Naturalism and Ontology

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It was like the electricity came on again. A good lesson. For me publication never seemed a given—only writing did.

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What I told myself, and still do, is this: Keep working. Each time. And I welcome the different sense of responsibility. Finding my way back into Greek, which was my first language, is also its own private homecoming, with all the associated awkwardness and joy of that. Age: Time spent finding a home for it: I started sending out a mess of consecutively numbered pages I thought was a book nine years ago.

The early drafts look very little like what came to be published.

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Inspiration: Fire escapes. I was walking in New York City one day years ago and saw this big, white fire escape. Be a place where we can move further toward ourselves, which really means moving further toward our fears. And Gushers fruit snacks. I just walk away from the desk—sometimes not returning for weeks at a time. I find a quiet place in the day and stop. Then I do this thing where I just say thank you to all the things and people who have helped me.

Of course, simply saying thank you does not awaken any creative force; it just reminds me that the work I am doing is not validated by quantity, but rather by the connection it builds between the world and myself.


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When my own work is not coming along, I try to stop and recognize the people doing the same challenging, at times unforgiving, art—and I feel happy. I think we are more productive—even in stillness—when we can recognize one another, when we say to each other, Thank you for doing this with me. Thank you for carrying on when I cannot. Jon Lieber became the first Cub since Greg Maddux in to win 20 games, posting a record and a 3.

Kerry Wood fanned batters in , reaching the K plateau for the second time in his career.

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Wood is the first Cub since Fergie Jenkins to record multiple strikeout seasons. In , the Cubs struggled to a record and fifth place finish, 30 games back. The pitching staff did lead the Major Leagues in strikeouts with 1, but Cubs batters also whiffed the most with 1, Among the bright spots: Sammy Sosa led the National League in home runs 49 for the second time in three years and also runs scored He belted his th career homer in the last game of the regular season and was one swing away from joining the club.


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  7. Kerry Wood and Matt Clement ranked third and fourth in the NL in strikeouts with and , respectively. The only other time the Cubs had two pitchers with strikeouts was when Fergie Jenkins and Ken Holtzman did so.

    Wood made a career-high 33 starts and topped innings pitched for the first time. One of the highlights of the season was the emergence of rookie right-hander Mark Prior, the Cubs' No. He fanned 10 in his first start, the highest total by a Cubs pitcher in his debut since New Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker wanted to see improvement in He never imagined the team would be five outs away from the World Series.

    It wasn't exactly a smooth ride as superstar Sammy Sosa missed a month with a sore big toe and was suspended seven games for using a corked bat. Joe Borowski calmly handled the closer duties, saving 33 games. He'd started the season with two saves in his career. General manager Jim Hendry was aggressive and found players to fill voids, acquiring Kenny Lofton, Aramis Ramirez and Randall Simon in the second half.

    The Cubs won the division title in the second-to-last game with a doubleheader sweep against Pittsburgh. The team then saluted one of its legends, Ron Santo, by retiring his No. It marked the first postseason series win for the franchise since The Cubs were five outs away from advancing to the World Series for the first time since but lost Games 6 and 7 of the NL Championship Series at home and were eliminated by the Florida Marlins.

    It was a wild ride. For the first time since , the Chicago Cubs completed back-to-back winning seasons in But that proved to be little consolation for a club that was expected to make a return trip to the postseason but finished third in the NL Central. The Cubs were ravaged by injuries, including Mark Prior, who did not make his season debut until June 4 because of an inflamed Achilles tendon, Kerry Wood, who missed two months with a sore triceps and Sammy Sosa, who missed nearly a month with back spasms.

    Nomar Garciaparra -- who was acquired on July 31 in a four-team trade -- was also hindered by injuries, battling nagging problems with his Achilles, wrist and groin, and was unable to provide the spark the Cubs were looking for. The season was not without its excitement, however.

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    Greg Maddux, in his return to the Cubs, became the 22nd Major League pitcher to win games, Sosa passed Ernie Banks to become the club's all-time home run leader and the Cubs boasted four home run hitters Moises Alou, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Sosa for the first time in team history. Oh, what might have been. It was a disappointing year for the Cubs, who had high hopes for the season, but were again bitten by the injury bug that played a major part in their campaign, good for fourth in the NL Central.

    The slugger flirted with the Triple Crown for the majority of the season and finished with a. Lee also led the team in doubles 50 , triples tied with three , homers 46 , runs , RBIs and stolen bases tied with The Cubs also found a solid closer in Ryan Dempster, who made the switch to the position during the season and became one of three Major League pitchers to both make a start and save 30 games in a single season. He finished the season with 33 saves in 35 opportunities. But injuries hindered the Cubs' postseason chances. Nomar Garciaparra missed three months with a groin injury, Kerry Wood's injured right shoulder forced him to push back his Opening Day start and nagged him all season, causing him to miss two months, Mark Prior missed significant time after being hit in the elbow on a line drive and Aramis Ramirez missed the final six weeks because of a leg injury.

