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NLDS Game 3: Cubs at Dodgers

The Cubs Hater sheds a tiny tear, The Ump punches the fist, The Girl rejoins society, and The Fatalist reaches for a small—very small—spot of consolation. Meanwhile, The Delusionist plans next year’s victory party. Here, our analyses of NLDS Game 3…

The Cubs Hater sheds a tiny tear, The Ump punches the fist, The Girl rejoins society, and The Fatalist reaches for a small—very small—spot of consolation. Meanwhile, The Delusionist plans next year’s victory party. Here, our analyses of NLDS Game 3

This is why you never make the sucker’s bet of pinning your hopes on the Cubs, why you find teams to root for besides the Cubs (Go Sox! Go Brewers!). These Cubs lost because, come October, their leadoff hitter manufactures outs like Henry Ford cranked out Model Ts. And because the left-handed hammer (Kosuke Fukodome) brought in to balance a heavily right-handed lineup, checked in to the witness protection program sometime in June. And because top right-handed pitching affects that overly right-handed lineup the way a trout affects a caddis fly. When he ripped Cubs fans last summer for being obnoxious, Reds announcer Marty Brennaman confidently predicted the Cubs, good as they were, would come to this bleak end. Why? Because they are the Cubs, he said.
Pathetic. Desperate. Embarrassing. Just watching Soriano wave his bat half-heartedly at that Broxton garbage pitch to end the Cubbies season was enough to make you wonder whether Alfonso’s heart was ever in it. Was anyone’s? Or was there too much heart on this team, so many Cubs hearts beating so hard with 100 years of weight pushing on them—pressure that no one would ever admit to—that they forgot how to play the game that won them 97 games this year? Or maybe they just choked. Again. Even a Cubs hater like me finds this possibility sad. Oh, well. The fans can go back to cheering on the lovable losers next sesason, their legacy of misery intact for yet another year.
The Delusionist is downcast but not disillusioned. This was so clearly the Cubs’ year. No holes in the lineup. Great pitching. Solid defense. Then came the playoffs, and the wheels fell off. In Game One, Dempster was wild and the bats went silent. In Game Two, our infield was sloppier than Sarah Palin’s syntax. Last night, Harden pitched well enough to win, but the Cubs crossed the plate just once. There are people who say a World Series victory would ruin the Cubs mystique. I loathe those people, and I’m not inviting any of them to next year’s victory party.
I’m going to continue to blame this one on Piniella. His team was not ready for the test. In fact, he managed all year with a strange sort of nonchalance not suitable for a team with a record of losing matched only by France. All season long he lacked the guts to move Soriano from the leadoff spot. The last straw for me came after the first loss to the Dodgers when he justified starting Fukodome by saying the right- fielder was a really nice guy and worked really hard. Lou has lost his edge and the Cubs never had one. Wait ’til next year? I’m afraid it will take longer than that.
Well, what do you do now? They get blown out of the playoffs in 2007. Then they win 97 games in the regular season (with Dempster and Lilly arguably having career years) and get blown out again. So do you keep the same collection of wet noodles? How will you feel losing three straight to Washington in next year’s playoffs? Look at it this way: Not a single Cub stepped up and performed like a winner when it counted. Not one. (Well, all right, Henry Blanco did a nice job of filling his space on the bench.) I say, drive a dump truck up to the clubhouse. Ah, but we have all winter to discuss which way to go. For now, The Fatalist reaches for a small spot of consolation: Sometimes, you have to appreciate when things turn out exactly as you expected.
Hard to believe that a week ago, I was in Milwaukee’s Miller Park watching the Cubs pick up their 97th regular season win. Tonight, the Brew Crew, down two games against the Phillies, showed that they’ll fight back—while the Cubs choked for, oh, the 100th year in a row. I’m disgusted. To make matters worse, I had to watch those stupid Angelenos in their brand new Dodgers gear they went out to buy just yesterday. I don’t like what the Cubs postseason has done to me: I’ve become sleep-deprived, crankier, and more negative than ever before. I look forward to once again becoming a positive and productive member of society. Go Brewers.
Out pitched, out-hit, out-fielded, out-managed, out-hustled, out-cheered. The Ump punches the fist. Just out. I don’t want to say the word, but it rhymes with “croak.” Thank God, I changed the channel long enough to watch Tina Fey do Palin again. Far better viewing. And which reminds me of another word that rhymes with the one that is stuck in my head: joke.
Sometimes it pays to be deprived of the modern comforts: radio, cable TV, major-league baseball. So, returning to civilization, I learn the mighty Cubs, best team in the National League, bowed out in three to the lowly Dodgers. After imbuing the Fatalist’s philosophies for 15 years, I can’t say I was surprised. After all, they are the Cubs. So what’s the Sox’ excuse?

What is your assessment of the game? Post a comment below.


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