Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GameCast: August 9th at Colorado

GameCastRandy Wells (8-4, 2.73 ERA) vs. Jason Hammel (6-6, 4.62 ERA)

Story-lines
"Can the Cubs play well enough against the good teams to win in the playoffs?"  This is the most recent pointless hypothetical that's been dancing on our keyboards as of late.  The ridiculously simple answer is that we won't truly know until we see them play good teams in the playoffs.  But much as Friday's doooom game meant nothing because the doom happened against pitchers who won't be in a position to lose in the post season, yesterday's shiny-lining game means just as little.  As far as I'm concerned, the only thing either of those games meant were the loss and win they represented in the standings, and the only impact they'll have is on whether or not the Cubs win the division or not.

This morning (or perhaps late last night) one Goat Reader asked if I've ever seen a Cubs-Cards game in St. Louis.  I assume he asked me that because he wants to impact upon me the significance of how pressure-filled and energized those games are.  True -- absolutely true -- home field advantage exists, and playing in a hostile park can either serve as fuel for players to step it up or fodder for them to make excuses after a loss.  But I believe that, in most cases, the impact of those situations are left behind once the team moves on to play their next series.  In other words, the Cubs could go to St. Louis, get demoralized by the fans, swept by the Cardinals, and on their next game in Pittsburgh have just as good a chance of winning as they would have had they swept the Cardinals previously.

So, I say to you again, the significance of a single game impacting a season is nil, except in cases where a loss puts a team out of playoff contention.  And if you disagree with that, then prove me wrong.  I've been wrong before, I'll be wrong again, just find your proof and shut me up.

Who's Hot
Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley -- Two former members of the Questionable Quartet and Theriot are leading the way right now with the Cubs.  It is perhaps fitting, then, that these guys are usually at the top of the batting order -- and it's about effin' time that Lou moved Bradley there considering how disciplined he's been even as he's struggled with his stroke.  Theriot is batting .333 with a .364 OBP, Fukudome is batting .316 with a .458 OBP, and Bradley is at .364 with an OBP of .563 in the past week.  Yeesh.

Who's Not
Aramis Ramirez, Jake Fox -- A-Ram is batting .056 in the past week while Fox is at .091.  Ouch.

Conclusions
As the stressed-out Cubs fan seeking to keep the cliff-jumpers at a dull murmer when they voice their opinions about the team, I can only hope for another Cubs win today.  It seems as if the reactionary crowd is looking to sink their hooks into every loss as evidence of calamity, and so even though I don't agree with it, my stomach would do better if indeed the Cubs proved them briefly wrong with another win.

I suppose that if we were their opposites, any time the Cubs did win -- particularly in a come-back against a potential playoff opponent -- we'd be crowing about how they are clearly World Series bound -- and, believe it or not, we'd probably have just as much "proof" as they do about our claim.  Just thought for fodder.

Perspective

For those Bears fans still bitter about their 2006 Super Bowl loss to the Indianapolis Colts (and how could you not be?), you may not appreciate the perspective of a Colts fan. But hey! this is a different sport, so don't project.

After the Colts began the 2005 season 13-0, everybody said that it was finally "our year." Records were broken, games were won effortlessly, etc. Then we imploded in the playoffs. The team that sent eight players to the Pro Bowl had failed. How many players rep'd the Cubs in last year's All-Star game?

I don't want to spell the connection out for you, but let me continue to next year, when the Colts, despite getting off to another 9-0 start, were mediocre for many reasons. With linemen the size of Alfonso Soriano, the Colts' defense was historically weak. Injuries (you mean, like, how the Cubs have had injuries this year?) were the other problem. This wasn't our year. Much like Rob recently posted, if we couldn't do it with last year's team, there was no way it was going to happen with this year's bunch of lackeys.

But wait! The Colts made it to the playoffs, beat the hell out of opposing offenses, and ra ra, won the Super Bowl. The end. People stopped caring what the Colts did in the regular season, because they realized first hand that it has no bearing on the post-season.

When the Cubs began their season this year, I told myself that it doesn't matter if they make the playoffs as an 82-80 team, because it sure as hell didn't matter when they made it in with 97 wins.

I don't like our chances either, but I'm not going to count us out.

THIS

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