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Late, But Fashionably So
by Derek Smart
The game was late, later than intended even, and as a result I was up later than intended, and this post is late as well. Still, better late than never, as they say - a phrase that's applicable both to this little ditty and the Cubs' recent surge toward relevance. They aren't there yet, but with every win comes the feeling that it might just happen, and I'll take the hope over the despair any day.
Let the lead fly!
There are few uglier swings in the game than the one Our Boy Neifi! trots out there every night - it's a Little League cut, where the bat is too heavy for the user, making the head dip below the hands as it's dragged through the zone like a sack of dike-bound sand. It's too sad for comedy, too hilarious for pathos, but in the tenth inning last night it was a funny, happy, beautiful thing that made this morning's bleary eyes worth the price.
I know his run of seeming offensive competence is likely to end sooner rather than later, and perhaps that adds to the enjoyment - like when you're eating that last bite of your meal at Charlie Trotter's, or sipping the dregs of that Highland Park 1958, knowing you'd better savor it for it's like won't come around again soon. Therefore, I resolve to relish these moments of excellence from unlikely places, and while expecting no more, still hope that I haven't seen the bottom of the glass.
Even though he was almost scored on - and would have been if Jeromy Burnitz could bunt, or someone besides Corey Patterson had come up with a man at third and one out - Eric Gagne is still one of the scariest pitchers around. That change-up is so good, I was swinging from the couch.
Only Burnitz and Ramirez weren't made to look foolish by it, Burnitz because he was busy looking foolish bunting, and Ramirez because he's locked in like Jody Foster hiding from Forest Whitaker. He may be looking a bit mortal thus far, but there's still no pitcher I'd like to see less with the game in the balance.
Yet, I'm starting to get used to this idea of Ryan Dempster as closer. His wildness still gives me the shakes (although, I'd imagine, not as much as Antonio Perez), but I'll admit it's nice to see a man go to the bump with a late lead and look like he wants the ball.
I don't talk much about intangibles here because...well...they're not tangible, and too many assumptions need to be made when discussing the ephemeral. But while it's not rational, and there are reasons to remain skeptical, I'm liking the cut of Dempster's jib, and until he starts to cough up leads with regularity, I'm going to do like Stanley Kubrick once did, and learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.
We'll know tonight if this streak has legs, as John Koronka is set to make his debut for the Cubs. He's ripe for the kicking, posting an ERA over five during his stint in Iowa this season, so if the Cubs manage to pull this one out, you just might have me believing this turnaround is more than just a quick flash of joy before the lights go dim.