These cheapo reading glasses I bought at Walgreen's -- the ones I somehow bent on my way across Michigan Avenue -- are a lot like the Florida Marlins: inexpensive but effective.
Stylish they are not. But neither are the Cubs.
Meanwhile, my real glasses, sitting at home somewhere, cost quite the bit of cash and right now they're quite worthless -- much like the Cubs.
OK, this metaphor is a stretch but it's all you're going to get for a noon start on a Wednesday.
The Cubs -- payroll of $99 million -- have dropped 17 of 21 and all signs point to things getting worse, especially when you go into Miami and drop the first two games of a three-game series to the $15-million juggernaut that is the Florida Marlins.
Today it's Greg Maddux, winless in four tries, against Brian Moehler, who knows a thing or two about losing. He's 1-4.
Your lineups, sir. Baseball soon.
Looks like no one told the fine folks of South Florida that there is a game today. Former Fish Juan Pierre draws a leadoff walk. Ronny Cedeno waves at curve for strike three. OK, Len Kasper will not stop talking about the play Todd Walker made in the ninth last night. They spent a good few minutes in the pre-game show talking about it and now he mentions it again as Walker steps to the plate. It was meaningless considering the Cubs lost the game a minute later. And it was a play a real major league first baseman should make. Former White Sox backup backstop Miguel Olivo guns down Pierre trying to steal second and Walker grounds out.
Maddux nearly hits Hanley "It's Hedley" Ramirez in the hand. It's ruled it hit the bat, I guess. Replay shows otherwise. Ramirez grounds to Aramis Ramirez at third and Ramirez, the one running, goes a tumbling over the bag on his way down the line. One out. Dan Uggla pokes a single to right. Last night's Marlins hero, Mike Jacobs, crushes one deep to right but it's foul. Maddux comes back to strike out Jacobs looking on a questionable call. Inside sinker well off the plate and low. Miguel Cabrera jacks one deep to left and hits high off the wall. I have no idea what is a homer in this stupid park. I guess that was not, just and RBI double. Joe Borchard, with his second team since the Sox gave up on him and traded him, grounds one to Walker, who flips to Maddux covering.
Marlins 1, Cubs 0
Michael Barrett, whom one of these days MLB will get around to suspending, grounds out to short. Jacque Jones lays a nice bunt down the third-base line for a hit. Jones takes off for second and Ramirez is drilled in the back of his arm with the pitch. Matt Murton hits the first pitch into a 6-4-3, inning-ending double play.
Reggie Dunlop on the message board, I appreciate a "Slap Shot" reference as much as the next guy, but those probably aren't going to make it past the censor. But I encourage you to keep trying. Something just happened but I have no idea because WGN was showing a fastfood commercial rather than the game. Replays show Jeremy Hermida tried to bunt for a hit but Barrett threw him out. Is it too much to ask to get back from commercial in time for the first pitch? Apparently it is. Maddux fans Reggie Abercrombie. Olivo's grounder eats up Ramirez at third and bounces high into left field. It's ruled a hit. Maddux stikes out the pitcher Moehler.
Marlins 1, Cubs 0
The immortal Neifi Perez lofts a single to right-center. Maddux bunts Neifi to second. Someone on the message board mentions Don Zimmer. As I was leaving work Saturday I saw Zim on his way into the Tower. I wouldn't read too much into that because I think he was going on WGN radio. Warning, this part is gross: He was up his nose and using a finger with a Yankees World Series ring on it. Pierre flies out to center. Cedeno flies out to right and I apologize for that Don Zimmer story.
Hedley Ramirez bounces out to third. Uggla grounds to second. Neifi makes a nice play on a ball hit towards the middle by Jacobs, who hardly runs to first. Hustle up! Maddux looks pretty good at this point. He's got some serious movement on his pitches.
Marlins 1, Cubs 0
Walker grounds a single between the first and second baseman. The first baseman Jacobs, the non-hustler, kind of gave up on that ball. Barrett hits it through the hole on the right side for a single. Walker stops at second. OK, and about the Cubs payroll, it's $99 million not 95. It went up after Derrek Lee signed his deal. Barrett really is the Cubs' best hitter at this point. And I'm not talking about A.J. Pierzynski's face. Jones flies out to center. Ramirez lines one the other way and it gets by Hermida in right and rolls to the wall. It's a two-run triple for Ramirez. Murton knocks in Ramirez with a fly ball to left. Neifi grounds to Jacobs, who flips to Moehler covering the bag to end the top half. The Cubs put three on the board.
Cubs 3, Marlins 1
Maddux walks Cabrera and he's not happy about it. He snaps the ball out of the air on the return throw from Barrett. With Cabrera running Borchard flies out to center, sending Cabrera hustling back to first. Hermida flies out to Murton. Abercrombie swings at a ball in the dirt. Barrett applies the tag and the Cubs find some shade in the dugout.
Cubs 3, Marlins 1
Maddux lines a double to left-center. And speaking of Maddux, Mike, that is, someone on the board mentioned he would be the next managerial hire. I doubt it. How many former pitchers are managers? They just don't get the respect of everyday players. It's why there are so many catchers managing: They know both pitching and hitting. So now you've got the leadoff guy trying to bunt the pitcher to third. Pierre squares then pulls the bat back and bounces to the second baseman. At any rate, it moves Maddux over to third. Cedeno is fooled mightily and strikes out swinging really late at a ball in the dirt. No way this guy should be hitting second, but I realize the options are limited. Walker flies out and Maddux is left stranded.
