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Monday, May 24, 2004

Injury Bug and Lemons.

Nightmare

It's a week from Memorial Day. The season is more than 1/4 over. The ace of your pitching staff has yet to start a game. The perfect compliment to that ace, and toughest pitcher in baseball to hit, has missed 2 starts and been lifted from another after just 2 innings. Last year's most consistent set-up man has yet to pitch an inning. The projected tablesetter of the offense, has played just 4 games. The potential Gold-Glove winning SS, is out 6-8 weeks with a broken arm. The left-handed specialist battles back pain all season, but can't take it anymore, and also has to miss at least 2 weeks. Even Superman himself had an allergic reaction to kryptonite causing him to miss the next 2-3 weeks.

Dream

It's a week from Memorial Day. The season is more than 1/4 over. Your team has the best record in the National League. Your starters lead the league in ERA by a wide margin. The bottom 2 starters are both in the top 10 in the majors in ERA and opponents BA. Your aging LF, has found the fountain of youth, and is among the league leaders in HRs and SLG. The gamble you made at catcher is paying off to the tune of having one of the top 3 offensive players at that position. The 30 year black hole at 3B has been filled by a 25-year old fulfilling his unlimited potential.

-If you told me before the season that the nightmare would come true, I would have led the cry for a firesale.
-If you told me before the season that the dream would come true, I would have led the line for World Series ticket sales.
-If you told me before the season that both would come true, I would be led you to a psychiatrist.

Yet, it is true. The Cubs are in first place having had 7 injuries to major parts of the team's success. Through all the injuries the Cubs have stayed together thanks in part to their great leader, Dusty Baker. I'd always heard that he was a "players" manager, but I never knew what that meant until now. He has been the rock of a championship caliber team in search of leadership. The Cubs have played with the hand they were dealt, and have succeeded. In fact, you could say that they have taken lemons and turned them into lemonade.

Speaking of which, the Cubs bench, which calls themselves the "lemons" have been absolutely outstanding! The lemons are hitting .271 with 3 HRs in a pinch hitting role, a drastic improvement over the 2003 benchwarmers.

Todd Hollandsworth- 6-12 as a PH, with 2 HRs. Thrust into a starting role for the injured Sammy Sosa, Holla has gone 10-29 (.345) as a starter in May.

Ramon Martinez- In 19 starts for the injured Alex Gonzalez, Ramon hasn't made us miss Gold Glove caliber defense, committing just 2 errors and turning 11 doubleplays in 19 games.

Tom Goodwin- 5-14 in a starting role in May, all the while playing good if not, spectacular defense.

Jose Macias- had a 4-game stretch where he started for the injured Todd Walker at 2B. Was an amazing 11-20 over that stretch, setting the table for 4 consecutive Cub wins.

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