Sorry Cubs fans, but this just isn’t our year.
The worst part is, it’s not any one individual’s fault. You can’t point a finger at any one cause of the Cubs’ problems. Instead, it’s been a combination of a few poor personnel decisions, season-long slumps, terribly bad luck, and a nasty case of the injury bug.
It all started when Jim Hendry traded fan-favorite Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians on New Year’s Eve. What’s even worse, Hendry reportedly had a chance to undo his mistake in June when the Indians offered him back to the Cubs.
Maybe the ownership uncertainty prevented Hendry from making the deal. Maybe he was just too stubborn to admit he was wrong. Either way, the Cubs have missed DeRosa’s bat (21 HR/63 RBI/.259 AVG in 2009) and versatility dearly.
As if DeRosa’s absence from the Cubs lineup wasn’t enough, the team standing between them and their third consecutive NL Central title, the Cardinals, acquired the 34-year-old in late June.
Now, not only are the Cubs missing out on De-Ro’s 21 HR and 63 RBI, but their greatest competition has benefited from eight of those long balls since the end of June. That’s nearly a 30 HR swing, something the Cubs haven’t been able to overcome.
Despite a hot July, Alfonso Soriano is batting a pedestrian .247, a far cry from his career mark of .279.
The Cubs’ (supposedly) biggest free-agent acquisition in the off season, Milton Bradley, has batted .267 with just eight HR and 29 runs driven in. Compared to his 22 HR, 77 RBI and .321/.436/.563 line last year in just 126 games with Texas, it’s safe to say Bradley has been a colossal disappointment.
Aramis Ramirez missed 50 games earlier this season with a shoulder injury. Before and after this DL stint, Ramirez totaled nine bombs and knocked in 33 runs to go along with a .317/.385/.543 line in just 164 at-bats.
Unfortunately, another trip to the DL appears to be in Ramirez’s future as his shoulder has continued to be a problem. There goes another 30 HR that the Cubs could have used…
From a pitching perspective, the Cubs season has actually been successful…well, if you don’t count the injuries to Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, and oh, yea…Rich Harden; who could forget?
In total, four fifths of the Cubs starting rotation has missed significant time this season, combining for 87 days spent on the DL. Even when the starters have been healthy, they haven’t been quite what the Cubs had expected this season.
Rich Harden currently owns a 4.30 ERA, (compared to his career 3.40 total) the lowest it’s been since April 26.
No Cubs fan expected Ryan Dempster to repeat his 2008 performance that saw him win 17 games and post a 2.96 ERA. Not many thought he’d be this bad, however, owning a 4.04 ERA and a whopping 1.39 WHIP through 122 2/3 frustrating innings.
Even the bullpen got off to a rough start this season, but rebounded nicely in June and July, posting a collective ERA under 3.00 in both months.
The wheels came off on August 1, however, when Kevin Gregg blew save opportunities on back-to-back nights.
The sometimes dominant Carlos Marmol has been extremely inconsistent this year, walking 52 batters in 53 2/3 innings, the main cause of a mind-boggling 1.53 WHIP.
Despite all of these problems, the Cubs found themselves in first place just a few short weeks ago. They were finally turning the corner, and had caught the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals.
It didn’t last long.
Since going 14-5 in their first 19 games after the All-Star Break, the Cubs have gone 1-6 since, dropping to four games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central.
The low point in the Cubs’ 2009 season came Wednesday night against the Phillies.
Jeff Samardzija made the first start of his Major League career, and allowed seven earned runs on eight hits in just 3 1/3 innings.
Sean Marshall was summoned from the bullpen in the fourth inning, but he didn’t fair much better. The tall lefty lasted only 3 1/3 innings, surrendering five earned runs on six hits and three walks.
Sadly, neither pitching performance was the worst part of the 12-5 loss.
With the bases loaded and just one out in the bottom of the fifth, Jake Fox stepped to the plate. Fox slugged a Chan Ho Park offering deep to the warning track in center field.
As Phillies’ outfielder Shane Victorino settled underneath the fly ball, a fan from the Wrigley Field bleachers tossed a beer on the Flyin’ Hawaiian.
In all my years of rooting for the Loveable Losers, I have never been so embarrassed to call myself a Cubs fan.
Forget the injuries, forget the offensive woes. Forget the terrible pitching and the defensive mistakes. There is nothing a Cubs player could ever do that would disappoint me this much.
As a fan of the Chicago Cubs, I am ashamed. This is not what Cubs fans stand for.
The beer-tossing fan was immediately removed from his seat, but that’s not nearly enough. He should be banned from Wrigley Field for life. His actions are inexcusable, and have tarnished the reputation of Cubs fans across the country.
As for the actual team and the 50 games remaining on their schedule, may God have mercy on them all. It’s going to be a long final eight weeks.