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Would You Ask Genie For Cubs Title?

You’re walking along the North Avenue beach after a heavy storm trying to avoid the assorted beer cans and food detritus that has washed up when a blinding reflection causes you to avert your eyes. When you adjust you notice that the glimmer is coming from something oddly shaped, larger than the other crap and faintly gold. As you draw nearer you don’t believe your eyes. It’s a genie’s lamp, like a straight out of “Aladdin” or “I Dream Of Genie” lamp.

“No way,” you say and pick it up.

You look around … nobody. There’s no way you think and look around again.

“What the hell,” you say and give the lamp a rub. Nothing.

You laugh at yourself and start to wonder if you could give this to your grandma as a lame but free Christmas present when KAPOW! The top flies off the lamp and a giant glowing, but translucent genie pops out.

“Ppppploooooooeeeey,” he barks, spitting out water. “Yuck, yuck, yuck. That water had more fecal matter than a Chili Fest porta potty. People swim in that?”

“Uh, yeah, sometimes, when they don’t tell us not to,” you say.

“Disgusting,” he says. “All right, what do you want?”

“Want?” you say.

“Did you grow up in a cave?” he says. “Genies? Wishes? Sound familiar?”

“That’s real?” you say.

“Don’t I look real?” he says. “Pinch yourself. No, harder. A little harder. Really hard.”

“Ouch,” you yell.

“You appear to be slower than L.A. traffic passing a ‘Free Botox’ billboard,” he says. “What’ll it be? Fast car, hot wife, million dollars?”

“No need to be rude,” you say. “OK, give me a second.”

You wonder why you haven’t considered this question before. If you could have just three things … You smartly realize right away not to get into any more banter with the genie because that’s how they trick you into wishing for a cup of coffee while you think. Next thing you know you’re wearing a sombrero and have all the pineapples you’ll ever need, but you’re out of wishes.

So you consider … being rich? That’s got to be top of the list. Oh yeah, and world peace might be nice. But what is rich anyway? Should you put a number on it? What if he makes you the richest man in a village in Uganda? And world peace seems great but what if it comes at the cost of some kind of 1984 totalitarian society? Maybe that’s too complicated.

You’re getting confused. Suddenly the fast car, hot wife and million dollars is looking pretty good. You rack your brain. What is something that you’ve wanted your whole life? And then it hits you — the Cubs winning the World Series!

Ha! That’s it! You’re about to spit out that you want a billion U.S. dollars, the hot wife and the Cubs winning the World Series when something else needles you.

Would it be as fun if a genie made the Cubs win the title? Wouldn’t it be better if they did it on their own? Isn’t that kind of like cheating? But it would feel really really great. Oh man, now you’re really messed up. You start to rub your temples.

“I wish this was easier,” you whisper, and then looking up yell “No!”

“Done,” he shouts.

And the genie gives you a 1974 Oldsmobile, a $50 gift card to Outback and a date with your cousin’s transvestite friend.

So what would you do?

If you were granted three wishes by a genie, would one of them be a Cubs title?

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You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Cubs End Of Season Awards

Awards for a last-place team? Is this like the All-Star team where every team has to be represented no matter how crappy they are? No way Jose Cardenal. These Cubs showed enough this year to warrant some real end of season awards — both conventional and not so conventional.

MVP: Let’s start out with an easy one. Anthony Rizzo wins this award going away. Unlike the steroid era, only 11 major leaguers hit 30 or more home runs this year, and he was one of them with a career high 32. If the Cubs weren’t 30th in the league in on-base percentage, he would have knocked in more than 78, but he was seventh in all of baseball with a .913 OPS. He’ll get some league MVP votes this year.

Cy Young: Another easy one. On a cellar dweller Jake Arrieta was 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA and .989 WHIP. His secondary numbers support that he had a campaign worthy of the ace moniker he was given. If the Cubs do go out and get another frontline starter — as we’ve been led to believe — the Cubs will have a formidable 1A and 1B at the front of the rotation.

Fireman: In picking up his 29th save of the season, Hector Rondon was still throwing 98 mph in the last game of the season. He is the stopper on a relief group that features a number of power arms. He struck out a batter per inning and at only 26 years old, the Cubs could have a reliable closer for years to come. That’s a key component of any playoff team.

