Last night, I held the baseball Kosuke gave me at a game, held it up to my face and whispered to it.
I bounced around my bedroom telling the ball "come on, Kosuke, we need your left-handed bat to get hot in the lineup let's do it you can do it come on come on come on".
Someone hand me the straight jacket.
Here's my two cents, adjusted for inflation.
I can't recall when it was I became a "serious" Cubs fan. Like most people who grew up in the Chicagoland area, I remember seeing the Cubs on WGN as a kid. At the time, I was mostly ticked off that they interfered with my cartoon-watching. (I've since changed, obviously.) I remember my brother - eight years older than me - pounding the floor when the Cubs screwed up (often). I have no idea why I'm a fan. My dad did NASCAR before it became a rich hick's sport. My mom wasn't into it (although she has since because of me). My brother, other than impressing me with his beating up on the floor probably doesn't care anymore (he also switched allegiance from the Bears to the Packers, for chrissake, so I don't really trust him knowwhatI'msayin'?).
It was the late 90s when I started really watching the games and paying attention. I lived in St. Paul for a stint, but when I moved back in '02, I would scrape the money together to buy tickets to a game and go watch with my cousin or take my nephew, and later, my niece.
By the time 2003 hit, I was a full blown headcase. Screaming, throwing shoes at my tv and wall headcase during the disaster that was the NLCS.
I have amnesia regarding '04-'06, and that's a good thing. I don't want to remember that asshattery. I went to Wrigleyville and stood outside the park (no ticket) Game 3 against AZ last year. I stood around, watching the tvs people had jerry-rigged up, hoping that we'd somehow pull through, only to be miserably crushed.
I love the field. I love the history. I love being at a game and going nuts with some miraculous come-from-behind-hit and you start high-fiving or hugging complete strangers. I love Ronnie and his absolute emotional honesty over the radio. Winter sucks; I fidget in the spring, waiting for opening day. I have spent more money on tickets and paraphenalia this year than I care to add up. I have raced around the city and burbs with friends to get autographs, done last minute road trips to Cincinnati because I was jonesing for a game. I hate the people who mock the Cubs, because I am waiting for the day when I get to say SEE! SEE! THEY DID IT! SCREW YOU!
If this were an actual relationship, this would be one of those "baby, I promise things will be different followed up by the fist to the gut everyone saw coming but you" relationships. Restraining orders, knives, cars running over people. Dirty nasty graveyard love. And I just can't walk away. I discarded a recent dating candidate in part because he couldn't care less about baseball, even though he grew up blocks from Wrigley. WTF? He was also a hairy bastard. A little manscaping please?
I believe the Cubs also serve as my way of promoting gender equality in sports viewership. Hey, guys, if you're gonna watch T&A beach volleyball, ogle cheerleaders, etc., I'm gonna go to a baseball game and enjoy some fine baseball player ass. (Dear Canada: Thank you for producing Rich Harden. Rrrowl.) A guy friend of mine, Michael, who has gone to games with me cracks up because I'll talk about someone's batting average or what not one second, and then go "Oooh! Mark's up, god is he hot!" There needs to be statistic for Hot Player Percentage. Just need to toss E6, Howry and Wuertz. (Dear Mark: Howry is in no way, shape or form an "Adonis". Just, NO.) I also swear like a sailor and it can get not-pretty. I told a Philly fan earlier this year to go fly a kite in a lightning storm because he was pissing me off and blocking my view. And then I started throwing peanuts at him. Until Michael made me stop. Damn him.
The damn Eddie Vedder song practically makes me cry. It's not loving them because of some "lovable loser" idiocy - it's because you know the day the Cubs do throw the monkey off their collective backs and beat it into bloody submission and thus proving the ESPN f***tards wrong, it is GOING TO FEEL SO GOOD. I love this team like crazy because it is a true "TEAM". It's not "Sosa and some other dudes." I love how these guys have each other's backs, and that on any given day, the most unlikely guy can be the spark. Hell, I was at the Cinci game where Marquis - MARQUIS! - freaking hit a home run. I thought the world was going to end right then. And that was before he pulled his grand slam against the Mets!
