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Matthew

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Just talked to my brother, who lives in Wrigleyville. The city is absolutely devastated.

He said that a lot of people will be dressing up like Steve Bartman for halloween, though. <_<

Edited by Jim Dye

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washingtonpost.com

Melancholy and Infinite Sadness

By Thomas Boswell

Thursday, October 16, 2003

CHICAGO -- As though the devil himself had planned it, the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night arrived at exactly the moment when the heart of every Chicago Cubs fan had just been smashed like a rotten pumpkin. What a time to ask 39,574 fans, all in the mood for a dirge, to sing, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

The last batter of the top of the seventh inning blooped a hideously meek double, inches out of the reach of diving center fielder Kenny Lofton. Two Florida runners scored, giving the Marlins a 9-5 lead that felt like a 40-run margin. The Marlins hitter was thrown out stretching for a triple. The Cubs trudged off the field. And the harshest of baseball realities quickly swept over everyone. The Cubs really were going to blow the pennant again.

Staring them in the eye was the worst moment in the entire 128-year history of the franchise that outstrips all others for disappointment. The collapse of 1969 was just preamble. The NLCS fold in 1984 to the San Diego Padres couldn't match this. Not only were the Cubs about to lose their third straight potential pennant-clinching game, but their last two defeats came in games started by Mark Prior and Kerry Wood -- two of the top strikeout pitchers in baseball -- against virtual nonentities named Carl Pavano and Mark Redman.

So, Wrigley fans, now that we've all been kicked in the stomach by an 800-pound gorilla, let's stand for a rousing, cheerful rendition of the late Harry Caray's favorite tune. Led, naturally, by the singer from Smashing Pumpkins.

You never heard such a forlorn rendition of baseball's anthem in your life. When the crowd got to "I don't care if I never get back," it sounded distinctly like all 39,574 in attendance -- the crowd might have been 39,575 but wasn't there one empty seat down the left field foul line? -- seemed to sing, "I don't care if I never come back."

Somewhere, Steve Bartman, the 26-year-old Cubs fan who knocked The Foul Fly Ball out of Moises Alou's glove in Game 6, may have sung, "Take me out of the Midwest, take me far from the crowd. Buy me some airfare and fake ID. I'm real sure that I'll never come back."

"I don't care what anybody says. . . . We didn't lose the pennant. The Marlins won it. . . . We were close and the Marlins took it from us," Cubs Manager Dusty Baker said. "Nobody even expected us to be here. . . . But our guys got a taste of it. Next spring . . . "

Oh, next year. That would be No. 96 in a row without a world title and No. 58 without a pennant.

If the Cubs had lost this NLCS to the Atlanta Braves or San Francisco Giants -- proven 100-win teams -- then Baker's analysis would probably be correct. But the Cubs had a three-games-to-one lead against an inexperienced wild-card foe that had seen three of its starting pitchers pummeled in their first outings. The Cubs got to start and end the series at home. And they held the Prior-Wood hammer at the end. The Marlins get credit for doing plenty of winning in these last three games. But the Cubs did just as much to lose.

"We weren't even supposed to show up for these last two games against Prior and Wood," said Marlins Manager Jack McKeon, whose team scored 17 runs -- a dozen off those two starters -- in the last two games. "I'm not going to get into that hex-jinx-goat thing you guys got going [in Chicago]. . . . I think we'll be the darlings of baseball the rest of the way. We're going to have some fun wherever we go [whether to Boston or New York]. We're going to give the American League a tough shot, too."

McKeon may be right. This 9-6 victory was built on the dramatics of two infant Fish stars who will probably someday be household names. Miguel Cabrera, 20, greeted Wood with a three-run homer in the very first inning, then drove in a fourth run later. In the outfield, he ran down six Cubs drives, three with catches worthy of Roberto Clemente. Josh Beckett, 23, who shut out the Cubs on two hits on Sunday in Game 5, appeared in relief on only two days of rest and allowed just one run in four innings.

McKeon, old enough at 72 to be the grandfather -- or even conceivably great-grandfather of his best players -- managed circles around Baker as he has this entire series. Baker couldn't hide his distrust of his second-line players in tight situations and managed around them. That erodes confidence. Until this final all-hands-on-deck Game 7, McKeon kept everyone in his role, building confidence. If Trader Jack tells you to go fishing with a dumbbell for bait, just do it. You'll probably catch a gold-plated whale.

So, silence now holds Wrigley in its melancholy arms. A wonderful game by Alou will be forgotten. His two-run homer went where no fan could possibly interfere with it -- straight into Waveland Avenue. Three times, he robbed the Marlins with catches in left field. Alou did all he could for Bartman, the fellow for whom he expressed so much sympathy and wanted to unburden with a final victory.

But, in the end, the demons that have reigned here for almost a century remain firmly in possession of the most beautiful ballpark on earth, like a glorious mausoleum atop generations of buried dreams. Perhaps two moments on this evening, both involving Wood, captured the potential for elation and the reality of ultimate Cub dejection.

