I took my son to his first Cubs game this year. At 6 months of age some thought this to be inadvisable. Others thought it seemed like a fine idea assuming that we sat in the upper decks of Wrigley, known as the Mezzanine. And still others urged us not only to take him, but to sit in the bleachers. We had to consider it.
In the back of my mind, I knew his first game would coincide with the storied franchise’s last chance to win a world series within the boundaries of a century. 100 years. As a new father, the majority of my thoughts strongly considered bypassing this inaugural ritual, hoping to spare Jack from the agony I see on the faces of the 93 year old men and women that WGN cameras find every year around Sept 1st. This would potentially help eliminate the possibility of a future 30ish years from now where he crafts his own version of a poorly designed “Next Year is Now” banner with his son only to be disappointed a few months later. I wonder if my father had the same thoughts in early 1976? Maybe. Unfortunately, it’s probably more likely he was thinking about ending world hunger or, in a strange twist of irony, whether or not he should wolf down a whole twenty-pack of white castle sliders before we made it back to Mom.
I don’t care.
This year the cubs made the playoffs with a relatively pathetic record and were eliminated as quickly as was possible. 3 games. 3 losses. Season over. Boston wins the world series and seeing as how they were they were the best team from start to finish this year, the off season begins. I don’t know if it was the rapid pace that the club was whisked from the playoffs, the birth of my son,- or the continued success of the Purdue Football program-, but some recent reflection has resulted in me deciding that I don’t actually care if the Cubs continue to fail. I cannot control their continual ineptitude for success. In fact, the only reason I want them to win the world series is so I can fulfill a lifelong dream and become an Oakland A’s fan. Then I could really dig in, start a quality family tradition around a small market team with horrendous team colors. Horrendous team colors and no Mike Nadel in sight.
My son will be a Cubs fan. We will watch the ballgames together. We will discuss the break on a good curveball and debate the lost art of a proper secondary lead off. I’ll tell him about Sabermetrics and how I wish my U of Illinois stats professor used Scatter Diagram examples from the Big Red Machine instead of the Russian economy. He’ll get excited when his Mom teaches him how to properly score a game with a short pencil in one hand and a malt cup in the other. We’ll respect the A’s, but never become real Oakland fans. That’s right…I did take my son to Wrigley. The Cubs lost. But that wasn’t what happened at the game.
If the Cubs win it next year it would be exactly 100 years since they last were World Champs. If they win it next year, it will be the largest celebration in sports history. Unmatched across the world in any sport in any culture. How can I deny my son the opportunity to enjoy that celebration to the fullest extent? I cannot.
If the centennial celebration is to occur, the club will have to make some changes. Under new ownership the team will have to acquire more pitching, more quality pitching, and replace the sub-par platoon in right field with a real gamer, preferably one who owns a high OPS. Baseball’s General Managers meetings were last week. The Hot Stove has begun to simmer. A full report next time…after I first explain it to my son of course…