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Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Time Event
3:21p
(sigh) ... what to say?
I was surprised at how much sadness reading this collection brought up ... especially at the end, of course. This was one of those books that somebody figured would be a good xmas/bday gift for me ... heck, it could have been my Mom ... as I rarely, if ever, buy "sports" books on my own, and (needless to say) it's been sitting around for a few years. Out of the Blue: The Remarkable Story of the 2003 Chicago Cubs is one of those "instant" books churned out by the Chicago Tribune, relying on a vast library of photos, and a platoon of writers close to the team. Frankly, because of their day-to-day familiarity with the subject, these type of books are pretty decent chronicles of the events, but they're hardly "high art". However, paging through this was quite the trip down memory lane for this life-long Cubs fan.

For those of you not afflicted with the chronic disease of "Cubs Fever", the team won their division in 2003 after a grueling 3-way battle between themselves, St. Louis, and Houston, with the winner not really decided until the last game of the season. They had impressive pitching (Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Clement, etc.) and Sammy Sosa providing offensive pop (yes, that was the "corked bat" controversy season). The post-season first drew a see-saw battle with Atlanta, which the Cubs won 3-2, advancing to the National League Championship Series against Florida, where the Cubs went up 3-1, giving them three games to notch one win to make it to the World Series for the first time since the jet engine existed.

Three games to win one. Heck, in game #6, they were up 3-0 in the 8th, with 1 out ... when a lazy fly ball headed to left field and was drifting out of bounds. Moises Alou is following it, glove ready, nearing the wall, a split-second from making it 2 outs in the inning when ... when ... when "IT" happened. The since-notorious Steve Bartman reached out, right over Alou's glove, and tried to grab a souvenir. Because the play was over the wall and not over the field, the Umps ruled it wasn't fan interference (although in the pictures, his hand was nearly in Alou's glove), so it was simply a foul ball, rather than being 1 out away from being out of the inning. This, obviously, totally shook up the Cubs (Alou was livid), and "the wheels came off the cart", Florida scoring eight runs and taking the game, and the next, coming back from being down 1-3 on the road.

I had a very busy schedule that week, and had bought a small palm-sized radio to listen to the games while I was out and about. I can still well recall the horrible feeling in my gut as those last three games ticked down. It was a nightmare. Much of this washed back over me reading Out of the Blue. So, unless you're a real masochistic Cubs fan (or a Sox fan looking to re-live one of your favorite moments), I have a hard time recommending this, despite it being a very good capsule of that season.

Next season is the 100th anniversary of the last time the Cubs won the World Series. A century of anguish like this.

Anyway, this does still seem to be in print (I guess there are enough White Sox and Cardinals fans out there to keep it moving), but you can get a "good" copy (what, did they change the ending?) for under a buck (before shipping, of course) from the Amazon new/used vendors. (sigh)


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