Oh look, another hand me down from my big brother. Just like three-quarters of my wardrobe from the ages of 11 to 19. How joyous.
In all seriousness, I'm really chuffed that John asked me to keep the brunch in the family. While Adam could be as self-deprecating as anyone on Earth, he was pretty arrogant when it came to his writing (ask any of his coworkers at various ad agencies). Just about the only one he'd trust, with no offense meant to any of the great staff here at The Den, is me and even that's heavily questionable.
But it's good to be here. Some things you should know long term before we continue on this journey together. It's funny, but it used to be that I was the hotheaded one when it came to the Cubs, as little brothers tend to be. I couldn't see the big picture, couldn't always adapt to the rhythm and length of a baseball season, and it was my brother who talked me off the ledge. The past few years, that's kind of reversed. One of the things you guys loved was that Adam would still get upset about the Cubs' performance. I do at times too, but I've chilled out a lot. I guess I'm getting old. Or I'm dying inside. Or both.
Second, my music leanings, while quite similar, lean to the louder side. For instance, you'll get no Neko Case love letters here, because she bores the utter shit out of me. You've been warned.
Anyway, let's get to it, shall we? I also have to warn you that this is a little tough to type because I think I busted up my pinky finger last night playing drunken air hockey. This is also something you should be prepared for. The booze-induced injuries that is, I don't always play air hockey.
-So on Thursday, I experienced something for the first time. I went to a Cubs game by myself. It's not that I was opposed to it before, it had just never come up. This is my first season being a partial season ticket holder, and the date came up where no one I knew could blow off work to come see Jake Arrieta (which certainly means I need new friends). I'd broken down the movie-alone barrier years ago, and I've come to almost prefer going to the movies alone (no one to judge me after the bathtub of butter I put on my popcorn, though that's usually only my girlfriend. Such a prude when it comes to butter). And I loved it.
Sure, it didn't hurt that Arrieta shut down the Rockies something fierce, which is always enjoyable. I found myself more locked in to what was going on. When in attendance, sometimes it's hard to follow what's going on in an at-bat while you're talking with your friends, to see how a hitter is being worked and how they're trying to get him out. You might miss the bite of the breaking stuff, depending on your angle and focus. Or you might not notice the shifting of the defense or everything that goes on before every pitch.
But on Thursday I did. Arrieta's cutter/slider/whatever he dubs it this week was snapping and I wasn't missing it. The way he consistently jammed an admittedly unfortunate Rockies lineup was fascinating. I guess when your lips aren't moving, your other senses lock in a little better. Makes for a different baseball experience, let's say.
That doesn't mean I'll be attending every game alone now. Only rarely or when forced. And I'll have to point out that it's much tougher to ignore the inebriated, dumbass woman two rows behind you who never shuts up all game and then gets really upset that Emilio Bonifacio was traded. There's only such a level of zen I can get to, y'know? But I'm working on it.
-Is this the point where I make a music reference? Or rec? Ok, well in times of trouble I generally go with Led Zeppelin III and a lot of PJ Harvey. Blast "Man-Size" as loud as you can and you'll find the day is tackle-able.
-Oh, another thing you should know about me is that while my Cubs passion is paramount, my second team has always been the Oakland A's. That's been the case since I was about 12 years old. I'm sure it's not shocking that a team comprised of players and run in a punk rock sensibility would appeal to me. So this has been a pretty exciting season in that sense. Still can't escape the feeling it will all come crashing down against the Tigers in a deciding game though. Because of baseball's and its postseason's variance, I don't think a World Series ring should matter on how we judge Billy Beane. He's produced seven playoff teams, and an eight on the way, with perhaps the game's most hamstrung budget over that time. Only Brian Cashman can boast that, along with John Shuerholz, and they had much bigger advantages. And I'm enjoying this new phase of him basically turning into David Lee Roth and wanting everything. There's still room in baseball for putting your balls on the table, even amongst the analytics and search for inefficiencies.
-Premier League starts in two weeks. And I was being so productive on the weekends. Oh well. Hope there are some fellow Scousers amongst you!
-As excited as I am for that, I think I'm most excited for Eva Green in Sin City. That might alter my world view.
Til next time, kids.