I hate the Cardinals
This is not a particularly revolutionary line of thinking in my current Cubs-coddling company, but there is a trio of things pissing me off lately (most of all our hapless ballclub) and St. Louis is top-of-the-list. But perhaps not for the conventional reasons.
1. I hate the way the Cardinals play.
They can adapt to just about anything, and that versatility pisses me off. I like my baseball teams like I like my actors - one-trick ponies capable of nailing down a style and a role that becomes their forte.
Robert De Niro will always be the irked and yet charming criminal/Mobster with a sudden tendency to violence or anger, not the security guard who is recovering from a stroke and who is forced to live next door to Philip Seymour Hoffman's cross-dressing singer. Nor is he Frankenstein, the Priest or the Archbishop of Peru (he's done them all, not especially well. Seriously, check them out.)
I hate seeing actors referred to as "versatile", and watching the Cardinals, that word has taken on an even more nauseating tone.
I have counted at least 5 occasions over the last month where the Cardinals have been scoring runs with the suicide squeeze. I hate that play, hate it. I hate seeing ickle David Eckstein scampering home from third like a paper-delivering Boston Terrier or So Taguchi wielding his bat like it's a cotton swab or guitar, parallel with the ground and prepped to "lay one down".
Conversely, I loathe watching them switch gears and become the big-swinging, BBQ-filled hit parade, slamming home runs and scoring boatloads of runs like they're the video-game team you wished you could control (9 wins scoring 7 or more runs in the last month, 1 loss scoring at least that many).
I hate their flexible, injury-absent pitching rotation, their reliable bullpen, their clean defense (38 errors in 114 games, compared to the Cubs' 77 in 114), their bench depth in the face of injuries to Rolen, Sanders and Edmonds this season, and just about everything else.
Like I said, I know this is not so revolutionary, but a good old-fashioned Drill Sergeant-style rant was long overdue.
2. What is going on with our team?
Perhaps this should have been top of the list, but the situation has transcended despair in favour of the much-more painful woe.
Based on current form, we are the second worst team in baseball. With a season-high 8-game losing streak, going 1-9 in our last 10 games, the only team with more to cry about currently is the Kansas City Royals.
A quick note about the KC Royalty: (all Stats are Team Statistics)
BA: .261 (T-21st in MLB; Cubs are T-9th with .270)
HR: 91 (28th; Cubs are 6th with 139)
Hits: 998 (25th; Cubs are 7th with 1065)
ERA: 5.56 (29th; Cubs are 18th with 4.39)
K: 661 (T-24th; Cubs are 1st with 876)
What does all this translate to? WE SHOULD HAVE NO COMPARISON WITH THE KANSAS CITY ROYALS. We outhit them, outbat them, outscore them, outpitch them, and yet we find ourselves aligned in current form. While the Royals have lost 12 straight, we have lost 8 in a row and there are currently no signs that point to anything different in the foreseeable future. With the Cardinals in town for a 4-game extravaganza, will this abhorrent run of form continue?
3. Corey Patterson
Why are you back? What are you doing back from Iowa so soon?
Fair enough, so you went 12-22 in your last few games to lift that tepid average from .217 to .297. You can still hit the solo Home Run better than anyone around, and yet your strikeout totals continue to astound. Not even the finest specialist leadoff coaches could help, as you constantly swung at every pitch regardless of location. 86 Ks in 85 MLB games this year is proof-positive that you will not be seeing the front of a Wheaties box anytime soon.
So we called you back only given the elbow woes of Hairston (our new CF, thank you very much, and I hope you don't get too comfortable because when he comes back from the DL, I hope to see you go back down the highway to AAA), and you promptly celebrated with an 0-3 performance and 2 Ks against ERIC MILTON, the Cincinnati Red HR fodder, a man managing only 90 Ks and a 6.48 ERA in 140 1/3 IP this season.
Whether you lead-off, bat second or prop up the lower-order, it doesn't matter. Once a K man, always a K man. It would be excusable if you could bat like Adam Dunn, Richie Sexson and Pat Burrell (122 K, 122 K, 112 K respectively this year), but you don't. In fact, out of the top 50 K Kings in the major leagues, you have the ignominy of owning the lowest BA of everyone, a paltry .231. The only funny thing about this fact is that the next worst BA in the Top 50 belongs to everyone's favourite Wrigley ghost, Sammy Sosa.
So, to summarize, f*ck off back to the minors. Please.
4. Kerry Wood
The Kerry Prankster himself, Wood's career has seen more missed chances than the Roxbury guys, Steve and Doug Butabi.
After Dusty went on record as saying Kerry might replace Rich "Walk n' Talk" Hill in the rotation, it's now been revealed that this will not happen. Instead, he will remain the late-inning damage-controller, as our team doctors don't want to risk further injuries to him this season. If indeed this season is well and truly over, he might take the early shower and get his surgery soon, so he can have plenty of rehab for another frustrating year in 2006.
I feel bad for him, more than anything. Tabbed by everyone and their uncle to be a future All-Star and regular Cy Young contender, Wood's career stats fall more closely in line with Chan Ho Park than Nolan Ryan.
Before I get back to work, one more parting shot before the Starters for tonight.
Taken from "Cubs Notes" on Cubs.com:
Taking care of business:
Cubs second baseman Todd Walker has said that if there is a lack of effort, the players would take care of it. Baker was asked if the Cubs police themselves.
"They police themselves, but they don't police themselves the way we used to police ourselves," Baker said.
And what did Baker's boys do?
"We used to jack guys up," he said, which means a physical confrontation.
Is there an effective way to do so?
"Probably not," Baker said.
STL: LHP Mark Mulder • 13-5, 3.79 ERA in 2005 • Did not face CHC in 2004
CHC: RHP Greg Maddux • 8-9, 4.57 ERA in 2005 • 1-1, 4.58 ERA vs. STL in 2004
D-Lee might get his game back on-track tonight: he's 7-7 (all 1Bs) against Mulder for his career.
The Player-by-Player Massacre will begin on Monday, with plenty more rambling between now and then. So for now, comment away and tell me how wrong I am.