Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Game Recap: Braves 16, Cubs 5, dude, WTF?!

Game Recap
There's nothing quite as thrilling as opening day -- the only day of the year in which the best teams and the worst can all be tied in first place, with their glorious 1-0 records shining like becons of hope to millions of fans everywhere.

Except, uh, that didn't exactly happen today, now did it?

The Cubs, brimming with optimism and the promise of a new year, stormed the field in Atlanta only to get their sorry asses kicked en masse.  Royal, serious, severe ass-kicking.

Carlos Zambrano imploded like a third world economy.  Jeff Samardijza served up more meatballs than an Italian restaurant.  The umpires blew more than a Pittsburgh hooker.  Alfonso Soriano looked worse than ... well, a Pittsburgh hooker.  Ryan Theriot couldn't buy a hit. 

It was ugly.  It was also, let's be fair, a series of unfortunate events built on blown calls and near-misses, from McClouth traps to Theriot blunders to Byrd boots.  In most circumstances, despite the fact that the Chicago 6 through 1 hitters went 0 for 16, we'd be happy with 5 runs.  They would be enough for Carlos to seal the deal.  Even with the shoddy bullpen, it would be enough.

Today, it wasn't.  Thus, the infighting has begun.  We've got reasonable Cub fans calling for Samardzija to be shot back to Iowa from a cannon.  We've got Zambrano being called a child.  We've got white flaggers and husband-naggers demanding the Cubs be taken off of the Tivo rotation. 

All I can say is this: before the start of this game, I said that it meant nothing in the grand scheme of things.  There is no "tone" to be set -- the only time World Championships get lost in Game 1 of 162 is when a small airplane crashes on the field during that game and takes out half the starting lineup.  The Cubs will not remember this game in two months, or even in two weeks.  It's simply true.

Therefore, while the trend has been set for Zambrano blow-ups and Samardizja melt-downs, there's plenty of time for the course to be redirected.  Maybe it will be, maybe not, I do not know.  But my feelings are no worse now than they were before the start of today -- we knew all along that some players would look like shit while others would shine as if they are golden.  We knew the bullpen is going to be troublesome, and we knew that, despite our greatest hopes and wildest dreams, the Cubs would not win 162.  So what did we really learn from today's game?

Absolutely nothing.  No surprises...yet.

I'm going down to atlanta

I'm going down to atlanta tomorrow for the game on wednesday.

my agenda

a) convince samardjiza to sign with the bears
b) remind soriano. i know what you're thinking 0-2. gotta hit the ball. everyone else knows this. they're going to throw you a breaking ball down and away that if you do hit it, you'll send flying into quade's kneecaps. i know it's 0-2. take the damn pitch.
c) congratulate theriot for being scrappy and having an oafer.
d) convince samardjiza to sign with the bears.
e) give Z a hug. he needs one. same with soto, although i think I can actually get my arms around soto this year, he looked a bit frail.
f) convince samardjiza to sign with the bears so he can conveniently never forget to let chipper frickan jones steal on him.
g) harrass said chipper jones until he's tired of being called awful things in italian... maybe mccann too if my voice can be heard over the crickets from all 10k cubs fans at Turner.

That's Life

I have to agree with Kurt here. Underneath all of the Opening Day hoopla and the desire to "start the season off right," it was only one game out of 162. Throughout the baseball season, blowouts happen. This particular blowout just happened to be on Opening Day, so it happens to sear itself into the conscience a bit more.

Among the unsavory calls, the errors, and the near misses was the team we expected to see to some degree. Today, the state of affairs of our bullpen was revealed all too early. I've been saying from the beginning that there are going some growing pains in the bullpen until the right formula is found. The relevant takeaway point from today's lesson is that the 'pen is still trying to find that formula: nothing all that new. One "blow up" day by Shark isn't going to clarify or shed light on a solution at the moment.

The reactions today remind me of a tune by Ol' Blue Eyes called "That's Life." The song itself is a pretty applicable song about the fickle-ness that accompanies the up's and down's of the baseball season. A sample:

That's life,that's what all the people say.
You're flying high in April, shot down in May.
But I know I'm gonna change that tune
When I'm back on top in June

Today was a small sample size that wasn't necessarily indicative of the team. We may win the next one and be back on top of the world. As a fan base, we have to remember that our starting pitcher won't always be knocked out after 1 1/3 innings, that scoring five runs is usually a key to success, and that our bullpen generally won't be exposed as much as it was today. Not every day can be the greatest day.

That's life.

But you don't understand!

Panic! Zambrano's not an ace! Soriano! Samarzififhdsa! Wives are leaving the kitchen and entering the work place! This is because we are cursed, and only the combined scrapitude of Kevin Millar and Mark DeRosa can reverse it! Doomed!

Statistically Speaking

I read on ESPNChicago.com that:

1) This was the most runs allowed by the Cubs since 1884, where they lost 15-3 to the NY Yankees. That season, they went 60-52.

2) Only ONE team in 100 years of baseball has made the playoffs after allowing more than 13 runs on Opening Day (2006 A's)

So, if the stats we have here are something to go off of, we are in for a dismal year. HOWEVER, I am convinced that they CAN and WILL turn this around. I believe that this was a fluke incident and that us, as Cubs fans, have nothing to worry about.

Is 60-52 dismal?

Is 60-52 dismal?

Looking on the bright side

Zambrano had a bad day. There is no doubt about that. But much of it wasn't his fault and he threw his fastball hard and he didn't blow up after he, well, blew up. That is, no tantrum in the dugout. I know he will be fine. I expect an ERA between 3.80-4.30 or so this year. Is that "ace like"? Perhaps not but if he's the third best pitcher on the staff. That's one heck of a third starter. Keeping his emotions in check was a huge upgrade over his past "performances".

Marshall was awesome and so was Russell. If the Cubs resign Samardzjia to long relief and mop up work and have Rothschild make it his personal job to turn him into a major league starting pitcher, maybe they can get something out of him. If he has 2 or 3 more of these types of performaces, he needs to go to the minors, stat and stay there until he figures it out or has all of his options run out.

The offense was impressive. The Cubs scored 5 runs and should have scored 7 or more off of the supposedly awesome Braves pitching. I don't think they've ever hit Lowe this hard and they hit into a ton of tough luck. A lot of those line drives that were caught are going to get thru in the future.

One game and, really, other than the Shark (and maybe Soriano), I have something to good to say about lots of Cubs. Not easy to do when you lose by 11 runs.

Go Cubs!

Get them next time!

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