Baseball Toaster Cub Town
My, How Far We've Come
2007-10-01 05:03
by Derek Smart

A year ago this Saturday, Marc Normandin put my post-mortem of the Cubs' 2006 season up on the always excellent, Beyond the Box Score, which I reproduce here in an effort to help us all appreciate our current situation. Enjoy.

CSI: Wrigley

Open on a dark room. There are small areas where light pierces through the gloom, and we can see stainless steel cabinets and green tile walls in the surrounding glow. It feels like any sound will echo in the hard emptiness, a suspicion that's confirmed when a man's footfalls are heard, first at a distance, then slowly closing the gap until his shadow overcomes the frame.

The click of a sticky switch fills the space, and the resulting burst of light reveals a table overflowing with what is apparently a corpse - the body of a giant, blue-clad bear, its sickening corpulence spilling everywhere, searching out the shortest path to gravity's source like a mountain-born stream.

Another click pounds the silence, this time a signal that the microphone we see suspended above the mass of mottled fur has been brought to life. The man whose steps we'd heard ringing in the hallway moves into the light, his face pale from years spent too close to the dead, as if he, like his subjects, has been exsanguinated, albeit at an infinitely slower pace. He surveys the damage, then mutters to himself:

What the hell happened here?

A man so jaded by death is not easily shocked, but the condition of this victim is enough to pull even his vigilant guard down, if only briefly. He composes himself and continues:

Subject is approximately 130 years old. I'd say he's a mess, but that doesn't cover it. He's absolutely filthy - covered in mud and muck like some giant doormat. He smells like a frathouse, all stale beer and peanuts. If I didn't know better, I'd say he'd been stomped, romped, and puked on by 40,000 people every day for....who knows how long.

The aesthetics aren't the biggest problem, though. His eyes are clouded with huge cataracts. His right arm appears to be attached be little more than a fraying layer of skin. He's extremely obese, and to top it off, he exhibits all the signs of the advanced stages of alcoholism. Even without seeing the condition of his internal organs, it's clear this is someone whose expiration date passed before he did. I shudder to think what I'll find inside...

Fade Out


Fade In.

The proceedings have begun, and while we cannot see the gore of the autopsy, we are acutely aware of it from the sounds, and from the occasional looks of disgust on the man's face. As the scene gels, he begins to speak.

There are signs here of multiple degenerative conditions - positionalis farmis morbidinus figures prominently, as does enablus fanbasius - but there's no clear indication that any of them were the direct cause of demise. Certainly, they figured prominently in the weakening of the organism as a whole, but these things are so interrelated it's impossible to completely disentangle them and assign levels of blame. Perhaps a look at some of the internal organs will be more revelatory.

First, we have a centris fedalis, and in this particular case, it seems to be suffering from severe Pierrism - an unfortunate condition where it appears more useful than it truly is, thus fooling the subject into thinking it is a strength rather than a weakness. This particular form of Pierrism increases the subject's speed, but severely decreases its strength and ability to visually discern between obviously disparate objects, particularly when approaching the individual at speed. Poor bastard.

Next is the brevis haltus, and here we have a very unusual situation - there are two. They appear to have some similarities, both exhibiting some of the same signs of Pierrism mentioned above - in particular the power-sapping and near blindness. The difference is that while both of them appear to be heavily involved in the body's immune system, only one appears to be an effective agent - one looks like a little sieve, while the other looks like little Cesar. Neither looks to be as useful as you'd hope this organ would be.

By the way, I don't know what this means, but there are exclamation points all over the place. That can't be good.

There are a couple of sluggerensis in here, which is definitely a positive, but unfortunately they aren't in the kind of abundance one would expect to see in a healthier beast. That, and they appear to have been traumatized. The strongest one - the primoris basius - shows definite scarring, of the sort that would indicate it wasn't working properly for an extended period. While this organ was out of commission, the subject would likely have shown marked lethargy and a near complete inability to interact with the opposite sex. In other words it would be, quite simply, unable to consistently score.

The other sluggerensis - a tertius basius - appears to be healthy enough, despite signs that it might have experienced issues in the past, but a closer look at its structure reveals the distinct possibility that it might perform inconsistently. The organism clearly could not survive without it, but there would likely be stretches where, if a temporary removal were possible, it would be beneficial to the subject as a whole. As it is, this individual may be lucky to have passed away when it did, as this particular sluggerensis looks to be preparing to reject its host.

