Panic strikes Cubs fans even earlier than usual
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When you’re driving alone through the dark night (even if it’s just on a Chicago expressway), you search for that connective anchor, that gentle voice in the void that links you to humanity.
Thus, ‘‘The Grobber.’’
I always tune in late-night radio host Les Grobstein on The Score (670-AM) when I’m doing that insomnia car thing. There he’ll be, Mr. No-Nonsense Sports Facts, a breathing compendium of sports trivia, details and obscurities with a memory that would put an elephant’s to shame.
Grobber’s topic early Tuesday morning was: Who was the sporting world’s ‘‘Bum of the Week’’?
In this regular segment, listeners call in or text their nominations for the worst person in sports, be it a player, owner, executive or anybody who might have anything to do with anything touching on sports. Which, when you think about it, might be anybody on the planet.
So in came the messages. And it was hilarious.
The late-night fans went after the Cubs like hyenas after shredded beef.
The Cubs are only 2-3 on the season, but failure was manifest. The season was over!
Kyle Schwarber was a bum. Why? Because he lost weight and still stumbled around in the outfield.
President Theo Epstein was a bum. He put together this hideous team.
Pitcher Yu Darvish was a bum and always had been. Why, he lost Game 7 of the World Series last season when he was with the Dodgers.
Anthony Rizzo was a bum. He didn’t put the ball in play with the bases loaded.
The Cubs sucked. All of them. They can’t pitch. Can’t hit. All they do is strike out. They’ve made the lowly Reds look like World Series champs.
Grobber got more and more incensed with each Cubs-are-doomed vote. You could feel his moral outrage rising like a thermometer jammed into a roasting turkey.
Finally, he had had enough. The Cubs have played only five games, he bellowed. The equivalent of the first half of the first game of an NFL season.
Oh, my Lord, I was laughing so hard.
Last week’s ‘‘Bum of the Week’’ was former Indians and White Sox slugger Albert Belle, a nasty, deserving career loony.
But bighearted team leader Rizzo? Because he was batting .130 after 23 at-bats?
Epstein, the man who engineered the Cubs’ only World Series championship since 1908, is a bum?
This was Baseball Freakout 101.
It always happens because of the nature of the sport. The 162-game major-league season makes a marathon seem like a dash.
It’s easy to fall into the trap. What happened in the last few games means glory or disaster for the season. Wrong. Why, before a game is even fully analyzed, the Cubs — or White Sox — are on to another game.
Let’s say Rizzo gets hot and goes 5-for-7 in the next two games. All of a sudden, he’s batting .267.
The Grobber was trying to tell listeners to relax, to settle in for the ups and downs that are the nature of the game. Sure, if Darvish’s ERA remains at 10.38, the Cubs have issues. But how about we let him pitch a second game first?
Oh, and new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis got lit up by voters. Those 58 strikeouts in five games were his fault. The Cubs scored 10 runs Saturday, then were shut out in the next two games? Walk the plank, Chili.
Baseball caters to observers with constitutions more like koala bears than grizzly bears. If you’re too excitable, you won’t survive until July, let alone the postseason.
Sure, the Cubs might be fatally flawed. It’s possible Schwarber is a position-less player at any weight. Maybe the loss of Jake Arrieta will be devastating. Maybe that 2016 World Series crown made the whole organization soft.
Might be true. At this point, though, so might anything.
In 2016, the Cubs went 17-5 in April and spent only one day out of first place. They were something.
So is it time to lose hope in the bumbling 2018 Cubs because they’re not like that?
The Grobber says no.
I just thank him for getting me through the night. And, yes, I agree.