The Chicago Cubs opened the season with high hopes. In a division they knew was weak, they added a leadoff hitter and a left-handed bat. They strengthened their bench. They had a mix of young and old, with Murton and Cedeno offsetting Jones and Maddux. They had players in their prime who were offensive powerhouses in Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. They had an emerging ace in Carlos Zambrano, a solid closer in Dempster, and other pitchers like Prior, Wood, and Rusch who had good seasons for the team in the past. They had a manager who had been successful and a big payroll. 90 games, it appeared in the preseason, would have won it. They didn’t have to build the ’27 Yanks. The ’87 Twins would have been enough.
And then the season happened. Injury and bad management were the antagonists, and this movie would end up having the kind of happy ending only Bergman could devise. When the curtain closed, the hated St. Louis Cardinals took advantage of a weak division that, had the Cubs played slightly above .500 ball, they would have owned. The rival Cards back-doored into the playoffs and emerged on top of the major leagues, hoisting high the World Series trophy.
It is in this way that I discovered a new sort of religion. It is this:
Hell is being a Cubs fan.
We’re being punished for something we did a long time ago. For me, it was the pain I inflicted upon my brother James, who bore the brunt of all the misguided agression from my childhood.
My personal hell is also inflicted due to the bludgeoning-based bullying I committed as an unhappy youth upon the Loser (pronounced LOW-ZER) family, Chris and Brandy. I regularly beat them up as a child.
I apologize to the aforementioned. I have to believe something which cannot be explained by the natural laws of the universe is afoot. After seeing the Green Bay Packers beat the crap out of the Bears throughout the nineties and now watching the St. Louis Cardinals, 83 game winners and my personal baseball bane, win the series, there’s some personal crap going on ‘tween me and the universe.
I’d like to believe that it’s a management team that’s just one step behind the competition. Again. For the 98th straight year.
I’d like to believe that, in a 7 game series, the hot team, not the best team or the best matchup, wins.
But for Buddha‘s sake, I’m 35 and in the third generation of inept management! My dad was FOUR years old the last time this team was in the World Series! And I’m looking down the barrel of another gun packed with a “Win Now” manager and a short-term GM willing to sacrifice his farm system to save his job.
On this night when the team that even Cardinals fans must admit has been their crummiest in years emerges as the World Champs, that these years I’ve been enduring as a Cubs fan are penance for all the things I did wrong while I was learning what I now know.
Congrats to the Cards. I hope Chris and Brandy Loser are Cards fans.