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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Sad Tale of Being a Chicago Cubs Fan

Wrigley Field

I grew up in a sports family [see “My Competitive Parents” at] and to this day watch a lot of sports [“On Being a Gay Sports Fan” at].  When I was newly out of law school and in my mid-twenties I moved to Chicago and, in my spare time, often went out to Wrigley Field to see the Chicago Cubs play.  This was a great time for watching a fabled group of Cubs: third baseman Ron Santo, first baseman Ernie Banks, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, outfielder Billy Williams, and the manager Leo Durocher.  Wrigley Field was and is a wonderful ball park, and its fans in attendance are magical, always joining in lustily at the 7th inning stretch for the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”  Though the Cubbies failed to make the World Series either of the two years (1968, 1969) that I attended their games with some regularity, the upshot of this was that, though I moved away from the city, I became a devoted Chicago Cubs fan for life.

That was a mistake, and it’s one that many people have made to their regret.  I’ve written about this tragedy before [] and this post is an upgrade of that one.

Sports aficionados among my readers will know that the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, a longer championship drought than that of any other major North American professional sports team.  Known as the "Loveable Losers," they've routinely disappointed their fans ever since.  When I say “disappointed” I mean “driven near to madness.”  The Cubs have often had promising seasons and then bizarre things go wrong, including a famous moment in 2003 when a fan leaned out from the stands and caught a ball that would have been an out sending the Cubs to the World Series.  For this infamous act he had to be escorted from the stadium under police protection [see]. 

Steve Bartman Catches a Ball and Becomes a Villain

The Cubs supposedly struggle under “the curse of the goat,” stemming from an incident in a World Series game being played at Wrigley Field in 1945 when a fan named Billy Sianis was ejected from the game because his pet goat was annoying others in the stands.  He supposedly sent a telegram to the Cubs’ owner stating “You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again. You are never going to win a World Series again because you insulted my goat.”  The truth of all this has been disputed, but the effectiveness of the curse has held.  I don’t believe in superstitions [see], but if others do they can have a depressing effect on morale.  Damn that goat!


In 2007 and 2008 the Cubs had wonderful baseball seasons (having the best record in all of baseball in 2007 as the regular season closed), but as soon as the playoffs started, the Cubs were immediately eliminated (sigh), in both cases in the first four games.  Those two seasons were too much for me—the Cubs had broken my heart too many times after I’d spent the spring and summer watching game after game.  I vowed to never view a game again until the Cubs had a winning record going, and that pledge has keep me Cubs-free for seven years.  But (another sigh) this year the Cubs have been doing very well, and so I’m back in front of my TV, learning the names of the new players on the 2015 team and watching them with the enthusiasm of old. 

This season the Cubs have filled their roster with very young athletes, talented both at the bat and on the field.  The pitching has been impressive, and the Cubs have one of the best records in major league baseball so far this season.  Their new coach is Joe Maddon, hired away at great expense from Tampa Bay where he was twice the American League Coach of the Year.  Last night I watched in delight as the Cubs won a game at Wrigley Field in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals, the team currently leading the Central Division of the National League.  My sleeping neighbors heard my cheer, not to mention my sports-challenged husband (who thinks I’m nuts).  I’m once again bedazzled by the game and my beloved Cubbies.

But deep in my inner-Douglas I dread what will likely happen just as it’s happened before.  The Cubs will build up my hopes and then in the fall leave me wallowing in a puddle of misery, crying in my martini while muttering a string of interesting vile words I first learned in my Navy days.  I know too well what Linus experiences in his pumpkin patch each year as he vainly waits for the Great Pumpkin to appear.

If you're a Cubs fan, people (even usually nice people) will make fun of you.  I sometimes play poker with a group of lawyers (most of them former students) and when baseball season rolls around, I steel myself for the inevitable Cubs jokes.  Being Ohioans, they mostly root for the Cincinnati Reds or the Cleveland Indians, hardly exemplars of baseball renown, and it's doubly depressing to have them snub the Cubs. 

A couple of years ago, Free Inquiry, the magazine of Secular Humanist Society, had an article in which one of the questions addressed was whether atheists should proselytize their lack of faith.  The author (with whom I disagree) decided the answer was no.  He ruefully concluded that some people should be “left with their illusions” undisturbed, like "entrepreneurs, lovers, and Chicago Cubs fans."  That hurt.

But as one baseball announcer commented during a recent game, maybe this will be the Cubbies’ year because “any team can have a bad century!”

That card goes well with Steve Goodman's "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request," which I didn't know about until fellow baseball fan and former student David Groshoff sent me the following.  The video of the song is terrific:

"Perhaps the life of the Cubs fan was best lyrically summed up in 1984 by two-time Grammy award winner and Cubs fan Steve Goodman, who wrote the tune only months before his untimely death to Leukemia (he also wrote "Good Morning America"/"City of New Orleans" among many "real" songs). Goodman was to have sung the national anthem before Game 1 of the Playoffs that year, but passed away a few days earlier, so Jimmy Buffet took Goodman's spot, and the "Go Cubs Go" that is played after every Cubs' win was written by Goodman as well:"

Related Posts:
“Put-Out at Home Plate,” February 14, 2010;  
 “Football Advice for Coach Jim Tressel,” October 23, 2010;
Basketball and Its Announcers,” March 6, 2011;
“Urban Meyer and the Christian Buckeye Football Team,” February 19, 2012;
“Update: Urban Meyer and the NON-Christian Buckeye Football Team,” August 24, 2012;
A Guide to the Best of My Blog, April 29, 2013;

