I was planning a trip to the Phoenix area for last March. I had a few people to see and multiple things to do but at the top of the list was going to see the Cubs in Spring Training. I wanted to watch a practice on their back fields with my fellow blogger/friend John Arguello. I didn't make it to Arizona. I went to Las Vegas instead. There would always be next year or the year after. Plenty of time....or so I thought.
It was about five years ago that I decided I was going to write a blog. I had been writing in a couple of different places, on a variety of topics and I wanted to put all of that together and in one place. It was a matter of convenience as much as anything else. When I let people know about this, the question I heard most often was "What are you going to write about? Sports, right? Baseball? Cubs?"
The questions made sense because I'm a huge sports fan and fairly knowledgeable about those subjects. I always answered that there were plenty of sports blogs. Lots of them dealing with baseball and especially the Cubs. Then I'd refer them to this one. Cubs Den. It's as intelligent baseball writing as you can get. Much better than anything on the subject than I can do...and that's fine. We all have our niches. Little did I know, I'd be writing for the same site as Cubs Den. Little did I know, I would be colleagues with the guy who wrote Cubs Den. Little did I know I would meet him and would consider him a friend. Little did I know, I would be angry, broken, sad and all the emotions that go with this because he died Saturday.
One thing I loved about John is he wasn't all about the Cubs. You could talk to him on a variety of subjects. Other sports, music, politics, writing, good Scotch were among his other interests. I remember telling him a story about how I met a former player with the Montreal Canadiens. John was laughing as I told him the player was telling me chill out about a game lost more than twenty five years earlier. Btw, I still haven't chilled. I remember John sending me a response to a post I wrote about how 80's music sucked. He turned me on to a few bands I didn't know about and he was right about them. I still think I'm right about 80's music but don't tell John. He sent me an email about a piece I wrote about homelessness. It was complimentary about the post and supportive about the situation.
Supportive is one of the words I'd use to describe John Arguello...as a person and a writer. He's been gone for just a day and I've lost count of all the writers who have mentioned their relationships with him. I'm just one of many. They just aren't baseball or ChicagoNow writers, either.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention baseball and his love for the Cubs. When I was at game 6 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, as the Cubs turned the double play that won the National League championship, I had a few thoughts about who would be enjoying this the most. His name came to mind fast. Two weeks later we all celebrated the World Series championship. I know that all of us who knew John are so glad the Cubs won last year and that he got to see it. It doesn't ease the pain of his loss but it's a small something.
John loved the minor league prospects. He could give you details on young players the casual fan had never heard of...myself included. Last month I spent a couple of days in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It's the home of one of the Cubs minor league teams. I spent a couple of hours walking into every little touristy souvenir shop looking for a Myrtle Beach Pelican cap. I was going to send it to John. I figured he'd get a kick out of it plus it might lift his spirits a bit because the cancer we all thought he had defeated a couple of years ago had returned. I never did find a hat although I did find a lot of confederate flags. I should have bought one of those and sent that to him. He would have liked that.
Oh yeah, that cancer that came back....that fucking cancer. It was just a few months ago that he announced it returned. I just assumed that he was going to beat it like he did the first time. You know what happens when you assume..especially about cancer. Even when he wrote that he was having some problems and spent time in the hospital, I figured cancer was no match for John. But cancer doesn't fight fair and yesterday it took John away from his friends, family and everyone who loved him and who he loved. In this case, the saying he was so young is true. Forty-Eight! Fuck Cancer!
I've been thinking about this since I found out how ill he was, which was just a few days ago. It's hard to think about anything else. There's still two to three months left of the baseball season. I'm sure every time I watch the Cubs, John will be in my thoughts. Whenever the season ends and no matter what the result is, we'll start again with new season in 2018. The Cubs will be training in Arizona again. I'm sure I'll be lamenting that I blew a chance to be there with John. Baseball is timeless, life isn't. It's one of those don't let life pass you by stories. A missed opportunity with a now missed friend.
This is a piece John wrote about understanding stats, logic and odds in baseball. Smart baseball writing is an understatement.
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