Brad Zibung, who founded Chicago Cubs fan-chise Right Field Sucks and its Onion-like newspaper, The Heckler, this year, never thought he'd be putting out issues in October. "Next year is here in more ways than one," says Zibung, who spends his days in Leo Burnett's corporate-communications department. "This turned out to be the best year to start something."
Of course, now that the Cubs are winning more, Zibung may have to change the tone of his satirical paper. "We're making fun of the things that have been keeping the Cubs back for years," he says. His efforts have included selling "Goatbusters" T-shirts, a reference to the "Billy Goat Curse" that supposedly has kept the team out of the World Series since 1945. (As of this writing, the Cubs and the Florida Marlins were tied at one game apiece in the NLCS.) But it's not all comical self-loathing. When the White Sox came to the North Side in June, a Heckler headline read: "Million Mullet March: Sox Fans Hit Wrigley."
The paper, available free from honor boxes around Wrigley Field, has been a sensation in its first year. Even before the playoffs, there was plenty to write about. "Sammy's travails [with his corked bat] would have been enough," Zibung says. The paper's mascot, Chug-Chug the Comeback Clown, has appeared on TV and even met Gov. Rod Blagojevich. (Sadly, RFS' vp of curmudgeonry, columnist D.S. Gruntle, a Shoptalk favorite, has not made as much of a splash.) And though the venture generates more fun than profit, Zibung is quick to point out that the newspaper does reach "that elusive and select market of 18-45-year-old males."