Monday, July 04, 2005

I appreciated Randy’s Christian testimony in his last “From the Red States” update. However, I want to point out a couple of things. In spite of what the lexicons say, several Bible scholars believe that the traditional King James usage of the word “carpenter” for the Greek word transliterated “tektone” is incorrect or inaccurate. Ray Vander Laan argues that a better choice of word here would be “builder”. Given the raw materials available in the vicinity of Nazareth during the earthly life of Joseph and Jesus, it is more likely that Jesus was a worker, former or builder with stone.

If you’re still with me, you ask, “what does stone have to do with the Chicago Cubs?”. The answer is Stone, Steve Stone my friends. He was the lone voice of one crying in the baseball wilderness, chiding Chicago Cubs players and management to get serious about their approach to this game. But, alas, our only honest baseball prophet was run out of town.

Stone’s most recent comments on Mark Prior facing the Sox may have proven to be unfounded, but by and large what he was saying before and since he left town is accurate.
Management can put the best array of stars on the field possible, but in the end the players have to get it done. Last year’s team, injuries notwithstanding, had the playoffs in their grasp and let it get away. The prophet Stone was correct to tell it like it is, but got run out of town in the process.

My concern this year is that I perceive that team management has not held up their end of the bargain. Content to stand pat with the hand they have, this team is slouching into the second half of the season at .500 and the Cardinals are nowhere within site. With the Nats playing the way they are, it is probably going to take at least 25 over .500 to take the wildcard spot away from Atlanta. If Wood and Prior are truly healthy then we can at least take some solace in having one of the best starting 5 in the league. But the pitiful anemic offensive pattern of 2004 is back. Other than Superman Lee over at first base and an occasional outburst by Aramis, the offense is in the tank. The second half of this year is going to be AGONIZING to watch. To see your starting pitchers go out there day after day and hold the opposition to only 2 or 3 runs over 7 innings but still lose is despicable. And I am afraid that we are going to see too much of this kind of baseball in the second half.

I know we are only halfway through the season, plenty of baseball left, but unless management decides to get serious and acquire an outfield this season is already over. Burnitz is probably having a decent year for Burnitz, but it’s not enough to propel this team. “Full House” Holly is a good guy, good reserve, but is not of starter caliber these days. If there were such a position as “designated fielder” then I wouldn’t mind Corey in my center field spot. However, there is no such thing, so I say we ship Corey to Peoria.

I believe that this year represents a turning point for the Chicago Cubs as a franchise. With the close call that the Cubs had in 2003 and the last-minute flop of 2004, Cub fans are at the apex of their interest or possibly now slightly past it. The frustration is building quickly and you can see it manifest itself in how players who have traditionally been loved are now getting booed off of the field when they don’t come through. If management doesn’t take action to strengthen this team soon, they are going to see a decline in fan interest that may take a decade to get back.