Open Letter to the Baseball Gods
A preseason plea from a cautious Cubs fan.
by Timothy McGinnis
February 21, 2004
Please do not think that every Cub fan is assured that they are going to have a World Series in Wrigley Field this October because Greg Maddux is returning to Chicago.
There are still many of us who fear your mystical powers and do not wish to incur any further wrath by offending you with such blind optimism. We understand there are very real weaknesses to this team. Please forgive those who have forgotten that the Cubs still have no real lead-off man, still strike out too much, and are less than poetry in motion on defense.
We understand that Greg Maddux is 38 years old. His ERA and walks/hits per innings pitched (WHIP) have increased steadily over the last 4 years while his strikeouts per innings pitched and innings pitched per appearance have dropped steadily over those same 4 years. There is no real reason why we should think that those trends will not continue.
We know that the catching situation has not necessarily improved, that Moises Alou is another year older and presumably closer to another lingering injury of some sort, and that Corey Patterson has not done anything to prove that he is ready to resume his role as an impact player after his ACL surgery last year.
We know that Sammy may or may not get all of his homerun power back if he was at all involved in the rampant steroid use that will probably come to light over the next few months.
We hope that Kerry Wood's arm continues to be sound, that Carlos Zambrano's head doesn't implode, and that Mark Prior lives in a bubble on days when he is not pitching.
Please do not hurt them. We know it is well within your powers to wreak havoc on players' lives and fortunes and I beg you to please show some mercy.
We have learned our lessons from our Boston brethren. We saw how they got a little cocky through their acquisition of Curt Schilling, the Yankees' loss of Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens (conveniently landing with the Cubs' chief division rivals, thank you very much), and the almost done deal for Alex Rodriguez. They saw an opening for glory and they charged after it a bit prematurely. Red Sox Nation brazenly predicted the fall of the "Evil Empire."
Oh how they are paying for their sins now.
The "coincidence" that both ARod and Babe Ruth wore the number 3 was not lost on us. It was clearly a sign that the Gods played a very significant role in the Yankees' acquisition of Rodriguez.
We don't pretend to understand why you prefer the Yankees, or why you apparently hate the Cubs and the Red Sox so much. But I am here, on behalf of Cub fans everywhere, to plead with you to please stop the madness. Please allow us to have some joy as fans.
I know it must have been fun to see the faces of horrified Cub fans everywhere as Steve Bartman deflected that ball, Alex Gonzalez dropped a potential double-play grounder, and Mike Mordecai, of all people, delivered the crushing bases-clearing double that killed any comebacks the Cubs might have been able to muster in the 8th and 9th innings of that dreaded Game 6. Mike Mordecai for crying out loud!
Its still gives me pains to think about it. The silence in the park that night was so great I could almost hear your laughter (though it may have just been a few White Sox fans).
It must have been funnier still when you used the same exact script to kill Boston's season a few nights later. Up by three, eighth inning, ace on the mound, five outs to go to the World Series, a fan touches a ball in play... blown lead... blown game. Deja vu. Even I'll admit that the script was too good to leave as a stand-alone. It practically demanded a sequel.
True, Cub fans got a little uppity last year. They walked around asking White Sox fans why they weren't happy the Cubs were having success. After the 7th Inning Stretch in Game 6, fans around me were high fiving each other and saying, "I'll see you at the World Series!" Who did we think we were? We probably deserved that cruel fate.
Even I am partially guilty. After Game 4 of the NLCS with the Cubs enjoying a 3-1 series lead, I distinctly remember thinking, "I can't believe I am going to be going to a World Series game at Wrigley Field." I didn't say it, but I thought it, and I now realize my foolish arrogance. Oh my, how you did show us how strong and mighty your powers are. Blasphemers we were, one and all.
We get it. No need to prove it anymore. Please show some mercy this year. I know it would be comical to see Sammy sustain a career-ending injury of some sort or have Mark Prior suddenly lose his ability to throw a ball anywhere near the plate a la Mark Wohlers or Rick Ankiel, but its not necessary. Really. Its not.
You are great and powerful and we are at your mercy. We know it is not a goat, or a black cat, or Steve Bartman that have cursed us. It has been the awe-inspiring work of the most glorious Baseball Gods, who we hold in the highest respect. We respectfully ask with all due reverence and contrition that you find it in your hearts to not find a reason to crush us once again this year.
We know that you can bring wondrous blessings as well as gut-wrenching set-backs, and wonder if you could bring just a little bit of sunshine onto the Cubs' season.
For that we would be most grateful.
PS - If you so choose, we can offer a blood sacrifice in the form of Antonio Alfonseca or Shawn Estes.
About the Author:
Tim is making the prediction now that Greg Maddux will not reach his 300th career win this year and is simply hoping that the Cubs finish over .500.
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