First things first: Happy
Single’s Awareness Valentine’s Day, everyone. One of the best parts of this time of year is hitting the candy clearance aisles on February 15th. But even that is secondary to the joy of the start of Major League Baseball Spring Training. Yes. That blessed time is nearly upon us. Before we start moving full speed ahead into the 2012 preseason, however, I have a few cobwebs to clear out.
I have had the post that follows sitting around since August. It came to me while visiting the Cubs in Washington. I have been meaning to get it up here all winter, but it just hasn’t happened. It is total off-season material, so I’m getting it in just in the nick of time. After this, it’s onward and upward! So let us giddy-up…
When I tell people that I am a Cubs fan, I almost always cringe. And it isn’t because I’m ashamed. It is because that I know that a torrent of cliche commentary and jokes are about to rain down upon me. When you live outside the hub of Chicago, at least, it’s inevitable. And non-Cubs fans have an uncanny way of bringing up the sorest subjects in these conversations. Provoking annoyance isn’t usually their intention, but it is often what they end up doing, just the same.
I was sitting and enjoying a lovely evening at the ballpark in DC last year, and had a friendly Nationals fan sitting to my left. Towards the end of the game, Kerry Wood came in to pitch. This man turned to me and asked if I liked Kerry Wood. The best response would have been, “No, no I don’t like him… I love him.” Because it’s true. I didn’t say that, though, I only said, “Yes.” He then proceeded to ask me if I remembered “that one time when Kerry Wood went on the DL.” For a moment, I honestly thought he was mocking me (and Kerry) but it quickly became clear that he was not. He launched into a retelling of the hot-tub incident in great (and occasionally incorrect) detail. Although I interrupted him to say that I did indeed remember that particular occurrence, he continued on as if I’d claimed never to have heard the story. In between the groanings in my mind, it occurred to me that a list of ways NOT to talk to Cubs fans would make a good blog entry.
My intention is not to slap well-intending folk on the wrists, but simply to make them realize that these are NOT in fact subjects that the average Cubs fan enjoys dwelling on. Here are the topics to avoid:
1. Mark Prior: Nobody wants to remember how Mr. P’s promising career was derailed by incessant injury. It stunk. We know. We’ve moved on. (Exception: Feel free to bug anyone you see who is actually wearing a Prior jersey. They are asking for it.)
2. The “Curse”: It might sometimes be OK to bring this topic up with a Cubs fan that you have known a while (“Do you believe in that”, etc.,) but never broach it on a first meeting. And don’t say anything about goats or black cats. Unless, of course, you really like being on the receiving end of stink-eyed glares.
3. The latter-half of 1969: Proceed only if the Cubs fan brings it up first. Otherwise, stay away! I find it a sore subject and I wasn’t even close to being born yet.
4. Steve Bartman: This might be the most abused topic on this list. *Shudder* It is also my personal least favorite. I wish the world would just spare us all.
5. “How many years has it been now?”: You know it’s in triple digits. Isn’t that enough?
6. Ronnie Woo Woo: We really do not care for him. His wooing haunts our dreams.
Now, I do not by any means wish to discourage non-Cubs fans from striking up conversations with Cubs fans. There are plenty of safe subjects that we would be willing to discuss at any time. To name of few:
Theo Epstein: You couldn’t select a more golden name to drop at this current time.
Wrigley Field: Almost always a safe bet. Unless you open with, “SO, when Wrigley going to be [renamed/replaced/torn down]?” But I don’t know why you would say that unless you are either the most sinister person in the whole world, or you have a death wish.
Ron Santo: Or any other beloved player from the past. Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace… I for one am always happy to share a pleasant discussion on Cubs legends.
Starlin Castro: Or whatever young player is showing the most promise at the moment. The hope of the future is always a safer topic than the disappointment of the past.
Kerry Wood’s 20 Strikeout Game: Games like these are even more meaningfulwhen your team is in the midst of a century long championship drought. Personally, I never EVER get tired of reliving this one.
The Promised Land: Most Cubs fans will be more than happy to imagine the riots that will overrun Chicago and the immensity of the ticker tape parade that will take place if the Cubs ever win the World Series.
Because, if it was this amazing for the Blackhawks, how much greater will it be for the Cubs???
Fellow Cubs fans: Please chime in! Are there any additions/subtractions you would make to my list? If so, I want to hear about it.