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Friday, Aug. 1, 2008

Don't Take it Home

Jim Cryns on Sports

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I don’t bleed for any team, but I do admit to a little bruising on occasion. I like sports as much as the next guy and while I appreciate Wisconsin’s sports offerings and am pleased when they do well, I’m primarily an observer, and certainly not a band-wagon jumper. If the Packers are doing well, that’s great, I’ll enjoy the ride. If the Badgers are stinking up the joint, I don’t take it home with me.

There are exceptions to this philosophy. As part of the de-facto fan base, I was embarrassed by the entire charade which took place at Miller Park this week. I’m glad the park sold out and the team generated excitement, however I can’t help but feel I was cheated on more than a husband in a country-western song. Broken promises festered in our hearts and busted bottles were nauseatingly shattered on Miller Park Way by shit-faced Cubs fans. (Not kidding about the bottles, broken promises is a subjective matter.)

The way the Brewers performed against the Cubs was infuriating. This was the type of series that exposed pretenders, a role the Brewers will learn to know and embrace. Dominated by the Cubs pitching staff who seemed to be throwing aspirin for three days, the Brewers couldn’t produce a clutch hit; batters missed pitches in the strike zone and chased offerings in another zip code. It’s not important to pick out any single defensive liability, (Rickie Weeks,) as the team itself wasn’t up to the challenge. Like Steve Bartman in the Cubs melt-down a few years ago, it wasn’t about one person causing the dam to break, it was a group effort. The media created a monster out of a molehill describing this match up as an early look at the playoff race. There was no way it could live up to the hype, the expectations. The series was reminiscent of a young man’s first sexual experience; Dreams of domination, euphoria, sitting atop a division only to find yourself wishing you’d gotten your pants off more quickly.

The Cubs forced the Brewers to eat more collective fecal matter than a pack of wild dogs on the tundra. They looked intimidated, like deer frozen in headlights on I-94. The same deer later strapped to the grill of a runaway Semi-trailer on its way to Wrigley Field.

You can say ‘there’s a lot more baseball to play,’ until you’re blue in the face, but people know better. This morbid series was indicative of how this cipher of aseason is going to play out, Cubs in first, the Brewers in the distance, ultimately bottom-feeders of the division. If this series was a prize-fight, it would have been stopped in the first round, at the very least a TKO after the third loss. Fielder swung out of his shoes on every pitch, not that there’s any new information there. Someone should tell Prince that folks on a vegetarian diet tend to crave sweets. Lately Fielder looks like a poster-child for Twinkies. Weeks, with his god-awful bat wagging before a pitch, couldn’t hit the proverbial side of the barn. Weeks made base running mistakes, errors, washed colors with whites, fed a baby chili. The novice second baseman would do well to learn how to make contact as a leadoff hitter, take an occasional pitch for a walk, get on base, take one for the team rather than try to loft one into the seats.

Hee-Haw cast member Cory Hart hasn’t delivered in the clutch since Jimmy Buffett had hair.Ryan Braun put so much energy into his Home Run Derby, he left the best part of his game in a New York hotel room. When Mike Cameron came to the plate, he looked befuddled by the most routine fast ball.The Brewers were battered, embarrassed, stymied. A crate of Viagra wouldn’t have improved the team’s chances of displaying any wood at the plate. Even Cubs fans, some of the most insanely rabid and downright caustic creatures on earth, grew weary of piling on. The fans appeared to show pity for the hapless team they viewed as worthy adversaries only a few days before. After all, it would have been like kicking a five year old after he fell off his bike. As Dragline pummeled the title character in Cool Hand Luke, the fans witnessed something so brutal and primevil, they could only turn away in disgust. Applauding after the last three blow-outs would have been akin to congratulating a leper after his thigh fell off.

A couple of months back I freely admit I was one of those calling for Ned Yost’s head on a platter quicker than you could say John the Baptist. The team did turn around and went on a mad winning streak. At the time, I was wrong, I ate crow. Now I’m not so sure. After being swept by the Cubs in a stretch of games which the Brewers had to at least hang in there and show some mettle, I once again think Yost should be shown the door. The owners have shown commitment in signing CC Sabathia and Ray Durham, proving to their fan-base they are trying. Helen Keller could communicate better with this roster than Yost. The clubhouse, dugout, expressions on the players faces is pained. Handing this emotional vampire his pink slip might just free the players from these invisible chains. A clean set of linen always makes you sleep better. The players would be called upon for a gut-check. Brewers management has been very loyal to Yost, as loyal as Yost has been to Weeks and Jeff Suppan, who left his pitching arm in the locker room before his last few outings. Sabathia proved he is mortal after Yost pushed this guy to three complete games, Sabathia’s arm hanging by dental floss. To his defense, Yost was probably thrilled he didn’t have to call Castro in the bullpen before the fifth inning.

Yost will defend this team to the end, regardless of how impotent, or guilty they are of baseball malfeasance. And don’t you dare ask him any serious questions about his team’s ineffectiveness, or he’ll rip you a new one. Yost left Jeff Suppan on the mound recently for what seemed like a month, the pitcher suffering a MLB crucifixion. It seemed like Yost had a personal vendetta against Suppan, who hasn’t worked his way out of a jam since Tiger Woods was pissing his diapers.

Apropos of nothing at all, Cub’s manager Lou Pinella makes me look like I’m in shape. The Cub’s manager has more going on below the belt than Oprah Winfrey. If Sweet Lou ever fell into shark infested waters, it’d be like an Old Country Buffet for a slew of Great Whites. A charmer from the stands at Miller Park exclaimed, “Nice Wisconsin tumor, Lou.”Unfortunately, that snide comment was one of the few highlights during the series between the Cubs and Brewers.