It's About Us

With the first extended stretch of games complete and another off day today, I finally had time to sit down last night and watch "Cubs Forever", the wonderful two-hour retrospective of sixty years of Cubs baseball televised on WGN, which the station first aired last week (it's being re-aired at 7 pm CDT this coming Saturday in case you missed it or want to put it on your DVR). The link above is to the book version of the show, incidentally, and it doesn't specifically say so, but the publisher's website says there's a companion DVD. I'd buy it just for that.

In addition to some great old video -- some of which I hadn't seen since the day it aired years ago -- the thing that struck me most and affected me most were the comments from every single person they interviewed, from fans to employees to Hollywood types to former players, talking about what will happen when the Cubs finally do win the World Series. Basically, if you haven't seen this, they all said, "It'll be the celebration to end all celebrations."

And what that says to me is that they "get it". They understand, all those who have played as Cubs; Andre Dawson, in particular, said he'd want to be in Wrigley Field on that day, because his six years in a Cub uniform, only a third of his major league career (much as we'd love him to go into the Hall of Fame as a Cub, if he is eventually elected, I suspect the Hall -- who now makes the choice, not the player -- will put an Expos cap on his plaque, because he had his best seasons in Montreal), gave him the feeling we all have. That being a Cub fan is special. That being a Cub is special. Eric Karros said it, even playing just one season here: "Every major leaguer should spend a year as a Chicago Cub."

Some of the current players understand this, too, including Derrek Lee, who is now in his fifth year here (can it really be that long already?); D-Lee was interviewed for the show and said (I'm paraphrasing) that the current team is working hard to win for everyone that's gone before and never made it. And I've put this quote from Mark DeRosa in the quote box on the right sidebar, but it bears more prominent repeating here:

I stayed at home the other night and watched that "Cubs Forever" show. Every once in a while teams should be forced to watch stuff like that and realize how much it means to the city and to the ex-players that have been here, and how lucky we are to get a chance to put on the uniform and play in front of these people.

Amen, Mark. You understand. Because when you strip away the stats and the analysis and the little details and arguments that all of us get into on a daily basis because we disagree about ways that we all think would be the best way for the Cubs to be put together, either roster-wise or lineup-wise, the bottom line is this: each of us fell in love with the Cubs, for different reasons and in different places and times, and have suffered loss after loss, year after year of failure. And when they do finally win, all the players on the field that day will be winning for themselves, but also for all those who came before -- and for all of us, because without our support, without our following, where would they be?

May that victory come soon.

There's a somewhat related topic that rumbled through my mind as I was ruminating about writing this post last night and this morning, and that is, that in addition to our support and fandom making the livings of baseball players possible, so does it make the existence of ESPN (and its associated website) and MLB.com possible. Why, then, do these institutions insist on continuing to give us people and websites that we ... well, I'll be nice: that we just... don't... like?

ESPN's top baseball broadcast team is universally detested by just about every baseball fan. This is something that never used to be the case; when people like Bob Costas and Vin Scully and Tony Kubek and Joe Garagiola were the national broadcasters, they were chosen not just for their broadcast competence and baseball knowledge, but because the viewers of the broadcasts actually enjoyed listening to them. That just doesn't seem to be the case today; it's almost as if ESPN is saying, "Screw you, we're doing this anyway."

And setting aside the TV blackout nonsense -- another issue entirely -- why does MLB.com have such a miserable setup for watching and listening to games? And why did they redesign their team websites this spring in a way that makes them bloated and unusable for many users? It's almost as if they have given their sites over to people who have contempt for the people who are trying to use them. And yes, I am well aware that some of you have had trouble with adjusting to the redesign of BCB and other SBN sites -- but give Trei and his team credit, they are listening to you and me and they're making changes (and remember, this platform is still a beta platform and more changes and fixes will be coming).

Without us, ESPN would not exist. MLB.com would not exist. You'd think they'd at least listen to us, their best customers.

I've rambled on long enough. This ought to give you some things to think about and rant about till the Cubs take the field again tomorrow night.

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