Kurt Bevacqua carried a big bat – and a mouth to match – when he played for the San Diego Padres from 1979-80 and 1982-85.
But most times, one couldn’t help but pay attention when Bevacqua spoke.
After the Padres lost their first two games in a best-of-five series to the Chicago Cubs in the 1984 National League Championship Series, Bevacqua made the following claim:
“I’d sure like to go to Las Vegas and bet a lot of money on us to win this series,” he said with a straight face.
Many people had to hold back their laughs. After all, the Cubs had outscored the Padres 17-2 in the first two games of the series and were a virtual lock to win at least one of three games in San Diego.
From there, the rest is history. The Padres became the first team in National League Championship Series to rebound from a two-game deficit and win three straight.
What did Bevacqua know that the rest of the world did not? Quite frankly, the Cubs will always be the Cubs (see: losers.)
They can come within five outs of advancing to the World Series in 2003. They can add $300 million to their payroll in 2007.
But you know what? They’re still the Cubs, and they are still laughable losers.
If you don’t think so, just consider current manager Lou Piniella. It took just nine games into this season for Piniella’s first explosion after the Cubs blew a 5-0 lead with ace Carlos Zambrano on the mound.
“What the hell do you think isn't working? You see the damn game,” Piniella snapped at reporters. “And then I bring in the reliever who's throwing 30- to 40-foot curveballs to boot. I can see. I can start to see some of the ways this team has lost ballgames.”
Get used to it, Lou. You have a pair of pitchers in Kerry Wood and Mark Prior who are making (not earning) a combined $5.325 million this year. Don’t be surprised if the Cubs pay about $1 million per win from those two guys.
Then there are the new players (or newly-resigned players) such as Alfonso Soriano ($136 million), Aramis Ramirez ($75 million), Ted Lilly ($40 million) and Jason Marquis ($21 million, or more than Trevor Hoffman’s current three-year deal.)
The Cubs may appear to have a solid roster as they host the San Diego Padres in a two-game series beginning tonight.
But they’re still the Cubs … so the smartest thing to do is go to Las Vegas with Kurt Bevacqua and bet against them in a game that matters most.