Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ready for a rant...

...from a crabby old man? No? Then scroll down. (You've been warned.)

Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta had a no-hitter this week against the Reds. That's great! But forgive me for not jumping on the Cubs' bandwagon just yet. (That's an actual bandwagon, above, in case you didn't know.) After all, it's only April and there are 144 games left in the regular season.

On Thursday night my son breathlessly texted me (my emphasis):

Arrieta no-hitter!!!!! (Yep, no fewer than five exclamation points.)

Jake Arrieta last 24 regular season starts: 20-1, 0.86 ERA, two no-hitters, 14 starts allowing zero runs, 24 straight quality starts.

That's impressive -- no doubt about it.

But what I wanted to say was:

Yeah, but he choked in that last playoff game against the Mets when it really counted.

(I told you this would be the rant of a crabby old man.)

Forgive me if I'm just a little bit cynical. (Is that the right word?) Last year, you may recall, the St. Louis Cardinals (.617) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (.605) had the two best regular-season records in baseball. The Cubs beat the Bucs in the Wild Card Game and then defeated the Redbirds, 3-1, in the NLDS. Even I was excited!

Now it was time to go up against the hated New York Mets. (I still remember 1969.) But the Cubs, I was told, bested the Flushing squad, 7-0, during the regular season. It's a lock! Will the Cubs beat the Mets in five games, or six? Or will they sweep 'em?

Well, I don't have to tell you what happened. (I can't even write it.) But I was also told that the Mets team that faced the Cubs in the NLCS was an entirely different lineup from the one they played during the regular season. Huh? Then why even have a regular season? Just sit out the summer and have some sort of a round-robin tournament in September.

And then -- jumping to football -- I was told the Carolina Panthers would just dominate the poor Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Cam Newton, you see, was positively unstoppable. Now, again, I don't have to tell you what happened, but I seem to remember Mr. Newton mostly on his butt all day.

Which brings me to my final rant (Yay!): Is sports just random? Sometimes it seems that way. Maybe that's what fans like about it, but I prefer a universe that's a little more orderly than that. I want regular seasons and playoffs to determine the best team, not just the best team that day. Is that too much to ask?

P. S. Go Cubs!

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