The entire weekend, the whole four days that I was treated to, made me suddenly sympathetic with all those mules the world over who follow floating roots around in the hope that some how, some way, despite all evidence to the contrary, they will catch that damned vegetable apparition that taunts them so, and finally glory in its delicious orangeness.
That's the tricky thing about hope: living without it is damn near impossible, but then again, hope consistently raised yet constantly unfulfilled does its own degenerative work on the human spirit, gnawing at nerves ever more raw until finally, the subject rejects hope on its approach because the prospect of numbness is preferable to the likelihood of promise unrequited.
It's never fun to be beaten, but after the last four days I can tell you that I'd rather endure the beatings than the constant losing. Beatings one can distance oneself from. The result is knowable from an early stage, so it becomes possible to emotionally divest oneself from the proceedings, saving one's energy for the day to come.
Losing is altogether different. It hits you in the gut because it's personal. The other guy isn't doing anything to you that can't be overcome, you're simply failing in your efforts to do so. Getting beaten is about the other guy's excellence, losing is about your mediocrity.
That's what the last four days have been about - the failure of the Cubs to do, at any level, what was necessary to emerge victorious from winnable games. Some particular aspects are more to blame than others - I'm looking at you, offense - but that doesn't leave the others guiltless.
This has been a total team effort, and of course, the irony is that the one thing that hasn't been lacking from the equation is effort. There has been an awful lot of trying on the part of the Cubs, and despite the lack of results their exertion cannot be faulted.
What's missing is the execution, and without that final ingredient, all the striving the Cubs can muster will get them little beyond a few more whiffs of the air between the carrot and the asses' mouth.