Monday, April 6, 2009

An Opening Day Manifesto (sort of)

Even though it was snowing here in Champaign-Urbana, (my Loop cohorts got 3-5 inches) there was something in the air today that let you know that today was different than last Monday. Ok wisecracks, yes, there was snow. However, there was a some kind of sensation that made you know there was baseball yesterday. It was in Philadelphia, where the defending champion Phillies dropped a game to the Braves, 4-1. Derek Lowe picthed 8 scoreless innings, which is awesome, because he's on my fantasy team.

As I always, I begin this baseball season wondering if the Cubs can do it. If you don't know what it means, pull up your favorite search engine and type in Cubs and World Series.

My excitement is tempered by last years postseason flop, even though the pundits are calling for the Cubs to claim the Central division for a third straight year. Other things have changed too. For the first time in 8 years, I'm don't live in Chicago for Opening Day. Champaign-Urbana is a hybrid of Cubs and Cardinal fans with some White Sox fans sprinkled in. Much to my dismay, no Kerry Wood on the Cubs for the first time in 11 years.

I also begin this season with one less person on my roster of Cub fans. My Nana, known to the government as Rosemary Dowling Boyle, passed away last June. When I lived in St. Louis, there wasn't a Chicago Tribune pre-season special section that wasn't shipped to me by her. As she got older and lost a lot of her mobility, she found comfort and enjopyment just sitting and watching the Cubs. She learned more about baseball after the age of 75 then I think a lot of people learn their whole lives. She would be soooo upset if she found out it was a day game and she missed it. Here are some of the great baseball Nanaisms from over the years.
  • She always impersonated Carlos Zambrano's point to the sky whenever she saw it on TV. And in the last game she attended, which Zambrano started.
  • "Oh hi Tim, are you watching the game?" "They played this afternoon Nana, you're watching a replay of the game." "I was wondering why it was so light! Well, don't tell me who wins . . ."
  • My brother overhearing Nana explaining what an RBI was to her Filipino caretaker. Marty has never been so proud.
  • "You know I actually saw Wood smile the other day . . ."
  • "Oh! Look at coach! " Usually when Pinella had a nasty snarl on his face.
  • Her trying to say Fukudome.
The Cubs have become very fashionable over the last couple years. And at times, it's irksome to go to a game and see people with Cubs beads and Prior shirts who don't know that Prior is gone, but the Cubs are so entrenched in my family roots, I can't tear myself away from them. I am watching them play the Astros right now and I can't believe I am rooting for Milton Bradley! But he's a Cub.

I know many of our loyal readers, despite your probable allegiances to the team from the Lou, have similar stories and similar feelings. Feel free to share them in the comments. I'm not going to read them, but I love when people comment on my posts. Its the only thing that gives me self-worth since they canceled Coach.

While I don't think the spike in bunting sales will bring back the economy, baseball being back is good for this country, but not good for my tendencies in putting off homework. Play Ball!


Marty said...

I'm going to have to say that the blame for the cancelling of Coach, Kerry Wood and Mark Derosa going to the Indians, and maybe even Nana dying, has to be put mainly on Wal Mart. I think that their "dumping" and shameless "Lost Leader" promotion has affected us all to the point where its impossible to go on as a baseball fan, a family member, a consumer, and a connoisseur of just plain old good television, all at once.

I'm pretty sure that Albert Pujols does not have a work visa and should be deported...But all of the Cubs' foreign players appear to have their papers in order...except for Fukudome, I'm pretty sure he's illegal...

...but I am happy to see baseball back on television, because it reminds me that the weather is turning, and then I walk outside and its 34 degrees, windy, and snowing...awesome..

I wonder what Dobber is doing these days...

kevin said...

great post - those are great stories.

my grandma watches every single televised game as well. i consider myself a baseball diehard, but i have to admit that she's watched more baseball in the last few years than i've watched my entire life.

for as much as she watches, i find it awesome and incredible that she doesn't know who johan santana is or any single person in the AL. she just worries about "our boys". and for as much as she roots for the cards and knows them all, she doesn't know if 40 HR is a lot or if 100 RBI was reached by albert or molina. she just wants us to win.

she also has a yearly 1 dollar bet with my bro in law that the cards will finish the year with the better record. i remember when that used to be easy money.

i'm very stoked for the new baseball season. my fantasy season was ruined yesterday by motte though. i'll get 'em next year i guess.

Marty said...

yeah Kevin, its funny, I remember that every year in the first couple of games we'd have to play the who are the new players, which ones do you remember, and which ones aren't new but weren't important enough for you to remember throughout the offseason, game with her...and then just to throw a wrench into the mix there'd always be some aqcuisition of an ex-cub like Steve Trachsel who'd she vaguely remember and have to learn all over again, just to forget...

She only knew the cubs, a few of the cardinals and white sox maybe, and of course Ryan Howard...and just when you thought she understood the game so well that there wasn't anything left to explain she'd ask something as simple as why a foul ball wasn't a home run?...because it did go into the stands, right? This, a week after I hear her explaining the technical meaning of a Run Batted In...who knows??

What I do know is baseball is back, and I cant wait to ditch my first day of work next Friday and see the first Cubs/Cards installment of the season...

Coovo said...

Yeah, Nana wasn't like an 85 year old Peter Gammons or anything. There would be things we'd explain and she'd be like "Well, you learn something new everyday." Yes, but you learned what a throw over to first was twice this month already.

I do have to disagree, to a certain extent, with the fact that she knew only Cubs and Cards. She had a knack for remembering unique statures. Richie Sexson, Cecil Fielder. She certainly knew Pujols. She spotted Jon Lieber as a former Cub with the Phillies. "You know him, he's got kind of a turkeyneck?"

What was the line she said about Prior?

Anyway, As I watched the Cubs-Astros game I wasn't as enthused as I thought I would be. It was definitely more memories of October than not being able to talk to Nana about an Opening Day W. Also, seeing Mark DeRosa in an Indians uniform earlier kind of set the stage for the day.

I did perk up a bit when I saw the Pirates highlights though.

Marty said...

i'm bored

Roller said...

I will never get bored of hearing Nana stores.

Tim, May 19 or 20 I'll meet you in your city to watch our teams clash. May the best Cardinal team win.