I came across the name of a Cubs minor leaguer in a newspaper article last week, and I’d never heard of him. Not even in a fuzzy, didn’t-he-get-drafted-like-three-years-ago kind of way. A totally foreign figure. That hasn’t happened to me in years.

I haven’t followed the Cubs closely for a while now. I still read the stories and monitor the standings, but gone is the rabidity of my middle- and high-school years, when I’d inhale a dozen Cubs blogs a day and stay up way too late composing entries of my own. The Cubs were my life.

But I got burned out, I think. Maybe being so invested emotionally in the team in the 2000s did it. The club was so good for a few of those years (best record in the NL in 2008, several division titles, and then there was 2003…) that believing in a World Series run was actually rational for a change. So each time the team degenerated into a collection of spine- and brainless amoebas when it mattered most, a part of my soul blackened and withered. I don’t read any Cubs blogs now, much less write one. I can’t muster that old enthusiasm anymore.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve surely noticed that I often tweet about the Chicago Bulls these days, with the Cubs making only occasional appearances. It’s a kind of reversion to the pre-1998 me, when the Cubs were abysmal and the Bulls were, well, the Bulls of the ’90s. You can guess which team I, along with every other young kid in Chicagoland, gave my attention to. It was only after M.J. retired and Sammy Sosa made the Cubs relevant again that I really started following pro baseball.

Predictably, my attention has swung back the other way more than a decade later. The Cubs are in a fallow period, and suddenly, after years of floundering, the Bulls are championship contenders again. Derrick Rose — who entered the NBA as the Cubs began their downward swing and with whom I’ve always felt that weird we’re-the-same-age kinship — is an MVP candidate, leading the Bulls to (as I write this) the best record in the East. Plus there’s the nostalgia overload that was last Saturday’s ‘90-91 title anniversary event. I’ve been sucked all the way back in.

So when I hadn’t heard of that minor-league Cub, it startled me for a second, but no longer. I can name every Bull, something I can only mostly do for the Cubs, and that’s fine by me. So it is with interest and passion, beyond just sports teams. And who knows? Ten years from now I might be a whacked-out Bears fan or something.

I’ll always hate the Sox, though, no matter how bad the rest of Chicago’s teams. You’ve got to have some standards, you know.

Mar. 17, 2011 baseball basketball bulls cubs slicedlife sports