There’s a little more hope here than usual, and anything can happen in a 5-game series. A series loss to the Dodgers would be emotionally devastating for this town, at least among the legions of Cubs fans who occupy it, and that’s a large number.

However, as I typed the above, DeRosa hits a homer for the Cubs for a quick 2-0 lead.

Anyway, the feeling is a little different this year. Even ESPN gives the Cubs their year-end #1 spot in the Power Rankings. It’s a really good team, top to bottom. I sense there is some, “if not this year, never” in many fans’ heads.

The odds of any team winning a World Series are low, even after the playoffs start. It’s a fickle game, and requires a bit of luck.

Just getting to the WS will make this place crazy fun. “Hope” is an energizing thing.

Update: Dempster, arguably the Cubs’ most consistent pitcher all year, gets out of a bases-loaded jam in the 3rd. Still 2-0, but the baseball guy in me says he’s thrown too many pitches so far. He needs a couple of single-digit toss innings.

It’s nail-biting time in Chicago.

I’ve always really liked Derek Lowe, the Dodger pitcher. He’s a tough, battle-tested SOB. The Cubs, historically, don’t hit him well, but neither does anyone else come playoff time.

On to the 4th. 2-0. Can’t complain.

But I can still worry.

(It’s sort of refreshing to take a break from the horror of politics tonight. I can’t BELIEVE we have so many countrypersons who would consider voting McCain-Palin, and it depresses me. He’s an arrogant, impulsive ass, and she’s a complete joke.)

Easy 4th for Dempster. Just what the Dr. ordered. Even with a bloop hit.

On to the 5th. You’d have to say the Cubs are winning this game, and I don’t just mean the obvious score, but they’ve hit (the Dodgers only have two hits) and caught the ball better. The problem is, it just doesn’t matter. One swing’s difference is too close.

This is probably as bad as I’ve seen Dempster struggle with throwing strikes all year.

The great Manny Ramirez up with a chance to tie the game. Now I’m glad Dempster can’t find the plate. 0-2. Don’t make a mistake! *relief sigh* Dempster didn’t. 1-2. 2-2. I’ll take a walk. 3-2. Throw him a bad pitch. He did. 2 on, 2 out.

Perfect “no name” hero situation here. Please God let Ethier fail. 100 pitches for Dempster. One more inning, max. He just can’t find the strike zone. 3-1. Ball 4, bases loaded. 7 walks for Dempster, season high. Very unusual. (Self-evidently.)

Grand fucking slam. 4-2. Please kill me now.

OK, baseball time. Dempster will be pulled after a double post GS.

Christ. 8 men up, 4 score. If you’re a Cubs hitter, it’s time to call in the fire and piss on the dogs. Turning tomorrow into a “must win” is suicidal.

Nice at bat, Fonz. 4 pitches, 0 strikes, strikeout on a pitch that wasn’t close.

I predict double play after KosK gets on with what should have been a hit. Lee up. Professional, really good hitter. 27 DP’s on the season, though. Now he just needs to not strike out. 1-2. 2-2. Should get a decent pitch here that’s a ball. Hope he takes it. But he didn’t. DP, as predicted.

Plenty of time, he keeps telling himself. On to the 6th.

How about we walk the fucking pitcher again? Now they deserve to lose. The Cubs, I mean. You don’t walk the damn pitcher, ever. 2-0 against the next batter.

Choking is the appropriate word, I believe.

3-1. I expect a two-walk, two baserunner, no out situation. Nice. If you’re a chronic depressive Cubs fan, not that there’s any correlation. Strike out! On ball 4! Bless the baseball gods.

OK, on to the bottom of the 6th. Need to stop hitting like high school girls.

Bottom 7: Ramirez starts with a double, and Soto has Lowe 2-0. Potential rally time. Put on the take sign. Lou did, but Lowe threw a good strike. Strike 2. 2-2. Strikeout. Ouch. On ball 3. Coulda used a shot to the right side that moved the runner to third.

Edmonds up. Professional stud. No easy out, in this situation. I doubt he’ll come through. I’m a Cubs fan.

OK, 2 out, man on third. Would be nice to plate the motherfucker. Any kind of bullshit does it, wild pitch, error, hit, ah, shit, wasted lead-off double. On to #7.

The Dodgers have 4 damn runs on 4 damn hits.

Excuse me. 5 runs on 5 hits, because Manny R. hits a wedge an awfully long way, I mean right off his shoes, WAY into left center. We’re dead. 5-2.

On to tomorrow. Though I will hang in there tonight. Just in case. 9 outs is enough, barely.

The only good thing I can come up with out of this game is that if the Dodgers blow it, they’re done. Unlikely, though.

Bottom 7. Men on base are in order. 0-2 on Theriot. Not good. 1-2. Theriot is tough to strike out, but he didn’t need to. Lame grounder to first. 1 out. Gonna take a semi-miracle.

Fontenot (the other half of the Cubs’ Cajun infield, with Theriot) singles to give me false hope. Soriano, who has been truly pathetic all night, up. 0-2. Wanker. 1-2. Pop up. 2 out. Boos ring softly. Deserved.

On to the fucking 8th. Game almost over. Cubsworld’s worst nightmare is a step closer to coming true.

Samardjzia in, former Notre Dame stud wide receiver. Has a tendency not to throw strikes. Double. Sorry, triple. To start the 8th. If the Dodgers don’t get him in, which would be about 80% luck if it happens, their odds of losing go up a bit, in terms of baseball karma. Not good enough.

Almost time to go hide the sharp objects. Too bad there are too many of them.

Just throw your fucking 95 mph fastball and let the mofo try to hit it. Base hit. 6-2. Nobody out. Welcome to the Major Leagues, Jeff. 4-3-6 DP. You don’t see too many of those. Helpful, since, you know, the game is about 97% over.

BFD. The Cubs are down 4 with 6 outs left. May as well call this one a clusterfuck, and hope for the best tomorrow. The often brilliant and periodically erratic Carlos Zambrano on the mound for my beloved Cubs. Nobody with a brain admits they know which Z shows up.

No chance. I may as well go back to politics, another complete cluster, for the night. Yeah, the polls look good lately. The problem is that it shouldn’t be close there, either. Please, Death, take me quickly and quietly.

And then, depression set in.

Update: 24 out of 28 first game winners win the series. Damn.