This morning, Bleacher Report’s Mike Chiari wrote, “Regardless of if or when Bartman decides to emerge publicly, it is abundantly clear that Cubs fans are ready to embrace him.” That seems like pretty strong language to me, my friend. Yeah, I’m fairly certain most people are ready to forget Steve Bartman’s crime against humanity, but “embrace?” I’d rather embrace a porcupine.
“Forgive and forget,” Sister Demarus used to say to us in 2nd grade. This, while right behind her was the J man — life size — nailed to a cross and hangin’ on the wall above the whole room, as if to say, “you better be good or this could happen to you, kid.” That always sent mixed messages to me. Yeah, yeah … I know Jesus was all about forgiveness, and deep down I think Sister Demarus, in her snow white habit, was right. Besides, I suppose the last 13 years have been Bartman’s own special kinda crusifiction. The difference, though, is that Bartman’s suffering hasn’t saved anyone. It hasn’t washed one single square inch of my soul, I can tell you that. Or guaranteed me a spot in the clouds for eternity. Or even something as mortal as blessin’ me with some season tickets. Instead, the entire Cubs nation has continued to suffer right along with him. Not in the shadows like a sewer rat, the way he has, but sufferin’ nonetheless.
So … should I forgive him? Full disclosure: I’m actually thinkin’ about it. Seeing your team jumpin’ around the infield, having just become World Series champions, has a way of melting even the most arctic of frigid of hearts. But I’ll tell you … even as recently as 2012, when we lost over 100 games — same old Cubs — I woulda paid money to see Bartman draggin’ some t-shaped lumber down Sheffield on his way to wherever they settle the score with guys like him. But now we’re the champs, and holdin’ a grudge is stupid (unless it involves the White Sox or Cards).
Maybe it makes sense to try and ween myself off of Bartman, almost like an addict. Besides, I’ve read where goin’ cold turkey doesn’t always work. Perhaps there’s a 12 step program, like BA — Bartman Anonymous — out there. Whatever. I think it’s probably best to take it slow. I could start by removin’ some of the pictures of him that I rubber banded to the urinal cookies at work. A few, not all … and then see how I handle that. One baby step at a time, I say. You can never be too careful when you’re dealin’ with a jaggoff.
I don’t know about you, but I got one question: Where in the hell did all these people come from?! I ask in that particular way cuz there are definitely some major league ice sickles hangin’ off of Satan’s ass today. Yup. The biblical equivalent of a large Canadian low swooped down and turned the lake of fire into somethin’ the Blackhawks could win another Cup on. But, whew … Cloud 9? (Or whatever number it is.) It feels way more like Sardine Can 9 to me. You’d think Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made simultaneous announcements to drop outta the race for Idiot in Chief. Nope. It was the Chicago Cubs winnin’ the last game of the last series of the 2016 baseball season.
That’s right, pal. After sufferin’ through 108 years, 19 days, 2 world wars, 1 billy goat curse, Steve Bartman and the Kardashians, the Chicago Cubs are finally sittin’ on the very tip top of the baseball world. If I was friggin’ Shakespeare I still couldn’t find words to explain how good this feels. I think it’s in the general vicinity of playin’ hide the sausage with the missus, but with mustard, relish and some cheesy fries. I can tell you this, whatever this feelin’ is … I’m not alone, cuz it appears as though I’m celebratin’ with 15 or 16 million of my closest friends.
At the risk of stating the obvious, I don’t know when I’ve seen a better World Series. I know. That’s a little like saying, “Those are some major league yabbos, you got there, Dolly,” to Ms Parton. Sometimes, though, you just gotta say stuff, even if it doesn’t need sayin’. Of COURSE I haven’t seen a better Series than that. Anyone who saw the previous one ain’t breathin’ anymore.
But Wednesday night … holy CRAP, was that nail-biting or what?! I created a new divot in the edge of the Schlombarcalounger from being perched there for 4 hours. Comin’ back from a 3-1 series deficit, and givin’ away a 5-1 lead in game 7, and going extras, and the whole “did Joe overtax Chapman by using him needlessly in game 6” thing … it was a baseball thrill ride of Magic Mountain proportions. Havin’ an umpire crew from the Stevie Wonder school of rock was like the whip cream on top of this extra large tension sundae, too. I didn’t much like it, and it’s definitely a good reason to keep the Second Amendment intact, but the umps did, in their own pathetically incompetent way, make things interesting. Of course, some people find reality TV interesting, so I think “interesting” is in the eye of the beholder. Except for umpires, cuz their eyes don’t work much).
