Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Are you... Tony Campana?

I spotted this license plate in my neighborhood recently. Seeing as said neighborhood is immediately west of Wrigleyville, one might be forgiven for thinking that the vowel-deprived message here is "I, the driver or owner of this automobile, am a diehard partisan of the northside professional baseball team, and I would like you to know it." It could arguably even mean, "I really like Harry Caray's beer commercials."

But then I realized it was a cry for help. A plea for attention. A desperate act by a person relegated to the margins of sports history. For this license plate does not say, I[']M A CUB[S] FAN but rather the much more plaintive, I'M A CUBS FOOTNOTE.

But who can it be?

It can't be Greg Maddux because (a) he's not a footnote; and (b) Watson and I saw what might have been his own plate, 4 CY YOUNGS, on the Dan Ryan two weekends ago. (No photo because, for cri-yi-yi, I was driving on the Dan Ryan; also, to be clear, we saw the whole car, not just the license plate.) The evidence that it was Maddux is circumstantial but amounts to this: the only other person to have won exactly four Cy Youngs is Steve Carlton, and he's spending his time either in Florida or on the motivational speaking circuit. Besides, he has no connection to Chicago, apart from striking out 423 Cubs and White Sox (421 of them Cubs) over the course of his career.

Well, OK, at the other end and handedness of the pitching spectrum, what about lefty Justin Jones? Jones was a prospect whose departure formed the weak side of the rhombus that was the epic Cubs-Twins-Expos-Red Sox trade of 2004 that ended Nomar Garciaparra's reign in Fenway and condemned the Sox to 86 years of rental shortstops. The Twins thought so little of Jones eventually that they cut him loose, only to draft another lefty with the same name. I guess the plate could be his, but there's no reason to think that Justin the First has returned to Chicago, let alone to more or less the (non)scene of the (non)crime.

This isn't going well. Could it be Ray Ibidem, who played 14 games in right field for the Cubs in 1957? No, because that's not a real person. It can't be Jerry Etalia—who I believe had six brothers, three wives, and 11 children—for the same reason.

I think that leaves only one person. And he's a footnote because, say what you will, he never took the field. Yep, you got it: the Cubs footnote who is also—again, say what you will—a Cubs fan: Steve Bartman, this is your car!

I'm glad we got that resolved.

On my way to photograph this plate, incidentally, I happened to pass this tribute to a Twins great (no, not Justin Jones), who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984 before going on to die on my 43rd birthday. Tragic for all concerned, really.

1 comment:

  1. Well, you convince me that CUB FN is not Greg Maddux, but I supsect that 4CY YOUNGS could indeed be a Cubs Fan. Maddux was a Cub for two or three years in the oughts and was such a local favorite that they even retired his number...despite his not having won any of those Cy Youngs here. But, hey, when you're a Cubs fan you claim whom you can.