Ryan Dempster cradled the card deck as deftly and lovingly as he does baseballs. He took the ace of spades from the top, shuffled it into seeming oblivion and removed a two of clubs off the top as proof.
"But I can make it come back," Dempster said coyly. He tapped the deck and flipped over the top card.
"See?" he said. "There's your ace."
A fine amateur magician, Dempster's best trick this season has been turning himself into an ace -- of the Chicago Cubs. His next stunt? Trying to make 100 years disappear.