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Where were you on September 14, 2008?

I remember.

The skies had been opened wide for 3 days straight, the rain pouring onto the ground. The earth swelled and the water rose above, puddles becoming ponds and ponds becoming lakes. The air shifted colder and colder, a sense of forboding permeating the day. People are suffering throughout the South as the flooding brought back unsettling thoughts of destruction and loss. Nothing was right in the world.

Until Carlos Zambrano took the mound, prepared to show Houston a REAL hurricane.

Like a gunslinger or a gladiator returning from oblivion, Zambrano took the mound and the fate of his squad in his right hand. Geovany Soto nodded his head and extended his fingers and the game was under way.

As if on queue, the rain stopped and moved to the East. As if knowing what was happening, the air warmed a bit and the clouds separated. Something was Brewing.

6th inning, seventh. Eighth inning, 9th.

Over three decades of waiting and there it was. Before our very eyes, another record was achieved and the first no-hitter since Milt Pappas was in the record books.

It was a symphony. It was a masterpiece.

I will remember where I was, my sons sleeping in the other rooms, too young to know what this meant.

I will remember hitting record on my DVR, knowing that this was something to cherish and keep forever.

I will remember forgetting all the wrongs and ills in the world, if only for just a couple moments, as My Team mobbed Our Ace.

I will remember my friend texting me to tell me that this was his greatest day as a Cubs fan. I could sense the tears welling in his eyes that he could not have watched it with his father who taught him to be a Cubs fan.

I will remember that this was something that I will tell my kids about when they are older.

This was the moment the 2008 Cubs ceased to be a team rather than The Team.

I will always remember September 14, 2008.

Getting their Groove Back, Part 2

Ummm...when Kurt and I were talking last week about what the Cubs needed to get going back in the right direction before the end of the season, a no hitter never entered our discussion.

The Big Z put on a clinic on Sunday night in Milwaukee against Houston (which is just odd).  110 pitches, 10 K's, he was one walk away from a perfect game.

Welcome back to the lineup, Carlos.

If you don't think that something like this can fill up the tank, then you're just a skeptic...well, I am skeptic, too, but not about this.

The Cubs are back...perhaps there is magic in this season.

And only Cubs fans could put 24,000 plus fans in the stands at a neutral site...then again, it is Wrigley North.  How about more games in Milwaukee?

That might not happen in October, as the Brewers are close to puking away the Wild Card position to Philadelphia.  Whether or not that is good news for the Cubs, I don't know...we can debate that tomorrow.

Enjoy the night!  Text messaging and Red Bulls all around!

Geovany Soto: MVR

Yahoo Sports published an article today about Geovany Soto.  Soto is pretty much a lock to be Rookie of the Year, and, as we learned from Peter Gammons last month, more than one Cubs player feels he should also be on peoples' MVP ballots.

Soto appears to be the next generation's Mike Piazza, with one serious exception - he's a plus defensive catcher.  He's also a great example of why this team is likely to carry over into 2009 - most of their plus offensive stars are young, and either have room to grow or at least room to maintain for a few more years.

Cubs vs. Astros in Atlanta, Georgia?

There is a news report out on the internet tonight that the Chicago Cubs against the Houston Astros series will be moved to Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia due to Hurricane Ike hitting Texas sometime Saturday morning. My guess is, teams fly to Atlanta Saturday morning, play in the night, then Sunday and finish the series in Atlanta on Monday. The Braves are in New York all weekend to play the Mets.

In my opinion, i honestly don't care where they play, but this time off isn't helping us any. Sure, it's extra rest, for now, until we need to play doubleheaders. The Cubs were coming off two stright wins and play a series against a red-hot Astros team. The sooner they get back in it, the better i think.

Just let them play! Speaking of rain outs, Milwaukee @ Philadelphia was also rained out tonight.

