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.
“This is it! This is it! It’s two, they’re gonna turn two! Eeeaaaaaahhhhhhh!” The moment the ball was hit to Russell, I jumped outta my chair, screamin’ like a banshee. I don’t really know what a banshee is, but it’s gotta be loud and somewhat unhinged. (That would make my sister in law a banshee.) I bear hugged the missus who was already workin’ on a full set of raccoon eyes. If I was a woman, or Johnny Depp, I woulda had ’em too, cuz I realized she wasn’t the only one cryin’. That’s what happened at the Schlombowski household Saturday night. And I’ll tell ya … except for the Swedish Bikini team servin’ me beers without their bikini’s, blubberin’ like a newborn was the last thing I expected to happen. I guess the Cubs going to the Series means more to me than I thought it did … And believe me, I thought it would mean one helluva lot.
More than anything else, I feel gratitude towards Mr Ricketts who, as the Cubs owner, sorta takes a back seat to Theo, Jed and Joe in terms of getting credit for puttin’ this club together. But if it weren’t for Mr Ricketts, none of those guys would be here and, in all likelihood, our season woulda been over by the mid-season classic, like usual. So … thank you, Mr Ricketts. On the 10 million to 1 chance that you’re readin’ this, I want you to know how grateful I am that you brought Major League Baseball to Wrigley Field. Yeah, there’s always been some sorta reasonable or unreasonable facsimile, but until you started signin’ the checks, it’s never been anything like this. Thank you for givin’ so much joy to so many people who have patiently waited for so very, very long. We do, however, need a sit down about concession prices, my friend.
Full disclosure: I was more than skeptical at times over the last 5 years. 55 seasons of nothin’ will do that to a Cubs fan. So for me, bringin’ in Theo wasn’t an instantaneous Kyle Schwarber moon shot. Not that I didn’t wet myself with excitement when Theo first signed. I mean he came with the Red Sox miracle on his resumé, which was huge. Still, it took a while before all the ingredients started to come together. That’s when the intoxicating aroma of Theo stew with Maddon sauce started wafting out over Wrigleyville, and I realized that Mr Ricketts was really baseball’s Charlie Trotter. So sue me if I’m a little slow on the uptake. Nobody except Javi Baez is perfect, pal.
“Try not to suck.” That was the mantra this year. A Joe Maddonism that’s Yogi-esque in its utter simplicity and purity. And the Cubs lived up to every bit of it. They did not and do not suck, my friend. The same can’t be said for the Dodgers. Sorry, it may be unsportsmanlike to kick your opponent when he’s down, but somethin’ has got to be said about what happened to the Dodgers and their messiah, Clayton Kershaw.
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.
“Guess there’s a little Slim Shady in all of us.” — Eminem
Okay, I’ll admit it, sports fans. Rap and hip-hop music sound about as good to me as a shattered glass enema. I graduated high school in 1978 and grew up with an eight-track in the Pinto that I stuffed with Bob Seger, Joe Walsh, and Ted Nugent’s Double Live Gonzo. Look, pal, I don’t know if the real Slim Shady ever stood up or not, but I can tell you this: havin’ a first name you hate so much that you gotta change it to Eminem is tragic. (And, oh, by the way, that whole melts-in-your-mouth-and-not-in-your-hands thing is a load of crap. Holding a handful of those babies for more than, like, two minutes at Wrigley in August will make you stickier than Bill Clinton at a White House intern orientation.)
Which brings me to the point of today’s lesson, Cubs lovers. Take a knee.
In addition to being hard rock axe men who paved the musical way in my hay day, Seger, Walsh and Nugent have something else in common: they all have real, honest, hard first names. Hey, if the name on my birth certificate was Marshall Mathers, I might have a sweet candy alias too. But it’s not. I’m Joe. Joe Schlombowski. And names — front or back — don’t get much harder than that, my friend.
See, you got hard names and you got soft names. Hard names are bestowed on the fortunate sons of men who ignored their wives’ pleas to taint their new bundle of joy with a sensitive ringtone. Hard names, like Bob and Joe and Ted, and like Alex and George and Dan and Mike and Hank, are coughed off the tongue, dripping with masculinity and other admirable character traits. Like John Cusack said in The Sure Thing, “Nick’s the kind of guy you can trust, the kind of guy you can drink a beer with, the kind of guy who doesn’t mind if you puke in his car.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Of course, John — uh, yeah, that’s a hard name — is a devoted Cubs fan who’s been known to lead the Wrigley Faithful in Take Me Out to the Ballgame.
Soft names, on the other mitt, reek of maternal coddling. Avery, Ashton, Todd, Caleb, Joshua — all of them conjure up the image of a friggin’ fat kid with a notoriously soft Justin Bieber haircut whose only playing Little League so his overbearing, Boeing Apache mother can bring him a lemon Gatorade and Fruit Snacks in the dugout every other inning. I mean, have you ever heard a coach yell, “Goddammit, get in front of the friggin’ ball, Jasper!” without makin’ Jasper cry? Of course, not! Coach has no time for a kid with a soft name; he wants a dirty, tobacco-chewin’, fist-fighting animal named Rusty who drinks from a muddy water hose only after the game’s over.
Did you hear that, Cubs fans? That heavy metallic clunk was the last piece of the championship puzzle being lowered into position — the 99.999% pure steel arm of Aroldis Chapman. The first thing I did when I heard the news was call my mother. I wanted to find out how old I was the last time I wet my pants. Yeah … I’m jacked … sorta … and I think this is a kind of a good move. Why? Cuz it’s about FRIGGIN’ time that Binny’s Beverage Depot had an actual reason to be the official champagne supplier of the Chicago Cubs.
