It’s mid-summer, hot in the big city. I’ve been workin’ a stake-out on the north side outta the Fraud division. My partner, the ever faithful Cubs fan, and I have been watchin’ the alleged perps — a group calling themselves the Cubs and masquerading as a possible World Series contender — since April. As stake-outs go, this one has been a cake walk; I get to watch baseball everyday and drink on the job. Perfect.
Stake-outs are curious affairs. You can watch your ass off for weeks — months, even — and nothin’ seems unusual. Until it is. I guess the Cubs bein’ the best team in baseball for 3 months shoulda been the first sign that somethin’ was rotten in Denmark AND Chicago. But everything has seemed Jim Dandy.
That’s the thing about a baseball season — it’s friggin’ long, my friend. Because of that, it has a way of betraying you, of trippin’ you up and revealing the truth — stuff you’d rather keep hidden from fans so they keep thinkin’ you are who you’ve led them to believe.
You know how detectives get hunches? (What the hell is a “hunch” anyway? I know there was a guy from Notre Dame that had one on his back once. Probably kept him off the football team. And there’s no way he was gettin’ lucky lookin’ like that.) Anyway, detectives get hunches a lot, and they seem to help get to the bottom of things. A couple of months ago, I had what I’m guessing was my own hunch-like thing about our bullpen. I let it go for a while, cuz everything was Jake. Now … after 3 months of waiting and watching, and watching and waiting, it looks like I was right, cuz we’re startin’ to see exactly what kinda pen we’ve got. And I don’t think it can be trusted.
Complicatin’ things is the near felonious collapse of our rotation’s dominance. Even Arrieta, who’d been unbeatable since last season’s All-Star break, has slipped into the shadows; walkin’ guys, givin’ up runs and losin’ 3 of his last 4 starts. This kinda stuff starts to reveal the pen’s weaknesses cuz now we gotta rely on them a lot more than we had to earlier in the season.
Our hitting hasn’t exactly been by the book either. Outta the 30 Major League teams, we’re 28th in leavin’ guys on base. Criminal. The good news is that we’re scorin’ more runs per game than everybody in the National League, but with a tired rotation and more reliance on the bullpen, it’s not enough anymore.
You don’t have to be James Comey to see what happens when you start connectin’ the dots. When you examine the evidence — the lackluster hitting, the less dominant rotation and a suspect bullpen — you start to see a pattern emerge; one that’s exposing the effects of our youth on our defense. I don’t think we need to mobilize a SWAT (So What About it, Theo) team or anything, but there’s mounting evidence that somethin’s gotta change.
If you look at the facts, they always reveal the truth, my friend. And the fact is, we’re 9-16 in our last 25 games, and we’ve lost 8 of our last 9. Is this temporary, or is it merely revealing a truth that no Cubs fan wants to cop to? Like I said, it’s a long season, and the stake-out is only half over. It’s no time to pass judgement over what could be the best Cubs team in over a century. But from where I sit, watching and waiting — not to mention hopin’ and prayin’ — I’d like to see a little less disregard for the baseball gods and a little more respect for what it’s gonna take to get to the Series, let alone come out smellin’ like a champion.
Joe (Schlombowski, not Friday)
PS. The story you have just read is true, but no names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Hey there, chip shots. So I’m sittin’ here watchin’ the Cubs/Braves game, thinkin’ they’re about to snatch victory from Atlanta’s jaws of defeat, when Hector Rondon comes in to close things out. And guess what … instead of doin’ that, he applies his human pink pearl effect on the game, erasing our lead in true Carlos Marmolian fashion by servin’ a meatball to Markakis. Ka-boom! The lead engineered by our bats in the 8th wiped off the scoreboard with one crappy pitch.
We’ve had a lotta closers like that in the last dozen years, and from what I could tell, the only reason any of ’em had the job title “closer” is cuz every friggin’ time they’d set foot on the bump, we all had to close our eyes so as not to experience a coronary. Most of ’em couldn’t close an automatic garage door. And now … really, Theo … are these the bulls you want in the pen? I’m all for givin’ guys a chance, but the season’s half over. Starters are tired, so the pen has got to take on a bigger roll. Given that reality, is what we’ve been watchin’ lately sort of a front row seat to what the ass end of the season is gonna look like? Cuz if it is, I’m gonna have to start drinkin’ something a lot stronger than Old Style.
