Goatriders of the Apocalypse

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In response to Paul Sullivan

Rob mentioned earlier today the advice that Paul Sullivan has given dejected Cub fans.  Paul wrote, "Stop going into Cubs chat rooms and reading Cubs-related blogs, including Desipio, Goat Riders, Bleed Cubbie Blue, Thunder Matt and, of course, Hardball. (But please wait until you finish reading this before you stop reading Hardball)."

I'm tremendously disappointed by this statement.  I mean, how dare he?  How dare he mention GROTA second?  Doesn't he know we're the best?  Come to think of it, apart from my Mom, my girlfriend, and my lackies, does anybody know that we're the best?  I need to think about this a little further.

In seriousness, I like Paul quite a bit.  He's one of the few Chicago journalists who I would be willing to split a dinner bill with, although that might only be because I don't know many of the others by name.  I enjoy his snarky column called Ask Paul, in which he is perhaps best known for repeatedly asking haggard Cub fans to stop asking about Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, already!  Jeez! However, while he will have my eternal respect until he slanders me, I have to disagree.  You should be coming to blogs like Desipio, GROTA, Thunder Matt, and Hardball.

In fact, Cubs blogs should be key to your recovery from the abusive nature of the 2008 season.  Cubs blogs should be the first places you go every morning after you crawl out of bed, and they should be your final destination every night before you drunkenly stumble underneath the sheets.  We should be a regular lunch-hour target, and you should sneak a peak at us whenever your boss is having a smoke break (as if you don't already, you sly dogs).  The reason why is simple - we go beyond venting.  We are a daily reminder that there is life after October 5th.

You don't come here to discover us saying, "hey reader, remember that awesome homerun Aramis hit earlier this season?  Wasn't that awesome?  If only he could've done it in Game 3..." or "Wow, remember Carlos's no-hitter?  That was a great moment!  I bet you wish he could've saved it for Game 2..."

Hells no, Goat Reader, we're not about painful reflection on this here blog.  We're about the future! We're here to tell you stuff!  ...important stuff!  Stuff that you don't already know!

Therefore, if you want to be a sad sack who never gets over the bitter heartbreak of the 2008 Post Season, then follow the advice of Paul Sullivan.  Avoid avoid avoid!  But if you want to have fun thinking about the Cubs, if you desperately want reasons to look forward to the 2009 season, then make GROTA a daily stop.  We're going to have all kinds of things for you to read about between now and next April, and some of it will even be interesting!  Don't believe me?  Just wait til you see our Free Agent Preview, our Trades to be Mades Series*, and our Prospects on the Move anthology.  You'll be happy you did, I promise.

(*I know, not exactly an award winning name, is it.  Huh!  "Trades to be Mades."  I really am an unfunny dork.)

And folks, if you stumble across Paul Sullivan one night, do us and all blogs everywhere a huge favor.  Pull your shirt over your head and your sleeves over your hands and run erratically toward him while yelling maniacally and waving your arms.  But don't run into him or anything, just run near him -- y'know, to scare him a little.  And if he asks you why, just tell him it was because Al Yellon told you to, okay?

See you tomorrow.  And the day after that.  And after that, too.  You couldn't stay away if you tried, and you know it.

Cancel Christmas, Kitchen's Closed

And so, with great disappointment, the 2008 season has come to a close.

We had another "incident" on the blog during last night's game.  A fan who said he's been following the team for 50 years began commenting in the shoutbox, essentially saying that the first team in his lifetime to reach the playoffs in consecutive seasons needed to be dismantled, Lou needed to go, and essentially the Cubs needed to start over from scratch because they players are too damaged to win.

So, to recap:

During Game 1, we had Doom and Gloom Fans proclaim that the season was over, it was hopeless, and the Dodgers were the first team in history to clinch a playoff series after winning only the first game.

During Game 2, we had a fan say that it's clearly the curse, and you'd have to be an idiot to not believe that mystical powers were at work.

During Game 3, we had a fan proclaim the team broken, damaged, and in need not of repair but of dismantling.

But in the middle of all that were dozens of other Cub fans who, like me, were saddened by the performance of their team.  We were made to feel sick to our stomachs.  We got pissed, we swore, we cursed, some of us probably even cried.

