Siberian Baseball

Sunday, October 05, 2008

People who get it, people who don't

Best regular season record in the National League.

Worst postseason record in the National League.

So it goes.

I'd like to point everyone to Goat Riders this morning which is doing a great job of mopping up the unmitigated mess that was the Chicago Cubs 2008 playoff run. Of course, this means roping some of the strays back into the herd and taking a hard line on the fans who refuse to admit the earth is round and that there is no curse, spell or supernatural occurrence that caused the Cubs to fail this year.

I don't live on a hill, or behind a pulpit. I'm not looking down on people from a pedestal. I'm just another fan, like everybody else reading this blog, and I really have no place to preach at people. More importantly, I am certainly not a betterfan than anybody. Anybody.

But I am very tired of certain kinds of fans. The pessimists, the woe-is-me's, the doom-sayers, I feel great frustration when I hear from those people. All along we've known a few simple facts - the Cubs were the best team to enter the playoffs, but the playoffs are a crap-shoot where momentum means everything. The best team got eliminated last night, and it happened because they lost their momentum very early in Game 1 and never found a way to get it back.

It's not about curses, it's about crap-shoots. As Billy Beane has always said, you can assemble a great team and put all the pieces together, but once they actually get there other factors come into play. So, to all the insanely negative fans who have allowed a lifetime of losing to distort their world views, I'm sorry, but I have nothing for you.

Amen. Sometimes shit happens.

More frustrating than the lack of progress in the second consecutive playoff sweep is the new wave of speculation that Cubs' fans actually prefer to lose, that it gives us an identity and that if the team actually would win a World Series, it would dash the numbers of fans.

Right. Just like the massive die off of Red Sox Nation after 2004 and 2007.

As a fan with a foot in each camp, I get to put up with this all over again. I nearly took the bait yesterday in the comments section of Babes Love Baseball, where one of the commenters outed themselves as clueless to the whole matter:

Would Cubs fans truly enjoy a World Series victory? Is that what they actually want?

I ask because if they should ever win one again, then Cubs fans lose their ability to complain about how it sucks to be a Cubs fan, and pity this, pity that, it's a hard knock life kind of stuff.

I'm on the fence with the Cubs. I would like for them to win once so I no longer have to hear about poor Cubs fans, but on the other hand, should they win one I could easily see them becoming just as annoying as the Red Sox and their fan base.

Same nonsense as before with the Red Sox and to a lesser extent, the White Sox, and it's never been the case. On the last point? Oh, yeah, that would totally happen. Biggest bandwagon in the history of baseball.

To paraphrase Bill Simmons in the pre-Boston domination era, we just want to be a normal team with no baggage associated with October baseball. Anyone who suggests otherwise has a screw loose somewhere.

No one likes being the loser and prolonged talk about curses and other title droughts only heaps on the pressure that's felt by the team.

Sometimes teams just lose because they cool off at the wrong time, lose momentum and stall out in a short series. Game 2 will be the thorn in my side this winter as a short stretch of defensive ineptitude torpedoed the season in a matter of minutes.

A supernatural goat didn't sweep the Cubs, a Dodgers team with the addition of young talent, Manny Ramirez and players returning from injury in time for October did.

But, as Phil Rogers pointed out this morning, favorites falling early is hardly unheard of in a short series:

The Cubs become the ninth team in the last 14 seasons to lead their league in victories and not advance past the first round. Only five of the No. 1 seeds went on to win the World Series, making it almost twice as likely for a regular-season powerhouse to go the way of the Cubs than to win a championship.

And here's one final factoid: None of the five teams that dominated in both the regular season and the postseason brought in a priest to sprinkle holy water in the dugout on the day of Game 1.

Imagine that.

I dream of a day like that, Phil. I really do. Maybe next year...

(Image taken for Siberian Baseball)

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