The "boo birds" made an early appearance at Wrigley Field on Wednesday when Alfonso Soriano struck out to begin the bottom of the first inning. The booing continued throughout the evening. Here's why:
- Cubs fans are passionate, much like Carlos Zambrano. When things don't go well, they tend to get fired up—especially when they spent an average of $300 per ticket.
- Ryan Dempster hadn't walked seven batters in one game since 1999. Why now? Speaking of walks, the Cubs walked the opposing pitcher, Derek Lowe, twice. That's two times. Count 'em.
- The 2008 Cubs were invincible at home, winning almost two-thirds of their games at Wrigley Field. The fans simply aren't accustomed to losing...at least not this year.
- This is the Cubs' seventh straight postseason loss.
- Alfonso Soriano went 0-for-5, swinging at pitches so far out of the strike zone that it was almost comical.
- The rest of the lineup didn't fare much better. The Cubs were 2-for-15 with runners on base.
- National League teams that have lost the first game of the NLDS since 1995 have gone on to win the series only three times—out of 26 series.
But all is not lost, Cubs fans. Here are some reasons not to boo:
- Mark DeRosa's injured calf didn't affect his power swing. If the Cubs come back in the next four games, expect his performance to boost talk of a team MVP. His calf is no stitched ankle (see Curt Schilling, 2004 NLCS), but DeRo is a hard worker.
- Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood are still fresh for Game Two. Nobody was expecting miracles from the middle relief, and the three runs in four-plus innings on Wednesday weren't as ugly as things could have been. There's no shame in giving up a home run to Man-Ram on a ridiculously good pitch.
- The defense, anchored by an amazing catch by Kosuke Fukudome, was solid.
- The Dodgers are hot right now. They surged to make the playoffs, and they're still locked in. It isn't like the Cubs lost to the Reds or the Pirates.
- It's just one game. The Cubs will put it behind them and strike back at the Dodgers on Thursday. And if they don't come out swinging? Then there's always next year...
- ...and I can say that because this team is built to last. This is their second straight division title. Most of the team, including Sweet Lou, will be back next year. As long as Jim Hendry is GM, don't expect the team to lack talent year after year.