 

You may be wondering, who i am. I just joined this awesome Cubs blogging web site today and am very fortunate to find this place via the ESPN article on Cubs fans where they mention one of the founding members of this web site. My name is Lukas and i moved to Chicago from Poland when i was 7 years old. About 7/8 years later, me and my family moved to Rochester, NY where i began a new life, and loved the area alot and even went to college. I had always hoped to return to Chicago, but with college, i found my girlfriend, and now have a good paying job. I always visit back atleast twice a year. I follow the Cubs via several Cubs fan sites, WGN and MLB Extra Innings. The Cubs have become a major part of my life. I can't live without them. I could speak about them for as long as i love.

Here's a picture of me at a Cubs game few years ago when we played the Reds. I'll try to post often, hope you guys like my messages and my rants. lol

 

 

Did the Cubs Get their Groove Back?

As I was interviewing Kurt Evans today on my radio show, I asked him how the Cubs were gonna get their groove back…we didn’t really have any definite answers, other than start winning.

It’s too early to tell if they got their groove back, but two wins like the ones they have had in the last two days will help.

Rich Harden goes six innings, gives up 5 hits and two runs. Quality start. The Cubs show patience at the plate, score the first run of the game on a walk. Good start. Kerry Wood records two hair on fire saves…good start. Wood getting 45 year old Albert Pujols to pop out to end the game with runners on first and second? Good start. The Brewers lose on a night when the Cubs win. Good start. Put Ol Yeller (St Louis) out of its misery? Good start.

The Cubs were not flashy or fantastic the last two games, but they got the win. They have a winning streak again, something they have not had since beating the Phils two in a row August 28th and 29th.

With Hurricane Ike advancing into Southeast Texas, the next two Cubs games against Houston have been postponed. The entire series might be postponed for that matter. I am not sure where the Cubs are going to go and wait the storm out, but they will have a couple of days rest before embarking on a very challenging end to their season against teams that have playoff ambitions.

Carlos Zambrano gets a little more time to rest that shoulder of his. And they get to do all of this while resting their heads on their pillows having beaten St. Louis two of three.

A five and a half game lead with 16 games to play. That’s a pretty good lead, a fairly safe lead.

The Cubs should be the #1 ‘seed’ in the NL Playoffs. They will probably face the Dodgers, who have a good pitching staff, but they don’t have the firepower starters that Arizona has.

All of the sudden, in the span of 24 hours, things are looking up in Cubdom. And Kurt Evans is a national sensation.

All is good in GROTAland.

Blind Faith or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Cubs

Stuart Scott's Eye checking in.

If anyone reading this has checked out my separate blog, ROFLsports.com, they know I can be somewhat of a negative take on slides like the one the Cubs find themselves stuck in right now.  But, part of being a Cubs fan is feeling that spiral sucking you in yet being unable to do anything but root for them to succeed beyond all probability and likelihood.

Until this year.

This year is different.  This year is special.  I can say that I will be crushed if the Cubs don't do what we all hope they will finally do this year, but even if they don't 2008 will be a significant year in the annals of Cubdom.

It seems that at every turn, the Cubs are breaking franchise records.  For the first time in any of our lifetimes, this team looks not just good but great.  The squad is solid and the pitching is top-notch.

Every year since 2003, a friend of mine would call me and discuss what the team needed to do to plug holes for the next season.  We would argue trade scenarios and basically play fantasy GM for the North Siders.  This is something I know many Cubs fans have done.  It is something you have to do in order to maintain sanity, especially during those Dusty Baker seasons.

But I haven't done that this year.  Sure, I fantasized about getting Sabathia and who else could solidify this team.  But for the most part I was very content to just watch them trot onto the diamond and show every team who the big fish was in the National League.

I was so confident in this team that on June 6, 2008 when my second child was born, I gave him two middle names: Clark Addison.

My wife, who has been a Cubs fan longer than I, did not protest.

