I’m a “different” type of Cubs fan…

As I mentioned in my last post, I am 24 years old, and from the South Side of Chicago. I’m a diehard Cubs fan. Around 20-30 times a year, I can be found in Aisle 425 at Wrigley Field. Cubs cap, shirt or hoody, no peanuts, no beer, totally into the game. I stand for the national anthem and the 7th inning stretch. I scream my lungs out when a good play is made, and I boo when I see a travesty or injustice on the field. I want what every other Cubs fan wants, 162 games a year: WINS.

Yet, I consider myself to be a “different” type of Cubs fan. I don’t bring up 1908, the 101-year title drought, 1945, the billy goat, black cat, Evers-Tinkers-Chance, the collapse in the 1984 NLCS, 1989, 1998, 2003 (that often), 2007, 2008, or Milton “Scapegoat” Bradley (at least to throw insults at him). Yes, I consider myself to be a rabid Cubs fan, but I know when to turn it off. I don’t want to be the type of fan that is 80 years old, and feels his life isn’t complete because the Cubs haven’t won a World Series. Words couldn’t describe my feelings if the Cubs were to win the World Series, although I’m sure I’d cry tears of joy. Still, it is not a top priority to see the Cubs win a World Series before I die.

I guess the Milton Bradley Experiment made me realize just how different I am. It seems that many Cubs experts, er, fans, were not aware of the type of player that Milton Bradley is. Injury-prone, volatile, and unwilling to accept responsibility for his actions in most cases. A good, but not great hitter, who’s never been known for his fielding or athletic ability, and not a “clubhouse guy”. He had a very good, but not great 2008, and that was mostly because he hit in a lineup with other powerful hitters, in a hitters park (Arlington), and was the team’s primary DH, which obviously put less strain on his body. Bradley became the 2009 whipping boy for Cubs fans. Never mind the fact that the moron formerly known as Jim Hendry decided to give him a 3 year, $30 million contract despite the fact that he’d never played more than 2 full seasons with a team in his entire career. Or that there were cheaper, more reliable alternatives, such as Bobby Abreu and Raul Ibanez. Or that Soriano, Soto, Gregg, Miles, Fukudome, Heilman, and Fontenot had terrible seasons. Cubs fans had found their bitch. Because of this, I now find myself cheering for Bradley, even though he’s playing in Seattle. Bradley eventually played the race card, and most dismissed both notions that he’d faced racism, and that fans at Wrigley are racist, period. What infuriated me most were the Cubs fans that used the excuse: “We’re not racist, we love Derrek Lee!” That’s the equivalent of a white person denying that they’re racist, and bringing up their one black friend in order to refute that claim. To that, I say “oy vey”.

The departures of Kerry Wood and Mark Derosa also made me realize I’m not like the average Cubs fan. I didn’t come close to shedding a tear upon hearing of their departures. I’m sorry, but I didn’t lose sleep when I learned that Kerry Wood wouldn’t be re-signed. His career highlight came in his rookie season, when he struck out 20 in a game against Houston. I was at that game, and thought I was looking at the next Roger Clemens. Unfortunately, his career was marred by injuries and trips to the disabled list, and when he was healthy, he didn’t even win 15 games. While Mark Derosa was a highly productive player, I couldn’t grasp how so many Cubs fans (a good number of them, females) reacted as if the Cubs had just traded an All-Star. I also learned that a good number of Cubs fans seem to react without thinking, feeling as if Mark Derosa was traded for Milton Bradley. This is what I like to call “the lazy truth”. Yes, Derosa’s salary needed to be moved in order for the team to sign Milton Bradley. However, if Lou Piniella hadn’t flipped out after being swept in the 2008 NLDS by the Dodgers, whining to everyone within earshot about a need for more lefties in the lineup, Milton Bradley wouldn’t have spent one inning in a Cubs uni in 2009. In addition, Mark Derosa was the Cubs primary second baseman. If Piniella didn’t endorse Mike Fontenot as a worthy candidate to play second on a daily basis, Derosa wouldn’t have gone anywhere. Add the ownership issues before the 2009 season, and the Cubs front office just wasn’t sure if the new owner would be in favor of adding, without subtracting salaries.

