Dempster's Molotov cocktail | Bleader

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dempster's Molotov cocktail

Posted By on 10.01.08 at 11:30 PM

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Ryan Dempster has a pitching motion in which he appears to screw the ball into his glove, as if he were twisting the top on a Molotov cocktail he's about to throw. Did he ever throw one Wednesday--right into the Cubs' dugout. The wind was blowing in at Wrigley Field for the first playoff game with the Dodgers, and before it got started manager Lou Piniella had warned: "Both teams are going to have to play good defense, and you're going to have to stay away from the walks." But Dempster put seven Dodgers on in a mere four and two-thirds innings, including walking the bases loaded in front of James Loney's fifth-inning grand slam. That more than erased Mark DeRosa's two-run homer in the second and led to the Cubs' 7-2 loss. Yet what's most galling is the way Dempster served it up. He had loaded the bases in the third, too, but squirmed out of it by not giving in to Andre Ethier--with a 1-2 count, he threw two split-finger fastballs in the dirt for balls, then threw another, and Ethier swung and missed to end the inning. Having walked the bases loaded with two out to face Loney, Dempster again got ahead in the count 1-2 only to serve up a fastball that drifted out over the inner half of the plate. Loney lined it into the center-field bleachers, and the Dodgers never looked back.

This caused much Cubbie angst--"No, not again!"--and left at least some of us wondering who was in charge of the public-address jukebox between innings. Not long after Loney's slam, the Wrigley PA played the Foundations' "Build Me Up Buttercup" (lyrics: "Why do you build me up, buttercup, just to let me down?"). Then, before the Cubs batted in the bottom of the eighth, Eddie Vedder's "All the Way" resounded through the stadium. What was written as a paean to eternal hope and recorded as an "It's our time" sing-along suddenly sounded more like a dirge--someday, not this year--and no one sang along. 

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