Monday, October 27, 2008

"Heros Get Remembered, But Legends Never Die": Stop Poking Fun At The Cubs

I hate to admit this, but the Chicago Cubs are the crowned princes of failure. I know that. The city of Chicago knows that. And, the entire country saw them crumble. There’s no denying the truth any longer, the Cubs know how to choke and they do it every season. It’s like clockwork.

What irks me about the Cubs’ ability to choke isn’t the fact that they do it, but the responses the Cubs get from newspapers. And, more specifically, The Chicago Tribune.

Now, I know that journalists need to remain independent of association to anything as to not portray any bias, but come on. The Tribune Company owns the Cubs. If anything, I expect a little bit of sympathy for the Cubs fans that read the paper. I don’t want to pick it up if it’s just going to depress me.

Mike Downey, a columnist for the Tribune’s sports section, forced steam out of my ears this fall with almost every article he wrote. His October 9th piece titled “A look back on a Chicago baseball season gone bad” got on my last nerve.
He opened the piece with: “I know thousands of you must have had a World Series with the Cubs on your bucket list—things to see before you croak. Sorry, my friends. It doesn't matter how much lipstick you put on this goat. Your Cubs are still baaaaad.”
For starters, I thought we were done with all of the goat references. Why harp on something that clearly has no affect on the team’s standings? It’s not a curse. We’re just bad. No need to bring out the goat. It will only make sensitive Chicagoans angry.

Ryan Jaster, a blogger for – which is a partner of the Tribune, posted his commentary on this year’s embarrassing sweep of the Cubs by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series. The blog, written on October 16th, didn’t relish the highlights of the Cubs’ 97 win season this year. It didn’t harp on the fact that the Cubs won the most games out of any team in the National League. There wasn’t one drop of inspiration left for Cubs fans reading Jaster’s work.

Part of being a Cubs fan is having faith. It’s a trait that comes along with the territory. Jaster doesn’t get that. He wrote: “…we should all know now that in the end, suffering a third straight 3-0 sweep is just as likely as erasing a 100-year World Series championship drought. If not moreso.” After reading that, if I wasn’t a Cubs fan already, the one thought on my mind would be that the Cubs are losers and so are their fans.

I’m sick of the social sport that teasing Cubs fans has become. Pat Sullivan, a Cubs beat writer for the Tribune touched on this in his October 17th article “Cubs become national punch lines again”. The ending of the piece takes the mockery one step further, “Time marches on, but poking fun at the Cubs never seems to go out of style.”

Well I’m going to throw it out there now – poking fun at the Cubs does go out of style. Their fans are fed up and sick of the jokes. We’re proud of who we root for and where we’re from. Just let us have it.

I’m reminded by a quote from the children’s baseball movie The Sandlot. “Hero’s get remembered, but legends never die.” That’s how I like to see the Cubs and that’s how I think everyone else should too.

Maybe we’re not Derek Jeter who’s racked up countless of memorable October pressure plays. Or, maybe we’re not Reggie Jackson who got his nickname “Mr. October” for a reason. And no, we’re not any team that has won a World Series in the last 100 years. But, people are still talking about us. And that’s what makes the Chicago Cubs a baseball legend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Halloween on a Budget

Crisp leaves are starting to fall and sweater weather has begun. It is fall in the District of Columbia, which means Halloween is swiftly approaching. Soon, children will go door-to-door searching fun-size candy bars to stuff their faces with and fill their stomachs. But, Halloween isn’t just for the kids anymore.

College kids in D.C. wait for Halloween each year for the infamous storming of Embassy Row. Rumors of Swedish chocolate and Russian vodka as treats consume the minds of students at American University. The sad part about this dream-filled Halloween excursion is that it’s just a dream and nowhere near a reality.

“The only embassy that actually gave us candy from their country was Korea,” Mady Nichas, 19, said, “all the other countries gave us American Candy. It was a definite let down.” But, students aren’t letting the let downs set them back. Halloween in a new city is exciting, so they try to make it that way.

“This year I’m making my own costumes,” Julia Goldstein, 20, an American University junior said. “I’m putting myself on a budget and letting my imagination run wild.”

