Thursday, October 16, 2003

For Cubs and fans, cruel and usual punishmentHow long can one measly goat nurse a grudge? I felt like I'd gotten a massage with jagged rocks last night, and this is just my first full year living in Chicago. I really feel for those who have followed the Cubs their entire lives and saw this year as their reward, only to see the same tragic drama one more time.

There is a perverse appropriateness to how it all happened. With a new manager this year and an abrupt turnaround in the standings, with all the new faces from the trades, with the incongruous jubilation of the division title and the defeat of the Braves, and with this being a new century, there was this feeling that maybe all the history was just that--history, in the past. Game 6 was a bus-collision-like reminder that yes, this is still the Cubs and always will be; there is no outrunning history.

Already yesterday on the radio postgame show, the announcers were trying to console us with how promising things will be next spring training. Wait Till Next Year, basically. With this young pitching and Dusty and being defending division champions for once.... But that's completely missing the point. This year's playoffs proved just how little logic there is to it all and how irrelevant the regular season is. When a wild card goes to the World Series and the Cubs lose three of the strangest games they've ever played within the span of one series, it just shows how long and pointless those 162 games are. Sure, the Cubs look good on paper heading into next year. But they couldn't have looked any better on paper then they did bringing the LCS back to Chicago up 3-2 with Wood and Prior ready. If that 3-0 lead in the eighth of Game 6 with Prior isn't a sure thing, then nothing ever will be until the final out of a decisive Cubs win in a World Series, and there is absolutely no consolation for Cubs fans until that moment. Besides, it's hard to relish the long march back when that march means another dogfight with Houston and St. Louis next year, and then perhaps another zany series with the Braves or even the danged Marlins if the Cubs get that far again. With as screwy as baseball is, you just have to seize on your chances when they're right in front of you. This was their chance.

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