Me: I’m hanging by a thread. I’m reading don’t-kill-myself books.
Posh: You said that the book wasn’t yours.
The Brewers are playing the Braves in Atlanta tonight, and the close proximity of the Cubs series and Braves series on the schedule reminded me of the time I pulled a Tom Sawyer on P-House. In the Summer of 2003, I was asked to paint my grandparents’ white picket fence.
“Paulie, I bet if you come with me and help paint, grandma will buy us McDonald’s for lunch.”
“OK, I’ll do it!”
This is a kid who has taken a family trip to tour Hannibal, Mo., the childhood home of Mark Twain — twice. What a sucker. To keep ourselves entertained during the menial labor, we listened to a Braves-Cubs game broadcast from Wrigley, the only game we could tune in on the paint-splattered cassette deck. My grandma brought us some cans of diet root beer. And that’s when things got frightening.
“Who’s playing? Oh, sure, the Cubs — your great grandfather was a huge Cubs fan.”
“You shut your mouth!” I yelped.
“Well, yeah. When the Braves left, there was no other team,” G-Ma went on. “And of course, back then, there were no other sports. Basketball and football, they weren’t what they are today. Baseball was everything. And that’s all they had on the radio. So he would always listen to the games while he worked at the old grocery store.”
“I’m… feeling a little… lightheaded.”
“Yeah, your great grandfather loved the Cubs.”
Which of course makes sense. As much grief as they’re given, Wisconsin Cubs fans, including the groom at the wedding I attended last week are simply carrying on the familial allegiances they’ve known their whole lives. If Bud Selig had never brought a Major League team back to Milwaukee, or if I had been raised anywhere else in the world, I’d probably place my enthusiasm on another club.
Once the Cubs made the playoffs in 2003, I wanted to see them win. The Brewers were awful that year anyway, and plenty of baseball fans wanted to see a World Series match up of the perennial underdogs, the Cubs and the Red Sox, a team then chalked full of entertaining players. Of course, when they missed that chance due to interference from one of their own fans and a stupefying meltdown, I laughed and laughed. Now that the Red Sox have won two championships of their own, the best storyline to me seems an upgrade of the Cubs from perennial underdogs to eternal losers.
Yeah, I’m still smarting from the epic ass-kicking Chicago handed Milwaukee. But I also realize it’s just a game. It’s not life-or-death or anything. That became apparent at a party last night, when someone mentioned “THE Ohio State” University in my presence.
“I get it, baby,” Posh said. “You hate the Cubs, you hate Ohio State.”
“I don’t think you understand… It’s not the same kind of thing.”
As for the Brewers, I prefer to think of them as Doc Holliday from “Tombstone” — seemingly dying of tuberculosis before coming back to ice Johnny Ringo in a duel.
“It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.”