The recent economic crisis is prompting college students like Goldstein and her roommate Paige Brown, 20, also an American University junior, to take a different approach to Halloween this year. The two-some found inspiration in an article run in the October 12 edition of The Washington Post’s Sunday Source “Trend Spotter” section. The Trend Spotting team visited five D.C. area thrift stores to find the best possible selection. This caught Goldstein’s fancy.

“Free on Sunday?,” she remembers asking her roommate. The second Brown said her Sunday was open, the choice was set in stone. Goldstein decided, “We’re going thrifting!"

Goldstein and Brown made their way to two of the five thrift stores visited by Washington Post writers Holly E. Thomas and Michelle Thomas Sunday afternoon with the hope of bringing their Halloween costume ideas to life.

“We’ve recently gotten really into that FX show ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’,” Brown said. “There’s this one episode when one of the characters Charlie wears this full-body neon green suit and calls himself Greenman. We decided to try and replicate that in every color possible.”

Eager for adventure, Goldstein, Brown, and their third roommate Brookes May – also a junior at American University – saddled up for a wild ride in their friend’s Honda Civic that they borrowed just for the day trip. Justin Timberlake boomed from the speakers as the trio cruised down Connecticut Avenue in D.C.’s Cleveland Park neighborhood. May couldn’t embark on the roommate adventure; she had a can’t-miss hair appointment.

After dropping May off, Goldstein and Brown pulled out the Sunday Source to map out the rest of their day. “Where to first,” Brown asked Goldstein as the two scanned the paper.

“Which ever’s closest, I guess,” Goldstein responded.

The Goodwill Retail Store in North East D.C. became the first stop on the thrift store tour. Chosen for its proximity, Brown booted up her cell phone’s GPS application to navigate the trip. “I don’t think my parents will have a problem with me downloading a $10 phone application so I can find my way around a big city while driving,” Brown said. “I like to see it as a solid investment on my part.”

The points were mapped and the destination set, it was time to invade the Goodwill.

Sunday Source Trend Spotters Michelle and Holly enjoyed their trip to the Goodwill, but Goldstein and Brown weren’t that impressed – until they found exactly what they wanted.

Greenman became Purpleman with the blink of an eye when Goldstein turned around to find Brown wearing purple spandex arm covers, an essential item of her desired Halloween costume.

“This is great,” she said. “This is perfect! All the random things at thrift stores, this is gold! That’s why I love ‘em.” The grand total of the “perfect” costume buy -- $1. “I’ll be honest, it doesn’t get any better than a one dollar buy,” she said.

Next on the thrift store tour – Unique Bazaar. There is no questioning the fact that it was the best stop of the day. The minute she stepped inside, Brown deemed it the “Costco of thrift stores”. A thrift store on one side a bazaar on the other, the entire store took over two hours to sort through the immeasurable amount of variety inside.

Children’s Taco Bell Chihuahua slippers, a Balley’s Total Fitness silver workout suit resembling a cheap T.V. spacesuit from the 1950’s, and a Barbara Streisand Christmas music cassette tape, were just a few of the plethora of garage sale-esque items flooding the store’s aisles. “It’s hard to not have ADD in here,” Brown said.

The girls ran through aisles petting fur-lined jackets, trying on Indiana Jones style fedoras, jumping up and down on pogo sticks, and paroozing the never-ending racks of vintage items.

The roommates even caught the eye of one bystander in the store who admired how much fun the pair appeared to be having during their two hours stay at Unique Bazaar. “I was watching you,” fellow shopper named Cheryl, 51, from Silver Spring, said to the girls. “You look like you’re having so much fun…keep on having fun!”

To top it off, the grand total spent on the day – $12.50 on costume supplies for Goldstein and $16 for Brown.

As the day came to a close and the girls sped home down the highway blasting John Thorogood’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” on D.C.’s classic rock station, they patted themselves on the back. “Job well done,” Goldstein said. “Second,” Brown said, “Mission accomplished!”

# # #

Your browser may not support display of this image. Pictured: Julia Goldstein rummages through tons of tights, seraching for the perfect Halloween pair at Unique Bazaar.

