Signing off from TTFB


When I started writing this blog in the summer of 2011, I did it because I had things I wanted to say, and no outlet for saying them. I sent a couple of things I wrote to other blogs, but in the end I wanted my words to go someplace that I got to direct. The result was this blog, and starting it was a decision I’m very happy about.

For the first few months, this blog was a spigot that gushed forth with thoughts I had kept locked inside my brain for a long time. Nothing seemed too trivial to write about, because it was all stuff that I wanted to share with somebody–anybody–and finally I could do exactly that.

And then I started to wonder if some of my ideas wouldn’t be suited for wider consumption someplace else. The 2011 World Series between the Rangers and Cardinals was amazing, but my thoughts and writings about it came here to sit. I’d rather write something than let the thoughts die inside my brain–and that’s the feeling that still keeps me doing this, 500,000 words or so later. But there should be something else I could do with this stuff, too.

So the following spring, I began sending things into a website called ThroughTheFenceBaseball. I think I learned about them on a Craigslist ad or something like that. From the start, I wanted a place to send some of my baseball-related thoughts, while keeping the blog for everything else. And it worked out pretty well, because I sent them 215 pieces over the past four years, ending with a farewell piece that was published yesterday. I even got in a reference to Boston in my parting shot, which made me happy.

The number of outside websites I write for has varied through the years, but my four-year run at TTFB will always be my first one, and probably my longest one, too. I had hundreds of thousands of page views there, which means somebody might have read something they liked.  It was something I enjoyed doing, and I left a body of work that will live on for as long as the site does. And who really knows how long that will be, anyway?



Quarterly Report #10

Ten quarters is two and a half years. Throw in the quarter where I blew off writing one of these, and I’m almost three years into writing this blog. My output last quarter was just under a post a day, and some of the posts I added weren’t more than a picture and a few words. But it’s clear to me I still enjoy doing this.

This quarter I quit drinking coffee, on the theory that I would sleep better at night if I cut back on the caffeine. And I also created an avenue for artistic expression with the teabag haiku thing that I do sometimes. I have fun with it, and that’s the best reason for doing it.

Last quarter I also didn’t eat at McDonald’s once, which is probably a good thing. I still overeat in other ways, and other fast food outlets may get a visit on occasion (darn you, Colonel Sanders) but on the whole this is a change that I’m glad to have made.

I also commented on some celebrity deaths last quarter, including Philip Seymour Hoffman and Harold Ramis. We all die eventually, and a classmate of mine from high school died very suddenly this month,too. I didn’t know her very well, but again it’s a reminder that we have to enjoy the time that we’re here.

And lastly, I contributed a few things to four other websites, so that cut into the things that I put here. But it’s all good, because taking a thought from my head and then sending it out to the world always feels great.

The next one of these will be in the heat of the summer. Until then….

On the radio


Today was a new experience for me. I spent the week brushing up on the rest of the National League’s Central division–since I could already talk about the Cubs in my sleep–and I went on the radio this morning to discuss the division with Steve Bortstein of Fox Sports radio in New Mexico. Thanks to the internet, I was able to listen to the interview after the fact, and can even present it here for anyone who wants to listen.

I enjoyed the experience, and will be happy to do more of it if the opportunity presents itself. Anything to share the game with those who are interested in it. And opening day is now less than a week away. I can’t wait for it to arrive.

Some writings from this month


Yesterday was the first time that I’ve had a piece published on ChicagoSideSports this year, but I’ve also been active on ThroughTheFenceBaseball and on FiveWideSports. I haven’t promoted them the  way that I would like to here, but I’m grateful to have a chance to share some of my thoughts with those in the online community.

Quarterly report #8

Wrigley and Pearl Jam--Awesome!

It’s now been over two years since I’ve been writing this blog. It’s been a time capsule of my life, and the more I do it, the more comfortable it becomes. As I sometimes do in this space, now’s a time to look back, and try to see what lies ahead, too.

I passed 1,000 posts here back in July, which I didn’t think would happen at one point. I had visions of going off and trying to work on a book of some sort, and maybe that will in the cards one day, but writing little posts like these and putting them online has an immediacy that writing a book wouldn’t have. So I keep devoting time and energy to this, because it does scratch some sort of an itch for me.

But I’ve also had writings appear in other places as well. I started writing a column at ThroughTheFenceBaseball, and I am very proud of the work I’ve done there over the past two seasons. The off-season hibernation will start soon, but I think there’s still a little bit more to say while the playoffs are going on.

