DLee Must Be More Assertive In His Role
Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune
Wins that feel like losses? Yeah, I know last year at this time we would have lost this game, along with some other Losses That Felt Like Wins. Gotta tell you kids, this one still doesn't sit well with me.
Ted Lilly has got to go after hitters with seven-run leads. I assume he HAS pitched with a big lead before? Wouldn't have known it with all the picking around he did. Cubs fielders have got to be able to catch and throw the ball. That includes YOU, Ronnie Cedeno.
Ronnie? Ronnie! Hey, mister? Wake up, Mr. Cedeno. Yes, you. Please come up to the front here, where I can keep my eye on you. Please pay close attention to me, I know it is hard for you to focus.
RONNIE? EYES FRONT!
I'd speak slower, but that isn't fair to the rest of the Cubs, now is it? No Child Left Behind, my ass.
Anyway, these things will happen, and I guess Soriano is going to hit an Olsen twin's weight for awhile. One thing DID happen yesterday, though, that just like a big zit on the middle of my cubemate's forehead, I just can't ignore it. Hell-to-the-NAWWW I ain't goin' to lunch with you, wearing THAT big-ass thang!
Top of the tenth, tie score, obviously. The Riot walked and stole second. Soriano struck out, but Ward pinch hits and blocks out the sun with his enormous ass, and reaches on an error. Pie pinch-runs and steals/takes second. Derrek Lee, therefore, is batting with one out, and two men in scoring position.
First base is empty. They're not going to intentionally walk you in this situation because more baserunners might equal more runs if things get jiggy. They might try to walk you anyway, semi-intentionally, pitch away from you and hope you chase, or hope the umpire is in a fantasy league where he has Matt Copes and his brother-in-law has Lee, and call you out on a ball three inches outside of the zone.
Which is pretty much what happened. Now, I didn't see it, I was stuck in my car listening to the g-d Pittsburgh radio feed. Desipio Andy says the pitch was in the LH batters box. The stiffs on WPGH or whatever said it was on the 'corner'. Heh. Byron's friend, who was watching, said Lee should have swung, and that's the picture I'm going with.
Derrek Lee is the third hitter on a supposed pennant contender. He is being paid quite well for his efforts. He was the batting champ of the whole NL. Even though Soriano is the highest paid, Ramirez is considered to be the RBI machine, and Fukudome is the most hyped thing since Britney's air panties, Lee IS the heart of the Cubs' offense. He is NOT being paid to take walks. He is NOT being paid to load the bases in this situation, having the bat taken out of his hands, and setting up the force at any base. He is getting PAID, to drive in the runs, and win the damn ballgame!!!
I can't joke around about this. If THIS is going to be the team that finally breaks through a century of frustration, then the team leaders must start performing beyond reproach, and doing all the things they must do to win every last game within reach. Lee HAS to swing the bat in this instance. He HAS to do everything he can to DRIVE in those runs. On two strikes, if the ball is ANYWHERE close, you have to attempt to lay the bat on it, and, geez, foul it off if that's all you can do.
Like I said, let the midgets on the team take the walks. Let Fukudome take the walks. You, Derrek Lee, are being counted on to PRODUCE! Swing the damn bat!
To conclude, I discussed this with Byron, who pointed out that Ramirez then struck out to end the inning, and shouldn't he bear the same blame?
Well, as we all saw in the 8th inning of Game Six (shaking head still to this day), we saw the chain reaction that occurs when one player does not comport himself in the manner that the rest of the team expects. Alou throws a tantrum, then Gonzalez boots one, then Prior serves up the meat....I'm not saying that the Ramirez strikeout is ABSOLUTELY directly related to the Lee strikeout.
But after having followed this team the past 39 years, you can sense the ebb and flow of motivation, enthusiasm and momentum of this team. Once Lee failed to execute, Ramirez' lack of execution was not only unsurprising, but almost EXPECTED.
Now, the strikeouts in the 10th were nowhere near as stupid as the Pirates' botched bunt play in the ninth. But hey, that's their poostain to wipe up.