Unfortunately there is a good chance it could happen this year. For the first time in 108 years the Chicago Cubs may become the champions of the world of professional baseball. This would be a disaster.
I know what I am talking about, because I’ve been a professional baseball fan since 1961, Oct. 13, 1960 to be exact. That was the day a man by the name of Bill Mazerowski hit one out of the park. He didn’t do it in the bottom of the ninth in a World Series game seven. He did it in the bottom of the tenth. He did it against the New York Yankees.
The 1960 World Series is probably the strangest seven game series of any professional sport whose championship is determined by which team can win four games first. The Yankees won three games by the scores of 16 – 3, 10 – 0, 12 – 0. The Yankees had Yogi Berra, Bobby Shantz, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard. Whitey Ford pitched two 9 inning shut outs. The player who had the best Series was Bobby Richardson. This is the only time in history that the Most Valuable Player award went to a player on the losing team. And there is more. You can read all about it on Wikipedia – 1960 World Series.
I got interested in baseball growing up in the great state of New York. It is known as the Empire State. It contains a famous building that is named after the state. It was built in Manhattan. Another building was built not too far away in the Bronx. It was called Yankee Stadium. It was built to celebrate a different empire – one ruled by the New York Yankees.
Since I lived in New York, I thought I was entitled to join in the celebration. My friend, who knew a whole lot more about baseball told me I was wrong. He explained that New York City was far away and if we had any chance of talking our fathers into taking us to ball games we had better get friendly with the Pittsburgh Pirates. That wisdom rained on my dream. I went into rain delay mode.
The chances of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates beating the 1960 New York Yankees was slim to none, until they did it. In an instant the sun came beaming out. A Major League Baseball fan was born.
I studied how the 1960 victory could have been influenced, as life often is, by how a particular ball bounced. The ball that should have been an easy out ground ball, hit a hard pebble right in front of a very good shortstop, Tony Kubeck. A strong man can take all kinds of hits, but a hard ball to the throat isn’t one of them. Bill Virdon reached first base on what should have been an easy out and kept the Pirates in the game. I didn’t think that this freak accident tarnished what Bill Mazerowski went on to do one bit. Later another twist of fate would find me walking along with Mr. Kubeck and I would get to clearly hear his response to one of the questions many men love to be asked. But that would come later.
What came next was my father giving me the baseball stadium, Forbes Field, now demolished but not forgotten. When they tore down the stadium to build a new one at the intersection of three rivers, they left exposed the foundation for the red brick wall that Maz’s ball sailed over. That concrete line in the grassIt is now a shrine.
If you have read this far you may be a fan too. You may remember the day that your father gave you a stadium. The day you never saw grass so green. The day you saw your baseball cards come to life. The day you heard the sound that a horsehide sphere makes when struck by a piece of ash and were astonished.
You might remember the first time you sang “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at a Big League Game. For many men their memories of their first trip to see “The Show” still gives them a thrill.
It was years later that I took a walk with the great Kubeck. He was past his prime on the diamond, but quite good at his new job. He provided what is known as “color commentary” to the NBC hall of broadcasting fame star, Curt Gowdy’s sportscasts. Let me tell you how I got there.
You see I had a friend. Well he wasn’t a friend, more of an acquaintance. His having a car and a driver’s license made me think of him as a friend. He wasn’t into car maintenance much, but he loved driving fast. I didn’t like the odds that Steve’s car could make it all the way to Pittsburgh and back, but I didn’t care. If Maz had batted as predicted by his batting average I wouldn’t have had any interest in going to Pittsburgh. (Okay, it is true that I went to Pittsburgh to be the best man at my brother’s wedding, but that has nothing to do with this story. My brother never liked baseball).
I found out that the odds on that car were better than I thought. What that car lacked in mechanical soundness, it made up for with its ability to be driven at 80 mph without vibrating much. It was my good luck that that car got us close to Pittsburgh before the drive shaft broke.
We were lucky that we could find a motel room to stay in within walking distance from the mechanic’s shop. We weren’t so lucky about the neighborhood the motel was in. We were lucky that the guys who banged on our door in the middle of the night, yelling for us to come out, had time to realize that they were knocking on the wrong door, due to all three of us being frozen with fear.
Because nobody broke our thumbs that night, we were able to make good use of them to get to the stadium the next morning. Travel tip: If you ever find yourself hitchhiking along a road that leads to Pittsburgh, Pa, when a potential ride pulls over to check you out, say you are trying to get to a Pirates game. My brother thinks that it would work better if you say you are trying to get to a Steelers game. Don’t listen to my brother. He still doesn’t get baseball.
