Sunday, April 3, 2016

principles of cubness 101

What follows is an email from my father written Monday, October 5, 1998, with the subject line: Principles of Cubness 101. I read this now, recovered as I am from a near decade-long crisis of faith, and feel the fullness of its wisdom. I am not at all sure I have “achieve[d] a welcome peace with [my] emotions,” but without doubt I am closer. During my crisis, which just happened to coincide with my first several years here in the Upper Peninsula, I often claimed to be a recovered Cub fan and made much of the fact that it could be done, that the curse, as I saw it, could be eschewed. But, at what cost? Perhaps it is true that we must be lost before we can be found, for I see now that a “recovered Cub fan” is nothing more than a lost Cub fan, and that to be a Cub fan is to be blessed. Today, as a new season begins, I prepare for the fullness of it, the full range of experience and emotion it will bring, and, if not a championship into our midst, at least—we can hope, pray, and ponder—at least that opportunity for an ever yet deeper understanding of what the bejeebers it is all about. And now, my father.
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It is gratifying to observe cubness sufferers moving to a deeper emotional and psychological understanding of their condition. Just as Buddhists strive to progress through the beatitudes to nirvana, so cubness sufferers must labor to emancipate themselves from such false and manipulative concepts as “winning teams,” “losing teams,” and “lovable losers,” the expression of which brands their users as neophytes. The phrase “Wait ’til next year” must be understood as not referring to winning or losing but only to the expected coming of another opportunity to enjoy cubness.

It may be trite, but it certainly is true, to say that baseball (perhaps all sport) is a metaphor for life. And cubness is baseball personified. One experiences optimism and pessimism, elation and dejection, hope and despair, joy and grief. No one or group is a perpetual winner. The winners are those who make the most of what they have been given, who work up to their ability. A prime example is St. Mordecai. His true name was Mordecai Peter Brown. As a child he lost two fingers on his throwing hand in a farm accident. But in a 14-year career with the Chicago Cubs, he pitched more than 3,000 innings and had a career earned run average of 2.06.

When cubness sufferers resolve themselves to their condition, they can achieve almost anything. It is grossly inaccurate to believe that cubness stunts physical, emotional or spiritual growth. In fact, when sufferers move beyond the ordinary, they achieve a welcome peace with their emotions. Nor does cubness stifle sufferers’ ability to contribute to society to the full extent of their abilities. Many have created strong presences in varied fields of human endeavor—for instance, Ronald Reagan in politics, George Will in literature, Bill Murray in entertainment.

The 1998 season provided the Chicago Cubs an opportunity to display triumph at its best and for cubness sufferers to ascend to heights of deeper understanding. For that, we should be thankful.
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The Eternal Struggle of Spring

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Play ball.