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Let the Games Begin

Two Chicago teams. Eight baseball fanatics. Dozens of neuroses among them. As long as the Cubs are still playing, Chicago’s editors and contributors, a group with more baggage than the United Terminal at O’Hare, will reveal their prejudices and vent their frustrations after each game. Here’s the roster of pundits…

Two Chicago teams. Eight baseball fanatics. Dozens of neuroses among them. As long as the Cubs are still playing, Chicago’s editors and contributors, a group with more baggage than the United Terminal at O’Hare, will reveal their prejudices and vent their frustrations after each game. Here’s the roster of pundits:

tritsch
THE BLEACHERITE
Growing up in Cincinnati in the Big Red Machine era, Shane Tritsch thought it was wonderful—but hardly unusual—to see his team win the World Series. Then he moved to Chicago, became a Cubs fan, and learned otherwise. Now he hedges his emotional risk by rooting for the Cubs and his boyhood team, and by embracing the worldview of those beer-moistened party people in the Bud Light Bleachers. If the Cubs win, he’s thrilled; if they lose, well, he’s pretty damn happy anyway—as long as the weather is nice and the postgame line at Bernie’s isn’t too long.
ruby
THE CUBS HATER
Jeff Ruby grew up on the Sox, but lives on the North Side, bravely, in the heart of Cubbie territory. He spits on the Cubs pennant down his block every time he walks past. No one in the neighborhood likes him—not even his Sox-hating wife.
ylisela
THE DELUSIONIST
James Ylisela Jr. celebrates every spring by confidently predicting that the Cubs will win it all. In the final game against Florida in the 2003 playoffs, Jim assured his friends that everything was going to work out fine. Several of those people are still not speaking to him. Jim says that’s OK, too, because the 2008 Cubs will sweep through the playoffs and World Series without losing a single game.
eig
THE ELITIST
A Yankee fan throughout childhood, native New Yorker Jonathan Eig has been conditioned to expect success—even when rooting for the Cubs. How does he explain the Cubs’ dismal results these past dozen years in which he has been a season-ticket holder at Wrigley Field? A mere hiccup. Triumph is right around the corner.
babcock
THE FATALIST
Richard Babcock, a genetically programmed Cubs fan, has never studied physics, but his Unified Failure Theory—which posits that the nanosecond he thinks the Cubs will win, they will fail—has been verified by history, if not science. As a result, he assumes the worst.
kang
THE GIRL
Esther Kang would choose to watch a Cubs game with a beer in hand over just about any other activity in Chicago—summer, fall, winter, or spring. What makes her different from the guys is a constant, irrational pendulum of emotions: She swings wildly between pangs of maternal compassion for the helpless (Steve Bartman)—and wishes of violent mishaps upon tangential scapegoats (Kyle Farnsworth circa 2003). She also covers her eyes and hides during crucial moments of a game. Pathetic.
smith
THE UMP
A reformed Orioles fan who moved to Chicago a dozen years ago, Bryan Smith has skulked the fringes of Chicago baseball fandom, a man without a country. Puzzled by the deep hatred shared by Cubs and Sox lovers, he committed the ultimate sin: He grew to like both teams. Now, he walks alone, consoled only by his clear-eyed objectivity while watching either play, a silent arbiter on blown calls and not-really raw deals. Silent . . . until now.
johnson
THE TIME TRAVELER
For longtime White Sox fan Geoff Johnson, nothing would be more perfect than another World Series at the Cell. Except maybe Carlton Fisk would be back behind the plate, and Billy Pierce on the mound. Or better yet, Big Ed Walsh, with Shoeless Joe Jackson patrolling the outfield. Shoeless. And maybe Bill Veeck would again be the team owner, and the games would be played at old Comiskey Park, and after the Sox won the World Series, eliminating the Cubs in a dramatic game seven, everyone would head across the street for a celebratory round at McCuddy’s.

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