Thursday, August 30, 2007
Back in 2004, it was easy for Cub fans to hate their own team. The team was full of players who were not only mediocre on the talent level, but they were jerks on the personality level as well. Despite their push for a playoff birth, it was actually a mild pleasure when they lost. There were so few guys on that team that you really wanted to remember fondly they way many on the 1984 and 1989 teams still are remembered today.
After watching the play of this team of late, it's also getting easy to hate the 2007 edition as well, but for other reasons. Sure, Jacque Jones has the biggest hit of the season so far, but he is such a pud that you almost want to see him fail. It seems Jacque still holds a grudge against us fans for having a first half that made many of us wish Corey Patterson was still here. We booed him, deservedly so. Now that he has reached a level of competence, we're cheering him. Seems he's still mad that we booed him. Fine by me, Jacque. No matter what you do, I won't ever cheer you again. Launch a dinger to win a playoff series? I'll sit on my hands. That seems to be what you want.
But, beyond (and actually including) Jacque, the main issue seems to be stupidity. Every at bat that Alfonso Soriano has had since returning is infuriating. He's clearly a fundamentally unsound player that has no business being at the top of any lineup. And his base running? If the umpire sees a play a different way last night, the Cubs could have been shut out. Having to watch this guy through 2014 is going to be a challenge.
Carlos Zambrano, the guy who did this club a favor by forcing the sacrifice of Michael Barrett, now is echoing the Barrett-Roy Oswalt feud of 2004:
Zambrano did everything he could to wake the sleeping giant with his usual array of pointing, dancing, screaming and fist pumping -- and, offered the opportunity to deliver the dagger to a dying club, Zambrano instead gave the Brewers new life.
It didn't help that Zambrano wasted no time angering the Brewers or home-plate umpire Gerry Davis when he protested close calls in the first inning, and went nuts after striking out Prince Fielder. He jumped off the mound, pointed, hollered and acted like he had recorded the final out of the World Series.
And all that time, Fielder just stood at home plate and stared at Zambrano, watching his every movement into the dugout, before having words with Cubs first-base coach Matt Sinatro when he reached the bag.
Asked postgame if he was bothered, Fielder smiled and said, "A little bit.''
In the fourth, with the Cubs ahead 1-0 and Zambrano throwing a 1-hitter, Fielder led off and laced Zambrano's third pitch into the left-field gap for a double.
When he reached second base, Fielder waited for the pitcher to look at him and screamed with delight, clapping five times fast and hard, mocking the man who said he'd win the Cy Young Award this season.
I asked Fielder if that was particularly satisfying, noting his applause at second, to which Fielder laughed and said, "I didn't really clap. I just said 'timeout.' ''
The question has to be asked, "Where the hell is Lou?" One of the reasons the Parrot was reanimated was the Piniella Effect that seemed to be touching some of the players. Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez seemed to particularly take Lou's gospel to heart.
While this team can still win, it's going to take a manager that can get inside the heads of a Z and an A Sor and get them thinking straight. If he can't, this team will lose. And some of us will see it as players getting exactly what they deserved.
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