I don't live on a hill, or behind a pulpit.  I'm not looking down on people from a pedestal.  I'm just another fan, like everybody else reading this blog, and I really have no place to preach at people.  More importantly, I am certainly not a better fan than anybody.  Anybody.

But I am very tired of certain kinds of fans.  The pessimists, the woe-is-me's, the doom-sayers, I feel great frustration when I hear from those people.  All along we've known a few simple facts - the Cubs were the best team to enter the playoffs, but the playoffs are a crap-shoot where momentum means everything.  The best team got eliminated last night, and it happened because they lost their momentum very early in Game 1 and never found a way to get it back.

It's not about curses, it's about crap-shoots.  As Billy Beane has always said, you can assemble a great team and put all the pieces together, but once they actually get there other factors come into play.  So, to all the insanely negative fans who have allowed a lifetime of losing to distort their world views, I'm sorry, but I have nothing for you.

Go join a goth coven, paint your nails black, slap on the eyeliner and write poems about how you want to cut your forearms because it's the only way you can tell you're still alive, okay?

Now, last night, Colin and I made an executive decision to ban the comments of a flamer/troll who kept going on and on about how the Cubs were doooooomed and needed to be dismantled.  I told that reader this, and I'll say it again now: I am over it.  But if you - you, whomever you are, who's reading this - honestly feel that way, I welcome you to voice your views in the Reader Blog section.  We won't delete it, we won't banish you, we won't punish you, and if you write it eloquently enough I'll probably even post it on the main page of GROTA.

You believe in curses?  Post about it.  We won't light you on fire and toss you off a proverbial cliff.  You think the Cubs were doomed to lose after the game one fiasco, and they went on to prove you right?  Post about it.  But, to be fair, we've got readers - and Riders, for that matter - who will probably loudly express their views too.

What Is To Come

Let's end this post on a more positive note.  I'm going to do a year-in-review podcast tomorrow.  It will be shorter - 15 to 20 minutes tops - and it'll be more about what's happened at GROTA than it will be about the Cubs.

Based on our web hits, we've gained a lot of readers in the past year (and especially in the past 2 or 3 months).  Point of fact, it's only October 5th and we're already close to halfway toward matching our total visits in all of October, 2007.  Obviously, I would expect things to slow down again now that the Cubs are out of it, but I want all of the new Goat Readers out there to know that we're going to continue bringing you good content every day of the off season.  We're not going anywhere, we hope that you go nowhere, too.

I've also got a few surprises in mind.  Stick around, because I think you'll enjoy them.

A Why We Cheer worth reading

DB posted a Why We Cheer yesterday that I promoted to the first page and changed the time stamp on to reflect that it was posted this morning.

When Kevin (our web guy) found out what I did, he apparently booked a flight to Toronto from England because he wanted to pummel me.  (Something about warping the space-time continuum and risking the destruction of the world mere weeks away from the first Cubs championship in a long while.)  So, I guess I won't be doing that with the Why We Cheer posted by ChicagoCubsFan23.

But I don't want you to miss this post.  So, do us and CCF23 the favor of following this in-house link and reading the post in question.

Things to come today

The next two days are going to be antsy, aren't they?  As we wait to find out if an All Chicago World Series is even possible, we're going to keep you busy at GROTA.  I will be posting two sets of, erm, scouting reports about both teams, the Cubs today, the Dodgers tomorrow.

Cub fans are already debating the batting order.  Should Derrek be bumped to the #2 spot?  Should he bat cleanup - or even 5th?

As the scouting reports might take a long-ass time to write, I'm going to leave you with this for now... in terms of lineups and whatnot, we have to think that Piniella's not going to shake things up.  From his perspective, the Cubs won 97 games doing it a certain way, and any time the fans or media question him about his way he starts talking about how he shoulda been a farmer.

But, you know what, this is a blog.  That's the sort of stuff we do.  We think about things and then we debate them.  Usually from our basements.  Because we're dorks.  ...or, at least, I am.

So, I will present to you my thoughts on two different Cubs lineup.  Ideal, and realistic.

Ideal:

SS Ryan Theriot - Why leadoff?  Theriot hit .307 this season, and his slugging percentage dictates that he should either be batting first or last.  The key to Theriot being the choice is actually his OBP - he walked 73 times this season, and will enter the playoffs with an OBP of .387.  However, his EOBP is lower: it's at around .366.  Still, .366 isn't bad, and if Theriot is conservative on the basepaths, his tendency to make outs stealing second won't hurt the team.

