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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 19, 2018

No jinxes this time

By BROOKS TAYLOR | Nov 06, 2015

It’s over, no need to worry about any jinxes.

To be honest, I have mixed emotions about the recent Chicago Cubs’ season.

Having been a Cubs’ fan for 50 years, I have difficulty admitting that I wasn’t sure if I wanted them to win the World Series.

However, I did want them to go to the World Series. Anything after that would be gravy.

Over the years, I have periodically thought about what would happen if the Cubs actually did win the World Series. No, I am not talking about the riots that would ensue in Chicago.

Rather, would the Cubs’ appeal lose some of its luster? While the Cubs were marching toward the National League Division Series, I read part of an interview with Bill Murray. Murray is the actor, best known for his performances on Saturday Night Live and “Caddyshack.”

The actor is also a huge Cub fan. In the interview, the writer asked Murray if he hoped the Cubs won the World Series. Murray paused before saying that he didn’t know if that would be a good thing.

To illustrate his point, he pointed to the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox, another team without a world championship for decades, finally won the big prize (actually two world championships) earlier this century.

After winning the World Series, the Red Sox, Murray said, became just a regular Major League baseball team and he feared the same would happen to the Cubs.

What makes the Cubs unique is the lack of World Series titles. The last one came 108 years ago.

“Wait until next year” has been the team’s battle cry. Many next years have come and gone with the same result — watching other teams play in October.

This year was different. There was hope in October, even if it did end a few games too early.

Some of the talking heads said the Cubs will win soon. Predictions made after this year’s World Series had the Cubs as the favorite to win the crown in 2016.

Really?

I remember them saying the same thing over a decade ago when Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano headed the pitching rotation. Never happened, thanks to a colossal collapse one year against the Florida Marlins.

Success is not guaranteed, championships are not won on paper.

Starting four rookies in the postseason is remarkable. I don’t know of any other team that has done that in the playoffs. That being said, there are a half dozen or more National League teams, including two others in the Cubs division, that could represent the league in the 2016 World Series.

I hope winning the World Series doesn’t make the Cubs just another baseball team, but if it does, so be it. I, like so many other Cub fans, want to see the team win a championship in my lifetime. I will take my chances on what happens after that.

It wasn’t long ago that the Iowa High School football playoffs were seen as a reward for a good season. In fact, when the playoffs first began, competition was so keen for spots that a little town in northern Iowa — Graettinger — did not make the playoffs several times despite having undefeated seasons.

That led to implementation of the “Graettinger rule” by the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA). A point system was implemented, giving teams extra points for convincing wins over opponents. Still, a number of one-loss teams did not make the playoffs.

Several years ago, the IHSAA doubled the playoff field, allowing four teams instead of two to qualify from each district. The IHSAA explained its move by saying it was giving more teams the playoff experience. Hmmm. I think the real reason was to expand the association’s bank account.

The expansion move was controversial as it allowed teams with losing marks to gain playoff berths. For instance, this year’s Class 4A field included Des Moines North, which won one game during the season. Playoff worthy? Not in my book. I believe that teams with losing records (and there are plenty in this year’s field) cheapens the honor.

But that will be history next year as the IHSAA is going back to its two teams per district qualifying format. That is a good thing.

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