“Everybody wants to win. But the fans know one team is going to win and one team’s going to lose even before they get to the ballpark. But to come with the spirit of having fun... of laughing, of joking, of making trickery, of booing an umpire, or cheering a star, all the emotions are there. And whoever designed the phrase ‘the agony of defeat’ and ‘the ecstasy of victory’ certainly covered it all. But, it’s a game. Enjoy it.” - Harry Caray, 4th Inning

Monday, May 01, 2006

The good, the bad and the ugly...

...or 'the good, the ugly, and the bad' if you're going in chronological order. To reset the weekend, we can start with Friday's game: Sharp starting pitching, great timely hitting, and a killer bullpen. Friday saw the 2006 Chicago Cubs playing to their potential, the way they are capable... with some great breaks. Let's face it, every team needs them. No need to dwell on Friday, it was very nice.

Saturday. Bloody Saturday.

I'm an emotional Cubs fan, and have broken things watching them play. I wish I could have kept a log of the things in my apartment that didn't survive Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS. This Saturday, however, nothing was broken. Few curse words were uttered. My blood pressure didn't do anything crazy. Simply because I knew it was coming, and once the bleeding started, I was hoping for the worst kind of blood-bath, making it impossible for the Cubs to allow Rusch another start.

Certain pitchers become that guy... Estes in 2003, Trachsel in 1999 (and again in 2000), when despite their past achievements and record, it becomes blatantly obvious (to everyone except management) that they can't hack it.

Let's cut our losses. Eat the contract, get rid of Rusch. He obviously sat on the couch all winter and did not come to camp ready to play. Lefties are NOT helpful if they can't get anyone out. And warning track fly-balls are not my idea of "getting people out." Excuse me for thinking we learned that lesson with Felix Heredia. I know management loves the idea of having a lefty in the rotation, and we already have one, who despite never pitching above AA, is having a pretty decent rookie campaign. I'm not terribly wild about the idea of recalling Rich Hill (as the papers have indicated), who, despite a Zito-like curve seems to be one pitch shy of a complete arsenal. But, fine, I'll take him over Rusch. I'll take Hill's mother over Rusch. Open up the yellow pages and pick a name. I'm done with this guy.

More troubling, however, is Zambrano. Now I'm not sure if I was right about O'Brien and his comments... have the Cubs turned him into mush? When I read Dusty Baker begging for the old Zambrano back, I think I may have been wrong in my previous analysis. I can't speculate on what it is they did to him, or if they did anything! I'm still seeing him stomp around the mound and shatter bats! My fear is that there was a whole documentary made about this, like Metallica's Some Kind of Monster, where we watch Carlos go through intensive psychotherapy over this past winter. He has a few good cries, goes and hugs Barry Bonds... or, he pulls a Pedro Cerrano circa Major League 2 and becomes a total softy who meditates and hugs people he doesn't know.

Look, I don't know, and I've run out of bad movies and nightmarish scenarios. But they need to figure this out. Find a guy who deprograms people in cults and have him take Carlos into the woods for a week. Frankly, I think we've seen stranger trips to the DL.

Bottom line: The Brewers always play us tough, but this was bad. This was 1999-2000 bad, and I haven't even mentioned David Aardsma or Will Ohman (Isn't it funny how neither of the guys we got for Hawkins can pitch?!) If I were Hendry, I'd cut Rusch and call up Jae Kuk Ryu. The guy was battling Marshall for a spot in the rotation in spring, and probably is ready to pitch in the bigs. As for the rest... Well... IT AIN'T OVER YET!!

TODAY'S FORGOTTEN CUB OF THE PAST:

JULIO ZULETA
















-Fletch

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