In the second inning, Wood hit a two-run homer to tie the score, 3-3. Fans always cheer and clap, sometimes they scream. But when Wood connected, everywhere you looked, people jumped, danced, waved their arms and seemed to hover in midair with elation, like Snoopy on a joy jag in "Peanuts."

Four innings later, Wood shuffled off the mound after being tattooed for four singles, a double, a triple, a home run, four walks and seven earned runs. He kicked at the grass like a dispirited little boy, lost in despondent thoughts as he approached the dugout. All the dejection of 95 years of Cubness were written in his demeanor, though he has worn the luckless uniform for only six seasons.

As Wood ducked into the dugout, he flipped his glove disgustedly into the crowd, even though his team trailed by only one run and might have won. If body language could speak, that disgusted flip said, "Cub Curse wins. We're dead meat."

Within seconds, though no one requested it, the crowd tossed Wood's glove right back onto the field.

For Cubs fans, that's how deep the disgust and depression now cut. For the faithful of Wrigleyville who have been jilted for so long, these are the dark hours when love fades, even love passed from generation to generation like a community heirloom. Perhaps the spring training which Baker invokes will revive the romance. Winter, especially in Chicago, is so long and April so sweet. But now, if Wood -- or for that matter perhaps even Prior or Sammy Sosa -- throws his glove into a Cubs fan's lap, that worthless hunk of leather comes flying right back.

After all, whatever the Cubs have could be contagious.

The Marlins will have their Series frolic. But, for the Cubs, let's end this evening with the saddest of possible words. No, not "Tinker to Evers to Chance." Rather they are the words that Bartman, a Notre Dame grad, wrote in a statement of penance before this game: "I am so truly sorry from the bottom of this Cubs fan's broken heart."

So are we all.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

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I think in the end, the Marlins were the better team. While you can't always say that the better team won, in this case it did and they'll be a better NL representative against Yankees or Red Sox than the Cubs. While the Cubs have some good starting pitching, so do the Marlins and I think their pen is quite a bit better, with Looper and Urbina. The Cubs have Sammy and Alou but a lot of the rest of their lineup didn't really impress me, compared to some of the talent that the Marlins have going for them.

They are going to very tough to beat, especially because the winner of the AL will have spent a lot of energy in beating its foe.

I really feel for the Cub fans, just to be so close. That's something you don't forget for a long time. When the Mets lost the way they did to the Dodgers in the '88 playoffs, after being so close to taking a commanding lead, that's something that bugged me for a long time. It still bugs me, but not in the same way it did. That's a tough loss for Chicago to take. A real shame.

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To all Cubs fan (me among them):

"Forget it, Jake. It's Wrigleyville...."

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I disagree, Brad. The Marlins won game seven largely because of managing. Just as he left Prior out too long in game six, Baker left Wood out too long in game seven, while McKeon had little patience and got pitchers out of there before they could do too much damage to the cause. Where the heck was Clement or Zambrano? Certainly Clement should have been the very first guy out of the pen-he had what, three days rest, and threw a beauty in Game four? Some pitchers start on three days rest!

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I really feel for the Cub fans, just to be so close.  That's something you don't forget for a long time.  When the Mets lost the way they did to the Dodgers in the '88 playoffs, after being so close to taking a commanding lead, that's something that bugged me for a long time.  It still bugs me, but not in the same way it did.  That's a tough loss for Chicago to take.  A real shame.

Funny, that one never bothered me. :g:g

f_gibsonho.GIF

Edited by Matthew

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I agree with Dan and thought Dusty left Wood in too long. It was 5-3 Cubs and Wood started looking like the wheels were coming off.

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Of course, just don't mention Ozzie Smith & Jack Clark to me either! :(

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The only curse the Cubs had in this series was Dusty Baker!

I've had enough of Dusty and his kid.

WTF? :rolleyes:

The post game press conference and the kid is driving cars over the microphone.

You think he would have learned his lesson after last year when the kid was at home plate and just about got himself run over.

Totally unprofessional is what he is.

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Well, I wouldn't expect much more from those Dodger fans. May Walter O'Malley continue to rot in hell, those fucking bastards. While I might hate the Yankees, it's nothing I feel compared to the utter contempt I have for the Dodgers and that was before '88. I revel when I see them lose a game. May they never win another title again :angry:

Yeah, Dan you're right. they kept Wood in too long. Clement, maybe would have been the better choice. Zambrano, he doesn't impress me. Bringing in Veres, a another bad decision. That guy's awful. But face it, the Marlins are the better team. Top to bottom, I just think they're better. And in the end the better team won They'll do better in the WS than I the Cubs would have done.

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My dad has hated the Dodgers and everyone associated with them since they left Brooklyn. It's in my blood. B)

I think you are correct Brad, the Marlins are the better team.

