Ladies, Gentlemen, Rick Sutcliffe Fan Club Members, drunk in the bleachers not wearing pants, or underwear, or a hint of shame, etc., hear me out:
As all of you certainly witnessed, the boys in blue ended their magical season of Ought Seven in a tragic fashion. Despite the fact that they were playing a team that was outscored during the regular season; didn’t have a single player hitting .300, or with over 100 RBI’s; whose 1-2 hitters were both under .240 for the season; and whose mean age couldn’t have been over 25, the Loveable Losers still couldn’t pull out a series victory. In fact, they couldn’t even pull out a single, measly win against this abberation of a team from the Pits of Hell, i.e., Phoenix. It defied all logic. This was a team that not only shouldn’t have made it into the playoffs, but surely shouldn’t have made it past the first round. Somewhere, the brains of logic professors all over went, “Ouch. Me hurt suddenly.”
Basically, this shouldn’t have happened. There’s a reason for why we all collectively cried, “You piece of “st!” at Mark DeRosa when he swung at a low pitch, therefore grounding into a double play with the bases loaded. There’s a reason for why they left at least 9 men on base in all 3 games. There’s a reason why Ted Lilly threw his glove on the ground like an 8 year old after giving up a 3 run jack. There’s a reason for all of it, and, since logic is apparently not factoring into the world anymore, then those reasons are not A.) Because DeRosa simply swung at a bad pitch; B.) They just couldn’t get any clutch hits against Arizona’s B+ pitching; and C.) Ted Lilly is an ill-tempered 8 year old in a 30 year old man’s body. No, sirs and madams, these are not the answers you are looking for. Simply put, I am the reason why everything went to crap. If you want to wag your finger, wag it at me.
Why would I want the brunt of the blame here? There are millions of people just looking for someone to take their frustrations out on, you know, with their fists and other appendages. Truth be told, my conscious just won’t let me off the hook here. I just know that I caused this tragedy to happen. This is a team of curses, multiple, multiple, mul-ti-ple curses, and I should have known better than to jinx them even more than they already were.
For three straight games, I hardly wore any of the following: my Chicago Cubs hat, my Chicago Cubs t-shirt, or my Ryne Sandberg 1984 Chicago Cubs Authentic Jersey. This was a classless, highly idiotic move. But to my defense, the t-shirt has been missing for some many moons now. It vanished, oddly, in the middle of the night, right out of my closet. I blame Steve Bartman, because, why the hell not? So, that was one strike against the team. I had failed to protect my apparel from a band of Vintage Shirt Gypsies, and now, the Cubs had lost Game 1. The stupid grey shirt from Urban Outfitters I was wearing mocked me, laughing, “You dumb bastard! You know I’m unlucky! I’m based out of Philly, the unluckiest saps of them all!” Rocky Balboa ain’t real, he ain’t walking through that door. At least Chicago has the Bulls and White Sox. Philly hasn’t had a winner in decades. That place is cursed, along with its companies, and I double whammied the Northsiders by replacing their shirt with another laced with bad juju.
It was after the disaster that was Game 1 that I knew something about my routine had to change. The shirt was gone, probably forever, so that was out of the picture. So I turned to the hat I purchased at the mall no more than two months ago. Again, I should have known this guy wouldn’t have brought anything but pain, because he is nothing more than a replacement. There is no hard earned luck in this cap, nothing but the stench of capitalism and 2 for 1 sales. You see, my last Cubs hat had seen plenty of team victories on television and in person. It was drenched with years of positive energy, meaning, drenched in the sweat that spewed forth as I agonized over wins and losses.
But that was before I left it on the grease and booze soaked floor of an Outback Steakhouse, never to be seen again by anyone not reeking of bloomin’ onions. Stupidly, as I realized where my lucky charm had been left, I decided that it was easier to replace it than to drive back four miles and ask the 17 year old tanning bed-aholic hostess if someone had discovered a lucky cap laying around. Where the hell was my head? It certainly wasn’t being adorned by years of dedication, that’s for sure. It was bald with ineptitude, and no Hat World sale cap would suffice. I found that out when Ted Lilly suddenly showed the world his impersonation of Tanner from The Bad News Bears. We’re lucky he didn’t call his team a bunch of Jews, spics, pansies, and booger eating morons. When he threw that glove to the ground with the momentum of 99 years of losing on his side, I simultaneously threw my still brand new smelling hat at the wall. It couldn’t be on my person any longer. It was trapping in the bad thoughts and not letting any luck in. This was strike two, and I knew I had doomed us all.
