It has taken me this long to calm down after the Cubs lost it all – again! “Not this time” in my previous column still catches in my throat but my head is working differently than it was at 12:10 a.m., Oct. 5 after Alfonso Soriano struck out to end the game and their season. What I felt at that moment and for days afterwards is expressed in an e-mail titled “The Un-loveable Losers” I wrote to some friends afterwards:
“I am angry, (deleted), madder than hell and choking on my recent RT column. And it doesn’t taste like cake! The curse is not black cats and Billy goats — it’s the Cubs themselves! I was fool enough to stay up till the bitter end last night, watching Sorry Soriano strike out on three pitches.
“If I were a conspiracy theorist I would weave a tale of Mark Cuban getting to the players to make them an offer they couldn’t refuse: Blow this series in three and I’ll split the money I save on buying this dog with all of you!
“I am writing this in red since that is the color of my rage. It’s gonna take a while for me to calm down. I keep telling myself that it is only baseball — but, you know, it isn’t. Not right now. It’s more of the same, the same, the same. And what I saw with the Cubs in the last three games came up way short of what baseball should be as a game. (That does not apply to the Dodgers.) They’ll probably have to tear down Wrigley and build one of those palladium parks that feels like a video game before they ever come close again. Wrigleyville has become Loserville and that’s all there is to it.
“I will get over it. But not just yet!”
That was then. Now? Well, I’ve been thinking.
Baseball is what it is – a game. What happened to the Cubs in the playoffs, and the Angels as well, validates that fact. The two winningest teams in the Majors blew it, fluffed out, didn’t show up. But that is baseball. And baseball would not be the sport it is without such maddening twists which each season leave every team but one – and their fans – saying, “Wait till next year.”
However, it is of some, if little, consolation to realize that while probably no single player will ever break Cal “Iron Man” Ripken’s consecutive-games-played record, most certainly no Major League team will ever – ever – top the Cubs’ 100- years-and-counting famine.
That said, there is no diminishing the disappointments in the outcome of this Cubs season. The “Century Factor” was, in retrospect, a setup for emotional breakdowns. The media made the most of that and the fans fell for it, hard. What remains is to get over it, add another candle to the cake, and hope and pray that the second century is not déjà vu all over again.