I’m a “different” type of Cubs fan…

As I mentioned in my last post, I am 24 years old, and from the South Side of Chicago. I’m a diehard Cubs fan. Around 20-30 times a year, I can be found in Aisle 425 at Wrigley Field. Cubs cap, shirt or hoody, no peanuts, no beer, totally into the game. I stand for the national anthem and the 7th inning stretch. I scream my lungs out when a good play is made, and I boo when I see a travesty or injustice on the field. I want what every other Cubs fan wants, 162 games a year: WINS.

Yet, I consider myself to be a “different” type of Cubs fan. I don’t bring up 1908, the 101-year title drought, 1945, the billy goat, black cat, Evers-Tinkers-Chance, the collapse in the 1984 NLCS, 1989, 1998, 2003 (that often), 2007, 2008, or Milton “Scapegoat” Bradley (at least to throw insults at him). Yes, I consider myself to be a rabid Cubs fan, but I know when to turn it off. I don’t want to be the type of fan that is 80 years old, and feels his life isn’t complete because the Cubs haven’t won a World Series. Words couldn’t describe my feelings if the Cubs were to win the World Series, although I’m sure I’d cry tears of joy. Still, it is not a top priority to see the Cubs win a World Series before I die.

I guess the Milton Bradley Experiment made me realize just how different I am. It seems that many Cubs experts, er, fans, were not aware of the type of player that Milton Bradley is. Injury-prone, volatile, and unwilling to accept responsibility for his actions in most cases. A good, but not great hitter, who’s never been known for his fielding or athletic ability, and not a “clubhouse guy”. He had a very good, but not great 2008, and that was mostly because he hit in a lineup with other powerful hitters, in a hitters park (Arlington), and was the team’s primary DH, which obviously put less strain on his body. Bradley became the 2009 whipping boy for Cubs fans. Never mind the fact that the moron formerly known as Jim Hendry decided to give him a 3 year, $30 million contract despite the fact that he’d never played more than 2 full seasons with a team in his entire career. Or that there were cheaper, more reliable alternatives, such as Bobby Abreu and Raul Ibanez. Or that Soriano, Soto, Gregg, Miles, Fukudome, Heilman, and Fontenot had terrible seasons. Cubs fans had found their bitch. Because of this, I now find myself cheering for Bradley, even though he’s playing in Seattle. Bradley eventually played the race card, and most dismissed both notions that he’d faced racism, and that fans at Wrigley are racist, period. What infuriated me most were the Cubs fans that used the excuse: “We’re not racist, we love Derrek Lee!” That’s the equivalent of a white person denying that they’re racist, and bringing up their one black friend in order to refute that claim. To that, I say “oy vey”.

The departures of Kerry Wood and Mark Derosa also made me realize I’m not like the average Cubs fan. I didn’t come close to shedding a tear upon hearing of their departures. I’m sorry, but I didn’t lose sleep when I learned that Kerry Wood wouldn’t be re-signed. His career highlight came in his rookie season, when he struck out 20 in a game against Houston. I was at that game, and thought I was looking at the next Roger Clemens. Unfortunately, his career was marred by injuries and trips to the disabled list, and when he was healthy, he didn’t even win 15 games. While Mark Derosa was a highly productive player, I couldn’t grasp how so many Cubs fans (a good number of them, females) reacted as if the Cubs had just traded an All-Star. I also learned that a good number of Cubs fans seem to react without thinking, feeling as if Mark Derosa was traded for Milton Bradley. This is what I like to call “the lazy truth”. Yes, Derosa’s salary needed to be moved in order for the team to sign Milton Bradley. However, if Lou Piniella hadn’t flipped out after being swept in the 2008 NLDS by the Dodgers, whining to everyone within earshot about a need for more lefties in the lineup, Milton Bradley wouldn’t have spent one inning in a Cubs uni in 2009. In addition, Mark Derosa was the Cubs primary second baseman. If Piniella didn’t endorse Mike Fontenot as a worthy candidate to play second on a daily basis, Derosa wouldn’t have gone anywhere. Add the ownership issues before the 2009 season, and the Cubs front office just wasn’t sure if the new owner would be in favor of adding, without subtracting salaries.

I’ll say it. I’m not a fan of the “Bleacher Bums”. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I find them vile, disgusting, assholish, or “a bunch of immature fucking drunks who are more interested in beer than baseball” (my little brother’s description of them), but I believe they give Cubs fans a bad reputation. The men are sometimes shirtless, the women are sometimes damn near shirtless, a good number of them are belligerently drunk, and at times, it looks more like a frat party than a section in the stands where fans would be watching a baseball game. Ron Santo? Meh. Most Cubs fans love him, and some find him annoying. I tend to identify myself with the latter, especially when listening to him on the radio. Despite his Harry Caray impersonation, I’m not high on Ryan Dempster or his contract. A Dusty Baker basher? I am not. Why would I trash a man that managed the Cubs within a few outs of the World Series? Could he have gone out and talked to Mark Prior after Bartman lunged for a souvenir? Yes. Was it necessary? No. The Cubs could’ve closed it out the 2003 NLCS in game 5 (good ol’ Zambrano was the starter) and had a chance in game 7 (Cubs cult hero Wood was the starter), but they didn’t. Allow me to remind you of the tailor-made double play ball hit to sure-handed Alex Gonzalez that could’ve gotten the Cubs out of that dreadful inning in game 6 as well. 2004 wasn’t his fault, either, as the Cubs choked down the stretch. Go ahead, be an idiot and blame Baker for Wood and Prior’s injury problems. Wood had a serious elbow injury early in his career (while Baker was managing the Giants), and a good number of people felt it was only a matter of time before Prior and his “perfect mechanics” would break down. I was a huge fan of Sammy Sosa, and still am. It’s funny how most Cubs fans ignored his selfishness and lack of basic fundamentals when he was carrying the team. Once that stopped, Cubs fans couldn’t wait to see him go. I’m young, and am not interested in getting a history lesson every single day. I’m not gullible, nor am I overly pessimistic. I am a Cubs fan, but I was a baseball fan first, and I’ll always be that way. I’m not all that interested in the mystique of Wrigley Field. I don’t care for the guest 7th inning stretch singers. I absolutely despise the  “Lovable Losers” tag with a fiery passion. I like to make fun of fellow Cubs fans. I’m well-aware that there’s a little bit of an uppitiness about Cubs fans, also.

