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A Story 71 Years In The Telling

October 24, 2016

1945 – The world was just exiting the horrors of World War Two. The Baby Boom generation was about to be born. Gas was $0.15 per gallon. And it was the last time the Chicago Cubs baseball team went to the World Series. 

They lost. 

But, then, that’s a theme with the Cubs. In fact, no team in history has made as much of a tradition out of losing as the Chicago Cubs. 

2016 – We are entering our second decade of the War on Terror, with troops in the Middle East and attacks at home and abroad. Everyone is worried about the Millenial generation entering the workforce. Gas is $2.35 per gallon. And the Chicago Cubs are headed back to the World Series. 

I came to become a baseball fan late in life. My dad used to make the drive from Olympia, WA up to Seattle to take me to games when I was a kid. Looking back, it was an odd thing for him to do. The Kingdome, despite an audacious name, was a terrible stadium. It was a dual-purpose stadium, home to both the Seattle Seahawks football team and the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Neither one of which was very good in the early 1980s. The stadium wasn’t very good either, especially for baseball. The sight lines were terrible. Some seats had no view of the right fielder, even when he wasn’t trying to dig a double out of the corner. My dad was both afraid of heights and claustrophobic. The Kingdome, ironically made him feel both at the same time. But, he wanted to attend baseball games with his son.

Later, I moved to Chicago for a couple of years. I lived not too far from Comisky Park, the home of the South-side Chicago White Sox, although I never attended a game. I did go to a Cubs game and when they made their run in 1984, I was one of those who suddenly discovered a love of this ancient game. . .They lost in 1984, and I went back to ignoring baseball. 

It wasn’t until I moved back to Seattle in the 1990s that I really caught baseball fever. Those were the glory years for Mariners fans. Griffey, the only Mariners player in the Hall of Fame was hitting home runs out of a beautiful brand-new Safeco Field. Alex Rodriguez, was a hot young shortstop, as opposed to the jerk he became later in his career. Joey, Jay, Randy, Dan-the-man. Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Niehaus was yelling for Grandma to get out the rye bread and mustard because it was “grand salami” time! I fell in love with this game and I fell hard. 

I’m one of those annoying fans who loves to talk about the game and the game around the game. For example, I can tell you that the 2001 Seattle Mariners hold the American League record for the most wins in a season at 116. That is the exact same number of wins as the National League champions hold. However, the National League record was set in 1906 when the season was 152 games long. Today’s season is 162 games long. So, you could say the NL record is actually a more impressive record than the Mariners’ mark. I could also tell you that neither the 2001 Seattle Mariners, nor the 1906 champions won the World Series that year. 

The 1906 team that holds the tie-record for most wins in a season and holds the record for highest winning percentage in a season at .763 but didn’t win the World Series? The Chicago Cubs. 

Saturday night, the Cubs, playing in Wrigley Field, the oldest stadium in baseball, at 102 years old, beat the Los Angles Dodgers. The last time the Cubs went to the Series, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn. The Cubs will play the Cleveland Indians in the best of seven, Fall Classic this year. The Indians have their own run of bad luck they are trying to break. They haven’t won a World Series since 1948. But, while the Cubs haven’t been to the Championship series since 1945, you have to go all the way back to 1908 to find the last time the Cubs were World Champs. 

Any team can have a bad century.

– Famous Cubs announcer Jack Brickhouse

There is lots of history that goes into any baseball game. Every time two teams take the field you might see something you’ve never seen before. Records seem to be made up on the spot.

This is baseball. We count everything.

– Kevin Costner in “For Love Of The Game”

So, Tuesday night, history will be made in Cleveland, as two teams who haven’t won a championship in a combined 166 years, line up to play a boy’s game. I’ll be glued to my 21st Century version of the old transistor radio; streaming the game online. 

I’m rooting for the Cubs, but as a Mariners fan, I should point out that since the team’s founding in 1977, the Mariners have never attended the World Series. So, while the Cubs and Indians haven’t won in decades, the Mariners haven’t even ever been. 

There’s always next year. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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