There's nothing rational about it. But I guess that's love for you.
It's almost impossible for me to put into words what it means to me to be a die-hard, lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs.
When I have attempted to put that meaning to writing in the past...some people have responded by calling me crazy. Some have responded by saying that the Chicago Cubs are "trivial". They tell me the Cubs aren’t, in the grand scheme of things, that important to my life. They try to make me “understand” that I'm foolish to invest so much of myself in the success of a team that I have no “real” connection to.
Because of my love for the Cubs, I've suffered through some of my darkest days. I've endured insults. I've been mocked. I've been subjected to torture both physical and mental at the hands and mouths of foes and supposed "friends" alike. People have called me a "loser"; they've laughed in my face as my heart broke...year after year. Because of my love, I've been through all kinds of hell that I wager to say many people and even sports fans can't even imagine; well...with the exception of the Red Sox fans I know.
To all those people, to my friends and foes, I say this; watch all the videos and read all the stories at this page...
If after taking all of that in, they still can't understand or respect what it means to me to be a Cubs fan...what that team means to me, then perhaps they never will. But, maybe I can feebly attempt to at least try to help them understand...
I know what the Cubs mean to me. I'm aware of the fact that they have captured my heart in a way that few things or people in my life ever have. I know that my passion for them goes deeper than almost everything else in my life; and this passion is rooted in something deep and meaningful.
I remember my first Cubs game so fondly and clearly. My family took me when I was still just a young boy, and from that day on, I was hopelessly lost to the magic of the Cubs and Wrigley Field. From that first walk up the stairs to the Terrace Reserved section to my most recent trip there this past June, Wrigley Field is my "home". It is my "mecca"...it is a place I dream of both during the day and while I sleep at night. It's a place where the incredible can happen, where losses pierce your heart like the sharpest arrow, wins can bring you to euphoria that rivals any major life event, and where the impossible can be accomplished. It's a place where the grass is greener than any I've ever laid eyes on in all my travels, and where the sky is brighter and more blue than any ocean. It's where I want to be laid to rest when I finally leave this Earth because it, like the team itself, means more than the sum of its parts. It's where my love was born...and where I go to affirm that love.
And, despite all the pain I've endured, all the vitriol and bile that's been directed at me because of it (for reasons that are still quite unclear to me, honestly. Even I was happy for White Sox fans when their beloved team finally won “The Big One” in 2005), I know that my love and my hope will always be a part of me. What's more, I've passed my love on to both my wife and my beautiful niece; and I know that if I leave this Earth before they do, they will always root for the Cubbies. What's more, if the Cubs don't win a World Series until after I am gone, my wife and niece and those who know and love me will celebrate in my memory, they will think of me, and they will thank me for passing that part of who I am on to them.
When I think of the Cubs, I usually think of one-word associations and memories; Harry. Addison. Clark. Sheffield. Prior. Bartman. Maddux. Dawson. Sandberg. Grace. WGN. Chicago. Zambrano. Wrigley. Goat. Curse. Love. But, as you have already likely surmised, it's obviously not that simple. The Cubs, like their Home Field, are more than the sum of these parts...these associations and recollections.
To me, and to so many others, they are more because they symbolize something greater; hope, loyalty, endurance, love, pride, tenacity, the strength to carry-on, the ability to keep a dream alive...EVERYTHING that I hold near and dear to my heart, that makes me who I am, that signifies all that I believe in...
...and no matter how bad things get, I will ALWAYS believe. I will always hope. And I need...and deserve to have that hope, belief, and faith rewarded.
So, maybe after watching the videos and reading the stories on those pages...and after reading this blog, maybe some of the people I’m trying to reach will understand. Or, at the very least, they'll begin to respect and understand what the Chicago Cubs and my love for them mean to me. It's not up for debate as to whether or not this love is unhealthy (of course it's unhealthy to some degree). But, perhaps, at the very least, they'll now refrain from or at least think twice before making wise-cracks to my face about the Cubs.
Because, if nothing more, I'm hoping they'll understand...
what it means to me...
to be a Cubs fan.
Go, Cubs, go.
