Cubs collapse again (cont.)
Desperate times called for desperate measures: I decided I would watch the Joe Biden-Sarah Palin vice presidential debate that night instead of the start of Game 2. It was the responsible thing to do.
But as Biden and Palin traded verbal jabs, my trigger finger got itchy. It took everything I had not to click the remote and find out what the hell was going in the game. When the debate ended, I frantically changed the channel: Zambrano hadn't come up big -- the Cubs were down 5-0. A couple hours later they had lost 10-3.
I didn't sleep well that night. I was feeling edgy. The next morning I tried my hardest to maintain my veneer on the Party Line:
I'm not letting this Cubs collapse bring me down, fellas. Life's way too short. I mean, what if they had gone all the way? Would that have changed my life in any way? They're a baseball team. [Bleep] the Chicago Cubs. [Bleep] Wrigley Field. And [bleep] Sammy Sosa.
A few seconds past. My fingers tapped out a follow-up:
Also, [bleep] Dick Stockton.
The level-headed approach wasn't working particularly well -- I was cracking again. Luckily, it was a travel day for the Cubs, so I had some time to pull myself together. That night I went to a bar to watch my old pal Bennett's band play, and I probably had one too many.
My head felt a bit cloudy when I awoke the next morning, but my resolve to not care about the Cubs was clearer and stronger than ever. Rather than watch the game that night, I would attend my 25th high school reunion. I just had to convince Bennett to do the same. Bennett and I had been friends since the seventh grade; we had watched more Cubs games together than I could count. He still cared. Nevertheless, he caved under my pressure and picked me up at around 7 p.m. for the reunion.
The shindig was at a suburban monstrosity called Pinstripes, a reception hall/bowling alley/restaurant. Bennett and I mingled with people we hadn't seen in years. We smiled bravely. We acted like we were into the whole thing.
But at 9 p.m. -- first pitch of Game 3 -- we couldn't resist. We sidled up to the bar to catch a glimpse of the Cubs fighting for their lives. The fight was, as usual, futile. In the bottom of the first inning the hated Loney gave L.A. a 2-0 lead with a clutch double.
"It's over," Bennett said, staring at the TV in disbelief.
I nodded grimly. "Let's go," I said.
Bennett and I returned to the business of mingling with people we hadn't seen in years. We smiled bravely. We acted like we were into the whole thing.
But as the bell tolled for the Cubbies -- as they entered the top of the ninth inning losing 3-1 -- we couldn't resist. We sidled back up to the bar and watched Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano go down in order. Just like that, the Cubs were done. Nine straight playoff losses. Yet another season had ended in disgrace.
"That's it," Bennett said. "I can't take it anymore. I'm breaking up with the Cubs."
"I already have," I said.
My words, however, didn't ring true. As I slumped over the bar with one eye on the TV and the other on my drink, I surely looked as if I had been hit by a bus, beaten repeatedly with a tire iron, kicked in the stomach, doused with beer and punched in the teeth for good measure.
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