The Chicago Cubs Blow Their Last Game for This Fan
I never thought I'd be saying it, but I'm hanging up my Chicago Cubs hat for the season, putting away the jerseys, and forgetting about any more games until next year. That's because Friday's game did me in. After so many seasons of broken hearts, this game raised so much bile and bitterness I had to go home and sleep it off for a while. After losing fan favorite and team captain Derrek Lee to the Atlanta Braves this week, the Cubs had to face him and the rest of Bobby Cox's hot team at Wrigley Field. It was weird enough seeing Lee at first base in a Braves uniform, and fans were uneasy, unsure how to react when he came up to bat. He was a beloved figure in Chicago and it felt felt wrong to boo him. Still when he popped out, they applauded heartily.
With so many long-standing Cubs veterans gone—Ryan Theriot, Ted Lilly, Mike Fontenot, and now Lee—the lineup looked bereft. New acquisition Blake DeWitt has done nothing to excite anyone. Starlin Castro, who got everyone pumped up in spring training has fizzled. And all those aforementioned star players were traded for AA and even single A prospects. Don't even ask about the pitching staff. My friends and I were poring over the scorecard trying to figure out who was left. However, pitcher Ryan Dempster did a fine job of making a game of it. He only gave up one home run to Omar Infante in the third and then held the Braves only one more score with run put together by a walk (one of the two he issued) by Martin Prado, who was driven home with a double by Alex Gonzalez.
On the Cubs side, they could have won. First, a group of nice small-ball hits sent De Witt home in the second inning. Then Amaris Ramirez came out of his zombie-like daze and hit a solo homer off of Braves pitcher Jair Jurgens in the fourth. Then Marlon Byrd hit a nice slice down the left field line into the territory by the foul pole for a triple and Ramirez repeated with almost the same move, driving Byrd home (although Ramirez, not as fast, only got to second). So, Cubs, 3, Braves, 2. It was looking good until the ninth inning and Dempster didn't need any relief.
Then Carlos Marmol stepped in. The good old closer we know and love. I remember asking in a Cubs story before, "what would we do without Marmol?" Well, now I know, because the man has taken the Crazy Train. Maybe he's been over-worked (there are hardly any pitchers, remember). Or maybe he's ticked off, for he struck out Lee with a vengeance. But he completely lost that steely-eyed focus he's known for. Instead he was whipping balls all over the place, over the plate, nearly at the batters, nearly to Milwaukee. He filled the bases and people started to groan. Still, he had ONE STRIKE TO GO for victory. The crowd was on its feet. The cheers started. He threw two balls in the dirt. The Braves fans started to cheer. And then the unthinkable happened. Rick Ankiel hit a triple bringing home two runners. Score, 5-3, Braves. The starch was out of the Cubs and they just pooped out.
I've never heard the crowd boo Marmol before, but they did today.