Can't get much worse than this, can it? This one's for all the oblong, reject-bin marbles. The Cubs and Pirates battle for the ignominious title of worst team in the National League.
It's not an easy accomplishment to be the lamest team in the lamest league in baseball. It takes some really bad players. Check. No defense. Check. Injuries. Check. A lame-duck manager who has to rely on a parade of rookie starting pitchers whose names you'll forget by November. Check and check.
But why stop at the National League cellar? That elevator goes one sub-level deeper: to the depths of the Kansas City Royals. One minor hot streak by those guys and the Cubs are reunited with Todd Wellemeyer and Paul Bako. They've done it before so why can't they finish with the worst record in baseball? The. Worst. Record. In. Baseball. (You see, when you make each word its own sentence it's supposed to emphasize the point.)
But I think this sitting in the silence of the Dodger clubhouse emphasized the point pretty well.
Anyway, enough negativity. Why focus on the Cubs when we've got a Lions assistant coach and former Illinois guy .
Sean Marshall versus Shawn Chacon to decide the correct spelling of the first name. Shawon Dunston and Chone Figgins will have their say later. Lineups now and baseball soon.
But first this brief conversation I overheard on my lunch break while using the ATM at Walgreen's:
A young couple emerges from the revolving doors and the guy turns to the girl and says, with quite a bit of attitude, I might add, "It would be a lot easier if they just had a door you pushed." There was no response, but she had to be thinking the same thing I was: Did you seriously just complain about having to use a revolving door? They've been around for a while, buddy. Can't say the same about me. (I mean, her. I was just putting thoughts into her head.)
How Cub is this? They stick a guy, Scott Moore, at first base today who's played that position once in his professional career. Chris Duffy hits the second pitch of the ballgame into the fairly empty right-field bleachers. That's just his second major league homer. Jack Wilson grounds back to Marshall for the first out. Xavier Nady chops one off the plate and Aramis Ramirez makes a nice bare-handed play and throw. Jason Bay grounds to Ramirez to end the top half.
Pirates 1, Cubs 0
Here's the first half of the Juan Pierre-Freddie Bynum dynamic duo at the top of the order. Pierre flies out to center and Bynum to left. Ramirez strikes out on a half swing at a ball up in the zone.
Pirates 1, Cubs 0
Ronny Cedeno makes a diving stop on the outfield grass but his one-hop throw is too late as Ryan Doumit reaches on an infield single. There look to be about 5,000 people at the game and I think they're all sitting behind home plate. I hope they didn't all pay those ridiculously inflated prices for those seats. Is this a premium date on the schedule? Jose Bautista pops up and out. Jose Castillo bounces into an inning, ending double play.
This link, compliments of reader Johnny Mac's girlfriend, may solve the baby Suri mystery. I'm sorry but no baby toupee shop is complete without a Ron Santo version for all the follically-challenged little Cubs fans out there.
Jacque Jones draws a leadoff walk to start the second. Angel Pagan flies out to deep center. Scott Moore ends the inning by hitting into a double play.
Humberto Cota squibs one in front of the plate that Henry Blanco pounces on with cat-like reflexes and fires to first. Chacon strikes out on a dropped third strike, giving Blanco another opportunity to show off his arm. I'm Henry Blanco! Duffy beats out an infield hit to the right side. With Jack Wilson up Duffy swipes second, just beating a throw launched from the cannon of one Henry Blanco. Wilson walks. Nady slaps a single to left, scoring Duffy. Hey, where's Len Kasper's man crush today? He just loves the way Jeromy Burnitz takes those angles to balls his lack of speed prevented him from catching in the first place. Nady's in his place in right and just knocked in the Pirates' second run. Bay flies out.
Pirates 2, Cubs 0
And how often does a backup catcher who just ruled an inning on routine defense, throw to second notwithstanding, lead off the bottom half with a double? I'm not sure, but Blanco just did. He looks to the ladies in the front row and again says to himself, "I'm Henry Blanco." Cedeno fans. Marshall bounces out. Pierre grounds out. Blanco mutters to himself.
Pirates 2, Cubs 0
Doumit draws a walk. Bautista slaps a single past a diving Ramirez. I think I just wrote exactly what Len Kasper said. Castillo grounds to Ramirez, who throws to secord where Bynum drops the ball, as he usually does when he plays second and a ball is thrown right at his hands. Again, see the Greg Maddux story I posted earlier. Bautista was out at second on the play. Cota drives in Doumit with a sac fly. With Chacon up, the ball gets away from Blanco allowing the runner to move up to second. Chacon doubles down the right-field line and Castillo scores. Duffy bounces one to the guy who's played first once before in his life and it eats him up, bounces over his head and allows Chacon to scores. Duffy quickly steals second, getting a giant jump on Marshall, who is not long for this game. Wilson bounces back to Marshall to end a brutal inning.
Pirates 5, Cubs 0
Let's hope Kate and Tom don't take the baby Suri to a Kansas football game. Bynum doubles to the right-center gap. Ramirez homers deep into the left-field bleachers where a couple of unemployed shirtless guys wrestle over the ball. Jones singles to left. Correction: Only one of those guys was shirtless and he was wearing a pair of those hemmed denim shorts. Pagan grounds to Chacon, who wheels and throws to Wilson at second. Wilson does his best Freddie Bynum and drops the ball while making the exchange. Jones is called out at second. Moore grounds a double down the right-field line to score Pagan all the way from first. That was Moore's first major league hit and RBI, but the first baseman Doumit should've made that play. Blanco flies to right and Moore takes third, nearly over-sliding the bag. Cedeno fans, but the Cubs get three back and we've got ourselves a real barn burner here, folks.
