News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 31, 2011

MS. TAKES: Hope and dismay: Life as a Cubs fan

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Shakespeare wrote about “the winter of our discontent,” but at our house it’s more a case of the spring and summer of discontent. That’s the heart of the baseball season, and we are embarked on another disappointing season on the north side of Chicago.

When my Best Friend and I started dating, I was introduced to sports in a big way. One of our first dates involved a movie biograhy of Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch. I’d never heard of him, but I’m a quick study.

After that introduction, I was whisked off to the Chicago Stadium, the old one, for a basketball double header. I thought then, and still do, that gyms smell funny. But, I couldn’t beat the company.

Shortly thereafter the baseball season started and I was introduced to Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field. The game was snowed out! You would think I’d learn, but I didn’t. Cubs baseball has been a major part of our summers ever since, and Number Two son has become as enthusiastic as his father, rattling off statistics like he had memorized the baseball encyclopedia.

One year we went to Mesa, Ariz., to see the Cubbies in spring training. Hohokam Field has expanded a lot since then, but we got there the week Andre Dawson joined the team and we watched him hit the hide off the ball in the batting cage.

After watching a few pre-seasons, I developed a theory. If the Cubs had a poor pre-season, they would do well once the money was on the line, but if they had a stellar pre-season, we might as well forego television for the summer. The theory doesn’t work!

Still, hope springs eternal - or something like that. Our TV was warmed up and ready to go in time for the season opener. This year was hopeful. A young kid from the Dominican Republic named “Castro” (no, not Fidel) has been hitting like a champ. If only they can get him to work on defense, he may be a keeper. They have several all stars with the bat, but somehow we have yet to watch a complete game.

A howl of anguish triggers a black-out of the set. If our team ends up winning, we may watch the highlights the next day, otherwise there is a gnashing of teeth and a groan and reading of line scores the next morning. How can the Cubs look so good on paper and end up flirting with last place?

As well, as the saying has it, “Anyone can have a bad century!”

But, it’s early in the season. Hope springs and it’s too early to sink into the slough of despond. Maybe this WILL be the year.