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From the Ashes
by Phil Bencomo
So: I've got this image bouncing around in my head of the Cubs' 2008 season. It should be a pretty picture of a remarkable season, evoking pleasure and awe. A division title, 97 wins, a no-hitter: A season for the ages, right? But that's not how we remember seasons. We remember how they end.
This picture in my head -- which, I suppose, is really more like a video clip -- is sort of a sadistic cross between the Hindenburg and the Titanic. Totally cheesy, I know. Lou Piniella stands at the helm, Cub players bustle about making sure this enormous boat-blimp launches successfully, and all is good on the Earth. What more, a celebrated writer for a national magazine writes a cover story proclaiming this behemoth's magnificence and even the significance of success! The world cannot contain its excitement, the boat-blimp rises from the sea to glory, and ... well, you can guess how it ends.
* * * *
Here's part of the reason I waited so long to write this post:
Reality's great cruelty: In the end, love always brings suffering.
The greater the love, the more devastating the loss.
To suffer over the loss of something unloved is to not suffer at all.
There's always ... next ... year? <sob>
Yep. My scribblings, in the aftermath of the sweep. I had more -- and nearly wrote an entire post based on them -- but that piece of paper, filled with so much angst and self-pity, has since been destroyed. You're welcome.
It's only natural to be upset. After all, I did just watch the winningest Cub team in my lifetime follow for six months a perfect script like a Westminster champion follows its owner -- only to reach the playoffs, roll over, play dead, and never get back up. It was simply torturous, not unlike my ensuing post would have been to read. Again, you're welcome.
But that was 10 days ago, and I've moved on. That's the way of the Cub fan, the way of our favorite absurd franchise. Remember 2008 for all of its good times, lick the wounds from the bad, and hope for a better tomorrow. What more is there to do?
Last week, during my alternating angry/depressed stage, a friend remarked that there are only two ways for the Cubs to win a championship.
"And you wait until now to enlighten everyone?" I asked.
"Look," he said, "either they're so good, unbelievably good, that they just won't and can't lose, or else they squeak into the playoffs as the team that gets hot late, then surprise everyone, and coast through on momentum."