It’s embarrassing.

–Ron Santo during the 9th inning of Friday’s game

Ronnie may not be a great color announcer, but he described today’s ninth inning to a tee. For those who don’t know, Ryan Dempster came on in the ninth to protect a 2 run lead. 2 singles and 2 walks later, it was 5-4 with 1out and Andruw Jones at the plate. Andruw lofted a deep flyball to our own Jacque Jones, who caught it and actually got the relay in the vicinity of cutoff man Neifi Perez, as Brayan Pena scored the tying run. But Neifi failed to handle the throw, so Marcus Giles raced around third and scored when Perez’s throw to home was 10 feet over Barrett’s head. It was the first time I’ve ever heard of 2 runs scoring on a sacrifice fly. And the strange part is, Santo called the Cubs effort embarrassing BEFORE this all happened.

This team is lousy. There’s really nothing more to say about them. If Dusty Baker can ever engineer a 5 game winning streak, he’ll get an extension, but right now the Cubs don’t even look capable of that. The front office needs to go. I know I’ve been harping on Dusty Baker since last season, but today just provided me with more fodder. It’s bad enough that Perez was batting 2nd today, but with the team down 1 run in the bottom of the ninth, Dusty let Neifi hit for himself. That’s right, Neifi, he of .221OBP, the guy who was charged with 2 errors on the play that allowed the Braves to go ahead in the first place was allowed to bat, despite the fact that Matt Murton and Jerry Hairston were still both on the bench (Tony Womack may have been there too). Jim Hendry remains sequestered in an undisclosed location, emerging occasionally to tell us that he’s working hard on a trade, but that nobody will make a trade this early in the season (meanwhile, the Mets made two separate deals for starting pitchers). Finally, Andy McPhail assures us all that he will do everything in his power to make sure that he brings the Mackinac Cup* to Tribune Tower. Actually, that’s not fair. Andy McPhail just wants to remind us that the Astros started the season 15-30 last year and went to the World Series, so obviously the Cubs are following that same blueprint. Except instead of Andy Pettite, Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt all throwing 200 innings each, the Cubs will have Mark Prior, Wade Miller and Kerry Wood throw 200 innings combined.

So please, if you’re still entertaining thoughts that the Cubs are somehow “in it” don’t write me an angry e-mail or comment about how a true fan of the team shouldn’t give up. A true fan of baseball should recognize the crap we’ve been handed and realize that this team is an embarrassment. You know what’s really sad about this whole thing? There are 3 other baseball teams close by, the White Sox, the Cardinals and the Brewers. Now, I can’t bring myself to root for any of those teams, but I have been watching them, and they are all playing exciting baseball. They all have talented yet selfless players, who are fundamentally sound, who hustle, and who seem to have legitimate fun when they step between the white lines. I don’t see this with the Cubs, and it’s a damn shame, because as fans of the game of baseball, we deserve better from this team.

* for those who don’t know, the Mackinac Cup is the trophy awarded to the winner of the annual yacht race from Chicago to Mackinac Island

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