It’s easy to confuse October baseball with voodoo, especially with witching-hour walk-offs. On Monday night, the Giants’ even-year magic resulted in more talk of the Cubs’ curse.
As a result, the Cubs’ exhausted and sleep-deprived fan base undoubtedly is trying not to let the doubts creep in while cautiously counting down the minutes before tonight’s pivotal Game 4. But just how concerned should Chicago be with a 2-1 NLDS lead and a chance to eliminate San Francisco?
In the spirit of the legendary Shawon-o-Meter, we present the Curse-o-Meter, which represents the five stages of panic for Cubs fans.
No big deal. We’ll try not to suck in Game 4.
Deep breaths. It was one loss in a best-of-5 series. Even after a 103-win regular season, it was unrealistic to expect the Cubs to run the table in the postseason. These are the Giants, a franchise with three World Series title since 2010 and a ton of pride. Chicago hasn’t lost three consecutive games since before the All-Star break and still has home-field advantage.
Uh-oh. Are they showing postseason reruns?
Has anyone noticed that the Cubs’ pitchers are outhitting their hitters? They’ve driven in six of Chicago’s 11 runs in this series and hit two of the team’s four homers. But speaking of the pitchers, big-game veteran John Lackey is on the mound in Game 4 and has a 2.57 ERA in two career starts at AT&T Park. Plus, Cubs hitters pounded left-handers this season: .357 OBP (best in the majors), .449 SLG (third) and .267 BA (seventh). And southpaw Matt Moore is on the mound tonight.
We're watching the game through our fingers
Anthony Rizzo is 0-for-13 in this series, and Jason Heyward – the $184 million man – was on the bench in Game 3. If the outfield wall were a foot deeper or the wind was blowing a little differently at Wrigley Field, Javier Baez’s game-winning homer in Game 1 would have been an out. But, hey, there’s always the defense, right? The Cubs are still making diving catches and great plays, so the Leon Durham/Alex Gonzalez flashbacks haven’t started yet.
It’s almost time to Panik.
Joe Panik and Conor Gillaspie are doing crazy things, and the Giants clearly have grabbed the momentum. Worse, San Francisco solved untouchable closer Aroldis Chapman, perhaps denting his confidence and exposing a vulnerability. A Giants offense that had managed just five runs in its first three postseason games suddenly erupted for six. And did anyone notice that the Cubs lost Game 3 in the (gulp!) 13th inning?
Steve Bartman was just spotted feeding a goat at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
The wheels of disaster are clearly in motion. The Cubs knocked out the invincible Madison Bumgarner -- scoring three runs in five innings in Game 3 to end his 24-inning postseason scoreless streak -- but STILL came up short. Meanwhile, the Giants knocked out Chicago’s ace with a line drive to the forearm. All the pressure is on the Cubs in Game 4, and it would be unbearable in Game 5. Their 2015, 2007 and 2003 postseasons all at ended at Wrigley Field, so what was that about home-field advantage?