Sunday, October 23, 2016

Off-Speed – Random Thoughts On Baseball, Loyalty And Nostalgia

I don’t spend much time on sports.  My weakness is baseball. All the years I lived in Indianapolis, probably because I could get WGN on TV, I became a Cubs fan. Frustrated not only by their failures, but also by the owners willingness to sell off some of their best players as the team began to threaten to break from their bad reputation. This was a team that had Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, Andre Dawson and such star pitchers as Greg Maddox and the infuriating Rick Sutcliffe, who had the pitching pace of a turtle. They also had the incredible Lee Smith as a closer.
Lee Smith

I liked the Cubs enough to make them a staple in my Shanahan mystery series. They were constantly on TV at Delaney’s bar on Tenth Street in Indianapolis and continued to dominate the place when Shanahan’s pal, Harry bought the bar. Shanahan often sat at the bar with a bottle of “The Champagne of Bottled Beer” and a shot of J.W. Dant Bourbon with crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd in the background. I watched a lot of games too.

I have to confess that I lost touch with Cubs, mostly because I moved to San Francisco and got caught up with Giants, but also the Cubs weren’t the Cubs I knew anyway. I hate the lack of loyalty, or perhaps continuity, when players don’t play out their career with one team.  One thinks of Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, Stan Musial and Ted Williams. I could never come to terms with Greg Maddox playing for Atlanta.

Ryne Sandberg
This year I rooted for the Giants when they were the wild card and were pitted against the Cubs. But now that this is decided, it’s time to make a nostalgic move and root for the Cubs in the World Series. Maybe I’ll haul out my first Shanahan book, TheStone Veil, published in 1989, when the Cubs also had a great team, but just couldn’t pull it all together.

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