Full-on, terrorizing panic.
That’s Cubs fans everywhere.
Going into the All-Star break, the Chicago Cubs were 4 1/2 games up on the St. Louis Cardinals and five up on Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. There were just 67 games left in the season — this talk of a “second half” was erroneous from the start — and hopeful fans had already begun counting down to a magic number.
But then the games started again.
And the losses began to mount.
And the offense ran aground.
And the horror set in.
Twelve runs in five games since the break entering Wednesday night’s game against Arizona. Twelve. And the Cubs scored nine of them in their sole win since the excursion to New York for All-Star weekend.
The math isn’t good. Three runs in four losses.
Worse, the Brewers, sporting CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, have ripped off five straight since the break, including two games against the Cardinals, who despite coming back from the All-Star Game and going just 3-2, have actually made up ground on the Cubs. Milwaukee’s just a single game back and riding high, looking like a World Series team were it not for a shaky bullpen.
The Cubs haven’t been whole for a while, even before the break. That’s what fans keep telling themselves. Alfonso Soriano just came back from a broken hand on Wednesday night, but closer Kerry Wood is back to being a wait-and-see injury report because of a nagging blister on his right hand.
Not that the Cubs have needed Woody. There hasn’t been a save situation to be found in weeks.
Sure, there are two full months remaining and still 60-plus games to go. And the toughest division in the baseball — the top three teams in the NL Central have the best record in the league — will essentially be decided by head-to-head matchups. The Cubs will play the Brewers and Cardinals a combined 19 times before the end of the season. Two of the NL’s playoff spots will ultimately be determined between the white lines.
But that doesn’t make it any easier for Cubs fans. For those of us lucky enough not to have been around for the historic collapse in 1969, this feels like Bartman in 2003, only in slow motion.
Bad things tend to happen to the Cubs. I don’t believe in curses, but I believe in losses.
Losses are real. So are my sleepless nights.