Where do you start? The Cubs' best on-field product in a century not only loses in the first round, but gets swept for the second consecutive year in the post-season.
It's an embarrassment, it's a failure, and it's something that Cubs' fans don't deserve. Those were easily the three worst games the Cubs played in a row all season and I say that with the significance aside. Mark DeRosa hit a home run in the second inning Wednesday night and after that...silence. Pitching imploding, fielding errors and leaving guys on base. Complete and total failure.
That said, I do need to give credit where it's due. The Dodgers are obviously a much better team or they're at least picking the right time to play like it. After seeing what their starters, bullpen and hitting have done in key situations, they have to be favored to win the pennant and pose a serious threat in the World Series. Tip of the cap to them. I suppose this would be a good time to say "Bob Howry, I hate you" because we should never have played them in the first place.
Anyway, no matter the quality of the team, some of what happened is inexcusable. In all honesty, I'm waiting for my public apology from this team. They did absolutely nothing to try and change their fortunes in the last 5 days or whatever. They made little to no adjustments the entire series and acted like there was nothing they could do. That and they played simply unwinnable baseball.
Perhaps what I'm really looking for is a public apology from this organization for taking the fans love and money and flushing it down the toilet for 100 years. You could say Cubs fans are the best because they support their team no matter what, or you could say they're idiots for paying out the ass and supporting a team that hasn't done a thing in 100 years to earn any of it. Every year we show up to support this team and every year we get heartbreak along with fans of other teams all over the country laughing at us and hating us even more.
The sad part about this year is that somebody's head has to roll...or something has to roll. You can't just say "we were a really good team and we just happened to get swept in the first round of the playoffs despite having home field advantage and the best record in the league." A lot of players will need to get signed in the off season, good players, but if you sign all of them, you are putting the same product on the field, the same product that choked in the NLDS. You just can't do that and despite all the good Jim Hendry has done, he's going to be depended on to make a World Series-caliber team better, which is not fair to him at all. This might have been their best year with this current group of players to win and they failed. The NL Central will be even better next year and the Cubs need to ensure they can compete. You can't just promise you'll do better next time. It's not good enough--that's not how sports works, especially baseball.
It's just sad. The window was as open as its been in the last 100 years and we still managed to crash into the glass. Let's just hope it doesn't close too much soon, at least next year. In my opinion, next year is really the last year the Cubs can really expect to win it all with the team they have, before Soriano's signing looks like a poorer investment than the stock market is now. The Cubs obviously believe it's two years because that's the length of the leash they've given Lou Piniella. I think that's fair.
Well, it's been a fun season, gargantuan let down aside. For those that stuck with me, which is maybe a handful of you, I appreciate it. I hope I was at least a bit insightful at times. Look for posts throughout the off-season with my thoughts on how the Cubs might find a way to shine in '09 as well as commentary on the moves they do make.
In the meanwhile, we wait. I think by now we're all pretty good at that.