And, hey … I don’t mean to single out Hector. His performance tonight is simply indicative of the way the entire pen has been playin’. I’m not the only one that thinks so, either. It’s definitely the weak link on an otherwise pretty stellar ball club, which is why you hear me wonderin’ if we have a firm grasp on the job descriptions of reliever, set up man, or closer. I know this: it doesn’t include servin’ up yard shots. Or walkin’ guys either. To be fair, Rondon has generally played well this season, but you could say that about the Golden State Warriors, too, and look what happened to them. You gotta do the job every damn time you’re in the game. Do you have to be perfect? No. But bein’ more like Mariano Rivera and less like a friggin’ launching pad is something to shoot for. Just living up to our offense would be a really nice gesture. That way, when they get us a lead in a close game, we can actually hang on to it; somethin’ we’ve not been so good at over the past couple of weeks.
By the way, the game is over. The W was in our grasp, but we took the L instead. Crap.
Hey there, fuzz buttles, and happy Independence Day. I gotta tell you, the 4th has me feelin’ a little Joe Dirt-y, especially after the Mets decided to start their fireworks show early, unleashing a 4 game long grand finale of spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don’ts, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers — with and without the scooter stick — right up the whistlin’ bungholes of the Cubs. What I’m hopin’ for is a little pyrotechnics of our own at the considerable expense of the Reds. Yeah … I’d like that.
Better stand back, cover your ears and put your dogs inside. This could get noisy.
Two words: Jose Reyes. That’s all it takes to explain why I can’t stand the friggin’ Mets. That, and seein’ a Mets fan in the stands, wearin’ a Reyes jersey. And this guy was ultra-Mets; the kinda fan with a $250 Wall Street hair cut and wearin’ his sunglasses backwards on his head. Totally obnoxious. Probably does the Anthony Weiner thing with his cell phone, and checks out his own ass in the mirror every chance he gets.
Yeah, yeah … Cubs fans wear player jersey’s all the time; Rizzo, Bryant, Arrieta, Baez, Sandberg, Banks, Jenkins … Williams, too — Billy and The Wild Thing. But none of those guys have grabbed their wives by the throat and thrown ’em against a plate glass window like Reyes has. Charming. There’s no excuse for beating a woman. None. Period. End of discussion. Still, the Mets have welcomed the guy back to their clubhouse, like he was convicted of jaywalking or somethin’. Classy move. Shows what they think about domestic violence. On top of that, any fan — like the aforementioned pinhead — willing to still sport the jersey of a guy who’s known for treatin’ his wife like he treats a baseball shows just how friggin’ tone deaf he is to a really dipshittian kinda crime — one that should never ever happen.
Anyway, Jose Reyas and Jose Reyas apologists add up to the 868th reason why I can’t stand the friggin’ Mets.
Reason #869 is all about the fact that we spent the entire regular season last year shellacking these guys, only to have them open a Costco-size can of whupass on us to win the Pennant. And that’s just the tip of the #869 iceberg, pallie, cuz on top of that I add the series that just wrapped up today, where they basically kicked the livin’ shit out of the Cubs. It was ugly. It was embarrassing. It was like wettin’ your pants in public with the Mets standin’ there pointing and laughing. And today was the ever lovin’ lulu! Lester was handing out runs like he was friggin’ Santa Clause; 8 of ’em in … get this … 1-1/3 innings. The worst, most dreadful, awful, obscene, dismal, atrocious and definitely shortest outting of his career. His entire CAREER! Sheesh. And the pen wasn’t any better. Overall, our staff gave up 22 hits today. That’s like 3 game’s worth. Ridiculous. You tac these 4 games onto the playoffs last year, and you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to see that whatever superiority we had over the Mets has vanished into thin air, or rather that garbage-scented kind of air that hovers over New York.