Most Improved: We could go with Rizzo or Starlin Castro for their very impressive bounce-back years. I don’t think anyone is shocked by their resurgence, however. I’m going to go with Chris Coghlan here. The former Rookie of the Year went from one of a bunch of outfielders trying to prove they even belonged in the big leagues to playing his way into the conversation to be a starter on a potential playoff team. His .283/.352/.804 line provided a solid presence at the top of the order on a team that struggles to get on base.

Rookie of the Year: When Javier Baez homered in his first at-bat, he looked like he was well on his way to winning this Cubs award. Though he did flash incredible power, he struggled to make consistent contact. Then Jorge Soler burst onto the scene and went on to hit .292 with five homers and 20 RBIs in only 89 at-bats. Meanwhile, right-hander Kyle Hendricks didn’t provide the same fireworks as some of the more heralded rookies, but he went out and gave the Cubs quality start after quality start. He finished the year 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA. His FIP of 3.32 shows that he didn’t do it with smoke and mirrors. Hendricks earned this award for his excellence over a longer stretch than Soler.

Least Valuable Player: The big debate in the NL is whether Clayton Kershaw, a pitcher, should win the MVP. I don’t think it should happen often, but if ever there was a year he should get it, this is the one. Same issue with the Cubs. Edwin Jackson was far and away the worst player on the Cubs, earning the right to be called LVP. Going 6-15 with a 6.33 ERA are credentials that any LVP hopeful dreams about. To his credit, Jackson’s FIP was 4.45, so he did have some bad luck. But don’t they say we make our own luck? I’m going with that. Honorable mention goes to Junior Lake (110 Ks, 14 BBs).

Executive of the Year: Tom Ricketts. I can’t believe I’m going to give props to a Cubs owner. I’m conditioned to hate them, and I still have trust issues with this guy. But he has taken the heat of losing with class and has stayed the course of player development. He also decided to go ahead with Wrigley renovations despite the threat of lawsuits, and his family is footing much of the bill. I don’t know how many Cubs ownership groups would have watched attendance go down year after year but kept their eye on the big prize. Oh yeah, I do know how many. None. So good for you Ricketts.

Here’s some random awards that I just made up:

Most Improved Leader: Castro. He might have his mental gaffes, but he stepped into a leadership void on a very young team.

Best Smile: Soler. That’s an easy one.

Most Disappointing Season: Travis Wood. From All-Star to also-ran. He’s got a lot riding on next year.

Best Sign of Future that He’s Gone: Nate Schierholtz. He tried hard, but he was the poster boy of placeholders for the real Cubs of the future. When he left, the future started to be now.

Player baseballs like least: Mike Olt led this category for a while. When he connected the ball jumped off his bat and went far. His ball just didn’t meet the bat enough. Then Baez came along. He’s got the same problem as Olt, though. I’m going with Soler here because he more consistently punished the ball. The line-drive homer he hit in St. Louis was the hardest hit ball by a Cub all year in my opinion. Good news with this category is that the Cubs have tons of candidates, with Kris Bryant about to join them next year.

All in all, this was a positive Cubs season. Theo Epstein’s plan is starting to come together. The Cubs played .500 ball since the end of July. They gave some valuable prospects a taste of the major leagues. Core players like Rizzo and Castro played like core players again. And there are more prospects coming and money to be spent.

It’s good to be a Cubs fan right now. Give yourself a hand because the award for Best Fans goes to you.

You can reach us at Patrick@CubsFanTherapy.com.

Cubs Already A .500 Team

Forecasting the Cubs’ future has become a fun pastime as the season winds down. A popular prognostication that I have heard is that the Cubs will be a .500 team next year, a playoff team in 2016 and a World Series contender in ’17.

Standings

That’s a reasonable view; however, I’ve been saying that I think the Cubs can make the playoffs next season and challenge for a World Series in ’16. One big reason I feel confident in thinking this is that we can check one milestone off the list. The Cubs have been playing .500 baseball for the past two months.

As you can see in the chart, they are exactly on the mark. Considering they won three of four games to end July, and the Cubs are guaranteed to be right around .500 no matter what happens in Milwaukee this final weekend of the season.

The Cubs have hovered around .500 despite losing Anthony Rizzo to injury for a while and having Starlin Castro’s season cut short due to an ankle injury. They’ve also been giving Jorge Soler plenty of rest so as not to strain his hamstrings.

