Well, here we are again Cubs fans. You know the drill by now. A key player gets hurt, Mark O’ Neal says something in the post-game press conference that gives us false hope, and then the ESPN Bottom Line confirms what we’d feared all along. Last year it happened to Todd Walker (knee), Nomar (groin), Mark Prior (elbow), and Aramis Ramirez (hamstring). That’s not including the oft-injured Kerry Wood (shoulder/elbow/arm/back).
And last night it happened with Derrek Lee, the best position player the Cubs have had since Dawson and Sandberg. After the game, we were told Derrek Lee had a "sprain" and that x-rays were "inconclusive." Naively, I figured Lee would miss a week or so. I fell for it again. A lot of us did. And ESPN’s Bottom Line set us straight for about the 10th time in two years. Lee has two broken bones in his wrist. Apparently they didn’t x-ray him yesterday night with an x-ray machine, or they probably would have seen that.
There were tons of indications that Lee’s injury was more than just a sprain. The post-game locker room scene was described in a few articles as "somber." Dusty mentioned that he would be praying for Derrek. You don’t pray for strains. This morning Buster Olney on his ESPN.com blog wrote that inconclusive x-rays are a bad omen. He’s right about 98% of the time when it comes to anything baseball related. Tim Kurkjan stopped in on Mike and Mike in the Morning to discuss Lee’s injury and it’s impact to the Cubs. Turns out Lee’s injury impacts the Cubs negatively. And finally, Cubs.com didn’t post any positive news all day. If Derrek Lee really had a sprain, the Cubs front office would have rushed that news to the media and the fans.
But despite all the signs, I refused to believe that Derrek Lee has a broken wrist. Yet, he we are again. Same place, different year. A Cubs player falls to the ground holding a body part, and we hold our collective breath.
Lee’s injury cripples the Cubs. With suspect pitching, this team can’t produce enough offense to keep pace in the NL Central. The Brewers are better, the Astros have started hot, the Cardinals will do well again, and the Reds own us. We’ve gone from legitimate playoff contender to slightly better than Pittsburgh.
At least we still have a healthy Freddie Bynum.
See you guys next year.