Why We Cheer: Being 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.