If I could change anything about Game 7 (besides me havin’ front row seats with Bill Murray) it would be to bring Harry back from his skybox to call the game … for two reasons. 1) Harry was the definitive, quintessential, beer-drinkin’ Cubs fan, not to mention the voice of the team for like a million and a half years. He had more Cubbie blue in him than the Chicago River does today, and … AND … I was walkin’ outta the Ambassador East, where Harry lived during the season, and where I used to get up for the game, and he took one look at the missus and me and offered us a ride to the ballpark. No shit! Of course I think he gave us the ride so he could enjoy ridin’ with the missus for 15 minutes. Anyway, reason #2 is that if Harry woulda been doin’ the game, no one’s ears — mine especially — would have been assaulted by the moronic commentary of one Joseph D. Buck. (That’s a D for douche bag.) He’s like a friggin’ Ken Doll, except he’s not as knowledgeable about baseball. Obviously, I’m not the only one with this fantasy, cuz Budweiser did a pretty good job of showin’ us what it woulda been like if Harry had called the game:
Anyway, I could go on and on, but it’s taken me 2 days just to stop celebratin’ enough to write this little bit down. Bottom line is the Cubs are world champs, which has put grins the size of the Sears Tower on about 30 million people. Enjoy the parade, baby!
PS. I believe the groundbreaking ceremony for the Theo wing in Cooperstown will be underway soon.
You know, Pete Rose and I aren’t exactly on each other’s Christmas card lists. But tonight, the former Cincinnati gambler took the reason the Giants choked on a 3-run, 9th inning lead, and folded, wrapped and very neatly packaged it into a single word: “Stinko.”
“That was a stinko bullpen, man.” said Rose. Then he went on to paint the picture — much to my personal delight — of an on-field disaster that rivaled anything that Hollywood special effects wizards coulda dreamed up. “Five pitchers give up 3 runs before they get an out in the inning? … They didn’t deserve to win. That’s the worse collapse I’ve seen in a long time for a bullpen playin’ for what they were playin’ for.” Pete is no George Will, but those words … those were pure Shakespeare, baby.
“Idiotic” is another word that comes to mind. I came up with that one on my own, though. But at least I’ll combine it with “thank you” and a big wet kiss for Bruce Bochy for takin’ Moore outta the game when he did. Perhaps the stupidest move I’ve seen by a manager since Dusty Baker came to work at Clark and Addison. Moore had 10 K’s and had surrendered just 2 hits. And you take him out?! With the Giants’ bullpen? Wow. Bochy and Pete Carroll gotta be in the same knitting circle.
Full disclosure: I had to employ the “don’t watch cuz you’re jinxin’ the team” strategy during the last half of the game. I haven’t had to use that one all season, which may explain why it worked; it wasn’t expected. Anyway, tonight around the 5th, it became obvious that if I kept watchin’ we were gonna lose for sure, but if I turned the TV off, the Cubs had a chance. Yeah, it was a sacrifice, but that’s part of baseball. The missus headed upstairs and started yellin’ the blow-by-blow down the stairs, and in between askin’ me, “Don’t you wanna turn it on? They’re doin’ good.” (One of the million reasons why she winds my watch.) I resisted.
Deep down inside, where the corndogs and brats are processed, I know my watchin’ probably has nothin’ to do with whether the Cubs win or lose. It’s just a superstition thing. Like black cats and goats and Steve Bartmans. They’re like Justin Beeber fans — they can’t be explained with logic.
Whatever it was — me, or the Cubs finally startin’ to play like the Cubs — our visiting grays are gettin’ a champagne wash cycle tonight. And so is everyone in Wrigleyville. That doesn’t stinko.
I’ve been a Cubs fan since before the Big Bang, so you can imagine how, this year, it’s been pretty friggin’ impossible to wipe the smile off my face. I think it’d take a jack hammer and some C4. Or maybe some earth moving equipment or somethin’. I’ll tell you one thing: it’s thrown the missus off, that’s for sure. Why? Cuz until the 2016 wet dream edition of the Chicago Cubs, nothin’ on Earth (or Mars and Jupiter, for that matter) except the considerable charms of Mrs Schlombowski could give me this Howdy Doody face. Know what I’m sayin’?
