A Message for Lou Piniella

Lou,

Let me be brutally honest from the very beginning here, Lou: The Chicago Cubs, and their title hopes, are all I have right now. My job doesn’t make me who I am. My studies don’t make me who I am. I have no wife, no girlfriend, no nothing. I am known, in a lot of circles, specifically as the “Chicago Cubs Guy.” People don’t look at me and see any other passion but my dedication to the North Side Good Guys. I live and die by how your boys played on any given day. People who have never watched a baseball game in their life can know right away if the Cubs won or lost, just by deciphering my mood. “Does he look like he just threw up five times in a trashcan? Or does he look like he just orgasmed for 20 straight minutes? Well, he’s a little sweaty, so it could be either, but he’s smiling. They must have won,” they would think, and then feel comfortable enough to talk to me. I’ve estranged a lot of friends by my actions after Cubs loses, consider me, and everyone I know, lucky after last night’s game.

I’ve had a long season, Lou. As have you. Sure, sure, I am not actually a part of your team, but that doesn’t change the fact that I paid intense attention to all 162 of your games, not including the Spring Training games I followed online. You were brought in to save the millions of people just like me. Yes, millions. I’m not alone with this disease. There are indeed millions of dumb bastards just like me out there, and every last one of us rejoiced when we heard of your signing. You have quite the history, Lou. A ring in 1990 with the hated Reds, and the work you did with the Mariners in the mid-90’s was fantastic. Hell, if only your weird assortment of talent (Ichiro, Edgar Martinez, Bret Boone) had finished their magic season of 2001, you would have been hailed as the ultimate genius. That team had no right breaking the record for wins. Bret Boone was on that team. They had no right. But you brought them there, and if you could accomplish that feat with average players, then surely you could bring the glory to the ultimate losers of the league.

Things started off rocky, with the predictions of the playoffs dancing around in our heads. We were losing, often, and the always awful Brewers were winning, often. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. The team spent a boatload of money in the offseason on a gaggle of players that most people didn’t think were worth the change. Ted Lilly was a .500 pitcher only known for punching his own manager; Jason Marquis lead the league in home runs given up the year before; and Mark DeRosa was a career utility player that had a somewhat above average year for an awful team (The Rangers). But it was the signing of Alfonso Soriano that brought peace to our rage. It seemed that our new manager, and our new slugger, were all that we needed for a glorious postseason. But again, you were losing. Soriano didn’t have a home run in April, and the ace, Carlos Zambrano looked like he wouldn’t make the all-star team in the California Penal League. We began to doubt your genius, but could you blame us? All we saw at that point was the ever growing strain on your belt.

Then it happened: Big Z began to feel the pressure on his large shoulders, and he decided to send his own catcher to the hospital. The talking heads on ESPN dubbed this as an all-time low for the franchise, and this includes the Bartman incident, the error by Durham in 1984, the College of Coaches, and the goddamned goat. This, somehow, was the bottom of the barrel. I guess I can’t blame them; all that money was spent, expectations were so high, and all that the team accomplished was a sub-.500 record, and a handful of stitches for Michael Barrett’s troubles. The thing is, those of us in the know, just knew that you were like a snake in the grass, just waiting to strike. “Where’s the old, fiery Lou?” said the naysayers. “How can he tolerate this?” Well, you didn’t, and I knew it was coming. The very next day, you had one of your patented blow-ups with an umpire. It was obvious to me that you premeditated this attack. You waited for a close call, and you struck with your pot-bellied momentum carrying you with ungodly velocity. It looked fake, but I didn’t care. The previously mentioned analysts added this as just another embarrasment to the season. Well, they’d be eating crow (actual crow? what does that even mean?) by the end of the season.

Your players took your little one man play entitled “Old, Fat Guy Yells at Other Old, Fat Guy, Kicks Dirt, Leaves,” and went on a tear. They had one of the best records in the National League after the break. Finally, they were playing how they were supposed to, even Lilly, Marquis, and DeRosa were earning their money, and people like me were no longer metaphorically licking the cat’s butt every single night. (I do not own a cat, and no, PETA, I would not lick it’s butt if I did). Our hope’s were at an all-time high, the Brewers were suddenly playing like the Brew Crew of old, i.e., poorly, and we were back in the race. From July to October, I was in full freakout mode. Every game was important, and I’m sure I wasn’t easy to talk to in a lot of situations. I prayed to the gods of Baseball every night, which are, I guess, non-existent, but come on, people have prayed to more ludicrous “gods” before me. Mormons, I’m looking at you. And you know what? My prayers were answered. The Brewers completed their collapse, and we took a strong September performance into the postseason.

This is where I get to the point of this personal message, Lou, and it is this: Don’t fuck this up for me. Yes, for “me.” I’m going to get extremely selfish on this one. I know I said there are millions just like me out there, but seriously, fuck them. I want you to win this for me, and only, me. Pardon my language, but I’ve suffered enough. I’m sick of the “1908” chants. This is your last chance to win the whole thing before the “Century of Losing” starts next season. I don’t think I can take an entire season of that, Lou. I really don’t. I’ve been by this team since the channel was turned to WGN after school in 1985. The Ryne Sandberg poster on my wall has been hanging in all its glory since 1988. I wept for this team in ’89, ’98, and ’03. Please don’t let there be more in ’07.

I say all of this, because last night’s game was not a good sign. It was difficult to watch, mostly because the guys squandered a lot of opportunities. They swung at nothing but garbage all night long, and let pitches right down the pipe go by as the bat rested on their shoulders. This is not your fault, Lou, but the ugly loss? That’s on you. You over thought the situation, and, I don’t really blame you, but still, that one goes on your personal record. It’s a blemish for life, especially if you go on to lose the series. Why have your pitcher swing away with a man on second? Soriano’s drive to center would have been a sac fly if Z had bunted the man over. Why take out a man (Zambrano) who was shutting down an inexperienced, young team, and replace him with an inexperienced, young reliever? I realize you wanted to rest Carlos for the fourth game, but what if there isn’t a fourth game now? Since you replaced him with a guy that gave up the winning runs?

It was a tough pill to swallow. That other team has no right winning a single game. This one was given to them, directly from your hands. But I’m not giving up hope, that would be foolish. I’m still going in to tonight’s game with optimism. Again, we have the more experienced team, starting pitcher, and, most importantly, we still have you, the more experienced manager. Tonight’s game will, more than likely, write your legacy with this team. Tonight’s game will determine if I love you forever, or if your name will cause me to grimace, make my stomach churn, and possibly, cause my death by massive stroke (heh, “massive stroke”). Tonight, Lou, means everything. Please, please, please, do not let us, no…..ME….do not let ME down. Because, seriously, fuck everybody else. I need this, because, as I said, this is all I got. In the words of Richard Gere, “I GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!!!!”

This could be us, Lou. This could be us. Carry me to victory.

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Sincerely, and with hope,

Matthew Leathers

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