Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Reporting from the “Anybody But the Cubs” Camp

I feel like I’ve said something here on the blog before about my uncle Wally, the baseball fan, although a quick search doesn’t turn up the post I am remembering.

Wally is nearly 80 now. He grew up in Downer’s Grove, still lives in Illinois on a farm in the southern part of the state, and hates hates hates the Chicago Cubs. I believe he was originally a White Sox fan, and at some point became a St. Louis Cardinals supporter (I’m not sure of all the details). But he always disliked the Cubs, a feeling that dates all of the way back to when he was nine years old -- the last time the Cubbies won the National League pennant (in 1945).

That means while most of those following the Major League Baseball playoffs without a specific rooting interest are pulling for the Cubs finally to break through this year and make it to the fall classic, Wally is most definitely not. He’s pulling for the Mets, and as they are up 3-0 and have already taken a big lead early in game 4 tonight, it’s looking pretty good for Wally. (I say he’s pulling for the Mets, but in truth he could care less who is playing against the Cubs -- that’s the team he’d be supporting.)

There is also that whole Back to the Future Part II thing with the Cubs and this particular date (October 21, 2015). That might have been worrisome a few days ago for Wally, but not so much right now.

As a UNC-Chapel Hill grad with a similarly irrational dislike of Duke, I fully understand Wally’s position. Last year’s NCAA playoffs were miserable, not because the Heels lost, but because the Devils won.

I talked with Wally before the NLCS began, and we again laughed over his unflinching anti-Cub position. He made a good point about it, actually -- one I hadn’t necessarily thought about before.

“When your team loses, you can always say ‘we’ll get ‘em next year,’” he explained. “But this thing with the Cubs, if they win... it’s all over!”

He’s right. It’s a little like the difference between losing hands early in a tournament but still having chips with which to continue the fight and losing that one where you’re all in and at risk. There’s no “next time” then.

Like I say, it’s 6-0 Mets right now and looking pretty good for Wally and others like him in the A-B-C camp (Anybody But the Cubs). Chicago has a lot of long-suffering fans, some even older than Wally. But they also have a young team.

They can try again next year.

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