I also started writing for FiveWideSports over the past couple of weeks, and I’m happy with the first few pieces I’ve sent them. As the college football season rolls on, I’ll keep writing about my Northwestern Wildcats. It will be nice to talk about a winner for a change.

I also had a piece appear on ChicagoSideSports, and saw my visions of a losing season on both sides of Chicago realized, in a way that I didn’t see coming. A run at the old record of 191 losses for both teams in a season would have been interesting, but breaking the record with 195 combined losses was more than I ever thought would happen. It was brutal.

I also wrote about the Pearl Jam concert at Wrigley Field back in July, including my first-ever appearance in Zisk magazine, which I really like a lot. I’m glad that they agreed to run my report on the concert.

I wrote lots of other pieces here, and I’m happy that I can take a small moment, or a trip to the ballpark, and put a few words about them here. And I plan to continue this into the future, as well. It’s too much fun to consider giving this up.

The next report will  be written during the bowl season, I hope. There will be lots of things to say between now and then, I’m sure.

A new outlet


I’m happy that FiveWideSports will be carrying some of my thoughts and writings, beginning with this piece that appeared on their site today. I’m still writing for ThroughTheFenceBaseball, and I have a piece appearing there today, as well. The writing is all Cubs and baseball-related, and a week from now their season will be done. Thankfully.

FiveWide is going to give me a chance to write about Northwestern Football and other sports-related things that interest me. I went into a winter’s hibernation of sorts at TTFB last year, and this new site will give me a chance to wander off the baseball subject from time to time. I doubt I’ll ever stray too far from it, though.

And then, as always, there’s this blog. That’s going to remain as my go-to for anything else that pops into my head and inspires me to write a few words. After almost 1100 posts over the course of two years plus, I’m pretty sure that well will continue flowing into the foreseeable future.

Another lost season


I wish that I had more productive creative muses than the Chicago Cubs. It’s such a draining and aggravating experience following this team. But baseball is my game and Chicago is my home and I  would rather eat my keyboard than become a White Sox fan. So here I am.

I ruminated again about how bad the Cubs have been this year on ThroughTheFenceBaseball. It’s like that old poem about gathering rosebuds: Bash your baseball team while ye may. Winter’s coming soon.

Link to a post on ThroughTheFenceBaseball


Yesterday brought a strange bit of baseball convergence, as the Atlanta Braves retired Chipper Jones’ number 10, while the Cincinnati Reds released Mark Prior. Ten years ago, in the first round of the National League playoffs, Prior got the better of Jones in game three, retiring him three times.But in the end, Chipper Jones is going to the Hall of Fame, while Mark Prior is struggling to make it back back to the majors.

I wrote this piece as a lamentation of sorts for the way it has been for Cubs fans since 2003. And I hope that one day these memories will be supplanted by something more celebratory. But for now, this is all I have.

Best of luck to Mark Prior as he moves on from here. I’d like to see him pitch again in the majors one day.

Link to a post on ThroughTheFenceBaseball


The Cubs had a bad April, and Edwin Jackson’s performance stands out because he hasn’t yet won a game. Theo Epstein’s first big free agent signing has yet to pay off, and I pointed this out in a piece now up at

I’m hoping for more positive things to write about as the year moves along–it now seems like the Cubs have a closer, at least–but we’ll have to see how it goes. It’s not looking too good at the moment, though.

Link to a post on ThroughTheFenceBaseball


I don’t have any intention of writing about all, or even very many, of the Cubs’ games this season. But if Opening Day doesn’t get the writing juices flowing, I’m not sure what else will.

I’m a baseball fan, and always will be. I write about the game for exactly that reason. It intrigues me, draws me in, and marks off the seasons like nothing else ever has.

Here’s the piece that I wrote about the Cubs and their Opening Day win in Pittsburgh. They lost tonight, but there will be months and months and months of games taking place, with new story lines developing every day. And I’ll probably write at least a few of them down, as the season unfolds.

Link to a piece on ThroughTheFenceBaseball


As I’m waiting for Spring to begin on Opening day, I wrote a piece about the World Baseball Classic and how I’m not interested in it at all. I should be all over it because of my interest in baseball, but I just can’t do it. Here’s a link to the piece itself.

Right now I’m putting together something about why Chicago is the best baseball city of all. It’s something I’ve been wanting to write for decades, so I’ll do whatever I have to in order to make it right. The city I call home deserves nothing less.

