Hey there, ice chips. How ’bout those friggin’ Cubs, huh?! I gotta tell ya, I luuuuuuvvvvv flyin’ the playoff W. I’d say it makes me feel like I’m on top of the world but that’s kinda stupid. I mean think about it. First — SPOILER ALERT — there’s no Santa Claus up there and second, it’s butt ass cold. It’d be a lot more accurate to say I’m feelin’ like I’m sittin’ on a clothing-optional beach in Bora Bora, the missus has exercised her option, and is feedin’ me pork sliders while I sip on a frosty Old Style. Yeah, that about captures it. Thank you for that, Cubbies.
Anyway, as the Central Division Champs are makin’ their way to the city of whackadoos for Game 3 against the Giants, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the meaning of the oldest phrase in baseball: Keep your eye on the friggin’ ball.
Lemme start by sayin’ that anyone who pays attention to my microscopic corner of the Cubs universe knows that I live and die with them. If that’s you, 1) thank you for payin’ attention and 2) you know that my 55 seasons have seen a whole lot more dyin’ than livin’. That’s given me a certain … let’s say … perspective. I tend to call it like I see it, rather than wearin’ Cubbie blue shaded glasses. Sometimes the Schlombowski forecast is “cloudy with a chance of losing.” Hey, I don’t make the weather, pal, I just report it.
Don’t get me wrong. I not only think the Cubs are in the driver’s seat right now, I think the Giants have been stuffed into the trunk and are about to get dumped on the side of a dark, winding road out in the middle of the redwoods.
IF they keep their eye on the ball, that is.
And I don’t mean pickin’ up the rotation on Bumgarner’s cheese and watchin’ it all the way to the plate. What I mean is that bein’ up 2-0 to the Giants, even in a best-of-5 series, isn’t a Labron James better-get-the-hell-outta-my-way slam dunk, unless we do one thing: stay focused on the ball that matters — winnin’ the World Series. To me, that mean’s not actin’ like we just won the friggin’ lottery cuz the first two games went our way, or cuz our pitchers have turned into Babe Ruth, or cuz Wood just penned his name in the record books. The Cubs gotta go about their business like they’re mailmen or something. You know … that whole “neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night” thing. Only with us it’s “Neither Mad-Bum, nor Posey, nor wicked line drives off our pitchers will keep us from our appointed victory over the Halloween-colored San Francisco Giants.” Do I think that’s gonna happen? You bet your sweet ivy-covered ass I do. Do I think it’s gonna be easy? Read on, my friend:
There is no joy in Mudville. At least on Tommy Lasorda’s street. Of course I’m just spit-ballin’ on that, but I gotta imagine Mike Piazza goin’ into the Hall as a Met instead of a Dodger musta been more than enough to orbit LA’s most famous Italian sausage. They probably heard it all the way in Vero Beach, cuz I’ll tell you … anybody who’s ever heard Tommy when he’s upset knows what his favorite words are, and that he wields ’em like Luke Skywalker with a lightsaber. Even Andrew Dice Clay probably covers his ears.
I think Piazza is still sore at the Dodgers for not givin’ into his contract demands back in the day. Let me just say right here that makin’ eight or 12 or 26 million dollars a year to play a game is not only stupid money, it’s just plain stupid. Nobody should get paid like that unless you’re curin’ cancer or somethin’. Anyway, instead of payin’ him, they traded the guy to the Marlins who immediately sent him to New York. The back story on all of that is pretty interesting. In the end, Piazza was the best position player the Mets ever had, was a GREAT hitter and had his best years in Queens. In addition to that, goin’ into the Hall of Fame ranks a little higher than gettin’ the prize outta your Cracker Jacks box, so you should pretty much be able to decide which one of the teams you played for gets the honor.
Still, if it weren’t for Lasorda, Piazza may never have stepped foot on a professional diamond — not even in A ball. Nobody wanted to give Mike a look. So Lasorda — a long time friend of Piazza’s dad and Godfather to Mike’s brother — talked the Dodgers into takin’ Piazza in the 62nd round of the June 1988 draft. That’s what you call a throw-away pick, my friend. They sent him to Salem, Oregon. If LA is the brightest spot in the Dodgers universe, Salem is a little asteroid that’s furthest from it. I don’t think they has much hope for Piazza. But he was like family. If Tommy hadn’t insisted on makin’ that pick … who knows? Maybe Piazza is sellin’ insurance.
Anyway, if I’m Lasorda, and I’m a big believer in family and loyalty and I bleed Dodger blue, I’ve got smoke curling outta my ears when I hear Piazza’s “Mets” decision, and I’m marchin’ through my house lettin’ loose with an extra large serving of the Dave Kingman and Kurt Bevacqua word salad.
Like I said, it’s Piazza choice. Of course it’s just another reason (number 870) to hate the Mets, and I just don’t think Lasorda would be all that giddy about it.