Phil Pash’s Simply Sports

Cubs’ collapse is worse than ’69

This Cubs collapse was worse than The Great Cubs Collapse of 1969.

This year they went into the final week of the season looking good for the National League wild-card spot. But they fell on their collective, underachieving faces, or their backsides if you prefer. The same things that plagued them all season long let them down again.

Nonexistent relief pitching and zero clutch hitting. Sure, they can boom home runs, but homers don’t always win games. Just ask the Cubs.

And a billy goat, Steve Bartman or WGN broadcaster Steve Stone had absolutely nothing to do with the meltdown. The Cubs blew it, and now they want to point fingers at everyone but themselves. Sure, they had injuries, but great teams, even good teams, find a way to win, anyway.

So quit whining. The Cubs blew it again, and once again, the faithful (3 million plus for home games for the first time) can only say, “Wait ‘til next year”—the slogan that should be carved in stone above the main Wrigley Field entrance.

This was worse than ’69 because it happened so quickly. In ’69, the Cubs went into September with a 4.5-game lead over the Mets. When it was all over, the Mets won the NL East by eight games over the Cubs.

I said last week that if the Cubs didn’t win the NL wild card, the Sept. 25 loss to the Mets—4-3 in 11 innings after the Cubs blew a 3-0 lead in the ninth—would be key. One loss, or win, doesn’t make a season, but that was pivotal.

Including that loss, they dropped two in a row, won one, then lost five straight before closing Oct. 3 with a 10-8 win. So they lost seven of eight in the final days of the season. That’s a monumental collapse when they had to win.

Now what? If they can find someone who wants them, trade Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou, rebuild the bullpen making certain LaTroy Hawkins is gone, trade one of the starters (I would say Matt Clement) and get some guys who can hit in the clutch.

I would keep Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Patterson, Derrek Lee and maybe Michael Barrett, Nomar Garciaparra, Mark Grudzielanek and a couple others.

But the time is past due for a major roster shakeup. No World Series appearance since 1945 and no World Series title since 1908 is long enough to “wait ‘til next year.”

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Wishes Come True: Cancer survivor Kyle Butts of Roscoe will remember the 2004 season. He got to be a bat boy at the Cubs-Pirates game Sept. 14 in Wrigley Field, a 3-2 Cubs victory on a 12th-inning homer by Corey Patterson.

WTVO-TV-17 reported Butts was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in March 2002. He had a lump in his chest behind his heart. “I had chemo and radiation treatments,” said Butts.

Michael and Dana Butts, his parents, weren’t sure what the future held for their son. They relied on their church and prayers for support. In the meantime, they got in touch with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Kyle made known his wish to be a Cubs’ bat boy.

That was two years ago when he filled out the paper work. In early September, he found out his wish finally was coming true, said TV-17. His entire family got to attend the game.

So two wishes came true—Kyle’s to be a bat boy and his parents’ for his recovery. Kyle now is cancer free and healthy, said TV-17.

“We did get our wish,” said Kyle’s mother. “We all wanted him to get well, so we all got our wish.”

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This Old Cub on DVD: This Old Cub, the documentary about former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo’s battle with diabetes—made by his son, Jeff Santo—has been released on DVD.

The film played in Rockford in late August-early September, and the DVD now is available for $29.95 at the Old Chicago restaurant-bar at 6280 E. State St., Rockford. Call Joshua Binning at (815) 227-4040 for more info.

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