Curses are contagious?

Curses are contagious?

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

Upon moving to Chicago some 19 years ago, one of the first things I became acutely aware of was the curse that had befallen the beloved, at least on the Northside, Cubs. Of course if you know me, you know what my reaction was: Laughter. This city obviously doesnt know anything about a jinx in spite of what Uncle Lou dubbed Cubby occurrences. 104 years? Whatever! I have almost half that with my football team alone! Although I will admit some weird things happen to them, Bartman comes right to mind, but most of what I have witnessed with the Cubs seems self-inflicted. When I think of a curse, I think of weird stuff happening out of nowhere, on a repeated, relentless basis. Like what happens to guys who wear a red bow tie for a living.

Currently Im in the middle of a stretch in my life where I just cant seem to get out of my own way, I mean at least more than usual. Speaking of which, out of nowhere on Tuesday, at six in the morning, I was startled out of my once a week eight-hour slumber by my wife who said that my presence was needed on the front porch: IMMEDIATELY! What now? A headless rabbit, thats what. Honestly?! How does something like that happen? Im really asking myself this? The real surprise is that it took this long! I mean, everyone finds severed animal carcasses on their doorsteps in the morning, right? Thats normal.

Thats also one unlucky rabbit. I should have kept his feet.

As I was trying to get back to sleep, with the vision of the disposal running through my head, I amused myself by wondering who I had ticked off to cost the poor bunny its life. Then it occurred to me that I had recently done something that I never thought I would ever do: I had publicly denounced one of my hometown teams, the Sixers, in favor of the Bulls in last years playoffs. Well you know how that turned out: D-Rose promptly blew out his knee in the first game. And for good measure Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Luol Deng were injured during the hard-fought series to ensure the Bulls demise.

Oops.

I guess I angered the basketball gods. Sorry Bulls fans. My bad.

But that should have been the end of it right?

I still follow my Fightin Phils with a psychotic passion, but I did check out on them kind of early this year when I saw where things were headed. I think that was in April. What can I say? I can only beat my head against a wall so many times and most of them are used up with my family. Give me a reason to believe, not Ty Wiggington!

So during the summer I turned most of my attention to the White Sox, and for most of the season that was a fun thing. Then the bottom fell out. Wait a second. That sounds eerily familiar. Compete all season long, to the point where even the non-believers get on board, then gag. Hold on here. Thats the Frankie O Philly team curse. You know, the one where a team is thisclose to winning and then doesnt, often losing in spectacular fashion.

Almost good enough.

And in some instances a coach is given 14 chances to torture. What is the definition of insanity again?

But the Sox thing got me thinking. But that must have been a coincidence, right? Theres no way that I could have brought my luck here is there? I couldnt have opened some weird Philly-Chicago portal like the one in the Malkovich movie could I? The Sox season could have happened anywhere, my being here was just an unfortunate happenstance.
It would have to happen more than once for someone to think this is real.

I had no effect on the Cubs. They shot themselves. Again and again. They wanted to be awful. They never allowed the fan connection that is required to rip your heart out, at least with the sober ones.

And Im not happy that there wont be a hockey season, but at least I cant be held captive by a lost-in-the-woods crazy Russian astronomergoalie. My hockey heartbreak already occurred over the summer when the Flyers offered all-star defenseman Shea Weber the second largest contract in NHL history and gave visions to Flyers fans of Claude Giroux manning the front line and Weber manning the blue line for years to come. Two all-world talents on one team. NOT! The cash-strapped Nashville Predators matched the contract offer right before they locked him out. Even when theres no season, I suffer! Whatever!

So I guess a good barometer for the Frankie O effect would be the 2012 Monsters of the Midway.

Lets see. Theyre coming off a devastating season in which Jay Cutler had led the team to a 7-3 record, but suffered a season-ending injury in the seventh win. Then without a quarterback they then lost the next five games in every conceivable fashion to shatter their once sure playoff hopes. (One could say without a competent QB they had their heads cut off. Sorry, its late.)

That kind of season can happen to anyone though. Besides, did anyone think they had a chance without a big-time receiver? I didnt think so. In a way, Bears fans were spared the agony of getting bounced within a whiff of the final prize with a fatally-flawed team. Remember 2010? That hurts worse.

Then the unthinkable happened. The Bears went out and got the wide receiver they have wanted for generations. They would finally be on par offensively with all the big boys. It was a master stroke. Brandon Marshall didnt come without risk, but hes well worth it. This could be the start of something special. Uh-oh. Of course it all depends on how an aging defense can hold up, but theres hope. Where have I heard this before?

The life I have led has taught me there is nothing worse than having the football team you root for get you close then not be able reach the summit of Mt. Lombardi. Getting there must be great. It happened here once and I hear about it every day, 27 years later. But I digress.

To be truly cursed, you need to be set up for success and then have the bottom fall out, say in consecutive years, in much different ways.

How did this years 7-1 sound? A month ago it sounded great.

Now, there are some realists here that have understood the issues of the offensive line, but 7-1? With a defense that can seemingly take away the ball from an opponent at will? This is a team that can go places, so hop on board! Ive really heard this one before and my stomach is starting to get queasy.

The true measure is that in spite of losing three out of four and guards dropping like flies, fans keep thinking that the tailspin will end NEXT week. Oh my God! Its happening here! What have I done?

