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2016 Cubs Spring Training Countdown: 10 Days

Don't you wish Ron were still here?

Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Oh, how Ron Santo would have loved the 2015 Cubs season.

Not the way it ended with the NLCS sweep at the hands of the Mets, his most hated team, of course.

But everything up to then? Ron would have been in his glory. The 2015 season was winning in ways that none of us had ever seen before. You'd have heard him shouting on the radio as never before. (Would he have remembered to say "WBBM" instead of "WGN"? Even Pat Hughes forgot at times.)

Of all the players of my youth, many of whom are gone now, the one who epitomized the phrase "Bleed Cubbie Blue" best was probably Ron Santo. He didn't give radio analysis the way you might have wanted, but there was no doubt that he felt what we felt when games didn't go the Cubs' way. Or when they did, when he'd exult the way any fan in the stands would cheer.

Credit for a lot of that goes to Hughes, whose radio partnership with Santo was like none other in Cubs history, save for Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau. You could tell that Pat and Ron were genuinely friends, liked each other, and Pat's gentle style helped Ron be himself.

For those of you who knew Santo only as a broadcaster, his baseball career was one of the best of any player in his era, and even more remarkable given that he was fighting diabetes the entire time he played. If not for that, he might have played longer and been inducted into the Hall of Fame while he was still alive. I'm surely happy the Hall recognized him, but shame on them for not doing it while he could enjoy it.

We all miss Ron Santo. I wish he could be around to share what could be an amazing 2016 season. But he (and Ernie Banks, too) will live forever in our Cub fan hearts.