20040719

A Cubs Fan in Houston

Last week, Houston became a hub for baseball as the game's big leaguers hit town for the Major League All-Star Game. Local sport fanatics transformed from Astros fans to fans of The Game, at least for the week's festivities. In fact, Houston baseball fans were so generous they refrained from boos even after Miguel Tejada beat Lance Berkman in the Home Run Derby.

So with that in mind, I can think of no better time to confess that I am a Chicago Cubs fan. Houston, calm down. I realize that it doesn't make sense, but allow me to explain.

It was the early 1980s and I was just discovering professional baseball. My best friend, Clay, was a fan of Nolan Ryan and thus an Houston Astros fan. I didn't know who Nolan Ryan was much less who he played for. All I knew was the Astros were in Texas along with the Dallas Cowboys, the regional rivals of my New Orleans Saints.

Those Astros were evil since they were based in the same state as the Cowboys. Only later would I realize that Dallas in general was the root of all evil, not the whole state of Texas. However, it would be too late to salvage that 'Stros fandom.

Shortly after explaining to Clay that the Astros were evil by mere association, cable television arrived in Baton Rouge--and I was saved! Not only did this latch key kid now have thirteen channels of broadcasts to explore, but I discovered 'da Cubs.

Let's flashback, Wayne's World style.

I convinced my mom to let me stay home instead of KinderCare imprisoned with the rest of those elementary school refugees. "Don't leave the house," and "Keep this door locked until I get home," my mom warned.

What was I supposed to do?

Watch the superstations: ChiPs on WTBS,then flip to the Cubs on WGN.

I watched the Braves on WTBS, but that didn't work for me. Everything on WTBS started at five after the hour. Ted Turner is such a genius. Although I'm uncertain whether the five after rule was a better idea than marrying Jane Fonda.

Besides that five minute debacle, the Cubs had the late, great Harry Caray on the mic. Those Braves never had a chance. Harry Caray and the Cubs of the mid-80s were easy to like. The banter between Caray and his partner, Steve Stone, was classic. Show me a person that didn't think Harry Caray's "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was entertaining. I'll show you someone that should visit McCarthy's Committee on Un-American Activities.

Those days were much better than today's carousel of no-talent yahoos cycling through the Press Box during the seventh inning stretch. Sure, Caray was very entertaining, but the Cubs of the early 80's weren't half bad either. They won the division in 1984. The line-up was formidable: Leon Durham, Ron Cey, Jody Davis, Andre Dawson, Shawon Dunston and Ryne Sandberg, the original #23 from Chicago.

That was back in the 80s. You were living in Louisiana and didn't know any better. Why aren't you an Astros fan now after having lived here for six years?

Great question. I'm not really sure.

Maybe it is because I like being a pain in the butt, which my mom will substantiate. I tried being an Astros fan during spring training. But, who can give up on twenty-two years of being a Cubs fan just like that?

I'd fight my fleeting allegiance to the Houston Astros by renewing my vows to Ernie Banks and the Cubs with a trip to Wrigley Field. I even bought a new Cubs hat.

When my roommate, Bartley, converted to the Astros in 1999, I told him that I liked the Astros. They're the home town team, and they're not half bad--if you don't count getting swept by the Cubs during their four game home stand.

The Astros are a star-laden (Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman, Clemens, Pettite, Beltran) franchise with potential to stay ahead of the Pittsburg Pirates. Even my Chicago friends agree that the Astros are a great team. My buddy, Mr. T (not the A-Team guy),who lives in a building behind Wrigley Field, said he cheers for the Astros whenever they weren't playing the Cubs. That's my stance too.

That is if it is not during Wild Card time.

I will be a Cubs fan forever or at least until I am the Mayor of Houston or I buy the Astros. Now if the Cubs or the Astros could just beat the St. Louis Cardinals all would be right in the world.

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This was originally posted on TheBackWord.com, a Texas-centric eZine that has gone the way of the jackalope.

1 comment:

Lil Sass said...

JB, I don't know if I could love you more. I mean, considering our short existence as friends, I have professed my love for you quite possibly as much as I do my own father. That being said, my love for you is for good reason. But now this? THIS? I FUCKING HUMP THE CUBBIES!!! Yes, I grew up a DIE HARD Giants fan and will always be, however .... I moved to Chicago at a very "coming of age" time for me AND it was during the Sosa/McGwire homerun derby. I mean, it was a baseball fan's wet dream! My first step into Wrigley made my palms sweaty, my heart skip a beat, my eyes pop like a gecko. It's heaven on earth and my boy Harry was still with us. Brats, Olde Style beer, Charle Chan's mai tai... there's nothing better in life. Truly. You loving the Cubs is amazing. I'm creaming in my jeans