So if this team that has relied on Chris Valaika, Luis Valbuena, Mike Olt, Ryan Kalish and Matt Szczur to fill holes in the lineup while also auditioning starters Felix Doubront, Dan Straily and Jacob Turner can win as many games as it loses, couldn’t a little more solid team make the playoffs?

I vote yes. Sign a frontline starter and maybe a No. 2/3, call up Kris Bryant and put a healthy Castro at short, and you’re going to win more games — perhaps a lot more.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Wrigleyville Ch. 10 — Billy Pursuing Pursuers?

Wrigleyville

Serial cop drama. Check back for a new chapter every week — or maybe sooner.

Here’s Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4., Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7 , Chapter 8 and Chapter 9.

CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS.

(From Chapter 9) Jackson’s cell phone rings.

“Jackson here,” he says. “Yeah, no kidding. Yeah, yeah, thanks. We’re on the way.”

He turns to Sullivan.

“Goat did go missing. Hole in the fence,” he says. “She failed to mention she was on vacation for the past few weeks and missed it.”

They half-run to the door.


Before Sullivan and Jackson can escape, however, the CO pokes his head out of his office.

“Hey, you two, one more thing,” he says.

They stop and turn back.

“I’ve got a call with the FBI in an hour,” he says.

“What does that mean?” Sullivan says, knowing what it means.

“I’ll tell you what it means when you get back,” the CO says.

On the stairs Sullivan says, “We don’t even know if we need the feds.”

“He said he’s just calling,” Jackson says. “We don’t know if they’ll get involved. Only thing we have linking all this is the Cubs. No physical evidence.”

“They’ll be in,” Sullivan says. “This one’s too good to pass up.”

“Well, if they are we’ll have better shit to work with,” Jackson says.

“And more chefs in the kitchen,” Sullivan says.


Billy smiles as he walks down the sidewalk.

“That was him,” he thinks. “That stupid cop’s son, and he looked right at me. And didn’t know anything. He knows as much as his dumb-ass dad. He’ll know a lot more than dear old dad soon enough.”


On the way out to O’Hare, Sullivan and Jackson hear the radio call of Jorge Soler blasting a double off the wall at Wrigley.

“Hey,” Sullivan says. “The kid’s keeping it going. What the hell.”

“Historic start, no doubt,” Jackson says. “Hey, I got a question for you. You seeing the Cubs differently after all this crap?”

“What crap?” Sullivan says.

“What crap? What other crap you thinking about besides the goat head, the dead fake Bartman, you know, that kind of shit,” Jackson says. “You thinking differently about the Cubs, about the path-o-logy (stressing each syllable) of all the losing and the people who follow that shit?”

“Jesus, Jackson,” Sullivan says. “I wasn’t thinking about it, no. I was enjoying a nice ballgame on the radio until you opened your trap.”

“I’m just sayin’. The whole Cubs thing is kind of demented,” Jackson says, “and now …”

Sullivan cuts him off. “That’s enough Jackson,” he says. “You know as well as I do that this nut job could be obsessing about Bugs Bunny instead of the Cubs. It’s all just a lame outlet for his pathetic psycho behavior. So cut the Cubs crap, and let me listen to the game.”

“Just busting your balls,” Jackson says.

“Yeah, yeah,” Sullivans says.

Jackson’s cell phone rings.

“Sounds good, thanks,” he says and then turning to Sullivan, “the woman from the goat company is there waiting for us to show us the operation, answer some questions.”


Back in his apartment, Billy prints out the photo of the cop’s son that he took on his phone before he was spotted. He takes the photo and carefully tapes it to the bottom of a large chart on the wall. Lines branch out here and there with other photos and newspaper clippings pasted at the ends of the lines. John Sullivan’s photo is there, just above his son’s.

Billy then places a notebook in front of himself on the desk and starts to read intently.

Wakes up: 6:45 a.m.
Makes coffee: 7:30 a.m.
Leaves house: 8 a.m.

The entries continue for an entire page, outlining someone’s activities for a 24 hour period.


Sullivan, Jackson and a forensics team inspect the spot where the fence at O’Hare had been cut open and the goat removed. Since authorities at O’Hare figured the theft was a prank, no police report was filed and the fence was repaired. Rain and the foraging of the farm animals wiped out any other obvious traces of evidence. A road ran along the fence and it was secluded enough that someone could stop and carry out the crime unnoticed. Video cameras did not target this particular area.

“In short, we got nothing again,” Sullivan says.