Link to a post on ThroughTheFenceBaseball


Today was my first post on ThroughTheFenceBaseball under my new pen name of R. Lincoln Harris. I explained why that was being done here, but essentially when you have a common name like mine, you need to improvise in order to stand out.

We’ll see if “Singles” catches on or not. I like it, myself.

Submitted for the Cubs’ consideration


Dear Chicago Cubs,

I welcome the news that you will be turning away from random celebrities, in favor of giving the seventh-inning stretch more of a Chicago feel. To honor your decision, I want to kick off a campaign to secure myself an invite for one of the celebrity-vacated spots, for the 2013 season or whenever you see your way clear to inviting me.

To set forth some credentials, I offer the following: I’ve been a Cubs fan since I was seven years old. I wrote about my Cubs conversion, and have chronicled many other Cubs-related memories in this space, as well.

In addition, I also write about the Cubs for ThroughTheFenceBaseball, and would be happy to relate my experiences to that site and its readers. I also write for ChicagoSideSports, and what a story that would be for them, as well. I have several ideas to write about for them, but I promise that no other piece would matter until that story is told.

I feel, on some level, that I’ve helped to diagnose one of the problems plaguing the Cubs in the quest to win at Wrigley Field. Last year,  I wrote a piece about how Bruce Springsteen has brought success to the Bears, Blackhawks, and White Sox, after he played a concert in their home stadium. That piece ran in TimeOutChicago, and I was very glad to see it. But I also took it one step further on my blog.

I pointed out that Bruce Springsteen’s 2003 concerts at Fenway Park seemed to clear the way for the Red Sox to finally break their curse/drought/whatever in 2004. I looked at the playlists for those shows, and identified The Promised Land as a song that speaks of faith in someplace that hasn’t yet been seen. I theorized that if Bruce could play The Promised Land at Wrigley Field last summer, perhaps that would be enough to break whatever’s been afflicting the Cubs for so long. Nobody can say that Boston won for that reason in 2004, but nobody can say that they didn’t, either.

I went to the first Springsteen show at Wrigley last year, and even though I didn’t hear the Promised Land, it was a phenomenal show. I also picked up on a hidden Ron Santo tribute during the show, wrote about it, and sent it off to Jon Eig, the editor at ChicagoSideSports. He got the piece up on the site in time for others to read about it before the second Springsteen show, and this time, when My City of Ruins was played, I have to believe at least some at the show knew what was going on. Bruce even called the fans’ attention to it, in a way that he didn’t do at the first show. I can’t say I had a role in any of that, but again, I put the story out there and events played out as they did.

The second Springsteen show led off with The Promised Land, and I took to my blog the next morning and declared victory. I’m not foolish enough to take credit for the song actually being played. But I did lay down a marker that if anything good comes from it, I want it known that I pointed this out before the fact.

In the wake of the Ron Santo piece, I also wrote a Kerry Wood piece for ChicagoSide, and a Ryan Freel piece, and the Pete Rose piece that took off in ways I never imagined, and has helped lead to an evaluation of whether Rose has suffered enough for what he did. All of which has been very gratifying, and has put my words and ideas into the minds and on the tongues of many people.

I’m no celebrity, and I never will be, either. I’m just a dedicated Chicagoan who loves the Cubs like nothing else, short of my own family. My Twitter page, my blog site, my Tumblr page, and my Pinterest account all verify my devotion to the team, and my Facebook banner leaves no doubt as to my thoughts about baseball itself. And if that doesn’t merit even a bit of consideration for a singing gig at Wrigley Field, so be it. Just having the chance to type all of this up was interesting enough.

Thanks for the consideration.

Rob Harris

Link to a post on ThroughTheFenceBaseball


I’ve slowed down the writing pace in this, my first offseason as a writer for ThroughTheFenceBaseball. But baseball and the Cubs are subjects that are never very far  from my mind, and a rumination that came to me as I was out walking my dog turned into this post. I’m hopeful that is is one where I’ll be proven wrong as Spring training progresses.

Link to a Stan Musial tribute on ThroughTheFenceBaseball


The passing of Stan Musial was sad news for all Cardinals fans, I’m sure. And even though I turned my back on the Cardinals in favor of the Cubs many years ago, I still have many friends who are Cardinals fans. And let’s face it, if you can’t give your rivals some props on an occasion like this, you’re not too much of a person.