2B Derrek Lee - Maddog is right.  Derrek should not be the team's #3 hitter.  He's still productive, but the Cubs have at least 3 guys who are more productive, and that's really all you need to know.  One con against Derrek batting 2nd - all those double plays.  I think they're somewhat of a fluke.  Perhaps Colin will support that theory, or maybe he'll light me up like a firecracker on New Year's Eve.  Either way, Derrek finished the year batting .291 with a .361 OBP.  He also displayed moments of power - 20 homeruns - and good slugging - 41 doubles.

3B Aramis Ramirez - A-Ram has completed his game this year.  While he is perhaps the streakiest player alive, Ramirez exited September with a batting average of .289, he hit 27 homers and 44 doubles, drove in 111 RBI, and most importantly, he drew 74 walks this season.  He's got an OBP of .380 on the year, and before '08, his best season ever in walk totals was 2006 when he drew 50.

LF Alfonso Soriano - The Fonz will never, ever bat cleanup for Lou Piniella.  But he should.  Soriano finished the year as the team's homerun champion with 29 - that's 2 more than what Aramis had in 101 fewer at bats.  He also drew 43 walks, which isn't bad for a cleanup hitter, but it's a little on the low side for a leadoff guy.

C Geovany Soto - Geo Soto has been a surprise offensive success.  He's got 23 homers, 86 RBI, and most impressively a .285 AVG and .364 OBP.  He's an excellent compliment to any leadoff hitter.

RF Mark DeRosa - DeRo could just as easily be the team's #2 hitter, and he may even be a better option than Lee.  The Cubs everyman hit more homeruns than Lee, drove in 3 less RBI, and walked 69 times this season.  He's batting .285 with an OBP of .376 and has 21 homers.

CF Jim Edmonds - Edmonds's numbers do not reflect his value this season.  At a glance, Jimmy Baseball finished the season with a .235 batting average and 20 homeruns.  With the Cubs, Edmonds actually batted .256 in 85 games and 250 at bats.  He hit 19 homeruns in Chicago, and he drew a ton of walks - his OBP is .369.  Not bad for a guy who I used to want to throw stuff at.

2B Mike Fontenot - Little Babe Ruth became Ron Santo's favorite this year.  And it's understandable as to why.  Fontenot ended the season with a batting average of .305 in 243 at bats.  He hit 9 homeruns, 22 doubles, drove in 40 runs, and walked 34 times, giving him an OBP of .395 on the season.  Not bad for a guy who some thought wasn't even worthy of a bench spot on the roster.

Problems with the ideal lineup: Mostly, they don't factor in splits at all.  I basically took the best Cub players and put them where I thought the'd do their best.  It's very easily debatable that some of these players could be moved up or down in the lineup, and as Rob has noted, the Marlins won a World Championship with Derrek Lee batting 6th.  However, on paper this lineup is ridiculously scary, because there are no known holes.  Every player can get on base, many players can make game-changing hits, and 1-8 the opposing pitcher will have to use his best stuff.

The Likely Lineup:

While I know that Lou Piniella reads this blog over coffee - actually I'm not sure if Lou knows how to turn a computer on, but that's neither here nor there - he's likely to ignore my words of wisdom and use the following players in the following ways:

LF Soriano - Don't mess with what works.  The Cubs won an awful lot of games by batting Soriano leadoff this year.  Consider him the Anti-Ramirez.  Aramis is the guy you want to be the final batter in a game.  A-Ram can make an impact.  Alfonso is the guy you want to be the first batter in a game.  He can grab momentum that quickly.

SS Theriot - There's nothing wrong with keeping your speed at the top.  Ryan Theriot has proven at least to me that he's deserving of being a starter, and if the Fonz flails and fails, Theriot is perhaps the next likely lead-off type player the Cubs have to get on base and set the table for the heart of the order.

1B Lee - Derrek may not be the best choice to bat third.  He may be best suited to bat 2nd, 4th, or 6th.  But, again, 97 wins.  Put it to you this way, my friends - the last thing you want to see is Lou Piniella micro-manage the team to death now that they're in the playoffs.  If he starts burning through 4 relievers in an inning, and if he starts fiddling with his lineup, then the Cubs are in trouble.

