Thursday, May 25, 2006

that's it

holding out for rock bottom is never easy. this writer -- similarly to most of you, it is unfortunately expected -- has had good friends run terrible courses of self-destruction, denying or abusing every entreat to aid, forcing exile upon themselves and ultimately winding up confused, scared and utterly alone, staring dark rumination in the face.

but if they survived that terrible moment, they inevitably went on to brighter days -- certainly not sun and flowers all, all too often with major trials and humiliations in their path still, but at least receiving a relief from the crescendo of impending disaster that frequently accompanies a life spinning gracelessly out of control.

the consensus hereabouts seems to be that yesterday was rock bottom. being swept by what is arguably a minor league team -- not not just swept, but convincingly and harshly beaten -- coming off a seven-game losing streak is about as low to the ground as one can fall without falling through it. indeed, some have asserted that hell hath no floor -- " the lowest deep, a lower deep / Still threatening to devour me opens wide, / To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven", to quote the poet of paradise lost -- and this may yet be so.

however, it seems that what cascade of horror, angst and anger has build steadily behind this team over the last month, threatening to inundate it and wash all away, has suddenly crystallized in a moment -- which 1060west guru ccd defined exactly in the moment joe borchard knocked a three-run blast off greg maddux to put the sweep beyond question -- and time seems now, instead of accelerating inexorably ever faster, to have violently reared into a creep, with events taking on the feel of the black surreal.

a clock started on dusty baker at the moment of borchard's homer that will slowly and gravely tick for some 30 hours -- another twelve from now -- whereupon time will likely resume its steady, inevitable course. if by the end of that metaphysical egg timer he is still the manager of this club, this page suspects he will be for another year or two at least. this is the moment, on an off day, when the axe could quickly fall upon his neck, severing his empty toothpick-suckling head from the team as all but the most blighted corners of cubdom seem to expect and indeed encourage. the man himself even now blithely invites his own destruction. if it can happen, it will happen now.

but this page has an inkling that the decision to keep baker has already been made by jim hendry and andy macfail and is basically immutable, the organization caring nothing and indeed openly despising its sheepish, slavish fanbase -- expressing its contempt yet again is surely not difficult for such an insular regime.

surely, it hopes otherwise -- if there is no accountability, no impetus, no sincerity of effort here, after all, could one reasonably expect that there will ever be any under macfail? almost certainly not. but hendry has shat out one of the great franchise losers of the last few decades (which is saying something) -- and for it, he was rewarded with a contract extension. should we expect any greater culpability for baker?

in any case, the road forward gets only steeper. the cubs will face tim hudson and john smoltz on friday and saturday, and to hope for more than a run or two in aggregate in those games seems a bit daft, all things considered.

but the team has been driven, it feels, to a point so spiritually low that it is all but impossible to conceive of lower for a ballclub. it may yet be dragged along the bottom over rocks and crags for some time -- but rock bottom this is.

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