Remember last year, when the 93-loss Orioles had a walkoff win in their final regular-season game against the Red Sox, denying Boston a spot in the postseason, and Baltimore players celebrated like they had won the World Series?
That's the kind of celebration we saw at Wrigley Field on a dreary Wednesday afternoon as Bryan LaHair's bases-loaded single gave the Cubs a 5-4 win over the Astros, Houston's final game as a National League team. In so doing the Cubs gave the visitors their 107th loss, an Astros franchise record, as a parting gift.
It might have been a parting gift for LaHair, too, as there doesn't seem to be much of a place for him on the 2013 Cubs; it's been suggested here that Japan might be a destination for him next year. If that's true, he left with one of his better days of the year -- a home run that was the Cubs' first hit (extending the no-no-hit streak to 7,501 games), and the RBI single that won it.
There's other stuff that happened during this game and after, including this firing that's somewhat of a surprise (interestingly enough, Listach was not listed on the roster on this series scorecard, although the other coaches all were):
#Cubs dismiss coach Pat Listach— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) October 3, 2012
... but I didn't want this to be a traditional recap, since we have just ended what I'd consider the worst season in Cubs history (at least at the major-league level). It's not the worst by record, but the two that were worse had more talented players -- three future Hall of Famers on the 1962 team, four in 1966 (five if you count the bad tail end of Robin Roberts' career). This team doesn't seem to have that; there are a couple of potential perennial All-Star talents in Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and maybe Jeff Samardzija, other than that, we seem a long way from contention.
The rebuild and everything surrounding it has been talked about many, many times here and it's not my purpose to start up that debate again -- that'll happen soon enough, I'm sure. What I did want to say is this:
This has been perhaps the most difficult year I have ever had as a Cubs fan. Beyond the losses and horrendous play I've seen, some of what's happened has had me saying things to others here that I truly regret. Please let this serve as a complete and overall apology for any harsh words I've said to anyone here. We have it tough enough as Cubs fans without being at each other's throats. I am truly sorry. And now that the Cubs' record resets to 0-0 until April 1, 2013, let us reset here, talk about how to make this team better and other baseball topics. I'm sitting watching the Oakland Athletics celebrate their improbable run to the A.L. West title as I type this -- after they had just one winning season since 2006 and lost 88 games last year -- and thinking, why can't that be the Cubs soon?
For a different take on this final 2012 Cubs game, please check out my Baseball Nation feature focusing on the Astros' last N.L. game.
I'll have more to say about that next week, probably. In the meantime, there will be discussion threads here every day of the postseason; coverage, of course, of any offseason moves; probably some more of the retro recaps I did last offseason since you seemed to like them, and other fun offseason diversions... and hope. We always have hope.
Thanks to BCBers katiecasey, leftycub and Itchy, who all spent some time in the left-field corner with our group as we said goodbye to the 2012 season. And speaking of that, here is my traditional BCB farewell to baseball, something I post here every year, from A. Bartlett Giamatti's "The Green Fields of the Mind":
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.