“Not necessarily,” Jackson says. “I was just talking to the woman from the place that takes care of the animals. She said they graze in this field on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. From here I can see a decent size intersection over there that accesses this road. Might be a camera mounted over there. How many cars would turn down this road in that time period? Shit, not many from the traffic I’m seein’ here now.”

“Good,” Sullivan says. “Let’s check it out. I’m getting really sick of this goat killing mother f’er.”

A few minutes later Sullivan and Jackson are standing next to their car looking up at the street light over the intersection Jackson had pointed out.

“Bingo,” Sullivan says.

There, mounted on the large metal pole is a new looking camera, trained on the intersection.

To be continued …

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Very Funny: I Dreamt Of Being A Comedian

In third grade, the teacher went around the room at the beginning of the year asking kids what they wanted to be when they grew up.

“Fireman,” one kid said. “Teacher,” said another. And so it went.

My turn came.

“A comedian,” I said.

Some kids snickered and the teacher gave me a half smile — pleasant with a tinge of condescension.

little me

I didn’t care. The minute I had found out that people in the world were paid to be funny I decided that was the job for me. How did I find this out? Watching Johnny Carson and The Carol Burnett Show, of course. I didn’t care about the actors, jugglers or animal handlers that came on Carson. I wanted the comedians. I’m going to date myself, but when I was a little kid I laughed my ass off at David Brenner, Buddy Hackett, Jonathan Winters. And of course Joan Rivers. I remember sitting on the living room floor listening to one of her albums alternating between awe and uncontrolled laughter.

I dreamt of being a comedian like those comic greats, so I practiced … on my school. Class clown would be the affectionate term applied to me. Little shit might be another. “Disruptive” was the word used on my report card.

I liked my third grade teacher a lot. She was cool and pretty, so I enjoyed trying to make her laugh. When we were studying dinosaurs and she showed us a picture of one and asked its name and I said “Mr. Johnson,” who was our aged principal, she let out a giggle as the class roared.

But she recovered herself and took me to the hall. I thought I was toast. A suspension seemed possible, but she said: “Look Patrick, I know you want to be a comedian. I even think you’re funny. But you can’t disrupt the class like that all the time. I can’t do my job. I don’t want you to stop being funny, but please pick your spots.”

I just nodded. No authority figure had ever spoken to me like that, especially when I deserved a good tongue lashing. I wasn’t old enough to process how it made me feel. I think I felt respect. And a major crush.

So I took it easy on her. And practiced my craft by absolutely tormenting the substitute teacher that came in every Friday when our regular teacher went to teach Spanish to older classes.

It was glorious. Every aspiring comic or actor should be so blessed to have a half-deaf, octogenarian substitute teacher. Our class got away with so much crap. She was our Bud Selig in a steroid era of childhood shenanigans. Clueless? Maybe. Looking the other way because she didn’t want anyone to know she couldn’t handle the job? Probably some combination.

The disappearing class was one of my favorite bits. I’d pass the word during recess that when the teacher turned her head to write on the board, some of us would get out of our seats and crawl out to the hall. Luckily, we shared a small building with one other class separated by a little hallway where the bathrooms were located. We could hide out there and not run the risk of being discovered by other students, teachers or, God forbid, the principal.

But we couldn’t all leave at once. So we had a system. Kids were assigned numbers and every time she turned to write the corresponding group would sneak away — 1, 2, 3, 4.

Watching her expression when she turned back and noticed that a quarter and then half of the class was missing was priceless. But she never said anything, seeming to doubt her own senses.

Once the little hallway got too crowded, waves of kids would sneak back in. Watching her face when she turned around later to see that the class was full again was equally priceless. She thought she was going nuts and tried not to show it. It was a mean and hilarious trick to play.

Another time, I convinced the biggest kid in the class to get on his desk and start to sing. I’m not sure why he agreed to do it. Maybe I gave him my Twinkies that day or something. Of course, as the teacher squawked like a dying mallard that he should get down, the desk toppled over, sending him to the floor with a thud and scattering his belongings all over the classroom. That got a good laugh, but he ratted me out and I received a detention … or two.

During a show and tell, I brought my toy musket to class. I gave a very informative speech on hunting during Pilgrim days and began to demonstrate how to load the gun. The teacher seemed very pleased. Of course, I planned a big finish to my presentation. After the gun was loaded I pretended to shoot my friends who I had arranged to run around the class making odd groaning sounds like buffalo. The hunt resulted in chaos that she found impossible to rein in. The teacher from the other class finally heard the racket, ran in and stopped the madness with one loud “Stop!”

