This is not going to be a series in which we list the 101 best players in Cubs history, including 20 guys who suck, 30 more who were entirely unmemorable, and 51 who are seemingly listed with neither rhyme nor reason to our picks.
No, this is going to be a little different. Consider it an education on heartbreak. A history of misery. An introductory course - a 101, if you will - on the history of the Cubs in this, their 101st season without a championship.
Mostly we're going to provide you with the personal stories of our fandom, but for starters we'll be reflecting back on all the stuff that happened before we were born. You may ask - much as we did - how can we write our personal reflections on growing up under the ownership regime of P.K. Wrigley - the worst owner in the history of the game - when many of us weren't even alive for most of it? How can we tell tales of Cap Anson and the Chicago White Stockings when we clearly weren't around to see them play?*
(*Well, in this case we have the fortune of relying on the first-hand account of Albert Pujols, who served as a batboy for the Stockings in his youth)
The answer is that whether we were there or not, we've benefited from a shared experience. We certainly won't dwell on the olden days the way we will on the past 30 or 40 years of Cubs baseball, so don't worry about that. But many of us have heard stories of the days of the 1908 Cubs, and of the drunken master Grover Alexander, of William Wrigley and his legacy, and of Jack Brickhouse and his golden voice. We've heard the stories from our friends, or our parents, or our grandparents, and those tales shaped our Cubdom the same way that our personal experiences have.
Therefore please understand this one thing: this isn't a simple history. This isn't the dry retelling of the years or the games or even the game-changing plays. This is instead a series about the events that shaped our identities as Cub fans - and if you have already forgotten that part of "101" ends with the words "years of losing," then you might guess correctly that it won't all be flowers and glory.
So sit back. Read and enjoy. If you want to share your own Cubs 101 then you are more than welcome to. This series is going to be a team effort because none of us have experienced the same things the same way. Odds are that we'll be tagging on to each other's stories, adding our own spin, and perhaps even contradicting one another at various times.
Also, I'd like to thank our sponsors for the series Coast to Coast Tickets. They're in a class to themselves and their ticket prices are shockingly affordable. If you're going to a Cubs game in 2009 and haven't gotten tickets then do us a favor and check out their availabilities.
And as Jason might be inclined to write ... go Cubs!