    Injuries again hurt the Cubs, who lost 96 games in First baseman Derrek Lee fractured his wrist in a freak collision in mid-April, and the offense sputtered. Cubs pitchers led the Major Leagues in strikeouts, but ace Carlos Zambrano stole the show at the plate. The right-hander belted six home runs to tie the single-season record for most by a pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, and also won his first Silver Slugger award. Zambrano was winless in April, yet rallied to win 16 games and finished fifth in the Cy Young voting.

    Manager Dusty Baker compiled a record in four seasons with the Cubs, but after the season ended, he was not retained. In October, the team hired Lou Piniella as the club's 50th manager. The Cubs made their first postseason appearance since but they were swept in the National League Division Series by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Cubs pitchers led the Majors in strikeouts for the seventh straight season. Carlos Zambrano set a career-high with 18 wins while two newcomers, Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis, won 15 and 12 games, respectively.

    Ryan Dempster was the closer but Carlos Marmol was the star of the bullpen, compiling a 1. This was Alfonso Soriano's first season in Chicago, too, after signing an eight-year contract and the left fielder hit 33 homers and 70 RBIs. Soriano carried the club in September, hitting a Major League record seven leadoff homers in the month. The parent Tribune Co. This season was the th anniversary of the last Cubs' World Series championship, and they capped it by winning their second straight National League Central title with a league-leading 97 wins.

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    It was the first time since that the team had advanced to the playoffs in consecutive years. Ryan Dempster switched from closer to starter and won a personal high 17 games while Kerry Wood went from starter to closer and saved The pitching highlight came Sept. The game had been relocated from Houston because of Hurricane Ike. The Cubs led the National League and were second in the Majors with runs scored.

    They had four players with at least 80 RBIs and five with at least 20 home runs. In his first season behind the plate, catcher Geovany Soto belted 23 homers and drove in 86, and won National League Rookie of the Year. Soto was the first rookie catcher ever to start an All-Star game for the NL. The Cubs missed their bid to three-peat in the National League Central, finishing second at It was the second time the Cubs had a winning record in three consecutive seasons in the last 70 years.

    Lou Piniella is the first Cubs manager since Charlie Grimm to post a. Derrek Lee led the team with a. Aramis Ramirez shoulder missed 50 games, Reed Johnson foot missed 49, and 10 others missed at least Ramirez did drive in 65 runs in 82 games. The Cubs had eight players with 10 or more homers for the first time since , including Milton Bradley, who had a tumultuous first year in Chicago. Bradley batted.

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    The biggest surprise was rookie Randy Wells, a converted catcher, who finished tied for the team lead with 12 wins with All-Star Ted Lilly. Wells became the first rookie to reach double-digit wins since Kerry Wood won 13 in Carlos Marmol took over the closer's job in mid-August and went for in save situations. The sale of the team was finally completed. The Tribune Co. Tom Ricketts was named chairman, and didn't promise a World Series championship, but did emphasize getting there was the Cubs' goal and that they had the personnel to get there.

    While most of baseball celebrated the Year of the Pitcher, the season may best be remembered as the Year of the Rookies for the Cubs. The team finished fifth at , 16 games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central. The Cubs never topped. Eighteen rookies played, including 12 pitchers. Eleven players made their Major League debuts in , with the most notable on May 7 when shortstop Starlin Castro burst onto the scene.

    He hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat and added a three-run triple against the Reds. Tyler Colvin hit 20 homers in his first full season, the fourth most by a Cubs rookie, but his season ended early when he was stabbed in the chest by a broken bat Sept. Another star rookie was Andrew Cashner, part of a young bullpen, who made his Major League debut May The Cubs did lead the NL in quality starts but went in one-run games, the most losses in the Majors.

    Carlos Marmol set a franchise mark with strikeouts in relief. His Carlos Zambrano ended the season with a 1. This was to be Lou Piniella's final season, but he began his retirement early, leaving after the August 22 game to tend to family matters. Mike Quade, a Chicago-area native who was the third base coach, took over, becoming the Cubs' 51st manager. They went under "Q," the second-best record in the Major Leagues in the span behind the Philadelphia Phillies' mark. On October 19, Quade agreed to a two-year contract with a club option for Manager Mike Quade, who grew up a Cubs fan in the Chicago area, faced an uphill battle after the first five games when the team lost both starters Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells to injuries.