Mark Prior: fractured elbow. Well, there it is. Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, both on the disabled list for at least a third of the season. Sandlot readers with sharp memories will recall that I predicted this very thing right at the start of the season, in addition to predicting that the Cubs would finish no higher than fourth in the NL Central, though it looks like Milwaukee and Pittsburgh will finish where I said Cincinnati and Houston would.
One might think that, being a Minnesota Vikings fan, I would have some sort of sympathy for Cubs fans, due to our similarities in futility. Well, my friends, that's where you would be wrong. While the Vikings have never won a Superbowl, they have been to the big game four times, as well as making it several times to the NFC Championship game. The Cubs almost never make it to the postseason, and they haven't been to the World Series in the lifetime of anyone other than C. Montgomery Burns or Mel Brooks' 2,000-year-old man.
Plus, Cubs fans are whiny and obnoxious. Vikings fans are stoic. Think Bud Grant. That Scandinavian reserve, the cold acceptance of fate and doom. Yeah, that's Vikings football—a dash of optimism tempered by an existential awareness of our own futility. The Cubs fans don't realize how much they suck, how pathetic their team is, how self-pitying all their talk of goat curses and Steve Bartman is.
Their manager is a loudmouth chump, they're down to one decent starting pitcher (if they can keep him off the Internet, that is), their bullpen makes serial arsonists look like Smokey the Bear, and they let their two best hitters, Alou and Sosa, walk without replacing them with anyone meaningful. The only way things could get worse for this team is if they traded their only remaining star, Derek Lee. Look for the Yankees to come calling later this summer for that one!
I turn 37 years old in less than a month. The last time the Vikings were in the Superbowl, I was seven years old, and they got trounced by John Madden's outstanding Oakland Raiders team. Yeah, they should have won it all in 1998, but woulda-shoulda-coulda is the bane of every losing franchise. Assuming I fall within normal lifespan demographics, I've got about 40 more years for the Vikings to win one before I die. I can live that out secure in the knowlege that the Cubs will go at least that long before winning the World Series.
Schadenfreude: ask for it by name!