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THE BEST BAD CUBS TEAM OF MY TIME: LF GLENALLEN HILL

Exactly as I'll always remember him.

Exactly as I’ll always remember him.

A passing comment on Twitter has led to my next pet project.  I’ve compiled a 25-man roster of the best bad Cubs of my time.  Let me clarify a few things right off the bat.  I looked at stats, but I really don’t care about your stats-based argument.  This is supposed to be fun.  Calm down.  As you’ll see as the roster develops, personality wasn’t as big a factor as it was for the Bottom 126.  However, watching a bad player play well as a Cub made generally made him pretty likeable.  I’m starting with the bullpen, then I’ll do the bench, then the starting pitchers, and finally the starting eight.  HERE is the roster so far.

The moment you’ve waited your entire Cubs fan life is finally here. The Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time is back! On to the outfield!

If you squeezed Roger the ripped kangaroo into a Cubs uniform and taught him how to hit a baseball, you’d have the starting left fielder on the Best Bad Cubs Team of My Time, Cubs legend Glenallen Hill.

Some say Hill wasn’t born, but created in a lab by a scientist who hated baseballs SO MUCH. He was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 9th round of the 1983 draft before Jay Buhner. He got his first cup of coffee with the Jays during the 1989 season. In his MLB debut, he went 2-3 with a walk and an RBI. Somehow, neither of his two hits broke the facade at Yankee Stadium.

In 1990, Hill broke camp with the Jays and slashed .231/.281/.435 in his first full season. That .435 was largely because Hill had terrifying power. He hit 12 home runs, 11 doubles, and 3 triples in 278 plate appearances that year. In 1991, the first-place Jays needed another arm in their rotation, so they sent Hill, Denis Boucher, and Mark Whiten to the Cleveland Indians for Tom Candiotti and Turner Ward.

Hill put up a .241/.293/.415 line as a part-time player with Cleveland, so the Cubs naturally had to have him. On August 19, 1993, they sent struggling outfielder Candy Maldonado to the Indians, the eventual 2016 World Series losers, in exchange for Hill.

Chicago was the longest stay of Hill’s journeyman career, and it’s not hard to see why. Hill flourished in a Cub uniform. In parts of five seasons in Chicago, Hill slashed .304/.360/.546, hitting 59 home runs and driving in 167 RBIs in 993 plate appearances. The Cubs brought Hill back on a one-year contract as a free agent after the 1993 season, and he rewarded them with a .297/.365/.461 line. He hit 10 home runs in the strike-shortened 1994 season, and I’ll just say it right now. He would have hit 100 if they’d played all 162 games.

The Cubs foolishly let Hill go just before the 1995 season, and the San Francisco Giants, the eventual 2016 NLDS losers, snapped him up two days later. He played decently in three seasons with the Giants before signing with the Mariners prior to the 1998 season. The Cubs took him off waivers on July 6 of that season to bolster what would be an eventual wild card finish. What they didn’t realize was that Hill’s performance would inspire them to win the World Series just 18 short years later. Back with his beloved Cubs, Hill would finish the season by slashing .351/.414/.573 with 8 home runs and 23 RBIs in 145 plate appearances.

The Cubs resigned hill prior to the 1999 season, and again he rewarded them with great numbers. He slashed .300/.353/.581 with 20 home runs and 55 RBIs in 278 plate appearances. He had less success at the start of the 2000 season, so in a move that would rival Brock-for-Broglio, the Cubs sent him to the New York Yankees for Ben Ford and Oswaldo Mairena. “Who?” indeed. The Cubs’ fallen legend played out the rest of his days in New York and eventually Anaheim before calling it quits after the 2001 season. Had he held out just 15 more years, the 2016 Cubs certainly would have added him to the roster over Chris F. Coghlan.

Hill has been a coach in the Colorado Rockies organization since 2003, and he was one of the guys who led the charge to have base coaches wear helmets. He’s currently the manager of the AAA Springfield Albuquerque Isotopes.