I’ll say it. I’m not a fan of the “Bleacher Bums”. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I find them vile, disgusting, assholish, or “a bunch of immature fucking drunks who are more interested in beer than baseball” (my little brother’s description of them), but I believe they give Cubs fans a bad reputation. The men are sometimes shirtless, the women are sometimes damn near shirtless, a good number of them are belligerently drunk, and at times, it looks more like a frat party than a section in the stands where fans would be watching a baseball game. Ron Santo? Meh. Most Cubs fans love him, and some find him annoying. I tend to identify myself with the latter, especially when listening to him on the radio. Despite his Harry Caray impersonation, I’m not high on Ryan Dempster or his contract. A Dusty Baker basher? I am not. Why would I trash a man that managed the Cubs within a few outs of the World Series? Could he have gone out and talked to Mark Prior after Bartman lunged for a souvenir? Yes. Was it necessary? No. The Cubs could’ve closed it out the 2003 NLCS in game 5 (good ol’ Zambrano was the starter) and had a chance in game 7 (Cubs cult hero Wood was the starter), but they didn’t. Allow me to remind you of the tailor-made double play ball hit to sure-handed Alex Gonzalez that could’ve gotten the Cubs out of that dreadful inning in game 6 as well. 2004 wasn’t his fault, either, as the Cubs choked down the stretch. Go ahead, be an idiot and blame Baker for Wood and Prior’s injury problems. Wood had a serious elbow injury early in his career (while Baker was managing the Giants), and a good number of people felt it was only a matter of time before Prior and his “perfect mechanics” would break down. I was a huge fan of Sammy Sosa, and still am. It’s funny how most Cubs fans ignored his selfishness and lack of basic fundamentals when he was carrying the team. Once that stopped, Cubs fans couldn’t wait to see him go. I’m young, and am not interested in getting a history lesson every single day. I’m not gullible, nor am I overly pessimistic. I am a Cubs fan, but I was a baseball fan first, and I’ll always be that way. I’m not all that interested in the mystique of Wrigley Field. I don’t care for the guest 7th inning stretch singers. I absolutely despise the  “Lovable Losers” tag with a fiery passion. I like to make fun of fellow Cubs fans. I’m well-aware that there’s a little bit of an uppitiness about Cubs fans, also.

My love for the Cubs never has, and never will waver. If anyone wants to question my knowledge of baseball, try me. Chances are, I’m more knowledgeable than you are. I’m always open to logical, realistic conversation about anything pertaining to baseball. Disclaimer: I out morons like TMZ outs cheating spouses and drug addicts, and to be honest, I take joy in it. There are most certainly Cubs fans who annoy me on a daily basis, but I have love for all of them…especially the different ones.

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. Who loves ya, baby?!

Ted Lilly is my homeboy…

First, allow me to give you a “brief” rundown of the 2006 season for your Chicago Cubs. Terrible.

Now, allow me to give you a “Cubs fan’s” rundown of the 2006 season for your Chicago Cubs.

C-Michael Barrett: A guy who started with Montreal and eventually became one of the majors’ better offensive catchers with the Cubs(while in his prime). Missed time in ’06 due to injury, but still posted good numbers. Fell off in ’07, and was traded to the Blue Jays.

IF-1B Derrek Lee, who in 2005 had one of the best all-around offensive seasons of all-time, broke his wrist in April, and was shelved. The wrist gave him problems later in the season, shelving him again. (Some of my nerd friends think that’s why his power numbers have been nowhere near what he produced in 2005. SUCKY TRAINERS, see Mark Prior, Kerry Wood) 2B/SS Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Theriot, Tony Womack, Todd Walker(Why are we trusting Millar, when a much younger, better Walker didn’t bring any of the damn ’04 “magic”?), Neifi Perez, and there are a few I’m sure I missed. It’s sad that out of this group, Theriot EASILY outperformed them. I thought Riot was going to be Dustin Pedroia before there was a Dustin Pedroia, seriously. Cedeno, as fashionable as he looked on the field, SUCKED, and the rest were random bums. 3B Aramis Ramirez had an excellent season, but again they were empty numbers. Do it down the stretch, ARam.