Individuals become fans of particular sports team through one of two ways—choice, or inheritance. For fans of the modern Chicago Cubs what tended to drive the “choosers” was the visibility that the Cubs had thanks to the power of television. In the 1980’s and 1990’s both the Cubs and Atlanta Braves were seen all across America on cable TV. The additional advantage that the Cubs had was that all of their homes games were played during the day until 1988, so kids who were home all day during the summer had the opportunity to watch major-league baseball.
I am part of the other group, the inherited, which a pessimist might call the indoctrinated., and which a true cynic would call the abused.
The roots of my Cub fandom go back two generations. My father’s father, the son of Irish immigrants, began the cycle. Back then, in the early aughts, during the Frank Chance Era, the Cubs were not known as a “North Side” team per se, as both the Cubs and Sox played south of Downtown. Sure, the Cubs, near modern-day UIC, were about 5 miles northwest of the Sox, who back then played on 39th Street, but the modern-day dichotomy of North Side/South Side wasn’t as developed as it is now.
If I were to guess, I would say that there were two factors that contributed to my grandfather choosing the Cubs (although the story goes that he was cool with both teams at one point, but later ditched the White Sox after the 1919 World Series scandal). The first factor was that he lived closer to West Side Grounds, home of the Cubs. The other was how ridiculously awesome those Cubs team were. True story. The 1906 Cubs team holds the record—since 1900--for the best single-season winning percentage. The 1906-1907 Cubs hold the best two year record, and the 1906-1908 Cubs hold the best three year record. The Cubs averaged 107 wins a year in that stretch, while playing only 152 games per year. Nobody has ever dominated baseball for a near 450-game stretch like that before or since.
This was a really goddamn good team and it’s no wonder that my grandpa staked his claim to them.
Sadly, my dad would not be so lucky. Sure, the year he was born—1933—the Cubs, in the midst of another National League dynasty, were defending National League champs. They would also win the pennant when he was 2 and again when he was 5. It was the last “Golden Era” of a franchise that had, by then, enjoyed rather quite a few of those eras already. By this time my grandfather had settled in the area near Wrigley Field in an increasingly populated North Side, and this was where my dad was born and raised. My father does not have much recollection about the Cubs in the 1930’s, although he was often reminded by his old man about some of the stars from these perennially-contending clubs—Kiki Cuyler, Lon Warneke and his dad’s favorite player—Riggs Stephenson.
Sadly, my dad was unwittingly entering an era that was, at that point, totally unprecedented for the franchise. Sure, they won the pennant again in ’45, but not before the Cubs franchise had suffered through their first-ever five-year streak of sub .500 baseball, going al the way back to 1876 (indeed, in the near 70 years that the Cubs had existed prior to 1940, they only had suffered through 14 sub-.500 seasons total, and never more than three consecutive). Besides, the pennant they did win in ’45 hardy signified any sort of a dynasty anyway. At 12 years old, though, my dad couldn’t have appreciated the fact that this patchwork pennant winner mostly represented the fact that their 4F’s were simply, in the words of the great Mike Royko “less enfeebeled” than the 4-F’s of all of the other NL teams, whose better players were off to war. In any event, as everyone knows, the 1945 Cubs definitively slammed shut a nearly-uninterrupted 70-year string of pennant contention and marked the commencement of one of the darkest ages in professional sports.
The loyalty stuck with my dad, though, as should be expected. As a young man in the 1950’s, he would while away many afternoons at Wrigley, watching one collection of misfits after another fumble, overthrow, and swing and miss at baseballs year after year. In the entire decade of the 50’s, the Cubs enjoyed one—ONE--.500 season, and even that was right at .500—in 1952, when they went 77-77.
Amazingly, it got worse in the early 1960’s when oddball owner PK Wrigley implemented his bewilderingly inept “College of Coaches” In 1962 the Cubs would suffer through their first-ever 100 loss season. They repeated the feat 4 years.
