The Cubs' 129th game of the year last night, a 3-1 home loss to the Brewers, will go down as the best moment of the season-that-cannot-end-soon-enough. There hadn't been much competition for the coveted 'Best Moment' category. The promotions of Anthony Rizzo, et al. comes to mind, and even the now fizzling excitement surrounding their call-ups had more to do with the super positive, probably unrealistic expectations of things to come, as opposed to any actual on-field results. What else is there? Well, if you remember all the way back to April 13th, the second week of the season, the 8th game of the year, you'll remember the Cubs defeated the Cardinals on the day they received their World Series rings. But that moment is too stale, too inconsequential, and Marlon Byrd was still starting in centerfield.
Darwin Barney's errorless streak it is then to act as the one truly joyous moment in an otherwise brutal season. Barney passed David Eckstein to become the new record-holder for most consecutive errorless games for a NL second baseman, now at 114 and counting. The streak did not come without a scare, however. Third baseman Luis Valbuena dropped a throw at the bag from Barney, who was backing up a botched throw to second. Even Little Leaguers, and not even the ones on ESPN, routinely make the play Valbuena whiffed on. The error was initially charged to Barney and then rightly changed. We all went back to not giving a shit.
To celebrate, the Cubs players threw a 114th Errorless Streak party for Barney after the game. Alcohol was consumed, cake devoured, and party whistles blown long into the night. What follows is some of the gifts Barney received on his special day.
Darwin: Thanks for coming, Skip. I know you must be busy.
Sveum: Not really.
Darwin: Well, with the remainder of the season and all.
Sveum: It doesn't matter at this point. Nothing matters.
Sveum: Anyway, I wanted to give you something.
Darwin: You shouldn't have.
Sveum: Sometimes whiskey ain't enough. I've found punching a bag really relieves stress. Better than driving off a cliff, I guess. I took the liberty of taping a picture of Luis Valbuena's face to the bag. He almost cost you the streak. I personally have a print out of everyone's face so I can easily change them from game to game.
[Darwin grabs a small present from the table, clearly shaped like a book. "I wonder what this is?" he jokes]
Corpas: Oooh, that one's from me.
Darwin: Great! Look at this. On the Origin of Species. I presume because the author's last name is the same as my first name.
Corpas: Hilarious coincidence, isn't it? I haven't really gotten the opportunity to know much about you yet, so I thought to go with the gag gift.
Darwin: The cross dangling from my neck every game must not be visible from the bullpen.
[Starlin Castro pulls Darwin aside]
Starlin: Buddy, I'm sorry. I forgot a gift.
Darwin: It's no big deal.
Starlin: No, it is a big deal. I want to get you something.
Darwin: Really, you don't have to.
Starlin: I know! Hitting lessons. One free session. Your defense is good, but your defense doesn't get you a 7-year extension. Let me help. I'll tell you the pitches to swing at. Pretty much all of them.
[Darwin returns to the table and grabs another small gift]
Soriano: You're going to be very happy with this one. Very happy. Go ahead. Open it!
Darwin: Wow. . . you . . . you autographed a copy of the movie I starred in.
Soriano: Yes I did. I saw this movie and immediately thought of you. Enjoy.
Darwin: Dont' you think that's a little weird?
Darwin: Autographing something you are not affiliated with.
[The guests begin to head home after Darwin opens his remaining presents. He does the dishes, scrubs the floor, and recycles the empty bottles. Nestled beneath one of the styrofoam plates is an envelope]
[Darwin opens the envelope and reads the handwritten note]
Around you, my heart skips like a bad hop.
My stomach flurries like a swarm of pigeons in centerfield.
Joe Mather shaves his head to a chorus of nothing.
Bryan LaHair has been on hold since 9 AM. Surely, someone can take his call?
O Darwin -- the dirt is but a minor roadblock to greener pastures.
Chalk-white lines confine us to box scores.
And what's worse, we do it to ourselves.
My love for you is as tender and clumsy as this poem.
My intentions purer than the 5-year-old child cupping a foul ball.
It is this love, this most maddening love for an unfair game that compels me to honesty.
You wont' be here much longer.
Don't you see? You've outgrown your cage.
Spread your wings, youngish Darwin, and fly. Far away from here where the poets sing, the cobblers cry, and the fleeting, victorious feeling exists outside of the books of yesteryear.
Jed (Hoyer, if you're nasty)
P.S. I've enclosed a $50 Best Buy gift card.