OF-LF Jacque Jones had a good, but not great season, and RF Matt Murton would’ve probably looked better in right in a Cubs uni than Fukudome and Bradley. Yes, he was part of the deal that enabled the Cubs to trade for Rich Harden, but again…Fukudome and Bradley. CF Juan Pierre did exactly what was expected of him. Steal 50+ bases, get on base at less than a 35% clip, and have his arm taken advantage of as if someone had injected roofies into it before every game.

SP-RHP Carlos Zambrano was the majors’ best 200K/100BB pitcher. RHP Kerry Wood? “Hot Tub”. No comment. RHP Mark Prior came back from a freakish elbow fracture in 2005 to post pretty good numbers, but his 2006 season was atrocious. After that, it went completely downhill for our Trojan friend. Oh, and if you wanted to see “terrible”, you should’ve seen Carlos Marmol. There were countless times in 2006 when I called for him to be traded for a case of root beer. RHP Greg Maddux was…not good. LHP Rich Hill irritated me then, when he was actually pretty decent, and, as much as I loathed Marmol, I detested the soft-tossing LHP Sean Marshall.

RP-Yes, the lame Ryan Dempster. The guy, who like about 1,000 comedians/comediennes(yes, I’ve seen women, too)in CHICAGO, does a Harry Caray impression. He was Kevin Gregg, just in Canadian form. I went to about every Cubs home game that summer, and I let him have it, all the way from Aisle 425. I really can’t badmouth the bullpen too much, because that was basically the strength of their pitching staff, sad to say. Yes, that includes Bob Howry and Steve Ire.

Manager-Dusty Baker was a lame duck. Point. Blank. Peri-ahd. Dusty Baker was/is responsible for getting Cubs fans away from using the “Lovable Losers” label for their team. All of a sudden, this was what was expected. Unlike the atmosphere after the ’98 season, when Cubs fans were just happy to be able to call Sammy Sosa and Kerry Wood their own. Cubs fans got away from the “happy to be here” tag right after the 2003 NLCS. The Cubs were in playoff contention in ’04 before choking down the stretch, and they were a team that lost Wood and Prior for stretches. It was the same with Wood and Prior the next season(this was before the Cubs realized they had two glass-armed aces and put together contingency plans), and the Cubs finished a few games under .500. The 2006 Cubs were just BAD, and Dusty Baker was the fall guy.

And now, on to December, 2006.

Watching Baseball Tonight, as per usual, I saw a story about Cubs general manager Jim Hendry signing free agent LHP Ted Lilly. ‘Nice’, I thought. For four years and $40 million. ‘Dumb’, I thought. What made this signing sound even dumber at the time were the circumstances under which it took place. Jim Hendry, a man who had signed free agent LF Alfonso Soriano to a “sizable” deal and re-signed ARam to one as well, completed the deal with Lilly while in the hospital, hooked to an EKG. For Steve Carlton? Yes. For Ted Lilly? Yahoo IM me if you want to sign. All I knew about Lilly was that he was a stoic-looking lefty that had gotten into a confrontation/altercation with Blue Jays manager, John Gibbons. I personally thought it was awesome.

How's my breath?

