SOMEWHERE IN AFRICA—After finishing the regular season with 97 victories and home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs, the Chicago Cubs decided it was OK to buy enough champagne to meet the demands of three locker-room celebrations.
But Cubs officials decided to turn this questionable, jinx-fulfilling purchase into something positive: the team shipped nearly 347 cases of bubbly to an impoverished African village, reportedly located in a little-known area of Sierra Leone’s Bonthe district.
“If the [NFL’s New England] Patriots can clothe Nicaraguans with their presumptive 19–0 T-shirts, then, by God, we can send some of our hastily purchased celebratory alcoholic beverage to Africans who are probably thirsty or something,” said Cubs PR man Jeff Skedsmanik. “Until [Alfonso] Soriano is removed from the leadoff spot and our infielders learn how to catch and/or throw, we won’t need the stuff anytime soon.”
Position players Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, and Ryan “The Riot” Theriot and pitchers Jason Marquis and Ryan Dempster accompanied the shipment to Africa. They were greeted with a hero’s welcome, thanks to an announcement that referred to the players as “2008 World Series champions.”
“What, like they’re going to figure out the truth?” Skedsmanik quipped.
Villagers lined up around the town square to obtain their share of the beverage. Many were disappointed that the Cubs hadn’t sent sport beverage or bottled water or first baseman Derrek Lee.
Nonetheless, the villagers gave the bubbly a try. Despite a few minor incidents—several villagers fell ill from the alcoholic drink, and Theriot managed to seriously injure a town elder with a stray flying cork—things reached a point where everyone seemed to be having a good time. The villagers ended up challenging the Cubs to a game of stickball, extending the Cubs’ losing streak in the process with a 13-4 beatdown.
“Best of 5?” asked Dempster, who took the loss after giving up eight earned runs in 3-2/3 innings pitched.
Despite the loss, the players who made the trip seemed upbeat.
“Hey, it’s all for the love of the game and your fellow man, albeit one who earns way less money than me,” said Ramirez, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the stickball game. “If it means we can do this next year, I can’t wait to choke in the playoffs again.”