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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Long, cold winter for Cubs fans

Posted Monday, October 6, 2008, at 1:52 PM

For most baseball fans, we are now beginning to enter another winter of discontent. As a Reds' fan, gotta say that I'm pretty used to it really. For Cubs fans, man does it really get any worse than what their beloved team did to them this year?

A spring and summer of what one of my friends referred to as 'blissful fandom' while the Cubs more or less ran roughshod over the competition.

Carlos Zambrano was dealing laser beams and even ripping balls out of the friendly confines on his way to a .337 batting average with four home runs. Five different players belted more than 20 home runs, including the newly signed import Kosuke Fukome, who seemed to fit right in with the lovable Cubbies.

But something went awry as the leaves began to change. If you haven't paid close attention to the last couple of years, you may not have seen it coming.

The Cubs suffered a postseason debacle of New York Mets proportions . . . again.

Through 162 games, Chicago led the National League in scoring, putting plenty of unholy whoopings on their opponents, my Reds included. But when it mattered the most, their bats suddenly went silent as if they had simply ran out of petrol.

Against the Dodgers in the divisional series, the Cubs scored just six runs in three games while their pitching was pelted. Even Zambrano couldn't help them, giving up a bomb to Manny Ramirez on the way to allowing seven runs in a 10-3 defeat that sucked nearly all the wind from the Cubs sails.

You could almost hear Joe Torre's laughing at George Steinbrenner as Manny continued being Manny to the tune of a .500 average in the three-game sweep. The Dodgers look like geniuses for trading for the mercurial outfielder who just continues to kill postseason pitching.

All he did after the trade was hit .396 over the final 53 games of the regular season, blast 17 home runs, drive in 53 runs and get on base an eye popping 49 percent of the time. Can you say holy stretch run hero Batman?

Don't get me wrong, the Cubs picking up Rich Harden in a late trade was pretty superb as well as he went 5-1 in 12 starts with a 1.77 ERA. Imagine if the Cubs would have scored him some runs in his first handful of starts, he might have had CC Sabathia type numbers.

But Manny is an everyday player and you can bet that Lou Piniella would have given up his left arm to have his bat for the postseason.

The sad thing for Cubs' fans is that this postseason power outage is beginning to border on the surreal. After being swept this year, Chicago has now lost nine straight games in the postseason going back to the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins. In 2007, the Cubs also scored just six runs in three games.

I don't care if they won 94 or 104 games in the regular season, but geez, you'd think a team with Derek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Jim Edmonds (old or not), Aramis Ramirez and even Ryan Theriot, who hit .307 for the regular season, could fall out of bed and score four or five runs in a game.

Instead, the Cubs and their fans will be left sitting at home, watching the White Sox outlast them in the playoffs. Ouch.

I know better than to discuss the series with my friends right now. I understand the pain of another cruel letdown by their team.

After the 3-1 loss ended their season I couldn't help, but feel a pang of sadness watching Cubs fans quietly leave the bar wondering what could have been.

There were plenty of heads hanging low and plenty of shuffling feet, but it was the all-too familiar mantra I heard from one fan as they walked out the door. It was almost too low to hear, but it still made me laugh and reminded me of the resiliency of a fan base that has waited a 100 years without a championship.

'Just wait til next year.'

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