Monday, June 1, 2009

Day-Off Reflections: 1985

From a health perspective, 2009 is all-too reminiscint of 1985, the ill-fated season when the Cubs saw four of their starting pitchers wailing in DL agony at the same time. It was the year of the Shawon-O-Meter. It was also the year that I, a young Cub fan, came to grips with the reality that had been brewing for the better part of 8 decades: 

In 1985, I understood what the Curse was all about.

The 1985 Cubs became, for me, the prototype for all other Cub failures. '84 was magical (give or take a groundball through Leon Durham's legs and a Steve Garvey child-support homer). The acute heartbreak of playoff loss would come but once or twice a decade. But the undulating suffering of a losing season punctuated with small swells of hope and victory . . . that chronic, unyielding ache began in '85 and has surged mercilessly forward ever since.

But '85 might turn out to be the mirror image of '09. In '85 it was the pitching staff that broke under the weight of injury. They had 13 pitchers start games for them that year, which is just brutal. This year the injuries are more offensive in nature (not completely) as the Cubs have already seen 6 All Stars (Milton Bradley, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Geovany Soto, Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol) miss games due to injury . . . anyone else surprised not to see Soriano on that list?

While the '85 team was second from the bottom in the NL for team ERA, this year's pitchers are at the middle of the pack. The '85 bats were solid, leading the league in slugging and OPS. This year? The Cubbies are in the bottom half in almost every significant offensive category.

But this year's story isn't written. And I'm left to ponder which is better: the stabbing pain of a postseason Cub-cardiac arrest, or the throbbing ache of a slow, regular season death?

Stab me, Cubbies. Stab me good.
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