I'm from Maine, Red Sox country. But, until I went to college, I only got to see the Cubs because they played day games (thank you WGN) and no one else in my family liked baseball. Therefore, I am the most hated type of fan -- the sports bigamist. I am a Cubs fan first and a Red Sox fan second.
Let's just say that in 2003, I was in a very uncomfortable position. I cannot begin to describe the pain I felt that year. To this day, if I ever see Alex Gonzalez I will kick him in the nuts. I don't even care if I get the right Alex Gonzalez, I just want to kick some nuts.
Currently, I live in DC where one Aaron Boone played this year. I boooood him incessantly whenever his name was called. Of course, I also boooood Christian Laetner when he played for the Wiz, but I digress....
This Cubs team needs to take on the attitude of the 2004 Red Sox, in that they approached the last four games of the ALCS as a series of one-game playoffs. They did not go into Game 4 thinking, "We need to win four games!!!" They went into that game thinking, "We need to win one game."
I think that this Cubs team, as well as last years', has been going into EVERY game of every postseason series thinking, "We need to win this series...NOW!!!" Obviously, that is not possible, and that vein of thinking will ultimately lead to failure.
Part of the reason this team was so successful during the regular season was due to their ability to put the previous day's game behind them. If they come out flat Saturday (defensively and/or offensively), then theirs is a problem with motivation and coaching. If they come out hot and still are unable to capitalize, then the fates are conspiring against them and there is nothing can be done.
This does NOT mean I believe in curses -- like I said before, I am also a Red Sox fan -- I know of which I speak. So can it. Shit happens.
Were the Cubs the better team in 84? Yes. In '89? Meh. In '98? No. In '03? Even. In '07? Statistically, yes -- by the math the D-bags should never have been that good. This year? Yes (hell, the Cardinals were better than the Dodgers). Will the Cubs buck up and show it? Remains to be seen.
Now, I'm not dumb enough to say, "The Cubs will win on Saturday!" But, I will say that, despite Kuroda's insane K/BB ratio (nearly 3:1) over 183.1 innings pitched, the Cubs actually have the advantage. They are the better team. They won 97 games in the toughest division in the NL.
Rich Harden was a combined 10-2, with 34 earned runs over 148 innings pitched, for an ERA of 2.07. In the NL, he went 5-1, with 14 earned runs over 71 innings pitched, for an ERA of 1.77. Obviously, this guy is our Ace and unquestionably the man we want in this position. Let's just hope that the defense can hold up behind him.
Science willing, the Cubs will get to game four. If so, Ted Lilly's record was 17-9, as well as 10-4 on the road, with an ERA of 4.09 (3.77 away from Wrigley). Not to mention his 2.875 strikeout to walk ratio, all gives me hope of returning the series to the Friendly Confines and Dempster showing why he won 14 games there.
Let me close with this: I know it sounds corny, and I know it sounds insanely stupid. But, if the Cubs (and the fans) would just address the series as a bunch of one-game series instead of trying to win it all on every swing, all will be OK. The pitchers are sound; overall, the defense is sound; the batting is usually sound. Just go out there and do what we all know you can do.