A few final words on the Cubs before the next century begins

Like anyone else who pulled for this Cubs team over the past six months and thought they might be headed for something special, I've struggled to write anything coherent since watching Alfonso Soriano checkswing the franchise into the second century first day of the rest of its life. That's not to say a million different possibilities haven't raced through my mind. I thought about writing the usual 'Wait 'Til Next Year' farewell. I thought about writing how I'm not going to follow the Cubs any longer until Soriano and Aramis Ramirez are off the roster. I thought about writing how in this age of economic and national uncertainty, that it's still nice to have something to count on, even if it's the Cubs inventing a new way to redefine ineptitude. I thought about how I always suspected the Cubs would pull the mother of all letdowns after a 97-win season in which everything came so easily.

Hell, I even thought about writing how maybe it was my fault, that when I jokingly put "The Curse of the Malt Cup" on them after the malt cup guy didn't come around to my seat at Wrigley on Sept. 2. Even though I lifted the hex the next day, the Cubs went 12-14 from that point on. Hey, it's as good an explanation as any for this debacle, right? You just can't explain it so you reach for straws (or in this case, wooden spoons.)

In the end, I'm just like anyone else — at a loss for words after one great season in which they looked as complete a team as any in the majors and then one awful playoff appearance when they looked anything but. As storybook as it seemed this season might turn out to be, it turns out it was just like all the others before it. A collection of reactions to the Cubs cementing a century of futility in the most shocking way has been compiled below.

Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times: "This was the worst. Those of you who read this column know that I generally try to avoid extreme or over-the-top statements. The sky-is-falling crapola that trickles out of some sports columnists' laptops on a regular basis is normally prevented from fouling my machine. But not tonight. Not out here in the land of palm trees, poodles and plastic surgery, where advancing in the postseason isn't that big a deal. This was the worst baseball collapse and complete fall from potential that I have seen."

Wrigleyville23: "I know this doesn't compare to 2003, but this season was a different collection of Cubs. I can't explain the abortion of flop sweat, turd-laying, gas can igniting baseball that was displayed over the last four days. How can Dempster's 7 BB, 7 R abomination at Wrigley be explained? The guy was 14-3 at home this year, 17-6 overall. What happened to Soriano? Where did Edmonds go? Fukudome? Theriot? DeRosa? You all forgot your gloves and bats in Milwaukee?

"I'm just amazed. I was not expecting this. I will admit that I was expecting full-on World Series glory this season. The signs were all there. Now? We get swept by the Dodgers. What a punch to the balls. Now...now, there are no words."

Mike Downey, Chicago Tribune: "Well, thanks for watching, Chicago. Very sorry, Ron Santo. Too bad, Ernie Banks. Looks like it's Groundhog Day all over again, Bill Murray. We know you've seen this before with those huge eyeglasses, Harry Caray, even from way up there where you are. Cubs lose. Been there, done this."

Rob G., The Cub Reporter: "You follow a baseball team for six months, 161 games, and just about every play of every inning and then they go and just tear your heart out. The one time you really needed them, the one thing you ever wanted out of this relationship and they can't even be bothered to show up. For six months they were the best girlfriend a guy could imagine — not only did you have that special spark with them, but they had all the fundamentals as well. They were the kind of girl that you needed more than she needed you, but still would bring you lasagna at work ...just because it was a Wednesday. And then it's the big weekend corporate retreat with your promotion on the line and she ends up forgetting to take her anti-depressants and sleeps with your boss."

Al Yellon, Bleed Cubbie Blue: "I have nothing to say. And when I say 'nothing', I mean it. I am not opening comments on this post. Eventually, I will post a recap of this utter disaster, but it may take me a day or so. Until then, I want this post to stand alone on the front page as a monument to the worst performance I have seen in 45 years as a Cubs fan. Good night."

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