Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Cubs-Free Summer: CUBS--Completely Useless by September

It just occured to me.

I have had a Cubs-free summer.

This is no small matter for me. I first became a Cubs fan (and do understand that the term fan derives from fanatic) when I was a little first grader in 1963.

In that year, my father, who was a descendent of a Chicago Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, gave me a 1963 major league baseball almanac.

I was first exposed to the Cubs that year. It became a life-long infatuation. And a life-long sickness.

That year I also bought my first Topps pack of baseball cards.

They were 5 cents at the time and you got 5 baseball cards and along with the cards you got one stick of rather sickly (usually stale) bubble gum.

My first Cubs card was of the Cubs catcher in 1963 -- the immortal Sammy Taylor (I am being satiric here) -- who had a lifetime .223 batting average.

For the benefit of you girls out there -- that really stinks!

But Sammy Taylor was a really good looking Southern guy and he had this really cool, tough looking, way of tilting his catcher's mitt while posing, with an Elvis-styled leer for the baseball card photograph.

So of course, when I went into the McNally Park Little League in Skokie that year (it was the only genuinely religiously integrated entity in a Village that was 60% Christian and 40% Jewish), I became a cather and tilted my cather's mitt in a rather cool, Sammy Taylor-styled way for the team photo.

I hit around .500 that year which was far better than Sammy was ever able to accomplish.

But, of course he had to contend with the 100 mph. heat from Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson and the biting sliders from Sandy Koufax.

I just had to put up with the 30 mph lobs from the likes of Ronnie Kleinschmidt, Craig Kloss and Richie Rubin.

So going Cubs-free for an entire summer is no small matter for me.

I did not attend a single game at Wrigley or on the road, did not listen to or watch a single broadcast after June 1st and did not so much as glance at a box score. This is the first time that I have done that since my college years when sex, drugs, rock 'n roll, a certain geographic distance and a heavy academic load precluded the pursuit of my long-time Cubs obsession.

And what did I really miss?

Carlos Zambrano snapping bats over his knee like an overpaid baby? Ron Santo crapping up the airwaves with his incessant moaning and groaning? Any number of crybaby failed relief pitchers lashing into the fans for rightfully booing them? $40 bleacher seats? $6 cups of warm Old Style?Another one of the highest paid teams in Chicago athletic history, which here in September has no hope whatsoever of even attaining a wild card berth?

I think I can live with the absence of that.

And the slight grey fringe that was appearing at my temples has been arrested, if not entirely reversed, due to the absence of all of the customary Cubs-induced angst.

The Chicago CUBS: Completely Useless By September.

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Comments invited, however anonymous commentors had better deal directly with the issues raised and avoid ad hominem drivel. As for Teachers' Union seminar writers -- forget about it.