You gotta admit, the Cubs appear to be teeterin’ on the edge of a Championship. We’ve led or been tied for the best record in baseball the entire season. Even without Schwarber, and with various injuries plaguing a variety of players, not to mention our coin-toss bullpen, the Cubs are still wearin’ the yellow jersey as the race to the World Series is comin’ outta the back stretch. (How’s that for mixin’ metaphors?! That’s like a metaphor salad, my friend.) Adding Chapman and movin’ Rondon to a set-up position means that Theo is pretty serious about roastin’ some billy goat in October.
Naturally, there’s a Mount Everest sized pile of second guessing goin’ on — everything from Chapman’s domestic violence history to what the Cubbies gave up to get the Usane Bolt of pitchers.
Now I don’t have anything against nudity. The missus will definitely confirm that aside from the Cubs using the Cards for a roll of Charmin, I’m at my jolliest when she’s all dressed up in her birthday suit and there’s nothin’ good on TV. And I’ve let more than my share of guys cut in front of me at the barber shop cuz I was busy checkin’ out the naughty bits of the Playmate of the Month. But I gotta draw the line at Jake Arrieta, my friend.
First of all — and this point is so major it counts for 3 points all by itself — Arrieta is a guy. I don’t really give a crap that he has some super human healthy lifestyle and is built like the Rock. Nobody wants to see the J-man’s bat swingin’ in the wind. Maybe Mrs Arrieta. Maybe some of the bimbettes I see swooning at Wrigley when 49 is pitchin’. Maybe the guys over in Boystown. But that’s it. If I wanna see a guy naked, I can look in the mirror. In fact, it’s because of the naked guy starin’ at me in the mirror in morning that I don’t wanna see Arrieta, or Dwyane Wade, or all 300+ pounds of Vince Wilfork pretending their in a Michelangelo fresco. No offense to athletes and their athletic bodies, but as long as the Internet is still plugged in, there’s greener grass. Know what I’m sayin’?
Hey there, flap jacks. I freely admit that I’m not ever 100% sure what Theo is doin’. Hell, I’m not even 27% sure. But then that’s why he’s runnin’ the best baseball team in an 800 light year radius and I work in a sausage factory. I’m not complaining. Me and sausage are like Bert and Ernie, milk and cookies, Rogers and Hammerstein. But I think we can all agree that runnin’ the Cubs is a better gig, and definitely comes with the kinda fringe that puts my annual Christmas bonus case of red hots on the top of the shame pile. And hey, kudos to Theo. The Cubbies are treating the rest of baseball like a baby treats a diaper. Love it.
But this Shalamar trade with the A’s for Chris Coghlan? I don’t get it.
Life is good, Cubcakes. I used to wake up, slide out of the fart sack and pray to the Polish gods that we might actually win a game. Now? Well, I can’t wait to jump out of … of … okay, it’s still a fart sack (hey, I drink Old Style and eat Red Hots from a Pez dispenser, what’d you expect?) then pay my respects to Joe-Joe Maddon, the Polish god IN OUR DUGOUT, and wonder not if were gonna win today, but by how much. Yep, life is good north of a .700 winning percentage.
But let’s put the present aside for sec, uhm-kay? With the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft starting today, June 9 is all about the future: the stars of tomorrow that will lead each club to the Promised Land.
Or so they hope.
It ain’t that easy, Moses. I mean, who in the wide, wide world of sports can forget Shawn Abner? Just about everyone, that’s who! Abner was the first pick in the ’84 draft, ahead of guys named Bell and McGwire and Mullholland and Charlton and Maddux and Glavine and Moyer. Hearda them? Save for his mother and a handful of pals he grew up playing Whiffle Ball with in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Smokin’ Joe Schlombowski is one of the few people on the planet who remembers if Abner knew which end of the bat to hold. He did, but barely. Point is, first-round picks ain’t a sure thing.
If the Cubs win the Series, Chicago is gonna be pretty much as depicted in this TV spot. Only it’ll be real.
Until this year, asking that question was an indication that 1) it was 1945, 2) you were referring to your kid’s Little League team, 3) you were completely friggin’ nuts, or 4) it was before the bottom of the 8th, October 14th 2003. It’s not a question one would really ask — even on those occasions when it’s been warranted — cuz there was always a feeling way deep down inside, down where brats get processed and weird sounds emminate, that the Cubs would figure out a way to F it up. And they never failed to live up to that expectation.
If hope springs eternal, Cubs fans have perfected the art of it. We even created “wait until next year” in an attempt to throw down a gauntlet; a warning that the following season would be different. But that’s always been false hope, intended primarily to take the sting out of our yearly belly flop into the Sea of Ineptitude.
Hey there, ballot box. So, last night, after the Phillies finished wiping their feet on the Dodgers, I flipped the channel to one of those talking head news things. Well hoo-boy! They’ve all got their panties in a wad, screaming and cuttin’ each other off while reviewing the instant replay of the game I shoulda watched; Obama vs. McCain.
So here’s my take.
Obama? He’s your Mark Mulder type — smooooooth delivery; deceptive. Plus he’s a lawyer (like Scott Boras). I trust him about like Billy Martin trusted Steinbrenner. Then you got McCain. He’s like Joe Torre — been around a while; nice guy; spent time in a prison camp which, by all accounts, was almost as bad as working for the aforementioned Yankees owner. I think he’s here for the old-timers game, but that’s almost over. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what happens, or whether you like one of these guys and hate the other one — or vice versa — you will be disappointed in the end, I guarantee. In 4 years we’re all gonna be shakin’ our heads wondering what the hell happened. Again. High hopes followed by disappointment: one helluva lot like being a Cubs fan, my friend. Plus, I don’t see either one of them getting serious about legislation that would outlaw the designated hitter, which is what America really needs.