Photo by: R.H. Levitin

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

COMING SOON -- The D.C. "Fall Classic": Halloween (on a budget)

Have you ever read the Sunday Source in The Washington Post? Then you've seen the "Trend Spotter". On October 12, Trend Spotter took a day tour of 5 D.C. area thrift stores. Stay tuned this week for a feature piece on Halloween thrifting among college students in Washington, D.C.

Pictured: Paige Brown (left) and Julia Goldstein (right), both juniors at American University, scan over thrift store options to customize their Halloween costumes.
Photo by: R.H. Levitin

Monday, October 20, 2008

America at a Crossroads: It's time for some results

America is at a crossroads. It’s time to ask ourselves the biggest question of the past eight years – who do we need to be the next president of the United States?

Colin Powell abandoned the GOP on Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press to answer that question. It’s official – Powell’s endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president.

Powell said, "I strongly believe that at this point in America's history, we need a president that will not just continue basically the policies we have been following in recent years. I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change."

According to a Gallup poll done last week, 84% of Americans foresee that the next president will face new and demanding challenges that are more serious than previous presidents have.

Our country is in need of a transformation. We haven’t been this scared and vulnerable as a nation since September 11th. What we need is a call to action. We need to see results. That’s what this year’s election is all about.

This year was chock full of firsts. There’s the first African-American nominee for president and the first woman candidate for vice president. But, these firsts cannot be viewed as a distraction from the matter at hand. America is in dire need of help and the only way we can fix it is from inside the White House.

Party lines keep bleeding together because all anyone wants is a little change. Powell isn’t the only example of this. Two days before Powell spoke to Tom Brokaw Meet the Press, The Chicago Tribune endorsed their first Democratic nominee for the presidency – ever.

The Tribune, because of its mid-west location, can provide some reassurance. They’ve tracked Sen. Obama since he entered political zone twelve years ago. They’ve seen him work and grow as a leader in Illinois and rise to the occasion as the Democratic nominee for president.

“We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions,” the Tribune said in their endorsement, “He is ready.”

Election Day 2008 epitomizes a catalyst for a new kind of American Revolution. People will cast their votes with the hope that the light at the end of the tunnel is close. The only thing anyone can be sure of is that we have the choice to make. It’s in our hands. We just have to make sure we use it wisely.

A vote for Sen. Obama ensures that America will be in the right hands. So, go out a vote. America’s future is on the line if you don’t.

# # #

"Rays" the Roof?

To try and pick the outcome of this year's World Series is much harder than trying to pick the potential winner of the presidential election. Obama's been up in the polls for close to a month now, while the Tampa Bay Rays just scooped up their first shot at an actual World Series win. Who could've seen this coming?

As a Cubs fan, I have to say that I saw this coming awhile back. It was around July when I found myself hoping for a Cubs vs. Rays series. It seemed appealing. But it also made for a good old fashion story line -- two underdogs seek post-season baseball success but only one can be the winner. Both have a good historical back story and an interesting fan base (one being devout and one full of band-wagon jumpers). It's too bad I was only 50% correct.

The 2008 World Series match-up is against two eastern division teams. The Phillies fought the entire season down to the wire to get there and the Rays were on top most of the season until giving baseball fans a nice nail-biter this past week. I'm sure Red Sox fans are devastated, but they'll live. They have two Worlds Series in just the past four years. They should at least be thankful for that.

So, who's going to win this year? Part of me wants to say the Rays just because I called them at least going to the series a long time ago. They're an American League team so that keeps my National League alliances strong with the Cubs. I'd rather not "cheat" on my team with another National League team. Sorry Phillies, I have to say it, let's "Rays" the roof and see Tampa Bay take home that ring for the first time in franchise history.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Real Winners in Chicago are the Cubs Fans 2.0 (Edited and Re-Cut version)

This year in America we've had a lot of firsts. We've had the first African-American nominee for president. We've had the first woman candidate for vice president. We've cheered as Michael Phelps won the most gold medals in an Olympic games. We've seen the Tampa Bay Rays snatch their first playoff berth. Among all that change, one thing remains consistent – the Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series.

