07), Wandy Rodriguez (.505, 4.32), and Roy Oswalt (.665, 3.17). By my count, that is four middling pitchers and one damn good one.

A good team that is playing as well as Crane Kenney seems to think the Cubs are currently playing should win four out of those five games at home. We'll see. I'm not nearly as encouraged as Crane by a very misleading 5-2 road trip.


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