Godspeed, John Arguello

I didn’t know John Arguello very well, so for me to pretend as though we were great friends would be disingenuous. Even so, he had a tremendous impact on me from the time I first started in with this whole blogging thing and I feel compelled to pay tribute the only way I know how.

There aren’t many things I do very well. I’m a decent beer-league shortstop with warning-track power, waning speed, and a questionable arm; I’m a fringe-average parent, to borrow a phrase from Mike Banghart; I used to have a decent jump shot and I think I could pass for moderately attractive in the right light. But one thing I know I can do is write.

It’s a gift I was given, one that I don’t understand and certainly haven’t used to the full extent of its value. I’d like to use it now, though, not as a eulogy to a man I hope would have been okay with me calling a friend, but as a way to share just why John was such a blessing to so many.

It was maybe about five and a half years ago that I joined Twitter, which I did for the express purpose of getting news on Carlos Zambrano’s imminent trade to the Marlins. Seriously. I had heard of a couple different Cubs blogs out there but mainly subsisted on information from ESPN, Cubs.com, and Yahoo. I eventually found myself commenting with criticism of poorly conceived posts from contributors to the latter source, which made me feel like a complete a-hole.

I’d been raised with the belief that you don’t bring up a problem if you’re not also willing to offer a solution. So I started writing for Yahoo. Not like Jeff Passan, just like the guy I’d dogged. And because I was paid based on the number of views my content got, I tended to look for topics that would draw views. I was also at the mercy of editors who didn’t understand my sense of humor or the subject matter as well as I’d have liked.

When that eventually fell through, I was somewhat shocked to find out that Tom Loxas, someone who I’d followed on Twitter for a while, wanted me to partner with him on a new venture called Cubs Insider. At the time, CI was about three posts old and was housed by the ChicagoNow blog network, which also boasted Cubs Den as a tentpole. Each day or week or whatever, we’d get the reports on the viewership and Den would always destroy us.

Tom had actually been a part of Den at one point, but set out on his own for some reason or another. Given our mutual host and subject matter, I was a frequent visitor to Den and quickly learned of John’s passion for what he did. It was obvious that he was a fan and that he loved what he did, also that he was respectful of the medium and of those around him. Whether you were a fan or a fellow blogger, John was always there with a bit of advice or explanation.

We eventually split from ChicagoNow and went out on our own, with CI undergoing a few changes since then, but I can say that I understand John’s passion now more than ever. Like him, I never sought to make a living doing this and I can’t imagine I ever will. More than anything, writing is my expression. Even when it’s a description of a brief highlight or an aggregated breakdown of the latest trade rumor, it’s uniquely mine. No, that’s not right: It’s me.

If eyes are windows to the soul, which is little more than some poetic BS, words are the front door. And as writers, we leave that door unlocked an open to allow everyone to walk in. Some of you jerkfaces wipe your feet all over the carpet and plug the toilets, but far more come in and crack a beer and allow us to tell our stories. You laugh with us and converse with us and we become best friends without ever having met.

That was John Arguello, a guy who attracted all of the best kinds of houseguests and who had beer and scotch aplenty for all of them. He always had a kind word and never took himself too seriously, despite being very serious about what he did. John set an example for me and for so many others that will be dearly missed. He was the best of us and there’ll never be another like him.

This post doesn’t do him justice, not that anything I could write ever would. But, John, if you’re watching, I hope you can see me enjoying a drink and trying to hold it together as I finish this. You were an inspiration and an example and I’m going to miss you.

Godspeed, my friend, I hope God’s got a fully-stocked bar.

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