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Agony

Well, they've done it for 95 years; why should now be any different?

I don't mean losing; I mean bringing us to the heights, then dropping us to the depths.

Instead of taking 95 years, the Cubs did it all in one night in what will be remembered as one of the most incredible postseason games ever played, an excruciatingly exciting, but ultimately disappointing 9-8 loss to the Marlins, who take a 1-0 lead in the NLCS.

Here, let me turn over this space to a couple of e-mail correspondents, beginning with, of all people, my dad:

I see a necessity to install instant replay on baseball games. I think the call that the Cubs fielder "bobbled" the ball then tagging the Marlins player was absolutely wrong. Instant replay should prevail over umpires' visual calls except re balls and strikes.

Also, characteristically, Baker let Zambrano stay in the game way too long.

If you need any further expert commentary on baseball, please advise the writer.


Well, how can you argue with that? Even if he did, as he told me, vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And last night's loss was partly Jessica's fault, as you will see:

I am at least partly to blame for tonight's loss - I got so giddy in the first that I DID NOT EAT THE LUCKY TUNA SANDWICH (which I ALWAYS eat in the bottom of the first) Doesn't ALWAYS work but has a good track record

Trust me, she will be reminded to have the tuna sandwich tonight.

Unlike the Division Series, where the teams print their own programs and the Cubs gave us basically their regular scorecard (OK, so it was surrounded by a $5 magazine rather than a $1 magazine), in the LCS and World Series, MLB takes over and prints their own program, which costs $10. They did get it updated, at least; it has Cub and Marlin rosters and photos, and it contains scorecards for all seven possible games, so you can keep score without having to pay $10 for an additional program every day. The only downside is that MLB, in its infinite wisdom, plastered an ad for a website (which I will not give any PR to by repeating its name here) right in the middle of the scoring boxes for both teams, making it very difficult to read some of your own writing. They also left room for only ten innings, though that's no different from the regular season Cub scorecards. Unlike the Cub scorecards, where I can insert one of my blank scoring sheets for 11-plus inning games, I don't really want to shove a piece of paper inside the program, so last night's 11th inning resides in the "At-Bats" column, and later today when I get a chance to total the stats, I'll just blow out the "Errors" column, and move AB/R/H/RBI over one. There's also no identification numbers for the umpires, and though they did get on the message board, they weren't announced, and I only saw the RF umpire's name (Mike Reilly), and got the rest, except for LF, from an old scorecard I found in my backpack. Oddly, Reilly wound up behind the plate after Jerry Crawford left the game (we never did find out why), and that did have some impact -- Reilly's strike zone was quite different from Crawford's, and I wonder if some of the pitchers had trouble adjusting.

Yesterday morning, Stacey Baca was looking for story ideas. So I sent her over to Mike's, to see his collection and talk to him about our common obsession; he made last night's 6 pm show and this morning's show also at 6, and he reported to me that the crew was properly impressed with his autograph collection.

And as he told me on Saturday, he wanted drama. Well, he got it. Last night's game set NLCS records for: extra-base hits; total home runs by both teams; and home runs in an inning.

I have absolutely never in my life heard any ballpark rocking as loud as it was last night after Sammy Sosa's game tying homer in the 9th; and the most amazing sight of all after that was Dave, who is always so critical (and justifiably so given his coaching and managing experience in professional baseball), standing and applauding Sammy with the rest of us when he ran out to right field.

The biggest problem I think the Cubs are going to face in this series is that they are basically down to a three-man bullpen: Farnsworth, Remlinger and Borowski. JoeBo can be excused for yesterday, because the Marlins' closer Ugueth Urbina had just about as bad an outing as he did, so that's a wash, and any closer can be forgiven one of these.

But frankly, I would not let Dave Veres or Mark Guthrie near a close game again in this series; Antonio Alfonseca actually threw pretty well. I'm almost willing to forgive Guthrie, because even though he did hang a breaking pitch to Mike Lowell, the almost-Cub, Lowell's game-winning HR was wind-blown and barely made the basket. The security guard who retrieved it threw it on the field.

The wind will be blowing out tonight again, on another unseasonably warm day (I may bring out the shorts, just to say I wore them in October), but this time, Mark Prior is on the mound. With Prior and Kerry Wood scheduled to throw four of the remaining six games, I still have confidence that good pitching will shut down good hitting, which is what the Marlins have.

They're a good team and a hot team, but so are the Cubs. The Cubs have not lost more than two in a row in over a month, and not two in a row in more than two weeks, and I expect Prior will even the series tonight.

It's only one game. That's not just fan support speaking. The Red Sox lost the first two games of their division series on the road, and still won the series. The Yankees lost the opener of their series at home to the Twins, and looked really bad doing it, and still won the series. Even the Marlins lost game one of their own series, and then beat the Giants three straight.

One of the most spectacular examples of such a comeback was the hated 1986 Mets, who lost the first two games of that World Series at home, and still won, in what is remembered as one of the best World Series in history.

Mike, my friend, I'll take that kind of drama, any time.

Hope remains alive.