Sunday, October 5, 2008

7-2 + 10-3 + 3-1 = 0-3 & outta there

So much for the dream of an all-Chicago World Series.

The Chicago Cubs managed to become the first team to get knocked out of the playoffs, losing their third straight game to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

NOT THAT CHICAGO White Sox fans should gloat – the only thing that made the Cubs the first team knocked out of the playoff picture as opposed to the White Sox is that the Cubs started postseason play one day earlier last week.

Sunday could very well be the final game of ’08 on the South Side – unless the White Sox shape up pretty quickly.

So Chicago will not get a $100 million shot into the local economy by having the Cubs in the World Series, or a $154 million jolt from an all-Chicago series. There might still be a chance of a $72 million boost from having the White Sox in the series, but the fan in me is bracing myself for the worst – yet another Chicago-less championship season.

Now some people are going to get offended at my having any thoughts about this particular portion of the 2008 Major League Baseball postseason, since I am an American League fan who has made it clear that in an all-Chicago World Series, I would be rooting for the White Sox.
Does this headline (above) equal this one (below) in terms of Chicago Tribune types jumping the gun in anticipation of an event that didn't happen?

AND I AM not among those people who would rather NOT see the Sox in an all-Chicago series because I would “fear” the thought of losing to the Cubs. When it comes to pressure moments, NOBODY loses to the Cubs.

No matter how much Cubs fans like to talk about their favorite team as being some sort of elite franchise in professional baseball along the lines of the New York Yankees, this is a ball club with a legacy (particularly in the past half century) more akin to the St. Louis Browns.

So I was not surprised to see the team suddenly become so weak. I think the quintessential moment of the Cubs’ stint in the playoffs came Saturday night in the seventh inning when the North Side’s ball club managed to get two baserunners on, including Kosuke Fukudome (who managed his first base hit of the playoffs).

At that moment, so-called big bopper Alfonso Soriano came up. A big hit could have made the game close. A home run could have tied it. Instead, he weakly flied out to right field. And the rest of the Cubs lineup couldn’t do a thing to drive in those runs.

NOW I DON’T want to appear as though I’m gloating about a Cubs’ loss. But I have to admit it is a relief to know we’re now going to get a few months rest from the fan rhetoric of recent months – all that talk that this year was THE year for the Cubs, that they were entitled to think from Day One that a World Series victory was inevitable.

I’m even going to giggle at the thought of the Chicago Tribune, which published a glossy book of photographs paying tribute to the Cubs’ season, entitled “This is the Year!”

Uh, no it isn’t.

The Cubs ought to realize how fortunate they were this season to make it through the year without any serious injuries. If they had, they would not have dominated their division so thoroughly this season.

HECK, THEY MIGHT have had a season more akin to the White Sox, who although they were in first place for much of the year had to put up with the Minnesota Twins lurking close behind all year, and even threatening to win the division in the final days.

For all those people who want to argue that 2008 was some sort of “historic” season for Chicago sports because of the Cubs, I’d argue that the most interesting baseball happening this year was the White Sox’ season finish.

Defeating Cleveland, Detroit and Minnesota three straight games played on three consecutive days to finally clinch their division title (knowing that a loss on any one of those days would end the season in failure) was a remarkable achievement.

I think it was more awesome than any Cubs game – moreso than that no-hit game Carlos Zambrano pitched against the Houston Astros in Milwaukee.

OF COURSE, MAYBE I’d think a little more of that no-hit game if I didn’t remember the last time a White Sox pitcher successfully reached that achievement – Mark Buehrle in 2007 against the Texas Rangers.

What does it say that Chicago pitchers can do the job against Texas ball clubs?

And on a final note, 2008 will go into the books as the first time in 102 years that both of Chicago's baseball clubs finished the regular season in first place. But with the modern-day structure of playoff baseball, both of our home city's teams appear as though they will fall short of the ultimate goal - a league championship.

So now it's going to be 103 years (and counting) since the last all-Chicago World Series. I only hope to still be alive when it happens again.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Tom Boswell of the Washington Post is usually a top-notch baseball writer, but I can’t help but wonder ( if he wishes he could “take back” this column written just prior to Saturday night’s Cubs’ loss.

Now that we’re going to be at 101 years and counting, we are going to have to listen to much ( more rhetoric about curses.

Figure for yourself how much money people would spend if another World Series would come ( to Chicago.

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