« Filmmaker seeks Cubs artifacts | Main | Just One Bad Century »

Picking Sides

By Donald G. Evans

Rich Harden. I’m still getting used to this idea. I was in the car, listening to sports radio, when the announcement came. In Chicago, it was presented as a breaking news story, like we’d just won the war or scientists had discovered a cure for cancer. As I played with the AM tuner, nearly every station, sports-oriented or otherwise, carried details of the newly completed trade. Rich Harden.

richharden.jpgHere’s what I knew about Rich Harden: he wasn’t Dan Haren. The two pitchers appeared on my baseball radar around the same time, and since they were both A’s with basically the same last name, give or take a “d”, I confused them. The A’s rarely orbit into my baseball hemisphere, so the Harden-Haren thing carried on quite a while. This was back around the time the Cubs were not winning the 2003 World Series.

Rich Harden. With a “d.” And a “Rich” instead of a “Dan.”

Sports radio personalities across the dial were giddy with the news. Fans from Bucktown to Bloomington called into shows to voice their opinions, all more or less slight revisions of: this guy’s great so long as he isn’t hurt, besides we gave up squat to get him. One caller did express disapproval of the trade, inspiring a sports show host to shout him down with an incredulous, venomous tirade.

danharen.jpgNone of that really gets at the source of my ambivalence. It’s just the fact: Rich Harden. One day he’s in A’s green and gold; the next day he’s in Cubbie blue. One day Matt Murton is standing in left field next to Reed Johnson, the next day Matt Murton’s gone. One day I’m eagerly awaiting Sean Gallagher’s next start; the next day I’m blowing him kisses.

When I was a kid, we played pickup games in Blackhawk Park, all day sometimes in the summer. If there were enough guys around, we’d field a whole team, but more often we’d play right field and pitcher’s hand out. We mostly played lob league. The way it worked, once we had enough guys we’d pick sides. Two captains would volunteer or be anointed to pick, then we’d throw the bat (fists and fingers) for first choice.

Picking sides was a momentous occasion. You wanted to be on a good team; you wanted to be on a team with your friends; you wanted to be on a team in which you believed. You wanted to play against a team of guys you could truly hate.

Roger Glisson was my best friend and also the best athlete our age in the neighborhood. It was the intersection between friendship and skill that you sought in a teammate. He was tall, lanky and strong; even as a 10-year-old veins popped out of his forearm. He had scars on his lip and over one eye, and a competitive fire that probably explained the scars.

You had to get Roger with the first pick.

Vince Santana would usually last until the second pick: he could run like the wind, had uncanny hand-eye coordination, could hit, and was a good, nice guy. We could pick up Phil Zmich in the middle rounds: he had some holes in his game but was a decent all-around player, lived down the block from Roger, and was one of the funniest guys around. We’d snag Ray Fabris, who walked to school with us every day and had surprising pop in his bat, late.

We didn’t always get everybody we wanted, and sometimes got guys we definitely did not want, but once sides were picked, late-arriving players excepted: that was it. These were Our Guys. Roger hitting a home run over the back park bench thrilled me nearly as much as though I’d done it myself. Vince turning a pop out into a home run filled me with admiration. Ray diving for a grounder sparked my pride. This was my team, and in order to love the whole you had to also love the parts.

Sometimes, during those long summer days, we’d get pounded. Maybe the other team had better players, maybe we were off and they were on, maybe luck factored into it. When the game ended, we’d hear the inevitable cry, “Same teams?” But that was us, not the conquerors. We wanted another shot, with Our Guys. We wanted to do better, with Our Guys. We wanted to dig deeper within ourselves, play better, do all we knew we were capable of, with Our Guys. We wanted to beat that punk Lennie and that burnout friend of Roger’s brother and, for different reasons, our friend Tommie Harrison, with Our Guys. We wanted to win a fair fight, and sometimes we would. With Our Guys.

Rich Harden. He is, based on Major League Baseball’s formula governing these things, one of Our Guys, but it doesn’t feel that way, not really. Not yet. The trade deadline has become a mockery of justice: excellent players get swapped for potentially excellent players, thus making (in the short term, anyway) good teams better and bad teams worse. Bye-bye middle class.

It’s a mad scramble. We launch guys like Greg Maddux, Jon Garland, and Alex Gonzalez, and we pick up guys like Cesar Izturis, Randall Simon, and Kenny Lofton. We lose a Paul Assenmacher; gain a Karl Rhodes. We get Rick Sutcliffe; we lose Joe Carter.

Ernie Broglio was acquired at the trade deadline.

