Okay...let's just talk a little about this year's Cubs team.
I had no doubt that this would be an extraordinary year. Fukudome hit a homer on opening day! We loved it!!! Kosuke continued to be streaky, but better than we had ever seen from a rookie from Japan in the past. Things really fell off for him after the All Star Break, but his defense remained sound.
Reed Johnson was a mid-season trade; and, as my good friend John has stated, he is half man/half baseball...some kind of major league cyborg! He remained a major player despite his decreased involvement in the starting, post-allstar-line-up.
Soriano was streaky, as expected; and his hand injury was not a deciding factor.
Aramis Ramirez had a great season, though it was not his best.
Derek Lee's season was probably sub-par considering his talent as a hitter.
Mike Fontenot was a top-notch triple-A Iowa recruit, and nothing more could have been expected of him.
The same could be said for Ryan Theriot, who was our go-to base-runner/stealer all year.
Rookie-of-the-Year: Geo Soto!!!...nuff said!!!
Mark DeRosa was, and is, a fantastic all-around baseball player; not unlike Reed Johnson. Both men come through in a clutch situation, and rarely do they commit an error.
Honorable mentions should go to the following: Felix Pie, Casey McGehee (hope that's spelled correctly), Micah Hoffpauir, Henry Blanco, and Koyie Hill. These were minor league players who played like they should have been in "the show" all season.
In hindsight, though I dislike his continued presence on the Chi Cubs' roster, Daryle Ward even got on base a few times by hitting the ball!...rather than walking.
On to pitching:
I have threatened to burn my Mark Prior jersey all season long, but I didn't think the Cubs needed that kind of B.S. mixing with their mojo. I still own the jersey, but am reluctant to remove it from the hanger it has occupied for three seasons. Prior is old hat!!! The Cubs' pitching staff was top-notch throughout the regular season. Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly tied for 17 wins, and Carlos Zambrano was close behind. Jason Marquis, Rich Hill, and Sean Marshall were solid starters this season. Later came many a starter, turned reliever!
As for relief pitching:
This was the best I can remember seeing in my lifetime for this team. There were middle relievers such as Samardzija, Wuertz, Marshall(again), and of course Carlos Marmol(who was almost always lights-out). As closers Marmol and Wood shared the role well.
As a closer: Kerry Wood still frightens me! I expect my closer to have command of his pitches from the moment he takes the mound, and Wood seems to need a few balls (and sometimes base-hits) to find it...and there are times when he doesn't find the command at all!
As long as I am alive I will be a Chicago Cubs fan! This was the best Cubs team I have ever seen, and I think the statistics will prove them among the finest, ever! That being said, I want to remind everyone of the significance of this winning season. The deck is stacked against the Cubs. Though I am not a believer in goats, black cats, gods, Bill Buckner's passed ball, or even Steve Bartman's caught ball; I think the pressure that a team faces when it is expected to win the first World Series in 100 years is beyond the capacity of the average fan to comprehend. Boston had their day, but their drought was only 84 years. Though this is a significant number, humanity puts a lot more emphasis on lengths of time that end in two zeros.
The 2008 Cubs were, if not the finest team ever assembled, certainly among the top five! I loved them all, and will love them next year as though this season never happened. I was there in '03; and I also remember celebrating the final game of a season with a win, just because it was the difference between 99 and 100 losses! Bruce Kimm was brought up from AAA Iowa that season, and he sucked...and we loved it!!!
This is the epitome of the Cubs' legacy. We rally around the mystique. We wonder what could have been....And there is always next year. We have had our Ron Santos, Andre Dawsons, our Ryne Sandbergs, our Sammy Sosas, and our Derek Lees. I think that what binds us is our suffering. We love to dream beyond realistic bounds...and we pay dearly for it!
I wonder what we will think when it does finally happen. What will all of us do? We are already the country's most devoted fans! What will become of us if the Cubbies answer our prayers? How could we possibly handle that kind of fortune? We work day-to-day for attainable goals. How could we ever survive on top?