Little did I know that Theodore Roosevelt Lilly would become the Cubs best pitcher since the start of the 2007 season. He takes the bump every 5 days, looking as plain as white bread, and does his job. Nothing flashy, just consistent. I feel better about his chances to give the Cubs a chance to win every time he starts than any other Cubs starter in recent memory. I don’t even want him to rush back from his injuries. A 100% Lilly is easily the ace of the Cubs starting rotation. If I have a son, he will be a lefthanded pitcher, modeled after Lilly. And just when I thought Teddy couldn’t get any doper, he TRUCKED St. Louis Cardinals Yadier Molina(which eventually caused him to be removed him from the game), pitched 8 innings, got the win, in September…in St. Louis.

Ted Lilly don't take no guff...

I understand that the Cubs probably wouldn’t have signed Ted Lilly if they had a better 2006. I’m sure that if Wood and Prior were healthy, along with Zambrano and Hill, there would’ve been no need for Lilly. The same could possibly be said about Alfonso Soriano, that the Cubs wouldn’t have reached for him if they were coming off a 2003-like season. But unlike Soriano, Ted Lilly is that dude. You know exactly what you’re going to get from him, unlike most of the other knuckleheads currently being employed by the Cubs. Lilly might not be back after this season. The same goes for DLee. Bet that if the Cubs are out of contention by the All-Star break, Lilly and D. Lee would be the first to go. So appreciate “The Stoic One” for as long as you can…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. Whatever happened to Scott Servais?

It’s just hustle and bustle. Gosh…

"The Look"

I love Kalamazoo, Michigan. And East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. I love Madison, Wisconsin. I love Bloomington, Indiana. I was there briefly, but I didn’t mind Bridgeport, Connecticut. I love Fort Worth, Texas, and Lithonia, Georgia. I even love Evanston, Illinois. But I’m in love with Chicago. I love the 3,000,000 complaining, whiny, lovely, friendly, ornery, kind, snobby, down-to-earth citizens of this great city. I live under a corrupt mayor, and a governor that I don’t fully trust. As a citizen of Chicago(Cook County)I realize that I pay the highest sales tax in the COUNTRY. And that our public transportation system is in shambles and there have been talks of fare hikes and employee layoffs…but I love it. Streets & Sanitation collecting your trash at 4:00, and postal workers delivering your mail at 3:00. Love ’em. The police department that understands that Chicago is Gang Capital, USA, and therefore waits until the shooting and killing is over and done before intervening. Or the same department that writes tickets like madmen and women near the end of the month in order to make their quotas. Love ’em. Going to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field on a summer day has to be one of the greatest things that a human being can do during his or her life. Granted, the drunks sometimes ruin the experience, but simply seeing a historical landmark more than makes up for that. Attempting to decipher the slang in each area can be a little difficult, but also interesting as well. Hipsters in Wicker Park, academics in Rogers Park, party animals in Lake View, older people in South Shore, and families in Chatham. Lake effect snow, which I’ve experienced basically my entire life. I love how the weather can go from 82 degrees with not a cloud in the sky one day, to 64 degrees and biting winds the next. In no way, shape, or form do I enjoy the beach, but even I love how magnificent it looks during those great summer days. State Street and Michigan Avenue look absolutely gorgeous during the Christmas season. I crave Chicago-style hot dogs and pizza when I’m on the west side of the city, and chicken and burgers when I’m on the south side. I’ve found myself downtown, eating a barbeque chicken pizza one night, and fettucini alfredo and veal parmigiana the next. I love how shitty the streets are when the first snowflake falls to the ground. Bless those horrible, indecisive, overly aggressive, insanely passive bad-weather drivers, too. The cultures of each Chicago public high school are something that I fondly remember. I can’t forget those red-light cameras that have been less than friendly to most Chicago drivers at one point or another. Chicago is also home to fans of the most disappointing professional sports teams that you can think of. Die-hard Bears and Cubs fans fill up Soldier Field and Wrigley Field every game, respectively, and the Bears and Cubs collective championship drought is 125 years(with the Cubs on the hook for 101 of those glory-filled seasons). We have a hockey team, the Blackhawks, that was pretty much dead before last season, and another baseball team, the White Sox, that last won a title in 2005…and no one cares or cared. Our most successful teams of the last decade are a minor-league hockey team, the Wolves, and the Fire, a soccer team. And I’d STILL tell anyone that Chicago has the greatest sports teams and fans on Earth. Michael Jordan did his part to put us on the map. As did Kanye West. Amd Chaka Khan. And Bill Murray, and Jim Belushi. President Obama calls Chicago his home, and Oprah became a billionaire in this city. We do have a little bit of an inferiority complex, which might stem from the nickname “Second City”. But my glass half full self says that at least we’re the second-most popular city in America(which I translate to second-most popular in the world). Gotta love that we’re not third. I love seeing the guys that sell batteries, CDs, DVDs, watches, and tube socks EVERYWHERE on the south side of the city. I love the city’s many nicknames: “City of Wind” “The City of Broad Shoulders” “The Windy City” “The ‘Go” “Chi-Town” “The Chi” “GoIll”. The pride that most citizens here show is amazing. We don’t care that we don’t have a glamorous or sexy reputation. We don’t care that most of our celebrities go to New York or LA to “make it big”. There aren’t record companies on every block, or models at every club, bar, or lounge. It IS hard to make it in this city, but I still love it. I love my city with an unbridled passion that most that know me are fully aware of. I’ve enjoyed my time in the college towns and cities that I’ve had the opportunity to visit, but nothing(except maybe Kerry Washington, but we’ll save that explanation for another blog)beats home. GO. ILL. P.S. I miss Karen!!! P.P.S. #shoutout to everyone that can call themselves a citizen of Chicago

