Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Cubs

The Cubs

Quick note: You know, I wrote this, and I'm not even sure if I said what I want to say. I'll just warn you, before reading this, remember that the blog is called Big Stupid Tommy.

I haven't written much about the Cubs, or baseball at all, lately. It doesn't mean I've not been watching. It just means that I'm trying to stick to that can't say anything nice/say nothing at all type of thing.

However. Despite their winning record, and despite their being a mere game and a half behind the streaking Cincinnati Reds, I still manage to find myself frustrated, irritated and generally pissed off about one facet or another of my favorite baseball team.

A couple of things grinding me lately. Corey Patterson's become a constant thorn in my side. I hate the guy. It's irrational. But I cringe when I see him or hear him coming to the plate. Even if he gets a double and drives in three to win the game, I've got some irrational sour grape thing going on where I say to myself "he got lucky when he closed his eyes and swung..."

The fact that our lineup gets shut down by any pitcher of any kind of talent or note bugs me. Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettite and Jason Schmidt being the three that come to mind immediately. I know it's not always the case. We ran with Matt Morris a while back, and there are a couple of others that we had good games against. If we come up against a ham & egger like anybody beyond Kip Wells in the Pirates rotation, we'll do okay. But if it's a pitcher who knows his craft, he can shut the Cubs down. That bugs me.

But here's the big thing, and I've kept quiet about it because it's not rational.

The injuries are the big thing. And I didn't want to bitch about the injuries, because they're unavoidable over a 162 games, and because God would injure more Cubs if I did that. (Proof of this? I bitched to my buddy Steven about them, but said it was looking better...what happens? Kerry feels "discomfort" after eight pitches in a session, and suddenly is gone for a couple more weeks).

But the Sloth made a good point recently. Actually, he's made many good points recently, but I caught onto this one:

He points out that these guys aren't athletes, anymore. Guys like Mark Prior, Sammy Sosa and Kerry "I Kill You With Baseball" Wood are investments. Multi-million dollar investments. And the Cubs put their backs against the wall of caution whenever it comes to protecting these investments, in order to assure a higher bottom line in the future.

It's frustrating to see, and it's a note on the times we live in. Cal Ripken played every day for years. Lou Gehrig? Same thing. Didn't Babe Ruth play most of his career with syphilis? I'm damn near blind and insane with the stuff, so how the Babe managed to hit 714 dongs, I've nary a winkle dinkle. But I forget that those guys were baseball players. Even Cal. Not investments, necessarily.

None of which is to say I didn't make a turdle head whenever I heard Kerry's arm first started hurting back during that Dodger game. I don't think the scars on my soul have healed yet after his monster rookie year, and his elbow decimation thereafter. I've taken him on, warts and all, as my favorite Cub. I don't want my boy hurtin', and when I hear anything having to do with that elbow, I have to make sure I have plenty of Spray n' Wash for the undies.

I understand caution. Part of me, the conservative part of me, wants caution.

But these guys are the hosses. At least, they're supposed to be. They're supposed to lead. They're supposed to inspire. I guess what I'm getting at is that I want to be inspired. More than that, I'd like the rest of the Cubs to be inspired.

And as much as I like and admire Z, Matty "The weirdest looking guy in the world" Clement and The Moistest Alou, who've done admirably in shouldering the load, I'm not inspired by that. Maybe I should be. Maybe I'm asking too much.

But what I'd have liked to have seen was one of those superstars gut through one performance with their injuries.

Not even Hollywood/Kirk Gibson in the World Series style.

But go out there and do the job, fight through it. Warrior style.

No, it's not logical, or even practical. I mean, if you're hurt, you're hurt. I realize that. And I realize that you need to put your best players on the field, and Kerry with a sore elbow or Sammy with a wrenched back are not the best players.

At the end of this season, I'd like the mark of this team to be something more than this: "They came in with a good shot, but Mark Prior missed a third of the season with an Achilles injury, or Sammy Sosa missed a month when he hurt his back sneezing."

What I want to hear about is Kerry telling Dusty, and the whole team, that he's still the man to go out there and do it. That he still wants the ball. I want him to say, "With all due respect to Glendon "My name's Glendon" Rusch or Sergio Mitre....I'm still the best man for the job."

I want a warrior to inspire the team. I want someone to have said "It's not alright to get hurt and sit it out." Even if it is a good idea to sit down for a little while.

I guess I shouldn't bitch. But this year, it's just not good enough.


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