The really sad part about the first two games is I told myself before each one that I should put on the jersey. The jersey is my prized possession. It was a gift to me, from me, and it was something I had wanted for decades. Seriously, I had jonesed for this jersey since the near miss that was the 1984 season. It was the holy grail of memorabilia, and truth be told, all those years I didn’t feel like I deserved it. It was engraved with the last name of the messiah of Cubs baseball. Who was I to wear his moniker? I was just a schlub from Kentucky that hasn’t been to Wrigley field since 1988. I wasn’t “one of them,” I was an outsider, a wannabe. Until I lived in Wrigleyville and became an official Bleacher Bum, I thought I should just stick to the shirt and cap, watching on WGN and at away games.
But there was just something about this season, and my strangely bountiful bank account, that swerved my thinking into a different direction. When things were starting to align sometime in July, it seemed appropriate to fulifill my lifelong dream. The boys were winning, plus they were coming to town in a few weeks. I needed something to help them maintain their winning ways. So, I got the jersey, even springing for the ’84 Division Champs patch, which seemed to cost an ungodly $100 just by itself. That didn’t matter, though, this, so it seemed, was a different year. There would be no three straight losses to a shat team like the San Diego Padres. Boy, oh, boy, can I be wrong sometimes.
The problem with Game 3 was it started when I was at work. I couldn’t begin the game wearing the lucky jersey. Instead, I had to get updates online wearing khakis. This was not the way to kick things off, and it showed when .235 hitting Chris Young took the very first pitch of the game out of the yard. It was 2-0 before I could make it home from work. But, since I was already pissed out of my gourd from the early deficit, I completely forgot to put the jersey on. I was supposed to be on my way to Lexington to see some friends, so nothing was on my mind except the game and whether or not I should listen to it on the radio as I drove south. I stuck around for awhile, mostly because the good guys put on a few rallies, making things interesting, but when DeRosa grounded into that double play, I screamed “Eff it,” and took off for the car. A level headed guy would have taken the jersey with him, but apparently I didn’t need it, because I was already cloaked in failure.
At any point during that game, I should have gone to the big gun, but for whatever reason, I just didn’t. Perhaps I was too busy picking out the least effeminate sweater to wear out that night to think about the big picture. It wasn’t until the last out was recorded, and I drove into the outskirts of Lexington, that I realized how badly I had screwed up. From the minute I stepped foot into my apartment, I should have gone to my closet, put on the jersey, and locked the door for the night. Only casual fans don’t devote their entire lives to their team when they’re in need of support. I am apparently not the hardcore fanatic I appeared to be. I am nothing but the bad luck guy. I caused this. It’s on me.
Don’t blame Lou for that first game, just like I had, blame my $20 grey t-shirt. Don’t blame Ted for the second game; blame my replacement hat with no playoff experience. Don’t blame Mark for the last game; blame my absentmindedness and desire to get out of town. None of this lies on their shoulders, none of it at all. What were they to do? How could they overcome the ineptitude of the many losing teams that came before them, causing decades of bad luck? How could they overcome the foolishness of their fans? Assholes like me? Simply put, how could they win?
I blame myself, and only myself. I can’t be mad about what happened, because I didn’t do anything to change it. The Diamondbacks are not a team of destiny. They are a team of average players that came together with my stupidity and won a handful of games. Stephen Drew is not going to the Hall of Fame. Augie Ojeda is never winning an award. These guys have no one to thank but me, and I hate myself for it.
Direct your ire and nasty comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll take what’s coming to me like a man.
With deep regrets,
Matthew Christopher Leathers
I heard this man/woman brutally murdered both of his grandchildren after he learned of my wrongdoings. I can hardly blame him.