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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
Where In The World Is Kris Lofgren?
To escape the pain of last night's events, a friend and I are headed off to Sanliurfa (Glorious Urfa) this weekend. It's about 50 kilometers north of the Syrian border and its culture is a mixture of Arab and Kurdish traditions.
Should be interesting. I'll be back sometime Sunday night.
Really, what is there to say? We're Cubs fans, we should know better than to dream. After game 4 we were up 3-1 in the series. Many fans thought it would be OK if we dropped game 5 because, after all, we would still have Prior and Wood at Wrigley. Surely the Marlins couldn't win three straight elimination games. Right?
In game 5 the Cubs were shut down by the outstanding pitching of Josh Beckett. There's just nothing more to say about that game. A great pitcher did his business and Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano couldn't keep up. All of a sudden it's 3-2.
Game 6 was the one that tore the biggest hole in the hearts of Cubs fans. The Cubs were five outs away from the World Series. Five. But then things fell apart. I don't see how that eighth inning was nothing other than The Curse, for too many weird things happened that shouldn't have happened. If that fan hadn't interfered and stole Alou of a foul ball out, that would have been two outs and would have left the Marlins without the baserunner that would ensue. Sure, we can't say it wouldn't have happened, but it was the catalyst for the Cubs subsequent failure. Uncharacteristic errors at shortstop only make things worse. Game 6 took the cheers right out of our lungs. It teased us with what was not meant to be. As Cubs fans, we should know better.
Then there was last night: game 7. At this point little can be said that will make the pain go away. I watched this game in its entirety live from Ankara at 3am, and I was back and forth all night. First the Fish go up 3-0. It appears the badness of last night hadn't ended. But then the Cubs rally back to tie the game, even with an improbable home run by Kerry Wood. Things are looking up. The good guys even extend the lead to 5-3 on an Alou two run big one on to Waveland.
But the celebration was premature. It was only the 5th inning by this time. Surely the Marlins wouldn't be dragged into the boat without a fight.
Ivan Rodriguez showed why he was the series MVP with an RBI double in the 5th. His teammates helped him out with an RBI single here, a run-producing groundout there. Suddenly the Marlins were ahead. Wood had been hit. Farnsworth had been hit. Veres had been hit. That combined with the reappearance of Marlin ace Josh Beckett on only two days rest - and the dismissal of 12 of the 13 batters he faced - was enough to silence the Wrigley Field masses.
Troy O'Leary added a late home run for the Cubs to limit the damage to 9-6 but he got no help. And that's how it ended. Cubs lose, 9-6. Cubs lose the series in which they had a 3-1 lead, 4-3.
If they hadn't gotten so close it wouldn't hurt so much. Cubs fans thought that surely this was our year. Surely the Cubs couldn't lose three in a row, including two starring the hot young aces, Prior and Wood. Surely there would be a World Series game at Wrigley Field.
The pain is too much. It wasn't supposed to be this way. We've waited, we've stuck it out through all those 90+ loss seasons. Where were the Marlins? They hadn't even been a team until 1996 and now they were headed to their second World Series in as many years. Where is the justice? It should be our turn. 58 years is too much to handle. That sign on the building across Sheffield that reads AC005895 should read AC000000. Not 58 years since the last World Series. Not 95 years since the last championship. This should be our year.
I was at a loss this morning. I originally planned to wake up at 3am to watch the entire Cubs game, but I think The Curse got to me too. Instead, my alarm didn't go off and I woke up at about 5:30am, paid my $2.95 to watch the Cubs clinch the pennant - only to find that The Cubs Curse was back.
After seven stellar innings of pitching from the All-Star Mark Prior, the eighth inning scarred that little bit of hope in each and every Cubs fan. Eight unanswered runs in one inning. Cubs up 3-0 to Cubs down 8-3. Wow.
First there was the fan that stole out number two from Alou:
Then there was otherwise sure-handed Alex Gonzalez committing an error that put runners on just in time for some Marlin RBI action. Could it be more painful?
Game 6 was supposed to be the one. It's the game where only one team can clinch. It's the safe game. Now we go into game 7. Now The Curse is on the loose again. It took a vacation recently and apparently mid-martini on a carribean beach realized that the Cubs were dangerously close to actually breaking The Curse. So now it's back. The Curse, Wrigley Field, game 7, Kerry Wood, Goats, Bleacher Bums, Night Game. There are just too many variables in there to have any guess about tonight. It's all up in the air waiting to decend on the Cubs tonight.
My original prediction - Cubs in 6 - seems to be holding true. A game 5 win would have been great, and somewhat amazing considering the pitching matchup and the game on the road, but there's no need to rush things. Game 6 is definately heavily slanted in the Cubs' favor with Prior on the mound and Wrigley fans juiced about the World Series.
I actually watched last night's game - live from Turkey. What a great use of technology. We'll see about game 6 since it will start up at 4am here in Ankara, but with Prior on the mound and the Cubs destined to clinch the pennant, sleep loses its importance.
OK, seriously now. Someone tell the Cubs they aren't supposed to still be playing. The playoffs are fun and all, but they are now one game away from winning the National League pennant. Like, going to the World Series. Cubs. World Series. Anyone else see the problem here? Whatever, Chicago will take it. :)
So game 4 was all Aramis Ramirez (thanks Pittsburgh!). Six RBI's on two homers including a grand slam. Nice work. With that nice first inning lead Matt Clement was able to relax on the mound and throw his good stuff. Meanwhile the rookie sensation whom Clement was traded for last year, Dontrelle Willis, choked early when he gave up six runs in the first three innings. Solid hitting, solid pitching - that's the stuff of champions.
The Cubs are now up 3-1 in the National League Championship Series. That's huge. That means the Cubs only need to win one of the next three games in order to clinch the pennant and advance to the World Series. Read that again: the Cubs need one win in order to go to the World Series. Wow.
Meanwhile, for the Cubs to loose the series the Marlins will have to defeat Carlos Zambrano at Pro Player Stadium tonight, then they will have to successively beat Mark Prior at Wrigley and Kerry Wood at Wrigley. Ain't gonna happen. Sorry. Can't be done. Pack it up. Light the fire, we're grilling some Fish.