Pirates 5, Cubs 3
Carlos Marmol, another one of the Cubs' red-hot young pitching prospects, takes over for future Hall-of-Famer Sean Marshall. Marmol strikes out Nady. So that one's pretty much in my face. Cedeno makes a nice play at short to retire Bay. Doumit lines out to Jones in right. I guess it would be really something if he lined out to Jones in left. Either way, we move on.
Marmol bats and takes a swing that would make Sammy Sosa proud. Wow. And much like Sosa, he missed. He takes a ball, then takes another wicked hack and launches a solo homer to left. What the? Perhaps he borrowed one of Sosa's bats for that. Pierre grounds out. Marmol does the Sosa "Love ya, momma" heart taps and kisses for the dugout camera. Nothing like being 18 1/2 games out to loosen the guys up. Bynum walks and is erased on a fielder's choice off the bat of Ramirez. Jones rolls out to second.
Pirates 5, Cubs 4
Bautista walks. Will Ohman gets up in the Cubs' pen. What, Dusty's not going to let Marmol bat again? And for the Pirates in the other pen, it's former White Sox fan favorite Damaso Marte. Castillo and Cota strike out. Chacon hits from himself and strikes out at ball in the dirt. It gets away but have no fear because Henry Blanco is here. Take that, ! That's four strikeouts for Marmol. They show Jeromy Burnitz in the Pittsburgh dugout, which prompts Len to say, "Hi, Burnie" as we go to commercial. Maybe he'll pass him a note between innings.
Pagan takes a called third strike. Moore hits a solo homer to left to tie the game 5-5. Second baseman Castillo roams far onto the outfield grass to field a Blanco bouncer, but the ball goes off his glove. It's ruled a hit for some reason. Cedeno flies out to center. Has to be pointed out but certainly wish I hadn't seen it: hefty shirtless guy with nipple rings in the bleachers. Buck Coats, already on the all-time great name list, pinch hits and strikes out.
Cubs 5, Pirates 5
Les Walrond and his 15.something ERA join this party. He walks Duffy and that's it for him. Harsh. Walrond was surprised as anyone when Dusty came out there. Dude, I'm just getting warmed up. David Aardsma toes the slab and then walks Wilson. Nady grounds to short, Cedeno flips to Bynum and as usual the Cubs are a bit too slow. Nady beats it out at first to avoid the double play. Bay walks to load the bases. Aardsma strikes out Doumit. The count goes full on Bautista and Aardsman just misses. Dick Pole clearly doesn't like the call. Bautista strikes out and Here's Danica Patrick to sing TMOTTBG. The IRL kids are in Joliet this weekend. Shake and bake, baby. Len takes a look at her and says, "Hmm, you're no Jeromy Burnitz."
I possibly have the worst singing voice known to man and other beasts, but I'm pretty sure I can carry a tune better than that. Wow. I think all that engine noise has ruined her pitch. Whoever was pitching for the Pirates, well, that's it for him. He got Pierre and then the hook from Jim Tracy. That was Juan Perez pitching. Now it's Josh Sharpless. Ryan Theriot bats for Bynum and I think we're all caught up. Duffy robs The Riot of extra bases with a running catch on the warning track. Ramirez flies out.
Cubs 5, Pirates 5
Roberto Novoa comeson to pitch and Derrek Lee takes over at first for Scott Moore, who was close to Wally Pipping Lee. The Riot stays in to man second. I know they've had them all year but I disagree with the gradient dots on the Pirates' undershirts. Novoa fans Castillo and Cota. Dusty tells Novoa to hit the bricks and brings in the lefty Scott Eyre. Drop everything, here's former Cubs stopgap Jeromy Burnitz. Burnie fans and that's it for Danica.
Here's Damaso Marte to pitch. Jones flies out to right. Matt Murton for Certain hits for Pagan and strikes out. Lee bounces a single up the middle. Tracy pulls Marte. For an absolutely meaningless game, what's with all pitching changes? Johna Bayliss, who looks like he just finished up shaping his surfboard, will pitch to Blanco, who files out to center.
Cubs 5, Pirates 5
This post on the message board from Jim from Omaha pretty much sums it up around here: "My sister's worked for the Tribune for, like, 30 years or so. Last weekend we were in Rockford, and I told her how From the Cubicle is the greatest innovation in journalism since the paperboy was invented. She said 'From the what? Huh?'"
That said, Cubs-Pirates, tied in the ninth, playoff atmosphere, feel the burn. Duffy touches Eyre for a solo homer to center to break this one open--or at least break the tie. Can't keep that guy and his three career homers down. Here's Dusty for yet another pitching change. Ryan Dempster is the guy and he strikes out Wilson. Nady homers to right off Dempster. Bay bounces out to second. Doumit strikes out.
Pirates 7, Cubs 5
Now's the time to get Cedeno bloops a single to right and on cue here's John Mabry. Well so much for that script. Mabry bounces into a 6-3 double play. Pierre swings at a ball in the dirt to end the game.
Final: Pirates 7, Cubs 5
Worst team in the National League today, worst team in baseball in a week. That's it, everyone. The Pirates take 3-of-4 from the Cubs. Thanks for reading and e-mailing and posting and doing whatever else you were doing. Have a great weekend. If you want to stick around I may provide some play-by-play of the Joe Tiller Show that's on Comcast right now.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times