For Chicago fans, not the best of summers

It's going to be a long baseball summer.
Posted on July 2, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on July 2, 2013 at 3:36 p.m.

Bill Beck

Side Lines

It’s only July and it’s already been a long Major League Baseball season. Too long.

Chicago teams were not penciled in to challenge for division titles, agreed, but where they are headed is disturbing.

Halfway into a yawner of a summer, the Cubs are 35-45 and a whopping 15 1/2 games behind resurgent Pittsburgh. Yes, the Pirates.

On the south side, the White Sox are even worse at 32-47, tied with Milwaukee for the second-worst record in the majors. Only Houston and Miami, with 30 wins, are in deeper holes.

The Sox lost three straight to the Astros in June, a month in which the South Siders were 8-18.

I cringe as I flip through cable channels, hoping to catch a glimpse of some decent baseball. I won’t even attempt to expect good baseball.

I’ll gladly accept marginal to below average right now. And I’m certainly getting my fill.

Frustration turned to disappointment early this summer and now has jumped quickly to, “What else is on?”

It’s not even the All-Star Break yet.

Sox hitters have produced the second-fewest runs, hits and RBIs in the American League.

Cubs hitters have can at least hit homers — they have the third-most in the National League.

Defense, though, has been woeful.

The Cubs and Sox each are No. 3 in errors committed within their respective leagues. The South Siders, in fact, have made one more error (71) than they made all of 2012 (70).

That is frightening.

How Dale Sveum and Robin Ventura will manage to keep their managerial jobs in the long term is unclear.

Young, inexperienced talent is young, inexperienced talent. Fans can swallow that.

But continuing to allow runners to get picked off or caught making bad decisions on the basepaths and continuing to let fielding mistake after mistake bury good pitching is beyond excuse.

Lines will be drawn in the sand soon — at least I hope.

The only interest and buzz around the Cubs is owner Tom Ricketts and the Wrigley Field renovation/relocation two-step he’s doing with the city of Chicago.

Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, the annointed Cubs foundation of the future, struggle, though Carlos Marmol’s imminent departure is as joyful a news item as you’ll hear.

I’m still looking for anything interesting surrounding the Sox. I mean anything.

Other than Chris Sale’s whirling pitching performances and, perhaps, Alex Rios in right field, there’s little to shout about. And Rios won’t be around long as trade deadlines loom.

No quick-fixes will alter either side of town. The short term is what it is on both sides of town — bad.

And as if the product itself isn’t gruesome enough, just watching and/or listening to the games is just as depressing.

Hawk Harrelson’s Sox broadcasts have all the appeal of a funeral procession. They’re brutal to listen to and only become entertaining when Hawk goes on one of his all-too-regular rants.

Harrelson is justified, of course, but it no longer plays well.

Radio is just as irritating with Darrin Jackson’s whining and cliche-riddled commentary.

With the Cubs, Len Kasper, despite having one of those cookie-cutter communications voices, has been good as usual, and Jim Deshaies hasn’t been a bad fit in replacing Bob Brenly. Keith Moreland tries hard on radio, but you can feel the lack of mesh with the polished play-by-play of Pat Hughes.

Baseball is supposed to be fun. Fun to watch, fun to listen to on the radio.

This isn’t fun.

My life is filled with baseball fans — Tigers, Cardinals, Reds, Yankees. Even know a couple of Indians fans and loyal followers of the Red Sox, A’s, Giants and Dodgers.

They’re all obnoxious to a certain degree, and they are proud of it, yet they do have teams worthy of at least keeping a eye on.

I’ve been a fan of the Cubs since the late 1960s and developed a heartstring for the Sox during the Harry Caray days of the mid-’70s.

So far, this summer has been a rough one — a “Holy cow!” kind of summer for all the wrong reasons.

And it doesn’t appear there’s measurable hope in sight.

Contact Bill Beck at bbeck@etruth.com.

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