I’m A Believer….!

You Know Better….(cue happy music, and sing along!)

I thought Glooroo was only true in fairy tales
Meant to always lose but not to win.
Glooroo was out to fail me
That’s the way it seemed.
Disappointment haunted my Cub dreams.

Then I saw him pitch, and now I know better
Not a trace of doubt in my mind.
I was wrong….now I know better
I couldn’t doubt GR if I tried…..(record scratches….)

Ok….for anyone of you CCO readers that actually thought I had jumped on a Glendon “Glooroo” Rusch bandwagon, despite a career of mediocrity and two horrible earlier starts, just because he had one semi-good outing, then I must tell you that not only have you hurt my feelings immensely and insulted my intelligence, but most of all….you know better!

The Good?

I just knew my pick for Cubs MVP in 2006, Aramis Ramirez, would start heating up, and I was never worried about Juan Pierre. Derrek Lee is much better than I even expected, and Todd Walker is playing like a guy with a chip on his shoulder. Jerry Hairston is showing that he is no slouch either! Did anyone else notice how, as Neil coined it, “The Juan Pierre Factor” had a major impact on Sunday? In the sixth inning, when Pierre was on 2nd base with Lee at the plate, the Pirates’ pitcher was completely out of sorts, constantly looking behind him, and causing Lee to keep asking for timeout because he wasn’t pitching the ball. It is no coincidence that the game unraveled for the Pirates shortly thereafter, with Lee and Aramis combining for a lightning-quick 4 RBIs, taking the game from a relatively close 3-0, to a a comfortable 7-0 lead for the Cubbies. There was a moment on the TV that I imagine we will see quite a bit this year, and which I also thought would make an awesome black-and-white wall-sized poster in a bar, which is Lee and Aramis both walking back to the dugout after Aramis hit his homerun. There was a sort of quiet confidence that you see in great athletes in all sports….you could tell that Lee and Ramirez weren’t surprised by what just happened….in fact, they may have expected it from themselves. They acted like true professionals, and not cocky showboaters that do chest bumps, elaborate high-fives, or endzone dances. Aramis Ramirez could have easily been influenced by Sammy Sosa, a fellow Dominican, when he first came to the Cubs in 2003. You have to remember that Sosa was still considered a great player then, and he was the king in the Dominican Republic. Luckily for the Cubs Faithful, I get the impression that Ramirez saw through the PR-facade of Sosa, and recognized the foolishness of the exaggerated homer-hopping, and decided he was better off just focusing on being himself, and working his butt off to get better. If Lee and Ramirez can stay healthy all year, I don’t think the Cubs will get into too many losing streaks due to lack of run support. The rest of the cast is more than adequate and complimentary to the key pieces of Pierre, Lee and Ramirez.

The Bad?

Glooroo pitched well. Yes, I wanted the Cubs to win….I always do. But I would have preferred that they won 7-6, and that all 6 runs were given up by Glooroo in the first inning. Why? Simply because the alternatives are better. Williams is better, yet he is the “5th starter” while Rusch is inexplicably one of the top 4 starters. It looks like Wood will be the first injured duckling to get back in the pond, and when he does, my fear is that Rusch will stay on as the 5th starter. I would rather see Guzman, Hill, Ryu, or Williams be the fifth starter until Prior is healthy, and send Rusch to the bullpen, or trade him. When Prior finally returns, I would like the Cubs to simply pick the most consistent and impressive of the youngsters, and keep them as the 5th starter. If Miller makes the starting staff, then send all the kids to AAA for more seasoning, or trade them in a package for an upgrade in RF or at 2B. But, alas, the obvious and the commonsense are not often found sharing space with toothpicks in Dusty Baker’s head.

The Ugly?

Glooroo pitched well. Ok, ok….I know I am picking on the guy a lot here, but here are my reasons for questioning Glooroo:

Why did he pitch like Tom Glavine in his prime, for 5 solid innings? Who is that guy, and where did he come from? More importantly, why isn’t he that guy on a consistent basis? I am guessing that Rusch didn’t suddenly remember how to pitch, and while I will give Blanco some credit, I believe the real answer is that Rusch was finally fully focused on the task at hand, unlike his previous two outings. This bothers me, because not only is he being paid millions to throw a little ball at another grown man every five days, but the guy looks like he has seen the inside of Taco Bell a lot more often than the inside of a gym. You can get away with that if you are David Wells, and you are a proven consistent winner, but not if you have the resume that Glooroo has. I will say this, though, about Blanco….if he is really the reason for the improvement, then I hope Dusty has enough sense in his noggin to make sure Blanco is in the lineup if/when Glooroo is starting future games.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps voodoo doesn’t work, but maybe being forced to watch Greg Maddux handle himself on and off the mound can make a difference. It may be naive to think that just because I forced my Glooroo stick-figure voodoo doll to watch Greg Maddux’s last masterpiece, that somehow it really did make Glendon Rusch a better pitcher through some sort of cosmic baseball-osmosis….but then again, Moises Alou used to pee on his hands before games, so maybe I am not that crazy after all. The Cubs are a very respectable 7-4, without Prior and Wood, and as I have said in the past, I believe the Cubs need to do better than just hope they play .500 ball, and then expect Prior and Wood to save the day. So far, they are showing they can handle the slack, and they are really looking good offensively so far. If Jacque Jones can be adequate, and stay healthy, I really don’t think there is an obvious weak link in the lineup. Let’s hope that Zambrano pitches a gem this week, and gets his mental state on track, and I would LOVE to see Maddux get off to a 3-0 start.

Until next time, Cubs Faithful, always be a believer, and let’s go Cubs!

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne