Out of nowhere the wobbly and slightly concussed Chicago Cubs have awoken from their four month hibernation to play the enviable role of spoiler and provide the most desperate legion of fans with the faintest glimmer of hope that maybe, somehow, there's sunshine on the horizon of "next year."
If the early returns of August 2011 sound similar to the famed final 37 games of 2010, then you'd be absolutely right.
During what turned out to be another lost season of Cubs baseball, the 2010 Chicago Cubs seemed to be the final nail in the coffin of the Jim Hendry/Lou Piniella regime. Piniella looked old, fat, severely drunk and disinterested, while the no-trade clauses, backloaded contracts and "Aaron Heilman" deals were finally starting to catch up with Hendry.
The axe for Piniella came in the form of a teary-eyed "I'm going to enjoy my retirement" (hasn't he been working for the Giants? I'm just saying) ceremony and September appeared to be the final month in the Hendry-Cubs relationship.
But, as the Jim Hendry autobiography will go on to tell, thanks to the cunning hire of Mike Quade and the September call-ups of Bobby Scales and Micah Hoffpauir, the Cubs went on to finish the season 24-13, leading baseball in wins during that span.
In reality what the Cubs accomplished during the final 37 games of 2010 amounted to nothing, as the Cubs finished 75-87 good for fifth in the "vaunted" N.L Central. But somehow Hendry was able to spin that into another year into the good graces of owner Tom Ricketts.
So this brings us back to last week as the Cubs completed their longest winning streak since the 2008 season with a seven-game win streak that, not surprisingly, seemed to embolden fans who once again began to fill seats and sing "Go Cubs Go" just a little louder.
With just seven wins, bringing the season total to a respectable (in the same manner Harry Doyle used "just a bit outside") 49-66 record, all seems to be back to normal in Wrigleyville.
While it may seem harmless for fans to enjoy themselves at the ballpark, let's hope it ends there. Enjoy what you're seeing, but understand it for what it really is.
For instance, on a recent trip to my Facebook page, I saw a friend post "Seven in a row. Next stop division championship."
I then deleted that person as a friend (well at least I should have).
It is so fundamentally important that Cubs fans not be swindled or confused by this blip of marginal success in what has otherwise been a picture perfect example of baseball ineptitude.
Just as he did last season, Jim Hendry will attempt to paint a sunny portrait of the 2011 season. If somehow the Cubs are able to muster any sort of slightly successful baseball throughout the final months of the season—and by successful I mean anywhere near .500 baseball—Hendry will claim that injuries and "The Curse of Kosuke Fukudome" held back his perfectly constructed team from contention.
As farfetched and unbelievable as that may seem, we know it's possible—he's done it before.
So let's hope Cubs fans have learned their lessons.
Here's looking at you Tom Ricketts.
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