Friday, October 01, 2004

Hope springs eternal...

A quick survey of the landscape of the Cubs blogger army after 3 consecutive losses to the Reds demonstrates what nearly a century of futility has done to the collective pysche of the fan base. Not many felt like blogging after this devastating 3 game slide, but a few of the regulars continue to hold out hope. Scott Lange from the Northside Lounge is still willing to entertain postseason hope for the Cubs (who, as of today, are 1 game back of 2 different teams with only 3 games remaining):

Odds are this time Monday we're going to be wondering why there is no more baseball to watch this year, but the thing about odds is every so often they get beaten. Maybe this is one of those times. Maybe this is one of those years when a groundball goes through Jeff Bagwell's legs. Maybe this is one of those years when a glacial runner scores from second on Barry Bonds' arm to send Bonds home. Maybe this is one of those years when Neifi Perez pokes a miracle homer into the bleachers to save a season.

Anything is still possible, and if it happens its going to be a whole lot sweeter if you haven't given up to work on your fantasy football team in the meantime. Lets go Cubs.

Perhaps even more disturbing than this apparent disconnect from the grim reality facing the Cubs (there is a reason that there is an etymological connection between "fan" and "fanatic" in case anyone was wondering) is the fact that some guy actually stumbled onto the Northside Lounge by searching for "Kyle Farnsworth naked" (!):

...that wasn't really what I was hoping for either. And yet, if you've come looking for a quitter you're at the wrong blog. (FWIW, the guy who found us by searching for "Kyle Farnsworth naked" is also at the wrong blog.)

Wow - "who knows what darkness lurks in the hearts of men" pretty much sums up my reaction to that disturbing bit of information.

Derek Smart, over at The Big Red C, although somber in tone and acutely cognizant of the stark reality facing the Cubs seems to still want to hold on to that last bit of hope as he deftly remarks:

On a scale of one to ten, with one being, "the Cubs have no physical possibility of making the postseason," and ten being, "the Cubs have clinched a playoff spot," I'd have to put my assessment of the situation squarely at three. I'm not saying they'll get in if monkeys fly out my butt, but if Tuesday's dawn finds the Cubs preparing to play baseball, I'll be a little wary during my morning ablutions.

Moving on to Al Yellon's fine blog - Ever the eternal optimist, Al tries to encourage the troops:

We have to keep hope, my friends, until all hope is gone, and though it seems bleak right now -- remember the musical phrase I quoted at the top of this post.

And remember one other connection this Cubs team has to the 1998 wild-card race:

Neifi Perez.

Without Neifi, there'd have been no tie-breaker game, because the Cubs and Giants went into the final day of the season tied, and the Cubs lost in Houston, and literally 30 seconds later, Perez, then playing for the Rockies, beat the Giants with a ninth-inning homer. I have a sense, a feeling, something inside me, that says that Neifi Perez, mediocre player that he is, will produce something similar for the Cubs this weekend.

There are three days left, and heroics to come. Keep the faith.

There seems to be something inherently wrong with in any way tying the Cubs hopes to journeyman infielder Neifi Perez (even though he has indeed been a capable replacement at ss). More to the point however- The problem, of course, with continued optimism is that 1) the Cubs still need to actually win games, and 2) the Cubs need help - and not just help from one team - but two teams. And by the way, did we mention there are only 3 games left?

San Francisco is playing the Dodgers and are likely to drop at least one in L.A. Houston, on the other hand, is an odds-on favorite to sweep the hapless Rockies, especially since I've heard that they are reserving the right to bring in Roger Clemens on 3 days rest for Sunday's game if needed (and since I think the Cubs will drop one, if not all three, to the Braves - I don't think it will "be needed"). That, coupled with the fact that the Astros are playing exactly the type of baseball that gets you into the post-season and beyond, leads the rational observer to finally write the obituary for this sad enterprise known as Cubs 2004, as George Kyroudis has written over at Behind the Ivy:

If this Cubs team had a headstone it would show the last day of their hopes to make the NL post season playoffs would not be today’s loss to the Reds but Saturday’s September 25th loss to the Mets. They have yet to recover, the Cubs lost for the fifth time in six games, including back-to-back 12-inning frustrating losses to the Reds, and fell one game behind idle Houston for the NL wild card with three games left. Today’s game just seals it when you can only score 1 run in twelve innings to the Reds and lose a game again in extra innings with this power laden hitting team you have to wonder. Looking at the box score Corey Patterson went 0-6, Garciaparra 0-5, Ramirez 0-4, D. Lee 1-4, Sosa 2-4, Alou 2-6. Sure the Cubs hit the ball well Monday night with 4 homers but so many of their key players have lost their hitting prowess - Derrek Lee is 2-for-17 and hitting .226 in his last 21 games, Michael Barrett is hitless in his last 13 at-bats. I could go on but the Cubs can’t win if they can’t score no matter how good the pitching is and certainly Mark Prior’s performance was exceptional 16Ks (tying a career high) over 9 innings giving up one run. It was great to see Prior back to his 2003-self, it sure would have been nice to have him pitch at this level the entire year.

The Cubs will no doubt claim that their schedule of playing so many games factored into their implosion, which may be partially true. Somehow, I don’t think it deserves too much credit , does anyone think Sosa’s hitting funk and Patterson ability to swing at pitches outside the strike zone is based on being tired? I don’t!

At this point we can watch what happens during these next three final games with the Atlanta Braves and wonder what this team could have been with having Mark Prior pitch like he did today all year, a more effective closer who doesn’t choke in the ninth inning, a healthy Todd Hollandsworth to spell Patterson and especially Sosa or just simply be available to pinch hit. Oh well…

Dave over at Wrigley Ravings and Chuck from Ivy Chat (who is also speculating on Cubs roster moves for the off season) both seem to understand the gravity of the current situation as well.

Oh well - it's been a heck of a year - certainly not one we will soon forget. My personal hopes for what remains of this season is limited to seeing some good pitching from Woody, Zambrano, and Mad Dog. This current team seems to require near perfect pitching to win games and so I'd like to see each of them take matters into their own hands by pitching complete game shut-outs to end the season. With this utterly pathetic offense - it's the only [near]guarantee of a victory. Then we can all finally cease from wringing our hands over this under-achieving team and begin speculating in earnest about what off season additions Hendry needs to make to get this club some offensive punch.