Tag Archives: letsgo

Texts From the Ledge

The best part about when your favorite team wins the World Series are all of the awesome personal moments. 
Some of my strongest memories are attached to Baseball–probably a large part of why I’m so geeky and nostalgic about the game–and over the past month I’ve created memories that will last a lifetime. 

The ups and downs of October Baseball were a lot more fun with the support of some other wonderful Cubs fans–whether close friends or total strangers. Intentionally or otherwise, Cubs fans share a unique support system–especially over the past two seasons–and it’s pretty cool to be a part of.

Beginning some time in 2014 I became something of a personal baseball therapist for one friend who’s emotions are particularly volatile.

 These messages provided comic relief during some of the more difficult moments of the Cubs World Series run. 

These are texts from the ledge.

Remember that time it seemed like the Cubs were never going to score another run again?


It was definitely a rough couple days…


Remorse…

 Blame, and other coping mechanisms…

John Lackey induced angst…

Projection…

  Irrational ideas spawn from fear and anger…

Acceptance…

 Well-being checks…
Fucking previous engagements…
Overreaction…
 

Depression leads to anger, anger leads to hatred…

But yeah, fuck the Marlins, still..
Jed Hoyer DID draft him…

They’re never there when you need them…
Don’t get so worked up…It’s just a game, right?
Because let’s face it, it wouldn’t be as fun if they’d lost…

Mission accomplished, John

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Tonight is Everything. I Love you All. Let’s F-cking GOOOOO!!!

We root for laundry. We’re suckers for brand loyalty, desperately seeking the distraction of that which we cannot control–but sports are just the essentially just the same things happening over and over, again and again, right? Just the silly satisfaction of supremacy and needless disappointment of loss dancing awkwardly together in different costumes depending on the season.

I can’t explain what it is to emotionally thrive or suffer because of the uncontrollable actions of those who wear a particular color pattern to someone who’s disinterested–I’ve tried and failed. I’ve realized there are things I don’t care for–and will never fully empathize with those who care for them. I’ve learned it is unfair to judge the interests of others. But there are moments when the act of investing all of one’s emotions into the act of strangers playing a children’s game transcends distraction and entertainment and tomfoolery. And, these moments–to those who care–are fleeting, and unforgettable and misunderstood like life itself.

Somehow, I found myself within the confines of Wrigley Field on Saturday, October 22nd–surreal, considering I woke up that morning unsure where I’d even watch the game, let alone that I’d be lucky enough to possess a lottery ticket of epic proportions. However, I can, in one word, describe how it felt to be present during the sports equivalent of the moon landing.

Whoa. 

In spite of a breezy, dominant performance by Kyle Hendricks and the Chicago Cubs, and the overwhelmingly positive vibes that ebbed and flowed throughout the concourse for three plus hours, as Keke Hernandez came to the plate to begin the Dodger half of the 9th, I suddenly felt as though I was on an elevator that had dropped 50 stories without warning. 

I looked to the left at my friend–who, like myself, hours earlier had ridiculously, and impulsively committed to the risk of entering the bleachers knowing we may be leaving them not only financially, but emotionally broken–all four of our eyes already wet and reddening–and said, “whoa. Whooooaaah, dude.” 

If, instead at that moment I’d reached the top of Mount Everest, or was myself stepping on the surface of the moon, I can’t conceive a greater level of awe.

It’s been ten days since the Cubs clinched their first National League title since 1945–three years before my dad was born–and we now live in a world where the Chicago Cubs are the champions of baseball. There are few people–even few sports fans–who can comprehend the meaning of that fact. 

Fact: The Chicago Cubs won the Fucking World Goddamn Series.

For 37 years and 343 days, the only planet on which I’ve lived has been square. Today it is round, and for the rest of my days, it will always be round. 

There are no words, typed or written or spoken. 

There is nothing but transcendence and joy and love. 

There is nothing but a phone call to my dad. Nothing but the same bleachers where I’d sat at 15 years of age–a bag of McDonald’s cheeseburgers tucked under my seat. A 120 minute bus ride to watch a mediocre baseball team wearing the appropriate laundry, representing my chosen brand, in the city where I happen to live on a small patch of grass on a square planet.

The Sammy Sosa cork game. 

Doug Dascenzo chasing a a fly ball.

Jose Guzman’s 8.2 innings of no-hit ball.

But here I am. Telling the kids in front of me, “Don’t count outs, you know better,” from the same outfield at the same address where we became the worst versions of Cubs fans, mercilessly booing LaTroy Hawkins–who happened to be a human being–as the Cubs were eliminated from contention. 

