Growing up a Cubs’ fan, you think you’ve seen it all. Every horrid break, every awful trade, every pathetic effort, every close call, every debilitating plea for next year, but let the record show, there are still fresh horrors to be unveiled. I don’t believe in curses, but anyone looking for evidence they do exist should stop by 1060 W. Addison Street.
Last night, the Lovable Losers, 51 and 67 on the season but 8 and 2 in August, took their hotstreak into Atlanta with Carlos Zambrano on the mound. The one time lights out ace isn’t the same pitcher he once was, but he’s still typically good enough to give the Cubbies a chance to win. Not last night. After surrendering eight earned runs and five homers, Big Z intentionally threw at Brave Chipper Jones twice. He was ejected and sent to the showers where he promptly cleaned out his locker, told clubhouse attendants he was retiring and took off before the game was over.
What. The. Fuck? I’ve seen players give up, and I’ve seen them retire mid-season. It’s not common, but it does happen. Sometimes the shame or eroding skills is too much for a main to bare, but walking out in the middle of a goddamn game without even telling the manager might well be the most disgusting, bush league thing I have ever seen in professional sports.
Once upon a time, the futility of the Chicago Cubs was an often joked about and little worried about phenomenon. Finishing a year five hundred felt like a big victory, and more often than not, the goal was to stay competitive. Then the early 00s resurgence happened, Lou Piniella showed up to put a little fire in the team’s belly, and everyone started expected wins. This really could be the year, we collectively thought. Let the record show that resurgence, that new mantra has left town, and I miss my lovable losers.
It’s not that I aspire to root for incompetence, but back in the day, at least the Cubs lost like good human beings. Players competed as hard as they could and then walked across the street to have a beer with fans after the game. It was like pulling for a church softball team. We weren’t the Yankees, but there was no expectation of being the Yankees. Then, in the late 90s, the Cubs started adding questionable personalities in order to get better. Sammy Sosa blared loud music inside the clubhouse regardless of whether the team won or lost. Todd Hundley actually flicked off the fans after hitting a home run in 2002, and Alfonso Soriano constantly bitched about his place in the batting order while swinging at pitch after pitch in the dirt. I didn’t like it, but in the name of trying to win, I was willing to accept it. Shame on me. I would rather watch wide-eyed, honest and nice dudes go 5 and 157 than watch douche bags bitch and complain their way to a 60 and 102 record.
I miss Mark Grace and Ernie Banks and Ron Santo and Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson and Billy Williams even if none of them ever won shit.