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The Cubs have carried a curse that would have made King Tut proud, the byproduct of which is a century-old, dust-filled trophy case that now may be filled with the work of this 2016 team. Air Max Online Cheap .From spring training on, this team has been the favorite, a strange juxtaposition for an organization that for decades carried a suitcase full of preseason predictions that had it set for dead last. This year, grounded by the calm of manager Joe Maddon, the Cubs embraced history and expectations, fueling a chance to redefine the significance of the organizations dance with futility.I was on one team that flirted with legendary emptiness, when in 1997, we started the season 0-14. After loss No. 5, local Cubs media man Dave Kaplan declared he would eat, sleep and shower in McDonalds until the Cubs won. Nine days of his life were spent in fast food hell. The season was not a complete loss; few noticed that we actually played over-.500 ball the rest of the season. But because the season was over before it barely began, I didnt blame anyone for looking ahead to 1998.I was drafted by the Cubs in 1991, so by the time I arrived to Wrigley Field in 1996, I had ingested some of this ancient toxicity. I was not a lifelong Cubs fan, but my minor league tenure made me more than just a hired gun like I was when I returned in 2003. My first introduction to professional baseball life was through the lens of Cubs culture. The tone is often set by the organization that drafts and signs you. Yet in any organization, no matter what has happened or how bad the current team may be playing, the future is just that: the future, a true opportunity to change the narrative with fresh blood and the optimism of youth.Then it got real. Minor league life, at the lower levels, was light-years away from the big leagues. For a while, I didnt understand the enduring pain, the sciatica of devastating defeat that shot down the legs of Cubs fans. But I did understand well that I could be part of the antidote, by looking toward a future of success, albeit hypothetical, since I was not in a major league uniform at the time. I was developing, not producing, which gave me enough Teflon-coated na?veté to dismiss curses. Especially since I was always nice to goats.Then, when I was put on the major league roster, it became real, palpable. Expectations, history, future, it slaps you in the face when you walk in the major league locker room in spring training for the first time (or as a September call-up). As longtime Cubs front-office man Larry Himes would say, You can see and feel the swagger in these locker rooms, it drips off of players. I walked into spring training and saw my jersey hanging next to Ryne Sandbergs, and no matter what the history, no matter how many Strat-O-Matic baseball games I played with Ryno hitting triples for my team, I was here now, imperatively unaware enough to believe I would write my own future as the decade-long center fielder for my Chicago Cubs. After all, as a minor leaguer with a great passion for baseball history, I looked around the room and saw great players, not a cemetery of the damned. Mark Grace (.300 hitter), Shawon Dunston (rocket arm), Randy Myers (lockdown closer), Sandberg (future Hall of Famer). Everyone was awesome, so why not us? Like any other major league team, we had All-Stars, we had first-rounders, we had guys like the late Jessie Hollins who could light up the radar gun. Who could beat these guys? They were the best I had ever seen in one room.So it was a good thing that I, or any young player, didnt have the burden of the past to cloud what my optimism told me about my future and this organizations future. This is the gift of youth, something the 2016 team has despite its ability to play like veterans. As Theo Epstein shared with me before a game last season, If you can find that balance of superior talent and maturity beyond his years, you have a star and winning player, for a long time. He found it in?Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Javier Baez?...In 1996, I was called up, a center fielder set to play left field in my debut at Wrigley Field. I was playing a position that was foreign to me to fill a void. A team lesson: Play where you can help this team the most. Bryant?went into 2016 being a super-utility player, not just a third baseman, and he may win MVP because of it. My being out of position did not secure me a long-term future as a Cub because I was a speedy defender who was not going to hit 30 home runs as a corner outfielder. But at least, I was in the lineup.By 1997, I was correct about running into career-development issues, as Cubs GM Ed Lynch would eventually say to me at the end of my .300-hitting first full season. We tried to give the starting job to everyone else but you, and to your credit, you rose above.I would get traded that offseason, interrupting my tenure as a Cub. I learned other team cultures -- the Phillies, the Rangers, even the Yankees in 2004 spring training. All had their own issues and challenges, with various levels of success.By the time I came back in 2003, I had seen a lot; I had experienced different baseball languages and societies. The attention to detail under Buck Showalter in Texas; the lax, full-loving, chill-fest of Terry Francona in Philadelphia; the high-octane, frenetic emotion off the rails under Larry Bowa, also in Philadelphia; the slithering life of the party and confidence-evoking wisdom of Dusty Baker in Chicago; all after Jim Riggleman in Chicago.I was back, but I was a different player, a different person. I had lost my father at the end of 2002; I was down a hamstring tendon from surgery earlier in the year; the evidence was in of what kind of player I was. The future was visible, no longer a dream. Even though it was the same Cubs uniform, 12 years after my first-round draft-pick status from 1991.Yet I had a lot left to play for. Things I didnt understand as a young prospect during my rookie campaign in 1996. Family, my fathers memory, debunking mythology, a second chance at what could have been if I played my entire career as a Cub. Bartman? Curse? No, what we all experience, life and loss, yet still with a chance at rebirth, redemption, honor.My graying in