NLDS Ivy Drip Is Out – Take It For A Spin
Feels different this time. Arrieta missed his spots but was still bulletproof. Schwarber went FULL Paul Bunyon. Dexter Fowler was a GIF machine. Bryant with the glove. Russell unfazed by a ball that ate him up, and David Ross’ trash talk gave us Sean Rodriguez’ Tae Bo. The Cubs had a home crowd stunned silent and leaving after the bottom of the sixth. Feels different because it is fun and loose.
So: calm down. I do not underestimate the difficulty of that advice because I’m having a hell of a time following it myself. But this is peak meltdown season. Teams and managers lose their minds in these best of five series and fanbases are not immune. We all have to keep a level head here and remember to breathe, because this will be the most difficult series of these playoffs.
What I do not want to do is mock the city of St. Louis, or the Cardinals organization, or Cardinals fans. Individually each has become a national disgrace these past few years, inflicting self-damage far surpassing any joke I could write about jersey-sleeve emblems that honor a murderer. To worry about a people, place, and thing that are an affront to decency requires time none of us have so I will just say: they are pointless cow town hill jacks and America’s shame.
Last week I got on a plane and flew to Milwaukee, met up with my father and we went to the entire final series of this Cubs season. We had it planned early in the season, thinking there may be a stretch drive decided in those three games. There was a bit of a buzz, “Hey maybe the Pirates will drop this series to the Reds and the Cubs will get home field advantage?” No such luck but it worked out anyway. The main thing I noticed was some of the other Cubs fans in attendance were still anxious, and living that Lovable Loser vibe. It was unsettling because there was no need to have that attitude about a team that has already clinched a Wildcard game, to the point that it felt put upon. Loud and aggressive with they’re bemoaning a team from years ago, some disappointment that cannot be unmade. These things can be hard for us but they can also be forgotten. Just set it down, walk away, and change.
This season has been about change. The roster, the stadium, the culture. All of it has been in flux from the beginning of the year and that’s why this feels so different. Change is what we will be able to count on in this series. You think any of those kids out there on Wednesday were thinking about the fans that feel anxious because of 1969? No. The ghosts of failed Cubs teams haunt only the stands. They are still out there grinding and having a blast. All of that is new, and all of the history can get run over by a train.
Playoff baseball is madness and nobody can accurately say what is going to happen in this series, but my one prediction is the television broadcast will gladly run through all the history. Force it upon us even though it has already filled our subconscious, this is going to be a mirror of our worries held up by a likely terrible broadcast team. Just enough Lou Brock references to stoke the fires of the communal terror that is rooting for the Cubs. Prepare yourself for hours upon hours of the history we all want to forget and are not allowed to because it is the identity we are expected to have. In that moment when the television broadcast cuts to footage of 2003 or some Cardinals whale down the bar in an Eckstein jersey gets chippy just remind yourself that the past means nothing today. History of despair is a waste of our lives so piss on that and let it drop.
The roster, the stadium, and the culture everything is changing. All of it has been in flux from the beginning of the year and that’s why this feels so different. Change is what we will be able to count on in this series. You think any of those kids out there on Wednesday were thinking about the fans that feel anxious because of 1969? No. The ghosts of failed Cubs teams haunt only the stands. They are still out there grinding and having a blast. All of that is new, and all of the history can get run over by a train.
I can only speak for myself when I say I’m already satisfied with this season beyond my wildest dreams and as they keep progressing I maintain my sanity by repeating the phrase “house money.” Maybe not the best way to define the Cubs current situation but my expectations were low in the winter, low in the spring, and low two days ago. Here we are and I refuse to allow the best sixth months of baseball I’ve ever seen be invalidated by one series.
This Cubs team has given us a clean slate. It is new and refreshing. Fun, compelling, and has challenged long held beliefs about how to handle a roster. This has been a beautiful change and the best thing we can do is change along with the Cubs. I want them to win this series, I want them to win the World Series, but I want them to stay the fun group that got here feeling loose. If you think the fans mentality does not affect play on the field you obviously did not watch the Yankees drop their heads and slink into the offseason halfway through the third inning of their Wildcard game. It is of dire import the culture in Wrigley and throughout the fan base calms the hell down about a World Series title and enjoys the games in front of them.
If you are still letting a toxic history keep you down let me say this: sure the Cardinals are good but they’ve never won a playoff series against the Cubs. Lets take this new thing for a spin.