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That's Not a Mouldering Corpse. That's My Team!
by Derek Smart
I'll admit it: I'm running out of varied and interesting ways to document the suck. I'm also getting short on patience, which I think I've shown in abundance through what has thus far been a spectacularly disappointing season.
It's to the point where there's very little for me to analyze during the course of a game, in part because the Cubs' play has been so lackluster, but also because it's difficult to see the interesting details of a contest when one is blind with rage.
However, if nothing else, I have a sense of duty, and who knows, maybe firing off a few rounds will make me feel better. Lock and load!
There's nothing quite like starting the game off with men on first and third and no one out, then having your best hitter whiff during an at bat where he also aggravates a shoulder injury, and winding the frame up with one of your supposed 'RBI men' hitting into a double play.
It's the sort of sad scenario that's been practically writing itself over the last week, and anyone who didn't see nearly every last bit of it coming must have had their eyes plucked out immediately before game time by a flock of ravenous crows (something I'm considering trying before this evening's contest).
Here's a quick dictionary definition for you all:
A tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view
When thoughts that could normally be described as "pessimistic" ("This is a good scoring chance, so naturally, nothing will come of it.") become mere statements of truth, it means that things are going badly. Very, very badly.
There was an interesting statistic flashed on the screen during the broadcast last night that helps to illustrate how the Cubs recent stretch of "almost but not quite" quality of play has not been the sole domain of the offense.
Going into last night's action, 18 of the 27 runs the Cubs had allowed during their then five game losing streak were scored with two outs. After last night, that ratio increased to 22 of 32. That's 68.8% of the opposition's runs that crossed the plate when getting one last, measly out would have ended the threat. It makes the veins pop out of my forehead just thinking about it.
Lately, Greg Maddux has had at least one inning per start where he loses the ability to keep the ball out of extremely hittable areas of the zone, and the degree to which he is successful during a particular turn has been almost entirely wrapped up in the ability of the other team to take advantage of the lapse.
Even in games where he has done well overall, this has been the case. I think specifically of the recent game against the White Sox where, had Todd Hollandsworth not stolen a home run from Joe Crede, the result might have been vastly different.
The Professor had no such savior last night, as with two outs in the fifth he began to toss up hittable pitch after hittable pitch, coughing up four runs when, again, one out would have ended the rally. Maddux wasn't even the one to get that last out, as Dusty Baker correctly guessed that Andruw Jones would attempt to steal second, calling a pitchout that allowed Henry Blanco to nail him at the bag.
I love Maddux. Love him to death. But the Cubs need him to figure out how to avoid that one disastrous frame that he's been victimized by of late. The team is in a big hole right now, and the opposition's largesse cannot be counted on to save the club every fifth day.
Let's see, what do we have on tap for this evening?
The Cubs' worst hitter leading off? Check.
The Cubs' best hitter either out with or hobbled by a shoulder injury? Check.
The Braves best starter taking the mound? Check.
If I didn't know any better, I'd say the Cubs are totally screwed. Let's hope I'm as wrong as I usually am.