By Brady Stiff
…or is it?
As I’ve gotten older, and have followed baseball more and more, I’ve come to realize how much of a marathon the baseball season is.
It’s not like that’s a new revelation, and I’m not even moving a molehill, let alone a mountain with that statement. But you listen to some of the people who call in to baseball postgame shows on the radio and you’d think they’re standing at the top of the Sears (excuse me, Willis) Tower, ready to jump.
Come on, it’s just one of 162.
After losing two of three to the Nationals, though, there’s no real reason to be excited about Cubs baseball right now. Yes, I know they were coming off of a three game sweep of the Brewers, but I also said that Cubs fans should have some perspective. And then they go drop two of three to the Nationals (and the one they did win they needed an extra inning, bases loaded walk to do it).
Every summer, I and millions of other people invest so much into the ups and downs of the baseball season, more specifically on the North side of Chicago.
It’s just one game, Cubs fans. But that doesn’t mean I can’t bitch about it…
Today’s debacle saw the Cubs and Nationals tied at two after two innings. Ryan Dempster was pitching well, and the Cubs were actually making decent contact on a sinkerball pitcher. Then Dempster left a pitch right out over the plate in the 4th, and Adam Dunn did what he does best, which is hit the ball a long way.
That was it for the scoring, but the Cubs certainly had their chances. And they did what they do best sometimes, fail in multiple ways to get the runs in. They went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and that’s they left 11 on base for the game. That’s the kind of stat that will drive a manager, and the teams fans, absolutely crazy.
Lou Piniella said after the game that he doesn’t know what’s wrong with the offense. He said they are getting guys on base, they just have to get them in.
The situation that, in my mind, came back to haunt them the most came in the bottom of the 8th inning. Marlon Byrd hit a leadoff double with the Cubs down by a run. That brought Mike Fontenot to the plate with nobody out. I was literally screaming at the TV…”BUNT!!! BUNT!!!”
Fontenot didn’t once even hint at a bunt, and ended up popping out to the shortstop. Chad Tracy, pinch hitting for Koyie Hill (Why in the world did Lou do that?) struck out swinging. Lou then pinch hit for Dempster with Xavier Nady, who walked on four pitches. Ryan Theriot then ended the inning by popping out to first on the first…let me say that again….FIRST pitch.
A mind-boggling 8th inning led to a less-than-thrilling 9th, and the Cubs losing again.
Now, after the game Lou was asked why he didn’t bunt with Mike Fontenot. He jumped on the reporter….
“Bunting what? With a left-handed hitter up? With a left-handed hitter up you want to bunt? What kind of baseball do you play? Really, what kind of baseball do you play? How about getting him in, or getting him over by swinging? How about that?”
Well if I had asked the original question, and had the cahones to go toe-to-toe with Lou on the matter, here’s what I would say.
“Why yes, Lou, I do mean bunting with the left-handed hitter up. At that point in the game, I don’t care if you sent Bilbo-freakin’-Baggins up there to hit, as long as he could get a bunt down. What kind of baseball do I play? I play to win. I play to give myself the best chance to win the game. I think that getting him over with a bunt would give you the best chance to get the tying run in from third. Think of how many more ways that run can score from third. Sacrifice fly, wild pitch/passed ball, slow grounder, error, balk, base hit. Hell, even if the infield is pulled in, the batter could hit a rinky-dink line drive that would get over the infielders, but wouldn’t have if they were playing back.”
Then Lou would probably kick me out of the very small Wrigley Field press room, but at least I’d have a story to tell my grandkids.
Not sure why he pinch hit for Hill either. Koyie Hill is a perfectly capable backup catcher, who’s known to get some clutch hits. Tracy, who’s hitting .154, couldn’t get the job done. It’s not like Lou was trying to get a favorable pitcher-hitter matchup, either. Tracy is a lefty, and Hill is a switch hitter. If you’re going to pinch hit for your catcher, you might as well just use your other catcher.
Oh yeah, Geovany Soto is hitting .362, and is 6 for his last 14. Oops.
Guess what? For once, you can’t pin a loss on the bullpen. Hang this one on everyone else (except Dempster).