Saturday, May 28, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

You know, I have never been one to lay much stake in hexes, curses, jinxes or superstitions but I am starting to think that maybe there is something to this "curse of the billy goat".

First of all, let me say that I really do feel bad about what happened to Prior yesterday. The guy is a horse and in my opinion the best young pitcher in the game. In fact, I even picked him to win the CY this season. I also feel bad because as a fan you want your team to be at full strength, as well as your competition to be at full strength. Last season when the Cardinals won I heard plenty, from various Cubs fans about what might have happened if so and so wouldn't have gotten hurt. You always respond with the standard "injuries are part of the game" or "we had our share of injuries as well." That's all candy coated crapola, because the reality of it is we don't know what might have happened last season if Wood and Prior stay healthy, if Sammy doesn't strain his back sneezing. It looks like another off season of wondering what might have happened. As a fan I hate it, because I want the Cards to spank the Cubs with both teams at full strength, with no excuses, no questions as to who is the better team. That's not gonna happen this year.

I don't know about this so called curse. I have always been one to believe that the team that works harder, executes better, and plays smarter will create their own luck. The breaks always seem to happen for those teams. I feel that the reason the Cardinals are running away with this division (although the Beermakers could make a run) is because they are just better. They work harder, the execute better, and the play smarter and harder. Obviously right now that is the case. For example, the other day I got to see the first couple of innings of the Cubs game and they were facing the pitcher with the most walks in the NL, as well as leading the league in ERA. A team that plays smart realizes "hey let's take a pitch or two, make this guy work, and see if we can't get him to walk a batter or two". What do the Cubs do, 6 of the first 9 batters go up hacking at the first pitch, 2 of which were retired on one pitch. That is just poor execution, not bad luck or a curse. Or the other day, trailing in the 9th to the 'Stros. Neifi Perez has a great at bat and after seeing like 10 pitches gets a knock. Patterson pinch hits, and goes up there pumping at the first pitch, trying to hit a grand slam with one man on base. After 4 or 5 pitches, strikes out looking failing to advance the runner. Next batter hit's into the dreaded 6-4-3, ending the inning that started so promising. Again poor execution, not a curse or bad luck. Also when Dusty Baker came over from the Giants, he was never known as a briliant strategist, he was known as a players manager, and was great for team chemistry. The kind of manager that players loved to play for. If he told you to jump of a bridge you would do it with everything you got. I have seen nothing of that since he has been with the Cubs. Recently whining about the schedule (although it is unfair) but what does that say to your team when their manager instead of motivating his players, building their confidence, Dusty is whining about the schedule. Demonstrating his lack of confidence in his team. Again has nothing to do with a curse or luck.

However, when a no name stiff from the Rockies hits a frozen rope off the million dollar right arm of the franchise, breaking a bone in his precious right elbow, then you start to think that maybe there is something to this curse. Oh and by the way, I am hereby now backing off of my prediction of a Cubs/Cards NLCS. What else is new. I don't know jack about predicting sports. I had Georgia Tech, Illinois, Syracuse, and UConn as my Final Four in the pool at work. Illinois being the only one to make it, heck they were the only ones to make it out of the second round. So I guess I am gonna predict the Red Sux to sweep the Cardinals in the World Series again this season. We'll see what happens.