Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dear Grandma - How about those Cubs?

Dear Grandma Scott - It's finally happened. The Cubs are playing in a World Series.
I don't have a lot of memories of you, since you passed away when I was still a teenager. Much of what I do recall is from the last part of your life, when you lived with my family but were mostly confined to your own room. I didn't see much of you other than mealtimes, and not even that when your lifelong heavy cigarette smoking led to your hospitalization and eventual passing. But that was the end, and I prefer to remember earlier times.

Before the sports media explosion of the last decade or two, it wasn't nearly as easy to be a serious sports fan as it is now, particularly if you didn't live in a team's home area. There was no Internet to look up all the bits of information about every player, no streaming video to watch individual games from across the country (and world), and cable TV options were much more limited. The Chicago Cubs were an exception, though, thanks to WGN Sports broadcasting a large number of their games. Our family didn't watch a lot of TV, but when you lived with us, my mom made sure we had cable so that you could see the Cubs games.

You sitting close to that little black-and-white TV in your room, turned up loud to help you hear it, the voices of Harry Carey and Steve Stone - that's how I best remember your time living with us. I was more interested in reading and games and music than in actually sitting down to watch a baseball game, so we didn't actually watch very many games together. I still heard plenty, though. Thanks to you (and mom, who got it from you) I knew all about baseball, and in particular the Cubs. And I followed your example in becoming a life-long fan.

We all know that it hasn't been easy. Even those who know nothing else about baseball can tell you that the Chicago Cubs have a ridiculously long World Series drought. Much of the time the team was just bad, and even when they were good the playoffs never went well. From what I remember, though, the winning (or lack thereof) wasn't what you focused on. Whether the team was in contention or losing 100 games, you'd be watching. Sure, it was great when they won, but the important thing for you was hearing Harry and seeing Wrigley Field and watching the games played.

The current Cubs would be both easy for you to recognize, and completely different. Wrigley Field has gone through some changes, but it's still the same hundred-year-old park with the ivy walls. They've built up an amazing roster, largely with young players that could be around for years. There's no Harry in the broadcast booth, but his face still looks down on the field, and manager Joe Maddon is a kindred off-the-wall soul. They've always sung "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley, and now there's a song after every win, too.

Over the next couple of weeks, as Chicago and Cleveland (yes, the Indians made it too) play for the World Series title, I'll be watching. And I know you are, too.

Your Grandson Sam

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