3B Ramirez - Moy clutch.

C Soto - In any lineup, he's the best #5 guy on the team.  And in some teams in baseball, he bats third.

RF DeRosa - Again, he could arguably bat second on this team.  At this point in the season, he's unlikely to.

CF Edmonds - See all above comments.

2B Fontenot - It's incredible that he's done such a job that he's stolen a starting spot in the post season lineup from a guy making 8 figures.  That's how good he's been.

Posit your disagreements and opinions in the comments section.  I'd love to know what you'd do differently. But regardless, as we sweat, worry, and wonder, it's an unusual feeling to know that 1-8, the Cubs have the most phenomenal offense in the post season.  I look forward to seeing what they can do against Lowe.

Open Sunday Topic: Post Season Rosters

So, you wake up, open your web browser - and obviously, GROTA is the website you've set to be your homepage - and, to your astonishment, rather than a dissertation on the performance of the team against the Cardinals last night, you find yet another open topic.

"What the heck are they doing," you ask yourself.  (You refrain from using the h-e-double-hockey-sticks word because it's the Lord's Day and that's just how you roll.)  "It's like they're not even trying this weekend!"

Well, the truth of the matter is that I'm away right now.  Yep, where I'm at is not a place where there are computers.  I'm rocking it old school this weekend.  I'm living it up Amish style.  I'm ... good lord, I'm really lame.  But I'm also not able to blog, as I am in the States visiting friends and family.  Hell, some of them may have even seen the ESPN piece, which means they've lavished me with free booze and beatings.  (I come from a weird town.)  In other words, I actually wrote this post on Thursday night and rather than see GROTA with no content, I thought it would be better to ...

::cue eerie soundtrack::

blooooog from the beyoooooond!

::organ crescendo::

So.  Yesterday, in theory you discussed and debated how to best handle the Cubs lineup for the remainder of the season.  Hopefully, you decided that Lou should continue to use his regulars, but on a somewhat more limited basis, and that he should continue to pitch his starters, but refrain from them tossing more than 90 pitches in a game.  Either that, or you had a huge blow-up argument.

Today, the question is this: who makes the playoff roster?  Do you carry Jason Marquis, or Bob Howry?  Or neither?  (Cripes, when Jon Miller asked me this question on his radio show, how come I didn't come up with "neither?"  I'm a dope!)  Or both?  Does Daryle Ward make the cut, or should Lou work his magic and bring Micah Hoffpauir to the Big Show?  And what about Fukudome?  Defensive replacement only, or the team's starter and 8th hitter - and 9th when Zambrano plays?  Who are your roster surprises?

Leave your comments below and pray for my sake that I'm not a hung over mess as you're reading this, especially since I'll probably be back on the road headed home to Toronto. Ed's Note: Or indeed, given Kurt's strangely prophetic choice of topic, let's hope that there are a few people still able to read this despite The Great (hangover) Fog of (National League Central Champions) 2008.

Open Saturday Topic: From today until ... well, the 28th of September

Continuing a brilliant idea I had last weekend, rather than slave over the blog on a day in which I should be sleeping in, I thought I'd open a topic of discussion to y'all.  (Yes, I said "y'all."  I know what you're thinking, but my poll numbers tell me that people think it's folksy and it makes me seem less elitist.)

The Cubs are playoff bound, and, barring a catostrophic disaster, they will have homefield advantage throughout the NL portion of the post season.  Therefore, everything they do from this point forward is basically window dressing.

With that in mind, I'd like to open this question to the GROTA Army: if you're Lou Piniella, how do you handle your regulars from here on out?  Do you bench them entirely, or do you start them daily to keep them loose?  Do you turn to a starting rotation consisting of fresh-faced youngsters who are still a few years removed from the ability to grow a luxurious beard, or do you keep your pitching staff intact albiet perhaps with a few restrictions?

Post your thoughts in the comments.  Or, hell, write up a Reader Blog.  Either way, enjoy your Saturday, my friends.

GROTA Game Cast: Do or Don't?

Something other websites often do for games is a running gamecast.  We've never done that at GROTA, although Jason took a stab at one a week or two ago.  I'm still not 100% sure we're ready for that, but I thought I'd put it out to the Goat Readers as a vote: should we create a Game Cast thread and follow the games on this site?

