Friday, October 16, 2015
Meet the Mets
Starting Saturday, my Cubs are gonna begin taking an up close and personal look at the New York Mets. As a lifelong Cub fan of a certain age, I can tell you that this series is positively BIBLICAL.
Because of 1969.
The 1969 Cubs are THE Cubs team. These are the players of lore, the ones whose numbers are retired, whose statues surround Wrigley Field. Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins. (And Glen Beckert, Don Kessinger, Randy Hundley and Kenny Holtzman, who pitched a no-hitter ... not that I'm a Cub geek or anything.) They were in first place from Opening Day, and come August they were 75-44.
Then they folded.
They lost 17 of their last 25 games and finished in second place. To the METS. The team that went on to win the World Series. The one that should have been ours.
I remember all this so clearly. When you're a kid, time moves differently and summers seem to last forever. All summer long, the Cubs won. Riding my bike up and down the street, I could hear the games coming through the screen doors and car radios. My guys were invincible. All they did was win. It was a way of life.
Then school started, and the world changed. I got home from school before 4:00 to see the end of each game (the Cubs still played only day games at home back then) and what the hey? Night games on the road were worse because my dad was home. Sitting in his recliner, smoking cigarette after cigarette, looking first tense and then defeated, right along with his team.
It was awful. Like attending the same wake day after day.
And now, Saturday night, it's the Cubs again on a tear and the team standing between them and the World Series is the Mets.
My dad is in heaven, watching.
They've got to win this for him.