by Ted Cox
After a couple of weeks of serious bad vibes, Cubs fans have to be feeling pretty good today after Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter last night in Milwaukee. That's the sort of event that seems to anoint a team as blessed--especially when Zambrano performed the feat with 11 days off after many feared he was done for the season with shoulder woes. The return of Rich Harden to win last week in Saint Louis also bodes well for the Cubs should they make the playoffs, and as for now the apparent curse of the Cubs being scheduled to head right into the maelstrom of Hurricane Ike in Houston was turned in their favor as well when their games this weekend with the Astros were rescheduled for Milwaukee's Miller Park -- aka Wrigley Field North for its ready accessibility to Chicago's northern suburbs.
Of the 23,441 in attendance Sunday night, the vast majority appeared to be Cub fans, even though Miller Park would seem to be the second-best place for the Astros to make a stand, given how the Brewers are chasing the Cubs in the National League Central Division. Yet while Zambrano was no-hitting the Astros, the Brew Crew was losing two on the road in Philadelphia to fall seven and a half games back and trim the Cubs' magic number to win the division to seven.
Suddenly, everything seems in the Cubs' favor, and no doubt mathematically it's looking good. Yet don't read too much into Big Z's no-no. Ken Holtzman's no-hitter in August 1969 against the Atlanta Braves seemed to anoint the Cubs as well, but look how that turned out. Same for Hotzman's second no-hitter in 1971, and Milt Pappas's near-perfect no-no in 1972, the last pitched by a Cub. Remember too Mike Scott pitched a division-clinching no-hitter for the same Astros in 1986, but that didn't help get them past the New York Mets in the playoffs. So celebrate Zambrano's achievement, but today is another day, and the rest of the season and the playoffs is still up for grabs. Not to rain on anybody's parade -- not after this weekend's deluge.