The Cubs, revisited

As most of you know, the Cubs are dead to me. If they ever make it back to the World Series, I’ll be the one lone person in America tearing up everything blue in my closet just so folks don’t mistake me for a fan. I loathe them.

And here’s why: If you’re going to be a baseball team, you have two choices: (hmm, I don’t know if I’ve ever written a sentence with two colons in it before…) you either put out the money and develop the ruthlessness to be a great baseball team(emphasis on team, not circus side show–“Right this way, folks, see the man hit a bunch of home runs and then have your season-end hopes dashed yet again!”), or you decide, fuck it, we have crowds and tv contracts and are raking in the dough even though we suck, so let’s let folks play out their careers here.

Yes, my love reached its half-life when Andre Dawson did not retire a Cub* and it died, festered, and rose from the dead like a vampire when I watched my beloved Mark Grace in a World Series for Arizona, feeding on his success even as it killed what it used to be.

[Egad, Arizona. First you take the Cardinals** and then you take Mark Grace. Can’t you leave anything in Illinois?]

The Cubs refuse to be either loyal to their players or a real baseball team. I could forgive one or the other lapse, but I can’t forgive both.

And yet, here goes Ryno into the Hall of Fame…

I can remember watching him and Mark play, the Shawon-o meter, the singing, the friendly confines. It was mythic.

And I can remember being in Mr. Halloran’s class in middle school (or maybe it was freshman year) arguing with Suzanne about which one of us was going to marry Ryne and which one of us was going to marry Mark. I settled on the golden boy, Achilles, and Suzanne opted for the steady Odysseus, though I continued to wear a Ryne Sandberg button on my jean jacket until I lost it at Great America.

As anyone who knows anything about Greek mythology knows, Odysseus was the better bet.

So, I’m delighted to see Ryne go in, waiting to see Dawson (I mean, please, that has to happen, right?), and holding out hope that there will some day be enough girls like me voting on who goes into Cooperstown, and we will think back to those glorious days when Mark jogged onto the field all young and blonde and shining, and remember what it was like to notice that those were men out there, for the first time, and vote him in, not on baseball merit, but on mythic necessity.

*This was not enough to kill it entirely, because he didn’t start out a Cub.
**This is true on two levels. First, there’s the way that downstate Illinois depends on St. Louis for its sports teams and then there’s the way they used to be in Chicago.