Despite the pain and mixed feelings expressed in my previous post, I really do love the Cubs and baseball. In fact, I probably love baseball more than football and the NFL. It was always my favorite sport to play, it was my dream job growing up as a kid and I have been to more Major League Baseball games than any other sport. People complain that baseball is too slow and boring, but I think it is just right. It has a perfect rhythm and timing to it, with lots of pomp and circumstance as well as history. Baseball games also involves something else I am a big fan of, eating junk food. (My personal favorite choices are nachos and the chocolate malt cup. I would also throw in the pizza puff, but Wrigley stopped selling them awhile back.) I even love keeping score. (Being the official scorekeeper for the Cubs is my new dream job.) Some of my best memories are around baseball.
Most of them are not specific memories of a place, time or even a specific event. They are brief moments, glimpses, almost dream-like. The feel of a brand new ball in my hand. Breaking in a new glwove. The smell of the new spring air, sunny like summer, but still with the cool bite of winter. The gritty, but subtle feeling of a layer of dirt on your skin from all the game’s activity. The sun on my face. Digging into the box, staring down the pitcher, watching the ball came in, swinging and feeling…. nothing. The sweetest feeling in all of sports. Squaring a ball up so perfectly that when you hit it, you don’t feel anything at all, save for one brief spark of electric joy from head to toe.
There are also memories of going to Opening Day at Wrigley Field. I went to Opening Day with my grandfather at least once, maybe twice. It was before I started school, so its is a little hazy. I don’t remember anything about the games. All I remember is that the games were rather cold and we were sitting in the front row. I don’t even remember being tall enough to look over the brick walls that line the field. We ate at the McDonald’s next to the park the first time. I even had a Filet-o-Fish sandwich, which I still find implausible. I remember this because when we went back the next year, the group of us were considering NOT going to McDonald’s. Of course me being the traditionalist (I once “encouraged” my family to eat Burger King for lunch during the afternoon of Christmas Eve solely because we were hosting the family Christmas Eve party and the last time we hosted the party (about 5 years prior) we had Burger King for lunch. Thankfully, they acquiesced to me and my oddity.), I put up a fight, saying “it was tradition” to eat at McDonald’s before the game. I got my Filet-o-Fish.
I remember the day that my mom said that I wouldn’t be allowed to go to Opening Day anymore. I was going to be in Kindergarten and they didn’t let kids out of school just to go to a Cubs game. (For shame on our American school system!) To be honest, I don’t think that was why I never went back to Opening Day. I don’t remember my grandfather or anyone else in the family going to Opening Day after that. I’m not even sure how or why my grandfather got the tickets. The Cubs weren’t as popular back then, so they may not have been the hardest tickets to get. But no matter what, it was an experience I will never forget.
So even though it seems like it would be easy to just turn my back on baseball and the Cubs, it is for memories of Opening Day and so many other games, in person, on the radio and on TV that I can’t ever turn my back on the Cubs. It would be like turning my back on my family. And it is why no matter the pain and suffering, no matter the losing and the ridicule, it is worth it to be a Cubs fan. And it will be worth it when Hannah and Amelia see the green ivy, red brick and golden brown infield dirt for the very first time.
Too bad it will probably take 3 additional trips to finally see the Cubs win a game.