Tag Archives: baseball

The Day After

Like a visitor on an alien planet, I observed Chicagoland residents with keen interest today.

Who are these “Cubs fans”? What is the meaning of this white flag with a blue W? What does it mean, to reverse a curse?

The Chicago Cubs, of course, won the World Series last in a wild Game 7 that went 10 innings and included a rain delay. It was awesome! (I told you it would be.) I was awake at 11:45 when the last out was secured.

I thought I was weird. I’m a Twins fan, after all. And a woman. And who watches baseball nowadays with its relative lack of violence and obscure concepts like double switches and designated hitters?

But as I sat around a table this morning with eight other middle-aged women and a (lucky) man at a cafe known for its brunches, I asked who else stayed up till midnight last night. Every hand went up. Every. Single. One. And then we all toasted the Cubs with glasses of champagne. No kidding. It wasn’t sparkling apple juice, some pretender stuff. One of those middle-aged women brought a bottle of real champagne to our meeting. Because the Cubs winning a baseball game — The Baseball Game — was That Important. That noteworthy.

On the way there, a car ahead of me on the interstate had a license plate that read “CUBEES.” The plate hung on the bumper of a sporty model that probably isn’t normally driven this time of year. But it was driven today.

I stopped at a superstore on the way. Every other person there, bright and early, was wearing Cubbies blue T-shirt. Or sweatshirt. Or a Cubs hat.

In the afternoon, on my way home, I stopped for coffee with a friend who lives a normal, quiet suburban life. Playing on the TV in the restaurant? A recording of last night’s game. The friend? She (yes, SHE) stayed up until 3 a.m. after the game, standing in line and buying World Series merchandise at Dick’s.

What I thought would happen didn’t. There were no riots. No cars overturned and burned. No crazies causing headline-making mayhem. I didn’t even hear anyone trash-talking the poor, poor unfortunate Indians. No zombies. Instead, there was cheering and champagne. There were fireworks, yes (I heard them at midnight, even in my little suburban village, far from Wrigleyville). And there were tears. Oh, the dewy eyes of dreams come true.

What I didn’t expect was the disbelieving gratitude of baseball fans who had never seen their team become champions and who finally let go of the superstitions they held close to ward off disappointment. They finally witnessed the team win it all. For themselves, of course. But also for generations of others who weren’t so lucky.

The day wasn’t filled with belligerence or arrogance or vitriol. It was filled with joy. Pure, blissful joy.

And it was a delight to behold.

There’s almost nothing like a Game 7 in the World Series

Oh. My. God.

Not only are the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, but they’re playing Game 7 of the World Series. Just when fans thought all was lost, they won Games 5 and 6 against the Cleveland Indians to force a Game 7.

True baseball fans love Game 7s. If nothing else, they stave off the boredom of winter for a least a few days. Who wants to watch a sweep except the victors? They’re boring for everyone else.

But Game 7 in the World Series? It’s like making love in slow motion. The post-season is weeks of build-up. The first six games of the World Series are filled with moments of drama and intensity. Game 7 is three hours of pure excitement. And that last out? If it goes in your favor, it’s a sense of relief and elation like no other.

And even if you lose Game 7, you know you put up a good fight.

There has only been 36 other Game 7s in World Series history.

The Cubs and Indians have played only one other Game 7, and they both lost. For the Cubs, it was in 1945, the last time they played in the Fall Classic, and they lost 9-3 to the Detroit Tigers. For the Indians, they lost 3-2 to the Marlins in 1997; it was the Indians’ last appearance in the Series, too.

That means one team will not only win the World Series tonight, they will vanquish their Game 7 sorrows.

Of the 37 Game 7s including tonight’s, 18 have occurred in my lifetime. Four of them go down in my memory banks as mind-blowing.