In 2007, Hill was named in the Mitchell Report for allegedly using P.E.D.s, which is absolute NONSENSE.

Greatest Cub Moment: I know nowadays we’re used to seeing Cubs players crush baseballs, but back in 2000, this was pretty impressive, even though the Cubs eventually lost 14-8 to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Worst Moment as a Human: Nearly getting killed by a spider. You see, Hill was terrified of spiders, and apparently rolled around in glass while sleeprunning away from some spiders.

Once More into the Breach, Cubs Fans, Once More

Their pockets are filled with all the marbles.

Their pockets are filled with all the marbles.

So, it’s come down to this. The Cubs, sports’ punchline for over a century, are in Game Seven of the World Series. The historically hapless, hopeless, helpless Cubs are either going to end the night as World Champions or write another chapter of their 108-year tragicomedy. Tonight, we find out whether this unbreakable, unflappable, nigh-unbeatable team can squeeze out just one more win. 113 of them were great. The 114th is all that matters.

When the Cubs were looking up from the bottom of the steep precipice of a 3-1 deficit, they knew that history, statistics, and baseball voodoo magic was against them. But they climbed anyhow. Because atop that mountain lies everything. And now their fingers are reaching over the precipice, trying to get one last, solid grip. Hoping that their tired muscles can drag them over the lip onto the top of the world.

It’s fitting that in a season filled with cliches, storybook endings, and fairy tales that the man taking the mound tonight is the unassuming, underrated Kyle Hendricks. The David to Corey Kluber’s Goliath. But this David is nasty, too. And he’s a lot more rested. And he’s hungrier.

If you’re like me, your mind has been racing all day with scenarios that could play out during tonight’s game. Who will get the big hit? Who will make the big defensive play? Can the Cubs score early? Will Lester see action? Will Arrieta? Will the Cubs somehow find themselves in a situation where Edwards, Rondon, or Strop has to close out the World Series? Will the Professor take matters into his own hands? The agony is in the waiting.

Enjoy this calm before one of the biggest sporting events in the history of civilization. I’ve lived and died with the Cubs’ successes and failures for as long as I can remember. People I haven’t heard from in years have said they’re rooting for the Cubs on my behalf. People I’ve never met before have taunted me over any type of social media they can find. So be it. If this team can handle the pressure, it’s a small task for me to do the same. It may be silly to tie a piece of your identity to a team and a game, but it’s all I know how to do.

I’ve never experienced a day anything like this one. I’ll follow the Bears and Notre Dame when the Cubs aren’t playing. I’ll tune in to the Bulls and Blackhawks when playoff time comes around. But my heart soars or breaks with only one team. In a few hours, we’ll know which it’s going to be.

Eamus Catuli

Welcome to the Last Day of Your Life That You Haven’t Seen the Cubs in the World Series

You know the Indians lost in the playoffs in Major League, right?

You know the Indians lost in the playoffs in Major League, right?

Since everyone has been throwing around numbers all week, 14,144. That’s the number of days I’ve been alive and haven’t seen the Cubs play in the World Series. By my count, 209 World Series games have been played in my lifetime. That’s nearly a season and a third of baseball. The World Series games I haven’t skipped entirely, I’ve only halfheartedly watched. I’m a baseball fan. I’m a postseason baseball fan. But even when the Cubs have been bad, and even when they’ve had no chance of making the playoffs, the playoffs were often too painful to watch. Never mind the times the Cubs made the playoffs and fell short of the coveted prize. Watching the World Series in 2003 would have been akin to standing up at the wedding of your perfect ex-girlfriend. And she’s marrying your brother. And right before the ceremony, she whispers in your ear, “I still love you.”

Well, maybe if you loved me, you wouldn’t have slept with my brother, 2003 Florida Marlins.

