Wait 'til next year

It was fun while it lasted.

The Dodgers knocked off the Cubs last night, and the Phillies eliminated the Brewers this afternoon. The White Sox beat the Rays this evening and therefore survive to play one more game … But the other two knockout punches sure take the spring out of the steps we were taking with all three of our teams in the playoffs for the first time ever …

Like I heard one analyst say this morning, that Cubs series was over when James Loney hit the grand slam to put the Dodgers ahead in Game One … That and a headline I saw after Game One that read: 'GUESS WHAT? NOW YOU'RE TWO GAMES FROM 101 YEARS.'

For the Brewers it was one bad inning -- the third inning of Game One. Both series were made and broken on big innings and bad breaks.

On the heels of Wednesday's exhausting opening day for the post season, on Thursday night, my friend Liz and I were on assignment at Six Flags Fright Fest, which meant I got to watch very little of either Game Two … But the radio was on for as long as we were driving.

We caught the first half of the Brewers-Phillies game, and had a bad feeling about that one as soon as we heard Shane Victorino's hit his grand slam and the Phils took a 5-1 lead. It was only a matter of time before CC Sabathia and his run of starts on three days rest caught up with him …

Then on the way home, we listened as the Cubs infielders racked up the errors in the second inning of their game, and the Dodgers took the 5-0 lead. Hearing Ron Santo grumble and repeatedly sigh “Oh man, oh man …” was all I needed to sink my confidence and come to the conclusion that this wasn’t going to end well. That and Manny Ramirez was staying hot; he belted a home run in each of the games at Wrigley ... I went to bed when the Dodgers pushed it to 9-1.

Luckily, last night things went a little better -- sort of. To cap off our day in the city, we grabbed a table at Ed Debevic’s and had a front row seat to the big screen TV showing the Brewers-Phillies Game 3 -- at Miller Park. We got to see the Brewers take the 2-0 lead in the first inning; they were getting to Jamie Moyer early and that was a good sign. And then had Bob Uecker going on the radio as soon we boarded the car to head home.

We arrived inside our house in time for the ninth inning, and watched with bemusement as the Brewers claimed the win after that wild bottom of the ninth … With the bases loaded and no outs, the Brewers turned a double play and allowed the runners on second and third to advance. Thus the Phillies had scored a run … But wait -- Shane Victorino leveled Craig Counsell as he slid into second and was called for interference. The Phillies run was erased and runners were put back on second and third; the umpires essentially handed the Brewers two outs … The next batter grounded out and it was over. The Brewers had won their first post season game since 1982.

As for the Cubs? Not so fun to watch … In fact, I barely saw any of it. I saw the Dodgers go up 2-0 in the bottom of the first and fell asleep shortly afterward. I woke up briefly during the seventh inning, just long enough to see the Dodgers were winning 3-0 and to hear the commentators say the Cubs were running out of time …

The next thing I saw, after another stretch of dozing, was the Dodgers spraying champagne in their clubhouse. The vaunted Cubs, the most complete team in baseball, the group of guys that were supposed to finally break the curse, had flopped and were swept right out of the playoffs.

But remember, I reserved the right to not be surprised, and frankly, I’m not.

The Cubs had lost a lot of steam in September. And they were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated a couple weeks ago…

In the meantime, the Dodgers, I thought going in -- and I still believe it -- are going to be a force throughout this post season … I also think it’s fascinating to see Joe Torre, Manny Ramirez and Derek Lowe in the same dugout -- not to mention former Cubs Greg Maddux, Nomar Garciaparra and Juan Pierre.

Going in, I also was conflicted about which team to cheer … Now it’s official: Dodgers all the way baby!

Good reads ...
a There are two sides to the story for Cubs and White Sox fans
a In Chicago, Fans’ Moods Swing From Gleeful to Gloomy
a Brewers fans no longer miss the playoff bliss

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