Chicago Cubs: Destiny or Doom

Christopher BremnerCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2008

It has been a rough week for the Chicago Cubs as they have dropped seven out of their last eight contests.   One would think that a record like that would be devastating for a team in the thick of a playoff race, but surprisingly, this team has been getting all the right help, from all the least expected places.

The Milwaukee Brewers have been kind enough to compensate for recent Cub woes by performing just as awful.  The Brew Crew has been chasing Chicago all year, reminiscent to how the Cubs chased them a year ago, however, there is one difference, when the Brewers made a mistake; the Cubbies were there to capitalize on it.  During the recent skid in Chicago, the Brewers have had an excellent opportunity to not only distance themselves from St. Louis for the Wild-card spot, but to replace the Chicago Cubs as the NL Central leaders.  Thank you Milwaukee, it is so very kind of you to drop six of your last eight to pick up the slack. 

It is known that Milwaukee has a good ball club, in fact, they currently hold the second best record in the National league, so Chicago; don’t expect the Brewers to be this kind the remainder of the season.  Let’s just hope the Cubs can get out of this rut, and play like the team that has battled for the best record in all of baseball, all year.

The pitching staff is starting to show signs of wear and tear, and thank you Lou Piniella for being decent enough to give these guys a rest.  Dusty Baker would have pounded these aces into the ground by now.  That’s how things are now done in Cincinnati, oh yeah in Milwaukee too.  The pitching staff is not out of it yet though, the challenges seem to be building up for the Chicago Cubs.

Carlos Zambrano is an amazing pitcher, but Carlos needs to stop trying to replace technique with anger.  Carlos introduces too much emotion when he gets into a jam, and unfortunately, that is when bad technique develops.  It is like fighting harder to get out of quick sand, or sending a bull into a china shop, it usually does not fare well for the club ace.  I know emotion is Zamabranos’ mode of operation, but it seems to be his biggest enemy as well.  As it has been said all year, and all throughout his career, if ‘big Z’ can learn how to channel his anger, he would be collecting CY Young awards like nobody’s business. 

Rich Harden has a nickname which I do not feel comfortable with, the Glass Man.  When the cubs acquired Rich Harden earlier this year, they received a warning label as well.  On this label it read, "Rich Harden is made of glass, he will go out with an arm injury again at some point or another, that’s inevitable, however, if you pitch him carefully and give him a lot of rest between starts, he could win you a world series."

It is unknown at this point why Harden has really missed two straight starts but when it boils down, I agree, save him.  If he is feeling soar, rest him until he feels better.  I would rather him try to pitch through pain, if ever, in the post season.  It has been said all pitchers pitch through pain during the season, but with his history, I’m okay with being cautious.  The majority of his problems have not even been arm pain, but torso and back issues.  Before the bulk of his injuries hit, Rich said this, "I've never had problems my entire career, I just have to try to figure something out.  If this were hockey, I'd throw my skates on and go, but these (injuries) are so specific to pitching, I can't do that.  And there's nothing worse than not being able to play. You don't feel like part of the team when you can't help out.  I mean, this is my job.  I want to go out there.”  Rich also stated that he does not wish to be known as the guy who is always hurt.  Well Rich, neither do Cubs fans, good luck, and hopefully they keep giving you rest to avoid turning you into Mark Prior.

Last September, Alfonso Soriano truly showed his 136 million dollar bat, and gained a lot of fans.  Soriano was able to break Ernie banks’ franchise record by launching 14 home-runs in that final month, and also set an MLB record by leading off a game with a home-run six different times.  Let’s hope he contributes again this year, and the rest of the bats don’t go flat.

Are the Cubs a team of destiny?  Is this past week a preview of the remainder of the season?  Can they overcome the history that has cursed them to 100 years of losing?  IF the pitching holds up, and IF the bats stay/come alive, and most importantly IF they stay healthy…watch out, there will be no catching the Chicago Cubs.  Everyone knows about the curses, and about the choking, but the fact remains they are simply too deep, and too talented to screw this thing up.  Besides, winning after 100 years is just way too dramatic to pass up.