Normally, one can spot a secundus basius somewhere, but I don't see anything that can be clearly identified as such. It looks like it was surgically removed, judging from the huge hole where it would normally be found. From what's happened to the surrounding tissue, it's apparent that what was there had at least a somewhat detrimental effect on the subject's immune system, but that appears to have been outweighed by the contributions made to the subject's strength and ocular health. Clearly, the subject didn't share my view, as the pattern of scarring around the area implies a self-extraction.

And yet, despite the subject's obvious willingness to excise elements it deems undesirable, here we have, fully intact, a truly unfortunate example of a rightus fedalis. Oddly, there are indications here that this was somewhat useful, but I believe that's more in the relative sense. This is not an example of an organ you'd purposefully welcome into your body, yet this appears to have been transplanted. Not only did the subject do a poor job of taking care of itself, it seemed to almost have a death wish.

Finally, we have something that's mostly healthy - the leftus fedalis. While not a perfect example of this type of organ, it's intact, which is saying something in this desiccated husk, and it appears to have been a solid performer, with the potential to perhaps be a very good example of its kind. This would have been something to build on, had the organism as a whole not been so horribly diseased.

Wow. Now, this is bad. I'm looking at the cluster of organs called the rotationis startirium. This might be the largest, most damaged collection I've ever seen. Normally, there might be 7 or 8 separate parts, but this grouping has 15 different portions, each seemingly more damaged or fundamentally flawed than the last.

There are two particularly big problems here. First, there's a marcus priori, one of the most enigmatic of possible rotatoinis startirium denizens. The issue isn't that it's there, because certainly it has the potential to be extremely productive, but it's in a prominent area of the grouping, as if it were being counted on to shoulder a majority of the load. In fact, I'd guess from the surrounding scar tissue that it had collapsed under that burden more than once, and if the organism had been more self-aware, he should have had a medical professional rearrange this cluster to better handle the load.

But that's not the worst of it. If you want scarring look no further than the kerrius woodensuim. This poor thing has more broken bits than a post-bull china shop, and much like its other busted counterpart, he looks like he's been expected to be a primary contributor to the organ, yet without any consideration for its past history. These woodensium are some of the most likeable, hardest working of their kind, and this one certainly deserved better.

Contributing to the disaster here are multiple examples of crudis rookensis, all of them simply too young and too raw to properly aid in the organ cluster's function. Clearly, they would not have been here had the two parts mentioned above functioned well or had appropriate backup, but that not being the case, these poor things were thrust into the fray well before they were ready, and as each one failed, another was brought forward to take its place like so much cannon fodder.

The only member of this group who appears to have weathered the storm is an example of opulens hillensis, and while evidence suggests that it struggled at first, it has clearly taken to its function well, and were the subject still among the living, would be a vital part of this cluster's function.

Which brings us to the real shame here: the wasting of a perfectly good nuttius zambronium. Despite its tendency to get off task and cause mercurial tendencies in its host, it's an incredibly valuable commodity that clearly doesn't belong in this failed organism. It's clear that the host was counting on the priori and woodensium to be this kind of contributor, but only the zambronium was up to the task, something - I'll say once again - the subject should well have known.

Oddly, despite all the issues in the subject's rotatoinis startirium, the condition of the bovis pendulium isn't that bad. There are issues, of course - the novem termino being particularly grievous - but were the host still kicking, this would be the least of his worries, as this is clearly the healthiest unit as a whole. Damning with faint praise to be sure, in such an obviously sickened beast, but if he would have made a list of things to fix, this would have been the lowest priority.

The only thing I've yet to cover is the condition of the ridius pinium, in part because it's so withered I nearly missed it entirely. This subject neglected nearly every part of itself, but no area of the body suffered more neglect than this, perhaps because of the spectacularly bad condition the rest of him was in, with many of its parts forced to play larger roles than originally envisioned. Still, even had they not been pressed into greater service, they would have been inadequate in the limited role this organ cluster plays. It's just sad.

In fact, the whole thing is sad, because after going over all the issues this subject had over the course of its long life, I've found so many things wrong, so many different causes for its demise, that it's impossible to pinpoint the thing that finally did him in. There were things that were killing him over decades, and things killing him over months or even days, and there's not one single issue the removal of which would have saved him. This beast was doomed from the start. God rest his soul.

Fade to Black.

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