Cubs need to take it like a man

Oct. 16, 2003, midnight | By Nick Falgout | 17 years, 3 months ago

The Chicago Cubs lost game seven of the NLCS yesterday night to the upstart, underrated wrecking squad that is the Florida Marlins. The 9-6 loss makes it 59 years since the Chicago Cubs have been to the World Series; the "Curse of the Goat" (what a rip-off) lives on.

But to the city of Chicago, that isn't the real story. The real story, the real reason that the Cubbies lost, happened Tuesday, October 14, 2003. Let's set the scene.

Top of the eighth. One out. No one on base. Cubs have a 3-0 lead. Five outs until the Cubs advance to the World Series for the first time since…um… 58 years ago. And then, the incredible, shocking, gut-wrenching, horrifying play: a foul ball, off the bat of Marlins speedy second basemen, Luis Castillo. Cubs left fielder Moises Alou ranges over, reaches his glove into the stands, and: a fan reaches out for it, getting there first and losing the series for the Cubs, single-handedly.

So now, as Steve Bartman, the fan, prepares to move to the Yukon, the Cubs sulk and stew. Oh, if only that fan hadn't reached for the ball. Then there would have been two whole outs, and there would be no possible way that the clutch-hitting Marlin team could ever recover.

But he did, and the Marlins found a way, in the form of eight runs in that same inning to eventually take the game, 8-3.

Never mind that after Ivan Rodriguez singled in Castillo (who was, technically speaking, out), Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez made an error that kept the inning alive, followed by Derek Lee's double. Never mind that the Cubs were up 3-1 in the series and had three consecutive chances to win the series. Never mind that the Cubs actually held (and then blew) the lead yesterday in game seven. None of that matters. With headlines like "Fan Blows It in the Windy City" (our own sacred Washington Post) and "The Mitt Hits the Fan" (the obviously unbiased Chicago Tribune), how on earth could it be the Cubs' fault?

Well (like you didn't see this coming), it just plain was. And no consummate sportsman can justifiably claim otherwise.

You want a goat? How about game six starter Mark Prior, who couldn't overcome adversity and get Castillo out (or get out of the inning, for that matter)? How about Kerry Wood, who blew his 5-3 lead in the fifth last night? How about the entire Cubs organization, for underestimating the talented Marlins after taking a 3-1 series lead?

Or maybe, just maybe, you could blame the Marlins, for fielding a better team, playing better baseball, and never taking anything for granted.

Stand up and take it like a man, Dusty Baker. Admit that you were outplayed. Pick up your glove off the field, Moises Alou. In fact, never slam it to the ground to begin with. Shrug your shoulders, trot to your position, and have faith that your ace, Mark Prior, will get you out of the inning.

Oh, and Chicago? Quit whining, and quit sending death threats to an innocent fan. You want to know heartbreak? Move to Seattle. You want to know absolute misery? Move to Detroit. And if you want to continue to be cocky, fanatical psychos, move to New York. I've got just the team for you.

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Nick Falgout. Nick Falgout was bored one day and decided to change his Chips staff information. And now, for a touching song lyric: "I'm a reasonable man, get off my case Get off my case, get off my case." ~ Radiohead, "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd … More »

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