Everyone seems to be protesting too much.
The manager, the players and even some of the fans, who should know better, are saying the same thing:
What dark Cubs’ past?
Well, look, the veteran onlooker says, pointing. Right there. That blood-soaked body on the ground.
Nothing to see here, the chorus says. Keep moving along.
I don’t have an answer for how the Cubs should handle what they’re about to face. Ignoring the past seems impossible, especially with the national attention that will come in the playoffs. Facing it head-on seems exhausting.
You might have seen the illustration on the front page of Wednesday’s Sun-Times: the “Ghostbusters’’ emblem inside the Cubs’ logo with the headline, “Cubs ain’t afraid of no ghost.’’ That, of course, was in reference to the team’s 106-year streak without a World Series title and any suggestion the franchise is dealing with a curse.
As they approach the playoffs, the Cubs are having none of the jinx talk.
“I do vibrate on a different frequency, man,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t understand those kinds of concepts. I think we’ve built up a nice method of operation this year that our guys have adhered to.”
All it takes is one Crane Kenney-concocted dugout exorcism to switch the manager to the international uh-oh frequency.
The truth is that no one knows how the Cubs will react to challenges – such a gentle word — in the playoffs. If they screw up, will it just be a simple screw-up or will it be a screw-up brought on by the weight of the past?
Ah, if it were only so simple. It’s not just about how Maddon and his players react. It’s about the cosmically bad vibes that have come from Cubs fans during past playoffs, even during road games.
This is a wonderful test. Will the 13 walk-off victories the Cubs have had this season buoy fans’ spirits when things look dark or will the darkness of the past prevail?
Winning every game 10-0 would be a nice way around the problem.