Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Proposal

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.

21 comments:

lulu said...

I saw the Effigies just last night. They still put on a pretty good show.

The Cubs. Don't get me started.

SamuraiFrog said...

You can make that lawsuit a class action, right? Because my grandpa made me love the Cubs, and ever since...

Anon. Blogger said...

hahaha!! Child abuse. That's funny!

Palette said...

the cubs have a long assed history of seriously lacking management. The last Dusty "Give me a great arm and I will get it on the disabled list no matter what" Baker and now Lou Pinella, the poster child for cardiac arrest and bulging angry neck veins. Now wonder.

Bubs said...

And today is the anniversary of Royko's death. Maybe he should've waited to burn the hat today.

Skylers Dad said...

I have been into sports all of my life, but never have enjoyed baseball. Some of my friends have tried to convince me, but it just moves too fricken slow for my tastes!

Danny Tagalog said...

The Effigies is a great name for a punk band!

Splotchy said...

It's gonna happen this year, I can feel it.

If not, I blame your son for spitting 8 times into the fire instead of the required 1,908.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Ah... but this is what it's like to be a Cubbie fan, isn't it?

BTW, I have a hat to burn too - from my first MLB game ever, at Wrigley.

Mob said...

Oh, you sports fans and your crazy rites of passage!

Glad he finally came around to your way of thinking.

sv said...

Lucky for me, I grew up a Reds fan during the years of the Big Red Machine, before Marge Schott sold off the best and the brightest. I didn't go to Wrigley until I was an adult, but that 1PM start time on a Friday probably makes their ineptitude nearly bearable.

In my neck of the woods, however, basketball was king. My most memorable superstition was that when my team (the Wildcats) were losing, I would go out and shoot baskets (in the snow and ice if necessary) with the certain belief that if I made enough shots, the Cats would pull it out. If they lost, I must not have hit enough shots.

In baseball, I believed that if I maintained certain thoughts, the Reds pitcher would throw unhittable strikes. Unfortunately, my kid mind tricks didn't work so well. Maybe that's why I don't gamble much.

lulu said...

sv-I grew up in Cinci during the era of the Big Red Machine to, but my grandfather passed the Cubby gene on to me too, so I have been quietly crying in my beer for years.

JR's Thumbprints said...

No no no, the Cubs are not bums; the Detroit Lions are bums. "Restore the roar" became "Restore the snore." At least with a name like "Cubs" it signifies growth; whereas the Lions are already king of the ... nevermind.

Phil said...

I'm starting to come around on the team this year. They might make some noise. Maybe... Please...

Johnny Yen said...

Lu-
The last time I saw them was, I think, 1986-- they were already doing reunion shows then! I should see them again soon.

Samurai-
That's a great idea. We just need to stop the hurting.

Anon. Blogger-
It's criminal, isn't it?

Palette-
I gave myself the luxury this winter of thinking Pinella might make a difference. It took only about a week into the season for me to drop my starry-eyed notions.

Bubs-
Between the Cubs and this administration, Royko's certainly up there wishing he'd hung on longer-- there were hundreds and hundreds of columns he could have written.

Skyler's Dad-
It's definitely an acquired taste.

Danny-
It is. There were a bunch of great ones in Chicago from that era. Another of my favorites was "Poison Squirrel."

Splotchy-
Blame him for that or not just spitting on the Cubs themselves.

Kristi-
So you know our pain, don't you?

Mob-
I think of all the sports, baseball people are the most supersticious.

SV-
You were indeed a lucky man-- the Big Red Machine was incredible in the seventies. I still owe one of my high school classmates a dollar for betting on the Red Sox against them in the 1975
World Series, the only sports bet I've ever made.

Lu-
Other than that, I'm sure your grandfather was a good man.

JR-
The New York Times had an article Thursaday about frustrated Lions fans are, and how they keep hoping to score in the draft. Fortunately, given the Lions' performance, they tend to score high in the draft.

Phil-
It was definitely a good weekend. Let's see if it holds.

WTF with Prior? What a waste of time and money.

Phil said...

Prior is counting the days till his contract runs out and he can run out to the westcoast. Baby.

kim said...

I think it's bad to promote fire as a way of disposing of things.

And, there is always next year.

You know, I grew up in Minnesota where we have gone through this exact same thing with the Minnesota Vikings. It happens to all of us; not just the Cubbies. Cry Me a River. Dusty Baker, Bud Grant. Same guy, different hat.

Johnny Yen said...

Phil-
Sounds like a good retirement plan.

Kim-
Yeah, but the difference is that the Vikings would actually get to the Superbowl (and lose, repeatedly).

I was actually a Vikings fan when I was a kid-- they had a lot of players I liked. It wasn't as if the Bears were doing anything.

busterp said...

Love the outdoor fires but every year we get more regulations we need to follow.

Mentioning Haley's Comet reminds me of the fact that Mark Twain was born and also died while the comet was in the sky.(and obviously never saw a Cubs championship - though he was probably a St Louis fan)

My daughter is the die hard. Braving a 2 hour commute each way, she has already seen about 5 or 6 games either at Wrigley or Milwaukee.(I'm sure The Cubbie Bear is part of the draw too.)

They never should have traded Maddox (the last time - 2 years ago). He's still keeping games winnable at his age.

The Elk said...

imagine how bummed you cub fans will be when Bill Wirtz buys the team...heh heh heh.

MC said...

The Lions are the Cubs of the NFL.