Of Billy goat curses and lime green Hondas

66-96. That's the record the Chicago Cubs will amass in 2012, according to Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci.

Verducci is a talented scribe who knows a lot about baseball. I, however, know a lot about the Cubs and their preternatural ability to subvert expectations year in and year out.

That's why I'm saying the team finishes 64-98. Sorry, Tom.

To prepare for my annual Cubs column, I took a minute to peruse the team's Wikipedia page to see whether I had missed something that might have happened over the past year.

Truth is, I haven't spent a lot of time dealing with the prospects of the 2012 Cubs.

At one time, merely thinking about them for five minutes caused a dull ache behind my left eye. I'm convinced some part of the human brain that has evolved over the millennia swells and burns when one begins to think too deeply about the Chicago Cubs. It's a self-preservation mechanism to keep one from going insane and killing members of one's own tribe in a blind, sobbing rage.

The Wikipedia page brought about its own hurt and fatigue. Wikipedia breaks its articles down into easily read sections separated by bold subheadings. The subheads on the Cubs' page tell you everything you need to know about the generational torture of the Cubs fan.

(As I write this, I am listening to doom metal, namely Electric Wizard's "The Sun Has Turned to Black." I suspect writing about the Cubs and listening to a 9-minute doom jam about the Earth slowly freezing to death aren't mutually exclusive activities.)

What other team's history is listed under the headings: "1945: The Curse of the Billy Goat"; "1969: The Fall of '69"; "1977: The June Swoon"; "1984: Heartbreak"; "2003: Five More Outs" (a.k.a. The Bartman Game, a.k.a. The It Wasn't Steve Bartman's Fault Dusty Baker Left Mark Prior In One Hitter Too Long When A Dominant Kerry Wood Was Ready In The Bullpen And If Alex Gonzalez Makes A Routine Play On A Ground Ball The Inning Ends And We Go Into The Ninth With A Lead With Our All-Star Closer Ready To Shut The Door And Send Us To Our First World Series In 95 Years Where We Surely Would Have Beaten An Old Yankees Team Game.)

Even my fondest Cubs memories are tainted by some insane actions taken by either myself or one of my friends.

In 1998, propelled by an improbable MVP-caliber season by third-baseman Gary Gaetti, rookie pitching phenom Kerry Wood and Sammy Sosa's run at home-run history, the Cubs racked up 90 wins and were well on the way to their first playoff berth in nearly a decade when they stumbled in the final week of the season to end in a tie with the San Francisco Giants for the final NL post-season spot. The result was a one-game playoff to determine who proceeded to the playoffs and who sulked home.

My friend and Walmart coworker Chris T. and I were sophomores in college who shared an obsession with that Cubs team. We skipped most of our first semester classes to drink beer in his filthy living room and cheer the team to victory after victory.

On the day of the play-in game, we sat mostly in silence as Rod Beck nearly blew a lead in the 9th, but The Shooter managed to compose his booze-and-drug-addled body enough to make the tough pitches and seal the win. Wrigley Field was going to host a playoff game for the first time since 1989.

We were ecstatic. The Old Style flowed freely for the rest of that night. At around 1 a.m., Chris T. decided it would be a good idea to hop on his lime-green Honda sport bike and tear around campus screaming "CUBBIES!!!" at the top of his lungs.

Figuring this would end badly, I attempted to talk him out of it. We ended up in a violent struggle outside his apartment. He finally broke away and made it to his bike.

"Go ahead, man," I said, walking toward my nearby apartment. "Kill yourself. You won't see the playoff game."

Chris T. hit the ignition and slurred, "Yes I will" before tearing off into the night.

He didn't die or get arrested. Instead, he sat on the opposite end of his couch from me in a depressed stupor over the next week as the Cubs were swept out of the playoffs by the Atlanta Braves. We hit under .200 as a team and scored a total of four runs in three games.

I left his place after the final loss. That night we said maybe 120 words to each other.

He sold the Honda soon after and moved back to Chicago. I haven't spoken to him since.

I've considered trying to track him down, but what would we talk about? Our jobs? His wife and kids, if he has any? Gas prices?

No, I suspect the conversation would turn to something unpleasant enough to cause an all too familiar ache behind our left eyes.

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