August 4, 2015

4 August:

Time for a clarification and a little pop culture history.

You have no doubt heard the term ‘the baseball gods’ referred to from time to time. The players, announcers, your loyal Cubsquest staff, those in the know all mention them.

To clarify, it isn’t ‘pagan idolatry’.

That is practiced wholesale; the raising of the athlete to godlike status. Done by the national media mostly. Secular humanism gone awry.

That is most assuredly not what this term means. Basically, it’s the law of averages; a far more amusing way to define it is to conjure the mythic presence of Zeus,  Apollo (not Higgins’ dogs from Magnum P.I, either),  Thor and the rest.

Think of the film ‘Jason and the Argonauts’. Or, more recently, ‘Clash of the Titans’.

The gods, usually played by a great English thespian like Laurence Olivier and Ursula Andress  -our idea of a goddess, to be sure-  gaze down on their favored mortals and judge them accordingly depending on how they play the game the gods have chosen.

Whether it’s playing baseball or searching for the golden fleece.

The ‘baseball gods’ want THEIR game played correctly, and will punish those who don’t. Or, the law of averages if you prefer.

If you perform well, the law of averages will even out; it’s why predicting the White Sox would start hitting in the second half was pretty easy. Nobody stays under their ability level for a complete season.

The only difference, and this is where it does get a little spooky, is when disrespect is shown. Think ‘Yasiel Puig’.

Not just him, of course. There are others. But when you take the game lightly, when you think that somehow you’re better or more important than the game, that’s when the ‘gods’ invariably act.

It can take many forms. Injuries, weird plays, bad breaks. But there is no escaping their wrath, which is why their name is invoked so much. The recent big trades will probably invoke the reference yet again.

When a team tries to get ALL of the good players for a stretch run the players will invariably disappoint. Johnny Cueto’s first start was a palooka outing, 3 runs over 6 innings, Cole Hamels got lit up, and so on.

The baseball gods like balance, and things done naturally.

They loved the Giants putting Travis Ishikawa in the outfield in the 2014 World Series. The Blue Jays buying everyone not nailed down last season got them an early exit of the Post Season.

That’s why Cubsquest thinks the Blue Jays won’t make it, again, and the Royals won’t get to the Series again, nor the Rangers get to the playoffs…

The Cardinals will most likely, even though they did almost nothing this off season. The Cubs on the other hand did just about everything right, purging team cancers like Starlin Castro in favor of real “core” talent like Addison Russell, investing in game changing talent like Jason Heyword and Ben Zobrist that didn’t just bring gaudy numbers, but leadership. demeanor and class, to aid the young faces of the franchise already in place. Yes the Cubs actually did free agency right and the baseball Gods are LOVING that! Sins of Edwin Jackson, Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano are forgiven and the punishment of mediocrity we all endured then is now replaced with the spoils of success.

They may be malevolent, even evil. But they have their internal rules they follow, which run in concordance with the Universe. But as for Chicago they are smiling. With the excesses of their glory being lavished on the South Side as well, as the Sox to perhaps a lesser extent with inspired acquisitions of Todd Frazier and Brett Laurie, kind of did it right as well, and are reaping the early benefits of their sound off season game plan.