Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Where was the Cubs' energy or the RF?

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How about that closer change? Not that the Cubs had a chance to utilize it Tuesday night in another listless loss in San Diego.

They're starting to take on the look of a team that knows it's done. That's not to say there's not effort. But with barely a quarter of the season left and big deficits staring at them in both the division and wild-card standings, the Cubs are sagging in emotion, of not energy.

``I don't know. I don't know what's going on with the team,'' Alfonso Soriano said when asked about the energy level after a second straight loss late Tuesday night to the NL West's last-place team. ``We're not playing like we're supposed to be playing.''

No kidding.

Sloppy play. Lack of hitting, especially with men in scoring position. It's been a theme this season. At least they scored a few runs Tuesday night. Those three runs, in fact, matched their total for the three-game series here in May.

Cubs observers who have been at this longer than I have are talking about the 2004 feel this team has taken - far earlier than that team's collapse.

With 45 games to play, this could get ugly real fast.

Maybe not as ugly as that inside-the-park home run by Kyle Banks in the eighth - on a ball that caromed off the center field wall as Kosuke Fukudome tried to make a leaping catch, then rolled into unmanned acreage void of right-fielder Milton Bradley until Fukudome eventually chased it down.

Bradley's sure to get ripped for not backing up the play, but manager Lou Piniella defended his right fielder.

``I think if he would have gone after it, it would have been late. That thing was in no-man's land out there,'' Piniella said. ``I don't think Bradley or anybody could have done anything about that.''

Didn't matter anyway. The two runs just kept it from being a one-run loss.

Where is this team emotionally?

``We're all right,'' said starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, last year's Cy Young candidate whose record dropped below .500 with Tuesday's loss. ``We're a bunch of big boys. We wouldn't be here if we weren't.

``We've just got to keep fighting and worry about our own business and not worry about what other teams are doing.''

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Lou's comment re Bradley says it all-- if the manager is not ticked off by a lack of hustle from a supposed superstar, then the performance is meeting the expectations-- which are low and getting lower. Not clear why the pennant chasing Cubs are being out-hustled by teams whose season has ended. Lou can't hit or field or pitch for the Cubs, but he could demand and enforce (through playing time)a requireemntthatthe team hustles and pays attention. Soriano and Bradley seem unale to contribute offensively-- especially in critical situations and they are poor fielders who often do not even try. Hard to elieve that someone else in RF & LF could make less contributions than they do!

Actually, this game was over before Guzman allowed to big fly HR which would have been in the seats in any normal ballpark other than the Big Barn of San Diego. How about the single that Bradley let drop in front of him to drive in a run in the 1st. Should have been caught. Soriano mugged an easy out for another cheap run a bit later. This team has no heart and does not show up for the big games -- and now as we see not for the cellar dwellers, either. This mess needs to be blown up and redone which means another 5-7 years of boring non=contender baseball. Terrible.

How about nobody arguing the blown call at first on Fukudome? Lou, get your can off the bench and at least act like you give a hoot.

The inside the park HR pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Lou Pinella as a manager. If he doesn't resign following this season, he definitely needs to be fired. The point is, it doesn't matter if Bradley could have helped on that play or not, the fact he didn't even try should be the issue. Pinella has become such a mealy mouse it's sickening. It's obvious he has very little pride in himself by the appearance he displays as the Cub manager, but for him to now lost the one thing that he was known for, and that's being a man, he's pretty much become nothing more than an embarrassment to himself and the Cub team.

To think that despite all the money these players are paid, and they still don't feel the need to earn it, by at least hustling is really sad, and speaks a ton about this teams character. But for Pinella to try and make excuses for them is disturbing, is embarrassing, and cause for termination if this was the real world, that is. However, as we know, sports is no longer part of the real world.

You know, I can't afford to take my kids to a ball game anymore now I have to watch overpaid guys (like the whole starting outfield) just not care enough to try. When will Pinella go with the young guys who hustle and perform. As far as Gregg goes Pinella and rothchild are the only ones who didn't see this coming.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on August 19, 2009 12:55 AM.

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