Cubs: Cursed?

October 01, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

I do believe the Cubs are cursed. But it's not in the way that you think. But it is brought on by that thing that you're thinking.

Confused yet? Let me see if I can make things more clear. You'll have to forgive me if I'm a bit fried. I did just watch Ryan Dempster poo in my bed.

When I say that the Cubs are cursed, I don't mean that they're cursed by any goats or black cats or any mystical beings, including (but not limited to) Sasquatch, the Tooth Fairy and JO Sampson.

The Cubs are cursed by a much more realistic and intangible thing: expectation. Whether the Cubs make the postseason by one game or 20 games, whether they're mediocre or the best team in the league, every single Cubs postseason team will be under an immense amount of pressure. Now that the Red Sox and White Sox have won it all, the Cubs are the lone ones standing with empty fingers.

So here's the question: Is it too much? No matter how good or how experienced, is the weight of expectation going to be too much for any Cub team in the playoffs? Every team that loses without reaching the World Series will only increase the pressure on the next team.

The teams that seem completely immune to this kind of thing are those "Just Happy To Be Here" teams with no pressure whatsoever. Last year, the Cubs were swept by the Just Happy To Be Here Diamondbacks. The NL went to the Just Happy To Be Here Rockies last year. In 2003, the Just Happy To Be Here Marlins won it all. This year's Rays seem like the kind of team that could do the same thing. Same with the Brewers. You know...if they didn't suck.

Remember the 4 game set in Milwaukee a few months back where the Brewers had Sabathia and Sheets going in the first two games? Those Cubs were expected to do no better than to split, so they came in loose and focused. By the time game 3 came around, they were already on a roll, beating the Brewers best 2 pitchers.

Remember last week against the Mets and Brewers? The Cubs played awesome and were in a lot more of those games than they should have been considering they were starting their JV team. Those Cubs had already clinched and were playing loose and relaxed. The Cubs we saw tonight, even after DeRosa's homer, were not loose and easygoing.

You could tell from the first pitch tonight that not only did Dempster have no stuff whatsoever, but that all the Cubs seemed uptight and nervous. Those two things probably went hand in hand.

The best thing for the Cubs would be to go out there loose and ready to go for game 2. But if they couldn't do it for game 1, what happens now that they're in a 0-1 hole? What happens when they send one of the most emotional athletes on the planet to the mound in game 2?

I'd like nothing more than for the Cubs to come out and take the next 3 and get the monkey off their backs. I don't know if it's up to Lou or up to the players to just go out and play and not be so uptight, but they just need to calm the F down.

One more thing. Our own Chaim Witz was in the stands, so this is not directed toward him. Now I don't know if Wrigley Field is going the way of most NBA arenas and pricing out regular fans so the only ones that can afford tickets are not usually the most die-hard of fans, but it sure seemed like it. It may have been the cold, but there were very few times where I really felt like Wrigley Field was rocking tonight.

Did you see US Cellular Field last night? I can't believe I'm saying this, but the Sox fans last night completely owned the Cubs fans at Wrigley today. They were frenzied the entire time, screaming at the top of their lungs at every 2 strike count. Now the circumstances were different because they had absolutely nothing to lose, but I really wish I would have seen the same kind of passion and craziness out of the Wrigley faithful. Maybe it was just the way it came across in the telecast, but Wrigley, even with a 2-0 lead, seemed nervous and uptight, much like the players, as if they were waiting for the other shoe to drop the entire time.

Fuck it. I'm taking both of my shoes off.