My love for the Cubs never has, and never will waver. If anyone wants to question my knowledge of baseball, try me. Chances are, I’m more knowledgeable than you are. I’m always open to logical, realistic conversation about anything pertaining to baseball. Disclaimer: I out morons like TMZ outs cheating spouses and drug addicts, and to be honest, I take joy in it. There are most certainly Cubs fans who annoy me on a daily basis, but I have love for all of them…especially the different ones.

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. Who loves ya, baby?!

Derrion Albert, Percy Day, and Tyrone Williams

I won’t go into detail about how those three had their lives taken. I’m pretty sure most know the stories. I know most have seen the brutal video of Derrion Albert’s murder. Chicago is a cutthroat city. Gangbanging originated here. I don’t mean Larry Hoover’s Gangster Disciples, but Al Capone. This is a city that almost embraces that reputation a little too much…especially in poorer, more heavily minority-populated areas. You HAVE to be aware of your surroundings here. Certain colors, or even wearing your hat tilted a certain way here can get you robbed, beaten, or worse, killed. In certain communities, life is dictated by the gang that occupies that area. Certain high schools are basically divided because of it. There was a time when this violence and heinous activity existed only amongst gang members. Lately, it’s affected innocent children. Two warring gangs, shooting at one another, taking the life of an innocent child. A gang member boarding a bus, exiting one, or in front of a school, opening fire, and taking an innocent life. An innocent child walking home from school and being jumped for walking through the “wrong” neighborhood. This senseless violence needs to stop. There is no honor in taking an innocent life. There is no honor in pulling a gun on an unarmed person. There is no honor in committing a vile and heinous act and hiding in cowardice. This violence has plagued our city, in certain parts, before I was born; it’s not brand new. However, now, it happens more frequently, and the victims get younger and younger. Mayor Daley is hell-bent on landing the 2016 Summer Olympics for the city of Chicago. Don’t get me wrong, it would be great for this city to host such an event. But, why has the problem with youth violence gotten so much worse? Why is Police Superintendent Weis not deploying a gang task force to try and resolve the issue? Why does the Chicago Police Department seem to conveniently arrive on the scene after the killing is over and done? Where is the school security, and the teachers? Why do students stand by and become spectators? Why aren’t more parents parenting? Why are fathers not stepping up to the plate? Why are mothers allowing their children to run the household? These are questions asked everyday, but not answered. It’s sad when anyone is murdered, but to hear, read about, and actually see it is genuinely heartbreaking. To know that these young people will never get to graduate from the eighth grade, or high school, or college, is almost downright depressing. To know that they’ll never go to their senior prom, or be able to get married and start families of their own is truly sad. 34 children were killed during the 2008-09 school year, which was 34 too many. When will it stop? When will Daley and Weis make a more concerted effort to stop the violence? You’d have to think that if this violence plagued more affluent areas, it would garner more attention. Is it a matter of race? Partly, yes. But, similar to the Hurricane Katrina debacle, I believe this is more about class. Yes, the people in these communities have a responsibility to raise their children to respect others and value education. To respect their community, as well as themselves. It takes more than just a few willing people. It does indeed take an entire city, especially a large metropolitan one like Chicago. I’m not saying people in Lincoln Park should necessarily feel obligated to help people in Englewood raise their children, but we should ALL be conscious of what is going on. It should affect all of us to hear that yet another young life has been taken. There are so many that are solely focused on the possibility of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, that they’ve forgotten to take care of home first. It’s possible that people all over the world have seen the video of Derrion Albert’s murder, or read about Tyrone Williams and Percy Day’s. Do you think that’s a good look for the city of Chicago? I grew up on the south side of Chicago, 86th and Champlain, 2 blocks west of Cottage Grove, in Chatham. I love my city. I think it’s the greatest city in the world. Despite the corruption, gangs, violence, and killings, I truly do. But I’m not afraid to admit that those four things are putting a constant strain on my heart. I have a lot of friends that have moved elsewhere; especially those with kids. And you know what? I honestly can’t blame them. This city has become almost too expensive to live in, and the violence on the south, west, and some parts of the north side has left some with no choice but to leave. To make matters worse, even some of the OGs look at the chaos that is modern-day gangbanging and look down on it. They too, see it as senseless. Even they can’t find any validity in blindly opening fire into a crowd of people. Or jumping someone because you don’t recognize them. Or robbing someone just because you feel like it. I doubt that gangs will one day, in unison, realize how much pain they’ve caused ALL of us. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Chicagoan and have lost a relative, or are in LA reading this. YOU have been adversely affected. Just ask yourself: What can I do to make it better, even if only a little bit? P.S. I miss Karen!!! P.P.S. #shoutout to all the families that persevere despite dealing with the tragedy of losing a loved one, especially our youth…