Thursday, August 28, 2008

24

At this point it has become obvious that the Cubs WILL make the playoffs. I can say that now because it's a statistical certainty, not a prediction. Just check out this: ESPN MLB Standings the last column says the Cubs are a 99.4% certainty to make the playoffs (Division winner or Wild Card).

So armed with that knowledge, what is a loyal, experienced Cubs fan to do?

First off, what do I mean by experienced? Well, I'm old enough to remember the '84 Cubs (I wasn't yet born for the '69 Cubs) and still remember their infield and pitchers. However, I was only 6 yrs old so the ramifications of what happened that post season didn't really mean anything to me. The only way I knew something was seriously wrong was that my Dad was depressed for 2 weeks after the Cubs were eliminated by the Padres.

Fast forward to the '89 Cubs. Now there is the team from my childhood. My three favorite Cubs of all time: Grace, Sandberg & Dawson; were on that team and I was old enough now to appreciate it. The playoffs vs. San Fransisco were a debacle, not in that the Cubs choked or blew it, but that they got thoroughly spanked by a superior team. I think Will Clark had an OPS that series of about 7.000 that series and Kevin Mitchell made a bare handed catch in LF that still replays in mind with awe & amazement. It was disappointing, but not gut wrenching....and besides, there was always next year, right?

Moving on to '98. That was the first Cubs team to take advantage of the Wild Card and they needed 163 games to do that despite Brant Brown's best effort to keep the Cubs out of the playoffs that year. You knew those Cubs weren't going to do anything in the playoffs despite Harry Caray trying his best from up above to push them along.

Finally, we come to the 2003 Cubs. Yes they played in a weak division that year and yes they didn't clinch it until the last series of the year, BUT do you remember how dominant Wood & Prior were that year? Do you remember that feeling of invincibility going into game 6 in the NLCS vs. the Marlins (really, the Marlins have now won 2 World Series already? how can the baseball Gods justify that?) when the Cubs were up 3-2 with the final 2 games at Wrigley with Prior & Wood scheduled to go? I learned a long time ago not to gamble on sports teams you're emotionally involved with, but before that game 6 if I was in Vegas I would have bet $10k on the Cubs winning the series even with a 1-10 payback.

Unfortunately for me, I was in Chicago, and at that game. I won't rehash what happened, because we all know what transpired (although for the record Alex Gonzalez owes Bartman dinner for life for letting him off the hook because it was Alex's fault we lost game 6), but that game/series is when I was officially indoctrinated into what it truly means to be a Cubs fan. Apparently the only membership requirement to get into this club is that you have to get your hear ripped out and stomped on. The last positive thought I remember having in the stands that night was "oh my God! only 5 more outs!"

I also remember fooling myself as I went into Wrigley for Game 7 thinking that "everything will be fine, Woody is pitching tonight and we still have home field advantage for this game." Deep down I knew the truth even as I watched from the bleachers as Woody hit a home run into LF and beer fell from the sky like rain and I didn't care because we had the lead! It didn't take long before the Marlins were celebrating on the infield at Wrigley.

Now, THAT is what I mean by being an experienced Cubs fan. I brought that experience into last year's playoffs so I wasn't completely crushed again. I was hoping for the best last year knowing that we had a good team, but I also knew we didn't have the best team and that going deep into the playoffs would be gravy on a good season.

This year, however, I believe the Cubs are the best team in baseball and have all the tools for a deep October run. However, that is NOT prediction. I repeat, that is NOT A PREDICTION.

But back to my original question: What is a loyal, experienced Cubs fan to do armed with the knowledge that the Cubs will make the postseason this year? The answer: don't make any predictions to anybody and just sit back and enjoy the ride. My standard answer when inevitably a "fan" asks me: "Do you think they're going to do it this year?" is "I don't make those types of predictions. That's like predicting your own death." That usually draws a laugh and no follow up questions, which is ideal.

