George Carlin, a comedian whose humor is often irreverent and generally quite obnoxious, wrote a wonderful piece on baseball in 1997 that compared it to other sports played with a ball. For fans of this great game his words bear repeating:

Baseball is different from any other sport, very different.

For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs. In most sports the ball, or object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he’s out; sometimes unintentionally, he’s out.

Also; in football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.

Carlin then proceeds to compare America’s two most popular sports, baseball and football, by saying:

Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.
Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park. The baseball park!
Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.

I could go on but you get the drift. Baseball is a game with a leisurely pace, one that slows us down, allows us to relax, to “go home,” or finally “to be safe at home.” Maybe this is why I love it so much, especially after the recent winter weather we have endured in the Midwest. (Global warming jokes abound around here when the weather turns this bad.)

But one thing does seem certain, at least in Chicago. The Cubs will not win a World Series this season. I know, they have a new manager, a manager who has been a winner along the way. But the last guy, Dusty Baker, had also been a winner along the way and he came so close in 2003 until a guy named Steve Bartman tried to catch a foul ball and got run out of town as the reason for the Cubs’ collapse. (Cubs’ fans always have their reasons. What can I say?)

Die-hard Cubs fans still have hope, but continue to talk about goats and jinxes and a host of other reasons for their futility. But new manager Lou Pinella doesn’t quite get into this Cubs stuff yet. In the Monday edition of the Chicago Tribune Sweet Lou may not have seen the irony in his own comments when he said: “Our pitchers aren’t pitching very well and our hitters aren’t hitting very well. Outside of that, we’re OK.” OK? Lou, you have to be kidding. We haven’t even played a real game yet and this is how you talk about the Cubs for the Chicago faithful. Hope may be dead on arrival with this kind of gloom and you haven’t even heaved a base toward the outfield in a fit of rage over an umpire’s bad call.

Someday the Cubs will win it all, someday. The law of averages says it has to happen. But I am not sure it will happen in my lifetime. After all, this team is entering its 99th season without winning the big prize in baseball. To make matters worse their hated cross-town rivals won it all in 2005. Oh the glories of spring. I can hear it now, less than four weeks away: “Play ball.” I just wonder what all the money spent in the off-season to buy new players will really mean for the 2007 Cubs? So do the fans who will “boo and raise a hullabaloo,” as one Cubs song puts it, if the Cubs keep being lovable losers in 2007. I know, someday they will win, but someday could be a long way off as Cubs fans all know. Think of it, no one alive in Chicago today can consciously remember the last World Championship Cubs team. But “wait till next year” is about to start soon if the Cubs do not live up to the huge expectations they created by their off-season acquisitions and the hiring of a new manager, a manager you must remember, who presently says their pitchers are not pitching and their hitters aren’t hitting. One thing we will get from Pinella for sure is brutal honesty, whether Cubs fans like it or not.

Related Posts


  1. David Gordon March 9, 2007 at 1:51 am

    Hey John
    Great tidbits on baseball. Man, where do you get this stuff? Cubs… Well? If they win fine, as long as the White Sox keep beating them. I’m not optimistic about the White Sox.

  2. Steve Scott March 9, 2007 at 2:02 am

    Knowing the Cubs won’t win the Series isn’t much help for a Giants fan like me. At least the Chicago Cubs have won a series. We have to adopt one from 3000 miles away. But seriously, I find the jinx blame game amusing. Dusty was blamed for leaving the pitcher in during game 6, and Cubs fans know without a doubt that the only thing he could have done was to take him out. But their short, provincial memories prevent them from realizing that Dusty DID take the pitcher out during game 6, and the overworked bullpen coughed up a Series ring. It happened exactly that way – only it happened the previous year wearing orange and black. Dustiny. Cubs fans bought it. The Confines aren’t so friendly after all.

  3. Jim St. Lawrence March 12, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Dr. Armstrong,
    As a lifetime southsider and White Sox fan, I have to agree with you that the law of averages should have caught up with the Cubs by now and they should have won a World Series by now after almost 99 years of futility. In fact, the chances of any MLB team not winning a World Series for such a long time is less than .003%. I thought they were going to the World Series in both 1984 and 2003. They had leads in games won of 2-0 against the San Diego Padres in a five game series and in 2003 when they were up 3-1 to the Florida Marlins. By the way, I do think you and other Cubs’ fans are wrong to cast blame on Steve Bartman for blowing the Cubs’ World Series chances. You seem to forget the two critical errors in that fateful eighth inning by Sammy Sosa and Luis Gonzales that gave the Marlins the chances they capitalized on. I have to admit when my White Sox won it all in 2005, I was guilty of rubbing it in the faces of my Christian Cub friends. I also have to admit I do tease my friend, Dave Smith, the Executive Director of the Illinois Family Institute of being a closet Cubs fan.
    As a baseball fan, I do think my White Sox are closer to another World Championshp than your Cubs, despite the Tribune Company hiring Lou Pinella and going on a $300 million free agent spending spree in the offseason. Unless the Cubs can coalesce like a family I don’t believe the Cubs will even challenge for the play-offs. I think next year (2008) you will be looking at a century of baseball futility on the Northside of Chicago.

  4. John H. Armstrong March 12, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    You misread my post. I am NOT a Cubs fan at all. I am a die-hard Atlanta Braves fan and a huge White Sox AL fan and totally agree with you. I will see about 20 Sox games this summer I hope.
    Never fear, I am not predicting a Cubs win, just ruminating on the reasons offered for futility by true-blue Cubs’ fans.

  5. Jim St. Lawrence March 14, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Dr. Armstrong,
    I am sorry I misunderstood your post. Most Sox fans when they see people talking about the Cubs automatically assume you are a Cubs’ fan. I guess it goes back to the fact that the White Sox were treated like that other MLB team on the Southside until they won the 2005 World Series. I live two blocks away from U.S. Cellular Field (aka “The Cell”). If you need help with your parking you can park in my garage. Then we take in a Sox game and discuss the problems I see with UBF.

Comments are closed.

My Latest Book!

Use Promo code UNITY for 40% discount!

Recent Articles