It's all lined up: No one's hurt, Eddie Vedder has written an Irish pub chantey for us, and that nice, even 100-year anniversary is looming over everything Cubs like a ghastly, shapeless beast ready to be destroyed in mathematically pleasing fashion. But if Cubs fans know anything, it's that the future can be changed by alarmingly trivial things.
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See, the problem with this now is that I have to watch. The problem is that I have to organize myself so I'm in front of TVs, I have to get nervous on game day, I have to pretend like the last bunch of times never happened.
I have to care, I have to get invested.
Over the next few weeks, I have to shed again the multilayered brickwork of psychological defense that I've carefully constructed over years and years -- not out of enjoyment, but in the interest of sheer survival.
And the final problem is that I have to line up for the proverbial beating in whatever bizarre, nonsensical, "Inferno"-worthy punch in the important parts is coming that will knock the Cubs out of the postseason this year.
Something is bound to go terribly, terribly wrong, and obviously I'm not talking about a subpar pitching performance or two, or the absence of some clutch hitting.
I'm thinking, like, in the fourth inning of Game 2, with the Cubs up 4-1 on the Mets, a comet will hurtle out of the sky and land directly atop of Derrek Lee. Or that shortly after the seventh-inning stretch in Game 1, a brontosaurus will crash through left field, consuming Alfonso Soriano and proving once and for all that brontosauruses were not herbivores.
I've also got a few theories involving evildoers from the future traveling back through time, but we'll save those for a follow-up column. I'm starting to wear myself out here.
Listen, no one's happier than me that the Cubs are in the playoffs, but I'll be completely honest: Part of me was hoping for some grand, Roman god-worthy unprecedented September implosion, for the very simple reason that then I wouldn't have to go through this again.
And don't give me that blank check about hope and faith; I saw 2003 and 1984, the latter of which made me wonder, at the tender age of 9, what kind of god would be so cruel as to create a Steve Garvey.
But the weirdest part of all this is going in as some degree of a favorite. I don't think I've ever been a fan of a team that's been favored to do anything, except hold really nice off-season fundraisers.
I know I've never been part of a team favored to do anything (I can fully remember my Dad once telling me, before I stepped in to face one of the most feared pitchers in all of my fifth-grade Little League, "Just stand in there and try to get a walk." Striving for athletic excellence, as you can see, has been a deep part of my identify for quite some time.)
So here I sit, nursing a delicious beer on a lovely evening with an odd sense of melancholy, wishing that I wouldn't have to make the decision to follow the Cubs in the playoffs this year.
It's all lined up: No one's hurt, Eddie Vedder has written an Irish pub chantey for us, and that nice, even 100-year anniversary is looming over everything Cubs like a ghastly, shapeless beast ready to be destroyed in mathematically pleasing fashion.
But if Cubs fans know anything, it's that the future can be changed by alarmingly trivial things -- reaching out your hand, putting a glove down on the first-base dirt at the wrong second, pitching to Kevin Mitchell -- so guys, please, if you're reading, please do it this year, because if you hurt me again I may not be able to love anymore.
Jeff Vrabel is a freelance writer who's been humming that Vedder song for seven consecutive days. He can be reached at www.jeffvrabel.com.