Has the ‘Year of the Cubbies’ finally arrived?
They haven’t thrown a pitch or hit a baseball in a regular-season game, but this already is a heady spring for Chicago Cubs fans.
When was the last time America’s once-lovable losers were favorites to win the World Series?
I know expectation is out of control when a huge Cubs fan is talking some serious trash. Scott Andrews, one of our newscast directors at WGNO TV, stopped by the sports office to tell me the following: “Ed, the Saints are going 16-0, and the Cubs are going 161-1,” said Andrews.
He wasn’t chuckling. So, a few days later, I went by his desk and egged him on. “I just checked the Cardinals’ website,” I told Andrews. “The Cardinals have canceled the season and suggested that baseball just declare the Cubs the winner.”
All of a sudden, Cubs fans are coming out of the woodwork. My buddy, Gus Kattengell, of the radio show the Sports Hangover, has chirped at me all winter. I probably deserve it.
In October 2008, I called Gus to tell him that James Loney was my favorite Dodger. That was as Loney was circling the bases after hitting a grand slam against the Cubs in the first game of the National League Division Series.
Every summer, when I go to Busch Stadium in St. Louis, I send Gus a photo of all those Cardinals World Series flags.
I have often wondered what Chicago would be like if the Cubs won the World Series. It may be like the Saints winning the Super Bowl, squared.
In 2004, my cousin and I were at Busch Stadium when the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in Game 4.
I remember a Red Sox fan telling me he was going back to Boston to visit his father’s grave. He was overjoyed, yet was lamenting the fact that his dad never got to see the Red Sox win a title. It was a drought that ended after 86 years.
This season, a 67-year run will end. Dodgers announcer Vin Scully will call his final season. When the Dodgers left Brooklyn after the 1957 season, Scully was already established as one of the best at his craft.
One of the best things about the baseball season is coming home late at night, crashing on the couch, and listening to Scully call a Dodgers game on SportsNetLA.
Ironically, 60 percent of homes in the Los Angeles area don’t carry SportsNetLA and thus miss Scully’s melodious tones.
For three hours, Scully describes the game and weaves in stories, with no analyst by his side. His call of Kirk Gibson’s home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is a classic. The hobbled Gibson, who couldn’t run, hit a pinch, walk-off home run.
“In a year that was so improbable,” said Scully, “the impossible just happened.”
If this is the Cubs’ year, so be it. But, I hope they are soon uttering a mantra made famous by fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“Wait till next year.”