Remember when the Cubs were dead in the water at 2-7, a moribund team that had gotten so bloated with bad contracts and catchphrases that they were obviously Hindenburg-ing their way back to mediocrity? They couldn’t hit, couldn’t pitch, Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein were blithering idiots. Oh man, that was fun.
Yet here we sit less than a month later and the Cubs have won five straight and 15 of 20 to move to within two games of the Cardinals for the division lead. But wait, I thought the Brewers were running away with the Central. Or was it the Pirates? All I know is it was anyone but the Cubs. There’s maybe another team in the division, but my memory only includes those that have been relevant in the last five years.
It’s almost as though, I don’t know, one of the geniuses working in the front office figured out a way to harness quantum energy in order to travel back in time and establish an alternate reality. The Cubs certainly aren’t going to speak to any of that on the record, but Maddon alluded to it during his postgame comments Friday.
“Our guys are pretty sharp mentally right now,” he said, per Jon Greenberg of The Athletic ($). “That’s really what’s controlling all this. The game begins and we’ve got a nice edge about us in the dugout. It all starts in the head and the mind. Then we go out there and there’s a believability that something good’s going to happen. I totally agree with that. There’s a feel.
“Analytically speaking, it’s hard to describe and you can’t put numbers on it. It’s a feel and it exists. There’s another dimension out there, brother. Right now, when you’re playing in that other dimension, everybody feels it and you’ve got to ride it as long as you can.”
Whoa, heavy. And not like the gravity issues established in Back the Future when George McFly called Lorraine Baines his density. No, this is something that’s difficult to wrap your mind around. What Maddon’s talking about is deep like Leviathan or the minds of Minolta.
It’s as though things changed in a snap of the fingers, with malaise and complacence flaking away to reveal the killer instinct Epstein was calling for back in October. They somehow managed to rewind the tape, morphing as they did from Chip Diller crying in vain to “Remain calm, all is well!” to Larry Kroger getting blazed and contemplating the existential nature of humanity with Professor Jennings.
How else do you explain the Cubs’ own Professor, Kyle Hendricks, channeling Greg Maddux for an 81-pitch complete game shutout of the Cardinals? Why, I was told earlier in the day that a loss was all but assured and that Hendricks needed to be sent down to Triple-A Iowa because he was terrible. Was there some good fortune involved? Sure, but we know better than to chalk it up to that.
For definitive proof that the Cubs have very clearly messed with space-time, one need look no further than two guests of honor at Friday’s game. There to bear witness to Hendricks’ magnificence like a pair of dead characters retconned back into the plot with nary a word of explanation were former Cubs pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Jon Lieber.
Big deal, right, lots of former Cubs come back to watch games and Big Z is
starring in a publicity stunt trying to revive his career with the Chicago Dogs. But how do you explain Lieber, one of the most underappreciated excellent pitchers for the Cubs during his time in Chicago? He’s like that guy who falls between the Cubs Convention cracks because he’s not a legend and doesn’t carry the novelty swag of Pete LaCock.
Still think it’s nothing? Okay, what if I told you that Zambrano was the last Cubs pitcher to throw a Maddux — defined as a CGSO in fewer than 100 pitches — when he shut the Giants out on 98 pitches back on September 25, 2009? Or that Lieber is the only Cub to have Maddux’ed an opponent with fewer pitches than Hendricks, dispatching the Reds with only 78(!) tosses on May 24, 2001?
When presented with all the evidence, there’s really no choice but to accept the irrefutable truth that the Cubs have altered reality. They truly are in a different dimension, brother, though I’d caution them about being too flagrant with their acknowledgement of it. You thought the Cards hacking the Astros’ draft database created ripples? Imagine what happens if they get their grubby little talons on the secrets of time travel.
I feel a deep sense of unease just for sharing what I have, though surely nothing written here makes its way far enough up the ladder to raise any eyebrows. Whew, lucky for me. But just in case, I’d advise you all to simply go along for the ride and not worry about the sweeping ramifications this will have across time-space. You know, just like you weren’t worried when the Cubs were 5.5 games back in early April.
And, friends, May the Fourth be with you.
Ed. note: Easter egg conversation is welcomed in the comments on Twitter.