Cubs 2008 Playoffs

So how do you revenge fuck a baseball team?

You follow a baseball team for six months, 161 games, and just about every play of every inning and then they go and just tear your heart out. The one time you really needed them, the one thing you ever wanted out of this relationship and they can't even be bothered to show up. For six months they were the best girlfriend a guy could imagine - not only did you have that special spark with them, but they had all the fundamentals as well. They were the kind of girl that you needed more than she needed you, but still would bring you lasagna at work...just because it was a Wednesday.

And then it's the big weekend corporate retreat with your promotion on the line and she ends up forgetting to take her anti-depressants, sleeps with your boss, then the guy you were vying for the promotion with and you find this all out when you walk in on her taking on 3 guys from the sales team. On top of that, the only reason she brought you lasagna on Wednesdays was she was meeting up with your boss at a hotel room around the corner once a week.

Fuck the Cubs!

I feel like I should go root for the White Sox or Brewers now, just to show them. Or try and bang some of the player's wives, but I don't think the Angel Fan wife will approve of that one.

Observations from the ballpark after the jump...

I can't say I'm feeling too confident about tonight's game, but for the few hours between now and game time, I'm just going to keep playing these clips over and over and hoping the Cubs have another comeback left in them this season.

Somewhere along the way the Cubs contracted the "paralyzing suck" virus and it seemed to spread from one Cub to the next last night. I felt like I was watching 28 Days Later, just waiting for the Cubs fans at the park to start ripping each other apart. It started with Ryan Theriot, and not on that ill-advised bare-handed play. After Soriano singled and took second, Theriot flailed away looking thorougly overmatched by Chad Billingsley. What a fantastic time for a guy who hits the ball to the right side about 95% of the time to fail.

He sure made up for it later though when he attempted a bare-handed do-or-die play on a ball he should have probably have just gloved. I admit I stepped away for a second and only saw the back end of the replay.  The Parachat crowd was 50/50 on whether Theriot would have even gotten Loney had he tried to field it cleanly, but nonetheless, it certainly wasn't a good play.

Next up was DeRosa, who turned two routine outs into none when he muffed an admittably hard-hit ball. Had he not been infected with "the paralyzing suck" virus, he might have realized he still had plenty of time to at least secure one out, but instead rushed his throw to still try and get a double play which was gone as soon as he didn't fieldl the ball cleanly.

Around the diamond it went and next up was Derrek Lee who did all he could to keep a hot smash in front of him, but unfortunately the "paralyzing suck" virus must mess with your equilibrium because he couldn't pick up where the ball went. And to complicate matters, Zambrano was a little late getting to the bag.

I think somewhere in that exchange, Zambrano caught it because a few hitters later, he left an absolute cookie up for Russell Martin that pretty much sucked the air right out of Wrigley.

Quick sidebar: That was just an absolutely fantastic drag bunt single by Furcal right before that. Hope Hendry can land him this time around in free agency.

Oh but, it wasn't done. Aramis booted a ball later in the game and the entire offense started hacking away down five runs rather than remain patient and try to chip away one run at a time. In the 7th, the virus spread to the dugout when Neal Cotts was brought in to face Andre Ethier and James Loney. Problem being with Bob Howry warmed up in the pen, Lou left Cotts out there to face Matt Kemp who predicatbly singled in a run. You ask, what's the difference between 6-0 and 7-0, I say a whole lot when you have as talented an offense as the Cubs do. They're in every game and the manager doesn't need to be giving up in the 7th inning.

By the 8th, Lou decides to go with his bullpen aces and they certainly weren't immune. Marmol gives up another two and Wood - in possibly his last game as a Cub in Wrigley - gives up one more. Everyone gets a ride on the "suck ass" carousel.

More ranting after the jump....

It's not that I have any good reason to be, losing the first game of a five game series seems to be pretty close to a death sentence. I believe the stat being bandied about is 24 of 28 NLDS Game 1 winners have gone on to win the series, although it' s only 14-14 for the ALDS (that's what I heard on XM this morning). Now, I have no idea why the disparity between two leagues and there's really no logical explanation on why the designated hitter would make a difference, so I'll chalk it up to just one of those statistical oddities that litter baseball's history. Nonetheless, circumstances don't favor the Cubs to win this series.

As for why I think the Cubs are still going to, you should all know that I still believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Okay, that's silly, everyone knows it's just your parents sneaking into your room with a quarter for your incisors. I mean, what kind of rationale being collects teeth? And I have yet to meet a bunny that lays eggs. But no one has still given me a good explanation on how that Atari 2600 showed up for Christmas when I was five, so I'm sticking with the man in the red suit.

As for this series, in the theater of my mind, I saw the Cubs dropping Game 1 and that's why I picked them to win it in four. I just didn't like the match-up of Lowe vs. Dempster. Lowe seems to have had great success against us, especially in Wrigley, and despite the extremely impressive season Dempster had, he's still too walk-happy for my tastes. It's not that I even think it was the wrong decision to start him in Game 1, because other than a healthy Rich Harden, I wouldn't have liked any match-up against Derek Lowe in Game 1.

