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Baseball Is Only a Game

Ten thousand balloons soared and jostled in the night sky. My dream was a variation on that lovely Apple® iPhone ad – but all of my balloons were bright blue. I was in Chicago, dancing with the Cubs fans. We were dancing for joy, because we had won, we had won, we had won!

And it was all true.

Well, it was almost all true. I wasn’t really in Chicago. At midnight Eastern time, after watching the ninth inning of the seventh game of the 2016 World Series, I turned off the TV and went to bed. I was too wrung out to face the extra innings. I believed in the legendary Curse of the Billy Goat – not literally, but emotionally, in every corner of my tired, battered soul. I “knew” that the miracle was not going to happen.

If only I had stayed awake for one more inning!

On the surface, my life is no different today than it was yesterday. But I am ridiculously, irrationally happy. I have seen the end of a 108-year-old losing streak. What other miracles are possible?

Logically, I know that baseball is only a game, and that there is no such thing as a curse. But I also know that the human mind is one of the most powerful forces on earth. We live on many levels; our beliefs and our symbols affect our lives in ways that most of us never understand.

Our minds are hard-wired to make sense out of chaos. That is why we automatically find faces and animals in the random shapes of clouds. Skeptics say that this universal tendency is the force which fuels the beliefs of conspiracy theorists, ghost hunters, and would-be magicians.

Fans who needed an explanation for the Cubbies’ long losing streak found one in 1945, when tavern owner William Sianis and his goat Murphy were thrown out of a World Series game because of Murphy’s body odor. Sianis got mad, and he stayed mad. He told a reporter that until they let the goat in, the Cubs would never win another World Championship.

As far as we know, Sianis was not a wizard. He lit no candles; he sacrificed no chickens. He simply made a prediction which became legendary when it seemed to come true.

Over time, the image of “Cubs as lovable losers” became set in the public consciousness. It has been all too easy to identify with them. After I watched the Cubbies blow their early lead in Game Seven, I was absolutely certain that they were goners. Why? Was it my belief in the curse, or simply my habitual negative thinking? Too many of us create our own “curses.”

Baseball is only a game. We can take it seriously, or we can simply enjoy its grace and beauty. In life, as in baseball, we travel in circles. We fall down, strike out, drop the ball, and find endless creative ways to embarrass ourselves. Once in a while, we get to be heroes.

In the end, we always find our way home.

Introduction to a Puzzle Book

What happens when word search meets crossword? Add a dose of punning and pop culture, and you get a unique word puzzle called "CrosScan."

CrosScan is word search with a twist. You are given a word search grid with crossword-style clues instead of a word list. The theme of the puzzle is hidden; it will emerge during the solving process. Clues often contain puns and double meanings, but they all make sense once you figure out the theme.

Each finely-crafted puzzle has about 40 words and enough leftover letters to form a quotation related to the theme. It’s a mind-stretching challenge – not overwhelmingly difficult, but definitely not a piece of cake.

The 84 puzzles in this book will give you many hours of solving pleasure. 

Solving Instructions
Do not start with Clue #1, #2, etc. That is the hard way.
  1. Visually scan the letter block to discover words. Words can be read backward, forward, up, down, or diagonally. It's a good idea to look for diagonal words first. 
  2. When you find a word, count the number of letters. Then look at the word list and find the clues which have that number indicated in parentheses.
  3. Match the word you found with a clue. Check off the clue, and circle or highlight the word in the letter block. Do not circle a word in the letter block if you can't find a clue to match it.
  4. When you find enough words to discover the theme, you should be able to work back and forth, using clues to find words.
  5. Hint: Each puzzle contains a “star,” in which words coming from all eight directions meet in one central letter.


Devoted Cubs fan Bill Murray was very present during the 2016 World Series. Murray’s character in the movie Groundhog Day experienced an epic losing streak, but he finally learned to view his experience as "a long and lustrous winter."

Titles of movies, books, plays and other long works should be italicized. When referring to a smaller part of a larger work, quotation marks should be used. For instance, "Metamorphosis" was an episode of the television show Star Trek.

When the complete name of a time zone is written, all words should be capitalized, e.g., Eastern Standard Time. When a more abbreviated form is used, only the region should be capitalized, e.g., "midnight Eastern time."


For samples of CrosScan puzzles, please click on the image above. The CrosScan home page links back to the Belle Vista home page.

I create these puzzles in partnership with Bill Cobb, the inventor of the CrosScan concept. I also design the books.

Homonyms are words which are pronounced the same but have different meanings. The spelling of the words may be the same or different, e.g., "bore" and "boar." Because there are many homonyms in the English language, it is easy for us to use puns when writing CrosScan clues.