By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) You had a whole season to rinse yourself of stupid, Cubs fans, an entire spring and summer into autumn.
You absorbed 103 regular-season wins — no team has won more since 2004 — then two more in the postseason over the San Francisco Giants to open the National League Divisional Series.
And a bunch of still you revert to apoplectic apocalypticism after a 13-inning loss in Game 3 on Monday night.
It was the one that logic dictated the Cubs would probably lose, as they opposed Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and his seemingly superhuman playoff abilities. The very-good-but-no-longer-perfect Jake Arrieta wasn’t expected to outmatch him. So the Cubs would be tripped up in one game before taking the series afterward.
That’s how the series has gone down so far. The Cubs have two wins out of three in a five-game series. Their backs aren’t against the wall. They’re in a position of strength.
Oh, but it was how the Cubs lost that makes some people irrationally uneasy. They didn’t lose to Bumgarner, who was only able to last five innings and left Game 3 trailing. They lost to the Giants’ bullpen. They lost because of their own bullpen. Aroldis Chapman blew a save, in the eighth inning.
“I told (manager Joe Maddon) that if he had a problem and needed me in the eighth inning, I was available,” Chapman told reporters afterward. “He wanted to use me in the eighth inning, and I was ready to be used in the eighth inning.
“I’m OK. This wasn’t my night. And I’m ready for tomorrow, and tomorrow will be a different day.”
Black cats and whatnot.
Then Mike Montgomery gave up a walk-off run after four otherwise noble innings of long relief. How ever shall the team that didn’t lose more than two consecutive games after the All-Star break recover from this epic failure?
Clearly three straight Giants wins are forthcoming. So prophesied the clown at the end of the bar.
This is what’s awful about Cubs playoff baseball despite its overall awesomeness. It’s not about the loss in Game 3. This series was over after Game 2. A good team in the Giants has managed to prolong the inevitable. Nah, what sucks is the special brand of trashy fatalism that comes with consuming this franchise even when it provides the best product ever in any of our lifetimes.
It’s the cliff-diving on social media, the “not panicking, just second guessing” pessimism on the talk shows.
To hell with your emotional scar tissue. Screw your irrelevant rooting résumé of how long you “binna fan of deez Cubbies” that somehow means 1969 and 1984 and 1989 and 2003 all have some connection to 2016. Be smarter and less of a stereotype for once, you insufferable Old Style belchers.
“It’s baseball,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said after the loss. “Very simple. It’ll be simply baseball when the Cubs win one of the next two games and move on to face the Washington Nationals or Los Angeles Dodgers.
And it’s playoff baseball at that. Sweeps aren’t easy, American League series so far not withstanding. The Cubs lost to a good team in a weird game. It happens. Will it happen three times this series? Definitely not.
Cite anything about this Cubs team — this specific club that cares nothing about franchise history or terrible national narratives or how you felt after the 2008 playoff sweep — that suggests fragility. Please, I’d like to hear it.
“The Giants are the Giants,” Rizzo said. “Everything they have, they have earned. They are battle-tested. We are as well. So we will bounce back.”
But Rizzo isn’t hitting this series, right? Let’s just forget his regular-season numbers and what he’s capable of.
“I haven’t had the best three games to start off,” he said, “but it’s get (a matter of getting) back tomorrow and playing.”
Sounds like a broken man to me.
The Cubs probably win Game 4 with playoff veteran John Lackey on the bump. At worst, it’s Jon Lester in Game 5 holding off the Giants. Stop treating a loss as something with more weight than the bigger picture, which involves baseball’s best team not being invincible and prone to — gasp — losing sometimes but probably not as much as they win even though the playoffs contain more randomness.
Resist the reflex to get historical. Nothing in previous years matters now a lick. There’s no “Cubs gonna Cubs” inevitability. Unless that means Cubs gonna continue to be baseball’s best team more likely than not. Don’t focus on the not.
For the love of sanity, don’t be that guy.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.