The Cubs have been out of the playoffs for what feels like a century. But wait, that's not even just a state of mind anymore. It's a reality.

It's been 100 years since the north side Chicago team won a pennant. The last time they set foot on a World Series field was in 1945. Needless to say, disappointment is a common feeling for a Cubs fan.

My experience as a transplanted Cubs fan who is coping with this year’s embarrassing shutout against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS is a bit different since I was in Washington D.C. during the playoffs. I can only assume that most North Side residents' heads hang low and jaws are still dropped. Harry Caray would be ashamed.

So they lost. They lose every year. And, they have for a 100 years. I hate to say it Chicago, but I think you secretly love it.

Take a minute and think about it. If the Cubs ever won a World Series, what in God's name would you do with yourself? You would probably say something along the lines of, "Good! I can die happy now." You'd parade around the streets of Chicago bragging to every White Sox fan you saw or you’d high-five any Cubs fan you ran into. From October to next April, you would wear your pin stripe jersey with pride because you have a World Series Champions patch stitched into the sleeve. You would smile and say, “All my dreams have come true." But ... then what?

Your expectations are set by the win. Greed would consume you. One successful trip to the fall classic and you’d want more and that’s because -- as the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees have shown -- just one World Series championship is ever enough.

It would be a shame to see such passionate fans go from bleeding Cubby bear blue to turning green from greed. That's not what Cubs baseball is about.

Face it, there are no other sports teams in all of America that have the same passion for their team. Cubs fans are a rare and special breed. Red Sox fans claim that they understand, but they don't. The Yankees, whose past is as deeply rooted in history as the Cubs club, are winners and the Cubs are not. But that’s just it. That’s Cubs baseball.

Losses don’t define the Cubs. They stand for more than that. They are the heart and soul of a huge harem of people from Chicago. Consider yourself lucky Cubs fans, you have the only good story left in baseball that continues to be told and isn't finished yet.

Think of it this way -- as long as there's baseball in this country the Cubs will always be on top -- not because of World Series wins, but because of their fans and their love for the game and team. The Cubs created the history, but the fans created the legacy.

So, to all the Cubs fans out there...'til next year.

Chicago Gets an East Coast Treat

If there's one thing I've learned while being in D.C. it's that people my age love a good, cheap burger. They want something tasty, they want something fresh, and ... they usually go to Five Guys.

This burger joint is ideal for the student on a budget. Heck, you even get free peanuts at your table while you wait for your good ol' wholesome American meal. It's like being at a bar sans the beer -- same solid eats and constant comrade for a mid-range price.

Today the Chicago Tribune wrote that Five Guys will be opening two locations in the Windy City this fall/winter -- one in Oak Park and one in Lincoln Park.

The #1 burger in Washington, D.C. for the past five years has been Five Guys. It's important to keep in mind that the nation's capital is no Chicago. The melting pot that is D.C. makes international dining a comfortable choice. But, in Chicago, the residents go for a more familiar taste.

Chicago is known for two types of food -- pizza and hot dogs. So, bringing Five Guys into the mix will shake dining up a bit. Let's just hope Chicagoians welcome the new flavor.

For more on Five Guys in Chicago visit:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Real Winners in Chicago are the Cubs Fans

It's mid-October now and the Cubs have been out of the playoffs for what feels like a century. But wait, that's not even just a state of mind anymore. It's a reality.

I can only speak from my experiences as a transplanted Cubs fan who is learning how to cope with the loss from Northwest Washington, D.C. I can only assume that most North Side residents' heads are hanging low and jaws are probably still dropped. Harry Carrey would be ashamed.

So we lost. We lose every year. And, we have for a 100 years. I hate to say it Chicago, but I think you secretly love it.

Think about it for a minute. If the Cubs ever won a World Series, what in God's name would you do with yourself? You would probably say something along the lines of, "Good! I can die happy now." You'd parade around the streets of Chicago braging to every White Sox fan you saw or high-fiving any Cubs fan you run into. From October to next April, it would be your time to shine and it would feel better than any happiness you've ever known because your team finally did the unexpected. But .... then what?

