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Glacier Dodging - Open Sea Edition
by Derek Smart
It's the year 2708. Time travel has been perfected as a tourist activity, and most people of reasonable means have their own machines, which not only take you back and forth on the timeline, but allow you to observe invisibly, safely, without interfering in events past or future. It's a Thursday night, you're a little bored, so you climb into your Ronco MMMI Time Machine & Rotisserie Cooker and hit the button marked 'Surprise Me'.
Suddenly, you're hovering over the sea at night. It's dark but for a sliver of moonlight, and silhouetted against the pale lunar glow you see a large shape cutting through the ink. Upon closer inspection, you see it's a giant seagoing vessel, likely some sort of passenger liner judging from the size and dearth of weaponry. You hover above it for a time and marvel at the combination of stillness and motion, at how rock solid the ship seems, and how quickly and effortlessly it slices through the ocean's waves. Although the technology is ancient by your standards, it is still a marvel to behold.
While pleasant for a time, after a few minutes a deep sense of foreboding creeps in. After all, these time vehicles are not set up to be entirely random. They like big events or eras. Manual programming allows you to go anywhere, but when left up to the device you'll be sent to cavort with dinosaurs or view the Battle of Waterloo or witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence. So why out in the ocean trailing a huge ship?
It dawns on you what must be occurring, but you require confirmation. You guide your machine to hover beside the boat's prow. It's dark, but as expected, you can just make out the great beast's name. Titanic.
You pull back and begin gliding behind and above the legendary ship. Getting too close would allow you to make out people, perhaps even see their faces, and knowing their fate it would be too much to bear. You want to call out and warn them, you want to somehow force them to turn back, to alter course, but the machine won't let you. You try to leave, or at least look away, but you can't. The pull of history is irresistible. Now that you're here, you may as well watch.
The wait is excruciating. You know what's coming. You know what, but not when, so each moment is an eternity of anticipation. It's dark, so you can't make out the shape of death in the distance, you just know it's there and will soon be here. Despite your foreknowledge, your understanding of history, you find yourself hoping against hope that somehow they'll miss the iceberg this time. That even though this has already happened that history isn't a constant, that even with an insurmountable pile of evidence, the outcome is not sealed. Perhaps once, just this once, the preordained horror shall not come to pass. That is your hope. That is your dream. That is when the iceberg hits.
And that is what it's like to watch Jason Marquis pitch.
The good news, if any can be gleaned, is that there were, indeed, survivors on that fateful night, and much like those lucky few who escaped the murky depths, the Cubs escaped from the forces working to pull them down, cheating fate and winning what for a time was a very losable ballgame.
It's that lovely combination of a good offense - and in particular, as we also saw Wednesday night, a patient offense - and a solid bullpen that got the Cubs this win, and in many ways these last two victories wipe away the stain left from this weekend's debacle in Pittsburgh when the complete opposite was true.
What I hope going forward, is that, much like the disaster referenced above which eventually led to changes that greatly enhanced maritime safety - regulations mandating greater numbers of lifeboats and the creation of an International Ice Patrol being prime examples - that the ongoing shipwreck-threat that is Jason Marquis' season will eventually lead to changes that will enhance the safety of the Cubs' playoff hopes.
Yes, it was a good result last night, but that result came in spite of the man on the bump. I've said similar things before, and I'll keep saying them until something changes: Whether it be through trade or internal promotion (eventually healthy versions of Hill or Marshall being the likeliest sources in the near term), something needs to be done to remove the every-five-day-looming-iceberg-peril that Marquis presents.