If it weren’t for the Cubs, I would have been perfectly happy to see the Cleveland Indians win the World Series. First off, I’m an American League kind of gal. Then there’s the manager, Terry Francona, who was at the helm of the Olde Towne Team when “we” won it all in 2004, reversing the 86 year old Curse of the Bambino and sending New England into a joyful spin worthy of a whirling dervish. And Tito was also in charge in 2007, when the Red Sox did it again, for good measure.
The Indians also have one Coco Crisp, who put in a couple of seasons with our boys of summer. He the bearer of one of the best names in all of sports, as well as the instigator of an excellent bench clearing brawl (BCB) against Tampa Bay back in the day. Now I am not a big proponent of sports violence. I don’t like to see fights in hockey: someone could get hurt. And in football, well, someone getting hurt seems to the entire point. But baseball is kinder and gentler, and BCB’s tend to be nothing more than a bunch of guys in a brief, harmless scrum, followed by a lot of milling around. The BCB is one of my favorite baseball traditions. You don’t see enough of them. So thank you, Coco Crisp, for that.
And let’s not forget the Tribe’s Mike Napoli, who was with the Red Sox when they won their third World Series in a decade – imagine that – and was our kind of player: a grind-it-out dirt dog who endeared himself to the locals by barhopping after the team won it all.
(And, no, I’m not forgetting Andrew Miller. He just never made all that much of an impression on me when he was with the Sox.)
Plus, Cleveland hasn’t won it all since 1948.They’re due, their long-suffering fans deserve it, and, no, the fact that the Cavaliers won the NBA Championship this year doesn’t count.
Other than their rather odious icon, the racist caricature Chief Wahoo, what’s not to like?
Anyway, I would have been perfectly happy to see the Cleveland Indians win.
If not for just one small little fact: My mother’s from the Windy City, making me half-Chicago. And she was from the North Side, making me something of a Cubbies fan by birth.
And how could I root against my 91 year old Aunt Mary Dineen, pictured here in full Cubs regalia, who has been bleeding Cubbie blue since 1925. In honor of her fandom, in 2010, she won some sort of ‘greatest fan’ contest the Cubs ran, and got to throw out the first ball at a game. Pink Slip, of course, had a post about that contest.
Here’s a link to a video, made by one of her grandkids, of Aunt Mary throwing out that first pitch. Herm was my Uncle Ted’s nickname for her; 25 is the year of her birth. Not bad form for an 85 year old!
When the Cubs clinched the pennant, I called Mary to congratulate her. I told her that my one reservation about rooting for the Cubs was their ownership, which had just written Donald Trump a big fat check. But family is family, and baseball is baseball. So I was in.
I had reasons beyond family to hope for a Cubs’ win. Mostly, Theo Epstein, the local boy genius who engineered the Red Sox curse reversal, and is now the GM of the Cubs. And they’ve got a few ex-Red Sox on their roster, most notably pitcher Jon Lester, who helped the Red Sox win the 2007 World Series.
Plus it’s been 108 years since the Cubs won it all. That’s a lot of baseball seasons. Finally, the Cubs play in the only other relic little ballpark in the big leagues. (Fenway is older, but Fenway and Wrigler are of similar vintage.)
So, channeling my inner Harry Caray (late, great Cubs’ announcer), I root, root, rooted for the Cubbies. (If they don’t win, it’s a shame.) I sang along with “Go, Cubs,Go.” Whenever I passed someone on the street wearing a Cubs cap, I wished them luck.
I stayed up late, suffering through the Cubs’ blown lead, the rain delay, and the prattle of Pete Rose, texting with my sister Trish and Chicago cousin Ellen, hanging in there through the bitter extra-inning end of Game Seven.
Cubs went up
AND THEN THEY WON!
Congratulations, Cubs, Cubs fans, and, especially, my Aunt Mary.
Take it from a Red Sox lifer: I know how you feel. And I can tell you, no matter how many times they win in the future, there will never be another one like this. (When the Red Sox won in 2004, I wept on the phone with my sister Trish.)
But this is the Cubs’ night:
HOLY COW, THEY DID IT!