Baseball, April 5th, Opening Day 2012. Chicago Cubs vs. Washington Nationals at iconic Wrigley Field. “Expectations for the Chicago Cubs may be the lowest in years,” writes Tribune reporter Paul Sullivan today, and the Cubs lived down to that assessment, the bullpen blowing a 1-0 lead and Ryan Dempster’s pitching gem to lose 2-1. Last year the Cubs made the most fielding errors in the National League. The following little piece, originally published in the Chicago Sun Times in a slightly different form after another first round exit in the playoffs a few years ago, focuses on Cubs’ hitting. Hitting woes, fielding woes, pitching woes. Hang in there, Cubs Fans, there are bigger troubles in this world. Besides, as another Chicago columnist, Mary Schmich says about Opening Day: “In baseball, no other day is so pure with possibility; the past is not proof of the future.” Well, not entirely, maybe…
Cub fans are the tragic historians of American sport. A 100-year curse is hard to break, and it will be harder at 101. So forget it. Pray for amnesia. And stop thinking about next year, and next year stop saying “This is the year!” because, really, no one knows.
We make a religion out of sport, but real religions talk a lot about staying in the moment. The sports cliché is “one game at a time.” Get smaller. Enjoy it inning by inning, batter by batter. I’m no Pollyanna. I’ve endured my fair share of tragedy already, and many things in real life are much harder to forget. I love sports because it really is small ball in the great scheme of things. When it gets too big we spoil what its incredible value is for us.
Hey Cubs slugger, there’s a runner on second and nobody out. I know you’ve hit more than 20 homeruns this season, but that doesn’t matter now. Stop over swinging. This moment, in this situation, what we need is a little tap, maybe a bunt to the right side. Your job is to move that runner to third, not live up to your slugging percentage or lift 100 years of frustration.