Throw yourself off the bandwagon, please…

I grew up on the south side of Chicago. Two blocks west of 87th and Cottage Grove, to be exact. I’m a Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Bears fan. It would be convenient for me to be a White Sox fan, seeing as how their home is on the south side, but I loathe damn near everything about the organization. It would’ve been easier for me to become a fan after they won the World Series in 2005, but I also loathe bandwagoners. I had no clue that there were so many “diehard” White Sox fans until several days after the 2005 World Series. All of a sudden, I saw hats, shirts, jerseys, hoodies, and jackets adorned with that awful ass White Sox logo. People who couldn’t even tell me who the Sox played in the WS were throwing it in my face that “THEIR team” had won a title more recently than mine. Stupid bandwagoners. Anyone who knows sports knows the Cubs haven’t won a WS since 1908, and haven’t even PLAYED in a WS since 1945. They’ve choked away late-season division and wild card leads(2004). They’ve been eliminated from the playoffs by inferior teams(Marlins, Dodgers). They’ve broken our hearts in the playoffs(2003 NLCS, games 6 and 7). They’ve employed bums as managers(Lefebvre, Riggleman) and players(Hundley, Miles). And yet, in my opinion, the Cubs have the most loyal sports on the planet. Our team has been labeled the “Lovable Losers” and we continue to fill up Wrigley Field 81 days a year. We don’t care that people ridicule us for going so hard for a team that hasn’t won a championship in 101 years. True fans should never waver. They should never waffle. Whether their team is in first or last place by 30 games, they should cheer like nobody’s business. Some watch the Bears get absolutely EMBARASSED(much like they were by the Viqueens yesterday)and absurdly proclaim they’ll never watch another Bears game again, or will relinquish their “fandom”. Bullshit. Pure, unadulterated bullshit. Those people irk the hell out of me. Sports is unpredictable. At any time, an official, fluke or outstanding play can decide the outcome of a game. It seems like bandwagoners are used to dominating video games and aren’t used to the whirlwind that is real-life sports. There are bandwagoners everywhere, and they aren’t relegated to being sports fans. Some sit back and wait for something to take off, and then all of a sudden are the first to let everyone know how much they’ve always loved it. There’s one word for that: pathetic. Do us all a favor and kick rocks…permanently… P.S. I miss Karen!!! P.P.S. #shoutout to mini-Jill Scott for the free fries, and L-Boogie for the menage a trois with Mary Jane…