The Chicago Cubs have once again broke the hearts of millions in Chicago and across the country (including myself and the lovable Ron Santo), but why did the best team in the National League fall? I made a list of ten reasons why this Chicago Cubs team was unable to once again win a playoff game and that next year may be no different.
10. The billy goat...just kidding
This team felt like they had to win the World Series for the fans and pressed the entire series. All the broadcasters and analysts say that the 100 year "curse" doesn't matter to the players but in my opinion, the players were trying to make history every time they were at the plate or took the mound.
9. Soriano and Ramirez didn't show up! Plain and simple!
If you are going to be successful in the playoffs, you need to count on your stars for a lift and these two didn't deliver what-so-ever.
8. The lack of left handed hitters
Sure, the Cubs have Jim Edmonds and Kosuke Fukudome, but when those are the only two lefties you have in your line-up versus a good right-handed pitching staff, you are going to be in trouble.
7. The Dodgers pitching
The starting pitching of the Los Angeles Dodgers was great, the Dodgers bullpen was great (besides Saito) and that was the reason the Cubs were unable to get anything done. The pitchers for the Dodgers were able to shut down hitters early and forced the Cubs hitters to swing at their pitches.
6. The curse Of Manny Ramirez
Manny Ramirez may not have killed the Cubs, but the attitude that he brought to the Dodgers club house turned their season around. Ramirez is a great player and was the type of player that Joe Torre needed to rally this team and make it to the postseason. I really don't see how the Phillies or Brewers will be able to match this teams pitching and the "Manny-fied" offense.
5. The Cubs losing their final game of the regular season
The Cubs could have forced a one game playoff between the Brewers and Mets if they could have pulled it together and beaten the Brewers twice in the final game of the regular season. The Cubs matched up better against the Mets than the Dodgers and those losses came back to haunt them.
4. Lou Pinella's want for Fukudome's defense
Coming into the series, Pinella knew that he probably couldn't use Mark DeRosa in right field with his calf injury, but why did he decide to go with Kosuke Fukudome? Reed Johnson has been solid all season for the Cubs and is always happy to get into the lineup where ever he is needed.
Johnson is sure handed, but does not have the arm strength of Fukudome. Johnson is a solid defender and actually brings some thing to the table offensively so why not him?
3. The defense
This is one area which was not considered a strength headed into the postseason but the defense was thought to be solid. It turns out that the defense ended up costing them game two. If either of those two plays are made in the second inning of game two, it is possible the Cubs get out of that inning with limited damage. Unfortunately, the Dodgers put up a five spot and the Cubs could never recover.
2. The starting pitching
What was thought to be a strength headed into the postseason was the the Cubs starting pitching, but once James Loney teed up a pitch from Ryan Dempster, the starting pitching went down hill.
Dempster was a rock at home but when you continue to walk batters, you are asking for trouble. Carlos Zambrano didn't pitch horribly, but the defense extended innings and gave the Dodgers outs, and they took advantage of it (unlike the Cubs). Rich Harden was well... ineffective and he only gave the Cubs 4 1/3 of an inning, he didn't pitch horribly but didn't give the Cubs what they wanted.
1. The Offense
The major problem the Cubs faced for the second straight year was their inability to score runs. The Cubs have only scored 12 runs in the postseason under Lou Pinella.
You cannot blame the offense on Lou though, he put out lineups that produced during the regular season but in the post-season they couldn't seem to get in an offensive groove. The Cubs didn't capitalize with runners in scoring position and couldn't knock in runs with two outs.
"Mr. Clutch" Aramis Ramirez was a no show for the series and "The 100 Million Dollar Man" Alfonso Soriano was also M.I.A.
The saying for us Cubs fans is "Wait 'Til' Next Year", but next year will be no different if GM Jim Hendry doesn't go out and get a better left-handed presence in the lineup or in some way shake this team up and give them a wake-up call.
If he doesn't, "Next Year" will be no different.