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Cubs Lose As Piniella Forgets the Reason Sports are Played

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27:  Lou Piniella manager of the Chicago Cubs scratches his head before the start of a spring training game against the Texas Rangers at the Surprise Stadium on February 27, 2009 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Ed LeiserCorrespondent IJune 22, 2009

Cubs manager Lou Piniella may have forgotten the one universal rule that exists in professional sports. 

For a reminder of that one rule, let's ask our friend Herm Edwards his opinion of why professional sports are played. 

Edwards, the former Head Coach of the New York Jets, gained fame for his legendary comment during a post-game interview.

"You play to win the game."

Thanks for the obvious, Herm.

But seriously, doesn't that simple idea sum up why we play sports? You play to win.  You don't just go out there and play for the love of competing. You play to win the game!

Someone please remind the Cubs' skipper of that tonight. 

The Cubs were defeated by the Atlanta Braves 2-0 Monday night in a make-up game from a previous rain out. The loss does not bother me. 

There are 162 games in a baseball season, so there's no point in getting too high or too low after one outcome.

But when you don't put a legitimate lineup on the field, well...I get a little more frustrated.

Piniella decided that tonight would be a good night to rest struggling sluggers Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley. 

I know players need rest, especially injury-plagued players in their 30's. It's a marathon, not a sprint in the world of Major League Baseball.

But do you bench a guy on a ten-game hitting streak (Bradley)? 

Do you bench your spark plug lead off hitter (though I'm well aware of Soriano's struggles)?

Better yet, do you bench two of your stars when your team is riding a four-game win streak? 

If you said "yes" to any of those questions then consider this: the Milwaukee Brewers were idle Monday night, meaning there was ground to be gained in the Central Division.

It seems to me that you go for the win at all costs Monday night with a red-hot Ryan Dempster on the mound.

The Cubs have a brutal road trip coming up, but wouldn't it be nice to head into Detroit with a five-game win streak?

That would serve notice that the Cubs were on their way back up the standings and their confidence would be sky-high.

While I like Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir, they can not be as effective as the minimum eight at-bats you would have had from Soriano and Bradley (and I know they have little, if any, experience against Braves' ace Javier Vazquez).

I also couldn't help but notice Piniella keeping Bradley on the bench during Andres Blanco's key sixth inning at-bat with the bases loaded. You play to win the game, Lou.

Getting Bradley in that spot would have given the Cubs a much higher chance of scoring than sticking with the weak-hitting Andres Blanco. 

It would have hamstringed the bench a bit, likely forcing in Aaron Miles to play, but a hit there could have changed the entire outcome of the game.

Instead, Piniella saved Bradley for the ninth inning and his uninspired at-bat was wasted. 

Getting rest and relaxation for key players is important, and I am aware that it is still June and we have a lot of baseball yet to be played.

But this game left a bad taste in my mouth just knowing that this was not the full product on display tonight for the Cubs. 

Just showing up for a random game in Atlanta is not enough, Lou.

You must play to win the game. 

Thanks again for the advice, Herm.

 

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