Sunday, August 10, 2008

If The Cubbies Win it All, Will Baseball Still Matter to Me?

For years, ever since I went to school in Southbend, I have been a closet Cub fan. I never memorized stats or line ups although my husband shrewdly figured out I thought Mark Grace in his prime was cute, but I loved watching the team on TV.

I think the pleasure began when I opted to skip a class where the poet Denise Levetov was coming to speak in favor of an afternoon game Senior year. We had seen her the day before in a special lecture where she proceeded to insult virtually everyone including my favorite teacher. I decided I didn’t want a second helping from the lady who critiqued my poetry thusly, “I’m very surprised, I almost believed this.” So, I went to the game instead.

We left a note for Harry Carey as he had a soft spot for Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. “Our Dates came for the Sr. Formal, but we came for the Cubs.” It didn’t matter that the four of us who signed it were each other’s dates, I knew Harry would like the sentiment. He read it and our names on the air.

That Monday, my Creative Writing teacher and head of the department, a die-hard Chicago true Cubs fan called me into his office. “Sherry…we missed you on Friday. You weren’t by any chance at a Cubs game were you?”

Now I hadn’t missed or skipped an English class in four years, even when sick or having pulled an all nighter. This was my first time ever to blow off a class. “Yes.” I answered meekly.

“Good for you. I heard your name on the radio.” He smiled. I’d forgotten he tuned into every game, and this was before IPods and downloading and TiVo were possible.

While that may have been the genesis of my interest in the perennial bottom dwelling little bears from the windy place, I realized over the years, it was more of a devotion to Greek Tragedy. Being in love with a losing team that never gets to the top is similar to loving unconditionally and requires a special willingness to pour out one’s heart. It is a state close to grace in the sports world. Being the Charlie Brown who never kicks the football and tries anyway is Sisyphean, Homeric, epic in nature. I have to consider if it’s the Cubs or the relentless yearly story of constant struggle and disappointment that I enjoy.

And thus I wonder as the Cubs continue to rank first in the NL Central, if the Cubs win it all, if the happy ending for the longest suffering fans in all of America occurs, will we then become soccerphiles like the rest of the world? Will we then only seek to sate our sports desires with winning teams and no longer derive pleasure from loving organizations that do not love us back via success? Will watching a Cubs game post a World Series Winning matter to me or anyone else?

And then I remember, Notre Dame hasn’t won a championship since 1988! I get mad at them even when they’re winning if they aren’t winning beautifully. I want no penalties and no close calls and there are always tons of both to drive me nuts.

Thank God for the Irish!

Oh and, Go Cubbies!

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1 comment:

Helen said...

I saw this joke on Happy Catholic's blog a couple of weeks ago.

A wicked Chicago man died and went to the place all wicked people go. The Devil decided to shove him in a room and cranked the heat and humidity up.

The man smiled. When the Evil One asked why the man was smiling he said: "Just like Chicago in Spring"

So the Most Evil One cranked up the heat and humidity more. The man removed his coat, smiled, and said:

"Just like Chicago in Summer"

This time the Destroyer of Beauty cranked the heat and humidity to maximum.

The man removed his shirt and tie and said

"Just like Chicago in August"

The Devil then got an idea. He shut off the heat and turned on the air conditioning. The room froze in seconds. Ice was everywhere. Polar bears hid in dens because it was so cold. Satan, confident he had finally won, peaked in the man's room only to find the man cheering and partying frantically....

"The Cubs won the World Series...The Cubs won the World Series..."

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