Your expectations would then be set. You would get greedy. You would want them to keep winning each and every year for the rest of your life. Because, as the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees have shown, just one World Series championship is ever enough.

I would hate to see such a passionate group who bleeds Cubby blue turn green from greed. That's not what Cubs baseball is about.

There is no other sports team in all of America that has the kind of fans the Cubs do. Red Sox fans can claim that they understand us, but they don't. The Yankees are just as rooted in history as the Cubs club is, but they're winners and we're not. But, those are the Cubs. They're are team. I'm proud of them either way and you should be too.

The Cubs stand for a lot more than just losses. They stand for the heart and soul of a giant herum of people from Chicago. Consider yourself lucky Cubs fans, we're the only good story left in baseball that both continues to be told and isn't finished yet.

Think of it this way -- as long as there's baseball in this country the Cubs will always be on top -- not because of World Series wins, but because of their fans and those fans love for the game and their team. The Cubs created the history, but the fans created the legacy.

We'll know by Friday night which two teams will enter this year's fall classic. But I'm somehow okay with the fact that the Cubs aren't going to be swinging there bats in that one.

So, to all my fellow Cubs fans out there....

'til next year.

Photo By: R.H. Levitin

Monday, October 13, 2008

Every Rose Has it's Thorn, But Bret Michaels has "Rock of Love"

Imagine this – 14 rock star groupie wanna-be’s living under one roof. They are all taking lessons in “being a lady” Black Sabbath front man Ozzie’s wife, Sharon Osbourne. This isn’t any one person’s imagination, this is reality. Well … reality television that is.

VH1 debuted their new series “Rock of Love Charm School” last night, which is the third show based on the rock star lifestyle associated with Poison front man Bret Michaels. “Rock of Love” lasted two seasons worth of the some of the most outlandish material seen on a VH1 reality show.

The first episode served as a tribute to the girl’s past lives on-air with Brett, which allowed VH1 to show personalized DVDs highlighting each contestant’s worst moments while on the show. The entire premise is essentially a sorority house situation gone terribly wrong.

The season will play host to what VH1 calls, “The hard-partying gals of Rock of Love 1 and 2 are in major need of a manners lesson, and who better to tutor them in lady skills than metal mama Sharon Osbourne?” But really, what COULD be better than that?

These girls are no rocket scientists. They’re divorcees, ex-strippers, and one even worked for NASA once. But at the end of the day, their offered an open bar that guarantees that this reality show turns into one giant party every week, usually ending in a physical fight or verbal brawl.

To go along with the rock star theme of this specific charm school, the girls not only wear cutesy yet scantily clad infused school girl outfits – a la Brittney Spears’ “…Hit Me Baby One More Time” video – but they must wear their charm school pin at all time and follow the school’s 10 Commandments:

  1. Thou Shalt Rock Together
  2. Thou Shalt Rock It With Style
  3. Thou Shalt Be Takin' Care of Business
  4. Thou Shalt Not Rock Rude
  5. Thou Shalt Rock Thy Body
  6. Thou Shalt Rock At Love
  7. Thou Shalt Express Thyself
  8. Thou Shalt Know Who Thou Art
  9. Thou Shalt Rock Unto Others
  10. Thou Shalt Be Fully Rockin'

If someone’s getting paid to do this, sign me up. These girls are being wined, dined, and housed with a camera stuffed in their faces at all times. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? And, to top it all off, the girl who changes herself the most and becomes a lady gets a super-sized $100,000 check.

The New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan said it best in her August 27, 2007 review of the show that said, “VH1’s ‘Rock of Love With Bret Michaels” is a carnival sludge: a nauseating paste of fried dough, cigarette ash, salt and grain alcohol.” They even go as far as to say, “This series has trudged along like a heart broken drunk…” But, that’s what the people are watching. There’s even a third season of “Rock of Love” in the works – only this time, it’s on the Bret’s tour bus going on a cross-country adventure to find love.

Production for the third season of “Rock of Love” paused in September after a driver for the show fell asleep behind the wheel, killing Southern Illinois University student Kevetta Davis. Davis was 19.