My own personal feeling is that it might be a lot of fun, but one of the changes we are still working on - as far as I know, anyway - is the comments features on this blog.  Maybe it's something we'll do once we've got a finalized comments tool.

Regardless, the game starts soon.  Ike has left is humid, rainy trail across the bread basket and into Canada.  The Cubs - heh! - host the Astros as the road team in Milwaukee.  It should be an interesting game.

My ESPN Experience

By now many of you have probably seen the ESPN story. On my part, it all happened rather innocuously - several months ago, Wayne Drehs EMailed the blog informing us that he was writing a piece about Cub fans and was looking for some unique stories about our passion for the team we follow. I directed him immediately to one of our own, Rob Letterly, and also to another fan who's actually old enough to remember the last time the Cubs reached the World Series. And for kicks, I sent him my own story as well. (You'll be reading it tomorrow.)

Surprisingly, Wayne appreciated my tale of Cubdom. This was especially unexpected because he ultimately said "thanks but no thanks" to Rob and Stew, and at one point it seemed as though he was mostly interested in famous Cub fans rather than us working types whose combined life-time incomes would struggle to buy Billy Corgan's house. (More on that later.)

The Agony of ... Agony

After telling me that I was on his short list, I spent an agonizing handful of weeks sweating over whether or not a more prominent Cub fan would bump me. I'd later describe it to Wayne as a Cubbie-Fan Mentality of oops, almost. As in, Wayne would call me up one day and say, "Well Kurt, we were going to schedule a time to come and interview you but, oops, Charlize Theron has been calling me day and night to be a part of the story and how could I say no? Cheer up, though. We almost went with you!"

Finally, the date was set. Wayne, his producer, and a camera crew would fly - and drive - into Toronto, visit me at the house, and sit me in front of a camera for a few hours to pick my brains about the Cubs.

The Interview

When he arrived, I think that Wayne - and his crew - were surprised by a few things. First and foremost, I am an immigrant of Canada engaged to a teacher, both of us seeking regular work, and so we essentially rent out my fiancee's parents' basement at a pittance rather than spend more than a thousand dollars monthly to live in a Toronto apartment. (Although we will be buying a house after we get married next June.) Consequently, I live in a house and a neighborhood vastly superior to what you'd expect from a 20-something blogger, and I'm pretty sure the backdrop was not what they had in mind. Apparently, they didn't think it would be very authentic if my backdrop was valuable Royal Daulton plate-ware stored in a gorgeous antique oak cabinet. In his article, Wayne dorked me out in the first paragraph, explaining that I blog from the basement of my future in-law's house. Ouch. Shame. I only wish they'd permitted me to be photographed with my Dungeon Master's handbook as I had originally requested.

After spending about an hour negotiating the space, Wayne and his crew sat me down in front of a camera and a bunch of hot lights and began asking me questions. Lots of questions. Fortunately or unfortunately, I'd had an idea about what was to come for a few weeks, and so I'd been rehearsing my answers. This would lead to both positive and negative results.

I think the highlights of the interview were vastly beyond anything that you'll see in a one-minute clip or read in a 500 word piece. I'm not saying that Senator Obama comes to me for speech-making advice, but I'm comfortable with speaking.

However, to be fair, there were a couple of lowlights too. For example, while I was explaining the origins of the blog name, I elaborated deeply on the well-known story of the billygoat, but I kind-of/sort-of totally forgot to explain the Apocalypse part. Whoops.

Second, the house's air conditioning made too much noise for the microphone, and so we had to shut it off. After a couple of hours, I was a glistening, sweating ball of sweaty sweat. It was apparently at around that time that I dropped the line of the day, "it's not that it's gonna happen, it's that it's gotta happen," and so the footage used shows a soaking wet me smiling exhaustedly at the camera.

After the main part of the interview wrapped up, the ESPN crew put up a green screen and asked me to recite the part that everybody recited. "The first question people ask ..."

Me, I take being a Cub fan very seriously. I thought that they'd want it read in the same manner. Turns out I was very, very wrong. They wanted exuberant. Energetic. Excited. Maybe a touch of crazed. I did my best, and you can see the snippets of the results on ESPN's site.

