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October 17, 2005

For this I'm missing Arrested Development?

We'll get back to regular programing sometime shortly. For now, there's an 800-lb gorilla in Chicago, and she's wearing a 2005 ALCS Champions hoodie...

Yes, baseball's World Series is finally coming to town, though it's not quite what I'd hoped for.

Congratulations are certainly due to the South Siders and their fans, all 35,748 of them. Not even a month out from barely averting the all-time choke, the team looks pretty unstoppable right now (and rumor has it that Ozzie's giving his bullpen the next couple of weeks off). As they're poised to light up the Houstons in short measure (Houston first base coach Jose Cruz should probably watch his back), I suppose sour grapes are out of line.

So, the silver linings:

A) The supremacy of pitching. It's nice to see that a team with mediocre to middling offense (8th in the AL in regular season OPS, 9th in runs, tied for 11th in batting average) can still win it all with dominant hurlers. So, let's get Kerry a new arm and get this over with.

B) Carl "The Diplomat" Everett. The guy's primed to say something very insane, very soon.

C) The Cards. Barring some East Coast-style voodoo, the Redbirds are done (and they've come within a loss of the pennant in truly spectacular, hot-headed fashion). The only thing that could diminish my pleasure in this right now (beyond the facts that it's Houston that they're losing to and that the Cubs themselves are currently on vacation) would be to see Albert "It's Pronounced POO-holes" Pujols sashay off with the NL MVP.

D) The hex. If those "baseball gods" that Bob Brenly always talks about really do exist, I do like the recent trend in MLB curse reversals. I'll believe that, though, when I see Dusty starting talented rookies and second year studs every day, and when I see the Cubs' rotation emerge from spring training sans season-ending injuries. That would be the stuff of miracles.

Of course, now that I think about it, this "first the Bambino and the Black Sox, next the Goat?" narrative is gonna be like armchair-sports-analyst crack next year, so this all may well prove more insufferable than I've yet anticipated. And, really, who am I kidding? We probably already blew our chance this century.

E) Maybe this will be enough to finally get Sox fans over their sad, sad obsession with the Cubs.

* * *

In other baseball news, for the ninth straight year, polydactyl reliever Antonio Alfonseca led the league in fingers in 2005:

"Antonio has been through a lot this season, including some elbow problems and a trip to the DL," manager Jack McKeon said. "But in the end, he just went out there and had a lot of fingers." There was once again a tie for second place behind Alfonseca, with 214 pitchers amassing 10 fingers each, followed by Bob Wickman, who finished last with 9.7.

"For this I'm missing Arrested Development?"
Posted by Dan at 08:16 PM


Maybe this will be enough to finally get Sox fans over their sad, sad obsession with the Cubs.

It's hard being number two. On the other hand, I thought this was pretty funny.

Posted by: JL on October 18, 2005 at 08:18 PM

> It's hard being number two.

Especially when number one is one of the losingest teams of losers that ever did lose.

Even some Sox fans can appreciate the absurdity of it all, though:

I donít root for the Cubs. I joke that I hate the Cubs, but I donít. A lot of my friends are Cub fans and while I have a lot of problems with the teamís pre-1998 ownership (essentially, the team, at the time, didnít seem to care about winning, but rather care about making money), the Cubs are a perfectly fine team. Sure, itís fun to have a friendly rivalry, but, for the most part, I donít think about the Cubs much. (By the way, itís much easier to type those words with the Sox playing in the World Series this weekend.)
But, letís be honest, most Sox fans arenít like that. Civility is not something I would give to most Sox fans. This is a group of people that has, in the past four years:
ē Beat up a third base coach
ē Failed (but tried) to beat up an umpire
ē Boo the Cubs when the Cubs have nothing to do with the game the team is playing...
So, yeah, Sox fans arenít exactly going to be civil towards Cub fans in an instance like this. In fact, Iím a little suprised the AL Champs merch doesnít say "Suck it, Dusty" or something similar on it. It would sell if it did.

The seething hatred radiating toward Wrigleyville from the South Side offers a pretty compelling psychodrama, hitting every possible note from class warfare to rank homophobia.