According to the Chicago Tribune and VH1, Michael’s asked that “his participation in the series be temporarily suspended in deepest sympathy as he attempts to reach out” to the victim’s families.

This season of VH1’s Charm School is destined to provide the reality television watching community with a tasty treat of sass and attempt at class. So, for all you rocker’s out there, if you want a reality television show full of sex, drugs, rock and roll, Sharon Osborne’s shrill English accent, and glammed up groupies fighting each other for your amusement, stay tuned into VH1 each Sunday night at 9 p.m. for “Rock of Love Charm School”.

# # #

Edward R. Murrow Could See the Future

“Our history will be what we make it.” That is what Edward R. Murrow believed in 1958 when he spoke in Chicago to address the annual convention of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. That’s as true and as honest as it gets.

It has been over 50 years since American’s started receiving news over the airwaves and on screens in their homes. The boxes full of wires and light broadcasted the stories of the American people and of people all over the world. And, that world which was once so big became a little smaller once television came into our lives.

Today, the television is still a staple of American life – but, for different reasons. There are Saturday morning cartoons, Thursday night prime-time, daily talk shows, and so much more. It’s all entertainment – minus a few specialty news stations such as CNN and C-SPAN.

I hate to think we’re a society that dug its own grave when it comes to educating its public in a swift and productive way. Murrow would hate to see that we haven’t changed at all. The year 2008 is exactly what he said it was going to be, so why didn’t we try to change it before now?

American’s have become a nation of couch potatoes, according to a May 2008 article on The future of television is not only in sitcom programming but online. First radio, then television, and now the internet – can we ever just settle and focus on one thing at a time? I think that’s our problem. We keep looking for active change when what we really need is to fix one thing and not create new problems.

The attempt to “fix” what is aired on network television is a definite failure. Murrow would not be proud. Day after day, reality television trash is aired and consumed by the American public strictly for entertainment purposes. We’ve lost all sight on the things that are important. We’ve even attempted to desensitize the news. This, in itself, is the problem that needs to be remedied.

“I would like television to produce some itching pills rather than this endless outpouring of tranquilizers,” Murrow said. That’s the prescription for the problem we still have 50 years later. American brains have been numbed by what they watch. Often times, what is aired is not of the most valuable importance. This is where the heads of the major broadcasting corporations are cheating the American public. And somehow, we let them get away.

Well, I say, no more. We can’t. We’ve let this go on for far too long. Murrow put it the best when he said television is an instrument that can teach, illuminate, and even inspire, “But, it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends.” He was right. So, that’s what we have to do. We have to seize control and make it happen.

# # #

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Say it Ain't So, Chicago

I don't even know what to say. I'm speechless. What was supposed to be the greatest sports story ever written, never will be. The Chicago Cubs lost their 10 consecutive post-season game, forfeiting their chance at winning a World Series. It is now 100 years since the Cubs last won a ring.

The residents of Sheffield are going to have to change the sign atop the townhouse. An extra number slot needs to be added to the "A.C. sign" that lists how many years since the Cubs have won the division, the pennant, and then the World Series.

All curses aside, this years Cubs team are solely responsible for ruining the opportunity for this inspiring sports story. I have two words: 97 wins. They had 97 wins. They were the number one team in all of the National League, and they blew it.

I'll be honest. I haven't read any articles about the game that ended the Cubs' chance at playoff history. I was camping in the woods and was nowhere near a TV. I'm grateful for that. I don't think I could have stomached watching it.

Cubs fans have been saying for years that "Wait 'til next year" or "Next year is here". But, I'm sick of hearing it. Lou crafted an impressive team of great team players. It was a strong line-up all around and their showed results. They got the job done. And then, they just fall apart? This was the year ... or, at least it was supposed to be. The Cubs ruined it.

Everyone could imagine the Cubs winning it all this year. It was almost a universal feeling that deep down in the gut, people all secretly wanted the Cubs to win. It was like the greatest guilty pleasure type story in baseball. And now, that's all foiled.

Who even knows what Cubs fans would have done had the the team won the series? I think the whole charm that is being a Cubs fan would be lost. Maybe it's a better thing that they lost. At least we have something to try and look forward to next year. Because, like Cubs fans have been saying for well ... a century ... "Until next year."