In those days I thought my self more of a poet than a fighter. I let the Pittsburgh Pirates fight for me. On that day it was my job to see if I could get my friends and myself on TV. Back home I had given it some thought and wrote my shortest poem ever in spray point on a sheet that my mother never missed. “Howdy Gowdy” did its magic. I did it at time when we didn’t have oversized foam fingers like we have today. The television didn’t show our faces, but thousands were exposed to my poetry.
Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubeck, didn’t come looking for us after the game to say howdy back. It was dumb luck that they picked the same sidewalk away from the stadium that we did. I whispered to my friends where to look. We were there live, when Curt asked Tony if he wanted to stop for a beer. I wan’t surprised when Tony said yes, just thankful for the grace that allowed me to hear it.
From 1961 to today the Pittsburgh Pirates have been amongst the league leaders in loosing baseball games. They are right up there with the Cleveland Indians. Over time, I hate to say it, but I grew to love the Pirates because they were losers, who were unlikely to win when I watched them, but because they were losers it was particularly delightful when they did.
I eventually ended up living closer to NYC then Pittsburgh. I tried loving the Mets, but their original appeal of being amazingly awful had passed by the time I got there. I tried rooting for the Yankees for awhile, but Derrick Jeter and company ruined that for me.
I eventually just drifted away from following Major League Baseball all together, until just recently that is.
There is a song by the band Steely Dan, with the lyrics. “They have a name for the winners of the world. I want a name when I lose. They call Alabama the Crimson Tide call me, “deacon blue.”
Now I happen to know the color of the jerseys of the winningest team in college football. They are crimson. They are worn by men who make the University of Alabama’s football team. I am a little color blind. The jerseys look red to me. I am told that crimson is a kind of red.
I don’t know deacon blue. I just know blue. The baseball team that proudly wears blue, the obvious choice for loser lovers, is not the Los Angelus Dodgers or the Toronto Blue Jays. If you don’t know the game, you might think so. You might think that with most sports teams being named after predatory animals or powerful forces of nature, that teams that are named after an animal that flies away when threatened or some unnamed something that cowardly dodges attacks, would be a good choice. Think again.
Blue Jays can let loose with a startling squawk. Dodgers are shifty. You never know what they are going to do next.
No, if you know baseball, even a little, you know it is the Chicago Cubs, the cubbies. Named after an animal known primarily for its cuteness. Chicago blue is the color for those who love losers.
I want the Cubs to lose so bad. They are now my favorite team. I don’t even need to watch the games or check the box scores, to get a thrill out of hoping that the Cubbies keeping their loosing streak alive.
I have derived great satisfaction out of feeling like a loser because of something I didn’t or didn’t do. When I love the looser in me, I love all of me. That makes me feel like a winner. Feeling like a winner when I lose, doesn’t tend to make me lose more. Actually I find that it makes me lose less and even grateful for the powerful teaching when mistakes are made.
I don’t enter difficult situations hoping to have the satisfaction of losing. When I fear a situation less because I value loosing, is when I am most likely to win.
I love losing so much I should have been a hedge fund manager. There I could have made obscene money betting on losers. In stead I got involved with the practice of social worker. Social work is basically the art of getting paid to convince people that feel like losers that they are not. It has its rewards as well.
I have never been to Wrigley Field in Chicago. It looks like a baseball museum. I’ve heard say that “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” is sung there with more gusto then in any other ball park. Wrigley Field was completed in 1914 and the last time the Cubs won a World Series was six years before that in 1908. That place is a Temple Of Loss and should remain so. It is very much something to root for.
Which ever teams make it into the World Series, the color blue will be there no matter what. It will be there along with red stripes, white stripes and white stars. This brand logo is meant to be for the winners of the world, for the brave of the world. Not bravery to try and dominate the world, but to keep it free for individual expression.
Along with flags, there will be a song sung. It is song about a dark time, when there was reason to believe that a malevolent force could end the waving of that flag and it didn’t happen.
Some will look at that flag and not notice unbelievably bad things that are going on in the name of that flag. Some will hope that the red glare of what is going on has gotten so intense that what the American flag really stands for will be illuminated. Some will hope that the thought of that flag flying upside down for awhile won’t continue to be so terrifying. Some will hope that when a false flag is obviously flying, the vast majority of the world’s people won’t notice it.
In the meantime, “Go Cubbies.”
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