Monday, October 13, 2003

Jinx? Post-cover Kerry gets a no-decision against the fishThe Cubs lose last night, and fans start thinking: if anything goes wrong with Prior (who gave up a couple dingers to the fish already), we're one game away from blowing it. Still, the Cubs can't do much more about Josh Beckett's 2-hitter than the Braves could do about Prior's in the LDS. Cub Reporter concludes, "There is nothing to be done."

Answers, or suggestions, to my pre-LCS inquiries:

> Can anyone other than Moises Alou hit worth beans?

Try Sammy Sosa, Alex Gonzalex (holy cow!), Aramis Ramirez, Randall Simon, and even Doug Glanville. Each has crushed home runs or clutch hits.

> Can the Cubs win again if they don't?

It's a moot point, but Wood and Prior have not been as dominant as they were against the Braves. Thank goodness the point is moot.

> Are the Cubs primed for a letdown after climbing Braves Mountain? ... Is the Marlins' momentum a worse threat than the Braves' power?

Letdown? Probably not. Not only does the atmosphere around Wrigley prevent any tuning out, but the extra inning games--1 and 3--were so back-and-forth and weird, with both teams clawing to get ahead, that the Cubs could not be criticized for not showing up. They were caught off guard, to say the least, to abruptly be down 5-4 after blowing the 4-0 first inning lead in Game 1. As for the Marlins' momentum, it's not so much momentum as nagging weapons--the minute you think you have them pinned down, Pierre gets on and Pudge is hitting him in. With the Braves' power, you either snuff it or you don't. As in the Old Man and the Sea, you never quite know when the Marlins will die.

> Without Wood and Prior, aren't the Cubs basically, say, the Colorado Rockies? Is it good or bad for baseball that two pitchers could own a series the way they did?

The hitting makes them look much more worthy. As for an 88-win team making the World Series, it's not as though the '97 Marlins or '02 Angels were franchises for the ages. A long-suffering team getting redemption is better for baseball than a yawner squad like the Braves enjoying well-earned success.

> Will the OBP of the top of the Marlins' lineup catch the Cubs off guard, since they didn't have to deal with many baserunners against Atlanta?

A little bit, maybe, but so far the defining baserunning play of the series was Castillo's error that bailed out the Cubs in pivotal Game 3.

> Will the series boil down to whether Zambrano or Clement can get one win, leaving Wood and Prior to get three between them?

No, it boiled down to Remlinger saving Wood's no-decision game in Game 3 and the Cubs' bats giving Clement a huge cushion he didn't actually need in their Game 4 win.

> My safe bet is Cubs in six, but I won't be shocked if it's five--hope that didn't jinx them any more than they already are...

Hard to bet against Prior. It would have been good to have the Cubs close it out so that Prior could start Games 1, 4, and 7 of the World Series, but Wood in 1, 4, and 7 and Prior in 2 and 5 will be a tall order for the Yankees or (doubtfully, now) Red Sox.

The other good thing about bringing the LCS back home is having the pennant celebration in Chicago. I'll be lapping Wrigley again with my Walkman on tomorrow night, and plan to take some pictures of the dancing in the streets should the Cubs pull it off.

Here's my picture of Waveland Avenue during the LDS:

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