My whole life, I’ve been a baseball fan.
I suppose my love for the sport is almost an addiction — it is just that if you believe what my wife says when the Chicago Cubs are on television. Even when I don’t “retire” to the bedroom to watch the entire game, I still flip back and forth during commercials to check the score.
And, when the Cubs aren’t on television you’ll find me at the computer watching the play-by-play, pitch-by-pitch recount offered by Major League Baseball. And, that brings me to another point. Every survey I’ve read shows that the Cubs are the favorite team of a majority of Iowans; yet, cable television only carries a few games. Yet, the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals are on television every time they play and we even see plenty of Milwaukee Brewers games.
Hey, Mediacom — we deserve to watch the Cubs!
Now that you know I have a passion for “America’s Pastime,” I’ll also admit that this baseball season hasn’t been my favorite.
Thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no insurmountable heights to climb. You see, I’ve been a Cubs’ fan for most of my life; I’ll admit I was a fan of the Brewers, too, when I was a sportswriter in Wisconsin many years ago – in fact, I was one of the sportswriters who covered the Brewers’ first-ever game in Milwaukee back in 1970, a game they lost to the California Angels.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I still watch, listen to, or view the computer coverage of Cubs’ games whenever possible, but the overall excitement of the 2017 season has been lacking a little.
Could it be that I’m one of those Cubs’ fans who was always intrigued by the “loveable losers?” Could it be I actually reveled in thoughts of “wait’ll next year?” Did I actually enjoy all those long winters, awaiting spring training, watching the off-season baseball trades with the eternal hope that maybe, just maybe, next season would be the season the Cubs finally came out on top?
Perhaps that’s all part of it. When this season began, I didn’t wonder if the Cubs had that player in the minors who’d become an instant Major League star, the one who’d finally lead the Cubs to the World Series title. No, I knew those players were already there.
I didn’t watch the daily trades. I didn’t care if the Cubs got a new player who’d make the difference between a championship or an also-ran season. When Spring Training began in March, I didn’t look every day to see which players were hitting, which were struggling and which pitchers were off to good, or bad, starts.
Nope. It was almost anti-climactic. There wasn’t that anticipation that was brought on by the first pitch of spring. There wasn’t that feeling of eternal optimism, of hoping that a .250 hitter would somehow surpass .300, hit 40 homers and drive in 100. There wasn’t the hope that a 36-year-old over-the-hill veteran would somehow find new life on Chicago’s north side.
Last year, I was jumping around in joy when the Cubs got off to a fast start, carried it all the way through the season, the playoffs and, yes, the World Series. When they came back to win game seven in a thriller against Cleveland, I somehow felt like a teen-ager again.
The Cubs were the last bastion of professional ineptitude. That disappeared last October. There’s nothing left, no mountain to climb, no hurdle to cross.
It’s left an empty feeling that’s hard to understand. All the long-suffering Cubs’ fans, myself included, finally got what we’d wanted = a World Series title.
I’ve always liked the Cubs overall and the Red Sox in the American League. They were the only two teams that had never won a World Series title (at least in modern history). The Red Sox, of course, won the series years ago. Now, both are champions.
What’s a sports fan to do?
Bill Haglund is a retired writer for the Boone News-Republican and Dallas County News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.