Edited by catesta

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I disagree. Clement and Zambrano are the equal of every Marlins starter except Beckett. Properly managed, Prior and Wood would make the difference in a seven game series against anyone. In fact, if the Cubs had won game six, everyone would be saying how they're in such great shape, with Wood to start game 1 with plenty of rest and Prior ready to go for game 2. A world championship was laid out there for the Cubs, but Baker, the error by the shortstop, and fate were against them. In that order.

As far as talent goes, the Cubs will reach the World Series with this same lineup, give or take a reliever or two, long before the Marlins ever do. Take that to the bank.

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The funny things about the Dodgers is that when you speak of the robbery that they perpetuated on New York, no one thinks of the Giants in the same way. It's because O'Malley persuaded Stoneham (the Giant owner) to come along with him. How else, could the Dodgers have played anybody on a regular basis without traveling so far. The nearest team were the Braves and that was in the midwest.

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Something good came out of last night's Cubs game. I got so nervous I couldn't watch, so I turned the game off for awhile, went online and ordered the Ellington Mosaic.

For what's its worth, I think last night was Wood's game to win or lose. I have no issues with Dusty's decision to leave him in. The Cubs just aren't good enough yet! The best "managing" in the world ain't gonna change that fact.

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The funny things about the Dodgers is that when you speak of the robbery that they perpetuated on New York, no one thinks of the Giants in the same way. It's because O'Malley persuaded Stoneham (the Giant owner) to come along with him. How else, could the Dodgers have played anybody on a regular basis without traveling so far. The nearest team were the Braves and that was in the midwest.

Story is that O'Malley was only able to convinve Stoneham after a loooooooong liquid dinner. ;)

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I disagree. Clement and Zambrano are the equal of every Marlins starter except Beckett. Properly managed, Prior and Wood would make the difference in a seven game series against anyone. In fact, if the Cubs had won game six, everyone would be saying how they're in such great shape, with Wood to start game 1 with plenty of rest and Prior ready to go for game 2. A world championship was laid out there for the Cubs, but Baker, the error by the shortstop, and fate were against them. In that order.

As far as talent goes, the Cubs will reach the World Series with this same lineup, give or take a reliever or two, long before the Marlins ever do. Take that to the bank.

Dan,

I thought you didn't believe in fate? That's what I mean about the better team. The Marlins made the plays, the Cubs didn't. That's how you win it. I don't like Zambrano. Nice fifth starter but that's about it. Clement. Good third starter. Fills his role nicely. Beckett and Willis (although he didn't have the greatest LCS) are the real deal, apparently equal to what the Cubs can offer. We'll disagree but I like the Marlins talent better. Many of them are young; a lot of the Cubs are slightly graying. The Tribune Company, which can afford it, probably won't do what it takes. The Marlins, who can't afford it, who knows their future.

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Brad,

I put fate third in the list because there's nothing else you can use to describe that ill-fated foul pop up. But I do NOT blame fate for the final result. The Cubs had their chances and didn't perform.

You can compare Beckett and Willis to Prior and Wood when either one of them put up the results that Wood and Prior have. Willis for one often looked like a high Double A pitcher late in the season and in the play-offs. Let's see them match Wood or Prior before we announce them their equals.

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Well I was disappointed that the Cubs lost......and it's not the kid's fault either......look at the error by Gonzalez in that 8 run inning, or how Farnsworth got lit up in the latter part of the Series, or how the Cubs' bats went south. Give credit where credit is due: the Marlins won the series and were the better team. I'll be rooting for them in the World Series against the Yankees- 'cause I dislike the Yankees alot, or I'll root for the Red Sox grudgingly since I hate head hunting Martinez and Ramirez is a wuss- Clemens should have hit him so he would have something real to complain about when he walked towards Clemens....

Anyway- give it up for the Marlins- they deserve it.

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Dan, are you watching the game tonight with others or by yourself. The reason I ask is that one of my good friends at work is a die hard Sox fan and he's watching it by himself in his basement. He's very tense and I even offered to take him to dinner so we could watch it together but he just wants to be by himself.

We don't have to tell Mrs. Gould to keep sharp objects away from you tonight, do we? :g

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He said that a lot of people will be dressing up like Steve Bartman for halloween, though. <_<

Oh man, I totally believe that - 150%!!!!

:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

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Brad,

Let's just say that Mrs. Gould is working (and despite the fact that she's a Sox fan too, she is glad she is) and the dog will be given the opportunity to stay as far away from me as possible.

I'm not worried about sharp objects, but I will refrain from eating anything during the game. The last time that happened, during the A's series, I ended up discovering just how much of a splotch an apple will leave when it explodes off the wall.

I'm kidding. Maybe. :w

:excited::excited::excited::ph34r::rmad::rhappy:

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You guys have probably seen these already, but they're funny anyway.

Edited by AfricaBrass

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Rumor is he's planning to sell his house and move out of the Midwest. That's really sad--people need to let it go.

I agree with Dan; Chicago will get another shot at it, sooner rather than later.

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