The Thing About Chicago Baseball

(On the eve of the World Series, I just had to include this letter I wrote to my dad, a life-long Cub fan, from his son the White Sox fan. I answered his e-mail which offered up some kind words of support just after the Sox won the American League Pennant.)

A very generous interpretation of events from you, my dear lifelong north-sider. I’m still not exactly sure what went wrong during the pedagogical phase, maybe nascent rebellion (at ten?), maybe it was the performance of the two teams in my formative fan year of 1964. Maybe I was just following the hype (Sox missed the pennant by one game that year, Cubs were 17 out). I do know that brother Pete went to a Sox game in ’63 or ’64, so I can remember being eager to do like my big bro’. My case was thoroughly hopeless in short order since modeling tends to fix permanently at that stage (if I got my “Child Psyche” right).

And hopeless was certainly the word for over 40 years, lost in the wilderness, eating locusts and honey (many locusts with small spoonfulls of honey in ’83, ’94 and 2000) until Sunday, October 16, 2005 rolled around. Stefanie and I were curled up down here in Mexico around the softly glowing computer screen watching the updates flash on our play-by-play scoreboard screen, all the while listening to ESPN Sox Radio chime in a half-beat later with the audio accounts (all via mlb.com). When it came down to two outs in the ninth and the scoreboard on our screen read “ball in play, out(s) recorded”, we both went over to my desktop where the audio had been cued up and cranked the volume for the words I’ve waited to hear since I was ten, “The Sox win the pennant! The Sox win the pennant!”.

Hours later after soaking my long-abused loyalties in the sweet balm of victory, I went to bed repeating those words. I tried them out again this morning and they still sound highly unusual.

It was quite a run. How can this team that was gasping for air down the stretch turn on a dime and run off twelve out of thirteen? And against the Indians, Red Sox and Angels, three of the four strongest Al contenders in September? My only regret is that we couldn’t mangle the Yankees a little bit while we were at it.

I’m glad you can enjoy, crazed Cub fan I know you to be. I know I’d be on your bandwagon if the roles were reversed. As for those Sox fans who still are inclined to freeze out Cubs fans for enjoying this, I say just let it go. At this point in time we’re supposed to be patronizing, not CRUEL! This one’s for the whole city! Getting to the World Series is a battle in the trenches. Once you win the pennant I say, pitch the big tent and invite everyone in.

I’ve been e-mailing back and forth with a pathetic (but comparatively more rewarded) Cardinals fan friend of mine. He has been warning me about the obstacles presented by Astros pitching for several weeks now. I would dearly love to see those Cards win tonight and get on a roll so we could face them in the World Series. Maybe beating them would pour us a dram of sympathy from the those supplicants to the Wrigley Shrine. Then “my enemies enemy is my friend” can be the pivot as long as Cub Fans can remember who the real pains in their keester are.

You’re right about the personalities on this team. A nice ethnic mix. No superstar hydocephalia (yet). A heavy current of ice water flowing in veins of guys that give every indication they don’t realize what the fuss is all about. And Ozzie. My favorite player in the late 60’s was Luis Aparicio. In the 90’s it was Ozzie. And now this inflection-impaired goof returns to Chicago and promptly dumps a World Series in our lap.

If I’m dreaming don’t wake me.

Dave

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