Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Cubs, Barrett Reach New Low

Wow, it’s been a crazy few days at the Cell. Michael Barrett made a complete ass out of himself on Saturday but has gotten a free ride from the media. I guess MacFail and Hendry’s dressing down of Cubs beat writer Paul Sullivan had the desired effect.

As everyone who does not drink the blue kool-aid knows, Barrett got off the sucker punch of the year on A.J. Pierzynski. The only instigating AJ might have done was slap home plate which Barrett admittedly did not even see.

I’m not sure why Barrett wasn’t crucified for his weak rationalization that does not make any sense. First, AJ did not intentionally “bump” Barrett with his shoulder, as Barrett was still on the ground as AJ attempted to walk by him to retrieve his helmet. Pierzynski's shoulder hit Barrett as Barrett jumped off the ground to grab AJ. As for Barrett stating that he thought AJ made an aggressive move towards him, then why did he tell AJ “I didn’t have the ball, bitch”. If AJ’s move towards the Cubs dugout was the reason for the violence that ensued, Barrett would have said something like “back off, bitch”. But he didn’t say that because he was upset about getting his ass pancaked in front of 40,000 fans, not about AJ walking towards the Cubs dugout.

Barrett was embarrassed and humiliated and the only thing he could think to do was sucker punch AJ. My two year old has more mature instincts. Barrett can’t handle himself in a pressure situation so it’s not surprising, in a panic, he reacted with violence.

But instead of being called out by the press, Barrett has actually been given props for being a stand-up guy. This despite the fact that he does not regret what he did (except, of course, for all the childern who saw it!) and still tries rationalize it as somehow being AJ’s fault.

What did we learn from this incident? Barrett has zero baseball smarts. It was perfectly legitimate for AJ to run him over with or without the ball. You block the plate and this is what happens. We also learned, yet again, Barrett chokes hard when the pressure is on.

Last August, against Philadelphia, he let the winning run score when he threw back to third too soon on a rundown, letting the runner quickly turn around and easily reach home. That game effectively ended the Cubs playoff hopes.

Last April, with the bases loaded, a ball was hit to Aramis Ramirez who stepped on third for one out and threw home for the second out. Barrett did make the tag but then in a panic threw back to third to get the runner who had been already forced out. Unfortunately, Ramirez had vacated the bag and the throw sailed into left allowing the other two runners to advance and eventually score.

In 2003, Barrett let a run score when he didn’t know how to handle a pop-up that dropped after the infield fly rule was called. Barry Bonds hit the pop-up with the bases loaded. After retrieving the ball and stepping on home plate (even though no force was in effect) Barrett then ignored the runner on third, one Neifi Perez, allowing him to score the tying run.

Most people learn the infield fly rule in little league but I guess Barrett learned with the Expos. Although I wouldn’t bet against it happening again. Barrett said at the time, “I stepped on the plate. It was just a wacky play. I have had times in my career when I was embarrassed and that was the most embarrassing. I’ve just got to learn from it. “

But he doesn’t learn. The mistakes and embarrassments continue. Luckily for him, he plays for a team so bad, his horrid play blends into the background of a season that has reached new depths for the Northside club.