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Joy of Writing This Blog

I had a heart transplant right before Thanksgiving in 2009 [see], and, as required by law whenever anyone has had such a life-altering experience, I promptly started a blog.  In the beginning I published two or more posts a week, but that was easy to do then because I had lots of topics at my disposal.  I’ve been given an interesting life (law professor, gay rights activist, former Catholic but now atheist, four long term relationships with both men and a woman (two of them marriages), father, owner of pets, novelist, tournament bridge player, and much more, and these things were the fodder for those posts.  But as the years went on I’ve mostly exhausted the stories from my earlier life and discussions of the philosophy by which I live, and the postings have trailed off in number quite a bit.  In recent years I’ve averaged two posts a month, the decline being not one of interest but of wanting to make sure that the posts weren’t fluff, or forced, or things not worth reading lest I lose my readers.  Fortunately life keeps feeding me topics (or my readers suggest them—after I posted a popular one about “How To Write an Effective Legal Threat Letter,”, a reader in a Comment begged for “How To Respond to a Legal Threat Letter,” so I complied,  The nightly news can send me to the computer with some new message buzzing around in my head: elections [], new acts of discrimination against gays [], etc.  But posts can also come from many sources such as getting married late in life [], publishing a new novel [] , sports [], and funny events in my life [].

The joy of writing this blog arises from a combination of things.  One of them is having a platform to vent about something that makes me furious—such as our politicians selling their souls for big money [], but there’s also a pleasure in explaining complicated things that I happen to understand: gay history, legal issues, or specials interests that I’ve had for years such as how the brain works []. There is also a satisfaction in recording stories about others that would fade away if not chronicled.  We all die and take with us (unless we’re famous and have biographers) not only our own stories but those of people we love.  I had two terrific parents, both fantastic: a father who could start life in a small Indiana town dreaming of being a lawyer, become a pilot in World War II, drop an atomic bomb in a test, go to law school late in life, become a prosecutor of the mafia in Dallas, and a mother who would leave southern Indiana to marry the man of her dreams and live all over the world, bowl the highest score (270, rolling seven strikes in a row) that a woman ever bowled in Japan to that date, and have one of the most evil senses of humor on the planet []. Many stories about them, other members of my family, and friends are preserved here forever.  As long as Google lasts this blog will go on, sort of an unofficial autobiography.
My Parents' Wedding Picture (1941)
One regret is that I cannot tell some of the best stories I know on this blog because they’d embarrass others or reveal things that are too personal to tell.  Damn.  There are some great stories—really fascinating ones—that will, alas, die with me.  But those of you who know me and understand all too well what stories I’m referring to, and who are now recoiling horror as you read this, relax. Tempting though it is to tell all, I’ll keep those stories locked away.

My greatest joy comes from my readers.  Every night I look through “Recent Visitor Activity” and am amazed that my blog has been visited by a hundred or more people in countries all over the world.  To see what I mean click on the “View My Stats” under the “STAT COUNTER” in the upper left, and when that next screen appears, click on “Recent Visitor Activity.”  It will reveal all of my visitors.  The stats only go back for the last 50,000 visitors of the 350,000 visitors I’ve had since the blog began in December of 2009, but they reflect the diversity of those who read my posts—(mostly from the United States, of course, but over 25% from other countries, for a total of 201 countries so far).
[Click To Enlarge]
I can’t tell who is reading my blog, but I can tell from what city, state, and country they visited, and what blog pages (though not specific posts) they’ve read.  The most popular posts concern legal issues: the need for someone foreclosing on a home to produce the original promissory note [ ], what happens if someone cashes a check tendered as “payment in full” [], and the above-mentioned legal threat letter posts.  I’m pleased to think I might have had some helpful advice for those facing foreclosures, or disputes with a creditor, and I have some future posts planned to help consumers understand their legal rights.  Embarrassingly, some of my most popular posts have to do with sexual topics, but I decline here to give you those links.

Let me confess that the visitors who most make me feel good about the blog are men and women struggling with the issue of being gay in a straight world and facing, some for the first time, the big issues such as: how do I know if I’m gay [], can I change  [], will my parents disown me [], what does the bible say [], where does homosexuality come from [], how many homosexuals are there [], etc.  Because often readers visit some of these same posts over and over, I flatter myself in hoping that these posts might bring some needed light into a room filled with dark and scary questions.

And, best for my ego, are visitors who come back time and again.  Since the beginning of my blog certain readers have apparently read everything, and I’m amazed by that.  Some readers stumble across my blog and then proceed, over a period of time, to read all the posts.  In the first year there was someone in (I’m not making this up) Borneo(!) who did this, then someone in England, and, following that, a number of others.  Most recently someone in Mountain View, California, has not only read all the posts, but keeps revisiting favorite ones over and over.  Whoever you are, I love you.

To all my readers, many thanks for taking time out of your busy lives to visit mine.  I’ve written many law books (seven are used to teach commercial law and related subjects to law students throughout the country), law review articles, two novels, and much else.  But nothing I’ve written (and perhaps nothing I’ve done) is as important as the posts I’ve put on this blog.  They are the summation of my life and, as I said above, will outlive me.  That’s a thrill.
A Guide to the Best of My Blog, April 29, 2013;