the game forced me to intake more than just the final score of a game. There was too much at stake at that point, and when we lost, I lay motionless in my apartment for 24 hours, trying to reconcile the level of exhaustion with taking the next step into tomorrow. Tired for the city, tired for the organization, tired from sitting on every pitch since I was traded over at the trade deadline in July.Maybe the 2016 Cubs dont know those stories. Player to player. Man to man. And maybe they shouldnt. They have overcome the invisible hurdle that eluded my 2003 team. Closing out a 3-2 lead, playing at home with the rotation set as well as it could be set. Something we could not accomplish behind the elite arms of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.They delivered, and what we instantly come to understand is the necessity of the prior journey. It tastes sweeter after all this time; we now see fine wine in the bottle instead of rat poison adorned with skull and crossbones. It has aged appropriately and better yet, they will celebrate with their teammates and with generations of fans, players and staff who were part of the process that Joe Maddon so often talks about. As Maddon told me when asked if his team were a wine, what kind it would be:A blend. Robust and full-bodied. Complex flavors, well-rounded, with a strong finish.I could never take credit for the success of the 2016 Cubs in any direct sense, but our pain from 2003 has ripened, helping us all reinterpret the events that led to this point. History has been rewritten, or maybe weve just been patient enough to let history become our present. Air Max Shoes Online . The team said Saturday that Lopez was hurt during its 121-120 overtime loss at Philadelphia on Friday. The Nets said they would issue another update next week after consultation with their doctors. Cheap Nike Air Max Wholesale . Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey last Sunday. The fine is the fourth this season for Goldson. He was fined $30,000 for a hit on the New York Jets Jeff Cumberland in Week 1. http://www.cheapairmaxshop.com/ . -- The proud fathers huddled near the Dallas Stars dressing room, smiling, laughing and telling stories while wearing replica green sweaters of their sons team. FRISCO, Texas -- Dez Bryant smiled as he looked down at his phone and listened to reporters offer ideas for how the Dallas Cowboys could get their top receiver the ball more often.Without looking up, the 2014 All-Pro pointed outside the locker room, playfully suggesting that the issue should be taken up with coaches whose offices are now a floor above the players at the teams new practice facility.A few years ago, Bryant might not have been in such a good mood after catching just one pass in a season-opening loss.Heading into a Week 2 visit to Washington on Sunday, hes trying to act more as if hes the dean of Dallas receivers, which he is, and less like the fiery young receiver who sometimes lost control on the sideline.Its just understanding, understanding what theyre trying to do, said Bryant, whose catch went for 8 yards in a 20-19 loss to the New York Giants.Whatever the coaches give me, thats what Im going to do. Im not going to get too involved, get my emotions too high, or too low. Im just going to stay prepared and ready at any moment.Part of the understanding is that Bryant is working with a rookie quarterback in Dak Prescott after 13-year veteran and 10-year starter Tony Romo broke a bone in his back in a preseason game.And it wasnt as if Prescott ignored his top threat in his first regular-season game. Bryant had a 24-yard touchdown overturned on review, and another long pass into the end zone was broken up.The numbers stick out, though. Bryant was targeted five times compared to 26 combined for tight end Jason Witten and slot receiver Cole Beasley.Witten had nine catches and Beasley eight. Its also somewhat startling to note that Bryants looks were limited despite being on the field for 75 snaps.Thats our guy, he needs catches, Prescott said.He had some balls thrown at him, he wants to bring down and hed say it himself he wants to bring that touchdown, make that play. I think if he has that, regardless of two catches or not, he has a touchdown and I dont know if were still talking about this.. Air Max Cheap Sale. Prescott needed 25 completions (on 45 attempts) to get 227 yards, and coach Jason Garrett said he missed a few chances to get the ball down the field.Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan also pointed out that on the deep throw to Bryant that was broken up in the end zone, Witten was open across the middle.Youve got to be careful of that, Linehan said. Certain receivers and certain players are open when theyre not wide open, right? Were fairly aware of Dezs ability to catch and jump and do all those things. So well continue to work on that.Linehan gave Prescott high marks for his debut, and Bryant has gone out of his way to praise the 23-year-old since before Romos latest back injury. So its safe to say Bryant didnt see Prescott as the problem in Week 1.I dont like using rookie as an excuse because its not, Bryant said. But at the same time it was his first NFL game. I think he did a hell of a job and hes going to continue getting better. Were just going to keep pushing and stay behind him and be ready when he needs us.It wont get easier this week with Washington cornerback Josh Norman likely lined up against Bryant most if not all game. The previous time these two saw each other, Bryant was held to two catches for 26 yards in Carolinas 33-14 rout of the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.Bryant was still plagued by a foot he broke in the opener last year, and he dealt with ankle issues most of the season as well.Now hes healthy.Im not going to get into that, Bryant said. I feel good. Were going to have fun.Game notes CB Orlando Scandrick was held out of practice with a hamstring injury Thursday. He did practice Wednesday. Scandrick, who missed the 2015 season with a knee injury, was sidelined briefly in the opener with a hamstring problem.---Online:AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL---Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler ' ' ' 

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