Columnist Mike Nadel marvels at the ninth-inning comeback of the Cubs.
Hey, don't listen to that Cubbie Come Lately, Lou Piniella. It's OK to go crazy if you want.
If you're a long-suffering Cubs fan - and, really, is there any other kind? - you no doubt feel you've earned the right to get over-the-top, lose-all-perspective, high-five-your-grandma giddy whenever your heroes go one consecutive inning without committing a balk.
Aramis Ramirez hitting a two-run, two-out, ninth-inning home run off baseball's saves leader to cap an amazing comeback against the National League's top team in the opener of The Series of the Millennium? The Cubs extending their winning streak to seven games, climbing back to .500 for the first time in seven weeks and reducing Milwaukee's division lead to 6 1/2 games? The Cubs beating the Brewers 6-5 Friday after having trailed 5-0 in the first inning?
Go ahead, Cubbieland. Party like it's 1908!
Carlos Zambrano said it best: "Wow, huh?"
Sure, "wow" works as well as any word out there -- even if Sweet Lou was trying to keep things calm.
Though he's in his first year battling the curses, crises and collapses that tend to dominate these parts, Piniella is a wise 63-year-old who has managed four big-league clubs. So I knew where he was going when he was saying things like:
"Right now, everything's going well. Let's just play 'em one and a time and not get too excited."
"It's way too early. Our job is just to continue to play hard every day and win some baseball games. Stay in our hole and once in a while pick your head up and see where you're at."
"You start seeing some signs that the team is playing good baseball. But again, I don't want anybody getting crazy. We've got a long ways to go."
He's right, of course. The Cubs have more than half the season to go. Heck, they still have two games left in this series, and they'll face Brewers ace Ben Sheets in this afternoon's nationally televised contest.
So, yes, Mr. Voice of Reason's points are well taken.
After Ramirez's blast into the bleachers, I don't blame Cliff Floyd for "jumping up and down until I almost blew out my knee." Nor do I blame the entire team for "acting like fools," as Mark DeRosa put it.
"Hey, it was a huge game," DeRosa said. "It keeps the winning streak going and moves us closer to them in the standings. Basically, it was a two-game swing on one pitch."
Ramirez needed only one pitch from Francisco Cordero to deliver the Cubs' first walk-off homer in more than two years. Ramirez celebrated by holding up his arms as he reached home plate, where he was mobbed by his delirious teammates.
"Aramis doesn't usually get too excited," Zambrano said. "But today ... I'm not sure I've ever seen him like that before. He was pumping his fists and jumping around and really going wild. Good for him."
Indeed, good for him. He deserved it. I have been critical of Ramirez - even naming him my 2006 Turkey of the Year for failing to hit until after he helped get Dusty Baker fired and then getting hot just in time to land a fat, new contract - but he is bringing it this season. It's no coincidence the Cubs are 7-0 since he came off the disabled list a week ago.
"That's why they pay me," Ramirez said. "To drive in runs and do it in the clutch."
Cordero had been practically perfect in saving 27 games this season, but the Cubs nailed him for three runs in the ninth. Hmmm. I wonder if the Brewers, who haven't really been challenged all year, are starting to hear the pitter-pat of little Cubbie feet?
"We've made a push," Piniella said. "Again, let's not get crazy."
To heck with that, said the crazed crowd of 41,909.
Cubbieland denizens spend their lives hoping and praying for something - anything! - to celebrate. So expecting them to chill after Friday's fantastic finish wasn't very realistic. So why fight it?
"Let 'em celebrate," DeRosa said. "What a great way to start the series: being down 5-0, looking like it could be a rout, chipping away and then winning like that ... it's unbelievable. If I were a fan, I'd probably be dancing in the streets. I think it's awesome."
Awesome? That works, too, though for now I think I'll stick with "Wow."
Mike Nadel (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service. Read his blog, The
Baldest Truth, at www.thebaldesttruth.com .