Blog Entry

NLCS is here, Cubs aren't

Posted on: October 7, 2008 6:59 pm

PHILADELPHIA -- Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers would have been Tuesday night.

Instead, broken-hearted fans are leaving flowers at a makeshift shrine at Wrigley Field, which has gone dark until next spring.

The NL Championship Series begins here Thursday evening, and while the Dodgers flew east, the Chicago Cubs, despite an NL-high 97 wins, have gone home for the winter.

And their outraged fans are still sputtering.

"I will never set foot in that ballpark again," wrote Brian P. Patke in a letter to the editor published in Tuesday's Chicago Tribune. "I have boxed up everything 'Cubs' that I own and will properly dispose of it in a Dumpster. To pass this collection of misery down to my kids would only be committing the same brutal punishment my father passed down to me.

"I don't believe in jinxes, hexes or curses, but I believe in wasteful spending of money (Alfonso Soriano), God-awful choke jobs and the lack of self-confidence that comes with the fear of losing."

This autumn's three-game sweep wasn't just your normal Cubs-variety flop.

No, this was a devastating defeat that will hang like a cement anchor on this franchise throughout the winter. General manager Jim Hendry must re-evaluate things from top to bottom, even after constructing a team that won more games than any Cubs club in 63 years:

-- Alfonso Soriano's inept performance during his two postseasons with the Cubs (3-for-28, eight strikeouts, no extra-base hits) at the very least suggests the Cubs need to find another leadoff hitter (resurrect those trade talks for Baltimore's Brian Roberts again this winter?) and slide Soriano down in the order. At worst, it may signal that the eight-year, $136 million deal -- Soriano just completed his second year -- was a mistake. In 44 lifetime postseason games dating back to his rookie year with the Yankees, Soriano is hitting .213 (37-for-174). October, which brings with it the game's best pitchers, is not a friendly time for undisciplined, free swingers. See Guerrero, Vladimir, over in the American League. Soriano's contract makes him virtually untradeable. At this point, the Cubs at least should investigate the possibilities.

-- Third baseman Aramis Ramirez is 2-for-23 with no RBIs during the past two Cubs offseasons. He looks as lost as Soriano.

-- Kosuke Fukudome, at three-years, $38 million, right now appears to have been a colossal mistake. The Cubs are going to have to look hard at him in spring training and early in the year and, maybe, swallow hard and eat the contract (or, at the very least, ship him to Triple-A Iowa and see if he can be salvaged).

-- The Cubs' culture must be changed. Manager Lou Piniella and the players deflected questions surrounding the curse and the 100-year drought since the club's last World Series title (1908) all season. Then club CEO Crane Kenney hauled out a priest to sprinkle holy water on the Cubs' dugout before Game 1 against the Dodgers. It was uncalled for, demeaning to those in uniform and an open invitation to further ridicule.

-- After the Cubs lost Game 1 to the Dodgers, second baseman Mark DeRosa called Game 2 a "do-or-die" game. Though manager Lou Piniella publicly disavowed that, privately, according to sources, he asked front office officials whether the roster could be changed (it can't, except in the case of injury, once a playoff series begins). Signs of panic were evident just one game into the postseason.

When normally placid first baseman Derrek Lee slammed his helmet to the ground in the fifth inning of Saturday's Game 3 loss, it seemed the universal signal of utter frustration and inability to do anything about it.

It's not unusual for players to become upset and slam helmets around.

It is unusual for it to happen in the fifth inning. Normally, that kind of behavior is reserved for the eighth or ninth inning.

Probably, it was an accumulation of frustration. Over the past two postseasons -- two three-game sweeps by Arizona and Los Angeles -- the Cubs have combined for a grand total of 12 runs.

"You have to score runs," Piniella said. "We had opportunities and you have to take advantage of them. This is six games I've managed now in the postseason (with the Cubs) and we have scored just 12 runs. That doesn't get it done. If you want to win a World Series or go deep into the postseason, you have to score runs."

Among other egregious transgressions, the wild-swinging Soriano not only swung at the first pitch of the game, he also swung at the first pitch after Dodgers manager Joe Torre summoned reliever Cory Wade with two Cubs aboard, one out and Chicago trailing 3-0 in the seventh inning of Game 3. That he didn't make the new pitcher at least throw a couple of pitches and make sure he had command of the strike zone was inexcusable.

The honeymoon long since had ended for Fukudome. At O'Hare airport on Friday morning following the Cubs' Game 2 loss, those in the United Airlines terminal heard an announcement come over the public address system: "Attention Kosuke Fukudome. Attention Kosuke Fukudome. Please report to the Cincinnati Reds. You've been traded for a player to be named later."

The honeymoon for everyone else pretty much had ended before the final pitch of Game 3 had even been thrown.

"So Long" read Sunday's headline in the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Wait 'till ... whatever" sighed the headline in the suburban Daily Herald.

Patke, the letter-writer Tuesday in the Tribune, was only getting warmed up.

"This type of misery deserves no more company of mine," he wrote. "With more than three million bozos showing up annually for the circus, I know I won't be missed one bit, but the feeling is truly mutual.

"Good riddance, Cubs. I wish I could say it's been fun, but that would be like saying multiple minor heart attacks are no big deal. Eventually you have to change your habits and evil ways to avoid a predictable and most certain premature death."





Since: Oct 8, 2008
Posted on: October 8, 2008 9:52 am

NLCS is here, Cubs aren't

Although I was really routing for the Cubs this year, I am not a "Regular" hard core Cubs fan. I have always poo-pooed the notion of the Cubs as anything beyond the "Lovable Losers" that they are. As danks so aptly described the Cubs experience, The "Circus". I do believe that nails it.


Since: May 20, 2008
Posted on: October 8, 2008 2:41 am

Brian P. Patke is a loser

Here's why.

Solid article, but I'm sure that not all of...

their outraged fans are still sputtering.

Since: Dec 10, 2007
Posted on: October 7, 2008 10:23 pm

NLCS is here, Cubs aren't

a very enjoyable read  ,  scott  miller .

well written .

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