Siberian Baseball

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A quick bedtime story

With one out to go before the Cubs go down 2-0 in the series, the one shred of hope I am now forced to cling to comes courtesy of my experience as a fan of another beleaguered team, the Boston Red Sox.

Sure, bleary-eyed Cubs fans will spend tomorrow morning telling themselves that in 2004, the Sox rattled off four straight against the Yankees and made it to the World Series, where they finally reached the promised land.

Four games is more than three and the Dodgers are no Yankees, but that's not where I'll be drawing inspiration. (Game Two just ended with a called strike.)

The lessons of 2004 are a double edged sword. On the downside, it takes a team that doesn't feel the pressure to break decades of pent up hope and heartbreak and can just go out and play baseball. I don't feel that the Cubs are that team. One of the only reasons I can see for the offensive drought is that the hitters feel the hopes of the city crashing down on them every time they enter the batter's box.

In short, this team knows its fans a little too well.

On the positive side, 2004 taught me that a team making small strides on a pitch-by-pitch basis can come back, regardless of the opponent. The Cubs aren't facing a team that has bullied them for decades on end and will get out of Chicago for a few days, which hopefully makes things easier for them.

That said, here's a quick story that will keep me going into Saturday's showdown with elimination.

Even after the Red Sox climbed out of their three games to none hole, they still needed to play game seven in the Bronx. Most Boston fans couldn't bring themselves to feel better about that game, stopping just short of insisting that fate had brought them to that point just to smash them on the rocks of despair once again.

I watched cautiously, but I did watch.

Then, a weird thing happened. David Ortiz hit a two run homer with two out in the first to give the Sox an early lead.

In the second, Johnny Damon hit a grand slam to give Boston a 6-0 lead. It was that grand slam that signaled to Sox fans that things just might be OK.

For the first time in a long while, it was.

Final score? 10-3. The Red Sox were headed to the World Series and that game is seen as an afterthought now, missing the drama of the three games that came before it.

That's my point here. As a rational fan (sometimes) I know that the odds are in favor of the Cubs sluggers continuing to struggle, press and ultimately fail as they have for two years running with these players and for a century prior to that for the ballclub as a whole.

I know that given two games at home, the Dodgers should wrap up this series in a game or two and that Cubs fans will quietly slink back to dark rooms for the next few weeks to quietly listen to Eddie Vedder's new song on a near constant loop and focus on the "someday" lyric in "Someday We'll Go All the Way."

I also know that teams that seem unbeatable sometimes fall apart and that a little momentum can go a long way. I know that the Cubs have no one to blame but themselves for lack of run production and sloppy fielding like the kind that plauged them in tonight's game. I know that if the team can stop beating itself, it has a shot to at least hang around long enough for the Dodgers to make some mistakes to capitalize on.

I know, and I cling to this particular point, that sometimes in must-win games, Johnny Damon slaps a home run into the foul pole and your team runs away with a game that caused you to lose sleep over in sickening anticipation. Because of that, I know that when faced with a game you feel there's no way your team can win, every once in a while that team comes in and wins in a laugher that leaves you wondering why you even doubted them in the first place.

I know this because I've lived through this and feel much the same way tonight as I did after the Red Sox were whipped 19-8 on the night of a good friend's wedding.

What I don't know is if the Cubs are up to the challenge of following in the footsteps of idiots for a few weeks in October.

(Image from:

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