10/8/15

Cubs . . .

By the time this post populates, the Chicago Cubs will have played a post-season baseball game for the first time since 2008. I don't know if they will have won or lost. I don't care. The reality is - the Cubs . . . nor the sport they play, baseball . . . nor the larger universe of sports really matter to me. But for a while - specifically the summer of 1984 - they were an obsession just not in a sporting way.

I grew up in a part of the country "lucky" enough to get WGN (once just a TV station in Chicago, now a third- (fourth- ?) rate TV network based in Chicago) and among the many wonderful things (imagine all the syndicated bounty the world had to offer in the mid-80s) the network was (and still may be) the official TV station for the Chicago Cubs. And I . . . I was obsessed.

I knew every player. Jody Davis (catcher) and Dennis Eckersley and Rick Sutcliffee (pitchers) and Leon Durham, Bill Buckner, and THE Ryne Sandberg. I knew what positions they played and I knew their three-digit-code (later I'd learn that was a batting average) and I learned what it meant to be "behind in the count" and I learned about the history and legacy of the outfield ivy and why there were no lights at Wrigley (and there still should NOT be, for the record). I loved the pinstripes and the shade of blue and the logo. I loved all the great names of the visiting teams and imagining all the players in station wagons driving from stadium to stadium (I had no idea they owned jets and probably disliked each other) and I used to plan all my play time and fun around when the Cubs were playing (I had JUST turned eight - leave me alone).

But here's the thing . . . I can honestly tell you that I don't remember ever even noticing if the team won or lost and certainly not caring. I have no idea how they did that year (I actually JUST Googled it to find out they made it to the pennant round that year - I stopped watching when school resumed in early-September). It didn't matter how they did. It was about the game and the nuances of it and learning the terms and the positions and the broadcaster lingo and noticing that day games on Tuesdays were not as full as evening games on Saturdays but not, quite, knowing why.

If I'm being honest my TRULY favorite thing about the baseball season in 1984 was a cheeseburger radio I got for my birthday (that didn't actually work in any way, manner, shape, or sense) that I loved just carrying around with me and pretending it was playing the game (another thing I was obsessed with - when the TV camera would flash to fans in the stands listening to the game on the radio (also WGN (the AM radio station, I might add)). I thought the idea of me watching them on TV while they listened to the radio while at the place I was watching was very, very meta (without even knowing what that meant).

Anywho - it has now been 21 years since I cared about baseball, the Cubs, or that cheeseburger radio but I still think that I might, eventually, return to the fold of "Cubs Fan" . . . I'll just need to do it at a time when it doesn't seem to be jumping on a bandwagon to do so.