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Wednesday, July 21

Good morning.  I am Mr. Sloth, and this is the visitation and wake of the Chicago Cubs' pennant chances for 2004.  Please note that no expense was spared, even using the solid copper "Tribune" casket for its eternal rest.
I do apologize for what appeared to be a revival yesterday, but ultimately it was a false alarm.  They say that sometimes the deceased exhibit "pangs of regret" that are really unfortunate side effects of rigor mortis, the petrifying of the corpse.  Please be assured that today's service will be a solemn event.
Seating is in the back.  Thank you.  I have been asked to aid with the grieving by attributing the cause of death.
Ah, but will it really be that simple?  Let's look at some of the complicating factors.
Venial stupidity:
There was the unnecessary headfirst slide by Aramis Ramirez, which resulted in the pulled groin muscle that knocked him out in the most inopportune time.  At the same time, Todd Hollandsworth fouled a ball off of his shin, a shin which was so profoundly damaged three years ago, that nerves were shattered and he missed a season of play.  Why no shin guard, Todd?  Wouldn't Sam-Me lend you his?
More critical stupidity:
Must Moises Alou swing at the first pitch everytime?  For that matter, how about the rest of the team?  Ever heard of a "pitch count"?  The other club abides by it, too.  If you make the other pitcher throw more, he will get tired, and less effective, unless he has some sort of ugly nickname, like "Unit".
Corey Patterson, you learned your lesson too late.  Laying down bunts is a good thing when you are fast, and hitting line drives is even better.  Please don't forget it.  As for you, Carlos Zambrano, if you came up to ME and pumped your fist, I would either giggle or shake my head.  However, it seems to have a different effect on umpires, teammates, and most importantly, opposing batters.  We love your fire, and your balls, but chill.
Arrogance and conceit.
Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.  Men, if I may use this term loosely?  You were both scanned, examined, and x-ray'ed by the top names in the Sports Medicine profession.  Nobody could find any structural damage on either one of you.
You are being paid multi-millions to PITCH!  Pitching is hard.  It is unnatural.  It hurts.  So does ditch digging, hammering nails, even sitting in a car on the Eisenhower for three hours every day strains the muscles.  Gibson hurt.  Ryan, Fergie, Lefty, Seaver.  Cy Young.  The Big Train.  They all hurt.  Why the fuck do you think they invented whirlpool tubs, ice packs, Nuprin, Vicodin, and whiskey? 
"Oh, well, we're too VALUABLE to perform with dissss-comfort...."
Jeez, I'm sorry, guys.  Next time, why don't you ask your husbands to step in for you?
Lethal stupidity:
Jim Hendry, you assembled an organization with both cavernous holes and rotting surpluses.  You have no leadoff man, no catching depth to speak of, and very little position depth in the minors.  You have committed the most Cublike of sins, over-valuing your own players.  You have too many second basemen, because you over-valued Mark the Grud, leaving Todd Walker to pollute the waters with his (understandable) discontent.  He has also over-valued Captain Tightpants, and Sling Blade in the pen.  Not to mention the biggest, most egregious mis-calculation of them all, namely the has-been needle-junkie who plays right field.
On the other hand, you have starting pitching stockpiled from here to Boise, and it's rotting on the vine.  While other teams trade for mid-season needs, you stand by, waiting for LaTroy Hawkins to put his cape on.  Hawkins is a fine the 7th and 8th innings.  He lacks sack...he told you as much several times, while proven closers toil in obscurity in various forgotten corners of the AL. 

Mortal Stupidity

Wendell Kim, you're a near-sighted little squint, and I hate your fucking guts...ahem.  Sorry.  I guess it isn't YOUR fault that you have to keep shuffling over to the 3rd base coaches' box every inning.  That blame would fall squarely on Dusty Baker.  
You fraud.  Tax fraud.  You phony flim-flam side-show Harold Hill stick-chewing matchbox-playing  stoner!!   I can see now why the guy in SF cut you loose.  You take credit for everything, and you do NOTHING!  You keep running Kim out there, keep running Hawkins out there, keep writing Sosa's and Alou's names in the middle of the order, even though they couldn't hit water in the middle of the ocean!  You don't motivate, yell, instruct, or even stay awake for the games.  You believe in "treating them like men" and letting everyone do his own thing, because "doing their own thing got them to the majors". 
Doing their own thing has doomed us to failure since 1945, and it fucking killed us again this year!
Finally, sheer, unadulterated disease.
The word "quit" isn't in Sammy Sosa's vocabulary.  Let me point out some other key words and phrases he doesn't know about.
Situational baseball.  Teamwork.  Humility.  Hitting the cutoff man.  Shortening your swing.  Making contact.  Taking one for the team.  Sacrifice.  Compromise.  Adjustment.  Honesty.  Loyalty.  Intelligence.  Fair play.  The rule about cork in your bat.  Not showing up the opponents.  Appropriateness.  Mental toughness.  Winning the big game.  Doing WHATEVER it takes to win.  Earning the $20M he cashes every year.  Giving back to his community. 
Winning the World Series.
For a man who is one of the five highest paid players in the game, he has truly sucked this year.  When it is painfully obvious to even the most casual observers of the game that it would be most prudent to cut down your swing to simply make contact with the ball in key game situations, the Arrogant, Egotistical Sammy Sosa knows that it is best to wind up his entire being, then UNCOIL with such force that his spit flies, his muscles tear and his lungs flatten, all the while missing the ball and squandering yet another opportunity for his team and his fans.
I would trade you now for a loaf of bread.  I would cut you loose without another second's thought.  The team and the fans would be better off with Jose Macias or Jason Dubois in right field, for more balls would be caught, more runners would not die on the basepaths, and more headaches would be avoided from not having to hear shitty salsa music at jet engine decibels in the locker room.
You, amongst others, are most responsbile for the death of the Cubs of 2004.
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