of the Broncos 10 "voluntary" practices over the last month but showed up for the start of the teams three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday. With second- | Forum

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CHICAGO -- If you want to know just how important the Cubs are to Chicago, a good place to start is at the end. Robin Lehner Jersey .In a city where fans have been known to scatter ashes of the dearly departed at Wrigley Field, families of those who could no longer wait `till next season are planting Cubs pennants and flags at the graves of loved ones or sending them off to the great beyond with Cubs hats and jerseys in their caskets.Resting easy has never been easy for Cubs fans, after all.Take the family of the late Norman and Florence Sanders. Relatives are making sure they can still do what they did their entire lives: Root for the Cubs.One of my daughters went and bought a W flag and about a week ago went to the cemetery and put it there with them, said Terry Ann Arriaga, whose father died the year the Cubs came within five outs of reaching the World Series back in 2003 and whose mother passed during spring training this year.As the Cubs try to reach the World Series for the first time since 1945 and win it for the first time since 1908, Chicago is awash in Cubbie blue and red. Children head to school decked out in Cubs gear and many grown-ups are doing the same at work. Fly the W flags are waving from car antennas, porches and museums, while bakeries are topping doughnuts and cookies with the Cubs logo. Death notices with the names of spouses, children and grandchildren now sometimes have a few words about the deceaseds devotion to the lovable losers.In lieu of flowers, go to a Cubs game and raise your glass in memory of Mary, wrote the family of Mary E. Fickenscher after she died in June.James Apostolopoulos family not only wanted to people to know that hed fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II but also cheered for the Cubs. Kenneth Muellers family honored his wishes by burying him in a Cubs T-shirt and his death notice last month asked those attending the wake to try to wear Cubs attire.And when Jane Anne Del Carlo Barredo died, the only thing written of a life that began in Illinois in 1930 and ended in May in California was this: Jane loved Jesus and the Cubs.Such a connection might help explain a suspicion among Cubs Nation that the recently departed are somehow watching the playoffs -- and maybe doing more.When Miguel Montero hit a late grand slam in the first game of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, my daughter texted me and said, `Grandmas up there pulling the strings, Arriaga said of her mother.During the tense opener of the divisional playoff series against the San Francisco Giants, Sharon Thompson said her daughter-in-law started praying to George Thompson, who died on June 1, to see what he could do.And what do you know, (Javier) Baez hit the home run, she said.The team is well known for breaking the hearts of its long-suffering fans. But the Cubs reached the NLCS last season, too, and raced to the best record in the majors this season, giving fans a fresh jolt of hope and, for Thompson and others, a very real way to ease the grief.We just feel like the only way we can get through this emotionally is by saying he is here with us spiritually, enjoying this so much, Thompson said.Peggy Kucias sister, Carol Flanagan, died in April after decades of pulling for the Cubs.You want to say, `Oh, shes probably happy up there, but I think shed be (angry), Kucia said. Shed be saying, `I sat here (at Wrigley) for 30 years and nobody would even come to the game with me. And now it happens?For all the talk about how dead fans now have great seats for the games, there are some things Kucia cant explain. For weeks and weeks, nobody in the family could bring themselves to use Flanagans season tickets. Then Kucias brother and nephew thought they could emotionally handle sitting in those seats along the third base line in the upper deck.So what happened?The first game they go to and a Cub hitter sent a ball into my nephews lap, Kucia said. Hand to God. My brother started crying, my nephew started crying.All the Cubs who played in the 1945 World Series have died. The last one, Lennie Merullo, died last year at the age of 98. His son, Len Jr., said he didnt think his dad would care about this particular run to the playoffs, not unless the Cubs get past the Dodgers.When the Cubs got to the playoffs my mom would go shopping to get a wardrobe (because) she was hoping to go, but my dad would always say nothing matters until the World Series, he said. The playoffs meant nothing to him. He was waiting for the World Series. Gilbert Perreault Jersey . Louis Cardinals. Victorino is batting sixth and playing right field after missing two games because of back tightness. Ryan Miller Jersey . Capitals head coach Adam Oates said Ovechkin was injured in the first period against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday and clarified it was not a head injury. http:///...s-ristolainen-jersey . -- Gus Malzahn finally had his day in Fayetteville.ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Willis McGahee is back in the Denver Broncos camp, if not necessarily their good graces. The 11th-year running back skipped each of the Broncos 10 "voluntary" practices over the last month but showed up for the start of the teams three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday. With second-year pro Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Balll getting most of the work out of the backfield Tuesday morning, McGahee got only a few snaps in his first practice since suffering a right knee injury last November. Pat Lafontaine Jersey. McGahee said he skipped the OTAs for family reasons and insisted that missing those workouts didnt put him in a bad spot by giving the youngsters a head start. 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