(Cubs mgr Leo Durocher: did he burn out talent like this?)

The Cubs managed a typical ’08 Wrigley win this evening, in producing enough runs against the Marlins so that even our bullpen couldn’t throw it away. And they tried, loading the bases twice in the final two innings of what finally ended up a 6-3 victory. Is that a legit stat — the number of runs needed to win a game with Howry coming in? Even Ron Santo and Pat Hughes have been bitching about him lately, which in Cubworld is like Tim Conway punching someone out.

There’s lots going on with the Cubs: a reported $500 K worth of draft violations, a closer on the DL for a blister (does Valtrex work on hands?), the Peoria Chiefs Julio Castillo up on assault charges for beaning a Reds dugout, Mark Cuban beating out Bud Selig’s pal in the Cub bidding “ and yet MLB’s Tom Singer decides to ask the endlessly rehashed “How did the Cubs collapse in 1969?” Was it a black cat at Shea, a billy goat, too many day games, Leo Durocher running Ernie Banks into the ground — and finally, he gets to the truth. The Cubs were owned by Philip K. Wrigley who made yet another dumb-ass trade. Why doesn’t anyone ask why the Cubs never mattered in 1970? As lame as the ’69 collapse is, Wrigley never bounced back the way the Brewers did after the Cubs clipped them in ’07. Writes the man with a nose for news:

¢ The Curse of Joe Niekro?

Now, maybe we’re talking. Niekro was a young lad of 24, coming off a 14-win season, when the Cubs dealt him on April 25 to San Diego for another right-hander, Dick Selma.

Selma did help the 1969 Cubs with 10 wins. But he went 0-6 on the other side of that mid-August hill. He never won another game for the Cubs, and only 15 for anyone else.

Niekro went on to 197 more wins across the next 20 seasons.

There was no shortage of explanations or excuses or examples of divine intervention for those who wanted to find them.