Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Next Year Finally Arrives For Long Suffering Cubs Fans

Cubs Win! Cubs Win!  Next Year Finally Arrives

I grew up the son of a Chicago born, life long Cubs fan.  But I grew up in the Florida panhandle in the 50s and 60s.  My first team was the NY Yankees.  My first professional baseball game was a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. I have fuzzy black and white photos taken from behind the Yankees dugout of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard.  

But dad was a Cubs fan.  He died 12/30/13 and is buried in his favorite Cubs jacket.  He lived a tortured life, as most Cubs fans do.  When we moved from Florida to Connecticut in the summer of 1967 my dad went a few months ahead of us while we finished out the school year.  I will never forget the call we got from him one night, probably in May of that year, telling us he got a job playing first base for the New York Mets.  Actually, it was first bass., as in tuba.  You see, he was a Dixieland jazz musician and he’d been hired as a part of Joel Schiavone’s “Your Father’s Mustache”, a chain of Dixieland jazz night clubs throughout the Northeast.  Besides playing in the night club in Pt. Pleasant New Jersey and Greenwich Village, he played with the band at Shea Stadium behind home plate at every Met’s home game that summer of ’67.

We joined dad in Milford, CT in June and I went to a lot of Mets games that summer.  We hung out with the band behind home plate.  We sat with Nancy Seaver and the rest of the player’s wives. There were always lots of empty seats.  Before each game we got waited with the band in the Jet’s locker room, which was right next to the Met’s club house. We had access to talk to the players, get autographs and just hang out before the games.  I was 12.  It was a blast and a memory I will cherish forever.

Dad continued to study baseball stats and suffer with each passing Cubs season.  Next year.  It was always “we’ll get ‘em next year”.

When I moved to San Diego in the late 70s, I found myself driving around the county in a sales job and I had a lot of time to listen games on the radio with Tony Gwynn and the Padres and I became a Padres fan.  I was a devoted fan and attended many games including the 1984 playoffs vs. the Cubs, (the most exciting playoff moment in my life was Steve Garvey poking a homer over the right field wall to win the series.) and both Padres World Series appearances; in 1984 vs. the Detroit Tigers and 1998 against the Yankees.

I got tickets for game 4 of the 1998 World Series
with the Padres being eliminated 4 games to none at Jack Murphy aka Qualcomm Stadium.  We laugh in my family because I scored the tickets at work on game day and came home, and of course took my son to the game.  This was much to the dismay of my daughter who was 7 at the time.  As we drove off, she had a bit of a tantrum claiming; “I never get to go to the World Series”.  As sad and sorry as I was about slighting her, we had to laugh at her reaction, joking that my dad was about 70 years old at the time, and he too had never gotten to go to a World Series game.  We still laugh about it and I’m still paying for it.

Since then, the Padres have been a terrible disappointment with their ownership not having the money or commitment to field a competitive team.  They have a cycle.  They are awful, but every few years their homegrown talent matures to the point where they start to be competitive, only to be traded away to wealthier, larger market teams as soon as they show promise.  My dad hated the economic structure of MLB.  He detested the way that large market teams had the money and could buy their way to championships.  He especially hated George Steinbrenner.

Game 6 of The National League Championship series of 2003 was the straw that broke the camel’s back for my dad.  For the first time since 1945, the Cubs were on the verge of winning the National League Championship.  In the bottom of the 8th inning with the Cubs leading 3 games to 2 and one out, a life long Cubs fan named Steve Bartman reached out with a number of other fans for a foul ball, but it was Bartman who interfered with Moises Alou’s ability to catch the ball for what would have been the 2nd out.  The Cubs were leading the game 3-0 and would have been 4 outs away from clinching the series and heading to the World Series.   Instead, the Marlins went on to score 8 runs in the inning, winning the game 8-3.  The Cubs were eliminated the next day.  My father was despondent and switched his allegiance for the remainder of his days to the Boston Red Sox, after which he was immediately rewarded with the first of three world series championships in 2004.  

As I watched the series and the game last night, I had a bit of a conflict.  I was torn.  As a past Yankees fan, a disillusioned Padres fan, the son of a life long Cubs fan, who’s father is dead and buried in his Cubs jacket, but defected to the also long suffering Boston Red Sox….. I had a soft spot in my heart and I was rooting for the Cubbies.  But then my real life friend, David Corbin, had placed a 25-1 $100 bet back in May on the Indians.  I’m sorry Dave.