An open letter to Cub fans from a (fair-weather) Sox fan:

Don’t panic! That’s the first rule in Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and it applies to post-season viewing for all Chicago baseball fans. I know, you’re still suffering post-traumatic stress disorder following the 2003 debacle, so you’re wondering how to approach this surprise divisional championship and subsequent exposure to playoff tension. Will you just get hurt again? Does another disaster await?

Of course, you’re a Cub fan after all. Agony is inevitable – but there might also be ecstasy. Either way or both, bracing yourself isn’t going to do any good. You either surrender to the roller-coaster or you don’t get on. I suggest surrendering. We White Sox fans are suddenly in the unique position of being able to offer counsel to Cub fans on the upcoming experience. We just went through it two years ago. It turned out well, as you no doubt recall.

I hope the Cubs go all the way. I’m not one of those Cub-hating White Sox fans. I want the damn monkey off this city’s back once and for all so we can move on and refashion our civic identity. I’m sick of all that “lovable losers” crap. There’s nothing lovable about losing, not after 99 years of it. And besides, the Cubs haven’t done that badly of late. They’ve actually managed to win 4 divisional championships in the last 23 years, and sneaked in on the wild card one other time. The White Sox, too, have won four divisional championships since 1983.

Feeling superstitious? Forget that. Superstition only applies when the Cubs are expected to do well – as they were in 2003, 1984 and 1969. This is different. These Cubs had no business winning their division, much less contending for a world championship. Too many weaknesses on paper, but paper, as we all know, has nothing to do with Chicago baseball. There has always been an unbridgable gap between the Cubs on paper and the Cubs on the field. That’s always worked to your disadvantage. This year it may work to your advantage.

When the Cubs look good on paper, they have always faltered, whether through hexes, jinxes, foul balls, or pure, unadulterated choke jobs. But this year they don’t look good on paper, which is why this just might be their year. I know the logic is tortured, but that’s what comes of rooting for a Chicago baseball team. The only way the Cubs will ever win a World Series is by doing it when everyone least expects it. Last year the Cardinals showed it can be done. The Red Sox did it in 2004, coming back after being down 3 games to none with two outs in the ninth inning in game four – against the Yankees of all people. The Red Sox won eight straight from that point on and took home their first championship since 1918.

The Marlins did it in 2003 after the Cubs gift-wrapped the pennant and handed it to them. They beat the Yankees in six games. Lou Piniella’s Cincinnati Reds did it in 1990, destroying a prohibitively favored Oakland A’s team.

It happens.

In fact, this is the only scenerio in which it could happen for the Cubs.

So stop thinking about what can go wrong. On paper, they’ll be out in the first round. But paper has nothing to do with the Cubs. Never has. Neither does superstition. Spring Steve Bartman from his four-year house arrest. Bring in all the goats you can find. Tell yourself the Cubs have no business even being in the playoffs.

Then sit back and watch what happens.

Stranger things have. I know. I watched the White Sox blow a 15-game lead in August and September of 2005, then sat back in amazement as they won 11 of 12 games in the playoffs to become world champs.

Life is too short to worry about this stuff. Anticipating the agony never helps. Lose the dread and take the ride.

The good news is they don’t have to play the Florida Marlins this time.

One last bit of advice though: Just to be on the safe side, Cubs’ management should tell everyone in the first two rows on each side along foul territory to keep their damn hands back if a foul ball should drift their way.

You never know.

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