Thursday, November 3, 2016
#37 The Bettie Goat Is Dead (or The Cubs are no longer the dooormat of the National League)
This is not a New York post. Quite the opposite, it is a Chicago story. History happened tonight and I'm here to tell the tale. I don't care so much that The Cubbies hadn't won a World Series since 1908...my focus has always been on 1945, the year they last played in The Series and the year this Cubbie Fan was born. Stop with the counting on your fingers, yes I am ancient, but I have a very young attitude and constitution.
So my brother Robert, or as we like to call him, Uncle Bob, and I were always Cub Fans. We lived walking distance from Wrigley Field. Back in the day, The Cubs played all their games during the day and I could hear the organ play Take Me Out To The Ball Game and very often I listened to the roar of the crowd when Ernie Banks slammed a home run. Bobby and I would go to games on Saturdays: 75 cents to sit in the Bleachers and 25 cents for a bag of peanuts. We were happy. We talked to the players. Left Fielder, Billy Williams' wife would tell her husband to stop at the grocery store on the way home, and I learned how to keep score the way the real baseball fans did. Yes, I was an original Bleacher Bum. My cousin Stuart Gordon, the Theatre/Movie Director did a play called Bleacher Bums and it was a huge hit. The Cubs were part of our psyche. The hopefulness and "we will get this right some day" spirit was always part of our souls. On a really nice day, Ernie Banks would say, "Let's play two!" and we all reveled in his enthusiasm. We were annually hopeful.
Of course, all that came to an eventual halt. The Mets demolished us in 1969. They put lights and sky boxes in Wrigley and corporations took over the local game. They even tried to move the team to the suburbs, but that, thank goodness, didn't happen.
Years passed...many years. The Cubs did get to the National League Playoffs. I went...they lost.They got there again years later, and just as I tuned in, that poor fool interfered with a fly ball to the outfield and they lost again. I was told by my brother that I was The Bettie Goat and was not allowed to ask about or watch any more games. I told him he was nuts and yet, as I stopped watching, they did better, eventually getting to this year.
I did not watch, ask about or in any way participate in Cub baseball this year. My brother died 2 years ago and out of fear that I really was a jinx, I stayed away. You do know baseball players are hugely superstitious. Players wear the same socks (or underwear) for weeks if they win or have a hitting streak. I am not a superstitious person, but tonight, as I was drawn to Wrigley Field to gather with the masses, I really became one. I got to within 2 blocks of Wrigley and there were as many people as The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Short people do not like crowds, but these were Cubbie Fans...they are good people. Nevertheless, as a huge cheer went up in the top of the 9th inning, I felt karma take over and turned around. I was not watching, but I was too close to the actual game and this was the essential last one, so I turned around and headed back to the apartment. Good thing I did. I got back and heard the horns, screams and fireworks and started to bawl.
Crying for my youthful enthusiasm, for Ernie Banks and his perpetual enthusiasm and mostly, for my brother who missed out by 2 fraking years. I didn't cry much when he died, too busy being strong for the family and friends, but boy, now I had a great big reason to let it go! It has now abated, but not the noise outside. 2 hours and still not a lull or moment of quiet. There are still screams and yelling. I hope people are being good to each other...I am not convinced. These people are coming to Cub fandom as Yuppies and Millennials. What do they know of the real sadness at every year of loss? Part of the Cub gestalt is suffering...these kids are reveling....do they have the years or angst to do so? Well, I think not, but I should not dwell in any way in negative territory, so let them blast their horns until 4AM. I am all for JOY!
I hope the Mayor has a Ticker Tape Parade in the works. He has 6 days to get that going, because I need to get back to The Center of The Universe....you know of which I speak.
Thanks for reading this ramble. I plan to start up the blog again. Lots of good (and not so good) things on the horizon. Why not share thoughts and stories with friends, right?
PS: It's 3AM and they are still at it!