We got a 19 game lead over the Cards, who are number 2 in our division. (And when it comes to the Cards, I think you know what I mean when I say “number 2.”) We’ve had the best record in baseball since the opening bell — except for about 5 minutes back in April. And right now, we’re 44 games over .500. If last night’s game hadn’t ended in a lame tie, and we’d have finished off Pittsburgh — and c’mon, is there any doubt? — we’d have won 16 outta 22 series match-ups so far, and 7 of those are sweeps. Point is, this has been a 100%, unadulterated, no-holds-barred, cup-runneth-over baseball season of Cubbie blue bliss. And it ain’t over. In fact, to quote Mr John “Bluto” Blutarsky, “Nothing is over until we decide it is.”
Not that a post season run is a sure thing. I mean I’m talkin’ about the Chicago Cubs, here. Actin’ like Theo is gonna sprout a snow white Duck Dynasty beard and come down outta section 503 with “World Series Champions” etched on stone tablets would be pretty friggin’ arrogant. It would also be presumptuous and assholian, which would make me a Yankees fan. Quite frankly, I’d rather bathe in a tub of simmering yak doo than be saddled with that misconception. Anyway, I think you gotta stay grounded. Shit happens, my friend. The last time the Cubs got close enough to sniff a World Series trophy, the air was fouled by Steve Bartman. Remember that? This recurring Bartman nightmare not withstanding, I think you gotta enjoy the best season the Cubs have had in everyone’s lifetime. Stop and smell the ivy, so to speak, like me. I’ve been hangin’ out on cloud 9, the Bowksi-lounger dialed in at a jaunty 73 degree recline, enjoyin’ the occasional frosty, perfectly foamed Old Style, and day-dreamin’ about how I’m gonna fit a goat on the Weber. (I figure I’ll have to Dexter the thing with a hack saw or somethin’.) The Cubs are hot. Life is good. Short of the missus bringin’ me a cigar in her birthday suit, I’m about as happy as Bill Clinton at an intern convention.
And yet what the F do I see when I flip on Baseball Tonight or SportsCenter?! Is it the Cubs? No. It’s Adam Effing Jones playin’ the race card! Callin’ baseball a White sport! Jesus, Mary and Joseph Maddon … Talk about bitin’ the hand that feeds you. That’s like a friggin’ great white shark, pal. Jones is rakin’ in $16 million this year, and talkin’ about white privilege. And droppin’ grenades like 8% of ballplayers are black. Yeah? What about the Dominicans, Cubans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans? That’s more like 40% people of color. When is Jones gonna talk about black versus brown versus every shade in between? They don’t count? Sheesh. If I said somethin’ like that I’d have the nightly news parked on my lawn. Not only is all this crap takin’ away from the real story of the 2016 baseball season — the Cubs — it’s not even one of baseball’s biggest problems. Race? Really? Are you friggin’ KIDDING me? How ’bout declining attendance, nobody playin’ Little League, rules changes that are dialin’ up the wuss factor … If you’re gonna go all Reverend Wright on us, Mr Jones, pick a real problem. And by the way, if you can figure out how to get Cam Newton, LeGarrett Blount, and Derrell Rivas to play baseball instead of football, bring it the F on! Baseball WANTS those guys! Especially if they end up on the north side of Chicago. You wanna make a difference? Drop one of your sermons on the LeBron Jameses and Antonio Browns of the world that gets ’em to choose a diamond over hardwood or a gridiron.
Unless you’re from another planet (Mets fans, I’m talking to you), you understand that the Cubs have a pretty friggin’ good chance of making the Series this season. We’ve lost Schwarber to a freak accident which ain’t good, but still, outta the billions and billions of stars out there I’m thinking there’s only one or two that are out of alignment. I’d almost be willing to say it’s our destiny to win the last game of the playoffs this year. Almost.
There’s still this very small but nagging thing in the back of my head, though. It’s like when you’re eatin’ a PB&J sammy and you get a raspberry seed stuck between your teeth. It’s delicious, but you can’t fully enjoy it cuz of that stupid seed. And you can’t get it out. It drives me friggin’ nuts. It’s Bartman. I know, I know, there was no sign of him last year, but I can just see him lurking in the shadows … with his mitt.
The missus says I’m like a dog with a bone with this Bartman thing, and that I’m cuttin’ years off my life by letting it stew for so long. She’s right, I know. But then, if the fully loaded barge of encased meat products I’ve eaten, and that cheese sauce on the ball park nachos (it looks like it’s radio active or something) haven’t corked up the old arteries yet, I think I can handle a few more years of pointing the finger at Bartman. I’ll get over it one day. Maybe. But for now, keep your eyes peeled. And if you do see him, please give him the official Bartman Welcome.