Did the WBC Just Become the Chicago Cubs' Worst-Case Scenario?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IMarch 11, 2009

For as little as Americans don't care about the World Baseball Classic, it's obvious watching the games that this tournament means as much as anything to the rest of the countries participating.

And last night, when the Netherlands defeated the favored Dominican Republic, the Caribbean stood still.

The first round elimination is being touted as a national disgrace in the Dominican today, with an entire nation in mourning because their all-world all-star team didn't win the tournament.

They were beat twice by a team with three current major league players and their best player, Randall Simon, might not have been the bat boy for the Dominican roster.

So now a passionate baseball-centric country is devastated that their heroes failed. The concern for Cubs fans is how that depression is handled by the man who was on the mound then the game was lost: Carlos Marmol.

Marmol will now come back to Arizona and join the rest of the Cubs for the rest of Spring Training. He'll go back to competing for the closer job with Kevin Gregg and work to build a solid bullpen on the North Side.

But will he get over this loss?

The most overused cliche used in reference to closers is, "You have to have a short memory." Last year, when he struggled in the middle of the season, some observers wondered if Marmol was able to forget the last time out, and if he was carrying the weight of previous disappointments with him onto the mound every time out.

He eventually broke out of his funk and went back to dominating in August and September, but it took him a good six weeks to get things right again. And this was after having a few rough outings for the Cubs.

How will Marmol handle having the weight of his entire home country on his shoulders?

I'm not saying Marmol is personally responsible for the Dominican team's elimination; last night's game was a classic between two teams that desperately wanted to win. But a team with the star power that Dominican roster had to be shut down by a team who's best pitcher was Sidney Ponson is baffling.

However, when a team loses in dramatic fashion, who is remembered? The guy that didn't hustle a gap single into a double in the third inning? No. We remember Mitch Williams getting whiplash watching Joe Carter.

We remember the agony of Brad Lidge against the Cardinals. And now the Dominican Republic will remember that it was Marmol that gave up the gopher.

The hope for Cubs fans is that manager Lou Piniella can clear the kid's mind and get him back to focusing on the Cubs by Thursday. But a lasting emotional let down from Marmol could have a significant impact on the entire Cubs season in 2009.


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