Baseball Toaster Cub Town
The Blame Game
2005-08-23 09:38
by Derek Smart

During the frustrating times of a season when loss piles upon loss and failure begets failure like a virus dividing and multiplying, there can be some comfort taken, cold and sick though it may be, in finding someone to blame.

The losses build animus, and that animus seeks a direction, a focus. It does not want to sit and be still, it wants action. It wants a target.

That's the gift of blame. It provides something at which to aim your malice, keeping the rancor from doing its damage to you instead, which it most certainly will, if only out of boredom.

Which is what can make a loss like last night's difficult, as truly, I can find no one to blame.

There were no glaring mistakes that should have been otherwise. True, Chipper Jones hit two homers, making him the generator of the entirety of the Braves offensive output, but while the pitches he hit weren't great, neither were they terrible. At some point the talent of your opposition is a factor.

Such is also the case with Tim Hudson, who held the Cubs to two runs during his fine complete game outing. Certainly there were a couple of moments when a big hit could have made a difference, but Hudson threw good pitches at those times and got his outs. The outcome of a game is not solely determined by the actions of your favorite team.

Often we as a community blame the Cubs' hitters for not scoring runs, much as we praise their pitchers when they hold the opponent down. However, we usually fail to acknowledge when the other guy does their job with aplomb.

This is a mistake, because sometimes you are beaten. Sometimes you do your damnedest and it's not enough. Sometimes, much as you try to affect the outcome, it's out of your hands.

In these situations there is no one to blame, so the malignance turns inward. Yet, having nowhere for the hostility to go isn't all bad. There is comfort, too, in simply being bested. In putting forth your finest effort, only to be outdone by your opponent. There is honor in that, and in a season so devoid of honor, it should be a nice change of pace.

I think it would be, had there not been so much that was blameworthy coming before it. If it weren't for all the poor play, all the times when dividing a single brain between the lot of them would have been a tenfold improvement, just being beaten would have been an acceptable, if unwanted, result.

But after a year of finding fault wherever I turn, blame has become my solace. I'm addicted to it. I need it like I need my coffee. In a year that has, once again, been defined by expectations unmet, it seems somehow fitting that now, when I want, desire, expect someone to blame, this team can't even give me that.

2005-08-23 09:55:34
1.   Thunderclap Newman
Wonderfully said. A Cubs fan's hoc opus = finding and assigning blame.
2005-08-23 11:31:27
2.   onetimer
How about blaming Aramis for failing to elevate the ball with the bases loaded and none out? Or blaming Burnitz for missing about 3 sinkers that didn't sink?

That's what I say, but you're probably right that the Cubs were just outplayed. On a happier note, Zambrano will one day get a no no or a perfect game. He was perfect seven out of eight innings.

2005-08-23 11:40:08
3.   The Boar
"when I want, desire, expect someone to blame, this team can't even give me that."

Too true, too true.

With that said, I disagree about the blame thing. Fire Dusty. It doesn't have to be now; I don't see any point in making it an unamicable split. But when the offseason rolls around, there needs to be "some mutual agreement" about Dusty and the team deciding to go separate ways.

Derek, you mentioned in the previous post about how this team consistently performs at a mediocre level, not good enough to be truly good, not bad enough to be truly bad. Part of that comes from the players, but most of that comes from the coaching staff. It's time for a new face in the clubhouse and a new set of coaches that kick some butts and get them into action.

I don't think this season is completely Dusty's fault - much of it at the beginning was, but there is plenty of blame to go around. With that said, he is the numero uno, the-buck-stops-here dude. He is in charge of winning, and I think that (while Hendry admittedly could have made better choices in picking players and should probably learn the lesson that injury-prone stars can come back to bite you in the ass) on the whole, these are players a team is capable of winning with. Hell, at least being over .500 with.

So no, it's not all Dusty's fault, but the atmosphere that he has allowed to develop and thrive is his fault. I think this whole hacktastic, excuses-oriented, let-the-players-play-and-fix-their-own-mistakes culture that has pervaded the Cubs' clubhouse can ultimately be laid at his doorstep. Something must be done now to shake things up. Fire Dusty.

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