What could go wrong for Cubs, Sox? Let’s count the ways
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By now, almost every English word meaning “great’’ or “dominant’’ has been attached to the 2016 Cubs, whose only remaining chore is to decide what to wear on the World Series parade buses. Would jammies be over the top?
This indeed figures to be a wonderful team. But at the risk of a public stoning, I’d like to point out that the 2003 team was great, too. If you’re a Cubs fan, you remember what happened that year, the way you’d remember a shark swimming at you with its mouth open and its eyes rolled back into its head.
The White Sox were supposed to be good last season and weren’t. So we’ve seen love stories turn into slasher films.
What could go wrong with Chicago’s teams? I’m glad you asked.
Cubs player who will have a sophomore slump: The worst-case scenario is that Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber all struggle, a baseball version of multiple organ failure. But let’s go with Schwarber because his major-league sample size is smaller and because everything he does is spectacular.
Past gimmick that will come back to haunt the Cubs: Any time you introduce a mime to the proceedings, as the team did for “entertainment’’ purposes during spring training, you’re asking for disaster. That is one of life’s great truths.
Future Joe Maddon stunt that will go horribly wrong: Something involving a Shetland pony and John Lackey.
Weird injury that will do in the Cubs’ season: Bryant strains a dimple.
Weird injury that will do in the Sox’ season: A blister on Carlos Rodon’s finger deploys like an SUV air bag.
Jon Lester has a bone chip in his throwing elbow, so, yeah, nothing to worry about there: That little gem of information arrived during spring training and was quickly dismissed by the Cubs as nothing. Sure. I picture the bone chip emerging from Lester’s arm like the creature did from the host’s chest cavity in “Alien.’’ Only in Game 5 of the World Series.
Date when the full implication of the Drake LaRoche leadership vacuum will hit the Sox: Within the first two weeks. A losing streak will have Adam Eaton looking for inspiration from the 14-year-old, but he’ll only find an unfinished home-school essay on how to properly snap someone with a wet towel in a clubhouse.
The Drake LaRoche Curse – laugh through your uneasiness, Sox fans: Early on, people used to laugh at the Billy goat curse, too.
Weakness for Cubs that could derail season: Inability to ignore 100 tons of history, what with it resting on their chests.
Weakness for Sox that could derail season: Inability to get over the fact that nobody cares, including most Sox family members.
Future Donald Trump statement that will shake the Ricketts family to its core: “I have photos!’’
Next new-age quote from Maddon that will have a fed-up Lester and Lackey tuning up their bow-hunting equipment: “Let your mind take you to a place of tranquility, where the inner warrior meets the shaman. You know, when I was managing in Idaho Falls in 1981 …’’
Muscle or tendon most likely to be torn on one of Schwarber’s mighty swings: Ever seen someone try to walk back to the dugout without the use of either Achilles? Pull up a seat.
Pilates-loving Cubs pitcher most likely to come back to earth after Cy Young season and why: Jake Arrieta. The Cubs will ban muscle shirts, and Arrieta, who hasn’t seen a shirt he believes needs sleeves, will be thrown off his game.
Skinny Sox pitcher with the funky motion whose arm will finally give in to the laws of nature and fall off, probably in the ninth inning after 125 pitches: Chris Sale. Somehow, it will be Ken Williams’ fault.
Strange occurrence that will unsettle the Cubs: The fact that everyone, including me, thinks they’ll win the World Series this season.
Pitcher fielding fundamental that will cost the Cubs Game 7 of the World Series and bring darkness over the land: This is a tough one. Will it be Lester trying to hold a baserunner at first base? Or will it be Lester trying to throw out a baserunner at first base? Either way, the ball ends up in the stands.
Act of God that brings down the huge video board at Wrigley Field: The mind can’t conceive of the plague of locusts that, even now, is on its way.
.176-hitting catcher who will cost the Cubs a title: David Ross. The veteran is “good in the clubhouse,’’ keeping his teammates loose. Unfortunately, he is not “good in the batter’s box.’’
Uber-talented Jason Heyward on a huge stage for the first time; you’re right to worry: The Braves? The Cardinals? Amateur hour when it comes to pressure. Not even Maddon’s shoulder massages will calm down Heyward.