I read this the other day, a throwaway line that made me do a double take: The Cubs have never won an NLCS. Well, sure they haven’t. League championship series have only been around since 1969, and the Cubs haven’t been to a World Series since 1945. It’s a useless, obvious bit of trivia—barely a factoid—but it’s a good example of how, when we’re talking about the Cubs and their historic dearth, we’re working on timescales beyond the individual. This requires institutional memory, civic memory. Saturday will be Game 6 of the NLCS, the Cubs up 3-2, at Wrigley. That, at least, sounds sorely familiar.
Before last night’s 8-4 win in Los Angeles, the first pitch was co-thrown by Eric Karros, a Dodger for life but a Cub for a single season, 2003, and Karros keeps a souvenir from that year: A Cubs cap with a World Series patch, put in players’ lockers for the expected pennant celebration before...things happened.