Maybe not a gold thong, but the Cubs need a change
CHICAGO -- There's a scene in the 1996 movie "Tin Cup" in which a desperate Roy McAvoy puts all his change in his right pocket, ties his left shoelace in a double knot, turns his hat backward and puts a blue tee behind his right ear in hopes of fixing his golf swing. His next shot, of course, soars down the center of the fairway and McAvoy suddenly becomes the unlikeliest of U.S. Open contenders.
What does this have to do with baseball? Well, after another lackluster offensive performance in a 4-1 loss to the White Sox Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs are desperately searching for something, anything, that can turn their season around.
Even if it is a bit out-of-the-box.
"What about the Jason Giambi gold thong?" Milton Bradley said, referring to the magic underwear the former Yankee credited for his climbing out of a funk last season. "It worked for him. If that would do it, I'd be the first one to run out there and sport the gold thong. Whatever it takes."
Tuesday was doubly frustrating because Bradley went 2-for-4 and appears to be shaking his slump, yet the team failed to score more than one run for the fourth time in six games. The Cubs had runners on first and second with nobody out in the second inning and first and third with nobody out in the fourth and failed to score either time.
The team went 1-2-3 in five different innings and struck out as many times (11) as it hit the ball into the outfield. Not until Aaron Miles' leadoff double in the eighth did the Cubs have an extra-base hit. And at that point, the question wasn't whether they were going to win, but whether they would score. The answer was yes, thanks to the always-energizing run-scoring 6-3 groundout.
It all left Lou Piniella sitting at the table in his postgame news conference with that look of utter confusion that is becoming far too clichéd. Today's explanation wasn't "I don't know, I don't know," but rather a shrug of the shoulders and a "What can I say?"
What Piniella did say was that if guys don't start to hit soon, he will have no choice but to "give someone else a chance." Given the recent turnarounds of Bradley and Derrek Lee and the limited options at third base with Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list, one can only assume the comment was targeted for Alfonso Soriano, who is 1-for-16 on the current home stand and 14-for-his-last-99 (.141).[+] EnlargeJoe Robbins/Getty Images When discussing the Cubs' hitting woes, Alfonso Soriano isn't far from the conversation.
After the game, Soriano agreed something needs to be done to jump-start the offense. But he wasn't thrilled about the idea of some Piniella-issued clear-your-head time.
"I get surprised if he gives me a day off because I don't like a day off," Soriano said. "If [Piniella] moves me down in the lineup, that's part of the game. He's the manager and he has to do what he has to do."
If Piniella were to sit Soriano, he could insert minor league sensation Jake Fox in left field and Micah Hoffpauir in right, shifting Bradley to center. But that would leave the team with a porous outfield defense. Whatever Piniella decides, Bradley said he sympathizes with his manager.
"I feel for Lou because he's doing all that he can do," Bradley said. "All you can do is write the lineup out. He shouldn't have to go through everything he's going through."
About the only good news that came out of the Cubs clubhouse on Wednesday was that Ramirez, out since May with a separated shoulder, will soon begin taking batting practice and if all goes well, could rejoin the team in a few weeks.
In the meantime, it's time for some of that out-of-the-box thinking. The Cubs have already fired hitting coach Gerald Perry, the same man who led the team to a major league-best 855 runs last year. So maybe it's time for the gold thong. Or the tried-and-true slump-busting technique of former Cubs first baseman Mark Grace, who would spend a night with the most unattractive woman he could find in an effort to get his mind off his struggles.
Or maybe the Cubs need something a little more family-friendly, like black cleats, shaved heads or a team field trip to find some four-leaf clovers. Maybe they need a sports psychologist. A priest. Or some of that magic dust former manager Dusty Baker once spread on the infield before a 2003 series against the Cardinals.
Or maybe it's even simpler than that. Maybe Lou needs to show some life and go on a tirade. Maybe Carlos Zambrano needs to slug Geovany Soto in the dugout tunnel. Maybe Lee needs to charge the mound and incite a bench-clearing brawl. If this were the movies, you know Lee would take the team for a night on the town, the Cubs would get in a barroom brawl, bond, and then return to Wrigley launching balls onto Waveland.
Or maybe, just maybe, everyone should just take a deep breath, put the gold leopard-print underwear away and listen to the sage words of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
"People in Chicago, just relax. Quit panicking. Worry about something else," Guillen said. "Worry about the family, the kids going back to school and having good grades. Don't worry about the Cubs. They'll be fine."
Easy for him to say.
Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@ESPN3.com.
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