Monday, September 15, 2008

Cubbie Chaser: A Good Day...Whoda Thunk It?

Most of the time, as Cubs fans, we find ourselves having to cope with the Unexpected Bad Thing (UBT).

You know, we let our beloved Mark Grace go win a World Series with Arizona. Or, we trade for Nomar Garciaparra and he blows out his hamstring after a week. Or, Sammy Sosa takes his corked "batting practice" bat out for a real AB and turns from hero to zero in a flash. Or, we're five outs from the Series, and...you know where I'm going with this. You obviously can go back into our history and find countless excruciating examples.

At points in the past two weeks, it looked like this season might turn into one big UBT.

So Sunday was really strange, because absolutely everything went our way. And there's no way we could see it coming.

The Phillies swept -- or more like manhandled -- the Brewers in a day-night doubleheader to take some of the pressure off this week's Cubs-Crew series at Wrigley Field.

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee of all places, our ailing ace no-hit arguably the hottest team in baseball.

Carlos Zambrano had done nothing over the past 1 1/2 months but give us headaches and heartburn and make us want to consider pill-popping as an alternative hobby to baseball fandom. He stunk in August. Then, he started to stink AND show signs of his old immature antics in September. Then, for about 24 very frightening hours, as we awaited the results of his MRI, we thought he might be hurt and done for the year.

It was "only" shoulder tendinitis, we were eventually told. In Cubs fan lingo, another freaking UBT.

Sunday was Big Z's first start since that revelation. He faced the Astros, who embarrassed us on our last homestand with a three-game sweep and had compiled the best record in the bigs since the All-Star break.

He threw a no-hitter. And not only was it his first no-hitter and the first by a Cub in my lifetime, but according to a SportsCenter graphic I saw this morning, it was THE FIRST NO-HITTER IN BASEBALL HISTORY BY A GUY WITH A LAST NAME STARTING WITH Z!

AP Photo

No telling what can come of this.

Hopefully (another huge element of the Cubs fan vocabulary), after throwing 110 adrenaline-packed pitches, Big Z won't need another MRI today, and he won't morph back into Bad Z between now and his next start (against the Cardinals Friday). We need to see a little consistency from him now, not dramatics.

Save those for October, when we'll have planned ahead and stocked up on Xanax.

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