Saturday’s feeble effort against the Dodgers has convinced me: the Cubs have thrown in the towel on the 2009 season.
The fans can hold onto hope all they want, but the players have already resigned themselves to the reality that they will be staying home for the playoffs.
I realize that to accuse a team of quitting on the season with over a month left is a pretty serious charge. But I have evidence. Exhibit A: Three hits in seven innings off Charlie Haeger, a pitcher making his third career start, in a game that was as close to a must-win as any game can be with five weeks remaining on the schedule.
What you want from a team in this situation is a little urgency, a little backs-to-the-wall desperation, a little fire. Instead, the Cubs gave us three hits. Off Charlie Haeger.
Exhibit B: This line from Ted Lilly after the game: “I imagine that we’re going to continue to fight and try to find a way to sneak in.”
What an amazing sentence. First the wishy-washiness of “I imagine,” then the “we’re going to continue to fight” bit, an apparent indication by Ted that he thinks they’ve been fighting up till now. And then of course the piece de resistance, “try to find a way to sneak in.”
If Lilly had been leading the charge up San Juan Hill instead of his namesake Teddy Roosevelt, the soldiers very likely would’ve dropped their weapons and gone home.
And of course there is the all-important Exhibit C: August. The Cubs are 7-13 this month. They were horrible against Colorado, dismal against Philadelphia, pitiful against San Diego and, now, wretched against the Dodgers. They did manage to sprinkle in some wins against those National League powerhouses the Reds and Pirates.
The recent West Coast swing has been even more miserable than the rest of the month. Outside of one 7-run outburst against the Padres, the Cubs have managed only 7 runs the other five games, and reached their offensive nadir Saturday night by being shut out for seven innings by a guy even most Dodger fans probably haven’t heard of.
If that ain’t quitting, I don’t know what is.