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The Blame Game
by Derek Smart
During the frustrating times of a season when loss piles upon loss and failure begets failure like a virus dividing and multiplying, there can be some comfort taken, cold and sick though it may be, in finding someone to blame.
The losses build animus, and that animus seeks a direction, a focus. It does not want to sit and be still, it wants action. It wants a target.
That's the gift of blame. It provides something at which to aim your malice, keeping the rancor from doing its damage to you instead, which it most certainly will, if only out of boredom.
Which is what can make a loss like last night's difficult, as truly, I can find no one to blame.
There were no glaring mistakes that should have been otherwise. True, Chipper Jones hit two homers, making him the generator of the entirety of the Braves offensive output, but while the pitches he hit weren't great, neither were they terrible. At some point the talent of your opposition is a factor.
Such is also the case with Tim Hudson, who held the Cubs to two runs during his fine complete game outing. Certainly there were a couple of moments when a big hit could have made a difference, but Hudson threw good pitches at those times and got his outs. The outcome of a game is not solely determined by the actions of your favorite team.
Often we as a community blame the Cubs' hitters for not scoring runs, much as we praise their pitchers when they hold the opponent down. However, we usually fail to acknowledge when the other guy does their job with aplomb.
This is a mistake, because sometimes you are beaten. Sometimes you do your damnedest and it's not enough. Sometimes, much as you try to affect the outcome, it's out of your hands.
In these situations there is no one to blame, so the malignance turns inward. Yet, having nowhere for the hostility to go isn't all bad. There is comfort, too, in simply being bested. In putting forth your finest effort, only to be outdone by your opponent. There is honor in that, and in a season so devoid of honor, it should be a nice change of pace.
I think it would be, had there not been so much that was blameworthy coming before it. If it weren't for all the poor play, all the times when dividing a single brain between the lot of them would have been a tenfold improvement, just being beaten would have been an acceptable, if unwanted, result.
But after a year of finding fault wherever I turn, blame has become my solace. I'm addicted to it. I need it like I need my coffee. In a year that has, once again, been defined by expectations unmet, it seems somehow fitting that now, when I want, desire, expect someone to blame, this team can't even give me that.