All of this classic ineptitude was not enough to turn my dad off the Cubs—the seed had been planted and the thought of simply turning his attention to the perennially-contending White Sox across town never would have occurred to my dad (indeed, another one of my inherited traits is that while, I generally root against New York teams in all sports, the Yankees never bothered me. Hearing stories from my old man about Mantle, Maris, Ford and crew strutting into a town and taking 4 of 4 or 4 of 5 from the annoyingly successful White Sox, knocking them down a peg and giving my dad a brief ray of happiness during a time when the Cubs were in a positively medieval era makes me happy). My older brothers, born roughly a decade ahead of me in the early 60’s, were raised Cub fans and in theirearliest years, the Cubs had briefly—and disappointingly as it turned out—gotten good again. But the Durocher-Era Cubs—who still never won anything—soon faded back into the 1950’s-like malaise to round out the 1970’s.
And this is where I come in. I was aware of the Cubs by about 1977, but my 5-year old brain was yet unable to hold any real interest in them. I’m pretty sure it was in 1977 when I was taken to my first game. My first visual recollection starts with my dad turning off Chuck Woolery on “Wheel Fortune” while Chuck was in the midst of giving some lady the go ahead to purchase the porcelain Dalmatian (ahh, Chuck Woolery and people buying obnoxious shit instead of just getting a check. My how “Wheel of Fortune” has changed), and off we went—six of us--to the Cubs game. The recollection for me is boiled down to a sort of vague snapshot—a sunny view from the bleachers, 400 feet from the action, which is where my dad would always take us if there were more than 1 kid going with, as the bleachers were a much cheaper ticket back then.
So while I had been exposed to the Cubs in 1977 and 1978, it didn’t really take root until 1979. This may have something to do with the fact that 1979 was the year that I began playing Little League Baseball myself. For whatever reason, the first vivid memory I have of the Cubs is from a late-September game against the scary Pittsburgh Pirates. My appreciation for baseball may have been in its infancy, but I was able to glean enough to know that the Pirates were a menacing bunch. Dressed in gold and black uniforms, these big, bad jewelry-clad, moody mofos like Dave Parker, Mike Easler, John Milner and Bill Madlock (not to mention the gentlemanly but still-fearful Willie Stargell) were a pretty bad-ass bunch of dudes and would, in fact, eventually win what would be their last World Series to date that season. The fact that the Cubs chose not to flee the field shrieking, let alone actually challenge the Pirates in a couple of close games, got me excited for them. The Cubs were hovering around .500 at the time but were out of contention and yet they played Pittsburgh tough. In one of the games—and this is really the precise point where my first recollection of action on the field takes place—the Cubs’ manager, Herman Franks, a delightfully rotund individual, came out to argue a call with the umpire and went hysterical, kicking dirt and otherwise making a spectacle of himself. Franks may have flipped his cap around to get in the ump’s face for all I remember. Watching the game on WGN-TV, as the later-summer, late-afternoon shadows had crept around home plate, I was hooked.
My delight in this funny looking and funnily-named Herman Franks quickly turned to sadness when he was fired immediately after the Pittsburgh series. He was replaced by third-base coach Joey Amalfitano, but it didn’t matter. Sad as I was to see Franks gone, I spent that offseason after the 1979 campaign waiting for baseball to come back.
The 1980 Cubs were terrible. Franks’ replacement—Preston Gomez—couldn’t even make it to August, as he was canned after 90 games into his first year. Once again Amalfitano replaced the manager and apparently, Joey’s 15-37 record convinced the Cubs to let him run the team in 1981 from the get-go.
It only got worse in 1981, a team that I still rank in the top 5 in mylifetime as the worst ever (in no particular order, the other four would be 1986, 1994, 1997, and 2002.). No matter, though. Even though the Cubs were a dreadful 15-37 (what is it with that record?) when the player’s strike hit, they were granted a reprieve as the league decided to spit the season up into “halves”. The Cubs got a fresh start, and I, of course, being the young stupid kid I was, felt like a kid who gets Christmas in July waiting for the “second” Opening Day. Of course the Cubs proved that their 15-37 first half was no mirage as they went 23-38 in the second half to finish with a .369 winning percentage for the season. But that still didn’t deter me. Like my dad in the 1950’s, I was a Cub fan whether I liked it or not.