  • 1987: No Twins fan worth her salt would ever forget this one. I was a college student at the time, and there’s no better excuse to skip class than to watch the games at a downtown bar the night before get a little tipsy. It was the first World Series Championship for the Twins when the Twinkies beat the Cardinals 4-2 in Game 7.
  • 1991: Easily one of the best baseball games in history, the Twins beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 in 10 innings when Jack Morris went the distance. Now, in an era of pitcher specialists — long relievers and middle relievers and closers — Morris’ accomplishment is a feat we probably won’t see again. I was living in Ohio at the time so I enjoyed having the right to gloat among Cincinnati Reds fans.
  • 1997: I watched this game with great interest, but I wasn’t rooting for the Indians then either. I spent the entire series on a road trip using up vacation time before taking a new job, and I watched every game over a plate of nachos in a different bar. It was an awesome way to make vacation last longer. And it was the Marlins first championship, so it was particularly sweet.
  • 2001: I was a fan of the Big Unit (pitcher Randy Johnson) when he played for the Seattle Mariners and manager Lou Pinella so therefore I was a fan of the Arizona Diamondbacks when he was traded there. To watch pitcher Curt Shilling with his bloody heal start his third game of the series and then to watch Johnson, normally a starter, come in as a reliever — wow! The best part was watching Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera melt down. I still hate the New York Yankees. So this game was pure joy.

I’ve got to believe tonight’s game will be similarly memorable. If it’s not already obvious, I’m rooting for the Chicago Cubs because a) I live in Illinois, and b) I’m a Twins fan so rooting for the Chicago White Sox is out of the question; rooting for the Cleveland Indians — who play in the same division as the Twins — is similarly loathsome.

I’m still a little bit afraid of what might happen if the Chicago Cubs win a World Series, which hasn’t happened in 108 years. Seriously, it’s gotta be a sign of the apocolypse. But still … it would be fun if zombies don’t show up.

Go Cubbies!

Where a Twins fan’s loyalties lie this month

There’s no baseball Switzerland in Chicagoland: Either you root for the Cubs or you root for the White Sox.

That’s not to say you can’t be a fan of another team — the Minnesota Twins, for instance — but real Chicago fans will dismiss such nonsense and demand you ally with a real team. Since the Chicago White Sox appall and terrify me (I mean, c’mon, they’re in the same division as the Twins), I therefore am a Cubs fan.

OK, there’s a little bit of bandwagon going on (since it’s impossible to root for the Twins in this postseason), but besides their non-White-Sox-ness, the Cubs have earned a little (or a lot of) postseason compassion. Without a World Series title in more than a century, how can root against the Cubs?

This means, in this golden month of the baseball season when defeats are agonizing and victories are thrilling, I’m organizing my days around the Cubs games.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being afraid. If the Cubs would be so fortunate as to throw off a century of superstitions to actual win the World Series, I’d be looking around for Jesus in the clouds or hell to freeze over or a passel of zombies to appear on the horizon. 

Surely that would be a sign of the apocalypse.

But still, go Cubbies!

Finding peace in pieces

As he was working up a sweat washing his truck this morning, I heard my Beloved tell a passersby, “I’m going back on vacation right after this!”

“What a good idea!” I thought. To think of a few stolen moments without having something to do as vacation. Why wait for a whole week’s worth?

The moment reminded me of Heidi Stevens’ Balancing Act column yesterday in the Chicago Tribune, “Finding tiny ways to slow down during life’s hustle.”

Stevens is trying to slow down by savoring hot tea:

Hot tea demands to be sipped, preferably while seated, so as to avoid splashing it on your arms or spilling it down your shirt and scalding your clavicle.

A few times per week, I am now trying to end my evenings with a mug of hot tea. Sitting down.

She’s squeezing moments of rest between mountains of mayhem.

This is how wise people operate. Perhaps this is a function of gray(ing) hair (with age, comes wisdom?). We learn that if wait until we buy a house/lose weight/get a new job, we’ll never find time to do whatever it is we’re waiting to do. We learn to wedge whatever “it” is into our imperfect lives (or live with regrets).

