Dale Sveum did his time in Red Sox Nation. But with someone dropping off a goat’s head at Wrigley Field, the Cubs manager got asked this question: Did you know what you were getting into?
“It’s just obviously an unfortunate fan doing something pretty stupid,” Sveum before his team blew a five-run lead in Thursday’s 7-6 loss to the San Francisco Giants. “I spent two years in Boston, so you have a pretty good idea of the passion of the fans and the willingness to want to win.”
This is a police matter now, and it comes at a time when the negotiations between chairman Tom Ricketts, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Tom Tunney are far more interesting than anything that happens on the field.
Closing a deal on the $500 million stadium renovation/hotel project matters far more to the franchise’s future–-and the business side’s bottom line–-than any single win or loss for a 3-6 team.
The clubhouse didn’t quite know what to make of the mysterious package dropped off at Gate K on Wednesday, just before a game against the Milwaukee Brewers was canceled because of rain.
“Very original since it’s only been around for 60, 70 years,” said pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who still likes to wear his “(Bleep) the Goat” T-shirt. “You'd think they’d come up with something different.”
Or, as first baseman Anthony Rizzo said: “It’s just dumb.”
Rizzo felt like this would be a chance to make a statement against the defending World Series champs. He had helped stake the Cubs an early lead by drilling his third two-run homer of this young season into the center-field seats.
By the end, the skies had turned an ominous gray covered by a layer of fog. An announced crowd of 25,460 had left rows upon rows of empty seats in seemingly every section.
With the tying run on second base, Rizzo almost jumped back and watched Giants closer Sergio Romo throw the ball by him for a called strike three. Game over.
Rizzo screamed and shook his head and his arms went into spasms, which is about as emotional as you've seen him in a Cubs uniform since his promotion from Triple-A Iowa last summer.
“I just disagreed,” Rizzo said. “He made a good pitch, though. That’s the situation we want to be in there. I just didn’t come through.”
The frustration built throughout the 40-degree afternoon. Starlin Castro booted a groundball with two outs in the fourth inning, opening the door for a four-run rally.
Castro–-the All-Star shortstop with three errors through nine games-–again said: “It can’t happen again.”
“That one is basically just not understanding that the pitcher (Ryan Vogelsong) hit the ball and you had plenty of time,” Sveum said. “You didn’t have to overcharge the ball and overcook that whole play.”
And then pitcher Scott Feldman was again slow to cover first base, forcing second baseman Brent Lillibridge to hold onto the ball and setting up Pablo Sandoval’s two-run double into left field that suddenly made it a 5-4 game.
As Sveum said: “That ain’t acceptable.”
There may not be any “Godfather” scenes coming, but the manager is clearly frustrated: “You spend hours and hours on it for 45 days of spring training and then to have the lapses in games when it counts and it costs you games…”
Sveum didn’t really finish the thought. But this is what he got himself into here.