As Pat and Ron sign off for another season and with the resignation of Andy McPhail and the turmoil that is sure to follow, I am struck by the annual emptiness of the coming winter. Oh sure, the Bears look good, the Irish still have a small shot and the Bulls may find themselves on top once again but it is only mere entertainment. It is only diversion that could easily be supplanted by a round of golf, a good meal, an enthralling novel. It is only a way to pass time until there is no time left. It is not baseball. It is not the Cubs.
In the past, I've tried to put into words just how I feel about the Cubs. I've failed to capture the emotional bond that I feel and I've failed to explain just how much space in the Chicago ethos of my generation, my father's generation, and my grandfather's generation the Cubs occupied. I wish to God that I had the words to say how intricately the Cubs fit into the structure of my life growing up on the West Side, from childhood dreams of playing professional baseball right on through my adolescence and eventual conscription into the armed forces in 1966. I have been unable to describe how important it was to my sanity to be able to follow the Cubs through my first couple of overseas assignments, and how when I met my wife-to-be in far off Asia how much I wanted her to be able to relate to such an inexorable part of my being.
I often wonder how many others share my admittedly irrational attachment to the Cubs. I know it means nothing in the grand scheme of things. I know that some malnourished waif in Darfur has probably never even heard of baseball; that some young soldier in Iraq couldn't care less or that some that mother living a hand-to-mouth existence in the slums of Rio knows nothing of the Cubs. I know that if the Cubs ceased to exist right this instant, the sun would still, most assuredly, rise tomorrow morning. I know all these things and more, yet I still cannot imagine a summer without constant thoughts of the Cubs season or a winter without constant thoughts of the hot stove league and what could be done to make the season to come the best one ever.
I'm not into metrics. I haven't read "Moneyball" nor do I intend to. I feel deeply that I just don't need to deconstruct the institution of Cubs baseball because once begun, some of the luster will be lost forever. I'll leave the heavy lifting to others. I prefer to think there is always hope and even when it becomes clear there is none, I prefer to look for the occasional promise of a young player or the rare game where a star or scrub shines just for that moment because it's a reason for me to keep coming back and hope anew.
I think that those who have posted such acidic tripe here (I'm sure glad they are gone) are just not seeing the forest for the trees. They aren't stopping to think of what a dull, dreary world it would be without the Cubs. I think there is something wrong with these people. I don't think they are fans. They're something else but I don't know what to call them. They have some need to destroy what they purport to love. They (they are, from all appearances, of the male persuasion) probably carry tape measures with them so that when they answer the call of nature they can reassure themselves they haven't become less of a man and once satisfied to that effect, they project their alpha-like domination through blog postings and exhortations to join them or forever be labeled something less than an imbecile. I pity them, for they will never know the joy of Cubs baseball and will, unless they are struck from above by a thunderbolt, forever be ignoramuses with penises. They are symptomatic of the very thought patterns that puree' the brains of our national leadership, whether they realize it or not.
Hope springs eternal. Here's to Dusty Baker. I hope his life after Chicago is full and long. Here's to the front office. May they get a clue. here's to Andy McPhail. May he live long and be successful wherever he lands. Here's to the team, for those who will return and those who won't. May they forever savor the privilege of having played in the big leagues, especially with the Cubs. Here's to Glendon and hopes that he can, once again, play the game he loves (but with another team). Here's to Michael Barrett and hopes his scrotum heals completely. Here's to Derrek's daughter and the things in life that are really important, even if we choose to ignore them at game time. here's to hope. May it spring eternal.