Saturday, baseball once again was the proverbial game of inches when Juan Pierre slid around the attempted tag by Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro at second to steal his 26th base and get himself in scoring position.
Sure enough, two batters later, Paul Konerko collected his second RBI single of the increasingly soggy afternoon, the run standing up to decide the White Sox' 2-1 victory over the reeling Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Make fun of the Sox all you want, but they can run their way to victories if they match their legs to just enough hitting and gutty starting pitching of the type Mark Buehrle displayed. Alex Rios has 19 steals. Andruw Jones has seven.
The Sox are second in the AL in steals with 63. They'd be tied with the Mets for NL leadership if they had played in the senior circuit.
The Cubs? Third-to-last in the NL with 30 steals (almost half of them by one man, Ryan Theriot, who has 14). Amazingly, the Giants and Phillies had swiped fewer (26 apiece) going into Saturday's action.
The lack of any kind of action on the basepaths kills the Cubs. On a day they got 10 hits, all but one singles, they could not advance more than a base at a time. Buehrle squelched two rallies with consecutive strikeouts after the first two Cubs had reached via singles. No men in motion gives the advantage to the pitcher and catcher.
Say what you want about Ozzie Guillen and his histrionics. But he had the right concept when he acted to ditch the softball-team style and invigorate his lineup with speed. The execution has been poor up to the last four games, but the legs are there to run if Sox hitters could only perform up to their career averages.
Back in 2007, Lou Piniella said he preferred a lineup that could run. But obviously he did not have much influence with his general manager in obtaining such players. All the eggs were in Alfonso Soriano's 40-40 basket, which cracked and couldn't be put back together again due to leg injuries from the get-go in 2007 in his Cubs tenure.
The Cubs' sloooooow plight could be summed up by Piniella's staple catch-phrase, uttered twice Saturday after he explained, in frustration, the inability to tag out Pierre on his steal.
"What are you going to do?"
That goes down with Jack Brickhouse's old "closing the barn door after the horse is gone" or "for a hot minute there."
Since Jack isn't here, I'll sum up the Cubs' stuck-in-the-mud style with another Brick-ism: