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Praying for the Cubs

Friday, April 21, 2017

Meet Pablo Garcia, the biggest Cubs fan in Albuquerque

Posted By on 04.21.17 at 03:30 PM

Homer and Marge at Isotopes Field in Albuquerque - COURTESY ALBUQUERQUE ISOTOPES
  • courtesy Albuquerque Isotopes
  • Homer and Marge at Isotopes Field in Albuquerque

According to all the travel guides, the charms of Albuquerque pale next to those of Santa Fe and the many little mountain towns of northern New Mexico. Though Albuquerque has views of the mountains and pockets of quaint pink adobe architecture, the town itself exists for the people who live there, not for tourists, and it looks that way. Still, I maintain there is something incredibly endearing about a city that has named its minor-league baseball team after an episode of The Simpsons—the one where Homer threatens a hunger strike when the Springfield Isotopes prepare to move to Albuquerque—and has statues of Homer, Marge, Bart, and Lisa inside its ballpark. (It's also endearing that there's a personal injury lawyer who has turned his ad campaign into a tribute to Better Call Saul. His slogan is "Hurt? Call Bert.")

So naturally when my boyfriend, Jeff, and I were in Albuquerque last week, we had to go visit. Unfortunately, the Isotopes were out of town and the ballpark was closed. We stood around admiring the field through the first-base gate and trying to figure out what to do next when a woman standing at the ticket counter yelled over something scornful about Jeff's Cubs World Series T-shirt. We yelled back about how it's not bragging to celebrate something that happens once every 108 years, and a conversation ensued.

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Friday, November 4, 2016

The Cubs' World Series win was inevitable

Posted By on 11.04.16 at 04:18 PM

The Cubs celebrate after the last out Wednesday night. - ELSA/GETTY IMAGES
  • Elsa/Getty Images
  • The Cubs celebrate after the last out Wednesday night.

If there's one thing we've learned in this title town of ours, with 12 major championships since the Bears last won the Super Bowl 30 years ago, it's that, in hindsight, victory always seem inevitable. Of course Scottie Pippen is going to lead a bunch of scrubs to start a comeback from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter; of course Michael Jordan is going to push off, just a smidge, and hit a game-winning basket at the buzzer; of course A.J. Pierzynski is going to steal first base and trigger a rally and the White Sox's starting pitchers are going to throw four straight complete games and Paul Konerko is going to hit a grand slam and Juan Uribe is going to make a catch diving into the stands; of course the Blackhawks are going to rally from a 3-1 deficit in games against the Detroit Red Wings, and of course Patrick Kane is going to bury a disappearing puck in the net in overtime. Of course: it had to happen.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Cubs’ World Series magic temporarily transformed Wrigleyville from hellhole to happy place

Posted By on 11.03.16 at 04:48 PM

The people of Wrigleyville almost felt like one big happy family during the World Series. - MATT MARTON
  • Matt Marton
  • The people of Wrigleyville almost felt like one big happy family during the World Series.

While strolling south on Clark Street, I stopped momentarily to peer into the window of one of the neighborhood's sports bars to see what baseball feat had prompted a deep roar from the thousands packed into Wrigleyville on Wednesday night.

I stood shoulder to shoulder with a pair of Chicago cops clad in yellow vests who were doing the same—craning their necks to see a TV inside replaying the Cubs' Javier Baez hitting a home run. The officer on my right, a fortysomething woman with a gruff Chicago accent, nodded her head toward me: "You seein' this? Unbelievable, right?"

"Unreal," I replied. "Are we dreaming?"

"If it is, I don't want to wake up," said the officer on my left, a burly Latino man with a laugh that made his bushy mustache quiver.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Scatter my ashes at Wrigley Field

Posted By on 10.24.16 at 12:55 PM

The iconic ivy beckons at Wrigley Field. - CHARLES REX ARBOGAST
  • Charles Rex Arbogast
  • The iconic ivy beckons at Wrigley Field.

If Saturday night's baseball game had been an ordinary game, we might have said it was settled in the first inning, when a double, a single, and a dropped fly ball put the Cubs up 2-0 against the Dodgers, and the pitcher who'd shut them out the last time, Clayton Kershaw. Already the Cubs had one more run than they'd need.

But this wasn't a game, it was a quest, and it began in 1945; that's the last time the Cubs won a pennant, and not many people around then are alive now. Or it began in 1908, the last time the Cubs won a World Series. That team's fans have all left the earth, along with most people who even remember them.

Failure so enduring isn't easily dispelled by good fortune. The Cubs scored again and then again, and I felt a threshold was crossed with the fourth run. It's the one that diminished the haunting precedent of the sixth game of the 2003 NL Championship Series, when the Cubs were sailing along with a 3-0 lead and had their ace on the mound, but disaster struck and the Cubs lost 8-3. (And the next night they lost the seventh game.) As the last few LA batters took their cuts, and the TV cameras scanned the stands, the score by now 5-0, some Cubs fans sobbed but others looked braced and fearful. But suddenly the game was over, ended not by disaster but by a double play.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cubs fans should enjoy the postseason misery

Posted By on 10.20.16 at 04:18 PM

Javier Baez strikes out during the Cubs' loss to the Dodgers on October 18. - HARRY HOW/GETTY
  • Harry How/Getty
  • Javier Baez strikes out during the Cubs' loss to the Dodgers on October 18.

On Wednesday at this time, I posted a message on Facebook I called "an open letter to Cubs fans from a St. Louis fan." A lot of people liked it, and I think that's because my message, boiled down to its essence, was I feel your pain.

My God, what pain there was to feel! The Cubs had just been shut out two games in a row. They trailed the Dodgers two games to one in the National League Championship Series. Is this how the magical 2016 season was going to end—as just another memorable disaster?

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Monday, October 17, 2016

A Hasidic rabbi outside Wrigley Field teaches Cubs fans how to bless their team

Posted By on 10.17.16 at 07:49 PM

Rabbi Dovid Kotlarsky and Cubs fans in Wrigleyville - COURTESY DOVID KOTLARSKY
  • courtesy Dovid Kotlarsky
  • Rabbi Dovid Kotlarsky and Cubs fans in Wrigleyville

The 2003 National League Championship Series coincided with the weeklong Jewish festival of Sukkot. During that week, Rabbi Boruch Hertz, an emissary of the Lubavitch Chabad, built a sukkah across the street from Wrigley Field and encouraged everyone, but especially Jews, to come in and pray with him.

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Street preacher Steve the Rebuker calls for Cubs fans to repent

Posted By on 10.17.16 at 07:16 PM

Outside Wrigley Field, a van driven by an acquaintance of Steve the Rebuker evangelized before game two of the NLCS. - AIMEE LEVITT
  • Aimee Levitt
  • Outside Wrigley Field, a van driven by an acquaintance of Steve the Rebuker evangelized before game two of the NLCS.

The crowd started gathering around Wrigley Field midafternoon on Sunday, approximately four hours before the Cubs were scheduled to face off against the Dodgers in game two of the National League Championship Series. And on the corner of Addison and Sheffield, amid the stream of fans, vendors, drinkers, gawkers, and wanderers all clad in blue, stood one lone stout, white-haired figure in red with a hands-free microphone over his ear and Bible in his back pocket.

His name, he said, was Steve the Rebuker. He rooted for neither the Cubs nor the Dodgers. "I'm on Team Jesus Christ," he said, though when pressed, he allowed that he is nominally a Baptist. His mission was to preach the word of God to people. There were a lot of people outside Wrigley Field.   

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