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home : sports : e-sports August 18, 2017

4/22/2017 1:53:00 PM
Ward Visits The Tennessee Smokies - UPDATED
Farm team for Chicago Cubs
Bill Ward is seen here on the Jumbotron during a recent game by the Tennessee Smokies, a farm team for the Chicago Cubs.
Bill Ward is seen here on the Jumbotron during a recent game by the Tennessee Smokies, a farm team for the Chicago Cubs.
(Left) Ward clowns around with his Cubs-themed rabbit ears for Easter, earlier this week. (Right) How egg-citing! A clutch of Cubs-colored Easter eggs was a big hit for the Ward family.
(Photos Courtesy of Bill Ward)

(Left) Ward clowns around with his
Cubs-themed rabbit ears for Easter,
earlier this week. (Right) How egg-citing!
A clutch of Cubs-colored Easter eggs was
a big hit for the Ward family.

(Photos Courtesy of Bill Ward)

Lincoln Herald Staff

STANLEY, N.C.––For Bill Ward, there’s no such thing as going too far for the Chicago Cubs.

The Stanley-based computer teacher and gospel music star is known far and wide as the biggest fan of the Chicago Cubs in all of North Carolina. Ward and wife Donna have been known to travel back to his native Chicago just for the express purpose of catching a game at Wrigley Field.

Mr. Ward has been on cloud nine since October, when the Cubs, perennially known as “the loveable losers,” finally won the World Series for the first time in more than a century. The last time the Cubs won the series of baseball’s biggest games, named for the long-defunct New York World newspaper, it was 1908, and Theodore Roosevelt was president.

Ward recently visited Knoxville, where he took in a game by the Tennessee Smokies, a double-A ball organization that’s a farm team for the Cubs.

And Ward is well known for his enormous collection of Cubs-related paraphernalia and memorabilia. His home in Stanley is positively crammed with the stuff, and his Cubs cup runneth over.

“Next up: attempting to set the world’s record for a personal collection of team memorabilia,” he said Thursday. “I have over 10,000 Cubs items. The record is for a Brazilian man who has more than 23,000 items related to his futbol (soccer) team!”

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The Cubs’ crystal ball

Ward also looked into his Cubs crystal ball to make some prognostications about the season ahead.

“First,” he said, “let me state the obvious. It’s very difficult to repeat as champions in any major sport––except for the NBA, which we won’t recognize as a real sporting organization! Only one team in the three major sports––MLB, NFL and NHL––has done so since 2000. But can the Cubs, once loveable losers but now world champions, be the team to break this trend? I believe so. Not only because I’m a diehard, lifelong Cubs fan but also because they’re that good. Sure, they needed some time to get past all the early season celebrations, time to gel with new teammates and adjust to a few major changes, such as Dexter Fowler signing with St. Louis, as well as moving the ‘beat the world champs’ target off their backs as every team they play focuses on doing just that.

“They’ve added some starting and bullpen strength in Anderson, Davis, Duensing and Uhehara, though I think they could use one more strong middle reliever and/or closer,” he continued. “On the field and at the plate, they brought in a one-to-one quality replacement for the exiting Fowler in Jon Jay; he may be a little better than Fowler! And they brought back Matt Sczur, Tommy La Stella and Albert Almora, Jr. All three would be starters and major contributors on any other MLB team. So that may be Coach Joe Maddon’s biggest problem: too much talent and trying to make all that talent work in the strategy. And he is a master strategist, so he will make it work. Now that they are settling in, and KB is ready to come out of his traditional slow start, look for the Cubs to run the table in many of their match-ups and to dominate through the rest of the spring, all of summer and finishing up with, my prediction here, more than the 100 wins again and a stronger, more dominant trek through the post-season. Of course, these predictions are notwithstanding injuries and other maladies, such as big baseball egos, which Joe is also a master at handling.”

It is, said Ward, sure to be a great season ahead.

“Look for Heyward to continue a great season after working tirelessly on his swing in the off-season,” he said, “and Zobrist to break out and come back to his two world championships, including one with Kansas City in 2015. He should be in top form, and youngsters Scwarber and Baez should get past their ‘big boy’ excitement and settle in for great numbers at the plate. And that, along with the bullpen, is where, no pun intended, the rubber will meet the road. In the field, they will dominate as they did last year, if the pitching staff does what they are capable of. And if the bats find the ball like they did last year, we could be looking at a repeat and even three-peat. You heard it here first. Ding-dong, the curse is dead!”

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