Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Cancel Christmas, Kitchen's Closed

And so, with great disappointment, the 2008 season has come to a close.

We had another "incident" on the blog during last night's game.  A fan who said he's been following the team for 50 years began commenting in the shoutbox, essentially saying that the first team in his lifetime to reach the playoffs in consecutive seasons needed to be dismantled, Lou needed to go, and essentially the Cubs needed to start over from scratch because they players are too damaged to win.

So, to recap:

During Game 1, we had Doom and Gloom Fans proclaim that the season was over, it was hopeless, and the Dodgers were the first team in history to clinch a playoff series after winning only the first game.

During Game 2, we had a fan say that it's clearly the curse, and you'd have to be an idiot to not believe that mystical powers were at work.

During Game 3, we had a fan proclaim the team broken, damaged, and in need not of repair but of dismantling.

But in the middle of all that were dozens of other Cub fans who, like me, were saddened by the performance of their team.  We were made to feel sick to our stomachs.  We got pissed, we swore, we cursed, some of us probably even cried.

I don't live on a hill, or behind a pulpit.  I'm not looking down on people from a pedestal.  I'm just another fan, like everybody else reading this blog, and I really have no place to preach at people.  More importantly, I am certainly not a better fan than anybody.  Anybody.

But I am very tired of certain kinds of fans.  The pessimists, the woe-is-me's, the doom-sayers, I feel great frustration when I hear from those people.  All along we've known a few simple facts - the Cubs were the best team to enter the playoffs, but the playoffs are a crap-shoot where momentum means everything.  The best team got eliminated last night, and it happened because they lost their momentum very early in Game 1 and never found a way to get it back.

It's not about curses, it's about crap-shoots.  As Billy Beane has always said, you can assemble a great team and put all the pieces together, but once they actually get there other factors come into play.  So, to all the insanely negative fans who have allowed a lifetime of losing to distort their world views, I'm sorry, but I have nothing for you.

Go join a goth coven, paint your nails black, slap on the eyeliner and write poems about how you want to cut your forearms because it's the only way you can tell you're still alive, okay?

Now, last night, Colin and I made an executive decision to ban the comments of a flamer/troll who kept going on and on about how the Cubs were doooooomed and needed to be dismantled.  I told that reader this, and I'll say it again now: I am over it.  But if you - you, whomever you are, who's reading this - honestly feel that way, I welcome you to voice your views in the Reader Blog section.  We won't delete it, we won't banish you, we won't punish you, and if you write it eloquently enough I'll probably even post it on the main page of GROTA.

You believe in curses?  Post about it.  We won't light you on fire and toss you off a proverbial cliff.  You think the Cubs were doomed to lose after the game one fiasco, and they went on to prove you right?  Post about it.  But, to be fair, we've got readers - and Riders, for that matter - who will probably loudly express their views too.

What Is To Come

Let's end this post on a more positive note.  I'm going to do a year-in-review podcast tomorrow.  It will be shorter - 15 to 20 minutes tops - and it'll be more about what's happened at GROTA than it will be about the Cubs.

Based on our web hits, we've gained a lot of readers in the past year (and especially in the past 2 or 3 months).  Point of fact, it's only October 5th and we're already close to halfway toward matching our total visits in all of October, 2007.  Obviously, I would expect things to slow down again now that the Cubs are out of it, but I want all of the new Goat Readers out there to know that we're going to continue bringing you good content every day of the off season.  We're not going anywhere, we hope that you go nowhere, too.

I've also got a few surprises in mind.  Stick around, because I think you'll enjoy them.

You know better than that...

Momentum is simply the next day's pitcher. You don't really have momentum in baseball. If there were such a thing as momentum, the 2006 Cardinals would not have won the World Series.(Granted, their story has to do with being in the perfect situation than anything else.) In game one, Dempster had 7 walks in that game. If you load the bases twice, you can expect to get burned against a quality team. If you look at Dempster's last three starts, he did relatively well. He simply tried to make hitters chase pitches out of the strike zone. The Dodgers were simply patient enough not bite. Hell, Dempster walked the Whereas, the Cubs were swinging at garbage and taking fastballs down the middle. In game two, the Cubs simply collapsed. How can a playoff team expect to win when committing four errors? Was it negative fans who tried to field the routine grounders in the second inning? No, the players simply collapsed under pressure. The only bright spot was the fact that Zambrano didn't explode. To be honest, that was a giant one. If we want Zambrano to be our ace, he has to keep his emotions in check. His temper has never helped him. In game 3, the Cubs faced a pitcher that induced a lot ground balls. That was it game over.

I understand

your sentiments Kurt, but there is little doubt that from the manager on down, we witnessed one of the bigger choke jobs in postseason history.

Do I give loads of credit to the Dodgers? Hell yes. They seized the moment and realized that their opponent was tight.

Here are a few examples of why I feel this way.

Dempster walked just 8 hitters in the month of September and walks 7 in 4 & 2/3 innings? The reasons that undid Dempster as a closer were the same ones that foiled his performance in game one. Pressure.

Does anyone still think that the Cubs leadoff man should be a whiff machine? Soriano is a great offensive weapon but is as streaky a hitter as there is. He needs to be moved down in the order. While the bangers left too many men on base, having your best OBP hitters getting as many AB's as possible is going to generate the most scoring opportunities.

But how does a team that led the league in most every offensive category score just 6 runs in three games? Too many not ready for prime time players. Yes the Dodgers pitching staff figured to be a tough matchup for the Cubs but that's all the more reason for Piniella to match his lineup accordingly.

I also think Piniella has lost this team.

When facing a dominant RH pitching staff, Piniella inserts Fukake into the lineup and bats him second on top of it. What about Fontenot? What do you think Piniella's players thought about that move?

How does Johnson not even get one AB? This righty/lefty nonsense goes only so far. Edmonds was 1 for 11 against Billingsly, why didn't Johnson start game 2?

Piniella didn't understand the urgency of the moment when Dempster was clearly off his game. It's not like it makes any sense to get Dempster through the 5th inning to get him a win you know. Piniella didn't realize the momentum shift that would happen if the Dodgers score. Marshall was ready and with a dangerous LHB at the plate, Piniella was derelict in his job not to use him.

This isn't the first time we've seen critical pitching moves by Piniella that just didn't make any sense.

All in all however, in the end it's the players who need to perform and the Cubs just had to many that couldn't handle the pressure.

Its gonna happen...

Look as a Colts fan from Indy, I can assure you that this team is not broke....does it need tweaking, probably...but the last thing we need is any major disruptions in personel or coaching....this is not a loss that is not reboundible....the year before the colts won the Superbowl they had loss to the Steelers at home as heavy favorites. Did they all become girls at that point unable to play again. No. Did the colts get rid of everyone and start from scratch, no....they learned from the very, very difficult loss and came back and won it all. So can the Cubs. I will stay tuned to see it.

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