Saturday, August 20, 2005

the stupidity of useless hope

korey the klown, in another sad iteration of a series that would have become exhaustive long ago but for the continually renewed alacrity and boundless innovation which borders on genius that characterizes his innate drive to fail, demonstrated yet again why he remains, unrehabilitated and unrehabilitatable, the worst regular player in all of major league baseball, bar none.

if you want to know why the 2005 cubs have never had a chance at any point, including april 4, you need look no farther than the fact that korey patterson has been so predictably handed, without any merit as justification, a stunning 352 at-bats this year. no team that does that can win.

in going 1-for-5 with a strikeout, the klown put in what was perhaps the most frustrating individual performance i've seen this year. in one game, he managed to

  • completely dog a play coming home to nail him, after lucking into being on base in the first place thanks to an error on his first-pitch grounder;

  • popped out foul on the second pitch in the fourth;

  • swing at the first three pitches, fouling off two to get to 0-2 -- and miraculously manage not to fan in singling weakly, only to....

  • ... get doubled off first base on a medium-depth can of corn to left -- even forgetting to touch second in coming back to tag up, ensuring that he would have to be out.

  • but of course, the piece de resistance was reserved for the ninth, when the rockies intentionally walked neifi perez to load the bases for patterson -- who dutifully fanned on three pitches almost as though he were trying to.

    most bewildering, however, isn't the physical and mental quality of patterson's output but dusty baker's totally infantile management. any manager who puts the bat in patterson's hands in the ninth -- with a bench full of better options, with part-time centerfielder hairston already in the game as a pinch-hitter -- after watching season upon stubborn season, indeed an entire career of dismal and pathetic failure from this player -- is actively destroying his team. how many wins, i wonder, has dusty's stupidity cost this team? far more than it's won for them, surely. that dusty is still here boggles me -- and one wonders if anyone in tribune tower is watching and wondering, as i am, why general manager jim hendry isn't protecting the company's investment by executing baker summarily.

    but then, what is happening with the cubs appears to be hendry's fault as much as anyone's. matt murton was sent down yesterday to make room for jerry hairston's return from the disabled list. murton, a potential player in the 2006 outfield situation, sacrifices two crucial weeks of evaluation time before september 1 -- and for what? so that doorknobs and deadbeats like todd hollandsworth and korey patterson, who will contribute nothing to the 2006 squad, about whom nothing remains to be discovered, can remain on the team.

    as this page has said, the cubs need to be looking ahead to 2006 now in an effort to find out if players like murton and rich hill and scott williamson can help in next year's reconstruction. playing in a stupid, utterly stupid hope for this dead year to miraculously resurrect itself is far more malicious than a harmless indulgent optimism of fools and simpleminds. there is right now work to be done toward 2006, and a rational optimist can take pleasure in the opportunity to work towards it. instead, this drooling, idiotic optimism infects the brood over at clark and addison, and the team works assiduously against its own best interests in harboring it.

    again, in the interest of rallying those catatonic optimists to the cause of 2006: let's pretend that philly, the nats, houston and the marlins all play .500 ball the rest of the way -- which won't happen, but let's just say. the cubs would have to go 26-14 the rest of the way to overtake them. that's .650 baseball. does ANYONE think this team can play .650 ball for 40 games?

    i can tell you that, over any 20-game stretch, the 2005 cubs have only won 13 or more in 19-of-102 possible sample periods -- 19% of the time. so one might say that the chance of them doing so for two such periods consecutively is about 19% of 19% -- or 3.5%. and i can also tell you that at no point this year have they won 26 of their previous 40 -- in fact, the best they've managed is 24-16, which they attained for a brief spell in late june.

    now imagine that any one of those four teams actually plays winning baseball -- even a game or two over even -- the rest of the way.

    it's no longer simply a matter of maintaining a cheery perspective versus a dour one to hope for success this year. it's statistically naive and quite ridiculous to believe at this point (and was quite some time ago, imo, only moreso now) that 2005 is anything but a dead letter.

    far worse -- that hope is actively damaging the cubs prospects in 2006 in more than one way. this is how the silly optimism of irrational fans can coincide with a weak-willed, popularity-obsessed management to contribute to making losing an inevitable downward spiral from modest success.

    and cub fans have to be the ones to make it stop -- because shortsighted dollar-obsessed corporate management won't.

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