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:
Well, cheese doodles, tonight was either a bona fide come-from-behind, never-say-die, skin-of-the-teeth victory, or a brutally honest look at our bull pen. Depends on how you wanna look at it, but since I have an almost mythical knack for finding the cloud wherever there’s a silver lining, I feel the need to point out the obvious flaw in what seems like a World Series team; our bull pen. Watchin’ them tonight was like eyeballin’ a petri dish coated with some disgusting stuff you can’t pronounce swarming around in random ways you can’t predict. And whatever that stuff is, you don’t want to touch it, and you sure as hell don’t want it wearin’ a Cubs uniform.
All I can say is thank you, God, for Joe Maddon. This was like some sort of baseball experiment tonight, where the Cubs were in a Phase II trial to figure just how comatose they could be and still win. Maddon, though, was the mad scientist, mixing things up in crazy ways, and putting parts where they don’t belong until he effectively willed a win out of what appeared to be a collection of inanimate objects. Seriously … how can the Cubs make like friggin’ Ironman for the first 5+ weeks of the season and then turn into Boy George against one of the worst teams in the league? Boggles the mind.
As good as we’ve been (and we’ve been damn good) and as masterful as Dr Maddon is (like a Casey Stengel version of Einstein … or vice versa) tonight’s showing against the Brewers illustrated with the clarity of a Miller High Life bottle that our bull pen is definitely the weak link in the Cubbies chain reaction. They walked 6 guys. SIX! I thought bull pen guys were supposed to throw strikes. That’s why they get brought in in the first place … cuz the previous guy couldn’t throw strikes. I mean if we wanted to keep walkin’ guys we’d just leave the first guy in, who was doin’ a fine job with that already, Right? Even Wood, who got the win by gettin’ out of a spectacular hole he dug for us, and gettin’ walked himself with the bags loaded, probably woulda had a different outcome if it hadn’t been for some of Maddon’s chess moves.
On the other hand, the Cubbies did come away with a win tonight, even if the bull pen was channeling Mitch Williams most of the time. Question is, what kinda pen do they wanna be? The kind that’s directly responsible for an increase in Chicagoland cardiac deaths, or the kind that inspires the sale of (name of Cubs reliever here) jerseys? We’re gonna find out. No question about that.