A century later, it appears that it's finally "the year" for the Cubs again.
After Monday night's draft, it appears our nation's sentimental favorite will ruthlessly dominate the league this year.
These Cubs don't live in Chicago. Kerry Wood doesn't hurl 100 mph fastballs for them, and Sammy Sosa doesn't patrol right field, either. Harry Caray, God rest his soul, never sang "Take me out to the Ballgame" for them. They dwell right in your backyard,
and you've never even heard of them.
They are the Northwest Cubs, a 6-and-under Tee-Ball team with mad skills and a bad attitude.
After a successful 11-3 campaign last season, the Cubs (OK, so we were the White Sox last year) are recharged for a return to Glory.
"I didn't want to be the White Sox last year, but those whiners threatened to quit," Cubs Assistant Coach Wesley Rucker said. "Most of the other coaches in the league let their kids pick the team names, but we're gonna be the Cubs and they're gonna like i
Rucker said his experienced squad will be unstoppable this season.
"Well, we finished in second-place last season, but the Padres (the league champions) were dirty cheaters," Rucker said. "They used to have their pitcher roll the ball to the first baseman to get kids out, those filthy bush-leaguers."
The Cubs have a strong nucleus returning from last season. The key returnee is pitcher Grant Rucker, who hit over .950 with 22 home runs a year ago.
The younger Rucker said he feels compelled to lead the Cubs.
"We're going to be good," Grant said. "But hold on a second Bubby, the Crocodile Hunter is on. I don't want to talk to you right now. Leave me alone or I'm telling dad."
In any draft, knowledge of the players is essential. Some decisions were almost as difficult as picking between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf.
Wesley said that the Cubs brain-trust (he and his father Dale) was confident in the players they selected.
"The league only let us keep seven players from last season, so picking talented athletes was obviously important to us," Wesley said. "When I was a kid, they used to herd us in like cattle and make us hit and throw and stuff. We don't even know who 90 pe
rcent of these kids are, so Pops and I decided to pick kids who sounded athletic."
But which names sound athletic?
"Names like Jake, Mike, and Jevon are what we were going for," Wesley said. "I want kids who sound tough. If I can't pronounce it, I don't pick it."
It seems like every year a great player isn't taken until late in the draft. Mike Piazza was selected in the 62nd round. This year was no different.
"I think our smartest move was in the late rounds, when we got two players with one pick," Wesley said.
"You see, they're neighbors and have to ride together. Now we have more players than the other teams, and everyone has to play in the field at the same time. We're going to have, like, six or seven outfielders. Destruction is imminent."
However, not every round was bliss for the Cubs. Their picks from the 6th and 8th rounds drew snickers from the Braves' coach.
Wesley said the laughter came from a "dirty Padre sympathizer."
In a co-ed league such as Tee-Ball, the girls on the team also play a big role. Rucker the younger said that this year's girls are primed for success.
"I don't like girls, they smell bad," Grant said. "And if you don't stop bothering me I'm gonna tell Dad."
All in all, the Cubs seem to have what it takes to win the league this year. They have the right attitude and seem determined to bring home the "really big trophy."
Grant said that he expects nothing less than a championship.
"I don't like it when we lose," he said. "You yell at the referees and stuff."
Wesley corrected Grant by telling them the officials were called umpires.
Grant replied: "I hate you, Bubby. DAAAAAD!!!"
Cubs set to dominate this year
Published: Wed Mar 06, 2002 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 04:09 p.m.