Matt Karchner was going to be a nice addition to the bullpen during that 1998 run.

Do you remember how absolutely bonkers everybody was in 2004 when we got NOMAR?

Last year it was Jason Kendall—MY GOD! A catcher—FINALLY!

It’s an exciting process, don’t get me wrong. In a real rare case, like with Aramis Ramirez and Rick Sutcliffe, we get a guy who helps us in the short term and stays long enough to be considered a genuine Cub. Mostly, though: we’re just shuffling the deck.

We’re saying, “Pick new sides!” The chemical formula of the team has been altered, such that it wipes out what has gone before. While we might retain aspects of whatever it was that led us to where we are now, we’ll never recover that chemical formula whole. Not only now, but for years to come.

What would the Cubs have done with Lou Brock, Jon Garland or Joe Carter playing in Wrigley for virtually their entire careers? We’ll never know. What would have happened in 2004 had the Cubs NOT gotten Nomar? We’ll never know. Had Jason Kendall not been on last year’s playoff roster, might Geovany Soto have started Game 3 and perhaps made a difference? We’ll never know.

Rich Harden. Just last weekend, he lost to the White Sox and I didn’t care, one way or another. I was more concerned with Sean Gallagher and Sean Marshall and Rich Hill and Jon Lieber, all Our Guys who I felt, given the proper chance and a little luck, could get on a roll that ended with us in the World Series.

Rich Harden’s in Cubbie Blue now, and that makes me care a little. But there’s no history to my caring, no context. He’s a stranger. He might help, he might hurt, but either way it’s going to take some getting used to.

Donald G. Evans, author of Wrigleyville sports gambling novel Good Money After Bad, is the Lovable Losers emcee. His stories have appeared in StoryQuarterly, Pinyon Review, The Journal and Narrative Magazine, among others, and he will soon have a story appearing in the Xavier Review.

Posted on Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 07:21AM by Registered CommenterLovable Losers Literary Revue | Comments9 Comments

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (9)

Your article very interesting, I have introduced a lot of friends look ,attractive people to appreciate, I have to thank you such an article.chanel sunglass replica movado watches

November 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam A

cheap uggs
discount ugg boots
ugg boots uk
buy ugg boots
ugg boots on sale
ugg boots
wholesale ugg boots
cheap ugg boots
discount ugg boots
ugg boots for kids
Gucci Boots
moncler jackets

moncler uk
moncler down jacket
moncler down jacket
moncler coats
moncler clothing
moncler ski jackets
moncler vest
moncler shop
moncler online
moncler jacket
moncler jackets for men
moncler women
moncler coat
moncler shirts
moncler store
moncler mens
moncler jackets on sale
moncler jackets for women
moncler discount
moncler vest men
mens moncler jackets
moncler on sale
mens moncler
moncler shoes
moncler jackets women
moncler down coat
moncler men jackets
moncler wholesale
kids moncler
men moncler jackets
womens moncler
moncler down vest
wholesale moncler
moncler hoody
jackets moncler
uk moncler
new moncler
women moncler
moncler black
ugg boots
uggs boots
ugg boots on sale
uggs on sale
cheap uggs
discount uggs
discount uggs boots
wholesale uggs
wholesale ugg boots
ugg classic short boots
cheap ugg boots
kids ugg boots
ugg bailey button
ugg classic tall boots
ugg mini boots
cardy ugg boots
ugg slippers
ugg ultra short
UGG Payton
UGG Adirondack II
ugg ultimate boots
ugg ultra tall
UGG Roxy Tall
UGG Nightfall boots
UGG Sundance boots
ugg adirondack boots
ugg broome
UGG Seline
UGG Elsey
UGG Corinth
UGG Highkoo
UGG Knightsbridge
Ugg Stripe Cable
Ugg Argyle Boots
new ugg boots
UGG Delaine
UGG Langley
UGG Liberty
Ugg Bailey Button Triplet
ugg shop
ugg boots
wholesale ugg boots
cheap ugg boots
discount ugg boots
ugg boots for kids
Gucci Boots
ugg boots
wholesale ugg boots
cheap ugg boots
discount ugg boots
ugg boots for kids
Gucci Boots
ugg boots
cheap ugg boots
discount ugg boots
wholesale ugg boots
ugg classic boots
ugg bailey button
ugg cardy boots
kids ugg boots
ugg slipper
ugg 1886
ugg 5163
ultra short ugg boots
ultra tall ugg boots
ugg 5273
ugg 5359
classic tall ugg boots
classic short ugg boots
paisley short ugg boots
mini ugg boots
ugg 5899
ugg 5803
ugg 5819
argyle knit ugg boots
kids bailey button ugg
ugg 5304
ugg 5616
ugg 5822
Adirondacks II UGG Boots
Highkoo UGG Boots
Tan Payton UGG Boots
Knightsbridge UGG Boots

