An October to Remember: Part 2

Here’s IP Sports second part of the best MLB Playoff Series of the decade:

2003 NLCS – Chicago Cubs vs Florida Marlins
Florida Marlins 4, Chicago Cubs 3
Series MVP: Ivan Rodriguez

Game 1 Marlins 9, Cubs 8 (11 innings)
WP – Ugueth Urbina, LP – Mark Guthrie, Sv – Braden Looper

Game 2 Cubs 12, Marlins 3
WP – Mark Prior, LP – Brad Penny

Game 3 Cubs 5, Marlins 4 (11 innings)
WP – Joe Borowski, LP – Michael Tejera, Sv – Mike Remlinger

Game 4 Cubs 8, Marlins 3
WP – Matt Clement, LP – Dontrelle Willis

Game 5 Marlins 4, Cubs 0
WP – Josh Beckett, LP – Carlos Zambrano

Game 6 Marlins 8, Cubs 3
WP – Chad Fox, LP – Mark Prior

Game 7 Marlins 9, Cubs 6
WP – Brad Penny, LP – Kerry Wood, Sv – Ugueth Urbina

Eugene: Cardinal fans had a new hero after game 6 – Steve Bartman. People were saying that the Cardinals needed to fly him out to throw out the first pitch on 2004 Opening Day. Now, his actions did not decide the game (or series), but he sure took the blame for it. He didn’t cause Alex Gonzalez to get the error on the next pitch. He wasn’t responsible for using Mark Prior just a little too long.

This was the Cubs series and they wasted every opportunity to win it. They were up 4-0 in the first inning of Game 1 and lost it in extra innings. They were up 3-0 when the Bartman incident happened in the 8th inning and lost Game 6. The Cubs were winning 5-3 before losing Game 7 in the 5th inning. Say what you want about a fan reaching for a ball out of play, that’s bad baseball

This was also Miguel Cabrera’s coming out party. He hit .333 with 3 HR and 6 RBIs in the series.

Daniels: I momentarily felt bad for Steve Bartman when he drew down the ire of fanbase in the days following this series. Then, I quickly got over it. If you’re a home fan, it’s on you to give your fielders every chance at making a play on the ball. Your self-gratification of getting a foul-ball from a postseason game is not greater than your team’s needs. So, while the booted double play and the Game 7 zombification wasn’t Bartman’s fault — not getting out of Moises Alou’s way was. A fan costing the team a postseason run in the Bronx would have to be escorted out with police protection, so everything that Bartman brought down upon himself is his own doing.

That said, when you look back at this series (and the following one) it dawns on you that the Marlins had no right winning this series. The Cubs featured a rotation with Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Matt Clement before their various injuries would bring them down. It featured Carlos Zambrano before anyone knee he was a crazyman. And all that went for naught. A booted double play and the walking disaster known as Kyle Farnsworth burned the Cubs’ hopes in one inning and the pitchers barely put up a fight in the seventh game. No curse. Just guys in a daze.

Although, freak things that totally deflates a team’s sails is what curses are all about. And thus it lives on.

Chad: Besides the whole Bartman thing, which was completely overblown, the man did what anyone would do in that situation. I’d like to think I’d realize the situation and let the ball drop, but there is very little chance of that happening. Not to mention, that wasn’t going to be an easy catch for Alou anyway. He was leaping and reaching into the stands, it’s not like Bartman reached into the field of play. But all that aside, it’s fun just looking back at the names that have lost their luster since the series.

Ugueth Urbina is in prison for butually murdering people.
Kerry Wood is in Cleveland for causing mass depression.
Mark Prior hasn’t been heard from for a few years now.
Joe Borowski is known more for being a terrible reliever for Cleveland now.
Dontrelle Willis has lost almost everything. Remember, he was a rookie sensation this year that was projected to tear the league apart.

Josh Beckett and Miggy Cab are the only two big time breakout players from this series to live up to their potential.

Alex: What an unlucky series for the Cubs, but you can’t blame it all on Steve Bartman, or a curse, or whatever. They played pretty poorly in the final two games, sealing their fate – in Game 6, Bartman can be the “excuse” for a couple of runs, maximum. But not the eight the Cubs gave up that day. Pitching-wise, they performed worse in the seventh game.

It was a good series though. The goat has to be someone…and in the eyes of many baseball fans, the goat wasn’t even a player. It was a fan who thought he had a shot at a foul ball.

Aaron: Just to dovetail a bit on a point Eugene made: the memory I’ll take away from the 2003 Cubs’ postseason – hell, their entire season – is manager Dusty Baker reinforcing his reputation as a terrible handler of starting pitchers.

Baker all but guaranteed that SPs Mark Prior and Kerry Wood would have nothing left for the World Series, if they’d advanced. Both finished in the top three in pitches thrown during the regular season and both recorded at least one 120+ pitch start in the NLDS. Is it really any surprise that when the Cubs absolutely needed Prior in game six and Wood in game seven of the NLCS that both were on fumes?

Steve Bartman is a convenient scapegoat, but Dusty Baker should shoulder more than just some of the blame.

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