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My Cub Story

Everyone needs an option B, especially when it comes to sports.

Let me state this unequivocally, I’m a San Diego Padre fan. Being a Padre fan entails years of suffering and occasional moments of near greatness. That said my B option has always been the Chicago Cubs. The reasons are entirely practical, as we lived in Chicago until the summer after I finished second grade. I was a Cub fan first, and never lost my link to the team. It's harder to be a fan of two National League teams than a NL and AL team, at least it was before Interleague play...

The first major league baseball game I ever attended was at Wrigley Field. I think it was in 1970 or 71 on my birthday. I went with my father and a few of my friends. I was a big Cubs fan, so much so I even had a greatest radio hits album from Jack Brickhouse (the REAL voice of the Cubs, Harry Carey notwithstanding).

I knew all the players: Don Kessinger, Ron Santo, Randy Hundley, Fergie Jenkins, etc. I had Ferguson Jenkins pitching book, which I used to try to teach myself how to throw a curveball. Of course I had thousands of baseball cards bound up with rubber bands. In those days baseball cards were rightly called “trading cards”, which is exactly what we did with them. None of the collectable speculative crap that pervades the business today.

The magical day of that first visit to Wrigley hooked me for life. When we moved away it took me a few years to get over the loss of the Cubs. There were no superstations back then, just a televised Game Of The Week on the weekends and This Week In Baseball.

As much as I would like to see the Cubs in the World Series, the last time the actually had a chance (1984) I was rooting against them.

That year the Padres skippered by Dick Williams and stocked with former Yankees Craig Nettles, Rich “Goose” Gossage and serial adulterer Steve Garvey won the NL West and made the post season for the first time in franchise history. This was no greenhorn bunch, but a good mix of youth (Tony Gwynn, Alan Wiggens, Kevin McReynolds) and veterans (Gary Templeton, Kurt Bevaqua, and the previously mentioned players). Their opponent in the 5 game NLCS was the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs were lead by the dominant pitching of Rick Sutcliffe and veterans like Leon Durham and youngsters like Ryan Sandburg.

The Padres dropped the first two games in Chicago, getting totally dominated by the Cubs. Both games were the blowouts. The Cub faithful were beside themselves with premature celebrations. San Diego owned the home field advantage due to a better regular season record, but with the dominance of the first two games and the possibility of Sutcliffe starting Game 3 and maybe even being available for a Game 5 it seemed like the first trip to the World Series for the Cubs since 1945 was merely a technicality.

The Padres rallied by Steve Garvey and aided by a Buckner-esque miscue by Cubs first baseman Durham in Game 5 swept the next three games.

I attended all three games, and sat right in front of this local celebrity, a life long Cubs fan. I’ve never had such a good time watching someone’s dreams die right before my eyes.

If it’s any consolation to Cubs fans, the Sparky Anderson led Detroit Tigers would have swept them too. The 1984 Tigers were arguably one of the 10 best teams of all time. The Cubs managed to avoid that embarrassment.

The good news this year for Cubs fans, and I’m counting myself there, is that there is no one even remotely as good as the 1984 Tigers between this Cubs team and a World Series title. There’s not even a team as good as the 1984 Padres lurking in wait…


Comments (1)

Kevin,Padres had h... (Below threshold)
Mike Nelli:

Kevin,

Padres had home field advantage in the 1984 NLCS because at that time it toggled back and forth between the NL West winner and the NL East winner. In 1983, the Phillies had it, etc. I think the Padres regular season record in 1984 was 92-70, while the Cubs were 96-65.
Thanks,

Mike




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