Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
by Derek Smart
This weekend's games put me in mind of a conversation my wife and I had a couple of weeks ago. We were preparing to leave the house for a morning excursion to the local playlot with our daughter. I was, as is usual for these type of trips, sporting my ancient Cubs hat, while our little girl had decided on a much smaller, much newer, pink version of the same.
My wife came out of our bedroom ready to go, wearing her own Cubs hat, but then looked at the wee one and I both already showing our colors, removed her cap and said, "I can't wear this while you guys are wearing those, we'll look silly."
"What do you mean?" I said.
"All of us going out wearing the same hat like that? Come on, we'll look stupid."
"I don't know. Think of it this way: It shows our deep family commitment to overwhelming institutional mediocrity."
She paused. Thought about it. "Good point," she said, reapplying hat to head, and out the door we went for a lovely morning at the park.
This exchange came to me because, once again, the Cubs displayed their own commitment to the concept in losing the final two games of a three game series with the lowly Colorado Rockies.
As we've seen time and again this season, the club managed to find the near perfect path to defeat against a lesser foe.
Are you facing a pitcher who's making his fifth start of the year and still in the process of building his stamina? Hack, hack, hack away so that he can get through 7 innings in only 81 pitches. He'll probably buy you a beer!
While your offense struggles are you still getting a very solid performance from your own starter? Be sure to muff multiple plays in the field. Free outs and runs are fun to give away!
Did your bats finally awaken in the last game? Don't let your sticks be the only potent weapons, give the opposition plenty of big fat pitches to hit. Sharing is caring!
In the end, this will be the story of the season, not that the team was necessarily bad, but that they perpetually put themselves in a position to win, yet were wholly unable to consistently do the last thing necessary to bring it home.
It is a team that walks a tightrope between two cliffs, coming to within a step of reaching their goal despite being buffeted by wind and rain, putting its foot out to finally achieve its end, only to be distracted by the cessation of the hurricane and emergence of the sun. What should be a help causes a misstep, and down into the chasm they go, all the while cursing their good fortune.
It's a maddening trait, and one I have no idea how to fix. But fixed it must be, and while it may be too late to help this year, there's no better time to start than now. No better time to build the foundation for next season so that 2006 can be the beginning of a deep family commitment to overwhelming institutional excellence.