Despite Soriano injury, Cubs fans should be happy

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Dave
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Come on, Cub fans. You didn't expect it to be easy, did you? No one should have to tell you that stuff happens.

Take a deep breath. Think pleasant thoughts. This is your year. One injury isn't going to change that.

You've waited a century, so what's a little angst among friends? Having some bumps in the road will make the champagne taste that much sweeter in October.

Sure, you've lost Alfonso Soriano for a few weeks with a broken bone. He's a terrific offensive player, but don't forget how you were complaining about him a couple of weeks ago. It's not the first time the Cubs have played without him this season. They were 10-5 during his first stint on the disabled list.

Besides, your team is leading the National League in runs. Your team also is leading the NL in ERA. More on that later.

Take a look at the standings. The Cubs have the best record in baseball. That's no fluke. One player isn't going to dismantle everything Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella have constructed.

You were close to burying most of your competition in the National League Central when Soriano was injured Wednesday night. Only the Cardinals are still within shouting distance, and look at the trouble they've got.

While the Cubs were putting Soriano on the disabled list, the Cardinals were placing both their best hitter (Albert Pujols) and their No. 1 starter (Adam Wainwright) on the shelf. Both could be gone a month.

The Cardinals have 11 players on the disabled list in all, including nine pitchers (five starters). They've got the game's best manager and a great core, but losing Pujols and Wainwright changes everything.

The Brewers? Take a walk through their clubhouse after a game. There are so many bad vibes in that place it might explode. The Brewers are going nowhere.

As for the Astros, Reds and Pirates, the Reds are getting more interesting by the day, but they simply dug themselves too big a hole. So go ahead and believe, Cub fans.

You're at the intersection of destiny and opportunity. Enjoy the ride. This team is spectacularly fun to watch, and with Wrigley Field packed, you're going to have a great summer. No team has a better chance to win.

Let's begin with the lineup. The Cubs have a deep one. They may not have the individual firepower of some other clubs, but they're solid top to bottom. The Cubs feed off one another. Baseball people call it "lineup chemistry." In other words, they believe in one another.

Five Cubs are hitting above .300 with runners in scoring position, led by Reed Johnson at .375. Soriano and Derrek Lee provide power, Ryan Theriot speed and Kosuke Fukudome a little bit of everything.

Upon learning of Soriano's injury, Piniella said: "It's a shame, but those things happen in baseball. We have a farm system, and we'll utilize it. It's unfortunate, but what can you do?"

As for the rotation, it's built for October baseball. That's presuming Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are going good when the weather turns cold.

The rest of the rotation has been nothing special, but Ted Lilly has two nice starts in June and Jason Marquis just had a solid outing at Dodger Stadium.

The bullpen is deep, deep, deep. Kerry Wood has converted 14 of his last 15 save chances. Carlos Marmol throws 100 mph. Scott Eyre has strung together 31 straight scoreless appearances.

If this analysis doesn't sound like the 1927 Yankees, the Cubs don't have to be. The Diamondbacks are coming back to the pack. The Mets are mediocre. Only the Phillies seem seriously capable of challenging the Cubs.

Plenty can change between now and October. Plenty has happened to the Cubs over the years. Real Cub fans can mark time by catastrophic defeats.

Even the most pessimistic Cub fans probably are starting to get a different feeling about this team. There's a toughness about it, which probably begins with the manager. There seems to be some magic.

The Cubs won their 10th straight home game on Wednesday. They feel they can overcome any lead, any injury, even one to Soriano. This is what you've been waiting for, Cub fans. See you in the fall.

http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/vi ... p?t=422691



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