After the interview ended, my brain fell into an exhausted haze unlike anything I've ever experienced. I was not tired physically, but I was mentally worn down. It is my first real taste of what it must be like to be a radio personality in a gig where you talk non-stop for 4 hours a day. I couldn't concentrate. Two days later, it would continue.

The Photoshoot

That Thursday, Wayne's photographer Ross Dettman drove in for the still photos. He was supposed to stay for an hour at the most, he wound up with us for close to five, not that he took that many photos. It just turned out that he was a cool guy, and we spoke a lot between shots.

It didn't take long for Ross to make clear to me that, as with the recital from two days before, he wanted me to emote exuberance. Or, more accurately, he'd visited the blog and saw GROTA as being a silly place. He told me that he had felt a few brief moments of panic and concern before we met face-to-face, as I was all business on the phone and called him "sir" on a handful of occasions. However, once we started chatting he was quickly exposed to my naturally smart-assed sense of humor. He wanted that in the photos, pictures of me being expressive and amused, and so I called C. into the room, sat her on a couch, and teased her for 20 minutes while Ross snapped my picture. I haven't seen too many of them yet, but I suspect that he probably took some great pictures. I can confirm that some of them include me giving out a double tall man while screaming "eff you, Cubs!", and he also snapped a shot of me sticking my finger up my nose. Ross claims that he will use those pictures against me should I ever run for public office, but I assured him that they would actually help me get in touch emotionally with the common human who often sticks his finger up his nose when he's not preoccupied with flipping people off.

More Waiting and Ridiculous Worrying

After Ross left town, I spent a good two weeks waiting to find out when the pieces would be released. Wayne had thought they'd come out around now, and that the TV segment would air on Sunday, but he wasn't entirely certain. Worse, I continued to struggle with that Cubbie Fan Mentality, and I started to think that the interview I gave sucked, that Wayne would be disappointed with it, and that, at the last second, he'd find some other twenty-something Cub fan and interview him. Luckily, it turns out that I'm merely paranoid and suffer from a problem with self confidence.

When we found out that the article would be released today, I began to doggedly beg Kevin - our web designer extraordinary - to move up the time table on the blog's redesign. We'd originally intended to launch the New Look GROTA on October 1, but it occurred to us that we might get a lot of new readers through the ESPN article, and first impressions are hugely important. Despite going through moments in which he probably saw red, Kevin came through with flying colors. The blog looks great.

At this point, I'm still awed by the article. I mean, I'm really just a schmuck with a story, but mine is not special. Every Cub fan could tell the same tale as me, and many probably could do it more eloquently... and without rhyming unintentionally. Of course, I have to thank Wayne for contacting us, and Ross, for being incredibly cool and reminding me of my brother (also a photographer with a lot to say).

The Other Subjects

I think the coolest behind-the-scenes aspect of the interview was actually in Wayne and Ross's description of the other guys they spoke with. You can read all about them in the article. I'd thought previously that Wayne was bouncing from celebrity Cub fan to celebrity Cub fan, but I was wrong. Sure, he went with a few guys who were very well known, like Billy Corgan and David Diaz, but they actually have stories that make them unique and worth hearing about.

From the perspectives of Wayne and Ross - at least, how they conveyed it to me - perhaps the two most interesting interviews were Jordan Gaffman and Ronny Woo. Gaffman, a physicist who could have been as boring as a Steve Traschel complete game, apparently turned out to have a wealth of stories and some really cool facts about the brains of Cub fans. He also apparently gave a hell of a rendition of the "Go Cubs!" speech that I surely must not have come close to matching.

Ronny Woo is also a fascinating story. Actually, I would love to interview him myself. A lot of Cub fans hate the guy, and it's a sentiment apparently shared by the organization. People see him as being an attention seeking, annoying, creepy old man. You wouldn't have to travel far on the blogsphere to find a few people with prominent voices remarking their disdain for him.

But, you know what? He's a person. I think it's ridiculous to hate anybody, and I can't understand how anybody could feel contempt for someone who is essentially a stranger who has experienced unbelievable tragedy. Ronny Woo has been homeless, he's come home to find his girlfriend dead, he's been ridiculed, and he's been mistreated, and yet some arrogant jackasses out there have room to feel full-blown hatred for the guy.

My message to those people: get over yourselves.

