On the John
Let’s Get Some Runs!
Holy Cow! Despite a setback in Game 5, the Cubbies have a chance to grab the National League Pennant tonight at Wrigley Field, the way it should be. With every twirl of Dusty Baker’s toothpick I get more and more excited about this season, and the distinct possibility that in four days Kerry Wood could be pitching Game 1 of the World Series. My giddiness has started to override my paranoid superstitions and has gotten to the point where I lay in bed for hours thinking about Sammy and Kerry and Harry and ivy, and the other night it got so bad (or good) that in order to quench my Cubbie thirst I had to pop in my tape of the 1998 one-game playoff against the Giants. Yes, despite the South Siders late-season collapse, baseball is alive and well in the Windy City, particularly at 1060 W. Addison, where the Cubbies have their 95-year-old fans thanking God for yet another chance to see a World Series champ at Wrigley.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, home of your World Champion Chicago Cubs!”
Does that sound right? Until Joe Borowski struck out Andruw Jones to send the Cubs to the NLCS, I never actually believed the Cubs could win the World Series. And I don’t mean never this year. I mean never. Not in ’89. Not in ’98. Not after we clinched the NL Central. But after that final out in Game 5, I mapped out the probable pitching matchups for the NLCS, and that was the first time in my life that I’d ever seriously considered the idea of the Cubs playing in the World Series.
My world view hasn’t been the same since.
For years, I could always imagine the Cubs in the Series, but I never actually believed it. And now that it’s more than a dream, it’s frightening. I’ve crossed into a new level of being. I’d imagine that it’s similar to dying. Logically, everyone knows that at some point they will die, but most people don’t live their lives thinking it will happen. And then one day, you’ve got a disease or you’re really old or you’re about to crash into an oncoming Mack truck, and you realize that death can happen. You begin to deal with that sensation realistically, and your world is never the same. This is how I feel about the Cubs playing in the World Series. If it does happen, my entire perception of what it means to be a sports fan in Chicago will be altered.
To make things crazier, the equally cursed Red Sox are trying to win the American League, to set up a Cubs-Red Sox series. A lot of fans are hoping for this “dream series,” but let me tell you something: Cubs-Red Sox is bad news. Both teams are trying to break curses, and if the Cubs beat the Yankees or the Red Sox beat the Marlins, then the curses will be defeated. But if the Cubs play the Red Sox, one of those teams has to win. Neither team has a chance to beat the curse, but instead one team will be mathematically forced into victory. That freaks me out.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is still the Cubs, after all, and if the curse really does exist, then there’s still time for something terrible to happen. At this point, I have to believe in the curse, because if I don’t, it means the Cubs have been fielding a crappy, uncursed team for 95 years. I think we’ll win tonight, but beyond that, I refuse to guess. Writing this column was bad enough karma, so I’m going to stop before I jinx us any further.
Copyright 2003, jm silverstein