"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Friday, June 04, 2004 PIRATES 2, CUBS 1. Mark Prior came off the disabled list to strike out eight in six scoreless innings, but the Cubs blew a 1-0 lead, giving up two runs in the ninth to lose to Pittsburgh.
Jim Fallis died tonight at 7:30 pm in Columbia, MO. I knew he was going to die today, and so as I drove my kids around town I listened through the static to the Cubs game feeling in some way that defies maturity and rationality that it would make some sort of a difference if his Cubbies could pull one out -- especially with Prior finally on the mound.
I remember one day about 11 years ago, Jim and I were hanging out in his office talking about the Cubs when he looked at me and said, "You, when you get to be my age, being a Cubs fan starts to be about mortality." In other words, you really start to wonder if they would ever win it in your lifetime.
From that point on, I started to root for the Cubs for Jim. I really, really, really wanted them to win it in his lifetime. I really, really, really, wanted to be able to call him the day after they made it to the World Series, the day after they won it all and hear the joy in his voice.
I thought last year was going to be the year -- but in true Cub fashion, they broke everyone's hearts ... even Jim's as he was sitting in an Irish pub thousands of miles away.
So I drove around today listening to the Cubs and hoping, on this day that Jim's mortal body would say goodbye, that his Cubs could send him off with a win.
The Cubs broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the eighth. Todd Hollandsworth hit a run-scoring single and it was 1-0. Three outs and Jim got his W. But with two outs in the ninth and a runner on second, consecutive singles -- the last by Chris Stynes -- gave Pittsburgh the lead.
The Cubs had the tying run on third with two out in the bottom of the ninth, but Corey Patterson (he just HAD to have been Jim's favorite Cubs prospect, he was always talking about him) flied out to end the game ... in typical, excruciating Cub fashion.
I remember when Bob Skinner died, Susie wrote a letter saying we are Easter people living in a Good Friday world. Jim would say that being a Cub fan is a lot like that, too. Jim's life as a Cub fan was week after week of Good Fridays. Why should this Friday be any different. In truth, it shouldn't have been. And, of course, it wasn't.
But Good Friday isn't the end. It never is. Jim is in that Easter now, seeing it more clearly and more fully than even he had seen it before. I'll miss him in this world, that's for sure ... but we're still connected -- we've been promised that.
Maybe heaven is a place where the Cubs finally win (a horrific thought to Cardinals fans!). Literally, I don't believe that, but poetically, I do. Easter is about new life from death, and what fits more with that than the Cubs actually winning?
Maybe Jim and Harry Caray are sharing a beer right now watching that ball Patterson hit get down and roll to the wall and get lost in the ivy for an inside-the-parker and a Cubs victory. Cubs 3, Pirates 2.
If he is at that Wrigley watching that game, God knows, Jim, you've earned it.
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."