It's been a long run, folks. A long, obnoxious, pointless waste of time, money, and energy. We've suffered through double switches galore, through Neifi Perez at leadoff, through any Enrique Wilson, through Tony Womack (twice!), through Jose Macias, and, most recently, through Freddie Bynum. We've watched our former heroes Mark Prior and Kerry Wood get reduced to brittle shambles of their former selves. We've watched a collapse of monumental proportions. We've broken televisions and radios. We've watched formerly great relievers (Latroy Hawkins, Mike Remlinger) misused, miscast, and discarded. We've wept. We've lived and died with the Cubs through four years of futility.
I remember, after the Cubs lost the NLCS in 2003, thinking that they had blown their chance. They wasted some brilliant playoff pitching (aside from Game 7 and the last 2 innings of Game 6) from Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. The Sosa game-tying homerun in Game 1. The Aramis grand slam off Dontrelle Willis. Hell, the Alex Gonzalez homer in Atlanta. Didn't even Doug Glanville's skeleton hit a triple in the playoffs? The Cubs seemed destined to win that year. How great would it have been? The three longest-suffering franchises in baseball would have broken their droughts 1-2-3, from 2003 through 2005. It would have been a story for the ages. But, in typical Cub fashion, they f@#$ed it up. A lot of fans blame Alex Gonzalez. Many blame the foul ball, Farnsworth, or even Prior. But, let's face it. No one was more blameworthy in 2003 than Dusty.
Dusty is the one who rode the young Zambrano all season, beating him into the ground to the point that he was pitching on fumes in the playoffs. Dusty was the one who left Prior in with a eleven run lead in the fifth inning of the Game 2 blowout of Florida (I screamed at you through my TV when Prior ran out for the 6th inning, Dusty, and I chugged a bottle of Pepto Bismal when he came out for the 7th). Dusty was the one who didn't go to Clement out of the bullpen at any point during the playoffs. Dusty was the one who made so many moronic decisions during the year that it took until the Saturday double header against the Pirates for the Cubs to clinch. Let's be honest. The division should have been wrapped up a week earlier, and our starters should have gotten the rest they so desperately needed (Why the f@#$ did he keep running Shawn Estes out there to get beat like a drum?).
And the worst part is that Dusty will make you feel like it's your fault for hating him for it. He'll say, "Aw, shucks, dude. I guess it's not in the cards." He'll sprinkle his magic powder, and he'll tell you that he had no one in the bullpen for Game 2. No one in the bullpen could hold a ten run lead for four innings, Dusty? You don't expect us to be stupid enough to believe that, right? Veres and Guthrie gave up a hit and a walk in their two innings of relief. You couldn't have stretched them out a little more?
Dusty would have you believe that it's Matt Clement's fault that he didn't pitch in the playoffs. He claims that he asked Clement if he wanted to pitch, and Clement said he didn't feel comfortable doing that. In Dusty's world, that makes it Clement's fault. Well, f@#$ you, Dusty. You're the manager of the ballclub. Act like it. It's not Clement's call. You know how you manage a club? You walk up to Matt Clement during the 3rd inning of Game 2 when it's already an 8-run rout and say, "Get your ass out of the dugout and down in the bullpen. You're going into this game. And make me a goddamn sandwich while you're down there. You know how I like it. Everyone who ate my crappy sandwich during that Subway promotion knows how I like it." And if Clement complains, kick his ass out of the dugout. You weren't there to make friends, Dusty. You were there to win, and you blew it. Clement should have been ready to go in Game 2 and, since you refused to bring him in then, he sure as hell should have been ready for Game 6 and 7. That's on you, Dusty. Not Matt Clement.
Your stupid loyalty to bad baseball players was staggering, Dusty. You kept trotting Shawn Estes out there, when everyone in Chicago knew that Juan Cruz was a better option. You let Mark Bellhorn rot on the bench so you could get at-bats to Lenny "I'm-the-all-time-leader-in-pinch-hits-because-everyone-but-Dusty-knows-I'm-not-good-enough-to-start" Harris. We should have wrapped up the division in the middle of the week, Dusty. And you should have rested Z, Prior, Wood, Clement, and your entire bullpen. Instead, you wore them down like dogs. Wood and Prior were heroic in the playoffs, and you wasted it.
Even this season, Dusty, you did nothing but make excuses. You blamed the injuries to your "horses." You blamed day games. It was everyone's fault but yours, Dusty. My parents taught me at a very young age to stand up and hold myself accountable for my mistakes, but you were never man enough to do that, and I don't think you ever will be.
I knew, lying in my bed the night of Game 7, that, as long as you were their manager, the Cubs would never get as close to the World Series as they had that night. Good riddance to you, Dusty. I hope someday you learn to hold yourself accountable for your own actions, but I'm glad that someday won't occur with you in a Cubs uniform.