Of course, while many people of my generation have seen some awful, awful baseball, we also have seen more successful seasons than those fans who came before us, so I can’t complain that I’ve suffered more than people like my dad and my uncles have. And my fandom, such as it arrived during a particularly bleak period of time for the Cubs, was rewarded in 1984, when they snapped a 39-year postseason drought.
I’ve written in the past about steering my daughter away from rooting for the Cubs. Born in 2006, the Cubs had yet to score a run in her presence during her first two games, in 2006 and 2007, respectively, so my ambivalence was warranted (that, and the fact that she was born toward the end of the MacPhail Era of Incompetence and my frustration with the team at the time was at a fever pitch). Anyway, my wife and I got her out there again for last Sunday’s season finale against the Cardinals, and the Cubs not only scored, and won, but my now two-and-a-half year old girl managed to make it all the way through to the end of the game. When we sang “Go Cubs Go” after the last out, she sang most all of the words and it occurred to me that I may have already passed it down.
Editor's Note: Huey is a Goat Rider at Large who currently hangs his hat at Hire Jim Essian. He is a good writer who has been kind enough on past occassions to save news clippings of various Goat Riders whenever we have been able to sneak our way into the press.
During the summer, back when I was five, I didn't understand why the Cubs didn't play on certain days. Heck, if I could play baseball every day out in the cul-de-sac (or "The Court" as it was referred to by the neighborhood kids) so should the Cubs. As I grew older, I started to understand that baseball players put a great deal of strain on their bodies during the season and need days off to recover. However, to this day I hate off days in baseball, particularly for extended periods of time (I'm looking at you All-Star break).
It has only been a matter of hours since the last out was recorded to close the Cubs regular season schedule and I'm already frustrated with the down time. The time spent waiting for playoff baseball to begin is even more frustrating than I thought. The Cubs clinched last weekend and allowed us to look towards the postseason, and I'll admit, it was exciting to debate about the possibilities. Moreover, even though they were not meaningful games for the Cubs, there was still baseball to be played that we could analyze and discuss on top of it.
However, now that the regular season games are done, all the substantive discussions are replaced with the speculations of so-called "experts," obligatory fluff pieces about our WS drought, and the incessant ramblings and freak outs by fans that for some reason find a cliff that has a comfortable edge for any number of reasons despite being a fan of the team that had the best record in the NL (OMG... the Dodgers have been so HOT lately [7-7 in last 14]; they have MANNY... his dreadlocks have been touched by the divine!; Jeff Kent is sooooo dreamy!). Wait. Scratch that last one.
I can't wait until Wednesday when the first pitch is thrown and we can get back to baseball.
The next several Cubs related posts will be collectively known as THE HUNT FOR BLUE OCTOBER. The focus will be on the 2008 team and the drive for the World Series.
First up is Alfonso Soriano, who many people already known is a bit of a douche nozzle.
Just within the past week, Deadspin released photos found on a 24-year old woman’s Facebook page that shows her canoodling with the married Soriano. The photos show Sori in a wife-beater (how appropriate!) surrounded by alcohol and smokes.
The question of his douchyness is less due to him cheating on his wife, which in itself is an unfortunate commonality among all MLB players and sports teams in general. The pure Cubs question is whether Soriano’s partying like this is on days off or game days? Is he dropping balls because he is hungover from dropping balls….in chicks mouths?
Tastless, yes. Unfortunate, yes. Unacceptable, yes.
This Cubs team is going to go down in history as one of the best of all time. The last thing we need is a controversy to draw attention away from the field. Sure, we can crucify Soriano and every other player who does the scummy thing like this, but wait until the season is over.
Becoming a Cubs fan is something that doesn’t happen overnight. Well, I suppose it could happen, but you get my point. There are many things that we control, but who we root isn’t one of those things. It would be easy to be a Yankees fan or a Patriot fan, but once you find your team there really isn’t any choice.
Growing up in Alabama, there weren’t many choices for a baseball fan. It was either the Braves by proximity or nothing, until cable came along. The first 9 years of my life we didn’t have cable, thus I wasn’t a huge baseball fan. So, I was spared the 1984 disaster and even 1989 was a little hazy, but I still remember not liking Will Clark. Overtime, I started watching WGN every day after school. Back then we I was only a couple minutes from my house, so I usually rolled in the house around the fifth inning or so after school.