So it is with relaxation.

Tranquility is not a place. It is a state of mind.

Picture-perfect tranquility at Ichetucknee Springs State Park in central Florida.

Picture-perfect tranquility at Ichetucknee Springs State Park in central Florida.

That’s not to say there aren’t tranquil places. I found one this weekend when we visited Ichetucknee Springs State Park — one has to travel a long way from Orlando and Florida’s beaches to find this gem. The water was uniquely blue and the place was stunningly beautiful.

Ah, a moment of tranquility in a crazy week (you noticed? After I recounted 100 facts about Grandma, I dropped off the face of the blogging earth).

To lie on the beach — in the sunshine with unending waves lapping the shore — that is relaxing. In fact, a beach is my happy place, the thing I meditate on when I’m clearing my mind before sleep. This is a no-brainer. It is harder – but not impossible – to find peace in a traffic jam.

I hate traffic. It’s horrible in Chicagoland but it wasn’t much better in the Tampa area last week. Yes, I enjoyed watching the Twins play four spring training games, but that feat required hours applying sunscreen, scouting for shady seating, finding scalpers with the right tickets, negotiating with said scalpers, navigating stop-and-go traffic, locating parking places and standing in line for concessions.

Did you know you can get a beer shake at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers? Yup -- beer and ice cream. Together. Like mustard and relish (there's a hot dog under there somewhere).

Did you know you can get a beer shake at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers? Yup — beer and ice cream. Together. Like mustard and relish (there’s a hot dog under there somewhere).

By the time I was enjoying a hot dog and a beer in my assigned seat, I was wiped out.

I kid, I kid. It was heaven. I mean really, what baseball fan isn’t happy at spring training? When I die, every day will include a baseball game in perfect weather where I can actually see the players perform for $30 or less per seat (in heaven, there will be unlimited parking and no lines at the concession stand).

Maybe the best thing about baseball games is the pace — built-in tranquility punctuated by moments of action.

A day in the life

Here’s a peek into the life of Minnesota Transplant in the past 24 hours. I …

  • Cried my heart out after viewing the series finale for Six Feet Under. Hailed by some as the best series finale ever, I would have to agree.
  • Practiced yoga on the … dock. It’s not a beach here, I guess. It’s a dock over the water. The sunrise looked so inviting this morning, rising as it does over the bay. A few upward-facing dogs and downward-facing dogs were just what the doctor ordered.
  • Assembled a mountain of paperwork for an important project, scanned it all and renamed each PDF. Tedious, horrible work. Now it’s just waiting to be sent off into the ether.
  • Reviewed my standby library presentation, “The ABCs of Photo Organization,” for delivery tomorrow. It’s such good stuff, it inspires me! I’ve got a plastic baggie full of thumb drives that ought to be labeled, and this lecture gets me thinking I need to go to work.
  • Roasted the most delicious pork tenderloin for supper. I love roasting peppers and few garlic cloves along side and then dumping the peppers, garlic and a little olive oil in a blender to create a yummy sauce to serve with the pork.
  • Got excited reading the morning paper. Oh, the sports section this time of year is so full of potential (and sunshine). It’s the season of spring training baseball, don’tcha know? The Twins are undefeated!

October magic


St. Louis is a bit quieter than the baseball fans around here might like. Instead of the Cardinals in the World Series, it’s the Giants and Royals. Can you say, “Go Royals”?

This time of year is a magical time for baseball fans even if your team isn’t playing. I love the Cinderella stories, the unlikely heroes and the tense moments broken by wild cheering.

If I happen to be traveling during the Series, there’s nothing better than watching a game over a plate of nachos and a beer in a local pub where the bathrooms are filthy and the menus are greasy. That’s where the character is (and the characters are).

Cheers to the thinking woman’s fame, baseball.

