There's poetry in baseball. The movement of the ball as it flies off the bat; the slide into a base; the swing of the bat. Hot summer sun beats against your skin from seats in the bleachers, a permanent fixture since 1937. Animated crowds pack themselves inside for the widest view of the field. And if so inclined turn and wave upwards to the scoreboard operator, the third generation in his family to man the board.
Wrigley Field is the past, it is the present, it is the future. They are all linked by fandom, those of us who bleed Cubbie blue. We were raised by parents, who were raised by our grandparents, and we are linked irrevocably by the love of the game, and the history of our team. Collectively we hang on each hit, each ball carried on the wind. It carries our hopes, our dreams in each at-bat.
Each season ended with immortal words, “Maybe Next Year”. We would slink away and lick our wounds, another season lost to time. 108 years of time.
They rewrote the story, and those of us who bleed Cubbie blue, breathed a collective sigh of relief, only after we jumped up and down, let out energetic screams and some of us even cried.
I watched the series with my grandfather, who died in 1987. HIs picture lay on the table beside me;, facing the television. This he would have loved. That team would have sparked in him the delight of a child. How he loved baseball, how he loved the Cubs.
Live in the moment when it comes. Leave for the sporting goods store, 20 minutes after they win and bask with others as we wait to buy the prized “World Championship” gear. It doesn't matter that it's midnight. As “Go Cubs Go,” plays from someone's car, chat up the next jubilant fan and share the stories. “Where were you when the Cubs won?” For a mere moment, there was no division, collectively we were simply Cubs fans.
It was the fourth largest gathering of humans in the history of the world. They snaked along the parade route to the rally. We packed ourselves into the park. It was a sea of blue, thousands of stories jammed together celebrating for themselves and for those who never got to see what we got to see.
LIke nothing before, we rolled from the rally, stretched out along the avenue, steady and proud in gear. A club of millions.
We are now experts in rooting for the champions, we've been here before. And yet, my stomach roils with each error, I hold my breath with each swing. We are giddy with excitement, because we know, how few and far between this could be.
I've passed my affliction to my children; they are now the fourth generation of Cubs fans and they understand the suffering and jubilance of truly being a fan. I cried today when they squeaked out a win. I will always bleed Cubbie blue.
I'm not superstitious and yet when I say something that could, you know, jinx my favorite sports team, or bring myself bad luck, I knock on wood.
So what makes a great curse? Start with a truly engaging story of a stolen artifact or an innocuous act that results in death and destruction or in some cases, 108 years without a win.
But as my daughter has told me on several occasions, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern never said he was cursing the Cubs so that they would never win again.
Okay, so the curse never really happened and yet as a Cubs fan, we can't get that thing out of the back of our minds, the idea that the curse is real because why else would the Cubs lose over and over and over and over again for 108 years?
The stories behind them are fascinating, and the fallout of owing a cursed object or breaking into a cursed tomb is interesting in itself. That's why the curse of the Hope Diamond and the curse of King Tut's tomb have lived on for as long as they have.
I wish I could say I wasn't superstitious but I kinda am. I refused to write this blog post until the Cubs actually won and I refused to wear my favorite Cubs shirt during the playoffs because I wore it during the first two losses of the World Series. What I did do was, wash the shirt and hide it in my closet.
You see, the curse gives us order and a reason for why something happens and hope that if we can only reverse that curse all will be well.
So as I hung out in Grant Park with 5 million of my closest friends at the Cubs rally, after they won the World Series, I just sat back and smiled in relief; THEY FINALLY BROKE THE CURSE!. Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that they were the best team in the MLB with the best record. Nah, it couldn't have been that.Continue reading
My favorite Chicago Cubs shirt is off limits. The two times I wore it during the National League Championship series, the Cubs lost both games. So needing something to wear to show my Cubs spirit, because I'm a Cubs fan, not one of those band wagoners, I pulled out my Cubs jacket to head out for some errands.
I don't remember when I got this jacket. It was sometime in the 80's I think. I've worn it, I haven't worn it, it's hung in the back of the closet, I once forgot I even owned it. But I pulled it out today and headed out to buy dinner for tonight because tonight isn't any regular baseball game.
There were many of us today wearing our gear, a hat, a jersey, a t-shirt, a jacket. But what struck me the most were the three older gentleman I passed on my way out as they were entering, all proudly displaying their Cubs caps. The last man, noting my jacket, gave me a thumbs up and a light smile. I couldn't help but return my own.
They were most definitely the embodiment of a long-suffering, life-long Cubs fan, waiting for a win in their lifetime. “The Cubs are going to the World Series!” It was a moment we all longed for, dreamt about and were cautiously optimistic about, as we entered the NLCS. We all knew this team could do it and yet… And yet we remember that moment in time when the wheels on that bus might fall off like so many times in the past.
