By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) Stupid dang Dusty Baker ruining it all over again.
We were so close to being awash in “Dusty vs. Chicago Cubs: The Revenge” columns, one of which would have definitely been mine. It was too perfect if his Washington Nationals had won Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series on Thursday against the Dodgers. There would be pieces on Chicago still not forgiving Baker for not taking out a drowning Mark Prior in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. There would be some still sore for Baker maybe probably sort of grinding the arms of Prior and Kerry Wood into dust during Baker’s tenure as Cubs manager from 2003-’06. There’d just be a general bitterness over Baker being the first in a series of 20th-century Cubs savior managers to not win a World Series.
We get passive-aggressive Dusty interview gems we’ve been deprived of for so long like these:
And then there would be the whole Daniel Murphy thing with Cubs fan PTSD from last year, how it’s fate that it would be the likes of Murphy and Baker as ironic villains in different clothing to prolong the forever drought on the North Side. Plus, there’d be a splash of “Here’s why you need to be reminded to not like Bryce Harper and his anti-establishment-ness.” The lazy columns and lobotomized national TV segments would write themselves.
Instead, I get to write about the Los Angeles Dodgers. And oh boy, do I just want to despise them, right? I think?
This is where I’m supposed to kindle the manufactured hatred of a city that to most Chicagoans might as well be Tokyo or Prague and those dumb laid-back weather-privileged Angelinos and their fancy O.J. trial. Then I question if Sandy Koufax was really all that great and suggest a Vin Scully sex tape exists. Make it sportsy by going ad hominem on a few current Dodgers and then bask in internet high-fives from really smart people with Cubbie avatars.
I must argue that the requisite tribal war against sudden Opponent X is good and justified. Hey, 2008, right? Remember that? Don’t you still feel awful about that sweep at the hands of the Dodgers? Kinda? No? You mean you’re not the same person now that you were while embarrassingly dancing at the bar to Flo Rida’s “Low”?
Well, there’s gotta be some hatability on the Dodger roster now, a figure or two your subjective ire can zero in on.
There’s Clayton Kershaw, their ace who thinks he’s so cool starting Game 4 on three days rest and then getting his first ever MLB save in Game 5 on one day of rest. And his stupid work in Zambia opening an orphanage. And being such a dork married to his high school sweetheart despite being able to pick from a bevy of Hollywood starlets if he wanted.
Adrian Gonzalez is … a solid veteran professional hitter. Howie Kendrick bothers me in that he’s never aged yet has looked 55 years old since he broke in 10 years ago. Having the given name “Joc” should prevent you from voting or renting a car. Chase Utley is … still playing competitively.
Oh, silly me, I forgot about Yasiel Puig. He doesn’t play the game the right way and has fun doing so. And I love him for it because I side with anyone who disrupts the comfortability of baseball’s awful starched Unwritten Rules Police.
Manager Dave Roberts is a cool story in his first year on the job that saw him juggling a Kershaw injury this season and the Puig drama and making all the right unorthodox choices in Game 5 against the Nationals to win that game.
Rich Hill used to play for the Cubs. Now he doesn’t. Whatever.
I guess if I had to pick the next Cubs’ unexpected nightmare of a player a la Daniel Murphy or Conor Gillaspie it would be Justin Turner, a really good player who doesn’t get much love because Ginger prejudice is real. I know his type. The wacky red party slob who tries his best to drunkenly ruin everything. I mean, I’ve heard of his type. He’ll probably hit .400 against the Cubs, with multiple homers and clutch plays that contract Chicago sphincters throughout the NLCS as the national TV broadcast barfs something about him and goats.
So I can’t force myself or you to suddenly hate the Dodgers. I don’t even want to try to have any angst about them other than they made the NLCS and are fully capable of beating the Cubs, though I highly doubt they will.
I guess I can only tell you to root for some entertaining baseball and Cubs victories, sans that something extra of a manufactured villain. Because the Dodgers ain’t one.
Sorry. Blame Dusty.
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.