There was just something about watching the Cubs that really clicked for me. It wasn’t like they were winning all those years (you and I both know they weren’t), but the enthusiasm was just there, and I was hooked.
If there was one moment that cemented the Cubs in my heart, it was the trip to Wrigley Field in 1993. My step-father grew up in Chicago. So, that summer we took a trip to see his family. Of course, we were going to head to a Cubs game, while were up in Park Ridge. Just like today, the game was a sellout, but we were able to get standing room only tickets, which actually were pretty bad. I remember standing behind the seats on the first base side and not being able to see much.
It’s funny, but I really don’t have any real memories of the game, except walking into Wrigley and looking at everything. For some odd reason, I do remember Steve Buechele playing third base. Regardless, I was now a Cub fan for life. I do remember my second game at Wrigley for a couple of reason. It was 1995, and I was on a church choir tour that stopped in Chicago. Of course, I made sure that we visited Wrigley. This was the year after the strike, and we were all still bitter about baseball. We made a sign before the game that read, “We paid only to hear Harry sing.” It actually got us on WGN that afternoon; I still have the tape somewhere. The game was a great pitching duel between two unlikely guys. Steve Trachsal threw seven shutout innings, while Tom Candiotti threw eight. It wasn’t settled until the 9th inning. Rudy Seanz came in for “The Candy Man” and promptly gave up a single to Mark Grace. What happened next was a thing of legend. Howard Johnson (yes that one) hit a bomb into right-center bleachers for a home run. If there was any doubt of my rooting interests (there wasn’t) it was over that point.
Still, the Cubs never gave me anything more than moments of glory and happiness, but I remained faithful. In 98, I stayed in my dorm room to watch the playoff game, instead of going out for drinks with my friends. At one point, I was cheering so loud at one point the R.A. had to come make sure that everything was ok (it was, we won). I missed that playoff year, because I didn’t have a car to make the trip to Atlanta, but I didn’t make the same mistake in 2003. I made trips to Atlanta (three of them exactly) and Miami to have a chance to see the Cubs in person.
I won’t say it is easy being a Cub Fan, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It just makes you appreciate things even more. In 2003, I skipped the Alabama/Arkansas overtime thriller to see the Cubs sweep a doubleheader to clinch the NL Central (a sin in the eyes of many of my friends to miss a football game). My rationale was simple. I’ve seen the Crimson Tide play Arkansas plenty of times, but I’ve never seen Cubs clinch a division that I could actually remember.
Why do we cheer? I cheer because being a fan of a team is more important and more rewarding than most things in life. It is one thing we can choose not to do, but can’t help to because our team is a part of us. We cheer to make us whole, and hope one day that we can celebrate together as World Series Champions.
Chris Yarbrough is one of those rare real-life journalists who's been slumming it with the bloggers at least since I started reading Cubs sites back during the 2003 season. He can be read at Yarbage's Cub Review or at Cut Jim Edmonds, where he made the common mistake of thinking that Jim Edmonds would be a waste of uniform material with the Cubs. Hey, I made the same mistake myself. Live, learn, and, in this case love to be wrong
Ok, you might think that I have gone mad. I haven't been around here since last week, and I haven't read any of the blogs. I know, ten lashes.
So if this 'theory' has been thrown out there, my apologies and there was no plagarism intended.
But here is my thinking; don't we want to play the Mets in the first round of the playoffs?
Of all the possibilities, hosting the Mets is the best, at least to me. Keep me away from the Dodgers in a short series, and I want nothing to do with the arms of Arizona. Philly's power scares me in a short series, too.
The Mets entered the game with a one game lead over the Brewers for the wild card position and two and a half games behind Philadelphia for the NL East title.
So now, with a Mets win, they stay ahead of the Brewers...now, the Phillies lost, so that lead is just one and a half now.
So here is how I see it the rest of the way....Go Mets, Go Phillies, Brewers, you just keep doing what you do...this way, we can root, root, root for the Cubbies the final three games of the year, and get that post season groove back on, and welcome the Mets in October, the most beatable playoff contender out there.
