Goatriders of the Apocalypse

A little note on competative integrity

Since you have the Internets - and don't lie to me; if you're reading this, you have the Internets - it's possible that you are hearing some grumblings about the facts that Sweet Lou is resting some of his regulars against the Mets, who if you hadn't heard are trying to give a third of New York a stroke. (For once, I approve of what the Mets are doing.)

So, right now the Mets and Brewers are tied up in the Wild Card, with the Mets only a game back on the division-leading Phillies. And the Cubs are in the thick of it, facing the two Wild Card teams down the stretch. (Remember when everyone was warning us about how tough it was going to be, facing the Mets and the Brewers on the road to end the season? Yeah, I still get a chuckle out of that.)

And so there's a suggestion that, in games that could possibly decide the Wild Card and NL East race... maybe, oh, I don't know, Casey McGehee shouldn't be playing?

And I'm sympathetic to this line of thinking, I truly am, mostly because I don't think Casey McGehee should be on the roster at all. (Did you know they still don't consult me when they do these things?) And, to Brewers fans that don't think that Bob Howry should be pitching in close game situations, most Cubs fans will agree with you wholeheartedly.

But here's the thing - worry about what your own overpriced and ineffectual setup man did, not what ours is doing. There are certain perks that come with clinching early, and this is one of them. This probably makes it easier for the Cubs, and harder for some other teams. To the victor goes the spoils and all that.

Now, you could argue that I'm not being honest here, seeing as my arguement is:

  • Entirely self-serving.
  • Not the one I'd be making if our positions were reversed.

I solve that problem by not caring about it. The playoffs are enough of a crapshoot as-s, and anything that moves the odds in the favor of the Cubs not being blown out in the first round by the JV squad that the Dodgers call a baseball team is a-okay by me.

integrity rant

This unwritten rule about preserving the integrity of the game by playing starters through the end of the season is complete garbage, and I would say that even if the roles were reversed.

The point of the game is to win the World Series. As a manager, it is Lou's role to put the team in the best position possible to achieve this. So far this season, he has done his job, and so has the team. The goal is still to win the World Series.

At this point in the season, Lou should be doing what is necessary to prepare his team for success in the playoffs. If he thinks the best way to go about this is to give starters some rest, then that is what needs to be done. If he (or any other manager in a similar circumstance) were to bow to pressure to play starters in order to "be respectful" to other teams that are still fighting for a playoff spot, he is hurting his own team's chances in the playoffs.

I think that hurting your own team's playoff chances for the sake of respecting other teams does more harm to the integrity of the game than resting starters at the end of the regular season; this is true regardless of which team is resting starters.

The goal of any franchise is to win a championship.

It's not to be fair to other teams behind you. The only thing the Cubs should be concerned about is how to best put themselves in a position to succeed in October and if that means letting the Mets win, then by all means they have a responsibility to do so.

If the roles were reversed I can assure you I would not be complaining about them. I'd be complaining about the one or two losses that could have and should have gone our way and didn't.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award