Top Ten Goats of the Cubs Post-Season


In coming up with a top 10 list of the biggest goats of Cubs playoffs, it was hard to limit it to ten. But I decided to limit it to only players, taking out management and umpires (like the 3rd base umpire in Game 3 who blew the out at third base which lead to 2 runs). I also took into consideration how a player performed over the regular season as a basis for what they should've done in the playoffs. I welcome comments, omissions, and your own lists, if you've gotten out of bed since Saturday night.

10. Jim Edmonds-With three RHP's starting the 3 games for L.A. and with a combination of Kosuke and Fontenot manning the other left-handed spot in the lineup, Edmonds needed to produce. A career .333 hitter in the NLDS and supposed team leader based on his playoff experience, Edmonds went 2 for 10. He was along for the ride on the DeRo HR in Game 1, giving the Cubs fans that brief glimmer of hope before the Walk Machine came back out to the mound. His only other hit did drive in a run, but went hitless in three other attempts with runner's on base. His performance for the year makes a .200 BA in the playoffs OK, but his role as team leader doesn't.

9. Carlos Marmol-I fully understand that by the time Marmol came into the games, there was little doubt as to the outcome. However, Marmol gets the 9th spot based more on what he's done over the past two years in the regular season versus what he's done in the past two playoffs. Marmol's 2 run 8th inning performance in Game 2 marked his 3rd career playoff appearance and his third career appearance where he's yielded a run. He snapped that streak in Game 3, reducing his 2008 playoff ERA to 6.75 and his career playoff ERA to 7.94. Compare that to a 2.13 ERA over the past two regular seasons combined.

8. Derrek Lee-Lee's batting should've kept him off this list. After all, he hit .545 with 2 doubles and three hits when leading off an inning. But with runner's on base, he went 1 for 3. He singled once with a runner on first, but also struck out in his lone RISP situation and GIDP'd (big surprise he had a GIDP). But bigger than his hitting was the costly error he had in Game 2. If anyone cares to re-live it, he had a bouncer right to him that he didn't get his body in front of, causing the ball to pop over his head and in front of him. While he spun around looking for the ball, the bases loaded. Z got the next batter on strikes, meaning the Cubs would've been out of the inning with 1 run instead of the 5 they scored.

7. Rich Harden-When the Cubs put all their hopes on the right arm of Rich Harden to be their savior in Game 3, they were trusting a guy who went 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA since being acquired. But Harden put the Cubs in the hole early, giving up 2 runs with 2 outs in the 1st inning. Two innings later, Harden attempted to pick off Rafael Furcal and sent the ball into right field. While you can't blame Harden for the injury to Fontenot that resulted, if the ball hadn't ended up where it did, Fontenot wouldn't have hurt himself trying to plant and grab the ball. Harden only retired the pitcher in the fifth inning before giving up his third run. His ERA for the game was 6.23. The Cubs needed perfection, and Harden couldn't deliver.

6. Geovany Soto-All things considered, Soto had a slightly better NLDS than Fukudome. He had one more hit, one more walk, and one less K than Fukudome. But Soto came to bat 5 times with a runner in scoring position and came away with a single that didn't score a run. He caught a staff that came in with a 3.87 ERA and watched them give up 15 earned runs in 26 innings (a 5.19 ERA). I think it's debatable whether he should actually be ahead of Fukudome, given what he did in the regular season, but I will leave him here based on his relative youth.

5. Kosuke Fukudome-I know, putting Fukudome this low is probably considered blasphomy for Cubs fans. And I agree, he had a terrible post-season. But in terms of impact, it wasn't as bad as the 4 above him (in my opinion). Fukudome came to the plate 10 times. Four of those times, he walked back to the dugout (including a baffling ninth inning AB in Game 2 where he ran the count to 3-1 against Jonathan Broxton before watching to strikes fly past him that were pretty close to the center of the plate). He had only one hit, which came in the 7th inning of Game 3 with The Riot on 1st.

4. Mark DeRosa-DeRo's hitting kept him out of the top 3. For the series, DeRo went 4 for 12 and had 4 of the Cubs 6 RBI's. Three of his hits went for extra bases, including the Cubs lone HR of the post-season. But for all the great things he did, the failure to make a relatively routine play on the ball in Game 2, allowing the first Dodger run to score and opening the floodgates, was really the turning point for the entire series. Up to that point, Cub fans still had hope that maybe all those bandwagon writers who were predicting a WS were right. because of that one play, it's really difficult for me not to put him at the top of the list, but he saved himself by driving in 67% of the Cubs post-season runs. If other Cubs had hit like he had, his error could've been overcome.

