Wednesday, July 13

Back on a Wagon

I'm back. After a long drinking weekend and a lot of work on my plate, I will be doing my absolute best to keep the daily updates alive from now on. It's all about discipline, hardly my strong suit, but this ship has to keep sailing so I'll do my best.

So, where were we?

Enjoy that extra rest day, gentlemen, because as of tomorrow, it's business as usual again. The All-Star break, a rather snoozy affair (except for Abreu's HR Derby pyrotechnics), saw the American League win again. Great, good for them, it was never really in doubt despite the presence of two Cubs in the starting lineup. Tejada vs. Eckstein? No contest. Varitek vs. Piazza? Give me a break. I don't know what it is, but the NL doesn't seem to have that many good shortstops or catchers, no matter how many Pujols or Lees we have in the lineup.

It was closer than it should have been thanks to Kenny "Say Cheese!" Rogers, but hey, it's done now. What are the ramifications for the Cubs? Probably absolutely nothing, as they won't be seeing the World Series anyway.

But where do we pick up?

After that long, languid losing streak, the Cubs went in to the break sweeping the Florida Marlins. Why we couldn't have done that in 2003, I don't know, but it was satisfying nonetheless. Through the drunken haze of my birthday weekend, the Cubs heeded my birthday wish, beating up Dontrelle and any other wet fish on the mound, scoring 26 runs and giving up only 10.

It was fun to read about while sweating the scotch out of my skin, and it showed that the Cubs can win if they need to. What was more encouraging was the performances of those little minor-leaguers. Murton can pound a ball like Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Greenberg has enough balls to stand firm and take the inside pitch (in this case, to the head). What a debut at-bat for that poor guy, taking a pitch to the helmet. "Welcome to the Big Leagues, kid." Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn would have been proud.

The most perplexing and yet enjoyable thing, however, is the Fat Joe-sized ego of everyone's favorite beleaguered Major Leaguer, Corey Patterson.

This man has no limit to his self-appraisal! No ceiling to his self-aggrandizement! There is no end in sight of his self-praise! His house of mirrors surely keeps growing and reflecting light off his brilliance, and his latest comments are a whole lot of air about how he believes his stay in the minor leagues will be short. How short, he does not know, but he has enough belief in his "skills" that his return should be swift. I hope this is not true, for nothing gives me more satisfaction than watching Rickey Henderson Jr. ramble on about his magnificence while sweating it out in Iowa.

Here are some choice quotes from a recent article discussing Corey and his amazing grace:

--- "I know I could have been playing a lot better than I was," Patterson said Tuesday. "The Cubs did what they had to do.

--- "I could not keep going at the pace I was," he said. "I wasn't getting the results."

--- Patterson doesn't expect this stint to be an extended stay. "It won't take me long," he said. "I'll know when I'm ready." He's been able to narrow down what he needs to do to simplify his approach. No. 1 is to shorten his swing. "I think if I do that, it'll help other things as well," he said.

--- "It's a hard game," Patterson said, "but it's really simple."

--- "If I wasn't confident, I wouldn't be playing," he said. "I didn't lose confidence. It was frustration more than anything. It's like, man, you're not getting enough out of your abilities."

Patterson's Texas-sized ego will always bring me amusement, no matter what the team is doing as a whole, and it's good to have some light relief when the team is still floundering around .500 this late into the season. At least we have a winning streak to come back to, and our next opponent, the Pittsburgh Pirates, are having enough trouble of their own (like watching Jason Bay go HR-less in the HR derby, ouch) to hopefully not be too tough over the 4-game weekend. An ESPN appearance on Friday afternoon beckons, so let's see what the team can do.

Pitching matchups for the series:

PIT Mark Redman LHP / 4-8, 3.76 ERA in 2005 / 0-1, 3.14 ERA vs. CHC in 2005
CHC Mark Prior RHP / 5-3, 3.41 ERA in 2005 / 0-0, 3.86 ERA vs. PIT in 2005

PIT Josh Fogg RHP / 4-4, 4.30 ERA in 2005 / 0-0, 2.70 vs. CHC in 2005
CHC Kerry Wood RHP / 2-2, 4.80 ERA in 2005 / 1-0, 3.60 ERA vs. PIT in 2005

PIT Zach Duke LHP / 1-0, 1.93 ERA in 2005 / DNP vs. CHC in 2005
CHC Greg Maddux RHP / 8-6, 4.67 ERA in 2005 / 0-0, 2.57 vs. PIT in 2005

CHC Carlos Zambrano RHP / 6-4, 3.85 ERA in 2005 / 0-0, 7.50 ERA vs. PIT in 2005


At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

How can you be so pessimistic about the Cubs? Granted, they've seen their troubles this season, but it's not much like a Cub fan to simply give up after a bad or mediocre run. First off, the Wild Card is never out of reach with 75 games left. The Astros had a losing record deeper in the season than this last year, and they made the post season. Remember guys, the motto this year is "Believe", not "Bemoan".

I'm really looking forward to the game today. Let's go Prior. No earned runs in the second half.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger JT said...

Lazlo, I've been more vitriolic than this in the past, and saying they won't make the World Series isn't being "pessimistic."

And I know the Astros made the post-season last year despite having a rougher record so late, but just how did they do that? Was it in some small part to the Cubs losing 7 of our last 9 games?

I too am looking forward to the game today, and the rest of the year. But that doesn't mean I'll be chummy all season long, no matter how many winning or losing streaks we have.

I realize the Wild Card is never out of reach with so much baseball left to play, but I'm just trying to be a little realistic.

I do still think that on our day, we're the obvious candidate for that Wild Card spot, but we have to keep pace with the NL East. The only reason the race is so close is because those teams are continually beating each other up and cancelling each other out, much like the NL Central was earlier in the season. If another NL team starts to string wins together like the Nationals or Astros, it might be another story.

Forgive me if I get a little irked when they fail to live up to our collective gargantuan expectations (I'm the worst culprit of all in that respect, as I feel there's no reason we shouldn't be kicking sand in the Cardinals' face).

(Also, sarcasm is my major defense mechanism. It's just a bit of fun, really.)


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