These AL-NL tilts seem to be scheduled earlier and earlier in the year. I mean, nobody pays attention to baseball until at least Memorial Day – many not until the 4th of July. (Those of you who hate baseball, move along here…nothing to see).
At any rate, here we are in the middle of May and we’re already getting the blood feud matches between my World Champion Once Removed White Sox and the Forever Hopeful But Always Woeful Cubbies.
For the Cubs, this year is no different than any other. They are on a pace to lose about 88 games. The Sox project out to 87 wins at this point. Neither finish would be good enough to make the playoffs although if the Cubbies do end up losing that many games, they may very well be in the running for the rights to the first draft pick next June – an honor bestowed on the team with the worst record in all of baseball.
Both teams are scuffling at this point. The Sox are the worst hitting team in the major leagues and the Cubs…are just about the worst period. A study in contrasts would be yesterday’s games for the two clubs. The Chisox beat the Yankess 4-1 thanks to Jermaine Dye (hitting an anemic .216) and his 4 runs batted in as well as some outstanding pitching by John Garland (3-2, 3.18 ERA). The Cubs meanwhile took a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the Ninth inning against the Mets and promptly laid down and asked the Mets for a little tummy rub. The New Yorkers obliged scoring 5 runs for a spectacular 6-5 triumph.
Okay…so stuff happens. Except 39 games into the season, the Northsiders bullpen has already blown an incredible 8 saves and has suffered 11 losses. Lou Pinella, who managed the hapless Tampa Bay franchise these last few years, is used to this sort of thing. But very soon, he is going to realize that the job he took with such high hopes will become one, long nightmare into oblivion as his charges will prance and dance their way through the summer finding ever more novel and creative ways to throw a ballgame.
He will need therapy by August, I assure you.
Meanwhile, the Pale Hose are barely treading water. Pitching has been the only thing keeping them in the race so far. But with injuries to their regular leadoff hitter Podsednik and slugger Jim Thome plus the incredibly slow start to the season by Konerko, Dye, Crede, and just about everyone else, the Sox could easily go on a long, devastating losing streak that would just about spell the end of their season. In the most viscously competitive division in baseball – the AL Central – a losing streak of 7 or 8 games could put the team behind the 8 ball for the rest of the year.
Most observers believe their hitting will eventually come around. It better be sooner than later. And this weekend would be an excellent place to start.