Why We Cheer: Damnin' Sammy
Editor's Note: This is actually reprinted with the author's permission from an article written a few moons ago. In that time, Sammy has fallen from grace, many Cub fans are embarassed to have ever cheered for him, but the author in question - Jeff "Tonker" Thomas, retired Goat Rider and current blogger for Hire Jim Essian - simply said "the story would remain the same even if I rewrote it, anyway - you only find the Cubs once in your life, after all. Thank God." He also admits to not really having time to blog at HJE, but feel free to check them out anyway. They're a good bunch.
My name is Jeff, otherwise known as Tonker, and I am a Cubs fan.
I'm not, however, from Chicago. I'm not even an American. In fact, I'm a Scotsman who lives in The Hague in the Netherlands - hardly Cubs territory at all, really.
The majority of the poor, beknighted Cubs fans that I know have some excuse. They're from Chicago, or their father was a Cubs fan, or they grew up watching WGN in some far-flung corner of the United States. I, on the other hand, cannot lay the blame on any of those things. There is one person, and one person only who is responsible for consigning me to a life of futility and pain - Samuel Peralta "Slammin' Sammy" Sosa.
Imagine the scene. You're stuck in England in the summer of 1998, sitting through innumerable, endless meetings at work whilst outside it chucks it down with rain in temperatures better suited to a Wisconsin winter. You and your bird decide to get away from it all for a couple of weeks, and settle upon the Dominican Republic as a suitably hot and inaction-packed destination. A couple of weeks later you land at Puerto Plata, transfer to your hotel and begin the serious business of making a dent in the hotel's all-inclusive bar.
But what's this? On the telly behind the counter, there is a strange sport showing. It looks a little bit like cricket...
...except that they don't stop for tea. You collar the Barman for another Brugal 151 (not having learned your lesson the first time, evidently), and whilst you're at it, you ask him what's happening on the box.
He breaks into a broad grin and tells you that a) it's beisbol; b) the Cubs are playing; and c) Sammy's going to hit one out today. You smile, nod, and back away slowly. Whatever floats his boat is all right by you, and besides, there's a large rum which needs your love and attention.
The holiday continues and you spend your days sitting by the pool and hiding under a mattress in your bathroom when Hurricane Georges hits. The hotel "Hurricane Survival Kit" is comprised of a candle and a pack of playing cards, but somehow you live to tell the tale anyway. On the odd occasion that you venture out of your resort, though, you notice that pretty much every car in the entire country has "Sosa #60", "Sosa #61","Sosa #62" (you're noticing a pattern by now) painted in white on its rear windscreen, so you decide to look into this Sosa chap a little further.
Next thing you know, you've confined yourself to your room and are watching with bated breath as Shooter Beck closes down another game for the Cubbies...
...or Brant Brown drops a routine flyball to left; or the Cubs win the one-game playoff against San Fran - and just like that, you're addicted. Gone - hook, line and sinker. And you have no idea, not the slightest inkling, what you've let yourself in for.
Cut forward to the present day...
Well, now, of course, I realise what a bloody mess I'm in. Not only do I spend approximately 75% of my waking life thinking about baseball in general, and the Cubs in particular, but I've spent far, far too much otherwise potentially useful income following my addiction. At the last count, I'd been to the States three times for the express purpose of watching the Cubs (record in person : 3-2) and had pissed several thousand of your British Pounds up the wall in the process.
And what do I have to show for it? Well, if you know anything about baseball, you know the answer to that question : "nothing". Nichts, nada, rien, niente, zip. Sammy has made my life, and the life of The Beautiful Wife (who has the patience of a Saint), an utter, utter misery. The Cubs giveth, and the Cubs taketh away, except that they don't seem to be doing an awful lot of givething, to be honest. Just think of all that useful, enjoyable stuff I could have been doing instead of worrying about Dusty and his boys. It's enough to make me weep.
So - thanks, Sammy. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for making me think that life could be one long afternoon on the beach, sipping Cuba Libres and watching the Cubs make the post-season. You used me, you bastard, and you took my innocence. I hope you're happy now.
Well, I suppose it's not all bad. There have been high spots on my brief, but condensed odyssey. I got to read "Ball Four". I made lots of new friends, and they all share my affliction. I found "Perry's Deli"...
...and Chuck Gitles bought me breakfast (now there's a claim to fame.) Jen, a barmaid at the Cubby Bear, gave me lots of free beer. But that's about it.
So, there you go - now you know a little something about me. If you want to know more about what I think about the Cubs, pop on over to Hire Jim Essian. Alternatively, check out the message board at Andy Dolan's indispensible "Desipio", where I post as Tonker. Drop me a line to wrigleyman (at) hotmail (dot) com if you want to commiserate, even. If I haven't yet slit my wrists, I might just reply.