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Sleep, Then Make Like A Mirror
by Phil Bencomo
I was tempted last night, after arriving home from the ballpark, to write an angst-filled, short-sighted and inflammatory post that had no purpose other than to serve as a venue for my frustration with last night's game. It was not going to be pretty.
Needless to say, it didn't get written, to the benefit of all mankind.
The Dodgers don't appear to be a significantly better team, at least as far as statistics are concerned. Pythagoras says the Dodgers should be 73-67; the Cubs should be 73-66. Their middling offenses are nearly identical: Los Angeles has scored one more run this season than the Cubs, and the Cubs' team OPS is a mere .003 higher. Cumulatively, the Dodgers have a slightly better pitching staff; the bullpen makes up for the starting staff's deficiencies.
And therein lies my frustration. The Cubs may be the lousiest first place team around, but so lousy as to lose three of four to LA? Or five of seven on the season? Are they really so much worse?
Perhaps. The optimist in me says the Dodgers got lucky, that the Cubs played well below their capabilities and gave away wins, as the Dodgers feasted on a Carlos Zambrano meltdown in the first game and poor bullpen work in the second and fourth games. Zambrano's due to snap out of his funk any time now, and the Cub bullpen had been doing well -- Ryan Dempster had not blown a save since June!
But the Cubs did lose three of four. Whether this series was indicative of fatal flaws in this club, or that the Cubs just had a poor series, a simple matter of unfortunate happenstances that really mean nothing, I cannot say for certain. I'm inclined to believe that the Cubs really are better than this series would indicate. Ryan Dempster will not blow every save opportunity, nor will the other relievers lose every lead.
It's all cyclical: Like a bug stuck to a bicycle tire, the Cubs -- or any person, for that matter -- spin wildly around and around on the Wheel of Life. For a brief moment, they sit on top of the world, at the peak of it all; everything is going great. But then the wheel turns, and before long the bug is crushed between pavement and tire. Sometimes you get squashed badly, bug juices oozing from your maimed body, and death would seem a comfort; but sometimes you manage to squeeze between tire treads and escape the devastation of the lowest low.
The Cubs may not have made it to safety this time, but the wheel always keeps turning.