Sunday, June 8, 2014

While the Sun Shines

In a few minutes, the Cubs are set to take on the Marlins at Wrigley. They are going for their 6th straight win. If they get the W, it will be the first time Chicago has won 6 straight since July of 2012. I was told I should blog while the Cubs were winning--presumably so a hopeful, cheery tone breaks up the scenery around here.

Right now Jake Arietta has struck out 5 over 5 innings and it's scoreless in the 6th.

What's it like to be on a winning streak as a Cubs' fan? Well, it's weird. Being on pace for our third straight 100-loss season, it's both titillating and nerve-wracking to hit a lucky spell. I try to pretend I don't care, and more specifically, like I'm not madly hoping they can pull off just one more. I suppose pretending that you don't care about the wins makes it's easier to pretend you don't care about the inevitable loss that is waiting at the end of this and all streaks.

Alas, I *do* care. Just like my dad, I harbor hopes that this group of lovable losers is better than they've performed thus far. Post-season play would be a dream I dare not of (this year)... but maybe .500 ball? If they got *really* hot? These are the feverish ambitions that I find hardest to surrender. I can accept not being very good, but for some reason, it's pretty tough to concede being really, really bad.

Still, I want this post to explain to the world *why* I'm a Cubs' fan, and why (God help me) I actually enjoy it. So, in honor of the Cubs entering the 7th inning of this game with a 2 run lead (Woohoo Nate Schierholtz!), let me explain. No, it is too much. Let me sum up*:

1. It's who I am.

Just as I'm a Mormon, a Californian, a wife & mother... just as I am a teacher... just as I have a sweet tooth and crooked smile.. just as I need to travel and be social... I am a Cubs' fan. It feels right. It's not just because my dad is a Cubs' fan, either. Dad is also a Rams' fan, and even though he *wanted* me to grow up and marry Jim Everett, I am a Niners' girl through and through. Being a Cubs' fan is both a calling and a curse, and in that complex dichotomy is a distinctive, sincere identity. Winning teams earn new fans all the time, but they also lose them just as easily. When you're a Cubs fan, chances are, you are sticking around. And most likely, you mean it. No one decides to "try out" loving a terrible team on a lark.

2. My Dad.

Okay, yes- I just finished insisting that I wasn't a Cubs' fan because of my dad, but I should amend that to say that I'm not a Cubs' fan *just* because of my dad. It's still a large part of the equation. Being able to talk baseball with my dad is one of the joys of my life. Sharing in his happiness when they're playing well, and commiserating in his grief the rest of the time is just one of those things that draws me closer to my father. I like it that way.

3. WGN/Harry Caray.

I grew up listening to a drunken old man happily slurring through the names of baseball players on a basic cable channel that is best known for America's Funniest Home Videos reruns. Though his years and inebriation suggested differently, Harry loved baseball the way a child does: always excited with the prospect of the next win, always rooting for the team, and always in high spirits (and not just distilled ones, either). Harry was the perfect example of enjoyable homerism. He never condescended or belittled the opposing team and fans, and he didn't sour in the face of crushing defeat (something I see happening to the current WGN broadcasting team. Hmmm. "Souring" might be too strong. "Wilting," maybe). The man was just plain lovable, as evidenced by the impressions of him that are going strong 16 years after his death.

4. The city of Chicago.

It's a beautiful, fascinating, irresistible place. Chicago is the home of iconic architecture, political intrigue, and some of my favorite fictional stories. John Dillinger, Walt Disney, Ferris Bueler, Stephen Colbert, and Oprah all hail from Chicago. I love its strong tradition of music, art, literature, and show biz. In addition, my genealogy runs through The City of Big Shoulders--my genealogy and many others like me: Outside of Krakow, the highest population of Poles lives in Chicago. My paternal grandfather's family were Polish immigrants, and he became a Cubs' fan at an early age. It's unclear, however, whether or not he was a fan yet at the age of 3, when the Cubs' won their last World Series. What is clear was that the North Side was his home for 50 some-odd years, before moving his family to California.

5. Wrigley Field.

In my first post, I gushed over Wrigley, and I won't rehash the entire love letter... but let me suggest this: The "new" baseball stadiums (those built in the last 15 years) strive to recapture everything special and charming about the game, as found in early stadiums like Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, and Wrigley Field. It's not that Wrigley is a museum, as some have suggested. Rather than a trip back to yesteryear, a visit to The Friendly Confines is simply a stronger, sweeter catalyst for the pure joy of baseball. The ivy, the bricks, the scoreboard, the W, the organ... Sorry, sorry; no more gushing.

For what it's worth, the Cubs' lost today. It was one of their patented come-from-ahead losses in the 8th inning. It hurt a little, but Nate Schierholtz did hit a triple, and that was fun. From first pitch to last strike, there is a lot of baseball to soak up before a winner and a loser is declared... being a Cubs' fan compels you to savor that time, if nothing else.

*Thank you, Princess Bride and Ignigo


  1. Two things.
    1. The Cubs lost before you finished writing this, didn't they?
    2. Somehow, I feel like this is prolly my fault for pointing out that they were on a hot streak. Sort of how you aren't supposed to talk to a pitcher when he is pitching a no-hitter.

    1. Of course they lost before I finished writing! I say so at the end. :P
      And it's not your fault... I *did* watch the pitching...
      (kidding, kidding... I watched the scripted play by play on the computer)

    2. I heard a great Harry Carey story the other day. Apparently he used to work for the Cardinals. There was a game where the bases were loaded with 2 outs and the Cardinals were down to their last strike. The pitcher threw the ball and Carey didn't even say what happened he just said, "And now we'll throw it over to Tom for the postgame show." And that was that.