ugg boots
wholesale ugg boots
cheap ugg boots
discount ugg boots
ugg boots for kids
Gucci Boots
cheap ugg boots
cheap ugg boots uk
kids ugg boots
chestnut ugg boots
cardy ugg boots
black ugg boots
discount ugg boots
classic tall ugg boots
ugg classic short boots
ugg style boots
bailey button ugg boots
womens ugg boots
ugg slippers

pink uggs
chestnut uggs
short uggs
knitted ugg boots
sundance ugg boots
mini ugg boots
nightfall ugg boots
ugg sandals
black uggs
ugg knightsbridge
knitted uggs
ugg ultra tall
ugg ultra boots
nightfall uggs
wholesale ugg boots
ugg ultimate
ugg sundance

UGG Bailey Button Boots
UGG Classic Tall Metallic
UGG Classic Tall Boots
UGG Tall Boots
UGG 5817 Boots
UGG Roxy Tall Boots
UGG Classic Cardy Boots
UGG Stripe Cable Knit Boots
UGG Classic Short Boots
UGG Classic Short Paisley
UGG Classic Short Metallic
UGG Classic Tall Paisley
UGG Classic Mini Boots
UGG Classic Argyle Knit Boots
UGG Bailey Button Triplet Boots
UGG Evera Shoes
UGG Kids Boots

GHD Hair Straightener
instyler rotating hot iron
Gucci Boots for women
Gucci Boots for men
UGG Ultra Short LE
UGG Women's Upside Boots
ugg women boots
UGG Ultra Short Boots
UGG Suede Boots
UGG Ultra Tall Boots
UGG Style Women Boots
UGG Classic Sundance II Boots
UGG Nightfall Boots
UGG Sundance LE
UGG Classic Tall Romantic Flower

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercheap ugg boots

Ralph Lauren Ralph Lauren Polo Ralph Lauren Polo Ralph Lauren Ralph Lauren Polo Ralph Lauren Polo Cheap Ralph Lauren Polo Cheap Ralph Lauren Polo Ralph Lauren Polo Outlet Ralph Lauren Polo Outlet Ralph Lauren Outlet Store Ralph Lauren Outlet Store Ralph Lauren Polos Ralph Lauren Polos Ralph Lauren Clothing Ralph Lauren Clothing Discount Ralph Lauren Women S Polo Shirts Discount Ralph Lauren Women Polo Ralph Lauren Classic Fit Stripe Sport Shirt Polo Ralph Lauren Classic Mens Ralph Lauren Custom Fit Polo Mens Ralph Lauren Custom Ralph Lauren Black Watch Polo Ralph Lauren Black Watch Big And Tall Ralph Lauren Polo Shirts Big And Tall Ralph Lauren Colorful Polo Ralph Lauren Shirts Colorful Polo Ralph Lauren Ladies Polo Ralph Lauren Shirts Ladies Polo Ralph Lauren Polo Ralph Lauren Models Polo Ralph Lauren Models Big Pony Polo 5x Ralph Lauren Big Pony Polo True Religion True Religion True Religion Jeans True Religion Jeans Cheap True Religion Jeans Cheap True Religion Jeans Discount True Religion Jeans Discount True Religion Jeans Herve Leger Herve Leger Herve Leger Dress Herve Leger Dress Herve Leger Skirt Herve Leger Skirt Herve Leger Outlet Herve Leger Outlet Herve Leger Bandage Herve Leger Bandage Herve Leger Dresses Herve Leger Dresses

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterxixiwyhes

So my suggestion to all of those who are considering thomas sabo as a gift for your loved ones for any special occasion would be to definitely check out their amazing. The collection is so huge and with lots of variety that you are sure to find thomas sabo bracelet for everyone. So your wait for a good piece of thomas sabo charms ends with the variety offered. thomas sabo jewellery is incredibly popular, and the collectable nature of these beautiful pieces of means that many people are searching for them online. As with any designer label, there will always be companies selling thomas sabo sale, however when you are buying online how can you be sure that what you are purchasing is the genuine . If you are buying directly from the official thomas sabo uk, then you are of course going to be getting the real deal.