She has told me all season not to get my hopes up.  She looks at me wearing my jersey and jumping up and down and yelling that this could be the year and shakes her head.  She has seen the collapses.  I know the skeletons in this team's closet, but cannot shake the fact that something feels different this year.

For the first time in almost a hundred years, success for the Cubs is like the wind blowing out and a home run is just waiting on deck to be hit out of the park.

Go Cubs Go!

A call to the readers: why you cheer

Between now and the first part of October, GROTA will be publishing the written work of a number of people unaffiliated with the blog. The shared topic that everybody will be writing about is one that's close to the heart of every Cub fan - why you cheer. Consider this a call to the many members of the Goat Rider Army to post your stories about being a Cubs fan.

We want to know - how did it happen? Did you have a parent who watched every game and took you to Wrigley Field? Did you stumble across the Cubs on TV and get hooked on the excited calls of Harry Caray and the wry humor of Steve Stone? How did you become a Cubs fan?

Alternatively, you could tell us a story about being a fan. Maybe you quit a job to fly to Atlanta for the '03 NLDS. Maybe you married a girl because her father had season tickets. We all have stories that, at least to us, define ourselves as fans. We'd love for you to share them here.

Don't be shy. We're an eclectic community here and silliness is practically currency. So long as this doesn't become a post - or blog - about how following Cubs baseball is helping you to overcome a tramatic breakup that caused you to create a t-shirt with a blue heart logo hugging the Cubs logo, you'll be fine. I look forward to reading it all.

Thank Goodness for Football; This Swoon is Killing Me

I live in Iowa, and we don't have major league professional sports. That's not to say people are not fanatical about them here, because they are. It's just that once the college football season begins, the state of Iowa shifts its focus to all things Hawkeye and Cyclone.

But there are a ton of Cubs fans in Iowa. We have the I-Cubs right here in town, Chicago is only a 5 hour drive from Des Moines, and a three hour or less drive from a million and a half of the state's residents. It's Cubs-Cards country here, mostly Cubs.

So folks stay in touch with what is going on.

I host a daily sports talk show (1460 KXNO) and your Kurt Evans has been a weekly guest this year. He has talked me off the ledge a few times, because I have gotten to the age (late 30's) where I just don't have time to suffer along with the Cubs. I no longer consider myself a die hard. I am a die easy Cubs fan. Like, France rolling over in WWII easy.

For instance, I jumped off the bandwagon last year when the Cubs gave up that 5-1 9th inning lead against the Mets. I puked right along with Santo, but I was done. Then when A-Ram hit the game winning walk off homer against Milwaukee in late June, I came back to the party.

That's sort of how I am these days. If that ticks you off, hey, I have given my nearly 30 years of fandom to this team...up your....wait, I was gonna go Horshack here, but many of you may not remember him.

All of this brings me to this year. I have been high, I have been low...not low as in the depths of the mines of Moria low, just frustrated. I am frustrated a bit right now, but thanks to college football and my Hawkeyes being 2-0 right now, that's my tonic.

What has amazed me since the start of August is how the Brewers and Cubs have been in lockstep with one another. Chicago is 21-14 since then, Milwaukee 22-14. The Cubs are 1-6 in September, the Brewers 2-7.

Who will rediscover their mojo first? I think the Cubs have a better chance, because Zambrano has been nicked up, and Glass Joe Harden has been spending his days doing...well, anything but pitching.

So the Cubs have more of an upshot here. But winning in the playoffs is about confidence, swagger and pitching. Do the Cubs have enough of any of that right now? Does anyone in the National League have that right now? Not so much...so I hold onto the hope that the Cubs will somehow suck less than the rest of the league the rest of this month, and be the least suckiest team in the NL come October. (Suck is an approved word in these parts, based on my reading this year).

OK, they don't suck...perhaps its just my attitude...but I miss those August Cubs...and if this doesn't turn out to be THE YEAR, then I'm out....at least until next season starts, and I go through it all again.

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