Let the Bad Times Roll - KMOV.com

Let the Bad Times Roll

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Cubbie Tracker) -- It was the spring of '77.  College life, with Zeppelin blaring from the speakers. There were classes to attend, but the grades were already in the gutter, and besides, the Cardinals were playing at Wrigley, and cable TV had arrived in Carbondale.  A young man needs to have his priorities in order, so I rounded up the boys from the dorm and we made the very difficult decision to blow off classes, just this once, and headed to the bar to watch daytime baseball. 

There must have been six or eight of us.  Kurt and Wolo, Dave and Donny.  Pete was there, and probably a few more that the memory has left behind.  As always, I was out numbered in the cheering section, but that was okay.  The Cubs were on a three game winning streak (a big number by our standards), and had just beaten the Cardinals the day before.  Karma was pointing in my direction.  It had been a long time since 1945, and I was convinced that this was our year.  My friends thought I was delusional.  So, as college students are wont to do, some sort of drinking game was decided upon.  Your team scores a run, and down the hatch it goes.

Incredibly, before we were even seated, the Cardinals were batting around in the first, and knocked Mike Krukow out of the game, and scored four runs.  In fact, Krukow did not retire a single batter.  How hard can this be?  I wasn't happy, and my buddies were starting to get loaded.

And they scored two more in the second.  It was 6-0 before the popcorn arrived.  By now, I couldn’t understand what most of them were saying.  But that was nothing. 

Because in the fifth inning, the Cubs brought in a “relief” pitcher named Jim Todd, and the Cardinals decided once wasn’t nearly enough, so they batted around twice in the same inning, and hung an 8 spot on the Cubbies.  It was now 14-1, and the game was only half over.  Todd, providing relief as only he could, gave up 10 runs out of the bullpen that day.  I was begging for the manager to take him out, but my pleas fell on deaf ears.  The good news was, my friends were clearly obliterated, and I was functioning just fine.  But while their minds were trashed, their mouths were working just fine.  And I had nowhere to hide.  To make matters worse, the Cubs were just handing the Cardinals runs.  My hero’s made five errors that day.  It is not often that you get to witness such fielding excellence in the major leagues.  In fact, the Cubs made baseball history that day, when their entire infield joined the error party.  For the most part, they couldn't catch the ball.  If they did, they couldn't throw it.  If they could do both, the first baseman would miss it.  I had no alternative but to sit there and take it like a teenager.

I knew I should have gone to that recreation class.


Of course, the Cardinals weren't done.  They scored five more that day, hanging 21 on the Cubbies.  The Cubs managed three runs to go with their five errors.  I don't know how the rest of them found their way back to the dorm.  I do remember waking up the next morning to rampant, verbal abuse.  And then I made a tragic mistake.

I demanded a rematch.  And I wanted it as soon as possible.
We all said goodbye when classes ended in May, but only for a couple of weeks.  Most everybody lived near St. Louis, and the Cubbies were coming to town on Memorial Day weekend.  We decided to meet in the right field bleachers on Memorial Day for my rematch.  And this time, I came prepared, completely decked out in my Cub uniform from head to toe.  I took my share of abuse from the crowd, but my friends loved it.  The day was blazing hot.  Everybody else was in shorts, and I realized things might get a little toasty, but I didn't mind.  All I wanted was revenge.
And then I saw Mike Krukow come down to the bullpen to warm up, and my belly began to churn.  Surely I wasn't going to roll snake eyes again.
Krukow gave up four in the first four.  Well, he was improving.  Please take him out while there is still a chance I begged.  Herman Franks was the Cubs manager that day, assisted by Barney Schultz and Peanuts Lowery (nobody can make this up).  This time, my prayers were answered, and the Cubs called to the bullpen.
For Jim Todd.
By the time Todd left the game, the Cardinals scored another nine.  That’s right…….NINE!  It was 13-0, and it felt like 150 degrees at the old Busch.  I didn't need my friends to give me a hard time now.  I had a couple of thousand new friends that were lighting me up by the minute.
Mercifully, the game ended 14-0.  As we left the ballpark, my buddies said the Cubs were coming back to town over the Fourth of July.  Wouldn't it be cool if we all got together and did this again?
Sorry, I lied.  I've got plans.   
About the author: Bob Cyphers has 35 years of experience as a journalist in newspaper, radio and television.  Sadly, he has even more experience as a die-hard, heartbroken, beaten down Cub fan.  And although he promises that his beloved Cubs, as Ernie Banks predicted, will be "Supreme in 2015," deep down Bob understands that life, and the Cubbies, offers no guarantees. 

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