Listen, man, we don’t have to do this:
The Chicago Cubs advanced to the NLCS last night thanks to a four-run ninth-inning rally against the San Francisco Giants. It was an impressive way to win a baseball game, but it wasn’t a miraculous one—the Giants’ bullpen is one of the saddest collection of pitchers in the league—nor was it the end of a particularly high-stakes playoff game. The Cubs came into Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead, and even if they had lost they would have had another chance to advance in Game 5 at home.
Despite this, The New York Times led off its recap of the game by conjuring “the goblins of past heartbreak,” which include Steve Bartman, unlucky goats, and whatever made-up curses you fancy. This does not bode well for baseball fans who would prefer to live through these playoffs without choking on the supernaturalized hooey that sportswriters love to serve up whenever a team like the Cubs makes it to the postseason. If this is how the Cubs are getting written about at this stage of the playoffs, imagine what we’re going to get when they win a game that would actually merit more than a footnote on the commemorative World Series DVD collection.
We went through years of seeing every hack in America reduce dramatic Red Sox playoff baseball to prefabricated invocations of the Curse of the Bambino, and hindsight has only proven how silly and counterproductive it was for writers to hug their cliches rather than write meaningful and interesting things about meaningful and interesting baseball games. These Chicago Cubs are a historically great collection of talent, and it’s likely they have more postseason moments in them that will prove to be even more exciting than last night’s rally. A team like that deserves better than the worst impulses of America’s sportswriters.