Thursday, April 8, 2010

Go Cubs Go

I talked to my son, Patrick, Monday morning. Though we just saw Paddy and his family the week before, I was interested in what he had planned for his first day of Easter vacation from his job teaching and coaching at an area high school. The weather has been splendid in coastal North Carolina, so I figured he’d have a trip to the beach or some other outdoor activity on tap. They did, indeed, have a visit to a nearby waterfront park planned, but not the lengthy, all-day excursion I had imagined.
“We’ve gotta get back in time for opening day,” he said.
I didn’t have to ask whose opening day he was talking about.
Yes, Patrick, along with my older son, Colin, is a diehard Cubs fan.
And now he’s spreading that same seemingly incurable malady to my beloved grandsons.
It makes we wonder where I, as a father, went wrong.
Make no mistake, I like the Cubs. I enjoy listening to them on the radio once In awhile and look forward to a trip or two to beautiful Wrigley Field each year, and I’d be excited if they made it to a world series. There was a time when I was a pretty ardent fan myself, but nowadays I would no sooner recommend a single-minded, life-long loving relationship with the Northsiders any more than I would encourage my kids and grandkids in any other crazy, semi-masochistic act, like, say, hitting themselves on the big toe with a hammer, just to see how good it would feel when they stopped.
Here’s why:
Very possibly, the most well-known sports statistic in the world is this--The Cubs have not won a world series since 1908, the same year that Henry Ford produced his first Model-T, Butch Cassidy supposedly met his end in Bolivia and, interestingly enough, the year the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" made its debut. Less known, but equally poignant is the fact that the Cubs haven’t even played in the series since 1945, as noted by folksinger Steve Goodman in his 1983 song, “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request.”

“The law of averages says, anything will happen that can,
but the last time the Cubs won a National League Pennant was the year we dropped the bomb on Japan."

Goodman knew what he was talking about, as he was, in fact, both a serious lifelong Cubs fan and truly dying at the time he wrote the song. As a matter of fact, his last composition before losing a 16-year battle with leukemia was “Go Cubs Go,” the upbeat anthem played after every Cub’s victory.
And like all true Cub fans, Goodman, no doubt, repeated those familiar words, “wait ‘till next year” after every disappointing season.
So next year is here, with goals, predictions and dreams that a lot of fans hope will come true. I didn’t watch Tuesday’s opener, but checked online later that evening for the less-than-encouraging news:
Atlanta Braves 16 - Chicago Cubs 5 
I called Paddy the next morning to commiserate.
“Oh well, it’s a long season,” he replied, then added some encouraging words:
“Gotta go. We’re headed to the beach.”
There’s hope, indeed.

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