And with that bit of revelry, Garza put Barney on the 15-day DL. It was mostly ice.
Sometimes, in the midst of a 12-game losing streak and a sweep by two NL Central historical doormat teams, you find your friends saying "that's IT! I'm DONE for the year. No more Cubs." You might even find yourself saying so during a dark night of the soul - perhaps one that directly follows a Michael Bowden relief appearance. But a series like the one we just finished really demonstrates the bone-deep sickness that drives the beating heart of Cubs fandom. Yes, we're still looking upward at the second-to-doormat position by four games. Indeed, we're cheering on Soriano to increase his trade value in hopes of getting back a sack of fertilizer and eating some $40 million. But by god, man, we just swept a home series during a beautiful handful of May afternoons by way of a walk-off home run from a light-hitting infielder. If that doesn't bring at least a tiny smile, then your bitter, blackened heart beats naught but the old fyer oil from Long John Silvers. Although I will agree with my wife that the exuberance shown by the team at the first 3-game winning streak of the year illustrates a bit of how far we've fallen since those back-to-back Central champion years.
On my way home from work, the Cubs tied things up with Castro infield single - an act of sheer will and inefficient fielding - right as I exited the Kennedy. James Russell was striking out Chase Headley just as I got the TV onto CSN. That meant that I got to see Darwin Barney's face as the ball he popped into left-center just ... sorta kept going. Len and Bob professed disbelief in its carrying power until it was almost in the seats. But the best part was that I got to the TV in time to see Darwin Barney's face on the immediate replay. He's running past first, hoping for a gapper, and all of the sudden he realizes it's gone. There's an actual "oh, holy shit, YESSSSS!" moment caught on camera that you'd have to be Zombie Elizabeth Bathory to turn a cold eye toward.:
I make this face every time I get a hit in beer league softball.
It doesn't solve our problems on a season-wide scale, but what a great moment. For all the snark that pours forth during a tough stretch, Steve and I keep watching to catch something like this, not to make shitty jokes about the bullpen. People always ask why I'm a Cubs fan when they've gone so long without winning anything significant. I've always said that the trick is to collect moments if you can't have an entire perfect season. It's about watching for and remembering the things that made a certain game out of the thousands you watch stand out years later. It's not even how it ended - it's that he looked as surprised and thrilled as the rest of us. The fact that he hit it off of a man who looks for all the world like Griff Tannen from Back to the Future III is just extra.
Things might not be great this season, but they're certainly okay right now.