Today is better than any Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, Hallow’s Eve, or EVE Online. We’re less than a day and a half away from an experience not seen in Chicago since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Yeah, yeah, tell me about 2005 again. If you’re silly enough to think that the Cubs being in the World Series is the same as the White Sox doing it, you’re either stupid or delusional. Tomorrow night is the start of a historic event. This is “Miracle on Ice”, “Thrilla in Manila”, and “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” territory.

Historic, as in, it was impossible for me to avoid hearing the outcome of last Saturday night’s clinching game because the entire city was watching with bated breath, and collectively exploded upon the win. Yes, even all the way out in Naperville. Historic, as in, yesterday it was in the news on the other side of the planet in a country that couldn’t give a wet fart about baseball.

Even if you’re not a Cubs fan, and even if you don’t watch the game, you’ll remember where you were tomorrow night. I don’t even know where I’ll be yet. My only concern between today and tomorrow night at 7:08 p.m. (OMG 1908!) is staying alive. Speaking of which, I sincerely hope every Cub fan out there in bad health manages to hold on just a little bit longer. At least until first pitch. You’ve waited so long. It’s just a little bit longer. So many have gone before us without ever having the excitement of this eve. For the millions of people watching tomorrow, there will be a thousand times as many ghosts tuning in.

So, yeah, Uncle Dave, wherever I end up tomorrow night, I’ll be watching with you. There’s no Paul Assenmacher on this team for me to heckle on your behalf, but I suspect you would have loved this team as much as you loved haggling with scalpers on Waveland Avenue.

No matter what happens in the next week and a half (SPOILERS: Cubs in four), the second-largest back monkey in sports history is dead. Impaled by Anthony Rizzo on a piece of wood with Matt Szczur’s named burned into it. Cut to pieces by Jon Lester’s cut fastball. Snapped in half by a Javier Baez snap tag. Mystified by a Kyle Hendricks fastball. Frozen to death by a Kris Bryant frozen rope.

Buckle your seat belts. Literally. Tomorrow, I want to share history with each and every one of you.

Eamus Catuli

Cubs Win Boring 5-0 Game

THIS IS A REAL THING THAT HAPPENED

THIS IS A REAL THING THAT HAPPENED

“Kersh”

That was the text message I received from my business partner during Game Two. My response was simple. “Hend”. The professor. The ace.

There’s nothing I can write in this space that’s going to be better than the narrative the National League Champion Chicago Cubs have already written. That narrative that’s going to turn into a goddamn Disney movie if Kyle Schwarber is in the starting lineup on Tuesday night. You watched it last night. You saw from the first inning that the Cubs weren’t going to allow the Dodgers a chance. The Cubs did their easily-terrified fans the favor of making it the game a laugher.

As an aside, I had to run a show at my theater last night. I did everything right. I set the DVR to record for an extra hour and a half. I turned off my phone at 6:55. I avoided looking in any windows on the way home. I made sure the cable box was on a channel to which I’m not even subscribed and that the volume was muted before I turned on the TV. What I didn’t count on was how momentous an occasion last night was. About halfway through the performance, around 8:30 or so, a roar went up from the crowd next door. When I got home, before I turned on the TV, I heard fireworks outside. So, I was 90% sure the Cubs had won the pennant before I even started the game. In about the third inning, I paused to let out the dogs. When Maddux came in, she jumped up onto the couch, right onto the remote control. Somehow, she managed to stop the recording and put it to live TV. I practically dove for the remote before the outcome could be spoiled, but I saw on the bottom line, “Cubs def. Dodgers” before I could help myself. I tried to pretend I didn’t see it. But you know what? It didn’t matter. That game ruled even with 99% certainty of the outcome. Hendricks would have made one run stand up. It was clear five would hold up. So, really, Hendricks spoiled the game more than Maddux did.

And now the Cubs sit atop the National League with one blistering hot team in between them and what they really want.

For the first time in most of our lifetimes, the Cubs are going to play in the final game of the season.

Win it.

Cubs Fans Emerge, Trembling, from Beneath Chicago-Sized Pile of Blankets, Remove Thundershirts

Told you so, dummies.