Screwed by fate - Guest Column by James Crockett
James Crockett of Just North of Wrigley Field fame was kind enough to submit a guest column on why he is a Cubs fan and what he thinks about the fate of Cubs fans everywhere.
Sometimes when the Fates really want to screw with you, they give you what you desire.
Now, there's nothing I desire more than watching the Cubs... win... lots... in October.
None have happened often in my lifetime, but I'm working on all of them.
I grew up in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. For those who aren't up on the geography, that's west across the Puget Sound from Seattle (about an hour by ferry). Since I was born in Chicagoland and most of my family lived there, I had a couple opportunities to see Wrigley Field and remained a Cubs fan.
However, lack of cable made watching the Cubs infrequent at best. In fact, even when I had cable, I didn't get WGN. How lame is that? (Memo to everybody: Don't ever think about the past. It will only bring you pain.)
Well, I changed that in a big way on October 14, 2003, when my wife and I relocated to Chicago so she could be little miss theatre superstar and took up roost in a little area of North Chicago called Wrigleyville.
So, I get to see them a little more often and, without taking any credit for myself, see them win a lot more often.
And please... I ask for your mercy. Don't come looking to blow me up or stick me in a spaghetti sauce because you've noticed the date I moved into my apartment.
Just another one of Fate's cruel games.
This brings me to why I'm really writing this... there are other things I desire almost as much as watching my Beloveds win, for example watching the New York Yankees lose.
Growing up watching the Seattle American League Ballclub as much as I did, my exposure to the Yankees and their fans almost made it enough to turn me into a Mariners fan.
So a month ago... yeah, that shows how long I've been dragging my feet with this article, I turned on ESPN Classic to see Game 7 of the 2001 World Series where the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees.
I watched every second of it not only because I knew the Yankees would lose in the end, but also because it involved one of my other great desires: watching ex-Beloveds win.
Not just any ex-Beloved. I'm talking about those guys who have spent their entire career as productive major-leaguers for the Red and Blue and then moved on and got their ring. This I have absolutely no problem with since the Cubs haven't had a shot at it since... oh god.
And I have no problem with Mark Grace getting his as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, since it also coincided with denying the Yankees and getting Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling a ring as well.
...but something made this less of an enjoyable experience than in past viewings. Something was sticking in my head the whole time.
Then right before Luis Gonzalez (another ex-Cub) stepped up to the plate and proved Yankees closer Mariano Rivera fallible, ESPN Classic played a promo for one of those silly shows about how the Red Sox and Cubs were cursed.
Then it all became clear... expansion teams. Expansion teams winning World Series titles. They had showed the Florida Marlins celebrating their SECOND National League pennant.
Let's see... two for Florida, plus one for Arizona, carry the... That's three for expansion teams. And these aren't expansion teams like San Diego or Toronto or Seattle, that's three for expansion teams who have only existed since 1993. That's three in 13 years. Our Cubs haven't won one in 50.
And the D'Backs and Marlins both sealed the deal, something the Cubs haven't done in 97 years.
It's also a bitter pill to think about how Arizona and Florida won their titles... they spent money. Lots and lots and lots of money.
They bought guys like Alou, Alex Fernandez, Sheffield, Kevin Brown, Ivan Rodriguez, Urbina, Luis Gonzalez, Finley, Matt Williams, Schilling, Johnson...
After only four years in the league, the Marlins got desperate enough to buy a World Series... only three for the Diamondbacks.
If 97 years doesn't call for desperation, what does?
Do you see how the experience turned sour?
Just the Fates screwing me by giving me what I desire.
But it didn't stop with the start of the regular season.
As Cubs fans, we desired healthy seasons from Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. I was pretty happy with the results, but the Fates had made us sweat. Now, well... I'm...
As Cubs fans, we desired a team with more speed... a team that didn't need to wait for the long ball to score runs. In Jerry Hairston, the Cubs had the personnel to make that happen, but without a position to play him.
But oh those Fates, they gave us what we desired when they had Carlos Lee do a whack job on our second baseman... too bad Dusty Baker likes to screw with us too and gave us Neifi Perez instead.
But now those same Fates have taken the decision out of his hands...
As Cubs fans, we desired one thing above all. Sure, some of us wanted Carlos Beltran or J.D. Drew or Magglio Ordonez, but we all were pretty clear on Nomar Garciaparra.
When the Cubs acquired him last year, it signaled a change for the Cubs. I can't remember the last time the Cubs traded for a player of this magnitude to fill a position of great need... even if the Fates stepped in and decided he wouldn't play for us when we needed him. Keeping him meant even more.
We loved him... We wanted him... and now we don't have him.
Nomar struggled this season to the point where he dropped to sixth in the lineup, and now he's dropped to the Disabled List. For how long, who knows?
The Fates know, but they're just going to keep screwing with us.
Come to think about it... as Cubs fans, don't we ask for it?