It is tough to digest, but Cubs fans played a big part in the Cubs' downfall. When we have a bad team on the field, we as fans relax and have fun. When we are blessed with a fantastic team, we get uptight and defensive. We put so much pressure on these guys that I am not surprised at what happened. Every single play was under a microscope; every pitch was critical beyond reality.
We took a team that had great pitching and great hitting and we helped break them when it mattered. In the back of the players mind had to be a little voice saying, "If you can't get it done, the fans will shun you."
This was made obvious when Wrigley Field was silenced by one grand slam, which put the Cubs down by only two runs, with four more at-bats to go. This was only about two weeks after the Cubs scored four runs in the ninth inning with two out and nobody on against the Brewers. The four runs tied the game and the Cubs won in the 12th inning.
Somehow, the Cubs fans inside Wrigley felt that a two-run deficit was insurmountable.
On top of that, they had to put up with this summer's most-said phrase, "It has been 100 years since the Cubs have won a world series."
I myself can't imagine how much pressure I would put myself under in their situation. How much extra thinking would be going through my head while trying to hit a professional off-speed pitch?
One thing that showed me how tense they were, was the fact that they were watching a lot of first pitch fastballs in the zone. To secure my view, they would swing at low and outside pitches that George Muresan couldn't reach.
On top of that, we saw something we didn't see all year.
On back-to-back plays, DeRosa and Lee made fielding errors. The second, contributed by the lack of concentration derived from the first. The first very possibly derived from the fear of botching a play that would get your team out of a pressure-cooked situation.
I believe these two plays directly played in the other two errors created by the left side of the infield. This is the only reasonable explanation I can think of (other than the lame curse excuse) that our infield could self implode.
I also bet that if I went to Vegas a week ago and got casino odds on Dempster walking seven batters, I could have put down $100 and on Thursday I could have cashed in my winnings for about $10,000. That is 100/1 odds if you can't add that fast.
So, we now look forward to 2009. We try to forget completely about 2008. Is this truly fair? I don't know about you, but this was the best summer I have had as a Cubs fan. The only summer I can think of that may beat out 2008 was 1998.
I don't want to forget this team; I want to remember that they did things that hadn't been done in the past half century. I want to remember the things they accomplished that hadn't been done since 1908.
I wish I could personally tell the Cubs players that it is alright. That Cubs nation is still behind them 100 percent, but I am not sure that is so true anymore. After reading many articles, hearing many a conversation, and watching faithful fans lay down at Wrigley, I am just not so sure I believe in Cubs fans anymore.
I hope I am wrong, but I saw your faces, and you let me know that you had given up. The sad part is, the players saw it, too, and in turn, they gave up as well.