And what do I mean by enjoy the ride? Enjoy the fact that we're 33 games over 500 in August....I repeat 33 games! Enjoy that we are not dependent on a small group of players, rather it seams as though every day that a new player steps up and has a big game. Case in point, last night, Cedeno grounding out in the 7th in a 0-0 game and not only Reed Johnson alertly scoring on the play, but DeRosa alertly advancing to 3rd which then enabled Blanco to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt to perfection that allowed DeRosa to score to make it 2-0 which was the final score. So, the Cubs score 14 runs in an ugly win on Tuesday night in a slug fest, but then, backed by two good starting pitching efforts still get the job done with small ball with their first suicide squeeze attempt since '07 vs. the White Sox? Now THAT is a fun team to watch.

So, enjoy the ride. Enjoy Santo on every radio broadcast practically oozing with joy over the air; enjoy grumpy grandpa Lou mumbling with a beer in his hand at every post game press conference about the Cubs getting it done; enjoy the mid-season acquisition of Harden and Gaudin that has worked out better than anybody anticipated (did you hear that Sean Gallagher who was part of that trade to Oakland is on the DL? How's that for irony?); enjoy Edmonds being re-born with his new team and sticking it to the Cardinals on a daily basis; enjoy Dempster's unexpected dominance as a starter and his good sense of humor (did you see him in his bowling outfit and Kerry Wood's charity event a few weeks back? if not, check it out here: Dempster bowling); enjoy DeRosa's ability to play any position and being the glue of the team; enjoy Theriot leading the team in BA; enjoy the most lethal 1-2-3 bullpen combo in all of baseball with Jeff Samardzija, Carolo Marmol and Kerry Wood; enjoy Soto being the rookie of the year and calling a game like a vet; enjoy Lee quietly having another great year; enjoy the Cubs making the playoffs.

But don't you dare make any predictions. That's a zero sum game that you'll lose.

6 comments:

Herby said...

Great Post... Being 21 years old I was 3 years old in 89, only have vague memories of 98 and 2003 was the first cubs team that I followed religiously. I hope that your right about this year.

Anonymous said...

Both the Cubs and Brewers have 29 games left. If the Cubs play 1 under .500 (14-15) they will end up 97-65. In order to beat the Cubs, the Brewers will need to go 21-8 over the same stretch - that's .724.

The Cubs do play the majority of their games on the road, however.

One day at time...just keep winning!

Anonymous said...

Its in the bag.

Raj

Kevin Mason said...

As an 8 year old Cubs fan I was devastated by the collapse of '69.
To this day, I have a hard time even watching a Cubs game on TV for fear that I will jinx them.

I've always told friends, that in my world, the Cubs season always ends at the All Star break. If we're in first place then, I'm happy!

Being a Cubs fan is truly a lesson in patience. While making the playoffs is nice, I'll think about the Cubs making the World Series when they actually win the NL Championship.

It's still a loooooong time between now and October! We must all keep the faith!

C. Powers said...

Amen Brother. Great post!!! As a die hard Cubs fan living down in Reds country in OH, I'm yelling at the top of my lungs every time a different Cubby steps up and wins the game. My wife married into life w/ an "experienced" Cubs fan as I grew up with the same 3 idols as you did of Grace, Ryno and The Hawk and lived the pain of the post season losses. She even stuck it out at the Aug. 4th Astros game w/ tornado sirens as her first game at Wrigley ever. Keep the faith....this is the year to keep hoping!!(no prediction implied) Holy Mackerel!

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that bare handed catch by Mitchell was in the regular season- not against the cubs in the playoffs

How The Number Works

The Chicago Cubs Magic Number is derived by the following equation: Total Number of Games + 1 - Wins by the Cubs - Losses by Best Opponent.

The Magic Number is affected by one of two events, a Cubs win or the best opponent losing. The number is 163 at the beginning of the season. When the number hits 0, the Cubs have clinched the NL Central and are in the PLAYOFFS!

This site represents the Magic Number for clinching the National League Central Division . If the Wild Card becomes relevant for getting into the post season, this site may contain both. In that case, the Wild Card number will clearly be denote.

Shoot an email to 2009@cubsmagicnumber.com with comments and suggestions. Also, drop a Cubs theme'd photo with a story. It may be posted during future number updates.

This is the year

This is the year
I will watch from just over the rail.

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