Maybe he's annoying, maybe he's an attention seeker, maybe he's dangerous - although I don't know of any serious crime that he's committed, or maybe he's helpless and harmless. Either way, "annoying" and "attention seeking" could easily describe anybody who blogs, so let's not get too full of ourselves, okay? In my experience, nobody is as great or as bad as they appear to be, and Ronnie Woo-Woo Wickers is a guy who breathes Cubs baseball, who wears it 365 days a year, and who has experienced enough tragedy to deserve the break from his worries that baseball gives him. Anyway. I digress.

Billy Corgan, by the way, apparently swore like a sailor during his interview. He also commands great camera presence. Ross apparently wanted to get a shot of him talking and acting naturally, but Corgan exerted his rock star presence any time the shutter went off and would completely shift focus from Conversation to Christ Pose without hesitation.

Richard Savage, the oldest member of our group, was apparently feisty. He validates my theory that you can't live to be 100 unless you've got some feist, and a lifetime of following the constantly-disappointing Cubs can apparently serve as a feist injection.

Helen Kieling is my hero. She's deaf, she's blind, and she's a Cub fan. Somehow I suspect that when they get that final, World Championship Clinching out this year, she may not be the first to know, but she'll find out quick and she'll be the happiest.

All you need to know about David Diaz can be seen in his picture, taken while watching a Cubs game with friends. I've got to admit that he seems to get more enthusiastic during games than I do. Maybe he should write this blog. I bet his posts would be fused with emotion.

The Future

With only a few weeks remaining on this season, and with perhaps no more than a little over a month before baseball ends for the year, a lot of things could happen. The Cubs very well could make this their year.

In Wayne's article, he's quoted me saying something like "if the Cubs win, GROTA becomes irrelevant." I said it, but I wouldn't characterize it as being accurate of how I really feel.

GROTA is and should always be a place for Cub fans to gather and talk about their love and faith in the Cubs. And, sure, when times are tough, we'll hate on them. We'd be dishonest if we didn't. But the point is, maybe you have to be a little silly - if not a little crazy - to be Cub fans. I'd hardly characterize any of Wayne's 11 subjects as being "normal," and I think that's accurate of us all. GROTA is the epitome of what it means to be an average Cub fan. We're passionate, we're dedicated, we're maybe just a touch of crazy.

The Cubs could win this year, and they could win for the next ten years, but GROTA will always be here to talk about them. And as long as Cub fans remain silly, crazy, and most importantly passionate, GROTA will be relevant.

Today, you read Wayne's story, even if the subjects were 11 people other than him. Tomorrow, you'll read mine. After that, I will want to read yours. We all have tales to tell, and while many of them are common and shared, they are all unique at their core and worth expressing. I hope you'll express yours here. I look forward to seeing them all.

15 Minutes, or at least 5, on ESPN

You guys might be interested in reading this article, written about yours truly, on ESPN as told by Wayne Drehs. Go read it and enjoy.

A Cubs fan's guide to using the new GROTA

Hello friends.  I hope you're enjoying the new GROTA site as much as we've enjoyed bickering, arguing, and debating its creation.

I just want to make sure you're aware of 2 very basic, very fun features on the site.  First, the skins:

  • If you log in to GROTA, you will see an account section in the left hand column.
  • Click on "My account."
  • Click next on "Edit."
  • Scroll on down.   You will see 2 options for blog skins - "ivy" or "grotty."  Ivy is default for everybody.  If you miss the old GROTA color scheme, choose grotty, save your choice, and you'll be good to go!

Secondly, let's talk about the Reader Blogs!

  • If you log in, you should see the option to "create content."
  • Once you click on that, you may need to click on "Blog entry."
  • Once you click on that, you can blog.
  • If you don't see the option to "create content," then it means we have to give you approval to do so.  We're setting it up in a way that regular users of GROTA won't have a wait before they can blog, but if you are already a regular Goat Reader but find yourself without blogging access, drop us a line or just sign into your account and we'll get to you in short order.

There are going to be some other fun options to come.  We're working on changing the Shout Box a little.  Our web master is hoity toity and thinks that it's very 90's, but we can already see that it's going to be popular.

We hope you enjoy it and we're looking forward to providing you with a ton of great content in the coming weeks.  And, seriously, major, major thanks needs to go to our web master Kevin, who has done tremendous work making this blog look good.  Kev, take a bow, you deserve it.

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