At the risk of sounding just like every crusty old misanthrope I so often rail against, the game of baseball just isn't what it used to be. MLB has adopted rules to allow instant replay and forbid home plate collisions and innocent drugs like amphetamines* have long since given way to the scourge of HGH.
The inevitable march of time goes on for the Cubs at least as much as it does for teams like the Texas Rangers, who have resorted to selling Russell Wilson jerseys, and shirseys, in their team shops.
On the surface, this seems relatively innocuous. But then you read that they’re going to sell some “Seahawk green” apparel as well. Yes, the same Seattle Seahawks that share a hometown with the Rangers’ division rival Mariners. This probably doesn’t bother me as much as it does Joe Diffie, but I still find it off-putting.
The Cubs would never stoop so low as to leverage cross-over jerseys in a blatant cash-grab though. No, they’re sticking with throwbacks; 10 different styles, to be exact. Oh, and a giant video board in left, more signage in right, a hotel, and more retail space. But hey, at least none of it’s in Bengals colors.
I can’t help but think that Ahmad had it right:
“Back in the day when I was young, I’m not a kid anymore. But some days I sit and wish I was a kid again.”
Back in the day when I was young and watching the Cubs on WGN every afternoon, the only Rerun we knew about was on the ubiquitous episodes of “What’s Happening Now!!” that would sandwich the game.
In addition to Raj and Co., there were regaled with the canned cheese of Happy Days, The Facts of Life, Silver Spoons, and Diff’rent Strokes. Everybody’s got a special kind of story, everybody finds a way to shine. I took the good, I took the bad, I took ‘em both and there I had: the Cubs.
So there we’d sit, my brother and me, on the floor in our Granpap’s living room, munching entire boxes of saltine crackers and sucking down Pepsi and Choc-ola. It didn’t take him long to realize that putting a towel down was a good idea.
I don’t even know what’s on WGN-TV for the other 20 hours not taken up by The Lead-off Man, the game, and The 10th Inning anymore. Wait, I know they still have the Midday News with the omniscient Tom Skilling manipulating the weather.
I wish I could find the image, but I seem to remember a promo for Skilling’s forecast that featured him hunched over a globe, indicating that he did, indeed, have control over the forces of nature. If that’s indeed the case: screw you, Tom, this winter sucks!
But once the weather starts to cooperate once again, the games will begin. There will be more of them at night; well, just having night games at all is a change from the days of my youth. I’m still watching. I’ve traded the living room TV for my PC at work for the day games though (shhh, don’t tell The Man).
There was a time when one of the local AM sports stations here carried the Cubs night games too, which made my commute home after a closing shift much more tolerable. Even so, I’d usually find myself tuning to 720AM. I’d love to say that it was out of some nostalgic sense of duty, but it was really just because it came in better.
Ain’t that somethin’, huh? I got a stronger signal from 180 miles away than I did from 10. Jake Query and Derek Schultz weren’t there at the time either, so I can’t find a way to blame their outrageous salaries for usurping 1260’s power.
It didn’t matter much anyway, as WNDE stopped carrying the Cubs after that season. Oh, also, I got a new job and no longer had a commute that was either late or long enough for night games.
But even when I was listening, it wasn’t quite the same as when my dad would turn the radio up when “Go, Cubs, Go!” came on. Of course, that was also when the song was still new too. But every once in a while, you get confirmation that you can go home again.
As I pulled up to a convenience store the other day, I saw this sign:
“Choc-ola Sold Here!”
Sure, WGN and Old Style might not be around much longer and there might be a few thousand square feet of commercialism in the outfield. But it’s still the Cubs.
And I can still eat crackers and drink Choc-ola while I watch. I can even sing along with Steve Goodman, albeit far less often than I’d like. Maybe change isn’t such a bad thing.
*Tongue firmly in cheek here, just in case the sarcasm didn't come through; I might be in the minority here, but I think it's a little hypocritical for guys who popped greenies like candy to decry the use of PEDs today.
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