Monday, August 2, 2021

My Chicago Cubs Fandom comes Full Circle


As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, I was an oddball. I paid attention to our own losing baseball team, the Indians, but I was a fan of baseball's loveable losers, the Chicago Cubs. Our cable provider carried WGN which back in the good ole days carried every single Cubs game. I would come home from school an the Cubs would be on TV. Like I said it was the good ole days, when every Cubs home game was a day game. For you young folks out there, the Cubs didn't play a night game at Wrigley until 1988.

In my youth, at their best, the Cubs were an average team, but even when they were shit, they still had packed house. Living in Cleveland, back in those days, the Indians were horrible, and so was attendance, so it was easy to fall for the Cubs, they weren't great but they still managed to pack a crowd and energy into their ballpark.

Ryne Sandberg was my favorite player. I know the hitting stats, geeks will argue with me, but to me he was the greatest second baseman ever. His fielding percentage of .989 at 2B is the highest at that position in big league history. He had 20 career errorless streaks of at least 30 games including the record, 123 game stretch. Sandberg taught me the glove was just as important as the bat...Oh, he was a helluva hitter too.

Andre Dawson was a superstar hitter and if you ask me, Shawon Dunston was one of the most underrated Shortstops in the game.

I loved the Cubs and I loved Wrigley. It seemed like the greatest place on Earth. I always said I wanted to live at least one year, in that neighborhood, in one of those building behind Wrigley, where the residents watched games from the roof. 

Again, in the good ole days, before Cubs ownership blocked their view and then wanted a cut of the bleachers the building put on top.

As the years went on I got annoyed with Cubs ownership for crap like that, as well TV contracts, which took the games away from WGN making that channel useless to me and having to buy MLB packages if I wanted to watch them. Not holding on to top talent, always rebuilding. I also grew a bit more hometown pride and followed the Indians more and more. I had a girlfriend who's family had season tickets and spent a lot of time in the late 1990's at Jacob's Field.

Then, in 2016 the unimaginable happened....Except much of my youth I imagined it as pitched imaginary baseball games against my parent's garage door. The Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs would face-off in the World Series. 

I thought I would be torn. I thought there would be an inner-struggle between my childhood team and my adult team. But there wasn't much. I didn't care a damn about the Cubs drought. I cared completely about the Indians finally winning.

But that didn't happen. It was in all honesty a great series and two well matched teams. It was great baseball, but in the end the Cubs were victorious.

And I didn't feel one bit of joy about it. As a matter of fact the next season I hated the Cubs. I was pissed every time they were on national TV. I hated the gold trim they added to their uniform for special nationally televised games. I hated them almost as much as I hate the Yankees and Dodgers.

Suddenly this season, I got back into the Cubs. Maybe I just want something that was tied to happy, good memories after the last couple years in this fucked up world. When I was kid and Cubs fan and throwing a ball against my parent's garage, I was happy. Outside world didn't seem to matter so much. So I got a new Cubs cap, started watching as many games as I could, started paying attention to the team and farm system. The core of that Championship team was still there and they were solid veterans now. This could be a really good team, but they probably needed a couple arms.

Then last week happened. There had been rumblings that the Cubs would have to move one or two key players, mainly to be able to resign a couple of them. I assumed they would trade Closer Craig Kimbrel, which they did. I figured moving 1B Anthony Rizzo was the other who should go. 1B's are a dime a dozen and he's the oldest of the core players. He's also an anti-vaxxer so fuck that guy! 

Kris Bryant is still in his 20's and can play 3B, 1B and all the OF positions well. The guy brought 5 gloves top the All-star game with him so the manager could use him anywhere on the field. To me, you keep that guy. And then there is SS Javier Baez. He's one of the games best Shortstops. He's without a doubt in the top 6. He's a headcase, but so were many other great players and he's still young. You gotta keep this guy right?

Nope! The Cubs traded them all away. 

I told my wife, it's just like my childhood all over again. I fall in love with the Cubs when suck.



B.O.B. said...

I love this blog. I too have the same kind of thoughts, the difference is that my team who gave away the house was the Twins.

It is amazing how I am starting to really like Baseball again. The only thing that really turns me off is this big market shit. A small market team cannot enjoy winning for long and that sucks.

It has always been more fun when Pittsburgh, Oakland, Minny, and Kansas City wins.

The Beeze (aka: Tim McNeeley) said...

I really have fallen back in love with the game this year. To me, last season didn't count at all. But the big markets, especially New York and LA, are horrible for the game. Teams like Pittsburgh and Cleveland threw in the towel by June.

KJ the Black Bandit said...

I too watched the Cubs play in the day every afternoon, chuckled when the first night game at Wrigley on 8/8/88 got rained out and went to more than a few games at Wrigley in the late 90s but they got corporate and not as fun to root for.