Editor's Note: Forklift is a blogger who can currently be read at hockeenight.com. We've known him for years, and you won't meet may bigger Cub fans. After you're done reading this, go to his Blackhawks blog, Hockee Night.
Getting on the Howard St. “A” train at Argyle, heading downtown. I’ve ridden the train with my dad before, but never with butterflies in my stomach the way they were then. I hadn’t yet turned five, and was bouncing around the train as much as, well, a kid not yet turned five generally does.
We had to switch at Wilson to the “B” train, which seemed to take an eternity to show up. Once it came, I couldn’t wait. When the train made the turn by Sheridan, I could see the flags flapping. I’d seen it before, but this time it was a destination instead of just a place that looked like fun.
Dad bought me a cap and a pennant on the way in. Once he bought us our bleacher tickets, I ran up the ramp that seemed to curve and rise forever toward the sunshine. When I got to the top of the ramp, I was hit by the sunshine, and looked out at the green grass. The Cubs were playing the Phillies, and the blue and red of the hats and socks seemed to be the same contrast as the picture on my All-Star Baseball game at home.
I confess, I still feel a thrill when I go to see the Cubs play. My dad’s been a Cub fan since 1947, me since 1967. I actually don’t remember my first TV game, I’m guessing my infancy was spent with my dad suffering through the 1963 season. I’m still not sure if being a Cub fan is a defect in my DNA that my father passed along to me, or if it’s an environmental defect.
Anyway, there’s something intrinsically beautiful about baseball. While hockey is like an action movie, baseball is like a book. You sit back, relax, and let it all unfold in front of you. Over the years I’ve seen exciting games and dull games. I’ve seen absurd games, like the one where the Cubs were beaten by Pittsburgh 22-0. I’ve seen Mike Schmidt hit 4 HRs in a game. I’ve seen Cubs win games with a swing of the bat.
The NFL prides itself on the fact that “Any Given Sunday”, any team can beat any other team. That’s fine, except with baseball that’s every day of the week.
But the Cubs. There are those Cub fans who are “Cubbie fans”, and I tend to loathe them. They can’t seem to grasp the fact that there are years the Cubs manage to assemble a truly shitty assortment of players. Know what? The past 100 years haven’t been an accident.
As long as I brought it up, before anyone brings up a goat, or a cat, or a schlemiel with headphones, go fuck yourself. A goat didn’t trade Lou Brock. A cat didn’t trade Bill Madlock for Bobby Murcer. Steve Bartman didn’t mismanage the Cubs’ pitching staff in the 2003 NLCS.
No, the Cubs earned it all on their own. I think being a Cub fan is like having a ne’er-do-well relative. You keep swearing this is the last time you let him sleep on your couch, and at the same time you know you’ll always give him another shot because one of these times he’ll actually straighten his shit out.
It doesn’t mean you won’t get grey hairs a little faster, or develop a nice hole in your stomach lining. But at the end of the day, you remember the good times instead of those tough times when he’s sleeping on your couch. And you know deep in your heart that one of these days, everything will work out.
We’re always running up the ramp that seems to curve and rise forever, toward the sunshine.
Rumor has it that Ned Yost has been let go by the Brewers. This is heartbreaking, because Yost in the dugout was a decisive advantage for the Cubs.
We'll post a link to the story once it's been verified by the mass media.
Yahoo Sports published an article today about Geovany Soto. Soto is pretty much a lock to be Rookie of the Year, and, as we learned from Peter Gammons last month, more than one Cubs player feels he should also be on peoples' MVP ballots.
Soto appears to be the next generation's Mike Piazza, with one serious exception - he's a plus defensive catcher. He's also a great example of why this team is likely to carry over into 2009 - most of their plus offensive stars are young, and either have room to grow or at least room to maintain for a few more years.
Between now and the first part of October, GROTA will be publishing the written work of a number of people unaffiliated with the blog. The shared topic that everybody will be writing about is one that's close to the heart of every Cub fan - why you cheer. Consider this a call to the many members of the Goat Rider Army to post your stories about being a Cubs fan.
We want to know - how did it happen? Did you have a parent who watched every game and took you to Wrigley Field? Did you stumble across the Cubs on TV and get hooked on the excited calls of Harry Caray and the wry humor of Steve Stone? How did you become a Cubs fan?
Alternatively, you could tell us a story about being a fan. Maybe you quit a job to fly to Atlanta for the '03 NLDS. Maybe you married a girl because her father had season tickets. We all have stories that, at least to us, define ourselves as fans. We'd love for you to share them here.
Don't be shy. We're an eclectic community here and silliness is practically currency. So long as this doesn't become a post - or blog - about how following Cubs baseball is helping you to overcome a tramatic breakup that caused you to create a t-shirt with a blue heart logo hugging the Cubs logo, you'll be fine. I look forward to reading it all.