For that one, my cronies and I had to stand facing the wall for an entire recess.

I knew that I didn’t want to specialize only in physical comedy, however. My heroes were stand-up comics after all. I had to get up in front of a crowd. So during a show and tell, I told the ancient teacher that I didn’t have anything to show; rather, I had something to tell: a joke. She smiled and called me to the front of the class. And this is what I said:

A kid stands up in front of the class for show and tell. He gives little chunks of dried meat to his class.

“Taste it,” he says.

The kids take little bites.

“Now, can you guess what kind of meat this is?” he says.

“Beef,” dirty Little Johnny shouts.

“Nope,” the kids says. “Anybody else?”

“Chicken?” a girl asks.

“Wrong,” the kid says proudly, happy that nobody can guess venison.

“Is it lamb?” a boy asks.

“No,” says the boy. “Maybe you need a hint for what animal it comes from.”

“Yeah,” dirty Little Johnny screams.

“Well,” the boys says. “It’s a word mommy calls daddy.”

Little Johnny jumps up.

“Spit it out everyone, it’s asshole!”

You’d think that threat of suspension, multiple parent-teacher conferences and many detentions later I would have been cured of the comedy bug. I wasn’t. I couldn’t get the laugh out of my head — kids with their heads back, letting loose, pointing, life gloriously turned on its head. Like a drug, I couldn’t stop chasing that laugh.

But as you can probably guess I’m not a comedian. I’m good to have at parties. I’m mildly amusing in print. But in the end life pounded the comedian dream out of me. That’s a different story, but it almost doesn’t have to be told. We all know it in some form. Divorce, move, parents remarry, move again, live with one parent, live with the other, throw in some court cases, go to new schools and a couple of bong hits later and it’s time for college and really feeling clueless about who you are.

I eventually found my way. And now I realize that funny is sometimes just the flip side of depressed, as we find out time and time again when a comedian who lifts us out of our doldrums can’t get out of his own. I’ve spent years and days on both sides of that same coin. I think that’s just life, and staying one step ahead of our ghosts is livin’ the dream.

But when these comedians of my youth die — yeah you Robin Wiliams, Joan Rivers — I’m reminded of who I wanted to be. I miss that boy who was so focused on the laugh. I’m thankful when I sporadically make it happen these days.

But I’m also thankful for the people like Williams and Rivers who stayed true to that dream. What better job is there really than to make people laugh? It’s like selling air. We can’t live without it.

You can reach me at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Wrigleyville Ch. 9 — Goat Clears The Way

Wrigleyville

Serial cop drama. Check back for a new chapter every week — or maybe sooner.

Here’s Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4., Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7 and Chapter 8.

CONTENT NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS.

(From Chapter 8) “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” the little voice repeats over and over.

“What buddy?” Jackson says, opening one eye to see his son’s head five inches away from his own.

He’s standing next to the bed. “You gonna stay in bed all day?” he says.

“Not all day, buddy,” Jackson says. “Maybe 15 minutes.”

“15 minutes,” his son says. “That’s forever. Mommy says that if you’re going to be out all hours you gotta pay the price. How much you gotta pay Mommy, Dad?”

“Probably a lot, buddy,” Jackson says with a weak smile and struggles to sit up.


Sullivan and Jackson regroup with their CO at the station, and these meetings are now getting uncomfortable for everyone. They need answers, everyone knows they need answers, and everyone knows they don’t have them right now.

Sullivan can almost feel the weight of the dead bodies pressing him down toward the earth. “Just a hangover,” he thinks, but the thought doesn’t lighten his load. It’s all he can do to not collapse to the floor.

“You OK, Sullivan?” the CO says. “Rough night?”

“I’m fine,” Sullivan snaps, looking from him to Jackson. “What have you got Jackson? Thoughts?”

Jackson starts to go over the case again, and Sullivan’s mind returns to the weight on his head, his shoulders, pushing him down. Two dead bodies, one of them that Johnson kid whose parents turned on him, are crushing him. He strains his head up and can almost see the goat head being shoved at his forehead. Pushing, pushing, heavier, heavier, can’t hold it back.

“What?” Jackson says. “What the hell you talkin’ about?”

