From The Natural:
“We must begin by asking it…”What is losing?” Losing is a disease…as contagious as polio. Losing is a disease…as contagious as syphilis. Losing is a disease…as contagious as bubonic plague... attacking one…but infecting all. But curable.”
Well, it may have been a different day, but it was certainly the same story. The Cubs batters clearly read our Piecemeal Preview for today’s game and went about chasing Gio Gonzalez in the 4th inning. A string of two-out hits in the 4th, highlighted by Reed Johnson’s two RBI triple, put the Cubs in the driver’s seat.
But alas, once the game was turned over to the bullpen, things went south in hasty fashion. It must be said that Rafael Dolis did a nice job in the 7th, and Kerry Wood actually was looking very sharp before surrendering the two-out bomb to David Espinosa that served as the catalyst for a 5-run 8th inning. After hesitating the other day, perhaps it is time to castigate Carlos Marmol. Marmol was his typically wild self, giving up a couple of hits, a couple of walks, and a couple of earned runs without recording an out. Shawn Camp did well finishing things off once the game was already lost. I know there will be calls to give Camp an elevated role (which he very well might deserve), but for me at least, his performance today offers little in the way of predictive value for future performance since he came in after the game had been blown wide open.
And so, returning to opening quote from The Natural. Theo, Jed, this is what you’ve gotten yourselves into. The last sentence of the quote is very short, stating in two simple words (“But curable”) that losing is not an ailment without a panacea. Simple words yes, but many Cubs’ fans would probably choose to punctuate that sentence with a question mark instead of a period. Here we stand, two games in and one hundred-sixty to go and the one constant remains: the Cubs’ unflagging ability to lose, their indefatigable ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Two very nice starting pitching performances, yet Dempster and Garza have both been let down by the bullpen in characteristically frustrating style. So, Theo and Jed, your job isn’t just about making all the right personnel moves, it’s about inspiring hope in a fan base and showing us that the final sentence in that quote is indeed a statement and not a question.