WORDS FROM W.W. August 21, 2016
Yesterday my wife and I traveled up the highway from Colorado Springs to Coors Field in Denver to watch a baseball game. Not just any baseball game, mind you! This was a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Colorado Rockies.
I said the Cubs! The team that has left more broken hearts in its littered trail of the past than anyone else!
I remember those fantastic starts to the season back in the 60’s and 70’s only to be fried away by the August sun. “August swoon” was a term that I think the Cubs invented. That, as well as, “Wait ’til next year!”
I grew up in Cincinnati Reds’ territory in the monster years of “The Big Red Machine”. I can remember watching games from the extreme upper deck as Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Ken Griffey, and Davey Concepcion dominated the astroturf. Spending my last college years and seminary years in Chicago brought me into the strange realm of Cub Nation. Each year I resided in Chicagoland the academic year would be ending with Cub hopes rising, but by the time a new school year began in late August the hope had long since flown south and been replaced by misery and disappointment. Like a new puppy helping a child move on from the death of a pet, the beginning of the Bears’ football season would be the grief solution for the latest lost Cubs’ season.
This year is different, however! 34 games over five hundred with 40 games to play…a 13 game lead over the hated Cardinals. My Reds looking up from 25 games out! And last night in the Rockies’ home stadium with a crowd just shy of 50,000 there had to be 30,000 Cubs fans there! They were boisterous, many intoxicated by their team with the assistance of several beers. Cub jerseys were worn proudly. “Cub-anatics” conversed about where they were from, reminisced in last year’s journey to the National League championship series with the Mets. Optimism that this is the year was firmly entrenched in the crowd.
My wife Carol is one of those “Cub-anatics”! When a Cubs game is not on Cable TV I frequently find her sitting in our Honda Civic in the garage listening to the game on satellite radio. She loved being in the midst of Cub Nation yesterday, wearing her team shirt, rooting passionately for “the boys!”
I was caught up in the peer pressure and rooted for them as well. Happy wife, happy life!
And the Rockies management saw the Cubs coming! They aren’t stupid! Ticket prices became outrageous. Carol has sight limitations, so I needed seats that were close enough to help her understand what was going on, but not so close that we would need to take out a mortgage on the tickets. Our seats were lower deck in the left field corner. Quite honestly, she couldn’t see the ball when it was hit but she was captivated by the atmosphere.
A group of eleven people around us had traveled in from different parts of the country for the weekend series. They flew in from Chicago, Florida, Springfield, Illinois, California, and Arizona to see their Cubbies! Scattered around me I saw Cub jerseys with names of the past and the present on the back: Banks, Sandberg, Rizzo, Santo, Bryant, Dawson. People brought the past with them to cheer on the future. Carol posted a picture of us at the game on Facebook. I was taken back by all the comments from people saying “Go Cubs!” It was like having an army of “Cub-anatics” living the moment through us. Our nephew’s wife…the poster child of “Cub-anaticism”, sent us a message “You are bringing good luck! Keep it up!” We had a responsibility!
It was an event! “The boys” raced out to a 7-0 lead and cruised. I expected people to start filtering out in the eighth inning, but at the end of the three hour game almost every one was still there. Cub fans bathe in the glow of a win. White flags with blue “W’s” on them came out in the crowd. Carol didn’t want to leave. I enjoyed seeing her enjoyment!
It was a great evening, one that we will remember for a long, long time!