Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Wind? I'm not sure we even had sails.

This is a much more succinct commentary on the feeling of Cub fans than I can offer up. So click on it and then come back and read on.

I fell for it. I bought into the Cubs, I held the belief that this year really was going to be different, that these were different Cubs. Then the impossible happened, three strait losses, the last two at home with Prior and Wood on the mound. This is the same old Cubs, believe in them and they break your heart. The Curse is real, what else can you say? When none of the logical explanations apply you have to believe whatever possibilities remain, no matter how improbable. The saddest site though was the older men and women outside the stadium crying after the game. They thought they were going to see something special, something different from their Cubs that they followed their whole lives, it was not to be. So what now? Dynamite Wrigley and start over? **Sigh** I guess I'll try and take Dan Drezner's advice for Cubs fans from Adam Smith's "Theory of Moral Sentiments"
"Are you in adversity? Do not mourn in the darkness of solitude, do not regulate your sorrow according to the indulgent sympathy of your intimate friends; return, as soon as possible, to the day-light of the world and of society. Live with strangers, with those who know nothing, or care nothing about your misfortune; do not even shun the company of enemies; but give yourself the pleasure of mortifying their malignant joy, by making them feel how little you are affected by your calamity, and how much you are above it."

I'll try... sheesh. Much good came of this though. As I mentioned, a friend of mine from High School lives at Waveland and Sheffield -- strait away center field. I watched most of the games there. TVs on the porch, food and multiple kegs each night. The experience of the games right outside Wrigley Field surrounded by old high school friends was something I'll never forget. Some nights, like game 6, were almost like a full on H.S. reunion, except the people I had no interest in seeing , weren't there. This wasn't just a baseball team in the playoffs, this was the nationally known "loveable losers" that just won their first playoff series in 95 years on the verge of making an appearance in the World Series. But it was more than just making an appearance, this was a chance to have the hottest pitcher in the league wrap it up in six and then front load the rotation so the two hottest pitchers in the league would start games 1,2,6, and 7. It was a legitimate shot to win it all. This is what made the excitement and intensity in the air so palpable, almost overwhelming at times. You could feel the roar of the crowd in the stadium and surrounding neighborhoods like a freight train. This is what I hope to remember and take away from the experience.

I have also tried to keep some notes of my experiences and planned to post them all when the season ended, I didn't know it would come so soon, but here are somewhat rambling firsthand accounts:

Game 1 of the series vs the Marlins, I rode my bike up to Wrigleyville, it was a beautiful October night in Chicago; 40's the week before, now it's in the 70's, we had 4-5 days in a row of this. Very rare in Chicago. The atmosphere was electric, the Cubs just won their first playoff series in 95 years! It really looks like the lovable losers era may be coming to an end, especially with those two young arms we got.

My friend Eric was predicting strikeouts by Sosa all night, and he was betting on them so he got his money and then was cheering Sosa strikeouts. It was pissing us all off. Then Sammy comes up in the ninth, Cubs down 8-6, Lofton on second, two outs. Eric taps me on the shoulder and calmly says, "I'm going to go catch the home run ball."

Then he takes off jogging down Waveland. A few pitches later, Sammy swings, the crowd roars and the ball is coming over the fence right at Eric, it bounces about 5 feet in front of him, he's in position to play it on the bounce, then finds himself at the bottom of a mob of people, with a guy underneath him screaming that his leg is about to be snapped in half. He tried to bridge to keep the weight of the pile up off the guy, but also was swatting for the ball. (The next night the police wouldn't let you congregate in the street) He didn't get it, but then came back and had a great story to relate to us that I just related to you.

What an amazing thing I told him, given the context of the Cubs, to not only predict a Sosa home run (that leaves the park!) in the ninth to tie the game, but to also say you are going to catch it -- and then REALLY ALMOST DO IT. Where else, when else could this happen?

On another night, it was game 6, the police were actually cracking down a bit. I did hear on the radio that day a sound bite where a police official made it known that no one would be permitted to walk on the streets surrounding the field with open alcohol. He went on to asked that the bars in the area do their best to not let any patrons leave with drinks, and stressed that nobody should be walking on the streets "holding anything but themselves." Yeah, I thought that was illegal too, at least in public. In any case, the police did come by the party and break up those that had gathered just outside the fenced in area of the front yard (The TV was on the porch and was HIGHLY visible from the sidewalk). They requested that the TV and the kegs be moved inside. So the TV was brought in and put in the window, which means it was about two feet to the left and two inches higher than its original position, (which means it was HIGHLY visible from the sidewalk) and the kegs were brought up four steps and re-positioned just inside the front door. The cops were happy and so were we. The best part of the night though was this. One of my former high school classmates donned a reflective orange construction vest that Neer had on hand. He grabbed a blow up blue Cubs bat - like made of beach ball material - and positioned himself out front and directed traffic and I mean directed. All the poses and blow up souvenir bat motions you could imagine. He was giving some kid an ass chewing for walking around with a drink, or something. The best part was we were never bothered again. Each time the police sauntered by Randy, in his orange construction vest, got all official, and gave them a "I got it all under control"nod, they acknowledged and kept walking. He earned us "immunity"the rest of the night.

Finally, I have to tell this, it's the glowstick story. What follows is pretty immature and certainly falls well within the bounds of toilet humor. Mom and Grandma don't read this.

The Glowstick Story. The first night I went to Neer's I of course had occasion to ask where the bathroom was. He said it was on the side of the building, a hole in the cement, just look for the glowstick. Sure enough, on the side of the building, there was a hole in the ground with a glowstick in it. You just peed in the hole, on the glowstick (a techno snobs dream), it always looked like it would overflow, but somehow never did. About the 7th inning of game seven a new group of people showed up, no idea who they were. Apparently, they came in through the back, and as the walked along the side of the building, one of the girls reportedly exclaimed "oh my God I found a glowstick!"and picked it up and carried to the front of the party. Of course, immediately every guy recognized the glowstick for what it was -- something that had been marinating in pee that we all contributed more than a few times over the last 28 hours. It was non-stop laughter, and I'm guessing that anyone reading this that wasn't there isn't laughing. But I assure you, it was one of the funniest things in the world. People were making loud comments and the girl was embarrassed, I had a handful of peanuts and asked Eric if he would pee on them before I ate them, of course I said this loud enough for her to hear and she didn't appreciate it. In the end though she laughed about it and "the glowstick girl"even let us take pictures of her with us and the glowstick, I hope they turn out, and I will post the pictures if I ever get them scanned in and find someone to host them.

So many laughs and so many friends to share it all with. Thanks so much to Neer, truly one of the greatest guys I've ever had the privilege to know, for opening up his home and making it all possible. We'll get ‘em next year!!


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