For the first time all season, the Cubs have won three games in a row and even though it was at the expense of the Astros, the worst team in baseball, the angler does not quibble about a fish that jumps into his boat, he simply appreciates his good fortune.
The pond gets a little bigger this week with stops at Milwaukee and St. Louis, teams with actual postseason hopes who might view the Cubs as so much chum on which to fatten their own records. In return, the Cubs are dangling some of their expendable talent as trade bait before Sunday’s deadline of non-waiver transactions. Whether they can hook into a big one depends on where they make their casts.
Similar big market clubs, the Mets and Dodgers, also find themselves out of their divisional races and are looking to lure buyers into their nets and dislodge unwanted barnacles like Carlos Beltran and Hiroki Kuroda. The Cubs counter with outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, reliever John Grabow and perhaps, third baseman Aramis Ramirez. No reasonable offers will be refused, one can assume.
Like last year, the Cubs’ Mike Quade is auditioning for a new lease on his managerial life over these final two months of the regular season. He is owed at least one more year on his contract, but whether he will actually have to show up for work in 2012 depends on how his team fares over the next eight weeks. Perhaps, their recent trifecta against lowly Houston can be parlayed into future winnings and relieve the debt the Cubs have accumulated over the first four months of a spoiled season.
The role of spoiler is again Quade’s and the Cubs’ part to play for the remainder of their summer season and while it was somewhat charming the first time around, this repeat performance has the odor of flop sweat to it. Vacation tourists still flock to Wrigley Field for the ritual of it all, but crowds and accompanying revenue will likely shrink as the days reach September once again.
The Hall of Fame induction weekend saw front office legend Pat Gillick accept his bronze bust into Cooperstown. His rumored dealings with Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts to come aboard as team president have been publicly put down by both parties, each protesting a bit too much to make their denials totally believable. Gillick claims to be good friends with current general manager Jim Hendry and contends he does not know Ricketts personally or that he has even spoken with the man. Approaching his 74th birthday, the role of eye-batting coquette does not suit Gillick well at all.
The trade deadline will put some Cubs’ rumors to rest, but others will continue to swirl around Wrigley Field like the feeding seagulls that flock there on a late afternoon looking for scraps. What leftovers remain for Cubs’ fans will have to feed their hopes once again as they are already looking ahead to another next year.