Last night I turned off the Cubs game in the top of the ninth inning. They were up 8-2, and I figured that if they blew this game, I didn’t want to be around to watch it.
I brushed my teeth and got into bed, and then like a nine year old boy who on the night before Christmas had to take one last look under the tree, I checked the score one final time, only to discover that the Cincinnati Reds had loaded the bases and were threatening this once safe lead.
Not wanting to tell Jaimie that I was getting out of bed to watch more baseball, I pretended like I needed to use the bathroom only to go into the living room, turn on the game, and listen as we mercifully got the last out. Nico Hoerner flipped the ball to David Bote and secured the much needed victory.
“You ok,” Jaimie asked as I got back in bed.
“Oh yes,” I replied. “All better now.”
I love the Chicago Cubs. Anyone who knows me knows this. Almost every day from April to September I spend three to four hours following these games played by millionaires ten to fifteen years younger than me.
There are only two weeks left in the baseball season and it’s starting to make me sad. One would think a cancer diagnosis would have made baseball less important to me. That with the natural reordering of priorities this disease provides, my obsession with the Cubs would have faded into the background.
But in point of fact, the opposite has happened! I love them even more! I miss less games. I hang on every pitch. Nothing rolls off my back. Wins make me happier and losses make me more miserable. Turns out, when the chips are down, this team is even more important to me than I thought.
I feel no shame over this. To tell you the truth, it’s one of the things I like most about myself- my fandom, my love of this team. I think it’s important to love things, no matter what they are. I have been fortunate in my life to have loved many people and many things, and outside of my family, there is nothing I’ve loved longer than the Chicago Cubs.
Because I think loving a baseball team, more than another sport, prepares you for actual love. Not that anything can truly prepare you for the real thing, but baseball comes pretty freaking close.
Football is like an affair. A hot, passionate, once a week affair where afterwards everyone is being carted off the field and suffering from brain injuries, wondering what the hell just happened.
Basketball is that flashy woman you dated for six months. You loved her but that love was never truly requited, because in reality she was way out your league.
But baseball…you are with these people EVERY FREAKING DAY. No matter the ups, no matter the downs, there’s going to be another game tomorrow, and it’s going to last a really long time, and the best way to get through it is with a drink in your hand. Like any great relationship it’s your lover and it’s your friend. It’s exhilaration mixed with death by a thousand cuts, and when the season is over you’re left with a giant hole in your life that nothing else can truly fill.
“There’s always next year” is the rallying cry at the end of every season, but one year that won’t be true. That’s the fact for all of us. Which makes each season, each pitch, that much more important.
Maybe my priorities are right in line after all.