It will be a few days before I decide to find out exactly what went wrong during the third game of this year's NLDS against the Dodgers, but I'm okay with that. Right now, I just want to live in that dream world that will never be.

[More to come in the next few days with this on-going story regarding the Cubs collapse this post-season]

Friday, October 3, 2008

Is 9 Lives All the Cubs Will Get?

The not-so-magic number of losses rose to nine last night as the Cubs failed to beat the Joe Torre's Dodgers at Wrigley field. This puts them in a 0-2 deficit when entering Saturday's game in L.A.

The thought that's on all Cubs fan's minds right now is: "Why?...Why!...WHY!"

Well, I'll be honest, I don't know why. I don't think anyone does at this point.

At least this year no one's obsessed with the curse. I think that our regular season record of 97 wins speaks a bit higher of the team than being cursed. So, if there is an upside, I think not being pinned as a team with a curse is a good thing.

Now, the downside -- our entire infield played like Alex Gonzalez in game 4 of the 2003 NLCS. It was embarrassing. Error after error in the second, it was as if each player had forgotten the fundamental rules of playing in little league. Remember guys, keep the ball in FRONT of you. Go into the game with a LITTLE confidence, not a hot head. Stay patient. And, most of all, make sure you watch the ball come INTO your glove. Don't be cocky ... if you can't see the ball coming to your glove, than it probably isn't. Fundamentals were nowhere to be found on the field yesterday.

The Cubs defense last night was sloppy. As far as I'm concerned -- and don't get me wrong, I love this team -- this is a waste of a playoff berth. The Cubs that America's been watching in these two games are not the Cubs that were the division champions and number one team in all of the National League this year who had been slated to win the World Series and allow journalists to write the greatest sports story of all-time.

Instead, the Boston Red Sox 2004 recovery from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS will remain the point in time where baseball fans and baseball history finally got their underdog story. I remember watching the third game of that series. It seemed like the run was over and the game was up. But, they came back the next four games -- for the first time in baseball history might I add -- and then went on to win the ring.

Now, with the Cubs down in the NLDS, whose to say they don't pull off an underdog moment? People can't say, "It's never been done before," because it has. Does that make the Cubs' chances higher or lower? No one can really say. But, what they can say is that the Cubs have been given the past nine playoff games to do something with themselves and have failed.

Do the Cubs deserve ten chances at inscribing the book of baseball history with their name? Most definitely. They just need to step up to the plate Saturday, have Rich Harden pitch the game of his life (which he is capable of), and swing those bats hard and early.

So, if any of you see Lou sometime before Saturday, let him know that we want his 2008 team back. Get those guys out of hiding because that's the team who should be on the field winning games and not crushing spirits.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Win or Lose, I'm Still a Cubs Fan

And now, the Cubs loss streak in the post-season rises to eight.

Chicago Tribune staff writer, Mike Downey, says it's just the Cubs being Cubs. That I buy.

What I don't buy is how everyone can easily shake off the history of this team. Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe was quoted for mentioning that he's heard a lot about the Cubs 100 year World Series drought, and he's not alone. So yes, it's been mentioned. But, I think the sadest part is that people are trying to forget it.

How can you?

It's a Catch-22 by baseball standards. The Cubs are a team rooted in history and history has continued to define the team. They haven't been able to shake it. That's just how it is.

A poll on the Chicago Tribune's webpage said that 57.4% of Cubs fans still think they will beat the dodgers in the NLDS 3-1. Now that's what I like to hear.

I'm sick and tired of hearing the players, the managers, and franchise officials say things along the line of, "This year's team has nothing to do with the past 100 years. This is a new team. This is a different team. We have to base their success on the positives and just on this season alone."

Well here, I'll do that right now so that we can all get it out of our systems:

"Dear 2008 Chicago Cubs,
You've had a great season! Your win to loss ratio was not only stellar, but a force to be reckoned with in the National League. You came out as #1 in the league and in the division. You worked as a cohesive unit. You had a spring in your step. And, you made all of your fans smile. It was a great run. To top it off, you even got into the playoffs for the second year in a row. Kudos! So, on behalf of the city of Chicago, I say 'Thanks!'"

