I’m so stunned by the Cubs’ post-season implosion that I don’t really have the energy to be disappointed or heartbroken or all those other states with which Cubs fans are so famously intimate.
The team that won the NL Central Division is not the same team that just went down in flames before the Dodgers. I don’t know who these post-season guys are, or their manager, or, most strangely, their pitchers.
To watch Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano fuck things up so badly is a surprise. To watch Rich Harden try to hold the 3rd game together while the offense zombie-trots through Hiroki Kuroda’s reign of terror is a surprise. To witness the other day as the defense played like little leaguers, surprise after surprise. People who want to win fight for the right to be called winners. The post-season permutation of the Cubs has absolutely no competitive spirit. I can’t even be angry about it because I don’t understand it.
It’s at times like this that I think I don’t grok some psychological constant about the post-season. I don’t understand how a team with one of the best records in baseball crumbles so quickly and so completely, without anything that feels like a fight. It’s particularly distressing since the Brewers, also down 2-0 before today’s game, clawed their way to a win against the superior Phillies, and now live to play another day.
There’s something strangely self-defeating about the Cubs that I’m not sure I get. From the downtrodden broadcasters who seem to expect elimination to the low energy you can visibly see in the way the defense plays, there’s an absence of hunger, of fire. For demonstrations of hunger and fire, please see abovementioned Brewers.
It’s just baseball, it’s just a series of competitive professional ball games. There’s no world-changing science or culture there, just a bunch of guys who didn’t have the fortitude to prove they are as good as everyone thought they were.
[Note: I’m publishing this before the top of the 7th inning in game 3, so obviously the game is still going on. But come on, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see where this is going. Is that self-defeating, too? The Cubbies earned it.]