Corder: The SI jinx?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2004

Man, just bring it on



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Wonderful. We’re less than 80 hours away from Major League Baseball throwing its first pitch, and my Cubs should already be scouting caskets &045; something made from goatskin, preferably.

For its annual Major League Baseball preview, the cover of Sports Illustrated has a picture of Chicago hurler Kerry Wood staring into the catcher’s mitt with the announcement, &uot;Hell Freezes Over: The Cubs will win the World Series.&uot;

So not only must the Cubs battle the revamped Houston Astros with ex-New York Yankee pitchers and best buds Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite and an injury that will keep ace Mark Prior out the first month and a 95-year-old curse, now they must wage war against the typically impenetrable SI jinx, which has made mere mortals out of Superman athletes and sports teams.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Northsiders’ chances of making the Series. Prior’s absence is a pothole I’d like covered, but it’s not an abyss with the capable arms of Wood, Matt Clement, Carlos Zambrano and the prodigal son Greg Maddux, who is back in the city where he pitched his first seven years before making his mark in Atlanta the last 11.

The acquisition of Derek Lee, who with the Florida Marlins denied the Cubs their first National League pennant in 58 years and a shot at their first world championship since 1908, and the returns of Maddux and center fielder Corey Patterson, who batted .298 in 83 games before missing the rest of 2003 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, show Chicago GM Jim Hendry did some work in the offseason.

However, it would’ve be nice if the Tribune family could’ve ponied up a little more cash to entice either another Marlin or Brave, catchers Pudge Rodriguez or Javy Lopez, to the Windy City to shape up a shabby position that includes Paul Bako and Michael Barrett.

But, I forgot, we’re not the Yankees. How could I ever confuse my lovable losers with a team that has won 26 world titles.

Of course, this jinx thing could be a blessing in disguise. After all, SI’s preseason picks for college basketball’s men and women’s champions? None other than both UConn teams.

Then again, the Final Four ain’t even started yet. By Tuesday, the LSU girls will accomplish the impossible, upsetting the Lady Huskies.

On the men’s side, some courtside fan wearing a green turtleneck, a Walkman, glasses and a UConn cap slips his feet onto the hardwood and trips Ben Gordon, preventing him from getting off a desperation buzzer beater.

The evildoer will disappear into the Alamodome shadows, to his cave, where he can bask in the glory of knowing he once again crushed the dreams of another contingent of fans.

Bartman is his handle, and any time Lady Fortuna needs his help, all she does is shine a silhouette of spectacles into the pitch-black night.

Sorry about that. As you can see, I’m in therapy for my delusions, which include a happy October with the Cubs giving their World Series’ curse the finger.

Chuck Corder

is a sports writer for The Natchez Democrat. You can reach him at (601) 445-3633 or by e-mail at