Baseball fans this time of year have a sunny disposition

It’s the time of year when the forecast is sunny and the air is full of potential: Spring training.

The Minnesota Twins began playing baseball games today for spring training (they won, not that it matters). If you’re a Twins fan, you are still allowed to be hopeful at this point. The players are uninjured and ready to play! New players want to prove themselves! The record remains untarnished!

I love spring training baseball for some of the same reasons I like baseball in general, especially as a Twins fan. There’s not a lot of pressure. The game moves at a leisurely pace. The fans aren’t too intense. The sun is always shining.

OK, well, the sun isn’t always shining during the regular season, but honestly, in Florida, it’s shining most of the time.

Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan predicts the Twins might actually accomplish a .500 season, which certainly isn’t a championship forecast, but compared to last season, it would be amazing. At this point in winter and in the baseball season, I don’t need “amazing” to be optimistic. All I need is sunshine.

A serving tray for pitchers (or fans of pitchers)

Remember that decoupage project I mentioned this past weekend?

It started out as this, an unfinished wood tray:


I painted the whole thing “Star Spangled Blue” and decoupaged a number of vintage Twins baseball cards into it. Here it is now, several coats of paint, glue, Modge Podge and sealer later:

finished trayIt’s not perfect by any means, but it’s one-of-a-kind. It’s a gift for a benefactor who is lending us his condo. In Florida. Where the Twins play spring training baseball.

Play ball!


This book is out in left field and over my head

My name is Monica, and I am a Chronological Reader. In this club, according to the Atlantic Wire, “you buy a book, you read it. … You might discard a book, but only if there is very good cause, and it will bring you a sense of deep unease, so you’ll probably pick it back up and finish it anyway.”

Despite this confession, I can. Not. Finish. Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding.”

It’s crap.

Art of FieldingI picked it up because a friend recommended it, and it’s March, the season of spring training. I’m enduring a drip, drip, drippy rain that may turn to snow at any moment in northern Illinois instead of soaking in the sunshine with a beer while watching the Minnesota Twins practice baseball in Fort Myers, Fla. I thought a book about a baseball player might be a good antidote.


I tolerated the repeated references to another, apparently fictional book named “The Art of Fielding” by Aparicio Rodriguez. I managed a plethora of last names (baseball teams have nine players, you know, and that’s nine characters with nine first names and nine last names). I sighed heavily when the author illogically jumped scenes (wait a minute, did Henry ride with Schwartzy to the hospital or did he linger in the outfield feeling bad? I’m so confused).

Then Guert turns out to be not only gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but a 50-something-year-old guy crushing on a 20-something baseball player. Gross.

When Pella is introduced in Chapter 10, and the point of view switches from third person to first person, I quit.

I’m bitter about it, too.

See, I’m trying to read a book a week, and this dumb book halted my meager progress with a screech and a blotch of smoking rubber.

The New Yorker liked “The Art of Fielding,” so I must just be a dumb country bumpkin out here in the sticks, but I am not going to finish it.

I’m moving on.

To Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.”

Tomorrow begins today

The strangest email showed up from the Minnesota Twins in my In Box today. Here is part of the message:

Sometimes you get thrown out at the plate.

Sometimes you throw it over the first baseman’s head.

Sometimes you hit a long fly ball, only to see it get caught at the warning track.

That’s baseball.

It humbles you.

But there’s something else about baseball. Something great.

And that great thing is that tomorrow is a brand-new day. With a brand-new game. With brand-new at-bats.

Strike out one day, grab a 34 oz. piece of redemption, get back in the batter’s box, and whack it out of the park the next.

That’s baseball too.

And that’s our attitude.

Yes, we made errors and struck out.

But our tomorrow begins today.

I wish I cared about one of the teams in the playoffs because one of the best things about October is the World Series. But I just can’t get excited about any of them.

Still, the thought of a new at-bat in a new day with a new piece of redemption reminds me why I like baseball in the first place.