I've been a Cubs fan for nearly fifteen years. I remember Ryne Sandberg. I remember 1998, 2003. I remember Sosa. Because the Cubs schedule favors day games, I haven't been able to get to as many as I like, but I've watched a lot of Cubbie baseball.
I realize that makes me a tyro in the eyes of some; I know people who have been Cubs fans for three decades. Nevertheless, I think my Cubbie Fu is strong. I believe.
Which is why it was so frustrating last night to see the game diary suddenly become inundated with people posting about how much the Cubs suck, what a bad manager Lou is, how terrible Carlos Marmol is, and what crappy bats we have when Lou made a by-the-numbers-right decision to pull Z for Marmol.
Lou wanted Z to be ready for Game 4. Marmol has had a amazingly low ERA. We were hitting Webb hard, just not finding the gaps yet. The D'Backs were by far the worse fielders in yesterday's game. Everything pointed to the Cubs being able to pull that out.
And then Marmol had an off day. He was under pressure, overthrowing, overexcited. Something. But hindsight is 20-20, and I can't imagine that there are many people on this board who can do what Marmol or Z or Theriot or DeRosa or Lou do.
Talking about swinging at a bad pitch isn't being negative. Talking about how the team has got to figure out how to move those RISP isn't being negative. Read that game diary, and you'll see me say that more than once -- we had the leadoff hitter on 2nd at least twice, if not three times, and never scored that guy. We had the bases loaded, and only scored one run. These are issues that have plagued the Cubs all year, and they will hopefully figure that out tonight.
But coming on the board in the bottom of the 7th inning and saying "That's it, it's over" IS negative. Coming on the board and suggeting that Lou is the worst coach ever, or that Aramis Ramirez is stupid for swinging at a bad pitch, or that taking Z out of the game, thus planning for the future, is stupid IS negative. If Marmol had come out and been dominant and the Cubs had scored one more run and won, everyone would be talking about what a great manager Lou is, and how impressive it is for the rookie Marmol to have kept his head and pitched so well.
Our job, as fans, is to believe. To believe that the Cubs can pull it out. To believe that Lou, who has taken this team from worst in the division to best in the division, is making the best decisions he can. To believe that the players are trying. To ROOT, ROOT, ROOT FOR THE CUBBIES till the very end. If you don't think that being a fan matters, you root because it's fun. If, on the other hand, you DO think that being a fan matters -- that there's some metaphysical connection between the team and the fans -- then you root because IT WILL HELP THE CUBS WIN!
There's been a lot of talk about Bartman and the goat and the cat, and that's all BS. If there's a curse at all, if there's ANYTHING that drags the Cubs down when they need the most support of all, it's because of the fans.
Yesterday was a GOOD GAME. Carlos was ON. The D'Backs made several mistakes, and we almost got to Webb. There was really only two bad Cubs pitches in that game, that happened to result in home runs -- but hey, the D'Backs won NINETY GAMES this year. They're not the Pirates. It was never going to be easy.
Tonight, Lilly pitches. He's our recovery specialist. When he pitches after a big loss, we win. So, I think our chances tonight are pretty good, and then the next two games, we have a MASSIVE home-field advantage. There won't be ANY "Let's go DBacks" at Wrigley like there was "Let's go Cubbies" in Arizona last night.
Believe. it can happen. And even if it doesn't happen, the Cubs have still achieved a great accomplishment this year, and can look to build on that next year.