As much as I want to help, I dont know if I can. And after last weeks awful home loss to the Seahawks I have a familiar feeling on how this is going to end up and its as messy as my front porch was earlier this week. For the second year in a row.

We want to analyze and theorize everything that happens, but some things in this life are just going to happen, due much to forces beyond our control or understanding. I look at where this Bears season is heading and where its come from and I want to close my eyes and yell Lookout! There has been a force unleashed here that shows no mercy and takes no prisoners.

By taking sides against my former hometown with my current one, I have obviously transferred the lifetime of suffering on an unsuspecting metropolis. It wasnt my intent, but then it never is. All I wanted was to be a part of something here. Unfortunately, its part of something where rabbits are running around without heads and pro teams are ripping out hearts.

I didnt mean for this to happen.

Im sorry Chicago.

My bad!

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win in Minnesota

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win in Minnesota

Here are some of Tuesday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Wednesday on CSN: Illinois State and Loyola host in Valley doubleheader

Jonathan Toews has five-point night, including a hat trick, in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Report: Bears seeking trade partners for Jay Cutler

Bulls Talk Podcast: What is the Bulls' approach at the trade deadline?

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

Northwestern's offense nowhere to be found as Illini complete sweep of season series

Quick Hits: Blackhawks respond the right way in win over Wild

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Why Sammy Sosa compared himself to Jesus Christ in candid interview

Why Joe Maddon won’t tone down the stunts at Cubs camp

Why Joe Maddon won’t tone down the stunts at Cubs camp

MESA, Ariz. – Joe Maddon teased reporters when pitchers and catchers reported to Arizona one week ago, promising the Cubs wouldn't tone down the gimmicks now that they're World Series champions: "We already have something planned for the first day that you might not want to miss."

A weekend of rain in Mesa postposed the first full-scale full-squad workout until Monday, and the wet grass meant the big reveal had to wait until Tuesday morning, when gonzo strength and conditioning coordinator Tim Buss drove a white Ferrari onto the field for the team's stretching session.

The bearded man they call "Bussy" rocked sunglasses, a gold chain around his neck, brown dress shoes and the same navy blue windowpane suit he wore to the White House. The overarching message as Buss blew kisses and Cypress Hill's "(Rock) Superstar" and Jay Z's "Big Pimpin'" blasted from the sound system: Humility.

"I hope everyone gets the sarcasm involved," Maddon said.

So, uh, no, the Cubs aren't going to dial it back or turn the zoo animals away or worry about the target they proudly wore on their chest last year.

"I don't know if the mime's coming back or not," Maddon said during the welcome-to-camp press conference. "Could you do a mime two years in a row? I don't know if that's permissible under MLB rules somewhere. I don't think you can bring a mime back two years in a row.

"Magicians are OK. You can anticipate a lot of the same, absolutely."

Before rolling your eyes at a star manager who loves the spotlight, it's important to note that the stunts are largely Buss productions.

"A lot of times, I'm not even aware," Maddon said. "He just knows he's got my blessings. He knows he does not have to clear it with me, unless it's absolutely insane. It works pretty well this way."

While every Maddon dress-up theme trip doesn't get universal love in the clubhouse, Buss has a unique way of getting millionaires to pay attention, almost tricking them into doing work.

"He's got several well-endowed players on the team that support his histrionics," Maddon said.

[MORE CUBS: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field]

Since taking over this job in 2001, Buss has survived multiple ownership structures (Tribune Co., Sam Zell, Ricketts family) and the Andy MacPhail/Jim Hendry/Theo Epstein transitions in the front office, working for managers Don Baylor, Rene Lachemann (interim), Bruce Kimm (interim), Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Mike Quade, Dale Sveum and Rick Renteria.

"He must have some good photographs, right?" Maddon said. "He's a different cat. He's a weapon."

Buss can clearly get along with almost any kind of personality. But it took Maddon – and the explosion of social media – to give him this kind of platform.

"No, nothing's changed, man," Maddon said. "It's all the same in regards to 'the same,' meaning the methods, the process. I just got aired out by one of our geek guys for not using the word ‘process.’ It’s true. Last year, I used the word ‘process’ often. I’m going to continue to use it a lot again this year.

"Why were we able to withstand the word 'pressure' and 'expectations' as well as we did last year? Because we weren't outcome-oriented. We were more oriented towards the process. Anybody in your job and your business – if you want to be outcome-oriented – you're going to find yourself in a lot of trouble just focusing on that word.

"It's all about the process. Our process shall remain the same, absolutely it shall. Hopefully, we're going to add or augment it in some ways that can be even more interesting and entertaining."

The irony is that the Cubs have repeatedly used outcome-based thinking in defending Maddon's decisions during the World Series. But the manager obviously deserves so much credit for creating an environment where this team could play loose and relaxed and not collapse under the weight of franchise history.

"Our guys are pretty much in charge of the whole thing," Maddon said. "I love the empowerment of the players. I love that they feel the freedom to be themselves. If they didn't, maybe Jason (Heyward) would not have gotten the guys together in a weight room in Cleveland after a bad moment.

"All those things matter. And you can't understand exactly which is more important than the other. So you just continue to attempt to do a lot of the same things. Process is important, man, and we're going to continue along that path."