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Here we go again. When last we left our North Side heroes they were putting on quite the hitting display in the NLDS and then were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
the Cubs haven't won the World Series in 99½ or so years, or half the life span of the Brian-Roberts-to-the-Cubs rumor.
Why just today manager Lou Piniella addressed this drought and said it's odd that any team could go a century without winning jack diddly squat.
"It seems rather improbable," the Cubs skipper was quoted in Paul Sullivan's Hardball blog, meaning, as I interpret the remarks, not that this is the Cubs' year but rather that's quite a feat.
"I mean, that's a long time. Let's see if we can do something about it. That's all we can do -- do something about it. We're going to try our darndest."
But Piniella recently has come to the realization that this cursed franchise has had a century's worth of "Cubby Occurrences," which basically means they've fielded 99 bad teams in a row, or least teams not good enough to win it all. Of course, you have your occasional goat, black cat, Gatorade-soaked glove, bespectacled dork for convenience and myth's sake, but c'mon, let's get serious, they've stunk up the National League for 99 years.
So perhaps that's this year's rallying cry: "Let's see if we can do something about it." It doesn't have the ring of, say, last year's "It's gonna happen" (which didn't) or "In Dusty we Trusty" (aka long live Neifi Perez). It doesn't fit on a T-shirt of a normal-sized human being, but, at this point, it's about all you can say.
There are a few changes this year. Most importantly your witty comments now appear at the bottom of the page. They also re-did the playing surface at Wrigley Field, which will get quite the test on this soggy final day of March. (Here's how it works.) They re-did the lineup, importing Kosuke Fukudome. Kerry Wood is the closer. Meanwhile, Carlos Zambrano should be quite rested for this game. Right, Lou?
Last I ventured outside on a Walgreen's run it was hideous. Just cold and rainy, which is why I've been to the opener only once in my life and left after the fifth inning to thaw out in the warmth of a local tavern. No such luck today because I'm stuck in the office like you. At least this place has a roof.
Let's go. Today's lineups.
Required Brewers update: Manager Ned Yost has flip-flopped Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun in the lineup, batting the big man third. He'll also bat catcher Jason Kendall ninth ahead of pitcher Ben Sheets because, according to Dave van Dyck, Yost has determined that Kendall is an excellent "second lead-off" man, which basically is a gentle way of saying, "Dude, you can't hit a lick anymore, so we're batting you behind the pitcher."
Baseball soon from the future From the Cubicle Wrigley Field.
This game will not start until 2 p.m. at the earliest. Here's the radar. Warning: It's not pretty. While the rain keeps this game away, WGN is showing this morning's ceremony unveiling the statue of Ernie Banks. .
It's 1:45 p.m. do you know where your Wayne Messmer is? Yes, he's on the field belting out the Anthem. Gary Pressey is tickling the ivories (or plastics keys) of the Wrigley Field Lowrey Organ. Baseball is imminent. After, of course, the first pitch and a bunch of commercials. Wait, we've got some more honoring of Ernie Banks on the field first, replete with a trumpet fanfare, Hank Aaron, Billy Williams and Cubs suit Crane Kenney flowing what sounds like some free verse. Spoken word.
Kosuke Fukudome leads the Cubs onto the field and trots out to right to a nice hand. Carlos Zambrano says a quick prayer and Rickie Weeks digs into the muddy batter's box after a 40-minute rain delay. It's misty out and Weeks takes a fastball down the middle for strike one. Weeks fouls one back and then can't hold up on a breaking ball down and away for strike three. Zambrano quickly gets ahead of Tony Gwynn 0-2 and then just misses off the outside corner. Gwynn hits a slow roller towards third. Aramis Ramirez can't get a grip on it and doesn't even bother making a throw. I suppose that will be ruled a hit, but it could go either way. With the shift on, Fieler grounds to the right side. There's no double play because no one is covering second with the shift on, but they get Fielder at first. Gwynn steals third on the first pitch to Ryan Braun. Braun pops up in fould ground towards first and Geovany Soto squeezes it for the final out.
Ryan Theriot flies out to right. Alfonso Soriano works the count full before slicing one down the right-field line where Corey Hart grabs it for the second out. Derrek Lee strikes out to end the first.