Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Chicago Cubs Brighten Things in Illinois
As a 1939 plaque holder that signified my being a Die Hard Cub Fan Club, I spent 76 years waiting for this moment. I rarely watched the "wait till next year" Cubs. Yes, I admit giving up after 60 or so years. Even though in 1994 I had a game winning hit as I played a week with Ron Santo and Randy Hundley and 50 some other trying to regain a litlle of our youthful days, at the old HoHokum Stadium in Mesa. I sometimes watched the Cubs on TV while I read a book with the TV on mute. With the addition of some new players and a new manager, I still picked the Cubs as a third place team and blogged that many of the fans who paid to attend the games had nothing better to do. However, sometime in July, I noted some major changes in the whole organization. I began to be one of those people who had nothing better to do and began to watch more games with the volume turned on. The whole organization was coming to life. Now, I'm not going to act like a jump on a winning bandwagon blogger. I actually began to enjoy the watching the Cubs and as the season progressed, I saw how Manager Joe Maddon, his entire staff and the front office, had a team that not only played and showed a lot of enthusiasm but was actually extremely talented. More important than raw talent is the ability to use that talent while under pressure to replace the Yankees of another era and Reggie as the "boys of October". While the Cubs were playing some of the best baseball I have ever witnessed, with Castro joining in the fun finally, while Pittsburgh and St. Louis looked more like the Cubs of Ramirez, Soriano and a bunch of names I've already forgotten. Last year, there were more Cardinal fans in Peoria than Cub fans. Now everyone, even those who don't pay much attention are enjoying something positive in a State besieged with financial problems and disunity. I would be writing this column even if the Cubs lost today. They are the one thing that is playing in Illinois and right now baseball is more popular than football. This series almost made me forget the horrendous condition of the streets of Peoria, the financial deficits of perhaps all the public bodies in Peoria and helps me to try to understand why so much money is being spent on sidewalks and driveways along Mt. Hawley Rd. while winter is fast approaching with $40 million or so still needed to bring our streets up to 75% of normal. Political pressure or a government mandate that the money had to be spent where it was originally budgeted, a condition I tried to help change when I had a rare chance to visit with Durbin and LaHood in D.C. I love the calm enthusiasm and brilliance of Manager Maddon and way he uses his entire squad like a very talented orchestra conductor. What was the play that perhaps was more important than Rizzi's home run? The throw Jackson made to cut off the Cardinal lead run. As a long time athletic performer, coach and manager, I know there is much more pressure put on hitters and pitchers when playing catch up. Still, the whole organization, won this magnificent trip to the World Series. No paragraphs again for which I apologize. With very few changes, the Cubs could become the Yankees of my younger days. Over pay Maddon but keep him forever.