But I am a Cubs fan, something I would have admitted even in the darkest days, when we pitched to Tony Quinn to get to Steve Garvey and the latter hit a home run, or the Bartman ball or the Mets (need I say more?)
I've watched them lose, I've seen them win. I've been to the old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, and NOT being the only Cubs fan there. I've been to Miller Park in Milwaukee and with the overwhelming number of Cubs fans there, we managed to out sing the Brewers fans during the seventh inning stretch.
I remember names like Steve Ontiveros, Larry Bittner, Barry Foote, Bobby Mercer, and Peanuts Lowry.
I remember the Sun Times printing every year, the crying Cubbie bear on the back sports page with the title “Magic Number, Next Year”.
Does the date 8-8-88 mean anything to you? In Chinese folk lore 8 is a lucky number and this date just as lucky. It was the night the lights were turned on in Wrigley Field for the first time. It rained and caused a dely. I can't forget Jody Davis running across the tarp and sliding for the amusement of the fans.
WGN used to be the only station that carried the Cubs and even after the lights went up, a majority of the games were still at 1:20 pm. I would get home from school just in time to watch the bottom of the first inning and if I was working, I'd switch the radio on and listen.
I joined the Die Hard Cubs Fan Club, and when I was married, it was my the only ID I had with my maiden name on it. If you've ever had to change your name on your Social Security card you know you need both new ID as well as your old. And yes, they accepted my Die Hard Cubs Fan Club card as my old ID. I swear, it's no joke, that's how I got my social security card changed.
On October 22, 2016 I sat with baited breath, in a bar in Kenosha with my college aged daughter, I watched the fifth game of the NLCS. There were two outs and I could barely watch the screen. When there was one out left, I sat with my hand across my mouth, tears in my eyes as I waited for Aroldis Chapman to pitch that pitch. Both my husband and my child said kept saying “It's okay. We're up 5 runs and there's one out left.” But I know as all Cubs fans know, there can always be that one thing, that one thing that screws it up, that one event that changes the momentum and causes a loss or several to happen.
But this year.
This year I watched the pitch, hit to Addison Russell who threw it to Javier Baez, who tagged second base and turned the double play to Anthony Rizzo who made the third out. After a joyful scream with my arms raised, I did what so many of us diehards did. I burst into tears.
I've known throughout the season that this team was special. That this team could do it, win it all. But as a fan, there's that curse, 108 years that rat tat tats in the back of my head, like a gentle reminder to always stay cautiously optimistic.
While I refrain from becoming cocky or over confident, I still believe this team is special. I still believe they can do it. I bleed Cubbie blue regardless of whether they win or not, and to be honest, it's far more fun winning!
As a fan of the supernatural, fantasy and science fiction, I'm always interested in the ancient rituals and traditions of previous cultures where they started and what they mean. So in honor of Halloween I thought I mention a few of these more famous superstitions. Because the funny thing is, I wouldn't consider myself a superstitious person until I refuse to walk under an open ladder or knock on wood.
So where did these traditions start and why? Well start with the breaking of a mirror. It's considered seven years bad luck if you do. The tradition starts with the Romans who were the first to create mirrors. Ancient cultures believed that mirrors had the power to steal one's soul and if that mirror broke, the soul would be trapped. I've never broken a mirror so I can't attest to this superstition but I can tell you after reading The Amityville Horror and playing “Bloody Mary” when I was thirteen, I refuse to look at a mirror in the dark. Irrational fear, I have no problem admitting it.
Again, I will say, I'm not superstitious and then I find myself walking toward an open ladder. So why is it that I will walk around it rather than under it. Honestly, I had no idea this superstition came from early Christian teachings that an object with three points was a representation for the Holy Trinity. So for those who are of this faith, it was considered bad luck to walk under the symbol. Since I'm Jewish, I guess that means I can begin walking under open ladders.
I used to be a dog person, but now I just pet them and move on. I've never been a cat person, partially because I'm allergic and partially, you can't play fetch with a cat. So why is there a superstition about black cats? Why are they considered evil and bad? Many ancient cultures considered them unlucky. In the middle ages, they were associated with witches and some even believed that witches could turn into black cats at night.
So the Chicago Cubs are going to win the world series next year. Knock on wood. I do this all the time, because apparently this is how I ward off evil spirits and I wouldn't want to jinx my team. An old English folklore explains that if you want to discuss your secrets you can do so inside a wooded area. They could knock on the trees to keep evil spirits from hearing their conversations.
Salt was once a very rare and value commodity. Because it was difficult to harvest, it was an incredibly expense product. Major trading routes were designed to carry salt and people were paid in salt, oftentimes worth more than it's weight in gold. So because of that it was considered wasteful and therefore bad luck to spill salt.