Sullivan snaps out of it, feeling lighter but confused.

“I didn’t say nothing,” Sullivan says.

Jackson and the CO look at each other.

“Uh, yeah, John,” the CO says. “You said ‘Goats in the air?’ What does that mean?”

Sullivan looks baffled.

“The goat, the goat,” he says quickly, his mind scrambling. “Goats in the air, goats in the air …”

Jackson’s mouth is agape and the CO’s face hardens. There have been rumors about Sullivan’s private life, but it never affected his work enough to intervene. And now he’s gone off the rails.

“Jesus Sullivan,” the CO blurts.

“The air,” Sullivan says again. “The airport, the airport. I knew I had seen something about goats. We couldn’t find where the guy got the goat, but O’Hare has been using goats to clear vegetation. I read it.”

All three men look visibly relieved.

“OK, good,” the CO says. “Check it out. Get going.”

On the way out, Jackson turns to Sullivan and quietly says, “You OK?”

“I’m fine,” Sullivan snaps. “Let’s go.”


“You should really call your dad.”

“He never answers.”

“Still.”

“I know.”

John Sullivan Jr. sits at a table outside a coffee shop in downtown Naperville across the table from his wife.

“If I am ready to forgive him,” Alicia Smith-Sullivan says, “then you can forgive him. Or at least talk to him.”

“I don’t know that I’ll ever get over it,” Johnny Sullivan says. “In this day and age, a grown man can turn his back on his only son because (lowering his voice) he marries a black woman. Are you kidding me?”

“I know, I know,” she says.

“I mean, can he be a worse stereotype?” he says. “Irish, bigoted, hard-drinking Chicago cop? What a joke.”

“Does your mother talk to him?” she asks.

“Not that I know of,” he says and then standing. “Speak of the devil. Mom.”

Eileen Sullivan walks up to the table. She’s a slight woman but well dressed. She does not look like she would be married to the aforementioned stereotype. And though she technically still is, it is clear she is putting physical and mental distance between herself and those days.

“Mom, you look better every time we see you,” Alicia says.

“No kidding,” Johnny says, hugging his mom and giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“I feel better,” Eileen says.

Johnny pulls out a chair for his mother and after she’s seated maneuvers back to his own seat. As he sits down he notices a young man passing by quickly on the sidewalk. Their eyes meet for a moment and then he is gone.

Like a thin passing cloud a thought floats into Johnny’s head. It’s kind of hot for that Cubs jacket, he thinks. And then his head clears.


Jackson calls the Department of Aviation and after some runaround is connected to someone who knows something about the herding program at O’Hare.

“That’s great, that’s great,” Jackson says. “Sounds like a great program. But I have a question. Have any of the goats gone missing?”

He listens.

“Oh, you sure? Yeah, OK. Who? Well, if you hear anything, tell me. OK, thanks.”

He hangs up.

“No missing goat, according to that woman,” Jackson says.

“Shit,” Sullivan blurts out. “I thought we were on to something.”

“Yeah, what you have a vision or something this morning?” Jackson says.

“Very funny,” Sullivan says.

“Really, that was weird, Sullivan,” Jackson says.

“Screw you. So I had a couple too many pops last night,” Sullivan says. “I was tired and thinking. Thought I came up with something.”

“Maybe we should head out to O’Hare anyway,” Jackson says. “We can put the Cubs on the radio if you want. Jorge Soler’s home debut.”

“I’ve been a Cubs fan my whole frickin’ life,” Sullivan says. “And this is the first September when the team sucks that I have given a crap. Some of these kids are gonna be good. Or maybe I’ve just drunk the Kool-Aid too long.”

“Well, it ain’t Kool-Aid you been drinking,” Jackson says. “But these kids do look good. Soler has been ridiculous. I think he might be the best of the bunch. Quick bat, good eye. You see that second homer he hit against the Cardinals the other night?”

“I did,” Sullivan says as they walk into the hall and head toward the back door. “Reminded me of Kingman or Glenallen Hill. He killed that ball.”

Jackson’s cell phone rings.

“Jackson here,” he says. “Yeah, no kidding. Yeah, yeah, thanks. We’re on the way.”

He turns to Sullivan.

“Goat did go missing. Hole in the fence,” he says. “She failed to mention she was on vacation for the past few weeks and missed it.”

They half-run to the door.

Continue to Chapter 10.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.