After a largely disappointing summer that offered few Chicago sports stories to get excited about, I’m back on the sauce thanks to an incredibly drunken Saturday-night conversation on a booze trolley with a lovely young lady from Chicago who just moved to Cincinnati, and since Cincinnati ended up being every bit as Cincinnati as she expected, she’s back here all the time; and also thanks to ChicagoSide senior editor Ben Strauss, who forced me into attending Cubs Game #162 yesterday at Wrigley.
More on my rejuvenation later. First let’s commiserate on the sports summer that was (and wasn’t) in Chicago with our first TIME-LIFE soundtrack of re-mixed hits:
(This is what is sounds like…) “When Derrick Rose Cries” By Adidas
A powerful, timeless hit that, even with its over-production, manages to pull at your heartstrings and make you…believe. Late this summer at a marketing event, Derrick Rose transcended a painfully obvious and ethically reprehensible commercialization of his “return” by crying hard and speaking for his neighborhood. When he got hurt, we got hurt, and we hardly talked about it. And fall-winter hoops will be hard without him. But he’s only 23 years old, and if he can win at least one ring for the Bulls while holding on to that ever-thumping honesty in his übermensch chest, he can do more for Chicago than Jordan ever did. He, more than any single person in this city, has the power to bring it together. Heroism.
“I Just Called To Say I Davis Love You,” By Furyk & Stricker
Hastily recorded in a bathroom stall at O’Hare, this a cappella slow jam tries hard to be a fraternal homage to Captain Davis, but over time it will function as a painful reminder of the epic choke that Love orchestrated in Chicagoland at the Ryder Cup. Really? Those were your captain’s picks?
“Nowhere To Run” (to, Cutler) By J’Marcus Webb & The Vandellas
Clay Matthews has been humming this remix all season, and although Lovie’s squad looked improved on Monday Night, whoopin’ up on ‘dem Cowboys, we’re all still unsure about these Bears…particularly the porous offensive line which has led to a frazzled, pressured Jay Cutler. Beyond the football field, the media can’t help but hunt Cutler down, too, and it seems that the blame/credit for this season will be squarely set on Jay’s shoulders.
“Wild Horses” (couldn’t drag us to a Sox game) By The South Siders
A mournful remix about a team in the third-biggest city in the first-most sports-obsessed country in the world that can’t, even when defying expectations and owning the division for damn-near 175 games, pack its stadium, especially down the stretch when Ventura & Co. were foundering and in need of an emotional boost. Like any issue concerning hundreds of thousands of people—the White Sox have hundreds of thousands of fans, right?—this one is replete with nuance; you can’t point to a leading cause. Bottom line: What happens next year when the Red Line makes it harder, and, more than likely, the team is even worse? Tragedy.
“With or Without You,” (Blackhawks) By The Ladies Of Kane
A surprisingly ambivalent track, light on rage and volume. For a town that just a few years ago raised the Cup and ripped down Michigan Avenue in celebration, the reaction to the ongoing NHL owners-players donnybrook is surprisingly mute. That said, after the painful 2004-2005 lockout, which ended the season and pushed many casual fans away, it’s understandable: Other than for diehard fans, when hockey is out of sight, it’s out of mind.
And then there’s the Cubs song, and the rejuvenation I found on the booze trolley on Saturday and at Wrigley yesterday. White Sox fans may find this choice nauseating, but since they’re still recovering from their post-swoon bender, what’s a little added puke? Chicago cynics will find it cliché, but one fan’s 101 losses is another fan’s 61 wins…
“Like A Virgin,” (Cubbed for the very first time) By Solomon Lieberman
Somewhere in between swigs of lukewarm canned-beer, nips of Jameson, and… shudder… Jell-O shots on the booze trolley, me and the Cincinnati lady got to talking about the Cubs and how much she misses them. I’m from Minneapolis, so she assumed me a Cubs fan, but truth be told I hadn’t claimed an allegiance yet, even after being here for five years and being overexposed to both sides, North & South. But then my mouth starts moving and I say something like this:
“My wife and I love Chicago, and if we were to ever leave, the Cubs making the World Series would be one of the few things we absolutely come back for—we’d have to be here, and see them win. That’s something that would make me cry.”
Then it hit me: I’m a Cubs fan.
And then three days later, our crackerjack editor (and diehard Sox fan) Benjamin proposes a what-the-hell trip to Wrigley—an invitation which, before this week, I’d have thoughtlessly rejected. Then it hits me again: I’m a Cubs fan. I want to go to this game. And I need a hat.
Merle scans us in. Jasmine serves us beers and dogs. An old ma’am with an oxygen tank nods us to our seats. Ben tells me about the only other time two 100-loss teams met at Wrigley, back in 1962 with the Cubs sitting on 103 and the Mets 119. Under an overcast sky with rain in the forecast, I think this, Game #162, Houston Astros v. Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, is eligible for the list of Worst Games In The History Of Major League Baseball.
And, yeah, it was painful. But, for the first time, it was mine.
And they won, which makes me, as a Cubs fan, undefeated.
* * * * *
STORY ART: Lead photo courtesy vonderauvisuals/cc; hats photo by Ben Strauss.