3. Aramis Ramirez-With all the other scapegoats, it's easy to see why Aramis slipped through the cracks. But he shouldn't have. The Cubs cleanup hitter went 2 for 11 (.182 average) for the series. His two hits? A leadoff double and a single with Lee on second in the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs down 10-1. He went 1 for 4 with runner's in scoring position, which isn't horrible, although that produced 0 RBI's. But looking past that, he came to the plate a total of 12 times. 8 of those times there was at least one runner on base. He had a hit and a walk and was retired 6 times. In other words, he came up to the plate with a runner on base 67% of the time and didn't produce a single RBI, despite 111 in the regular season. The Cubs arguably most clutch hitter failed to produce, period.

2. Ryan Dempster-I think Dempster's walk total will be one of those numbers Cubs fans will remember forever. When we're pleading with our great-grandchildren not to become Cubs fans, we'll tell them of the heartbreak of 2008 and Ryan Dempster's 7 walks. A guy who was tabbed to pitch Game 1 in large part because he had gone 14-3 at home. A guy who had average walking 3.31 batters per 9 innings. A guy who had the right mentality after being a closer to start a big game. We'll tell them of how he skated on thin ice ever inning, making Cubs fans scream at him to throw strikes. We'll tell them of the sense of relief when he made in through those first four innings without giving up a run and prayed for him to find the strike zone somewhere in the dugout. And we'll tell them of how it caught up to him in the 5th, when he gave up that Grand Slam and that sinking feeling crept into the back of the minds of all Cub fans .

1. Alfonso Soriano-As bad the Walk Machine, DeRo's error, and the Cubs cleanup hitter not getting an RBI, the Glass Ego turned in the Goat performance of the playoffs. I don't think giving a quick synopsis of Sori's performance at the bat does enough justice, so let's look at him, AB by painful AB:

Game 1
1st inning, leading off: Strikeout (Way to start the Cubs post-season run)
2nd inning, 2 outs, runner on first: Pop-out (Way to keep the rally going after the DeRo HR)
5th inning, leading off: Strikeout (2 innings leading off, 2 K's)
7th inning, 1 out, runner on first: Pop-out (I see a trend)
9th inning, 2 outs, runner on third: Pop-out (0-5 for the game, 2 K's two lead off innings, 3 pop-outs with runners on)

Game 2
1st inning, leading off: Single (Wow, things must be turning around)
3rd inning, 1 out, runner on first: Fly-out (Well, at least he's hitting the ball farther)
6th inning, 1 out, bases empty: Strikeout (First AB without a runner on or leading off)
8th inning, 1 out, bases empty: Groundout (First time hitting the ball on the ground)

Game 3
1st inning, leading off: Groundout (back to good ol' Sori)
3rd inning, 1 out, bases empty: Groundout (next two batters single)
5th inning, leading off: Flyout (now 1 for 5 leading off an inning)
7th inning, 1 out, runners on first and second: Flyout (second AB with a RISP)
9th inning, 2 outs, bases empty: Strikeout (perfect way to start and end the Cubs post-season)

So, let's look at the totals: 1 for 5 when leading off an inning (always outstanding for a leadoff hitter), 0 for 2 with RISP and 0 for 6 with runner's on (both great stats for a guy who managed 29 HR's in less than 110 games this year), 0-2 in AB's with the pitcher on base (showing that the pitchers hit better than Sori) and finally, 1 for 14 overall (a .071 batting average). That's just 17 million dollars per post-season hit, and more importantly, 1 base runner from your leadoff spot. I deleted the next text I wrote because I got way off topic and started ranting about Sori in the leadoff spot, which I'll save for a later post. But needless to say, Alfonso Guilleard Soriano gets my Golden Goat award of the 2008 playoffs. And with that, I am ending my playoff/post-playoff coverage.

Wait 'til Next Year

Comments (2)

kevin

October 7, 2008 at 11:36 AM

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kevin

October 7, 2008 at 11:49 AM

This time, Cubs fans have no more love left to give
By Scoop Jackson
Page 2
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Updated: October 6, 2008, 1:38 PM ET
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CHICAGO -- No one here saw this coming. Not like this. The elimination of hope. Quick as a Jennifer Aniston relationship, instant as a Wall Street bankruptcy.

One day, the top team in the National League and a favorite to win the World Series for the first time in 100 years. Four days later, gone.

