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I am in an abusive relationship, and I'm the one taking the abuse.
No, you're not going to see me walking around with a shiner, or bloodied nose. Nor will I be reporting to a shelter to seek help. No restraining orders are to be issued.
It is more in the realm of emotional abuse.
Like many lousy relationships, I'm in it by my own choosing. In fact, I'm the one who actively pursued it and have chosen to stay in it for well over forty years.
It is my connection to the Chicago Cubs.
Now, any fan of the Cubs can regale you with his or her own tales of horror and heartbreak at these halfwits' hapless hands.
This past Sunday, however, brought (for me, anyway) a new low.
The day started out bright and cheery: It was the wife's birthday, and I'd planned a grand celebration.
After doing a few chores around the house and knocking out a birthday blueberry pie for my beloved, I found myself with some pre-grilling time on my hands.
I switched the tube on to WGN in time to see the Cubs wrapping up the seventh inning, holding on to a 3-0 lead over the loathsome Mets.
With great gusto, I announced this news to the wife. Not only were the Cubs in command, but pitcher Matt Garza had held the Metropolitans to three measly hits. Also, the Cubs had taken the first two games of the series. The Mets had scored a total of two runs over the ('til then) 25 innings.
I got giddy telling her that this was the first time that the Cubs would sweep the Mets since 2004, and it was the first time they'd do so in New York since 1991.
The wife took all of this in and coolly said, "I'll bet you two bucks the Mets win."
Two thoughts here. First, the wife doesn't throw her money around willy-nilly. Her German-Armenian heritage has her squeezing 11 pennies out of every dime.
Second, there's a reason I don't gamble much: I'm no good at it.
Still, this was too good to pass up. I was already making plans for how I'd squander my newfound loot as we shook hands on the wager.
Garza got the hook before the eighth, and James Russell came in to relieve. Russell pitched a 1-2-3 inning to preserve the 3-0 lead.
Then came the bottom of the ninth. In strolled Carlos Marmol, a man who extinguishes fires with gasoline. Marmol is an upside-down horseshoe, a broken mirror, a stepped-upon pavement crack and the number 13 all rolled up and toted by Wile E. Coyote.
He's had five save opportunities this season and has blown three of them.
Sure enough, Marmol gave up a home run to the first man he faced.
A walk, a single and a sacrifice bunt later, the Mets had men on second and third with one out.
Up strode Kirk Nieuwenhuis for the New Yorkers. What, you haven't heard of Kirk Nieuwenhuis? Well, that's because guys hitting .103 don't get a lot of coverage. That's not a typo: The guy was hitting .103.
That is, until Mar-mauled tossed him a big meatball. Nieuwenhuis sent it over the right field wall for his first-ever MLB home run–a walk-off three-run tater.
As I forked over the cash to the wife, I muttered, "How can (Cubs manager Dale) Sveum keep bringing this guy in to pitch?"
To which the wife replied, "The better question is how can you, at 53 years old, still let this team break your heart?"
It's a fair question.
My late brother, who was a bartender, used to tell me of an elderly gent who would perch himself at the bar. Between sips of his Seven and Seven he'd mutter, "I've been married 43 years. If I'd just murdered her on our wedding day, I'd be out of prison by now."
THAT was one miserable hombre. If the worst relationship I have in my life includes a bunch of baseball bozos who manage to inflate my spirits just to always (and I mean ALWAYS) deflate them in inglorious fashion, I think I'm OK.
The saying goes, "Everybody takes a beating sometime." I suppose it's better to take mine while enjoying a cold beverage and a hot dog.
Soon, September will arrive, bringing the mathematical end to another Cubs' quixotic season. And I'll turn another page on this toxic relationship.
Then, autumn will arrive, and I can take up with my other sports relationship: the Buffalo Bills.