Some call it the "Last Great Story In Sports"--the Chicago Cubs ending more than 100-years of futility and finally winning a World Series. There is great optimism among Cubs fans that this could be the year that the team finally ends all of the curses and gives them their long awaited title. But all of that optimism is hedged by the knowledge that the more likely result will be yet another post-season collapse and an extension of the agony.
The Cubs have had their chances before. In 1945 they denied entrance to Billy Sianis and his billy goat to enter Wrigley Field for a Series game--and he put the "Curse of the Billy Goat" upon them. In 1969 the Cubs had a big lead in the standings in mid-August--but a black cat ran in front of their dugout at Shea Stadium and the team collapsed down the stretch--allowing the Miracle Mets to win it all. In 1984 they won the first two games of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley and appeared to be on their way to the World Series when Leon Durham allowed a ground ball to go through his legs in Game 5 and San Diego went on to get pounded by Detroit instead. In 1989, my favorite player--Will Clark--single-handedly destroyed the Cubs in the NLCS--hitting a grand slam off Greg Maddux in Game 1 and driving in the series winning runs against Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams in Game 4.
And then, of course, there is the 2003 National League Championship Series--what I would consider the greatest moment in Cubdom history--as Steve Bartman, a Chicago area little league coach, knocked a foul ball away from Moises Alou in left field (and shortstop Alex Gonzalez booted a routine ground ball) allowing the Florida Marlins to pull off a miracle rally to keep the series alive. The Marlins pulled off another big rally in Game 7 at Wrigley to win the series the next night.
So it is not so much a question of if the Cubs are going to lose in these playoffs--but how will they lose. And like the millions of others that revel in the agony of Cubs fans, I hope that it is in a new and particularly soul-crushing fashion.
It might be fun to see Jake Arrietta--who was nearly unhittable for most of the season--give up about eight runs in the first inning against Pittsburgh tonight and have to come out with the bases loaded and nobody out--and then have the Pirates cruise to a 14-3 win.
Or would it be better to have Arrietta be unhittable again tonight and to have the Cubs build a 3-0 lead--despite stranding 12 runners--but then tire late and need to be pulled in the 9th--and then to have the bullpen get two outs before a walk, an error and a broken bat infield single loads the bases for a Pirates pinch hitter that had only two homers all season goes deep for the first walk-off grand slam in post-season baseball history!!
Or should the Cubs win tonight in order to face their hated rivals the St Louis Cardinals in the Division Series--and then curb-stomped in three straight games? (By the way, Cubs-Cardinals, Dodgers-Mets in the NLDS? Everyone loses with those fan base matchups.) Or would it be more frustrating to have the Cubs blow leads in all three losses and the Cardinals grind out those wins like they always do (except against the Giants). Or maybe it would be better to give Cubs fans the thrill of beating their bitter rivals this time only to get four hits total in four losses to the Dodgers and Zach Grienke and Clayton Kershaw?
I'd come up with some kind of World Series losing scenario for the Cubs--but this isn't fairy tale. Anyway, if any Cubs fans need a little pick-me-up following the inevitable letdown in the next few days or weeks, I've got 3 San Francisco Giants World Series Championship videos from the past five years you can watch.