Cubs Offense vs. Dodgers Pitching and Defense

Let's finish the preview and see what the Cubs pitching can do against the Dodgers bats.

Dodgers Offense vs. Cubs Pitching and Defense

Dodgers Hitting: .264/.333/.399 .732 OPS(11th in OPS), 126 SB's at a 75% success rate (3rd and 5th respectively)

Cubs Pitching: .242/.316/.395 .711 OPS, 3.87 ERA (1st in BA, 3rd in ERA, , 2nd in the rest,)

Dodgers Hitting vs. Right Handers: .260/.326/.390 .716 OPS

Dodgers Hitting vs. Leftt Handers: .275/.350/.419 .769 OPS

Cubs Pitching vs. Right Handers: .237/.302/.385 .687 OPS

Cubs Pitching vs. Left Handers: .249/.336/.409 .745 OPS

Dodgers are 53-57 when a right-handed pitchers starts the game, 31-21 when a left-handers starts.

Cubs Defense: .706 DER (1st in NL), .832 RZR (6th in the NL)

Cubs Rotation: Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Ted Lilly

I'm a little under the weather, so bear with me and this rather bare bones preview...all the substance, none of the fluff.

I never understood the positional breakdowns that many folks do for a series or playoff preview. I understand a team is only as good as the sum of its parts, but Derrek Lee will never have to battle against James Loney at any point in the series. It's more about how one team's pitching and defense will fare against the other team's lineup.

Cubs Offense vs. Dodgers Pitching and Defense

Cubs Hitting: .278/.354/.443 .797 OPS(1st in all those except BA, which they were 2nd), 87 SB's at a 72% success rate (8th in NL)

Dodgers Pitching: .251/.315/.376 .691 OPS, 3.68 ERA (1st in all those except BA, which they were 2nd)

Cubs Hitting vs. Right Handers: .274/.350/.443 .793 OPS

Dodgers Pitching vs. Right Handers: .239/.300/.361 .661 OPS

Dodgers Pitching vs. Left Handers: .268/.334/.396 .730 OPS

Cubs are 64-48 when a right-handed pitchers starts the game.

Dodgers Defense: .693 DER (9th in NL), .825 RZR (12th in the NL)

Dodgers Rotation: Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Greg Maddux

--At the Baseball Analysts, Ross Roley explains why the Cubs have a 22% likelihood of winning the World Series. That's the marginally bad news. The good news is, that's the highest probability for any of the competing playoff teams, according to Roley. The Brewers come in second at 16%. The Angels, with the best record in baseball, weigh in at just 13%. Predicting the result of a short series is an inexact science at best. Still, it's nice to see a headline that reads, "Why the Angels Won't Win the World Series (and the Cubs Will Win It All)."

--At ESPN.com, Tim Kurkjian poses Five Questions relevant to the Dodgers/Cubs series and so as not to ruin it for you, I'll just provide the answers here: considerable, yes, very, as much as possible, and a good thing. Kurkjian likes the Cubs in five games.

--Tim Dierkes at The Hardball Times also likes the Cubs in five, pointing to the Cubs' superior hitting and fielding over the Dodgers' miniscule edge in starting pitching.

--There was a lunchtime rally of Cubs fans today in Daley Plaza with Jim Belushi "among the luminaries," according to the Tribune. I must have missed the last luminaries election, but I wouldn't have voted for Jim Belushi.

Game times have been released for the first three games of the NLDS:

5:30 pm CST for Game 1 @ Wrigley on Wednesday, October 1st

8:30 pm CST for Game 2 @ Wrigley on Thursday, October 2nd

9:00 pm CST for Game 3 @ Dodger Stadium on Saturday, October 4th

I imagine they'll wait to see how the other series are doing before they announce game times for games 4 and 5. I'm a little surprised they could get clearance for such a late start on Thursday at Wrigley, but so be it. Stock up on your favorite stimulant and stay up late to enjoy your Cubs.

It's all settled, the Dodgers and their league-leading pitching staff will roll into Chicago starting Wednesday. The Cubs were 5-2 against them this season, including a three game sweep at home in three low-scoring games. They split a four game set in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers ride into October with a 17-7 record, albeit it against an extremely easy schedule (Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rockies, Pirates).

I think the Cubs are the far superior team, but the Dodgers do have a good staff and the games will probably be close and low-scoring. That means a lucky break or two and the Dodgers can make this interesting.

As announced earlier, Ryan Dempster will go Game 1 and he'll be followed by Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and finally Ted Lilly if a  Game 4 is necessary.

I would have preferred Dempster, Harden, Z and then Lilly, but Harden's start last night where he seemed to be topping out at 90 mph most of the game was worrisome, although he still managed to never really get hit hard. If the series does go five games, the Cubs will start with Dempster and then it will be possible to use Zambrano on four days rest, followed by Marmol and Wood to finish it.

That makes the Cubs 7th inning problems, seem not so problematic.

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