Monday, September 28, 2009

Cubs Destroy Someone Else's Playoff Hopes For Once

I stated yesterday on Twitter that I was proud of the Cubs for going into San Francisco and taking three of four games.  One person asked me why and I responded that the Cubs had nothing to play for, they were fielding a glorified AAA team, and they went into a contender's ballpark and beat a team with fantastic pitching.

He responded with: "I suppose having minimal expectations is one way to root for a team. Lucky for you the Cubs will always live down to it."

I understand being disappointed in this team, depressed by this team, and pissed off by this team.  If you've read this blog all year, you'll know that I have been highly critical of many of the players and of the team in general.  Nevertheless, the deed has been done.  The math won't eliminate the Cubs until Tuesday at the earliest, but the Cubs have been dead since they got their asses handed to them in Los Angeles a month and a half ago.  I'm over it.

I no longer view this as the 2009 Cubs of Failure.  This is the beginnings of what the 2010 Cubs could look like.  Zambrano outpitching Tim Lincecum in a true pitcher's duel when both guys were dealing like you'd expect.  Jeff Baker ripping San Francisco's hearts out of their chest with a 2-out, 2-strike go-ahead homerun in the 9th off the Giants closer.  Tom Gorzelanny stepping in and making it easier for the Cubs to not feel as though they have to sign the impending injury known as Rich Harden.

These are all good things.  It doesn't change the fact that there is only a week left of baseball for them, when they absolutely should have been able to make the playoffs again this year.  It doesn't make Milton Bradley's $21 million left on his contract disappear.  It doesn't make Soriano any younger, able to lay off that breaking ball low and away, or a better outfielder.  It doesn't make Aaron Miles useful in any way.  But I don't care.

I like that the Cubs showed some fight at the end when they had nothing to fight for.  I like that we are disappointed and pissed off with a Cubs team that could still end up with a better record than the 2007 playoff team.  I like that there is a tangible difference in the way this team has played after Bradley was removed from the equation.

Finishing strong allows the embers of hope to glow a little brighter through the cold, dark winter.  It makes the possibility that a complete destruction of this team may not be necessary right away.  Geo is looking better at the plate.  Baker keeps making it harder to ignore him as a starter.  Hell, even Samardzija makes me think he might not be totally useless.

The series victory in San Francisco was not about resurrecting the 2009 playoff hopes or even making us feel good about how this year has turned out, it was about pointing to the future and creating something they can build on.  I'm damn proud of them for showing up and basically crushing the Giants' playoff hopes.

More of that next year, please.


Arnold said...

Samardzija is not totally useless? He's a rock star!!

Charley said...

Nice post. I'm glad to see them fighting to the end. These are professionals getting paid a lot of money to do what the rest of us wish we could do. They shouldn't take the rest of the season lightly, you play til the end.

It will come down to the Cubs and Cardinals again next year. Cardinals had a healthy team for majority of the year. Carpenter pitched more than he has in the past 3 years, Pujols was healthy for the entire season, and they made some great pick-ups mid-season.

Aisle 424 said...

The Cardinals played everything just right this year. They had a core of players surrounded by some nice pieces from their own system, and when there were some holes to be plugged, they went out and spent some money to fix them.

Unlike in 2008 when the Brewers went for it by acquiring Sabathia, and the Cubs turned right around and countered by getting Harden, the Cardinals knew the Cubs couldn't make a corresponding move this year with the ownership situation. They were free to go and clean out their minor leagues for Holliday, DeRosa, and Lugo without fear that the Cubs would pull a big trade to negate their moves.

I hate Sam Zell.

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