Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why I Love the Cubs

I've been a Cubs fan all my life. I've been a baseball fan all my life. Never any other sport, really, though there have been teams (in addition to the Cubs) that I've respected, admired, and cheered for. The White Sox, The LA Dodgers, and, more recently, the Red Sox have all been on my "cheer list". Of course, I have always loved the history of the Yankees... (I didn't want to say "Red Sox" and "Yankees" in the same sentence.)

Just as an additional caveat, over the last five or six years, I've started to pay more attention to college football and basketball. Both my brother and sister go/went to the University of Illinois in Champaign, which is probably a major part of the cause...

So why baseball, and why the Cubs?

I think it's pretty simple, don't you? My dad grew up on the North Side. Not figuratively, not almost Chicago, but actually within a mile of Wrigley Field. He grew up in the neighborhood, went to grade school, went to Amundsen High, and went to college at Loyola University.

I grew up playing baseball in the Chicago suburb of Lombard, and I remember the 1988 Dodgers. They and the Cubs were my two, favorite teams at the time. I can't even count the number of games I've gone to, including seeing every California team play at all but one of their stadiums on a trip to Cali, when I was young. The Cubs (and baseball) are a family tradition.

Every month or so we'd drive into the city to visit my grandma in the house where my dad grew up. I loved (and love) the skyline - especially the view driving southbound on the Kennedy.

When it came time for me to pick a college, I decided to stay local. In fact, after talking with my dad and my grandma, they thought it would work out all right for me to stay in one of Oma's four-flat apartments at 1619 W. Balmoral Ave. That started my sophomore year at Columbia College, after a year of pseudo-commuting and crashing in the basement of my grandma's place.

For three solid years, I passed by Wrigley Field two-times a day on the El, at the Addison stop. There were days (including the playoffs in 2003) where, on my way home, I'd hop off the train during games and just watch them from the El platform. You can't see much, but you can see the digital scoreboard on the left field upper deck, the pitcher, and home plate.

And so tonight begins the playoffs. Many people have been waiting a very long time for this. The Cubs have a very tough road ahead of them. They should be able to squeak by the Dodgers and the Phillies or Brewers, but look out for those Angel's, whose 100-win season gives them the best record in the league.

Onward and upward.

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