Thanks to the wonder of wifi, I'm sitting by the firepit with my son as I write this post.
My son has been looking forward to the firepit since last year. My landlord bought it last summer, but through bad timing, my son was never able to enjoy the firepit last autumn-- every time he was here, it was either warm or raining-- never cool and dry, ideal firepit weather.
Tonight is that ideal night. We sat out here for a while with my landlord and his wife, and their guests. One of them was talking about discovering the Effigies, a punk band that's been around forever in Chicago. Another, a grad student in Math from L.A., sat and talked baseball with my son.
A little while ago, my son made a decision about a Cubs hat he had. It was time to burn it.
I've mentioned before that the very first words I ever said to my son were "Remember, son-- the Cubs are bums!" I'm not making this up.
He decided early on that he was a Cubs fan. He was probably 7 or so when he said those words-- he didn't know that they were classic Cub fan words-- "You know, Dad-- I think that we're going to have to wait 'til next year." I was heartbroken-- he was so young!
But hope springs eternal. He is the consummate fan. He told me a couple of years ago that he'd be a fan even if they lost every game.
Of course, last year, they tried to test him on that one, and see if he really meant it.
He had a hat that he always wore to the many games he and I attended. It's the one he's wearing in this picture, from a game he and I went to a couple of seasons ago.
You'll notice that he's holding a toy stuffed goat; it was his desperate attempt to break the Cubs' curse of the billy goat.
It did not work. Despite the fact that they had a great team, despite the fact that a future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux was pitching (that's Maddux warming up a couple of hundred feet behind us in the background), the Cubs managed to lose that game, and in fact all three games we attended that year.
I'm pretty certain that it was at that game that Adam began to voice suspicion that it was in fact that hat that was cursed and causing the Cubs to lose. This is what the Cubs have driven my son to.
He said, as he put it in the firepit, "It's given me hope but never victory."
He then proceeded to spit eight times into the firepit. I was curious and asked him why he had done that. "1908" was his reply. He knew I'd know what he was talking about. 1908 was the last time that the Cubs won a World Series. Assuming the Cubs do not win one this year-- a pretty fair assumption-- it will have been a century.
There's a list out there of things that have happened since the last time the Cubs won the World Series. Among them:
Radio was invented.
Television was invented.
Cubs announcer Jack Brickhouse was born and died.
Cubs announcer Harry Carey was born and died.
Two World Wars were fought.
Several states were added to the union.
Prohibition was enacted and repealed.
Three sets of flagpoles meant to hold World Series flags were built, rusted out and replaced.
Haley's Comet has passed by the earth. Twice.
When I was eight years old, my family lived on the North Side of Chicago. The Cubs looked to be a shoe-in to go to the World Series. In a now notorious game, a black cat ran across the field, and the Cubs, who were up 8 1/2 games in the middle of August, managed to fold and lose the pennant to the Mets, a team who just a few years before had set a record for losses in a season that still stands. I should have learned.
Chicagoan Mike Royko, one of my favorite writers, was also a North-sider and Cub fan, and became so disgusted with them that he officially switched his allegiance to the Chicago White Sox.
My son and I are not that disgusted yet, but he's taken to extreme measures- burning up that Cubs cap
His burning of the Cubs cap reminded me of the very public destruction of the "Bartman ball." It was blown to bits on nation-wide television. And did it help? The Cubs proceeded to have one of their worst seasons in years.
The day the sale of the Tribune to a group headed by Sam Zell, the Tribune announced that they were selling the Cubs. It brought me back to the day in 1981 when the Tribune bought the Cubs. There was joy in Chicago. At last, the Wrigley family, who were clearly fielding losing teams so that the Cubs could be a tax write-off were selling to an organization that would put together winning teams and get us to a World Series. How funny is that?
What's sad is there's not even talk that whoever buys them might put together a winning team. They suck that bad.
I've waited since I was eight for the Cubs to stop sucking. I'll be 46 in a couple of weeks, and they show no signs of abating. They ruined my childhood, and they appear to be about to ruin my son's childhood. And so it is this reason that I propose that Super-prosecutor Peter Fitzgerald be called back to Illinois to prosecute the Chicago Cubs for nearly a century of child abuse.