Speaking of psychodrama, this has to be the most unique Cubs season wrap-up I've seen. Sort of a postmortem-cum-Bildungsroman that opines that "Maybe the Hindu astrologers were on to something, with their dragon that became two shadow planets" before laying out a pretty decent take on the peculiar face the pathology of Cubdom has shown these past few years (as we got a taste of the pathos that characterized Red Sox Nation for so long):

These are the things I think about now, as I reflect in an October that finds the Cubs and 21 other teams forgotten. Itís a luxury to have time to reflect like this, and too much reflection is not entirely healthy, I suppose. Still, I think about it, and I decide that if the Cubs had finally won a World Series in 2005, it would have been great—spectacular even—but not at the level it would have been in 2003. We were burned, and now there was that wound of doubt and skepticism, not yet a scar, and this year most people werenít ready to move past that yet. A World Series would have still felt a little like revenge, because the memory was still so near. It would have been making-up-for-2003, not a great season enjoyed for its own sake.
I hope that next year finds me closer to that balance, intense with support but detached from expectations and an abstract need for vengeance. In short, I hope I care but that I donít get mean about it. That way, it will be that much better when we win next year. Call me wacky or delusional or nonsensical or worse, but thatís how I have it figured right now. Whatever the reasons, the Cubs got screwed by Destiny and themselves in 2003 and it has taken until now for me to reach the point where I can put that all the way behind me. The lukewarm season made it clear that there was to be no vengeance for 2003, and thatís that. Time to get over it. There, Iím over it. Now I can start next season on more of an even keel, ready for a great season but allowing the possibility of another bad one, and I might thereby avoid banging my head into the wall when the relief pitchers walk, balk and otherwise throw tee-balls in April. Donít get me wrong: Iíll still be upset; I always will be. I just wonít be piling it onto a grudge.


Also... Eric Zorn has his head on straight. So does Richard Roeper.

Posted by: Dan on October 19, 2005 at 11:03 AM

Noted... It's a bit of a jarring internet moment to link to someone and only later realize that you went to high school with them.

Posted by: Dan on October 19, 2005 at 11:41 AM

Especially when number one is one of the losingest teams of losers that ever did lose.

Or one of winningest of winners, often when your team is at the same level. A lot of the sort of pathology you document I've seen grow up among Red Sox fans over the years. It didn't use to be that way - disliking the Yankees is of course a longtime tradition, but not with the sort of venom and sheer insanity. It's abetted by the college student factor in Boston: idiot kids come to town and think they're embracing it by drinking insane amounts and screaming "Yankees suck!" at the top of their lungs. Ugly.

The first guy is right, though: Reinsdorf has blood on his hands.

Posted by: JL on October 19, 2005 at 11:54 AM

Referenced in this post:

CNNSI.com: 'I was stunned'—Royals first base coach assaulted by father-son duo
CNNSI.com: Mighty Mouth—Tom Verducci
Capitol Fax: Go Sox—Comment 5
ESPN.com: Albert Pujols Player Card
FOXSports.com: Rule of White Sox starters: Go the distance (AP)
Houston Astros Official Site
Houston Astros: Team—Jose Cruz
MLB News: Nomar to the rescue—Carrie Muskat
MLB News: Pie's march toward the bigs continues—Carrie Muskat
MLB Player Information: Carl Everett
MLB Player Information: Karry Wood
MLB Player Information: Matt Murton
MLB Player Information: Ronny Cedeno
MLB.com Store: Chicago White Sox 2005 American League Champions Authentic Collection Hooded Sweatshirt
MLB: Sortable Team Stats—AL AVG
MLB: Sortable Team Stats—AL OPS
MLB: Sortable Team Stats—AL Runs
MSNBC: Report: Everett rips gays, fans, Wrigley
Onion Sports: Antonio Alfonseca Once Again Leads Major-League Relievers In Fingers
Reverse The Curse
St. Louis Cardinals Official Site
The Heckler: Sox fans celebrate team's hot start with good ol' fashioned tire fire—Paul M. Banks
WGN Sports Cubs Baseball Blog: The Gods Must Be Crazy
Washington Post: Edmonds, La Russa Get Official Treatment—Barry Svrluga
Wikipedia: The Inning