With playoffs looming, Cubs turn to Murray for comic relief

Updated: September 27, 2007, 9:10 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- With pressure mounting on the Chicago Cubs as they struggle to clinch the NL Central, manager Lou Piniella found someone to ease the tension: comedian Bill Murray.

The Cubs' No. 1 fan hung out with the team during batting practice before Thursday's game against the Florida Marlins. Murray said he's confident this is the year the Cubs will win the World Series -- something they last did in 1908.

"I really feel this is going to happen," Murray said. "I feel very good about this team. I have all year."

Wearing a Cubs cap backward, Murray had a bag of sunflower seeds tucked under his badly wrinkled shirt. He said his confidence in the Cubs went beyond cautious optimism.

"There is no time for being cautiously optimistic," he said. "That's for losers. [I'm] very optimistic. Look at how I'm dressed. Do I look cautious?"

Murray said he has attended four Cubs games this season, including Wednesday's loss in Miami. After that game he met Piniella for the first time.

"He's a character," Piniella said. "He's a big Cubs fan. He's really rooting for us. He's here to lend his support. I told him to come on down and talk to the players."

Leaning against the batting cage before the game, Murray had second baseman Mark DeRosa laughing. He posed for pictures with other players and borrowed slugger Derrek Lee's bat, carefully studying the wood.

Murray shrugged off the prospect of becoming a part owner of the team. Tribune Co. announced plans in April to sell the Cubs, and Murray said he has been approached about becoming part of a group that would make a bid.

"I heard from a couple of people," he said, "but I'm not that organized."

For the moment, Murray is focused on the NL Central race. Despite the support of their superfan, the Cubs lost 6-4 Thursday, completing the Marlins' three-game series sweep.

Chicago began the day with a two-game lead over second-place Milwaukee. Murray said he's so eager to root the Cubs to a division title that he may fly to Cincinnati for their final regular-season series this weekend.

"I've never been to Cincinnati, and I was trying to keep that record intact," Murray said. "But I may have to go."

Some say the Cubs wouldn't be the same lovable team if they won the World Series, a notion Murray dismissed.

"I don't accept that," he said. "That's sick thinking. You've got to watch out for people like that."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press