Phil Arvia: On Cubs, camouflage and Jesus

Phil Arvia

A priest from Nebraska and three high school students walk into a bar ...

I’m not joking. It happened Thursday, right there at the Cubby Bear. But we’ll get back to that in a minute.

Lou Piniella wants you to know he absolutely was joking the other evening when he squawked after one in a series of recent Cubs losses, “Where’s that Wrigley Field wind?”

Actually, it was more of a faux-squawk, accompanied by laughter, over the fact that Mike Fontenot’s fly ball for the last out in a 6-5 loss died in the vines. In the World’s Greatest Newspaper, however, the quote was appended with, “Piniella cried,” when “Piniella exclaimed” or “Piniella said” might have sufficed.

“I mean, I just don’t understand the correlation between kidding around and crying,” Piniella cri, er, excla, er, needled Thursday. “You see tears in my eyes, then I’m crying. If you see a grin on my face, then I’m kidding around.”

Piniella was grinning at the time, though he didn’t seem very kiddy. Contrast that with the seriously kidding Mark DeRosa sneaking his way around the Cubs’ clubhouse in camouflage and war paint before Thursday’s game.

The skin-tight camo was borrowed from Ryan Theriot, who’d earlier dipped into a fresh delivery of Under Armor hunting paraphernalia to bequeath a duck caller to Fontenot, who immediately set about quacking up the rest of the clubhouse. But, when Fontenot spied DeRosa pressing himself into one wall of his locker in the apparent belief his garb made him invisible, it was Fontenot who dissolved into giggles, saying, “That’s awesome.”

Awesome? Less than 12 hours earlier, the Cubs were putting the finishing touches on a come-from-ahead, 11-9 loss to the Reds, their fourth loss in a row and eighth in their previous 12 games. DeRosa went 0-for-3 that night and was at 0-for-6 in the series, prompting covert clubhouse operations that consisted mostly of sneaking up on teammates.

So, really feeling the pressure, huh?

“Maybe we’re feeling it too much,” DeRosa said. “We’re resorting to duck calls and dressing like fools.

“I’m just trying to — instead of worrying so much and getting so frustrated, I’m just taking a step back and start having fun again.”

It must have worked, as DeRosa had a career-high five hits and added four RBI in Thursday’s 12-4 win over the Reds, after which Theriot promised duck calls and fatigues before every game.

He might also want to promise tickets to a certain priest, however.

The Rev. Scott Courtney, of Bellwood, Neb., and three of his recently graduated students from St. Thomas Aquinas High in nearby David City made quite a sight venturing across Clark and Addison from a Wrigley Field ticket window to the Cubby Bear early Thursday, especially with Fr. Courtney, if not in his Sunday best, rocking a cassock.

“I wore the collar today so people could see priests do normal things,” Courtney, whose troupe ventured into the Cubby Bear merely to use the facilities, said. “Besides, Jesus is a Cubs fan.”

Um, about that: Setting aside the obvious notion that, if Jesus were choosing sides, he’d seem more likely to choose the Padres, shouldn’t Jesus be for everybody?

“He is,” the Husker Holyman said. “But he loves sacrifice, and the Cubs know what sacrifice is.”

No, that wasn’t some kind of know-your-fundamentals dig at Dusty Baker. Rather, it was indicative of the, well, religious fervor with which their fans approach the Cubs.

It is an approach that, if approximated by the Cubs on the diamond, would find them squeezing sawdust out of their bat handles. Better they should follow Piniella’s lead.

“You might as well clown around,” he said. “There’s nothing else you can do. I’d rather have them clowning around than being uptight, I can tell you that.

“We’re not going to be uptight. I’m not uptight. I mean, look, you’ve gotta enjoy the situation that we’re in.”

In that case, fans, with the Cardinals coming to town, I’d suggest eye-black and camouflage all around. DeRosa sure didn’t look like he was uptight Thursday.

At least, what I could see of him.

Phil Arvia can be reached at parvia@dailysouthtown.com

or (708) 633-5949. Read his blog at http://blogs.dailysouthtown.com/arvia.