WGN keeps playing the "Miami Vice" theme when they return from commercial. Excellent. Olivo bunts it right in the air and Barrett doesn't even have to move. You don't see that everyday. Moehler bounces out to third. Ramirez grounds to Cedeno, who has to back-hand and get rid of it quickly. Unfortunately Mr. Gold Glove Walker can't handle the one-hop throw. It's ruled a hit. Uggla rips one to left and again I have no idea about the ground rules in this park. It hits way up on the wall off the hour hand of the scorebard clock. Uggla ends up with an RBI triple. That grounder to Cedeno, by the way, was ruled a hit. Jacobs one-hops a double off the right-field wall, scoring Uggla. Larry Rothschild trots out to tell Maddux something the pitcher already knows and Cedeno's inability to make a perfect throw to first and Walker's inability to make a simple pick loom large with all this coming with two outs. They intentionally walk Cabrera to get to Borchard with men on first and second. That strategy backfires as Borchard clears the bases with a three-run homer to right. Hermida grounds to Cedeno to end it, but, as they say, the damage is done.
Abercrombie & Fish 6, Sears 3
That scoreline brought to you by reader "Todd in Ft. Laud," a Cubs fan in Florida. Thanks, Todd--even though those fancy scorelines are more Rahula's bag.
I renounce fish! Barrett reaches on an infield hit that probably should've been ruled an error. Jones knocks one off the shortstop's glove and that, too, probably will be ruled a hit. Seriously, who's the scorekeeper down there in Miami? That's four errors by my count called hits. Maddux just took a bat to a cooler in the dugout sending water all over the trainer Mark O'Neal. O'Neal didn't even flinch. I guess what's he going to do? Another shot of the dugout shows the trainer has moved down the bench a bit. Smart move. Ramirez grounds into a 5-4-3 double play. Murton bounces out to Cabrera and things have really taken a turn for the worse--if that's possible.
As they went to commercial, WGN showed the cooler beat-down again. This time we see O'Neal's reaction. He calmly removes his sunglasses and wipes them off. Precious. To be clear this was not a Carlos Perez tantrum. Maddux took care of it in one swift blow--like a ninja. Abercrombie bounces back to Maddux. Olivo singes and Moehler bunts him over to second. Ramirez grounds to second.
And since we're on this kick...
$15 million 6, $99 million 3
Neifi flies out to left. Freddy Bynum bats for cooler abuser Maddux and grounds out to first. Pierre strikes out on a ball in the dirt. And we stretch.
Roberto Novoa comes on to pitch. Uggla, whom I think moonlights as the University of Georgia mascot, pokes a single to left. More fuel to the fire, Felix Pie went 5-for-6 last night for Iowa. Jacobs walks. Novoa can't find the plate and when he does Cabrera rips it the other way for a three-run homer. Dusty has seen enough and yanks his pitcher. Dontrelle Willis is quite fired up in the Marlins' dugout. Maybe he's just happy Jim Hendry traded him from the Cubs. Lefty Will Ohman enters to face the switch-hitting Borchard. He walks him. Hermida flies to right and that's progress--an actual out. Abercrombie bounces to Cedeno to set up what should be a double play, but Cedeno's throw to Neifi is off the mark. They do get the guy at second. Olivo singles. Bob Brenly says the Cubs "just have to get back to playing fundamentally sound baseball." That implies they did at some point. Moehler fans.
Marlins 9, Cubs 3
Not sure what's happening because WGN is busy showing Billy the Marlin have his picture taken. OK, I'm pretty sure Moehler didn't hit for himself to end the seventh. Just as I'm pretty sure there's a new pitcher. I just don't know who hit or who's on the mound. I do know Billy the Marlin is popular with the 500 people at the park. Chris Aguila pinch hit and Randy Messenger is the new pitcher. Messenger gets Walker and Barrett in order. Jones grounds to first.
It. Is. Alive. On comes Glendon Rusch, who gets Ramirez and Uggla to fly out. Former Brewer Wes Helms hits for Jacobs. Rusch fans Helms. And we move to the ninth--thankfully. Imagine that, Rusch is an actual bright spot today.
Marlins 9, Cubs 3
Ninth inning (of Dusty's days as Cubs manager?)
Former Cubs closer Joe Blownsaveski comes on to finish this for the fish and he quickly gets Ramirez to fly out. Len is reading the credits, so even he knows there's no hope for a miracle ninth. Murton singles to left and the tying run is sitting somewhere in the dugout. Neifi is called out on strikes. John Mabry pinch hits. All 7,210 people are on their feet. Well maybe not. It looks like a few of those are asleep or passed out drunk in their seats. Big Joe used to sweat through his cap in April in Chicago, I'm not sure how he can handle pitching in South Florida. He must put a cabbage leaf under his hat. Mabry walks. Pierre one-hops to second to end it.
Final: Marlins 9, Cubs 3
Um, wow. Swept by the Marlins. Not much to say here. I wonder if Jim Hendry will remind everyone how the Astros started last season. Is this rock bottom for the Cubs? Personally I think they can go lower. That's something to keep your interest. Thanks for reading, writing in, venting and ranting on the message board. I'll be back Friday for another "game" and more "fun." See you then.