In this, the final installment of a 3-part series (please take a few moments to read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven't already), Ryan Ferguson shares the story of his conversion to Cubs fandom and his hopes for the future.
But why, I hear you plead, do you now follow the Cubs and not the Red Sox? Why do you listen to Pat Hughes so much? Hell, why is your writing even featured on this website? To accurately describe that journey would take another 2,000-word article. Fortunately, I have one for you here.
But, in essence, my baseball allegiance was destroyed by betrayal; John Henry and Tom Werner's 2010 purchase of Liverpool FC, a rival to my beloved Tranmere, ended my affair with Boston and catalysed a descent into Dodgerdom and other nomadic humiliations. Such is the tribal nature of European soccer; rivalries often dictate lifestyles and choices. I couldn't bear even the merest relation to Liverpool Football Club; couldn't sleep knowing that, in buying Red Sox products, my money may trickle down and fund the rejuvenation of a team which I abhorred.
The end was nigh.
When Los Angeles, the team to which I gravitated as a knee-jerk substitute, was similarly transformed by the smiley spectre of Guggenheim capitalism, I lost an appetite for baseball. I couldn't relate to anything the Dodgers were aspiring to become. It all seemed so contrived and pretentious. So un-baseball-like. My heart simply wasn't in it.
I finally came to my senses last July, realising that the reckless transience of executive America needn't steal my love for its finest game. Who are John W Henry and Stan Kasten to tamper with my baseball appreciation? This sport is bigger than them, and I set out on a path to prove it. After pondering an elaborate spreadsheet which would rank each Major League franchise in important categories such as ballpark, uniforms, cities and personnel before spitting-out an ideal suitor for my eternal fandom, I realised that only one team could provide a satisfactory match.
The Chicago Cubs were the answer to my prayers.
My natural affection for Chicago, a true jewel of America, helped as a starting point, as did my core knowledge of this fabled team, its deep tradition and perennial struggle. I love Wrigley Field and recall with rare fondness those barmy days when D-Lee and Aramis and Big Z were wreaking havoc at the corner of Clark & Addison. When the Cubs are going good, it's enough to warm the heart of even the coldest baseball fan. I'm glad to finally be part of it all, rather than a passive bystander.
My first year as a Cubs fan has been a very humane experience. I've regularly watched baseball which is so bad as to defy comprehension. I've dreamed and hoped and laughed and worried. I've enjoyed the ride. No matter how awful Julio Borbon was, or how awful Nate Schierholtz is, being a Cubs fan feels right! It feels natural to me. Sure, I've a long way to travel before acceptance into the cult, but I'm committed to getting there. Again, I'm reading and writing about this wonderful game; learning about a different organisation with a different destiny. I'm fixated with baseball once more.
I could hardly have picked a more difficult time to begin following the Cubs. At the Major
League level, this team is often comically-inept. But, again, we see the resplendent brilliance of baseball on radio: it's altogether easier to listen rather than watch as this team teases, tortures and torments at every turn. It takes the edge off every gruesome Junior Lake strikeout; softens the blow of every towering home run from Matt Holliday; fills time between defeats. In general, Pat & Ron enable the season to skip along, rather than grind distressingly to a sad conclusion.
One day, I hope we share a happy ending. I, like you, dream of seeing the Cubs win a World Series. But should this addled ballclub get within three outs of winning it all, I'll collect my coat, attach an earphone, and walk out the door. I'll walk away the anxiety listening to WGN on the streets, along the beaches, and through the woods of Great Britain.
For this stress-busting reason alone, I implore you to embrace radio. I understand that we live in a complex age where apps and gadgets and social networks fight endlessly for our attention. I know that the NFL is king, catering to a super-charged, eat-your-lunch-at-your-desk generation of robots. I appreciate the convenience of television. But please, just make an extra effort to respect the institution that is radio baseball. How about designating one game per week which you'll listen to rather than watch? Why not finish that yardwork, paint that room, tidy that house to an accompanying soundtrack of baseball?
Just try it.
I guarantee you'll enjoy every minute.
Follow me on Twitter: @PrentoniaPSV
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