Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

108 Years in the Making

First, a bit of historical context:

November 4, 2016

As I write this, TV coverage of the Cubs victory parade and rally for their 2016 World Series win plays in the background. WGN-TV reports that six million humans are packed around the 6.7 miles of parade route from Wrigley Field all the way down to Grant Park.

If you don’t live in Chicago, you may not understand the fuss. Then again, you might. If you have Cubs fans in the family, or if you follow baseball, you will be at least a bit familiar with how loyal the north side club’s fan base is, despite 108 years that ensued between the last World Series win before 2016. You may have heard about the people who have bought Cubs’ wear to put on the graves of loved ones who lived and died without seeing their beloved baseball team win a World Series.

If you don’t live in Chicago, you also likely have never heard (arguably) the best radio DJ ever: Lin Brehmer at 93.1 WXRT-FM.

His Lin’s Bins segments, wherein he answers questioned emailed by listeners are things of beauty—often classic bits of poetry or philosophy I hold to my heart long after the segments have aired. My main issue with them is that they’re no longer available via podcast. If they were, you know I’d share a link to one of his Cubs related episodes here…maybe more than one.

Well, I can’t. I can only mention that the Thursday morning broadcast on November 3, despite Lin’s fatigue after what had to be the shortest night’s sleep ever before his usual 5:30 a.m. start, brought a tear to my eye. Multiple times. He and news director Mary L. Dixon (who shares that morning slot) are huge Cubs fans. Exhausted but thrilled, there was no way they’d miss their first chance to celebrate with their listeners.

In addition to the Steve Goodman classic above, they also played J.D. McPherson’s North Side Gal  and Eddie Vedder’s “All the Way,” which you can hear on the WGN site.

Loved those songs, and of course many others Lin played, all full of the excitement of this long-delayed victory. But my favorite part of the broadcast was the way he closed it. Lin and Mary have hosted a special Cub’s opening day broadcast for as long as I can remember. As they ended their shift, Lin paid tribute to the many fans he’d met in the stands over the years, naming them, and telling stories of how long and thoroughly they’d supported the team. And as Lin likes to do, there was a tiny thread of music under the narrative. As it swelled, it sounded like this. If you choose to click on this link, as you listen, imagine people you live among and love, and some who you have loved, but who have since passed away, and how it would feel to share a moment of happiness with them and say, six million other people who are feeling the same thing.

That is all.

 

Freezing our Butts off with the Cubbies

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My first smartphone video!

Bro, his Bride, Sis, and I went to the Cubs-Cardinals game on Friday, May 2nd. Nothing beats fun at the old ball park.

Some people start “celebrating” before they even get to the game. A few young women from the neighborhood were walking to the stadium maybe 20 feet ahead of me as they drank from beer cans. There’s a restaurant across Waveland and maybe a block down the street – if that – with outdoor seating. The ladies found a trash container there and deposited their empty cans before crossing the street to enter the ball park. The server who happened to be outside at the moment didn’t say anything to them, but his expression made me think of the little Spartan boy who quietly suffered a fox to gnaw on his vitals.

You could hear the organ from at least 3 blocks away, which put also helped put people in a festive mood before the game. I know I had a spring in my step by the time I offered my purse up for inspection, collected my Red Grange bobblehead (free to the first 10,000 entrants),  and entered the friendly confines.

The thing I’ll probably remember best about “Baseball with Bro” Day had to be the temperature. The high at O’Hare that day was purportedly 52º. It never felt that warm, maybe because the wind was blowing about 20 miles an hour. I wore a turtleneck, windbreaker, hat, scarf, and gloves, but never felt remotely comfortable until Sis shared her commemorative Cubs blanket with Bride and me. Bro was too tough and manly to climb under the blanket with us.

I drank hot (okay, warm) chocolate that mostly seemed to consist of chocolate syrup and water. I make a decent cocoa recipe, which has spoiled me for what’s usually sold in sports venues. However, I was willing to overlook the lack of milk for the small amount of warmth the drink provided. None of us wanted the “ice cold beer” one of the vendors was hawking. The rest of the beer vendors were smart enough to just call it beer if it was Budweiser/Bud Light or premium beer if it was Goose Island. We also sampled a pretzel. Bro had Italian sausage. I think Bride had Giordano’s Pizza (the official pizza of Wrigley Field). I passed, mostly because I’ve lived in the area for-approximately-ever. I know from Giordano’s pizza, and it’s hard to imagine that it’s better in a ball park than it is in the restaurant. Besides, I may be a convert to Pizano’s. But that’s a whole ’nother blog post.

After the temperature, it was the music that really set the atmosphere. The first song I remember was “If They Could See Me Now,” but really, in addition to the national anthem (sung wonderfully by Wayne Messmer) and “Take Me Out To the Ball Game” (sung horribly by me, as loudly as I possibly could), the music was this wonderful stew of decades and styles, with selections that ranged from “Zorba the Greek” through recordings of recent pop and movie soundtracks to “The William Tell Overture.”

Like train stations, ball parks are prime people-watching opportunities. Bro was entertaining, and not only to us. Several other people chuckled at the colorful game commentary he provided. But it’s more interesting to watch people you will probably never see again. I especially enjoyed the woman who seated us. She was tiny, white-haired, dressed head to toe in Cubs’ garb, and carrying a portable oxygen pack. The whole time I’m thinking, “Now, this is a woman who loves her Cubbies.” What else is going to get someone to walk up and down steps, smiling (!), while schlepping oxygen the whole time? I guess they pay her, but seriously!

My next-favorite observational target sat about two rows down and to the right. He was maybe 30, if that. He dressed well: green tweed jacket, coordinating plaid wool scarf, excellent black jeans. He defined hip: not a scrap of Cubs regalia intruded on his carefully crafted ensemble. He fit right in with everyone else in his row. They all looked young, urban, and professional. He was just…more so.

Anyway, I’m writing a short story that uses this pair – or my imagination of them – as characters. If it turns out well, you may see it on this very blog.

Stay tuned.