Editor's Note: Today we have a very special edition of Anarchist's Brunch. Adam's brother Sam, whom many of you know from his outstanding Blackhawks blog and program/newsletter, The Committed Indian.
I Know The Way So Don't You Run Away
by Sam Fels
I think the first thing to know about my brother and baseball is that Adam ditched school to be at the game in April of '83 that caused Lee Elia to famously blow up and give that diatribe (which gives you some idea of what kind of student he was). For me, that speech is about 10 times funnier when you picture it directed at a confused, 13-year-old Adam Fels who just wanted to spend a day at Wrigley. "What'd i do?!" Sometimes I feel like that experience colored Adam's entire view of Cubs and baseball. After all, being called a c*****cker and a mother****er at 13 by the Cubs manager can be awfully scarring.
Even though my day job is hockey, and Adam's the one responsible for that, our first love has always been the Cubs. Our Hawks' fandom wavered from time to time due to the team being awful or Bill Wirtz or a combination thereof. Maybe it was the proximity to Wrigley from where we grew up that it was ingrained. It was always a 20-minute walk away. We could see it from our parents' bedroom window, It seemingly was always calling to us.
When I was about 9 or 10, my parents left for five days one summer to Sante Fe for their 25th wedding anniversary. For some inexplicable, idiotic reason they left my brother in charge of me. I remember my mother's last words before she headed out the door was to tell Adam to make sure that I got to day camp on time. The door couldn't have been closed more than five seconds when I asked my brother if I really had to go to day camp. "Of course not, we're going to Wrigley the next two days."
I think about it now and it kind of amazes me. Here was a 19-year old or 20-year old being left on his own for five days, and instead of telling his pisshead little brother to stay in his room so he could go wild, his first priority was to take me to two straight Cubs-Mets games in the bleachers (they were still fun then) to get flipped off by Darryl Strawberry. I felt so renegade, so bad, here I was ditching my responsibilities to go watch baseball. I guess that was when my current attitude that led to me doing what I do now was first instilled. I was one of the cool kids, the one your classmates talked about in hushed tones because I ditched to go to a Cubs game with my older brother (whom my friends worshipped when I was that age).
Sidenote, we tried this same plan the next season, where my brother came to school this time to pick me up early one Friday because we were heading out on a "family vacation." The ruse fell apart when for the first and only time I can remember my parents left work early to pick me up from school, only to find I wasn't there. It was one of the hundreds of times my mother yelled at my brother while my father did his best to not laugh, knowing all the time it was exactly something he would have done if he'd thought of it first.
Pretty much all my memories of Adam are traced through the Cubs and Hawks. I remember him calling in '89 after the Giants had throttled the Cubs in the NLCS to make sure I wasn't crying (of course I fucking was). One Bears memory was before the NFC Championship game against the 49ers (supposedly "Bear Weather." My ass.). Before he left to go watch with some buddies, he made me promise I wouldn't cry if the Bears lost. I did. But 28-0 was too much for me to handle, and he came home to comfort me anyway. I remember calling him in 2003 and 2008 -- after the Harden trade -- telling each other we didn't think the Cubs would win the World Series. We KNEW they were. Whoops.
Even in the fallow years, and lord knows there's been enough of those, we were happiest watching the Cubs or at Wrigley. Or calling each other to bitch about the Brennamans. Or make fun of Cardinals fans (his disappointment when I briefly dated one was palpable). I remember sending my brother a text about three minutes after the Red Sox had won in 2004. All it said was, "One day..." He called the next day to yell at me about how sad that made him. I remember talking about a complete game Maddux shutout in L.A. in 2005 that was so beautiful we were both almost driven to tears (though he had the added bonus of listening to Vin Scully call it).
For as long as I can remember, all I wanted to be was my brother. The wit, the intelligence, the voice that you have come to love here at this blog, I've tried to emulate it pretty much everyday of my life. Sometimes I think I've got it, and then he would come up with some line or joke that I would never conceive of. Always giving me something to chase. Maybe one day I'll get there.
I can't tell you how much the emails you've sent, or the comments you left on his tribute post last Monday, have meant to me and how much they've helped get through what is an awful time. I'll forever be appreciative. As hard as it is though, I know what Adam would say to help get me through it. You do too.