A Half Century Lost By The Cubs?

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By Dave Coulter

Rough Edges

There are rare moments when I feel like writing about politics, but I'm disappointed in the recent news from Wisconsin. So much for that, I say. What else can I wax on about? What with the recent tear the White Sox have been on I have been paying more than my usual attention to baseball.

Baseball!  E and I have been watching a lot of little league games this spring, which makes me recall what baseball meant to me as a kid. I'm not gonna go all Ken Burns-y on you, but I remember when I was about 5 or so the White Sox were my team. I vaguely recall that they were really pretty good in 1964.

Well, if you live around here your mind will eventually, sadly, turn towards the Cubs. As a child I saw them on baseball cards, but the Cubs did not have good teams in those years. Even at that tender age I sensed the chronic futility emanating from the North Side, eliminating the reason to pay further attention. In 1962, for example, the Cubs finished the season with over 100 losses, with a .364 winning percentage. The only team in the National League that was worse that year were the New York Mets. By 1969 the Mets would become world champs, and the Cubbies have been sputtering ever since.

The other day on the radio they were poking again at the 2012 Cubs, currently on track to do even worse than the 1962 squad if you can imagine that. I know they are rebuilding: new owners, a whiz kid imported from Boston to change the Cubbie culture, et cetera. That said, 2012 could become infamous as the Golden Anniversary of their worst season ever.

These are times of pathos, even by Cub standards. They trot out Kerry Wood as an old school hero, Alfonso Soriano is their biggest star. Really, it makes me wonder just what the last fifty years were all about. Neither one of my parents - now deceased - saw the Cubs win a World Series. I wonder if I will suffer the same fate?

Baseball is a funny, difficult game. The roster of players for the '62 Cubs included Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Lou Brock. Some big stars, there. They should have gotten to the top. Brock would soon be traded to St. Louis where he would become one of the greatest players ever. The remaining three would compete on good Cubs teams in the late 60's and early 70's, but never claim a pennant.

So 2012 is setting up to be quite the baseball year in Chicago. The White Sox are currently hanging on in first place. It appears that parting company with Ozzie Guillen was a very good thing. For now, the Cubs are heading the other direction. Nowhere to go but up. 

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