Okay, now with that said, sorry 2008 Cubs ... and every other Cubs team until we win our third franchise World Series. You will be compared to every player of every team who has ever put on a Cubs uniform. History is what keeps tourists hanging around Wrigley Field. History is what keeps fans around the four street radius that is Addison-Clark-Sheffield-Waveland. History is what influences families to talk baseball on the North Side. You just have to face it, the Cubs are a team based on history. And, until this team wins a ring, that's all they'll be.

I'm still proud to call myself a Cubs fan. I don't care if they lose. It may hurt. There may be tears. And, lord knows all Cubs fans hate once the season's over, but we'll all still be there next year and we'll all stick around until the end ... no matter what flag flies above the scoreboard after the game.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

100 Years and Waiting

***UPDATE: For more information on this year's intense line-up of teams in the MLB post-season check out the following link***

***For more on the Chicago cross-town rivalry in this year's post-season check out the following article put out by the Chicago Tribune today***,0,5772269.story

I've learned some of the hardest life lessons by being a Cubs fan.

People usually laugh at me when I say that, but it's true. I have spent 21 years watching, agonizing, sitting, smiling, transitioning from Pepsi to Old Style, plan hot dog to Chicago style ... I like to think I've done a lot. And, although my time as a Cubs fan is perhaps a lot shorter than most North Siders (or transplanted North Siders scattered around the country/world), I like to think I have some credibility when I go to say, "CHICAGO'S GONNA WIN TODAY!"

Today is October 1, 2008. This officially marks the first back to back playoff appearance by the Chicago Cubs franchise since the last time they won the fall classic ... 100 years ago.

Now, two Cubs managers will go down in history for taking the team to the playoff's in consecutive years -- Frank Chance (1906, 1907, and 1908) and Lou Pinella (2007, 2008).

Sweet Lou, this is where I tip my metaphorical hat to you. On behalf of all Cubs fans I would first of all like to say "Thanks." Second, "Please keep history repeating itself. Because, if you do, we're on track for the greatest lesson anybody has ever learned and I think it'd do a lot for the people of this country."

See, I'm not trying to sound corny here. I'm just being honest. I mean, let's take a moment to imagine the possibilities here.

Since the Yankees last World Series win in 2000, each year has been a surprise when it comes to who wins the ring at the end of the season. The Marlins fried the Cubs in '03. The White Sox took their first series home since the Black Sox scandal in '05. St. Louis rose to the occasion in '06. Heck, the Red Sox even won 2 in less than 4 years. So, all I'm saying is that the Cubs have it coming. And this time, they deserve greatness.

It's been said that this year's team has a swagger. I can't speak from that much experience since I only went to one home game at Wrigley Field this year (where Rich Harden, Carlos Marol, and Kerry Wood put on QUITE the pitching spectacle), but they definitely have a spring in their step. They're confident. And that, I like.

But, it's not just about winning. It's about the game. It's about what it does to people. It's about fall. It's about how there's one October. These are important things that people forget.

Baseball is America's past-time and the Cubs are their "Lovable Losers". Thanks to the Cubs I've learned how to deal with heartache. I've shed tears over games and haven't been ashamed. I've seen friends and families united even after a losing seasons. But no matter what, no matter how good or how bad the Cubs are doing, everyone comes together to celebrate them.

Due to the team's long streak of losses and historical collapses, each and every Chicagoan that calls themselves a Cubs fan has this funny sense of pride that I've never seen anyone else (not even a Red Sox fan) emulate.

It's something inside us. A flicker. A flame. It ignites us when spring training starts and stays lit long past the last days of October. In a way, it's eternal. The season may end but the spirit never leaves. And that to me is Cubs baseball.

It's a feeling. And a damn good one at that.

So, even though I can't be in Chicago just a 15 minute walk from what I consider to be the greatest spot in America (Wrigley Field) to watch my Cubbies take on the infamous Joe Torre and his Dodgers, I'll be there in spirit rooting from my couch.

Welcome to next year baseball fans, get ready for the Cubs.