#708: Joy in Mudville

November 4th, 2016

When I was a kid, I thought Chicago was a perpetual carnival.

It was a place where the Cubs lost and the Sox won, but I didn’t care because the Sox were pooey dumb-dumb heads who smelled like poo. And I loved the Cubs.

I loved the Cubs because of ivy and piss troughs, because of Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace and Andre Dawson. I loved the Cubs because the Cubs meant a two-hour drive out of my hometown to that place I thought was a perpetual carnival of sports and fun and a pre-1:20 lunch at Ed Debevic’s.

In the years, yeah, decades since, my dream became my home. I realized Chicago wasn’t a carnival but a deeply troubled and divided city. I realized I wanted to write about Chicago, not party there. I realized that if I could do one thing for this city it would be to fix it.

But I still loved the Cubs. I grew to see the economics that took the bleachers from the bums to the richies. I grew to see the political favors that made my childhood carnival happen in a bleeding town. I see every complaint you’re about to lodge against the Cubs and Wrigley and I just don’t care.

Because the Chicago Cubs taught me to believe.

It was my grandfather’s creed more than mine. Many years my fandom was more a tribute to him than to the team. I tried to care about the Trachsels, Dempsters and Sosas, but no one ever mattered as much as the guys I loved as a kid, or maybe Kerry Wood because I knew my granddad liked him. Pre-injury, of course.

My childhood carnival is my troubled, bleeding home. And now the Sox lose and the Cubs just won it all. A Chicago friend called me after the game. Mid-conversation I realized I’ve known him maybe 15 years.

I don’t know what to say other than this means something. The obligatorily snarky will tease and prod about what next and it’s just a ball team, but we know better. For me, the Cubs were Chicago were joy via piss troughs and ivy. The Cubs were my first step toward what would become my home.

I can never thank them enough.

The Cubs won it all. Storyline ended, narrative changed forever. It’ll be fine for a while at least. I’ve loved Baez and Rizzo as much as Grace, Dawson and Prior.

But my Cubs, my lovable loser Cubs have brought me to the place I called home. For that, I can only offer one thing: If you’ve survived my tedious screed so far, I’m asking a solid. Take your drink in your hand, hoist it to the skies and just say the three words you know you want to hear.

Go Cubs Go.

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