Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cubs fans will celebrate, but maybe we ought to root, root, root for the Pirates

The Chicago Cubs will continue to play ball for at least one more day, as they’ll be traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates this week for the right of which Wild Card team gets to take on the baseball division winners throughout October.

Is it the Pirates' turn to overcome losing ways?
I’m sure some Cubs fans are going to whine. That rant about being one of the best teams (based on won-loss record) in the National League, yet having to still fight for the right to compete.

EVEN THOUGH THE Cubs didn’t exactly choke. They finished their season with an eight-game win streak, and has many prognosticators wanting to believe this is the year that both the years 1945 AND 1908 lose their historic significance.

Yet I can’t help but wonder if it is more interesting if Pittsburgh winds up beating Chicago and going on to play the St. Louis Cardinals, with that winner taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers/New York Mets victor to claim the National League championship.

I’m sure some reading this will scream “Heresy!!!!!” and start sending me vulgar e-mail messages.

It’s just that I can’t help but think that the Cubs have already achieved far more than anyone had any right to expect this year. Whereas Pittsburgh has the ball club that in recent years has recovered from decades of dreck to come close to playoff success.

PERHAPS IT IS time for the Pirates to move forward. Perhaps it is Pittsburgh’s “turn” to move forward and win something – instead of those who have wanted to believe since back in May that it has to be the Cubs’ “turn” for victory.
One-time White Sox ace could be done
Somehow, the idea of a New York Yankees or Toronto Blue Jays World Series matchup against the Pirates or Dodgers is more intriguing than anything involving the Cubs or the intoxication crew that surrounds Wrigley Field.
Besides, if the Cubs really are the legitimate championship-quality ball club their fans want to believe they are, there are 2016 and 2017 to look forward to. If the Cubs can’t do anything in those years, then perhaps this whole era is as over-rated as Chicago White Sox fans will say it is.

As for the White Sox, they won two games of their final three-game series against the Detroit Tigers, but finished the season with a loss – and a 76-win season. Just short of the 78 to 82 win season I suspected they would have at season’s beginning.

Buehrle still far behind Spahn achievement
I WONDER HOW many White Sox fans on Sunday had their attention focused on Toronto, where the Blue Jays got their butts whomped by the Tampa Bay Rays and one-time White Sox ace pitcher Mark Buehrle gave up seven runs in two-thirds of an inning – costing the Blue Jays any chance of finishing the regular season with the American League’s best won-lost record.
The only reason Buehrle was called upon to pitch Sunday, just two days after pitching nearly seven innings on Friday. It was meant to give Buehrle a chance to pitch two full innings, bringing his season total to 200.

That would have made Buehrle one of only four pitchers to ever reach that season total in 15 or more straight seasons. All of those three – Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton and Warren Spahn – are in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

It would have been something for White Sox faithful who remember the decade-plus that he was the ball club’s best pitcher to celebrate. Instead, it added to the stink that was 2015 – with many fans fearing that 2016 will be more of the same because team manager Robin Ventura WILL return next year.

ONE OTHER ISSUE involving the end of the 2015 season – I thought it tacky that the Houston Astros ended their season with a loss that also ensured they would have to have their possible one-and-done playoff game at Yankee Stadium instead of at home, and yet the team could be seen celebrating with the now-expected champagne dousing.

What are they really celebrating? Creeping into the playoffs by a slot that didn’t even exist until a couple of seasons ago?

The Cubs still have a few rounds of winning to go before they can say they matched this achievement
Then again, I’m sure the White Sox – who beat up on the Astros in the 2005 World Series – would give anything if they could have an excuse to celebrate anything except avoiding a Last Place finish in ’15.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Perhaps one reason I like the idea of Pittsburgh in the World Series is I still recall one of the most-fun series I ever saw was the 1979 version when the Pirates beat the Baltimore Orioles four games to three. When Willie Stargell led "the Family" to a dominant ball club; remember all those stars circling their 19th Century-inspired stovepipe caps? And when "Sister Sledge" wound up gaining the one bit of musical fame that they're still remembered for.

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