Weather or not.
That was one of the topics kicked around Monday night with Cubs manager Mike Quade. A steady mist blew in from Lake Michigan and the game-time temperature was a raw 43 degrees as the Cubs got set to take on the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field.
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Things didn't get any prettier from there as the Cubs fell 5-3. Along the way, they committed 4 errors, including 3 in the second inning by shortstop Starlin Castro. Starting pitcher Matt Garza (0-3) committed a throwing error of his own in the Rockies' 2-run fifth.
Whether the weather had anything to do with the sloppy play is open to question. But sloppy it was even as the Cubs outhit Colorado 11-4.
"That might be the understatement of the year," said manager Mike Quade, whose team fell to 10-12. "We had a good first inning. We got good pitching. And the rest of it was awful. If you're going to get beat, you would at least not like to gift-wrap the (darn) thing for the opposition. That's bad.
"It goes right back to (it's) great to have talent, great to have exciting kids, great to play like a son of a gun. But if you can't execute, you can't make plays, you can't execute offensively, you can't tack on a few runs after a big first, you're going to get beat. You're going to get beat on a regular basis. It's my job to make sure we do that. We played to the conditions. And they didn't. This is our place. We've got to find a way to play better baseball here. I don't care if it's raining. I don't care if it's snowing or what's going on."
Major-league managers and sports people in general have to be very careful when talking about the weather lest they run the risk of sounding like excuse makers.
True, the weather has been brutal so far at Wrigley Field this spring, but two teams have to play in it. Wrigley provided a home advantage in 2008, when the Cubs went 55-26 there. But with a preponderance of home games this April, all they've been able to do is hang around .500.
"Hanging around is what we're doing right now," said manager Mike Quade. "I'd like not to be hanging around. I'd like to be 5, 6 over (. 500). But I think I understand the reasons that we're not. Weather may play into that a little bit."
One player the Cubs need to heat up is first baseman Carlos Pena. He is hitting. 169 and has no homers.
Pena has been outhomered now by second baseman Darwin Barney. The rookie hit his first major-league home run in the Cubs' 3-run first inning.
However, the Cubs gave it all back in the second, thanks to 3 errors by Castro. Two of the errors were fielding miscues and the third was a wild throw. Before Castro, the last Cub to commit 3 errors in one inning was pitcher Jaime Navarro on Aug. 18, 1996.
"If you're in a hurry with a wet pig, you're in trouble," Quade said.
Garza blamed himself for his own error.
"We lost tonight because I couldn't throw the ball to first base," he said, taking the heat off Castro. "If I throw the ball to first base, it's a 3-3 ballgame. We're still playing."