August 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterabercrombie and fitch

Der Winter ist immer in der Nähe moncler jacken online unwissentlich, das ist unser meist gehasste Saison. moncler onlineTage der heulende Wind kann nicht tragen moncler online shop dünne Kleidung, es sei denn, Sie Superkräfte genug, um der Kälte zu moncler schweizwiderstehen. Dann gibt es die Wahl dieser Sterne moncler jacken sind die meisten gehorsam moncler jackenDaunenjacke warmen warm zu halten oder? Manche Sterne moncler shop völlig resistent gegen den kalten Nordwind pfiff in den nächsten moncler onlineTagen weiterhin dünne Kleidung aus und Bo Popularität zu tragen, moncler jacke und manche Sterne können die meisten gehorsam warme Daunenjacke wählen warm zu halten. Kurze Daunenjacke ordentlich und stilvoll. In einem solchen kalten Winter wird die Wärme der wichtigste, aber eine einfache Atmosphäre der langemoncler online shop Daunenjacke werden Sie in der Menge lassen hat eine bemerkenswerte Temperament. Warmer Wind in den langen Stil, kann auch ein Mode-Wahl.
How these Australian Vane Shoesiciness sheepskin came about is absorbed in the mists of time. Vans shoes sale What is known is that your trusty gray denim jeans, vans shoes cheap and that they’ve been damaged by those in the trend accessory that you will, vans shoes onlinethey’re the know down under. David Malan is an Aussie mode vans shoes store trend that > would be perpetually durable.. Aussie souvenir gifts, coldness sheepskin SHOES


September 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermoncler jacken online

Belstaff leather jacket was founded in England in 1924, has a long tradition of innovative design. The first brand was the development of belstaff jacket signature waterproof breathable cotton wax, which is still used today, the idea. Whether cycling staff, or pilots, and military protection are rapidly embracing belstaff leather. he company will continue to complete the products in the belstaff jackets uk, and has found a new audience in the fashion set. Belstaff uk tend to hold their value over time, by the cult sought after collectors and antique enthusiasts. Woolrich Parka's unique design has attracted the attention of numerous customers. he most representative products are woolrich donna coat and woolrich Jassen coat designed in 2011. Outlet Woolrich jacket features a smooth and high quality export material that can be cold and perfect. If you want to own a special winter, hurry over and over again we sito woolrich outlet store.
vibram five fingers in this new fashion trend also bring us surprises. Now there are many latest designer vibram shoes in new arrival in many shop, the store in the streets or online. Like vibram five sale are hot on sale now. Most of the time they are the only friend for you’re FIVE FINGERS VIBRAM vibram five fingers sale have been around for quite some time and remain one of the most popular styles of FIVE FINGERS VIBRAM vibram five finger shoes.



October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWoolrich Parka

UGG Boots Outlet
Chen Zhen has not dismount, you smell the elderly yurts smell wafting a thick meat, unlike lamb flavor. He felt very strange, quickly dismount into the package.UGG Outlet Store Bi Li-Ge old Manghan Wait Wait. Chen array hurriedly stood still, found east and north, and west sides of the carpet had been rolled up carpet was covered with large raw horse hide, horse hide filled with steel wolf clip, at least 78. UGG Boots Clearance

Yurt central pot on the stove, steaming and the smell of fish, the pot is a pot of soup dark You Wangwang. UGG Store Gasi Mai sounded dust sweat, kneeling on the hearth plus fire add manure. Her year-old daughter was playing a lot of their sheep, their cell Shui, six or seven feet ten. Rub the side of the Batu wolves clip, he was still at home and recuperate, a new face large meat. UGG Outlet Bi Li-Ge's wife is also old and the amount of clean guitar wolf folder. Chen array I do not know what the old man cook. UGGs Clearance Set aside a space in the old side, so that Chen Zhen sitting next to him.

Zhen Chen jokingly asked: What are you cooking? UGG Classic Cardy Boots Clip to cook wolf eat? Your good old screwed hard Oh. UGG Ultra Short

Bi Li-Ge fans laughing eyes and said: You guessed half, I cook the wolf in the folder.UGG Classic Short Boots However, my teeth do not become a mouth, a mouth of the wolf's teeth a good clip, you look at this clip is not a mouthful of steel teeth? UGG Sundance

Chen Zhen was surprised and asked: Do you cook the wolf folder do? UGG Nightfall

Clip wolf ah. Bi Li-Ge pointed to pot, said: I have to test you, what you smell this meat? UGG Classic Argyle Knit

UGG Delaine
UGG Classic Tall Boots
UGG Classic Mini Boots
UGG Lo Pro Button
UGG Kenly Boots
UGG Roslynn
UGG Bailey Button Boots
UGG Classic Crochet
UGG Blog

December 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterugg boots clearance

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>