Filed: Oct. 4, 2009
(Click here for the photo gallery of this weekend's games.)
The Cubs ended the 2009 season in a game that pretty much sums up the year: They got some good pitching, someone homered, and in the end, they couldn't come through in the clutch, this time losing 5-2 to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Cubs finish the season 83-78.
Yes, I said good pitching. I mean, Ryan Dempster was not terrible, even with allowing five runs in five innings. He struck out 10, was generally in the zone, and really his only mistake was with Chris Young—never miss high with this kid—who jacked a three-run, first pitch homer in the fourth to drive in three. Take that back, and we're having a much different conversation about the day.
And the bullpen? Flawless. The combination of Sean Marshall, Justin Berg, Aaron Heilman, and Esmailin Caridad combined to hold the D-Backs scoreless the rest of the way.
There's talent there, to be sure. Rough, but existent. Maybe not Heilman though, who gave me my only bright spot of the day, watching him jump into his car outside the players' parking lot and make a hasty exit. I'm not ashamed to say that I think the club will make an immediate improvement simply by making him and Aaron Miles disappear.
Congrats to Sam Fuld too. First major league homer. First career RBI. First multi-RBI game. He's made a believer out of me. The kid can be my fifth outfielder anytime. Watching him makes me almost embarrassed that the club thought giving Joey Gathright close to a million last offseason to do the same thing was a good idea.
But this is about the season, where perception is reality, and the perception is that this team could have done much, much better. I say perception because as recently as six years ago, if you told fans that the Cubs would have three consecutive winning seasons—a first in over 35 years—and win a couple of division titles, it would have been a joyous notion.
Today, with a triple-digit record of futility, increased ticket prices over that time, and a taste of what's possible, well, let's say that Cubbie Nation is a touch more...demanding. See Milton Bradley.
And that's the environment the Ricketts family enters as they assume the reins, hopefully sometime within the next month. Good luck.
I've some thoughts that I'll share later in the week about what they might be best served doing, but the best thing is to ensure a transparent transfer of power leading into the organizational meetings in November and commit to putting what is at least perceived to be a much more competitive team on the field in 2010.
Anything that has the Cubs handicapped this offseason or fielding a loser in their first year of ownership has repercussions that could last for years.
So, in the meantime, while they're checking their exit interviews, player evaluations, and personnel reports in preparation, I'm going to do something I rarely have a chance to do during the season: Put down the notebook and the camera, think a little less, and just watch some games.
As such, I'm going to get a little scarce for the next month or so and let the playoffs, well, play out. Also, begin the upgrades for Cubbie Nation, plan my trip to catch the Arizona Fall League, and start work on coverage to bring you once the free agency ofifcially begins.
In the meantime, keep your head up. Personally, I couldn't have been more sad Sunday watching the players pack up and exit Wrigley for the final time this year, almost to the point of anger.
Let the countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting begin.