Chicago’s Cubs celebrating something they haven’t been able to celebrate in 108 years – a World Series championship. Photo courtesy of celebuzz.com
PAYING HOMAGE AND A LONG OVERDUE RESPECT TO A BASEBALL CLUB THAT HAS ELECTRIFIED A COUNTRY BY WINNING THEIR FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP IN OVER A CENTURY.
Before I continue, let me make something crystal clear:
I am a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, have been for a long time, and will continue to be one.
The Dodgers will always be first in my baseball universe, but let’s put it like this…
You know how sports fans often have a second team that they find themselves liking and rooting for except when they play their primary team?
The Chicago Cubs are that second baseball team for me (with the Pittsburgh Pirates a close third, but that will be saved for another post).
I was just watching some YouTube videos of Cub fans reacting at the moment their team won the World Series, and I teared up a bit as I’m not sure any one else who’s a fan of a team besides the Cubs was happier for that ball club, their fans, and the city of Chicago than I was.
Highlights that every Cub fan has been waiting for their entire lifetimes, courtesy of YouTube.
Actually, my connection to the Cubs goes back thirty years, to when I coached a little league team in Santa Monica for four seasons that was called – you guessed it, the Cubs.
I had Cubs jerseys that I wore to those games, and I especially remember journeying to Chicago in August of 1987 to pick up my then-five year old brother, who was visiting his father.
It was my very first time outside of Southern California, and as I took the train (didn’t want to fly), I got to see two-thirds of America; I felt like an explorer in the 1500s discovering the New World.
Most importantly, I was scheduled to see a doubleheader at Wrigley Field during my two days in the Windy City, but the weather miserably failed to cooperate as it poured rain the entire time I was there, washing out my plans to see the Friendly Confines on Clark and Addison Streets and check out those Bleacher Bums.
Which is why seeing that iconic ballpark remains on my bucket list.
I also remember taking home a Cubs fan pack consisting of a pennant, a button, and some other knickknacks.
Kind of weird considering my Dodger roots, I know.
Over the years my attraction to those Cubs remained despite my loyalty to the Dodgers. I got to see the Cubs twice when they played at Dodger Stadium, one time being when Sammy Sosa – this was a year or two after his 66 home run odyssey as I was rooting for him over Mark McGwire to break Roger Maris’ record – hit a game tying home run to send the game into extra innings.
Chicago Cubs fans celebrate during a rally in Grant Park honoring the World Series baseball champions Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Photo courtesy of vivelohoy.com
Fast forward about a decade or so…
When the Dodgers faced the Cubs in this year’s National League Championship Series, though I was clearly rooting for the Dodgers not only would I have not been that upset if the Cubs had won, as an objective and realistic Dodger fan who runs a sports fan site/blog called SoCal Sports Annals (here’s the link: http://www.SoCalSportsAnnals.Wordpress.com) I picked the Cubs to win in six games because they were simply a better team with more pitching depth.
When those Cubs made my prediction spot on, there was no question that I would be rooting for that franchise to win their first World Series since 1908.
As a matter of perspective, the last time those Cubs won it all (besides the obvious such as World War I not breaking out yet or the automobile barely being invented or radio, let alone television, not existing)…
* My grandfather – who died in 1982 – was all of two years old.
* My grandmother – who died in 1993 – was not even born yet!
* Los Angeles – America’s second largest city with over four million inhabitants – had barely over 300,000 people.
* Culver City, CA – a suburb of Los Angeles where I now reside and have lived for 18 years – didn’t exist and wouldn’t for another nine years!
* Other cities in Los Angeles County that didn’t exist in 1908: Beverly Hills, Burbank, Torrance, San Fernando
* Most of America’s streets were dirt, not paved as that was a rare thing.
* Roosevelt – Teddy, not Franklin – was the president.
* Women were not allowed to vote – and wouldn’t be for another twelve years!
* Movies were of the silent kind and wouldn’t be able to “talk” for another 19 years!
The scene at Wrigley Field the moment the Cubs won the World Series, courtesy of YouTube.
And as far as baseball and other sports were concerned…
* Babe Ruth was a 14-year-old resident at St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore.
* Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson; NONE of those legends were even born yet!
* The NFL, NBA and NHL – NONE of those leagues existed!
* And not only were USC’s teams not called the Trojans, and wouldn’t for another four years as they were called the Methodists…
my collegiate alma mater, UCLA, did not exist!
CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 04: Chicago Cubs mascot Clark celebrates during the Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series victory parade on November 4, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs won their first World Series championship in 108 years after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game 7. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) ** OUTS – ELSENT, FPG, CM – OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD ** Photo courtesy of darkroom.baltimoresun.com
All right, enough with the historical perspectives…
The bottom line was, when Kris Bryant threw to Anthony Rizzo at first base for that final out in Game Seven, I was as happy as anyone.
Which considering that I’m a Dodger fan whose team was beaten by the Cubs, is saying something.
I found myself wearing my Cubs cap for the next few days, including to my weekly pick-up softball game, as well as watching the parade and rally a few days before.
I think the reason I reacted to the Cubs winning the crown the way I did was because it was not only good for that city, it was good for baseball in general as that game had pretty much ceased to be the National Pastime, football – both the pro and college kind – having taken over years before.
Baseball got a boost in popularity thanks to that team residing in Chicago’s North Side, and being a longtime baseball and softball guy that was good news.
I don’t think I’ll buy any Cub jerseys as I would feel like the ultimate bandwagon fan and a traitor to the Dodgers if I did.
But that doesn’t change my happiness over those Cubbies breaking a 108-year curse.
This year it was the Cubs.
Next year (I hope) it will be the Dodgers.
But until then…
This year it was the Cubs, and deservedly so. Next year I’ll hopefully get to see this team celebrate a World Series title. Photo courtesy of ajc.com