To whom it may concern,
I have had enough.
Enough of curses. It's time to end them. Isn't sixty years enough? Isn't having two generations of Cub fans live and die without seeing a World Series enough?
Or ninety-seven years without a World Championship? You know, the goat curse isn't the only one on the Cubs -- there's Merkle's Curse, allegedly laid by New York Giant Fred Merkle, after his famous "Merkle's Boner" eventually gave the Cubs the 1908 pennant:
(That, of course, was written before the Red Sox' World Championship of last fall.)
So please. For millions of us, who have suffered enough, take the curses off. You've had your fun. Give us some happiness.
How else could you explain today's indescribable 3-2 loss to the Phillies, the Cubs' sixth loss in a row and third straight one-run loss, making them 4-7 in one-run games this season?
There isn't a way. In no other way could you possibly explain how LaTroy Hawkins could spear a line drive, catch pinch-runner Jason Michaels off first base, yet hit him precisely in the helmet, causing the ball to fly twenty-five rows into the seats behind first base for a two-base error, resulting in the two runs the Phillies needed to win the game.
It was almost like the evil-twin mirror image of the "Immaculate Deflection" game in 1984 where Pete Rose, then playing with the Expos, hit a line drive off Lee Smith's shoulder right to shortstop Dave Owen for a game-ending double play. (Yes, Rose was a Montreal Expo for 95 games in 1984. Two weeks after this event, he was traded back to the Reds.)
Only in bizarro season, 2005, instead of winning the game, it costs the Cubs the game.
Just before all this nonsense, after Derrek Lee's homer (off Billy Wagner, the first run he's allowed all season), a Phillies fan, dressed in a "PHILLIES 80" t-shirt, came up to me and said, "These are two teams suffering the same affliction."
To which I heartily agreed.
Worst of all, Hawkins' errant throw, for which you can't really blame him, ruined a spectacular pitching performance by Mark Prior. Prior had 105 pitches in eight innings, and made only one mistake -- a wind-blown popup in the second inning by Pat Burrell that landed in the left-field basket for a home run, the Phillies' only run till the ninth. Prior then loaded the bases and, a la Mitch Williams, struck out the side.
After that, he allowed only a single that Corey Patterson should have caught (and was booed for not hustling), and a walk to Marlon Byrd.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were, in a word, boring. Phil kept saying that they were putting him to sleep, and Dave said that apart from Lee and the awakening Aramis Ramirez, this lineup has no spark to it. He said he might shake things up by moving Burnitz to center, playing Ben Grieve in right for a few days, and Jason Dubois in left.
To which I couldn't disagree -- this team needs something to wake it up.
You might say that with Prior throwing the way he was, that he should have or could have been left in to throw the 9th. Unfortunately, Dusty sent Jose Macias up to pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the 8th, eliciting groans from us, but Macias actually got a hit, raising his average from .167 to .200 (4 for 24 to 5 for 25) with one swing, and he scored on Lee's homer. How can you argue with that?
I don't blame Hawkins for the bad throw. What I DO blame him for was, three batters before that, not picking up a comebacker to the mound for an easy out. It was almost as if he was thinking "double play!" before he had the ball. It would have been fine if he'd have even gotten one out at first -- just before this, Dave and I were debating whether the Phillies should have bunted. I said yes, Dave said, "You sure? On the road?"
Most visiting teams won't do this, and the Phillies didn't, but the Cubs could have had one out and a runner on second had Hawkins made this fairly easy defensive play.
As noted over in the Diaries on the right sidebar:
This stuff is even getting to Wayne Messmer, today's PA announcer-du-jour. After using three pinch-hitters in the top of the ninth, there were three defensive changes, none of which were announced by Wayne. We figured two of them out by who was on the field, and the other had to be, by default, Philly's backup catcher, Todd Pratt.
You'd think tomorrow's game is a mismatch, with Glendon Rusch, who hasn't thrown more than three innings in a game this year and hasn't started since Sept. 29, 2004, facing one of the hottest pitchers in the game, ex-Cub Jon Lieber, making his first appearance against the Cubs since he left at the end of the 2002 season.
But little about this year has made sense yet. So who knows?
And back to curses. I know all of you have faith. So I want you, tonight, to call on that faith, put all negative thoughts out of your mind about our team, and let's use the power of positive thinking to banish curses, banish bad thoughts, and banish this bad baseball to the dustbin of history, forever.
It can't hurt.