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Some Blog I Wrote

stuff i think about and then type on a keyboard

Thursday, May 26, 2005

There's No "Meh" In "Team"

The Cubs decided .500 wasn't for them last night, allowing the Astros to end their latest extended losing streak with a 5-1 victory. While Maddux's pitching wasn't terribly reliable, the Cubs hitters failed to execute again. They helped Backe more than their own ace. Here's what Dusty Baker said last night after the game:
"'Can't' and 'don't' are negative words I don't use. We can [score runs]. We're just not hitting as a team. We get a couple guys hot, but we haven't had three or four guys in the lineup hot at the same time."
The Cubs are certainly not hitting as a team. No, Dusty-We-Trusty, it's not a matter of hot and cold. At least it shouldn't be. You're not hitting as a team because you're hitters aren't being efficient. Case in point. Sixth inning, down 2-1, the Cubs have runners one first and third with one out. Next batter, Jeromy Burnitz. Pops out on the first pitch. Next batter, Aramis Ramirez. Pops out on the first pitch. Inning over.

Such is the archetypal inning for the Cubs. Their hitting style remains "longball or leave 'em", "grand slam or strand 'em." When they finally get to the pitcher, they do nothing beyond loading bases. Batters come up expecting to pound on the pitch, even if it's the first pitch. They want the big homer or maybe the big hit, but the big homer gets the fans all giddy. All they needed to do was move one runner to home plate to tie the game and hopefully do some psychological damage to the pitcher. It's called smallball. It's called playing loose. It's called being opportunistic. It's the kind of baseball that's helped the Cardinals, White Sox, and Yankees, who happen to be hot teams at the moment.

Perhaps Baker's overall management style is too "big picture" and "hands off" to be effective. Too bad we lost today, but as long we play good down the stretch, we'll be okay. As players come back from the DL, our team will be better. Some day enough of our hitters will be hot to make some dents against good pitchers. He lets his hitters hit the way they want. He lets them showboat at the plate, giving the fans the best show possible. Yes, sports is entertainment, but Cub fans (the smart ones) are tired of seeing good talent wasted. Baker must think he's managing the Exhibition Cubs, the WGN Cubs, the Cubs-as-Brand, the Lovable Losers, the team with the showboat key player who hits the home runs while the team loses games. All the Jim Hendry deals in the world won't make the Cubs any better so long as the team mentality is stuck in 2001. Maybe all this talent we supposedly have flock to Dusty Baker because they know he'll let them play their own way, on a team that's not greater than the sum of its parts.

Posted by GiromiDe @ 12:00 PM
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