The Ump isn’t ready to ring them up yet, but his arm is pulling back. The Fatalist roots for the Viagra guy, and The Elitist stalks Manny all over town. The Girl has one wish, and The Delusionist takes the blame. Here, our analyses of NLDS Game 2


I think I get it now. The Cubs are playing possum. Because over the course of 97 victories in 2008, this was a team that pitched superbly, caught the ball and threw it accurately, hit the ball on the screws and scored runs in bunches. Its most consistent starting pitcher never once walked seven batters in a start, as Ryan Dempster did last night. Its infield never once pulled off such an off-key impersonation of the E (as in error) Street Band. No, these Cubs are definitely doing the rope-a-dope. I question the logic of this strategy. But I must admit, they’re executing it flawlessly. Boy, do I feel sorry for the Dodgers when the real Cubs come to play on Saturday.


"We just didn’t make as many mistakes as them," said the Dodgers’ Russell Martin after the game, explaining why they won 10-3. That’s like the iceberg saying it didn’t make as many mistakes as the Titanic. The Dodgers could have started Frank McCourt in center field and the Cubs still would have found a way to boot this one. This year was supposed to be different, but it doesn’t matter how good they are in the regular season, the A.B. (After Bartman) Cubbies have been outscored 50-17 in the playoffs. Those poor, sad dopes in at Wrigley: paying hundreds to attend its team’s funeral. Man, I wish I’d been there.


This loss was my fault. I was certain the Cubs would prevail, so I tuned in early to catch the vice presidential debate. CNN had armed a roomful of voters with "perception meters" to instantly gauge their feelings about Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. It was dumb, but I was glued. When I switched over to the Cubs, somehow the perception meter went with me. The Cubs booted the ball and gave up five runs, and the meter went south. Only one thing to do: Shake it off, take two in L.A., and come back to Wrigley for Game 5.


I’m pretty sure I saw Manny Ramirez eating lunch Thursday at Bandera on Michigan Avenue. He had two big guys with him. One of them wore a Yankees cap. I thought Manny looked good. Calm. Loose. He treated his waitstaff kindly. It seemed a little bit odd to me that he wasn’t anxious. Maybe he didn’t know the Cubs were going to have Fukodome in the starting lineup again. That’s the only explanation I can think of.


Is the game over yet? For the last few innings, I’ve been rooting for the gray-haired guy in the Viagra commercial who bolts the wedding with his blonde trophy wife. (Impolite, yes, but at least he had a plan. Lou? Lou?) With a tough pitcher known to be hard on right-handed hitters, why not Fontenot? Hell, why not Pie? Where’s the leadership, the surprise—you know, like calling for the hit-and-run in the top of the second inning, as one manager did? Actually, Lou had a plan: He asked Leon Durham to tutor the infielders on taking ground balls.


I wish I’d never met baseball.


The Ump, having good eyesight, sees the obvious: that someone snuck in before this series, kidnapped the Cubs and replaced them with the Washington Nationals. A team full of pitchers who can’t throw strikes, fielders who treat the ball like a hot coal and hitters who never met a pitcher’s pitch they didn’t like. Not ready to ring them up yet, but the arm is pulling back. By the way, the called strike to end the game? No.


Supposed to be blogging Dodgers-Cubs, but instead watch the VP debate. Felt I’d made a mistake for the ages. Tuned into the game and discovered the true meaning of egregious errors. Even in losing, Zambrano got a bigger round of applause than either candidate. Hadn’t seen this dominating performance by a Billingsley since June sent Beav to bed without dinner. At least he was spared the metaphor of the kitchen table and the dawn of a second century of lovable futility.

What is your assessment of the game? Post a comment below.