Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Thanks President Clinton

Giving Chris Wallace a piece of your mind helped to inspire me. The Republicans cannot pull their garbage anymore, and not expect to hear something in response.

The torture and the wiretapping and the fraud and the deception and the killing--it's about time all of that ended, isn't it? Well, it won't end, but at least it can be toned down. But only if at least one house of Congress goes to the Dems in November. And then, only if they have the guts to do what it takes to rein Bush in. I'm hopeful that they do.

Final Cubs homestand--Thank God!!!!!! I'll expound more on this later.


Monday, September 11, 2006


Keith Olbermann cuts through the 9/11 BS
Just watch. It's awe-inspiring.


Keith Olbermann cuts through the 9/11 BS

Just watch. It's awe-inspiring.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


When it all went wrong for the Cubs

The Moment it All Went Wrong

When the Cubs lost at home to the Pirates yesterday, in their drive to take over the only sixth-pace spot in the Majors, their record under Dusty Baker slipped under .500. The Cubs have won 311 games under Baker, and have lost 312. On top of three straight seasons without a playoff berth, now we can officially proclaim his tenure to be a failure.

But what’s most striking, for me, is the symmetry involved. After going 88-74 in 2003, the Cubs were 20 games over .500 late in September of 2004. The Cardinals had locked up the NL Central by then, but the Cubs were in the lead for the Wild Card spot. And the last week of the season was to be played at Wrigley. Anybody have any playoff tickets?

That’s when fate intervened. A long road trip, which included a swing into Florida for a make-up double header, ended with a weekend series in New York. The Cubs won the first game 2-1, to move to 87-66. Never again would the Cubs ride so high under Dusty Baker.

The next day was horrible. The Cubs took a lead into the 9th inning, and seemed to be headed toward another win. And then Baker made a mistake, in my judgment. Not the biggest one he’s made, but important nonetheless.

The closer that year was the since-departed LaTroy Hawkins. With a 3-0 lead, it was a save opportunity in the making. But instead of putting in the closer, Baker went with Ryan Dempster instead. Hawkins was not even warming up when the inning began. Baker later claimed this was because Hawkins had pitched six of the seven previous days.

Dempster, in shades of things to come, got one out in the ninth, but he also gave up two walks. So now Hawkins comes in, having inherited two crucial baserunners. He retired the first batter he faced, and was one out away from another save. Then Victor Diaz stepped in.

Diaz, who grew up a Cubs fan and played at Clemente High School, hit a 2-2 pitch out of the park, tying the game up. The Cubs had not lost the game yet, but they definitely had their heads snapped back. Then Kent Mercker, also since-departed, gave up the game-winning homer in the 11th.

Was that the moment when it went south? Not quite. The Cubs still had a game on Sunday, before back to finish with nine games at home. Unlike this year’s team, the Cubs could still count on a home field advantage in those days.

But the wheels came off early the next day. And they haven’t come back on since. Kerry Wood gave up 3 runs in the first inning, and the Cubs could not dig out of the hole, losing 3-2. From that day to the present, the Cubs are 136-173, which is a .440 winning percentage. Before that game, the Cubs were 175-139 under Baker, good for a winning percentage of .557. This was higher than the 1998 team, which won the Wild Card spot with a .552 winning percentage.

The numbers of wins and losses before that game and after it are practically mirror images of each other. And though it took nearly 2 full seasons to do it, the Cubs have now given back every single game they were over .500 on that day. And they are still stuck in reverse.

One of the literary devices of any story is the turning point. Everything that happens before it is prologue, and the rest of the story plays out based on that one moment. Had the Cubs come out and won that last game in New York, maybe they go on to the Wild Card that year. And maybe the playoffs go well, or maybe they don’t. We’ll never know for sure.

Instead, the Cubs looked past that game, toward coming back to Chicago for the last week of the season. They came close a couple of times that Sunday afternoon (especially when Moises Alou was called out on strikes with the bases loaded in the fifth inning), but they never took the lead or even tied the game up. They looked flat, in this fan’s opinion. It cost them in 2004, and touched off a downward spiral that hasn’t ended yet. It also looks like it will cost Dusty Baker his job. Which would be fine with me.

I’ve always though this game was the turning point of Dusty Baker’s star-crossed tenure in Chicago. And now the numbers bear that out as well.

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