Look for ghosts, ghouls, goblins, goats, black cats, Bartmans and the occasional savior.
And while searching for signs that the 2009 edition of the North Side Nine would break out of its seven-game slump, I learned that this team is eerily similar to the 2005 bunch that graced our presence with 79-83 record.
Take a look, the signs are there.
Sign No. 1 - The expectations
- 2005: Even though the '04 team didn't make the playoffs, the '05 team came in with high expectations. Prior and Wood were finally healthy (hold your laughter for later, please), the team was expected to get a full year out of Nomar (please, not yet) and the Evil Stoney was gone. OK, you can laugh now. And all the Cubs did was come out and play mediocre ball despite the magnificent play of Derrek Lee as Nomah, Mr. Glass and Woody each had extended stays on the DL. When the statement "Neifi Perez saved us" is uttered from the manager, your team has holes.
- 2009: After winning back-to-back division titles, experts expected the Cubs to run away with the division title. Being an expert is easy, but noticing the gaping holes on the roster put together by Jim Hendry is even easier. Like picking up chicks with Derek Jeter as your wingman (that's baseball's version of shooting fish in a barrel.)
Sign No. 2 - The 'haunting' departures
- 2005: Despite hitting 39 homers and driving in 106 runs in 2004, Moises Alou's services were no longer wanted in Chicago. Neither were Sammy Sosa's after a 35 homer year of his own. Those two were replaced by Todd Hollandsworth and Jeromy Burnitz as everyday starters. If that happened now, Dusty Baker's Twitter would have read as following. "Dude, I gotta start Holly and Burnitz everyday? FML."
- 2009: Despite hitting 20 homers, Mark DeRosa was traded. Despite being the main cog of the clubhouse, face of the franchise and being a lights-out closer, the Cubs parted ways with Kerry Wood. The departures helped all hell break loose across Cubs message boards and call-in shows across the nation, if not world. There is a good chunk of Cubs fans that still cut their wrists nightly when they think about Woody and DeRo in Cleveland uniforms. Those guys need lives and girlfriends.
Sign No. 3 - The one where that fan favorite gets the full-time job and sucks
- 2005: Todd Hollandsworth made one great catch in 2004 and people wanted him to start over Sammy Sosa right away. Those guys got their wish. In turn, Hollandsworth turned into Hollandsworthless as he batted .244 in 131 games.
- 2009: Cubs fans wanted to hand Mike Fontenot any starting job they could after "Lil' Babe Ruth" hit .309 with 9 homers in 141 at bats. Fontenot was handed the everyday second baseman's job, mostly because his biggest competitor (Aaron Miles) sucks at life. Fontenot is hitting ... well ... nothing.
- 2005: Injuries to Prior and Wood were like clockwork. But when Nomar Garciaparra goes down and you have to replace him with Neifi Perez on an everyday basis, your team is screwed.
- 2009: Injuries to Rich Harden are like clockwork. But when Aramis Ramirez gets hurt trying hard and you have to replace him with Aaron Miles on an everyday basis, your team is screwed.
Sign No. 5 - The acquisition that was supposed to happen, but didn't
- 2005: Rafael Furcal was destined to be a Cub. Beyond his penchant for a frosty beverage or two, Furcal fit two of the Cubs' biggest needs: A leadoff hitter and a shortstop. Too bad penny-pinching Andy MacFailure put an end to that nonsense. Furcal would go on to ruin Derrek Lee's wrist and the 2006 Cubs' season.
- 2009: Jake Peavy was destined to be a Cub. He fit one of the Cubs' biggest need: A bonafide No. 1 starter. But Kevin Towers pulled the plug on that. Peavy just helped shut out the Cubs one day after rejecting an offer from the White Sox. Cubs fans went from "yay, he's not going to the Sox" to "damn it, we have to face him" in the matter of hours.
Long story short, the 2009 Cubs are just the 2005 Cubs reincarnated. To the point where the crap I was writing was the same. Cue the "Twilight Zone" soundtrack.
Now that I've got that figured out, no need to waste time at the old ball park paying attention to the game.
More losing = More boozing!