Oct. 15, 2003
"That fan"
Chicago's famous Billy Goat Curse is nothing: Try actually BEING the goat (and getting cursed at).
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

He will forever be known as "That Fan," short for "That Fan Who [Nearly/Totally (TBD)] Cost The Cubs The World Series".

That Fan is an obvious (and worthy) scapegoat, but let's spread the responsibility around: Dusty, Gonzalez, the radio announcers, Prior, Farnsworth, Derrek Lee, the headset manufacturer, Pudge, Beckett, the masses on Waveland, Dick Jauron, Ernie Banks, Andre Dawson, the fans sitting around That Fan, Paris Hilton, Bernie Mac, Harry Carey's ghost, the media.

Whether the city has a complete meltdown depends on how Game 7 plays out tonight (understanding that Kerry Wood is as hot as they come right now, but on the flip side, so was Prior):

If the Cubs win:
All is forgiven ...

If they lose:
Yikes ....

Gonzalez: New Buckner?
Lost under the "That Fan" pile-on is Alex Gonzalez's Bobble -- this generation's Leon Durham moment, improbably from a shortstop who led the NL in fielding percentage.

What irony in his trendy name-shortening: "A-Gon." Because his error? Pure "AGony."

Rally-kindling instead of rally-killing: The Bobble doesn't quite rise to the mythic level of Buckner-esque proportions, but That Fan was merely guilty of amateurish behavior; what's the pro's excuse?

ALCS: Almost Over
With success built on the contradiction of SABR and sentimentality, the Red Sox believe they can win when Tim Wakefield pitches. (Problem is, the Yankees feel the same way about Game 6 starter Andy Pettitte.)

Makes perfect sense, then, to start the unreliable John Burkett. If Wakefield and his indefatigable arm feel up to it, Boston has to get him in the game (here's a hint: before Burkett blows it).

1 Cub fan participation leaves foul aftertaste in Chicago
2 Remind the Red Sox: Cowboys are an endangered group
3 Only thing between Cubs and more Cursed living is Kerry
1 Mike Mussina can't win big one: Doesn't seem to matter
2 Big East lawsuits: While courting poaches of their own
3 Boston bullpen brouhaha: Possible charge? "Sore losers"
Kobe Watch
Check out this quote last night from Shaq about healing his heel: "I want to be right for Derek, Karl and Gary." That's what's known as a glaring omission. Hmm: Kobe can't be a distraction to the team if he's ignored completely.

Meanwhile: Kobe's D may or may not take another attempt at last week's now-infamous "three-point play" as his preliminary hearing resumes today. Considering the backlash, the D would be wise to get this process over with as fast as possible.

Coaches Who Care?
Any college hoops coach who doesn't attend the mandatory all-hands "emergency" meeting in Chicago today on the epidemic of ethical lapses will -- gasp! -- lose their Final Four tickets. First item on the agenda: "Toothless Penalties."

Other agenda items:
* Will That Be Cash? Tax implications of your sneaker-company payoff.
* Natty Light No-No: Partying at the frats ...with class.
* Text This! Understanding new technologies in illegal recruiting.

"New BCS" Ideas
The producers of "BCS!" will be also be in Chicago today, hard at work ton "BCS II: Electric Bugaloo." Debunking the various suggestions:

Playoff: Like "Voldemort"; don't even say it.

Title game after bowls: So last year Ohio State re-plays Miami?

Include more schools: Sure, when the check clears.

Let fans decide: Aha, there's the best plan.

Anna K's Retirement
Who actually has aspirations of being a professional awards presenter? "And the award for 'Widest Ratio Between Monumental Hype and Actual Athletic Success' goes to ..."

Dusty Baker:
Praised for being such an insightful manager of player personalities, where was he following the That Fan incident to settle his team down?
Today on ESPN.com
P2: Ferris Bueller at Cubs game?
CFB: Power 16
NBA: Training Camp
Ranking Cubs heartbreak*
(-- if lose Game 7)
New depths of despair
Regular season meltdown
Curse that Durham!
Weren't winning anyway
Lights go on at Wrigley

A Chicago Trib quote from a Chicagoan about That Fan: "You could tell we're better than Boston or he'd be dead already" ...

That Fan offers up a great lesson: Leave the headset at home; enjoy the ballpark atmosphere ...

Seriously, blame the radio guys for not yelling out "Don't touch that ball!!" ...

In the end, you'd like to think That Fan feels worse than anyone, but he reportedly wanted to wait for the stadium to empty before leaving. Ever hear of mob justice, dude? ...

How about this Obi Wan Kenobi notion: If the Cubs lose now, their mystique will grow more powerful than ever ...

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