When the Cubs headed east for this series, somebody from ESPN tried to goad Maddon by askin’ him about what happened in last year’s NLCS. Doin’ his best to shove that into the bottom of the ball bag where it belongs, Maddon replied, “Last year is last year.” Well, as it turns out, this year is lookin’ a lot like last year, too. The good news is that in spite of our Queens melt down, the Cubs are a damn fine baseball team. Yeah, our starters are in a bit of a funk and the pen is — as it has been all season — a question mark. (Although I sure liked what Carl Edwards Jr was dishin’ yesterday.) Still, I feel good about where we are. It’s one helluva lot better than bein’ outta the picture already, which is where we’ve been by the Mid-Season Classic for most of my 55 years. Plus, we got Cinci tomorrow, then Atlanta, then the Pirates before the All Star break. That’s what you call havin’ your cake and eatin’ it, too.
By the way … did I mention that I hate the friggin’ Mets?
Hey there, turn signals, Joe Schlombowski here; a little bruised and banged up emotionally from yesterday’s opener with the Mets. I had been lookin’ forward to this series all season long, and not being able to just get to it and settle the score was makin’ be break out. It was like being a snarling rottweiller on a 5 foot leash with a juicy slab of porterhouse steak dangling 6 feet away. I fully expected Joe and the boys to rip them to shreds, and the way the game started, it was lookin’ pretty much like I was right. Bryant, once again, was channeling himself. (Normally I would say he was channeling Babe Ruth or Reggie Jackson, but I think Bryant bein’ Bryant is about as explosive as you can get right now. Oh … and for any of you San Francisco fans wonderin’ why I didn’t mention Barry Bonds? Bite me. He’s a cheat, everybody knows he’s a cheat, and on top of that he’s a jaggoff.) Anyway, Mr Bryant got us off to a really nice start, thank you very much.
So did Lackey. The guy was on cruise control until his arm started farting in the 5th. Weird. Happened in the 5th in his last outing, too. Still, I was a little surprised Joe yanked him when he did. Yeah, sure … Cespedes launched one of his pitches into a geosynchronous orbit around Neptune, but that was pretty much it. Me personally? I think Joe pulled out the hook a skosh too soon. It’s easy for me to say that, cuz … you know … that hindsight thing is in play. But holy monkey droppings, did all 4 wheels come off the wagon then, or what?!
Now if I was politically correct, I’d say Peralta was less than stellar. But I’m not. He sucked. He walks pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza, then dishes an RBI single to Brandon Nimmo. If there’s one thing that drives me to drinkin’ — never mind … everything drives me to drinkin’. But I have a hard time with relief guys who come in and start walkin’ hitters. That’s the polar opposite of relief, my friend. I mean when pitchers are yanked it’s usually cuz they’re havin’ a hard time. Relievers are brought in to do what the guy before ’em couldn’t, not the same damn thing. That’s why it makes no sense to me to have guys in that roll that hold the friggin’ flood gates open with ball 4. Sure, everybody is gonna give up some hits, but any reliever that’s got an arm full of walks oughta be workin’ at 7-11, not pitchin’ for the Cubs.
So, the first two wheels are off, and up comes Neil Walker. He hits a bouncer to second. No prob, right? Right. Baez charges, and with his momentum carryin’ him toward third, he logically fires to Bryant to nab the guy at the corner. Woulda been perfect except his throw makes like a 747 and flies all the way to the fence. Two more runs to score. Two more wheels are layin’ by the side of the dugout, and basically the whole game is up on blocks.
Hey, mistakes happen. That’s baseball. But 1) Why the hell do they have to happen against the friggin’ Mets? And 2) When they DO happen, where the hell are the bats the Cubs were usin’ in April; the ones that woulda slapped a few more Cubs hits, along with some Mets’ egos for even thinkin’ they could beat us again? For a minute there in the 9th, it looked pretty good; two in scoring position with no outs. Nice. But then Jeurys Familia unloaded that 98 mph closer crap on us. Is that even legal? Isn’t there some sorta speed limit cut fastballs? Anyway, game over.
Tonight will be different. As a Cubs fan I gotta believe that. Of course if it isn’t … and let’s say (and this ain’t easy for me) that we lose every game to the Mets during the regular season. I’ll take that if it means we spank the crap outta whoever we play in the post season. And really … isn’t that what we’re all wishing for anyway?