My first instinct upon hearing news like this is to write, and so I put together a brief tribute to Stan the Man. It is now up on ThroughTheFenceBaseball, along with several articles I wrote last season. Many more pieces will no doubt be written in the months ahead.

Baseball season isn’t here yet, but it’s getting closer every day. I’ll take that.

Link to a ThroughTheFenceBaseball piece


Earlier in the week, I wrote the first piece I’ve done in a while for I started writing for them earlier this year, and I enjoyed having an outlet for my baseball-related thoughts. I plan to continue with this in the spring, once the season kicks into gear again, but for now I need some time away from the game and the disappointments that seem to always be a part of it. Such is the life of a Cubs fan.

Here’s a link to the piece, if you’re interested in reading it. A bit of online cross-promotion (using one’s blog to promote a piece written on a different website) is pretty much the way of the world now, isn’t it?

The creative juices are flowing

Is “The Oct2ber” going to catch on? Probably not. But it’s out there, anyway. As I’m shifting into postseason baseball mode, where the Cubs are out of the picture once again, I gave the new wild card format a little bit of thought last night. Here’s what I came up with. Enjoy.


Link to a piece on ThroughTheFenceBaseball

The 2012 Cubs have officially collapsed, and are knocking on the door of 100 losses for the season out in Phoenix this afternoon. I wrote about one element of this season, and it appeared this morning on ThroughTheFenceBaseball. Here’s the piece.

You shouldn’t have to hope something you waited six months for would end quickly, but that’s exactly where I’m at right now.

Quarterly Report #5

It’s been an exciting three months in this space. I’ve written some things that I’m very proud of, and I’ve carried out a format change, as I suggested I would the last time I wrote one of these reports. I like the format of displaying images from the most recent posts on the right, and being able to scroll through each post by title, without having to read through any text. This feels like an improvement over the way that I used to do it, with the MLB retro theme.

I’ve had some things appear on ThroughTheFenceBaseball, as I have all season long, and some of my thoughts have appeared on ChicagoSideSports, as well. I’ve also hit the 500 post mark, and made it beyond 300,000 words for all of the posts here. I’m cranking out words, and enjoying this burst of creativity for as long as it lasts. I’m hopeful for a long and enjoyable ride, just as I’ve been having already. This is too much fun to be giving up anytime soon.

Link to a Cubs-Cardinals piece on ThroughTheFenceBaseball

I’ve already written a few things in this space about the Cubs-Cardinals game I attended at Wrigley Field last Friday. But the game on Saturday seemed to be a mirror image, in some ways, of Friday’s game. And the two games together reminded me of why the rivalry between these two teams is so special. The link is here.

Frustration bubbles over

Photo from BleedCubbieBlue

When I think about the end of this baseball season, I’m not happy. The playoffs are not coming to the North side of Chicago, for the fourth year in a row. But I wasn’t expecting them to, so that’s not a big disappointment.

What really gets me is the goal that the team seems to have adopted for the rest of this season. This piece from ThroughThe FenceBaseball gets at it better than I could right now.

I’ll be at tomorrow’s game in Wrigley, probably wishing that I still drank the way I once did. I’ll just have to find some other way of coping with all of those Cardinals fans that will undoubtedly be in the stands. And I’ll probably get some ideas to write about, too. I guess there’s no way to beat that.

In the Midnight hour

Thanks to a night game at Wrigley Field, and a very long rain delay, today I had the rare opportunity to have a baseball experience late at night. So late that it was technically the next day.

Here’s the story of this experience, which appeared today on I hope it gives even the slightest sense of  what being in the shadows of Wrigley Field in the early morning hours felt like. It was an experience worth writing about, at least in my book.

Cross-post to Through the Fence Baseball

The Cubs are struggling, having lost their last four in a row. Here’s a piece I wrote about them that appeared on today.

Even though I don’t use the theme anymore, I’m still a baseball guy at heart. And the realization that the season is slowly disappearing is a hard one to take. But maybe it’s best to just get this year over with and come out swinging next year. What else is there to do?.

Here we go again

Not that I’ve ever been asked to do so, but I would use today’s Cubs game as the perfect example of what being a Cubs fan feels like. They gave up the tying run late in the game, and then gave up the winning run in extra innings. I tapped into my frustrations for a post that was submitted to ThroughTheFenceBaseball, and I will post a link to it once it’s up on their site. But for now, I can safely say that Theo Epstein has his work cut out for him. He’s done it before, and I’m confident that he can do it again, too. But today’s outcome shows exactly what he’s up against.