Why We Cheer: Born and Bred, Lost and Found
Why We Cheer
You'll forgive me if this post is somewhat rambling. I'm currently sitting in GoatWriter Kyle's living room after indulging in several 2 dollar Blue Moon drafts this afternoon to settle my nerves (yea, you wish you lived in Champaign...kind of).
I grew up from as soon as I could understand baseball being a Cubs fan. I bled blue from the time I was 7, investing myself in our 1995-98 teams like only an elementary school kid could. I think it suffices to say that Kevin Foster was my favorite pitcher until The Moose stole my heart. That thing he did in the dugout where he'd flip the ball in his hand: Genius. Of course, I had to give that up for our very own slugger who happens to be a fairly good pitcher every fifth day. I mean, Big Z outslugged and outhomered 36 million dollar man Andruw Jones. Think about it.
I lived about a mile from school in elementary school. We let out at 3:30. Cubs games start at 1:05. I, a physics major now, did my first real mathematical calculation at the tender age of 7. If I ran home at a 10 minute mile pace, I could make it home for the 7th inning most days. This was a terrible mathematical calculation, which probably should have helped me realize I was to be a terrible physics major. But I'd get home, run into the kitchen, grab my Caffiene-Free Coke (not that it kept me from ending up short anyway) and Cheez-Its and have at it. The only TV we had at that time was an 18-inch piece of junk that had an antenna that only occasionally worked. I'd sometimes have to hold a piece of silverware on the antenna to extend the amount of metal and thus get reception. (I loved the Cubs that much...and was not at all shocked at the love of physics). That's what I did, all spring, all fall. Cubs.
I actually hated night games back then. They drove me crazy. Who the hell was Jamie Navarro? I didn't even know we had Frank Castillo on our roster. I got home during the 8th inning everyday, and therefore had an encyclopedic knowledge of our bullpen. Turk Wendell was my hero, Randy Meyers was still considered at least AA material, and Terry Adams...well...was Terry Adams. The only starting pitcher I did know was the quirky and awesome Foster.
To be honest, I didn't have any rabid passion towards the team, but they owned my childhood. I'd skip friends, sports, etc. It was all Cubs.
You could call the Jim Riggleman era a quiet point. The next part of my fan-ness comes 2003. I got rabid. I loved that team. I watched every game I could, and some I probably shouldn't. I believed in it. They looked like the BoSox would during 2004: simply a team of destiny. I sat looking at whatever the hell came on the television after the Game 6 debacle in total and utter shock, unable to think or move or comprehend. My little brother was at that game, and came home proud that he had shouted “Asshole” with 40,000 other fools at poor Bartman. I remember screaming at him for that. I mean, if you're going to yell that at someone, Alex Gonzalez was still on the field, and he needed to be unforgiven for being Bill Buckner 2.0, Leon Durham in Cuban skin.
I wept unabashedly following Game 7. I will admit that to anyone at anytime. I cried. A lot.
In the series of articles on ESPN that Kurt put up, there was one that resonated hugely with me, that of Billy Corgan. A part of my love for the Cubs died that day in October. I have been forced to spend the following years as a casual fan. I couldn't help it, really. I just couldn't reinvest myself after that crushing blow. Alex Gonzalez and Dusty Baker broke my will that night.
Some of you may recognize me from some of Kyle's posts as his “Pirates fan friend”. Now, that's just ridiculous, but part of my defensiveness about letting the Cubs back into my heart was finding another team I could root for...even if entirely as a joke and to make Kyle go crazy. After all, what I was really hoping for was for them to finish .500, which is not exactly “cheering” for a team. And never against the Boys in Blue.
This is the year. This is it. Part of my reinvestment is Kyle's investment in this blog. It's kind of hard to not pay attention to something when one of your best friends blogs about them constantly. Also, the amount of content leads to a lot of my time spent reading what happens here (seriously, do you have a day job Kurt...or just pretend to, cause I'm not convinced). But part of it is that whole 2004 Red Sox thing. That “Team of Destiny” thing. I'm willing to get hurt this time. Maybe if I get crushed again, it'll be hard to get back..
But this is that year. Loney just hit a Grand Slam. Kyle just punched a whole in his wall. I screamed.
I'm okay. It's why I cheer.