This can’t be the same place.

And I am so lucky to be here–not just at Wrigley Field the night the Cubs broke the glass ceiling– but to have suffered long enough on this square planet to appreciate witnessing the Cubs win, perhaps, the greatest World Series ever played. 

To have dropped to my knees–sobbing in public–without a moment of embarrassment.

To have embraced some of my favorite people while we cried tears of joy.

They’ve never made it easy, but they’ve always made it fun.

Let’s. Go. 

Eternal, Hope Springs: V. 2016

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Face-down and full of whiskey on the front lawn of my childhood home was where I hit rock-bottom. Hammered and heartbroken, I rested my face in the cold suburban dirt for thirty or forty minutes, lifting my head only to take another drink, or send a cryptic text-message—desperately seeking solace and support from the dungeon of my personal dystopia.

It was October of 2008—almost 100 years to the day since the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series. Earlier that night, the Cubs had been swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, abruptly ending their winningest season in my lifetime. It was a stunning ending to a fantastic summer of baseball, and one I wasn’t prepared for.

On the verge of a quarter-life crisis—my 30th birthday just weeks away—I was drunk, broke, and living in a basement that occasionally flooded. And while I have fond memories of the summer of ’08, I felt as though everything was broken that night. Smashed to pieces, and there was nothing I could do to fix it. Baseball season was over, winter was coming, and I was tired of being disappointed by the Cubs. I felt betrayed, and I was angry at everyone who’d gently nudged me into this dysfunctional baseball relationship. I shook my fists at the sky, taking aim at my dead grandmother—WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO YOUR BELOVED GRANDSON???

They say you can’t truly love another until you love yourself. I decided during the spring of 2009 that I needed some space, so for the next couple of years I kept my distance from the Cubs. I wrote a rather cathartic letter and tried focusing on other things—Chicago is beautiful in the summer—I spent afternoons on the lakefront that would otherwise have been spent in front of the TV. I got a new job, and started dabbling in other sports. While I knew I’d never be able to leave completely, it was important to take that step back for the purpose of personal development. If I was ever going to break the cycle of this dysfunctional relationship, I needed to accept disappointment without completely losing my shit. Not to mention, you know, it’s really hard to watch bad baseball—and from 2009-2014 there was a lot of bad baseball played at Wrigley Field.

Eternal, hope springs—and while I’m watching tiny snowflakes drift outside the window as I write this—spring is here again. Cub fans have been anticipating opening day 2016 with a type of fervor I can only recall sensing once before, twelve years ago.

In 2004, the Cubs were coming off a season in which they were six outs from the World Series—perhaps you’ve heard a thing or two about that. During the offseason they’d added a soon-to-be MVP caliber first baseman named Derek Lee to an already potent offense, as well as veteran relief pitcher (and future pariah) LaTroy Hawkins to stabilize their bullpen. Sports Illustrated slapped Cub’s pitchers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior on the cover of their annual baseball preview issue with the headline, Hell Freezes Over, proclaiming the Cubs would win the World Series. 2004 would prove to be a particularly aggravating season of Cubs baseball—There’s a terrific book called Cubs Nation, by Gene Wojciechowski detailing the entire season—and the team itself ended up being pretty unlikeable. In spite of their 89 wins, the 2004 Cubs missed the playoffs after an epic collapse during the final ten days of the schedule.

However, our hope this spring has a different timbre than it did twelve years ago—if the spring of ’04 was white-knuckled anxiety and towel drills, April ’16 is clear eyes, full hearts and Anthony Rizzo playing piano.

One of the many oddities of Cubs culture over the years has been the almost metaphysical way in which the team has reacted to, or performed on the field, in a manner reflective of exactly how their fans felt—whether it was Moises Alou’s rabid reaction during that infamous eighth inning of game six, every member of the infield needing a serious dose of Xanax during game two of the 2008 NLDS, or Michael Barrett punching A.J. Pierzynski in the face. In the current climate, we can expect exactly none of this behavior to be exhibited by THESE Chicago Cubs. Rooting for this team is always fun, sometimes straight-up goofy, and makes us better people.

It is entirely possible, even likely, that the Cubs will disappoint me once again, and I am prepared for that possibility. But I know that 2016 is going to be an enjoyable voyage down the aisle of the church of baseball. I know the pressure will not exceed the pleasure. Clear eyes, Full hearts… you know the rest, right?

Happy opening day, ya’ll. Embrace the target. Let’s go. All that.