I heard on the news this morning that IF the Cubs make it to the World Series, the tickets will be going for approximately $1800+...I may have just changed my mind about you going!!
An open letter from the Uncouth Sloth to all Goat Riders:
The above e-mail was sent to me this morning, and it’s not sitting well with me. So I mean to tell you all, right here and now: I AM GOING. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, and of course we don’t know IF it will be even necessary to have this conversation, and I don’t have two grand unaccounted for, but in the name of all that is holy, if the Cubs are playing in this year’s World Series, I am wedging my big fat butt up in there somehow! I will do any favor, call in any marker, shine any shoe, climb any mountain, walk on nails and fire, eat toadstools and broken glass, kiss any and all asses, toss any salad, and commit any felony below Class X to get in the door for one measly, lousy, stinkin’ World Series game with the Cubs!
So far you’re read Derek Smart compare his love for the Cubs to dating the Queen of the Trailer Park. You’ve seen GAHill equate the strength of his Cub Love to the strength of a Scary Black Man. Stantwone buried his beloved grandfather who never saw a World Series win. Tonker was drugged and brainwashed in the Dominican. Forklift was genetically pre-disposed at birth to Cubness, and has won and lost fortunes on the outcomes of Cubs games (OK, lost fortunes only). Butthead has his dad to blame for his curse. Cubbiebluestew, who was actually around in ’45 (and went to temple with Christ as a kid) risked a lifetime of perpetual guilt and sin to see a lousy NLCS back in ’89. Heartfelt pleas, all.
Let me take you DEEP…
If I had the kind of relationship with a human being that I do with the Cubs, I would have been forced, by law and restraining order, to disassociate myself with them a long time ago. You think Glenn Close was creepy in “Fatal Attraction”? You think Erika Christensen was psycho in “Swimfan”? You have no idea. If the Cubs were an ex-girlfriend, who kept leading me on so I bought her dinners, flowers, diamonds, even tampons when she needed them, only to creep with the starting point guard, and my supervisor at work, and the dumbfok wrench monkey with the long hair who races his motorbike on Sundays…if a human being broke my heart as savagely and as unexpectedly as the Cubs have over the years…she, along with her immediate family, and as many extended family members as I could reach before the authorities tracked me down, surrounded my compound and shot me full of lead, they all would die Die DIE DIE DIE…
…um, pause. Deep breaths. In, Out. In, Out. Breathe. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.
Obsessed? Hell YES, I’m obsessed. Read my bio, all that crap is true! I ain’t bein’ flippant about any of it. I have, to put it mildly, issues. When I was a kid, I HATED to lose at anything. I hated losing, and I always lost. I was nowhere near the athlete my friends were, and I had no older siblings to “show me the ropes” and teach me the tricks on how to win. No matter what it was, running, swinging, marbles, climbing, throwing, I always always lost, and I always cried about it. I had nobody that ever taught me how to control my competitiveness (kind of like Z) and to this day, there are many men in their mid-forties (and some women) back in Black Lung who don’t know me by anything else but “that kid who cried all the time back in grade school”.
I hated losing, and gatdamn, I dealt with a lot of losing, at school, on the little league diamonds, and most of all, with my all-time damn favorite team (you know the one). I was too young to really understand what happened in 1969, just remember my old man bitching about “them chokers blowing it”. It was unpleasant, and I cried. The next year, Ernie Banks broke down, Randy Hundley tore up his knee in mid-season, and replacements Joe Pepitone and Jack Hiatt pretty much drove the bus into the wall. I cried. In 1971, the Rebel didn’t come back, and Chris Cannizzaro couldn’t have sucked worse. Ernie all but retired, and this was the infamous year that the clubhouse revolted against the dictatorship of Leo Durocher. When we lost, again, I cried.
By 1972, I was savvy enough to know that players aged, broke down and eventually were either traded away or retired. I sensed at the beginning of the year that this was probably one of the last chances that ‘all the old boys’ would be together. Even though Billy Williams led the league in hitting, and two no-hitters were thrown, eventually Leo himself was fired, replaced by Whitey Lockman, who certainly Stew knew about, but at the time, I didn’t. All I ever knew was that Leo was the manager. Things were out of control with the Cubs, as far as I was concerned. We came up short, again, and I cried. Again.
