Just in case you weren’t paying attention, the World Series is about to begin and both teams have a beleaguered history. Here in the north Chicago suburbs Cubs fever is contagious, close to the delirious level on the heat scale. We hung our W flag yesterday and posted it on all the social media feeds we use. Our street is one whose fireworks cache’ is full and in use. We are finding ourselves chanting “4 more wins” on a regular basis. No one is eating goat. We have a mandate for wearing official Cubs apparel everywhere, even to bed. Vehicles are sporting not just one but TWO suction flags. And the radio stations are inviting callers to share their most heart wrenching, dying wish Cubs stories of all time. I actually heard a woman share that her father chose to die during a Cubs game last month when the doctors told him he wouldn’t live to see the Series! Make of it what you will but know that these champions are beloved here in Chicago.
Theo Epstein holds godlike status in Chicago. Ever see “Moneyball”? That’s our guy. What he did for the Red Sox he duplicated here in Chicago and we’re banking on it’s success this week. We have team members who’ve experienced his methodology first hand in Boston, and will do it one more time in Chicago. I watched an interview with one of the younger team members (2yrs in the majors) saying he is spoiled because he thinks this is how baseball is always played. Nope. Remember the days of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire? Superstar days when setting personal records was the pinnacle of recognition for the Cubs, Beloved Losers their longstanding label. Theo has changed all that. Players who are in it to win for the team and the city. Who want personal records but not at the expense of the big picture. Today the goal is getting on base and running it home. Baseball is fun again.
Though I’m not a huge sports fan, I can follow baseball and will endure a game every so often. One of our annual traditions (about 6 yrs now) is to attend a Cubs game at Wrigley Field every May for Bruce’s birthday. He treats everyone in the family to an afternoon game complete with food, parking and really, really bad beer at the stadium. I skip the beer, but there are those among us who insist the experience isn’t complete without Old Style in a plastic cup. Going to Wrigley is an experience all it’s own. The colors, turf, fans, rooftop bleachers, score board and even the Outer Court of Wrigleyville, is both historic and sentimental. One of the last, original, inner city ballparks left in the United States, sooooo cool. Even an apathetic sports fan such as myself can’t help but feel nostalgic when there. This year I froze my not-so-little-tushie off, vowing to take my down coat next year, (remember Californians, it’s May). I also climbed 100 flights of stairs 3 times complete with grumbles and eye rolls. Next year I also buy the tickets.
But this year…I’m watching. I’ll have those games on, growling at the screen while listening to the lame-o commentators. A large part of why I’m not into sports has to do with how deeply into them I could be. My eternity and Christian witness might be jeopardized should I become an avid sports fan. I’m also a terrible loser and cheat at board games. It’s true. I have no idea what I’ll say or do if the Cubs lose this series. Unthinkable, unfathomable, unimaginable and any other un you can name. I won’t be able to blame the team, it will never be their fault. Fault will lie with an outside force to be eternally blamed and hated. But not the team, never the team. The team is untouchable, like Greek gods. They inhabit Wrigley Field like the mythical heroes of ancient times on Mt Olympus. They will carry us to heights of joy unknown for over 100 years. Never again will we chant “This time next year…”
Next year is here