There was this great episode of Star Trek called “Mirror, Mirror” where a transporter malfunction swaps Captain Kirk and his crew with their evil counterparts in a parallel universe. Except for the “evil” part, sometimes I wonder if there was some kinda ion storm thingy that threw baseball into a sorta upside-down world, parallel universe where Chicago’s Cubs — the used Charmin of the National League — are now the equivalent of the ’27 Yankees.
I guess that would make Maddon Captain Kirk. I don’t know who Arrieta is. Probably Spock, with that Vulcan nerve pinch of a fastball. Then you got Rizzo, Bryant, Ross, Fowler, Lackey, and so on, as Scotty, Bones, Chekov, Sulu and the rest of the crew of the Star Ship Wrigley … going where no Cubs have gone before. Fascinating.
One of my favorite things about baseball is that no matter how long you’ve been following the sport, somethin’ happens in most games that you’ve never ever seen before. I used to think this applied to everyone but the Cubs, cuz year-in and year-out, you could pretty much count on tomorrow’s game being a carbon copy of today’s game, which was a bona fide duplicate of yesterday’s game; another notch in the loss column. Not any more, pal. Last year we took a major detour from the yellow brick road, and this year … well … this year we fired up the John Deere, set the height to “zero” and have been mowing down anyone and everything in our path. In that regard, I guess we’re still sorta monotonous, but in a really friggin’ good way.
So anyway, yesterday I’m watchin’ us against Pittsburgh, right? It’s early — just in the 2nd — so the wheels haven’t come off the Pirate ship yet, when a grounder gets tapped up the middle. Lester grabs it (nice job). But now he’s gotta throw it to first and, as we all know, that can definitely present some things you’ve never seen before … like the ball ending up in Section 134. But this time, it’s so friggin’ jammed in the webbing of Lester’s glove, he can’t get it loose. Unbelievable. But does he panic? Hell no! He wads the whole thing up — mitt and all — and heaves it to Rizzo for the out. Now I’d never seen that before, but here’s what really blew the foam off my medicine: The same two guys (Rizzo and Lester) did the exact same thing last year — almost to the day — at Wrigley. I don’t know how the hell I missed it. I coulda been playin’ hide the salami with the missus, which is about the only thing that can throw me off my Cubs game. Who could blame me?
I’m not sure what this does to my theory about something new happening in every game. For those of you that saw it last season, it doesn’t hold. But for those of us who missed it due to a land slide or tornado or some other force of nature — oh … it was a force of nature, alright — it was new to us this time around. Anyway, it was such a genius move it was worth a little deja vu all over again. In Yogi we trust.
PS. You wanna see something you’ve never seen before, and that will make you get down on your knees and pray you never ever have to see again? Take a look at Lester’s post game attire. A fashion “don’t” of galactic proportions, it illustrates the single most amazing achievement in all of sport: A blind man can pitch in the Major Leagues. No wonder the guy can’t throw the ball to first base. He can’t friggin’ see it.
So, I’m watchin’ the Cubs unload on the Pirates tonight and, at some point, one of the announcers says, “… and the Cubs have a commanding lead.” At which point the lovely Mrs Schlombowski utters, “That’s a phrase we’re gonna hear a lot this year.”
No wonder I love this woman.
You might think this would be expected. No, not the fact that I love my wife. Rather that the missus of a ginormous Cubs fan would be an equally ginormous Cubs fan. Not the case, my friend. The wife puts up with my Cubs obsession the best she can. For example, she only went partially ballistic when I shaved the Cubs logo in my chest hair. She let’s me hang my W flag on our front door. She knows players; Rizzo, Bryant, Arrieta, LaStella. I even get her to a game now and then. And … AND … she wears the Cubbies t-shirts I get her. Let me tell you, my friend … “Cubs” on a t-shirt on the missus … best use of typography I’ve ever seen. Still, to say the missus is a Cubs fan would be like sayin’ Hillary Clinton is a swim suit model. Uh-uh.
My rather long-winded (thus typical Joe Schlombowski) point is this: The missus may not be Chicago’s biggest Cubs fan, but that didn’t keep her from dropping a Socrates-like observation on me tonight. It’s the kinda thing that never occurs to someone conditioned to saying “Wait ’til next year” by the mid-season classic. Anyway, the missus really pine-tars my bat … especially when she’s wearin’ a Cubs t-shirt. Hoo boy, I love that woman.
Hey there, cheese puffs. As I look back on the first month of the season, I think it can best be summed up by channelling a little Harry Caray: HOLY-FRIGGIN-COW! I mean, that was like the Kate Upton of opening months! Sure … maybe there’s a freckle here or a hair slightly outta place there, but pretty much you just wanna sit back and dream about it, and hope you never wake up.
It was the best start we’ve had since 1907. 1907!!! For example, in a measly 84 games ahead of last year’s pace, the Cubs reached 10 games over .500. We outscored our opponents by like 3,000 runs. I exaggerate, but you get the point, right? How about the bats? And the staff! Arrieta was named National League Pitcher of the Month. Duh; 5-0, a 1.00 ERA and a no-hitter (against Cincinnati, which made it all that much sweeter). Go ahead … try and find a weakness, pal. There ain’t one. I’d like to point out that we did nearly all of it Schwarberless. Can you begin to imagine what April woulda been like if Schwarber was healthy? They woulda had to add “Cubs” to the Richter Scale.
If I could point to anything that would benefit from a little of Schwarber’s best Babe Ruth imitation, I’d say it’s Stephen A. Smith. This guys is a wind bag of Bruce Froehming proportions, and proved it beyond any doubt when he accused Arrieta of juicing. (He said he wasn’t ‘accusing’, but then went ahead and put it out there. Call it what you want … that’s a full-on accusation.) What a colossal pin head! If the guy knew anything about Arrieta, his work ethic and the adjustments he’s made to his mechanics — in short, if he’d done ANY research at all before shooting off his pie hole — the thought of juicing would never have crossed his itty-bitty microscopic mind. But that woulda meant actually doing some work, which would take away from running his turbo-charged, noise box. Personally, I don’t think a guy who’s been slammed by his colleagues for sexist comments, and who was suspended by ESPN for essentially saying that some women bring domestic violence on themselves, oughta be throwin’ any stones from his glass house. In fact, how the hell does he have a friggin’ job when Curt Schilling doesn’t? Makes no sense.
So, except for Stephen A. Smith (and, yeah, I think I know what the ‘A’ stands for) trying to piss on our parade, April was about as killer as it gets. Let’s hope May is the same.