I think we’re through. We’re a called strike three. A dropped fly ball and a grounder through the legs. A blown save and a swept series. We’ve slumped and choked and landed in the cellar. We are the relationship equivalent of trading Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio. Sorry, Cubbies, but I’m breaking up with you.
Wait! There’s got to be something wrong here. I couldn’t have possibly written those words above. Not me. Not Mr. “This Is the Year!” Not Mr. “Wait Til Next Year!” Not Mr. “I Promise you Grandpa, I’ll Be a Cubs Fan Forever.” Could it be true?
Well, I’m not snapping out of it. The more I write, the more I mean it. I’ve been pushed over the edge of the left field wall and I ain’t clinging to the ivy no more. I’ve chased my last foul ball. I’ve bought my last Frosty Malt. The Chicago Cubs are definitely NOT on the air and my pencil and scorecard are definitely NOT ready for today’s lineup.
For 65 years I have passionately lived the Cubbie blue diehard life. I have hoped and rationalized and excused. I have supported and defended and even financed. And I was quite willing to continue this hopeless relationship until something momentously disturbing happened a few weeks ago that precipitated my historic faith-shattering epiphany.
You know how two things go together so well that they are inseparable? Like peanut butter and jelly. Simon and Garfunkel. Up and down. Me and Bobby McGee. Well, there was something that forever went with the Chicago Cubs. No, it wasn’t a broken heart and a $10 watered-down beer.
I’m talking about three little letters: WGN. Yep, for the past 90 years we Cubs fans have listened to them on WGN 720 radio. WGN and the Cubs. It was the anchor to our national pastime soul.
You see, when the Cubs collapsed in epic fashion in 1969, we still had WGN. When Steve Bartman deflected the foul ball in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in 2003, we still had WGN. Even when Carlos Marmol walked to the mound and we all knew what would happen next, we still had WGN. But not anymore. Starting next year, the Cubs will move to WBBM.
It’s not WGN’s fault. It’s the Cubs. Their decision. After having ripped our hearts out of our chests for over a century, they have now torn our transistor radios from our ears. And all indications say they are about to snatch WGN Channel 9 from our living room televisions as well. Sure, there will be another station, but it’s not the same. It’s the difference between a dear old friend and a stranger. Between a trusted old dog and a stray. Between bacon coming from a pig and from a turkey.
WGN was the sacred link that held tradition and futility together. Without this bond, we Cubs fans who have thrived on memories and clung to the very slightest of hopes no longer have WGN to hold our hand and tell us that everything will be OK. Because it won’t be. It never was and it never will be. We always knew that anyway, but at least we knew we weren’t alone. But now, without WGN, we Cubs fans will simply become lonely, isolated islands in the archipelago of a woefully failed baseball franchise.
So, that’s it. It’s official, Chicago Cubs, I’m breaking up with you. We’re over. Oh, and one more thing: It’s not me, it’s you.
Gosh, that felt good.
• Michael Penkava is a retired teacher who taught for 35 years at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake. Sorry, White Sox, but because of the trauma of his recent breakup, he is not ready for a serious baseball relationship at this time. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.