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The Good With The Bad
by Derek Smart
In 2007, the eighth win came in game twenty-one. Here's to being eight games ahead of schedule. Still, not all was puppies and posies. Watch in amazement as the bullets reveal all!
Sure, Ryan Dempster wasn't at his best, but he was about what we would have expected at the beginning of the year, and there's something comforting about being decidedly mediocre and not getting utterly shelled.
Besides, we all knew the guy who pitched in his first two outings wasn't going to show up all the time, or even half the time, or perhaps not ever again, so at the very least, it's good to see that this club can win with him on the mound, even on days where he remembers who he really is.
This is not the same Derrek Lee. Last year was all dull thuds and dribblers. Now it's crack!-bam!-zoom! I know he says he doesn't feel different, that he's the same guy he was in 2007, but I swear every ball he's put into play so far has twenty more feet on it with a free bucket of zaz.
I'm going to make the bold assumption that you're all at least a little like me, that sometimes, with players you like, you have secret little monikers - not so much nicknames as pet names, really - things you call these guys in the privacy of your own home, that you're certain would make sense only to you.
I have a name like that for Mike Fontenot, and in honor of what was essentially a spot start, where he used both his bat and glove to fine effect, I'm going to share it with you, despite the fact that it will not only open me up to more than the usual ridicule, it just might schedule me for a back-alley beating if word somehow got to the subject.
So, without further ado, but with all due reverence and affection, I reveal to you that on a regular basis, in the quiet of my living room as I cheer him on to do great deeds, I have been known to whisper fervently, in a voice so muffled that only I can hear, the slightly embarrassing words, "Go, Little Mikey Hotentot! Go!!!"
You know, I could have sworn the Cubs were a wholly owned subsidiary of Aaron Harang, Inc., but a quick glance at the numbers tells me not so much. His ERA versus the Cubs for his career is a pedestrian 4.44, and despite the 8-3 record before last night, he actually had quite a few starts that the Cubs were very much in the middle of - I count 7 of 15 where he had an outing better than the 'quality start' minimum.
That wasn't my perception going into the contest, though, so I came away from the win feeling extra satisfied. And you know what? I'm not going to let reality get in the way of some good, good vibes.
Of course, not all was good last night, since it appears the club has lost Alfonso Soriano for a while. Nothing's certain as I write this, and there'll be an MRI later today to determine the extent of the injury. Needless to say, this isn't a good thing, but from where I sit, he's not the worst guy in the lineup to lose.
In terms of a player's overall contribution and the dropoff from a possible replacement, left field is actually one of the deeper positions for the Cubs. You can call up Matt Murton if there's a DL stint, or if it's a day-to-day thing you can simply insert Mark DeRosa and LMH into the linup, or even put Reed Johnson out there.
I'd actually say that the biggest potential loss while Soriano is healing would be defensive, since that arm of his is such a unique weapon out there. All in all, though, I'm thankful that guys like Lee, Ramirez, Fukudome, and Soto have all remained healthy thus far, because as problematic as missing Soriano might be, those four are the position players this club can't afford to lose.
Felix Pie looks utterly helpless at the plate. It's not even that he's getting fooled, since I figure one of the basic tenets of deception entails the subject of such being capable of forming a concept in the first place that could later be proven as wrong. Not the case with Felix. He can't be fooled up there, because he doesn't even know what's going on.
I don't mean to be cruel, just honest, because he truly appears as a man blindfolded being told to swing. Out the bat goes on command, but where it ends up is anyone's guess, and any contact made is beyond incidental, all the way to so seemingly implausible that questions arise as to the sanity of the veiwer.
This is a very long way of saying what we've all known for a while, that Pie needs to get his act together, and fast, or he's going to very quickly play his way out of a job that should, by rights, be his.
Not to pile on after all these years, but there was something very satisfying about seeing Kid K K-ing the King of K.
Game 2 tonight features the riotous mismatch of Big Z versus Josh Fogg. Therefore, I will be nervous as hell, because there's nothing worse than losing games you should bloody-well win.