“Next Year” is Now!
If this is a dream, please don’t wake me. I’m still in absolute shock. In a welcome break from the nightmarish reality show billed as the Presidential election, the Chicago Cubs delivered the feel-good story of the year– their first World Series Championship since 1908. And everyone, it seems, has a Cub connection at the moment. Here’s mine:
I can’t say that I’ve worshipped the Cubbies ever since I first held a baseball, whenever that was. To be honest, until the early 1980s, I’d rather watch paint dry than attend a ball game. That’s when I moved to a neighborhood only a couple of blocks from Wrigley Field. I learned the meaning of “friendly confines” when I saw the 102-year old shrine not just on game day, but almost every day.
And I learned how to enjoy baseball. I had just conveniently launched a freelance writing career in the summer, and there were plenty of slow days. If the weather was nice, I would stroll over to Wrigley and plunk down $2 (no typo!) for bleacher admission, which was always available. I’d bring sunscreen and a good book, and enjoy a beer or three stretched out somewhere along the ivy-covered left field wall. It hardly mattered whether the Cubs won or lost when you could converse and sometimes even play catch with the outfielder, and resort to “Right field sucks!”– “Left field sucks!” taunts with other Bleacher Bums when things really got boring on the diamond. And there was always Harry Caray, hanging out of the press box at a death-defying angle as his booze-soaked, gravelly voice led us in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
Then in 1984 the Cubs shocked everyone by winning their National League division. Though the clinching game was out of town, my Wrigleyville neighborhood erupted with the wildest party I’ve ever witnessed. Among the thousands of screaming, hugging, beer-soaked revelers being jerked in every direction was a blind musician I knew. When I marveled at his daring to tread this social earthquake zone, he shouted, “Are you kidding? They may never do this again!”
And they didn’t– that year. After demolishing San Diego in the first two games of the league championship, they tanked the next three in spectacularly Cub fashion. It wasn’t the first or last time that happened over an interminable 108 years. But now there is joy in my old neighborhood because: CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!