[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Paul Beaty

Cubs fans just can't take it anymore.
This was worse than last year. Worse than 1989. Worse than 1984. Maybe the worst ever.

Because this time the Cubs didn't just lose a series. They lost a part of their soul, and a large majority of their fans. As one Cubs fan said when leaving Bridget McNeill's -- one of the few bars just outside Wrigleyville that was allowed to sell alcohol after the seventh inning of the close-out game -- "Still waters don't run that deep."

The town has officially given up on them. For the first time in 100 loveable losing years, the love affair is over. Some of the things uttered as Alfonso Soriano struck out to end the series cannot be printed on this Web site. Some, Quentin Tarantino couldn't even put in his films.

The ugliest breakup in sports just happened. And that "It's Gonna Happen" mantra has turned into a "It's Never Gonna Happen" belief and a "We Don't Give a $%&* If It Ever Happens" feeling.

Obscene gestures, followed by obscenities. So many obscenities. "I can't think of an obscene word that describes how obscene they played," another ex-fan said, after dropping an f-bomb.

Phone calls and e-mails poured in. One read: "Man, (expletive) the Cubs! Forever! I'm done with them! Sorry sons of (expletive). Unless Mark Cuban buys them. That's the only way. … I hope the (expletive) Cubs burn in hell!"

Or, as lifelong-but-no-longer Cubs fan Andre Curry said, "They need players that can play in October, (expletive) April."

The best obscenity-free headline? In the Trib: "Making A Long Story Short." Oh, how fast the end came.

There was one scene that said it all. An image that will be played over and over, year after year, until this team finally wins a championship. Derrek Lee's batting helmet laying on the grass next to his bat. He had just thrown them both to the ground after striking out in the fifth inning of Game 3.

The way his helmet rolled over, then stopped on its side, it looked dead.

A perfect symbol of what the Cubs just became to this city.

First it was the walks (seven in Game 1), then the errors (four in Game 2), then life. The crowd gave up after James Loney's grand slam in Game 1. A straight repeat of last year, only worse. Ineptness at the plate. Bats heavier than Mississippi mud, and as slow as trying to run in it. Soriano replaced A-Rod as the worst living postseason star (1-for-14, .071 for the series, after going 2-for-14 the postseason before). Aramis Ramirez made Vlad Guerrero's postseason career look Hall-of-Fame-ish (2-for-11, .182 for the series, after going 0-for-12 the postseason before). Kosuke Fukudome was so unproductive (1-for-10 with four strikeouts) and unpopular that his benching meant nothing to the team -- or anyone else in the city.

[+] EnlargeLisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

This image has to make Cubs fans sick.
Outside of Mr. Lee hitting .545 for the series, the team hit .204. In the elimination game alone -- the game in which they could have manned up (like the White Sox did in their first elimination game against the Rays) and acted like they wanted to live for one more day -- they were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

The totals from the past two postseasons: 12 runs in six games. All losses. Overall? A 3-11 record in NLDS history, including three sweeps. A 7-20 record at home in the postseason, the worst mark in all of Major League Baseball. The words "curse" and "choke" are no longer being used. Now it's just known that this is who they are. As Jeff Grapenthien, a fan found at Murphy's Bar after Game 3, said: "We were the best team in the league all year and then we turn into the Triple-A Pirates."

The truth, with no obscenities.

"This one's way worse [than last year], because this team is so much better than what we showed these three games," the Cubs' second baseman, Mark DeRosa, said. "To bust it for six months and win 97 games and have so many good moments, for it to end like this is wrong."

Wrong? Wrong is knowing what this city has gone through for the past century, and not just losing, but not even showing up. The city of Chicago can take an "L" -- losses are easy. But to show no desire, to display no passion, to have no pride (or at least to exude so little of it that an entire city feels you have none) -- that's wrong. That's wronger than wrong.

And the biggest problem -- probably the biggest reason why so many people are now attaching four-letter words as prefixes to " … the Cubs" -- is that there's no answer for how to fix what happened, or to make sure it doesn't happen a third, fourth, fifth, 10th time in a row. On paper, and on the field for 162 games, the Cubs were (and can continue to be) the best team in the National League. There are no glaring holes or weaknesses. Everything is in place. Perfect balance. Perfect team.

Until Game 163.

No team in sports history has ever done this to its fan base before. No other fans have had to endure pain for as long as those who perpetually "wait 'til next year." And for the first time in 36,538 days in Chicago, no one gives a damn about next year. Or the year after that.

Welcome to the new Neverland.


Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPN.com.