By the next year, the Cubs were in flux, thus my life was in flux. Guys were getting traded or released, the Lockman guy was still managing, but the NL East was down that year, and in late July, the Cubs were holding a divisional lead, something they hadn’t done since Hundley tore up his knee in mid-1970. They then lost seven in a row before winning a couple, with new pitcher Rick Reuschel beating Bob Gibson to pull us to within a game-and-a-half at the end of July. Then they started losing again. They dropped pretty much one more game out of the lead every day for a month. I couldn’t deal with it anymore.
I was nine, the Cubs were blowing another season, the last one as a Cub for Hundley, Beckert, Jenkins, Hands, the Cubs were my life, and my life was falling apart , and during the 12-game streak in August, I forgot how to shit. Day after day went by, my mom chased me around, trying one thing after another, but I would hide for hours at a time, only appearing when the damn game came on, only to see them lose another damn game, and run off to be by myself again, so I didn’t have to crap. THAT’s obsessive.
I finally let go when they won sometime around the 15th, but the damage was done, the Cubs finished fifth. This was strange to me, because all I ever remember was second place, from 1969-72, just one, little, step on the ladder. All we ever needed (as far as I ever knew) was to finish One. Place. Higher. But now they sucked, and had a bunch of strangers wearing the laundry. Steve Swisher wore Hundley’s Number 9. Andre Thornton wore Santo’s 10. Bill Madlock had Beckert’s 18. That’s when I should have let go, that was the perfect time. But I didn’t.
Eventually, I have had to undergo months, years, nay, decades of therapy and self-examination, anger management and conditioning myself to handle disappointment more constructively, just like that little squirrelly bastard with the greasy mustache at the hospital told me to do. I don’t cry anymore when I get passed up for promotions, or when I miss the damn hole with the beanbag while my drunken slob neighbor hits three of four, or especially when the Cubs lose. But it still hurts just as much as when I was nine. I just force myself now to go shit, as much as I don’t want to.
I wish I could chip in here with a more lively, upbeat, heroic, inspirational tale of why I Cheer For the Cubs. Why, if I could somehow wrap my feelings up in a bright, shiny package, my story could get picked up by some of the higher traffic blogs, like Big League Stew, FanHouse, and Deadspin, then maybe someone would look at what I wrote and say ‘gee howdy’ and sign me to a three-book deal because, hey, as lousy and miserable as this world has become, people FLOCK to great stories of inspiration. They eat it up! But it is not meant to be.
Painters have to paint; writers have to write; sculptors have to sculpt; photographers have to take pictures; George Bush has to raise oil prices. True artists cannot cease doing what they do any more than they can deny breathing. I can’t paint or sculpt (or write) or raise prices or anything else beautiful or profound. Here’s what I am: I was born to see the Cubs win a World Series, or at the very least, play in one. I say that today, that a Pennant would suffice, but if I really force myself to consider my true feelings, I know that’s a lie, too. I must feel True Victory, to the core of my very being. This is what I was born to do, to see the Cubs crowned as the best team in the world, and whatever comes after that, well, I guess that will be the first day of the rest of my life.
That is why I Cheer For the Cubs, because I Have To. I know no other way. And that is WHY I am getting in the damn park, even if I have to walk on the back of all your mothers’ necks to get there! So if anyone whatsoever can help me with this in the next few weeks, please call or write me. You may save a life.
So I received an e-mail informing me that I was not fortunate enough to be selected to purchase tickets through the Cubs. Balls.
However--even though playoff tickets have not been put up for sale yet--the same said e-mail informed me that I can purchase tickets on StubHub. For just $400 a ticket, I can sit in the right field Bleachers!
You know, I'm all for the free market. I think the lottery system is probably fair. But the double-shot of finding out I will not be able to buy tickets when they go on sale, but can buy them for, I'm guessing, 7 times the face value...well, it's enough to put me in a pretty bad mood.
Did anyone get *good* news through their e-mail?