Ahead of the Curve
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It's not all together unpleasant being a Chicago Cub fan.  There are some perks.

There are those great teams of the 1880s (Cap Anson / King Kelly) and the Tinker Evers Chance dynasty (1906-10), arguably the best ball club ever.

There are legendary pitchers (Clarkson Brown Jenkins), hitters (Banks Williams Santo) and fielders (Steinfeldt Schulte Hartnett Sandberg).

There's Wrigley Field, home first to the Federal League Whales in 1914.  Along with Boston's Fenway, it reminds fans why baseball is still America's national pastime.

The Cubs have a classic logo and pinstripe uniform.  The new owners, however, might just dump tradition and employ that weakest of sport marketing theories: new uniforms, with an angry (bear cub) logo, will inspire winning ways (and sell more merchandise).

There are Bruin records.  Losing to the "hitless wonders" White Sox in the 1906 Series, that Cub team still set records for victories (116), winning % (.763) and team ERA (1.75).

Ed Reulbach, the fireballer on that staff, would hurl two complete game shutouts of a September twin-bill versus the Brooklyn Superbas in the heat of the 1908 pennant race.

The mark for consecutive games with an RBI (17) was set by Cub Ray Grimes in 1922.

And then there's Hack Wilson and his remarkable season of 1930 when he clouted a mind-boggling 191 runs batted in.  Since then, few have even come close (Gehrig).

In the Depression baseball of 1930 there were no batting helmets, no body armor and no cortisone shots in a 154-game race.  Staying clean meant taking a shower and no wagers.

In recent times Josh Hamilton, Raul Ibanez and Albert Pujols have all made surprisingly serious first-half runs at Hack's RBI record but have faded for one reason or another.

Other revered records have fallen during the steroid era: single season (Maris) and lifetime home run (Aaron); single-season hit (Sisler); lifetime stolen base and runs scored (Cobb).

But it looks like Wilson's record will survive at least this one more season.  One more season when no player had his blood tested for the performance enhancing drug HGH.

As for the Cubs 100 year title drought: no big deal.  A team champion is crowned every year, fans buy commemorative junk and memories are soon buried under a daily diet of sport news (and ESPN rumors) we feed ourselves.  Spring arrives and the cycle starts anew.

Most are intrigued by Babe Ruth, not the Yankees; Brett Favre, not the Packers.  Rarely is the Big Red Machine (a best ever) even mentioned unless hit king Pete Rose is the subject.

Steven Keys

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