Saturday, September 5, 2015

Keeping a Lid on It

If you're a bona fide Cub fan, look before you leap was tattooed on your chest at birth. Scarred by years of championshiplessness and near-misses, buoyant emotions like joy escape from you with the frequency that inmates do from a Federal supermax prison.

You aren't given to throwing caution to the wind and cavalierly expressing elation merely because it's May and your team is in first place. No, you have learned to conserve your feelings the way a miser does their money.

Between opening day and the All-Star break, you raise taciturn to a level that is the envy of every Scandinavian nation on earth. You have a stiff upper lip that makes Viagra jealous. If you were any more reserved you'd be a table in a popular restaurant.

You—of all people—know the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint, and that premature displays of emotion only worsen the fall when the inevitable occurs in the latter stages of it.

No sir.

Talk to me in September.

Fast-forward to September. The Chicago Cubs are playing at a 92-win clip and are steaming towards a post-season appearance. And after months of silence, you're ready to blog about it from the rooftops.

There's no chance of overtaking the mighty St. Louis Cardinals for the division title, but the Pittsburgh Pirates' hold on the lead wild-card slot appears vulnerable. And after the arid, desert-like desolation of the past several seasons, any cup of water is a good cup of water.

Even if it's only to play the role of speed bump for the eventual National League pennant winner.

The pitching is still a little thin, but the hitting is stellar and more importantly, timely. The defense is improving, and if they could just get a decent pitcher in exchange for the habitually inattentive Starlin Castro, they could really be something.

Of course, as evidenced by your predictions for last season's Bulls (who died a coward's death against the injury-ravaged Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semis), prognosticating isn't really your ken.

With the numeric certainty promised by the calender that 2015 is not 2003, anything could happen. And with the Chicago Cubs, anything usually does. The horrors of 1969 and 1984 and 2003 are not as far away as our calculators would have us believe.

October is a portal to failure. A razor-lined pothole set to deflate whatever sort of roll the earnest and wide-eyed Cubs happen to be on. October is a film noir-inspired femme fatale, luring the feckless Cubs to their doom.

But if a half-century of Cub fandom has taught you anything, it's to enjoy the moment. Free of expectation.

The Cubs won yesterday. Life is beautiful.

You hope.

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