This has nothing to do with Theo Epstein leaving the Cubs, just a random thought about what happened in my head during his tenure.
As the Cubs got better and better, I began to stop believing in superstition.
Well, as much as I can, I suppose.
Dissolve back to 2003...
Bottom of the 7th, game 5 of the NLDS vs Atlanta.
Two outs, Julio Franco just hit a double off Kerry Wood and Vinny Castilla comes up.
He smacks a grounder to SS Alex Gonzalez and Gonzo muffs it, but the ball bounces right into Mark Grudzelaniek’s glove and he tosses to first, Castilla’s out.
Total, complete luck.
Without thinking I said, “OH MY GOD THE CUBS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!”
Yeah, they still had to play the Marlins but come ON man, the Cubs just had that crazy mojo.
Still, people had heard me say “World Series”.
I knocked on wood, but 10 days later I’d be sitting with my brother at a silent Wrigley Field, watching the Marlins celebrate their NLCS victory.
It was my bad.
Cut to 2014.
I can’t remember exactly which game, but Junior Lake was up.
Semi big-name youngster, but you know how that used to go with the Cubs.
So Junior Lake comes up to bat and Pat Hughes said something typically Pat-like: “Junior Lake is due!”
That’s the go-to thing to say, right?
But in my head I thought, “No he’s not. He’s terrible.”
Surely somewhere on the side of Mt. Everest you’ll find the frozen body of a climber who had tried and tried to make the summit and on the day of his final climb said to himself, “I am DUE!”
Pre-Theo, I spent my baseball fan lifetime thinking about batters in terms of average and home runs and RBIs.
And Baseball Gods.
Then “Moneyball” happened.
And not exactly but it sort of coincided with Theo and Jed announcing The Cubs Way.
Theo's language was all different, all “assets” and “club control” and “ceilings” and… analytics.
Suddenly Our Team's management was smarter than Your Team's management.
And as the Cubs began their rise to the Ultimate Spotlight, I began to forget about goats and black cats and Leon Durham’s legs.
Even after Rajai Davis hit his game-tying home run from hell, I didn’t really fall back on… you know… like I used to think.
OH MY GOD THIS SHIRT/BEER/SEAT MUST BE BAD LUCK AND I MUST CHANGE IMMEDIATELY!
(In fact, the t-shirt I wore during Game 7 was one I made myself, the only one like it in the world, and it said simply, “F*ck the goat.”)
Winning it all put luck on the back burner.
But then the decline started...
2017: Man, this World Series hangover thing is REAL, huh?
2018: “Somewhere along the line, the offense broke.”
2019: Well, maybe if Joe is more hands on.
2020: Dammit, Cubs! HIT! YOU’RE DUE!
Yeah… I regressed.
I won't ever go all the way back, but still.
A week and a half ago, with all that’s just so wrong in the world, I was actually worried about Friday the 13th.
Had Theo made his announcement then, I’d have lost my mind.
Now he's gone.
After we live through this “dumpster fire” of a Bears season, Spring Ball is just around the corner.
Jed Hoyer is at the controls.
There'll be a new gm, and you know it'll be quite a different looking team.
And come April 1st, Wrigley will be filled with actual fans for the home opener against the Pirates.
If we’re lucky.