Pontifications: A history-making year

Hamilton ATR

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 7, 2016, © Leeham Co.: This is a history-making year.

Yes, there is Brexit.

Sure, there is the first woman candidate of a major political party running for the presidency of the US.

Yep, there is the biggest Doofus ever nominated by a major political party also running for the presidency of the US.

But let’s get to something really important.

The Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series 108 years after the last time they did.

Cubs? Bears? In Chicago?

I’m willing to concede that to most of the world, this may not only seem unimportant, many people may not even know what the Chicago Cubs are.

Are there really bears in Chicago? Yes, but they’re the football team, and no, that’s not soccer. The soccer (“football” outside of America) team is the Chicago Fire (which is also the name of the event that burned for two days in 19871, destroying much of the city).

But to those of us who are Chicago-area natives, nothing else in the world mattered last Thursday night as the Cubs squared off against the Cleveland Indians for Game 7 of the baseball World Series.

So, my aviation-geek readership is going to have to indulge me. Today’s column is about the team that became known as the Loveable Losers.

Loveable Losers

Unless you were born and raised in the Chicago area, as I was, you can’t possibly understand what the Cubs even getting to the World Series means, let alone winning it.

We’ve gone through life times of disappointments. The Cubs last went to the World Series in 1945 before this year. They lost then. They last time they won the Series was in 1908.

That was five years after the Wright Brothers flew their first airplane. That was the year Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin announced plans to build a 100-passenger airship. It was also the year of the first recorded death in an airplane accident. (Okay, I couldn’t completely ignore the aviation geeks.)

During my life time, the Cubs became famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for raising hopes by starting the season strong then doing a swan dive come August. The excuses became jokes.

By August, Chicago was too hot for day games. (Lights for night names weren’t installed at Wrigley Field, the Cubs’ Chicago home, until 1988.) Sprained fingers were blamed. So were styes in the eyes. There was the Curse of the Billy Goat.

Not the Billy Goat, but the Old Goat

The late, great Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko regularly made fun of the Cubs and their foibles. Like so many of us, Royko, whose dry and sarcastic wit produced a writing style that has never been replicated, was an avid Cub fan. But he wasn’t above venting his frustrations in his prize-winning columns. Over and over and over and over. He once wrote that the poor Billy Goat got a bad rap. He said the curse really belonged to the old goat who owned the team, P. K. Wrigley.

Although Royko blamed Wrigley (yes, of chewing gum fame) for short-changing the Cubs for good players, the team had its talent: Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Bill Buckner and others. The only trouble was, they weren’t all on the team at the same time.

And even then, some of the talent was so erratic that you couldn’t count on them.

Throw it, you idiot, throw it!

One such player was a giant, 6-foot-six Dave Kingman. When he was “on,” his was a bat to fear. He once drove a home run out of the park, literally, for 550 feet. The ball landed among nearby apartments.

But Kingman’s bat was inconsistent with a Capital I. As of last year, he ranked No. 4 in all major league baseball in strikeouts. His lifetime battering average was just .236.

His fielding left something to be desired, too. He played left field for the Cubs. His playing once drew an on-air outburst from Cubs sportscaster Harry Carey, an irascible sort whose broadcasting style was unique for its day. While nearly all sportscasters rarely uttered an unkind word about the players of the team that employed them, Carey (often fueled by not just a few beers during the game) let ‘er rip.

One day, the team the Cubs were playing had a man on first. I’ve long-since forgotten who the opposing team was, but I’ll never forget what happened on the play. The batter hit a long fly to left field. Since the Cubbie was Kingman, the base runner assumed he’d muff the play and was half way to third when Kingman surprised everybody (apparently including himself) by catching the ball.

He hesitated while the runner reversed course to get back to first before Kingman could throw the ball and double him up for an out.

Carey, seemingly equally surprised by Kingman’s catch, wasn’t so surprised by his inaction. Carey blurted into the live mike as he was calling the play, “Throw it, you idiot, throw it!” I nearly fell out of my chair.

Holy Cow and Hey! Hey!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nApTGkLd2hs

Budweiser, a long-time sponsor of the Chicago Cubs, put together clips from sportscaster Harry Carey’s long career as the voice of the Chicago Cubs to have him “call” the World Series.

Carey’s trademark exclamation on those occasions when a Cubbie hit a home run was “Holy Cow!” It was never clear if he was saying this in surprise or an exclamation, but I’ll assume the latter.

Carey’s predecessor was Jack Brickhouse, the sportscaster I grew up with. Brickhouse was as affable as Carey was irascible. Brickhouse never said a bad word about

Jack Brickhouse

Jack Brickhouse

the Cubs players (or any others, for that matter.) When once asked why, Brickhouse said why make a player feel worse when he screwed up? He probably felt bad enough already.

While Carey lived through seasons when the Cubs had high points, Brickhouse never did. They were always the Loveable Losers during his long broadcasting tenure. The losing streaks were so frequent that once, when the Cubs won two games in a row, Brickhouse remarked the team was on a winning streak.

For the Cubs, it was.

On those occasions when the Cubs hit a home run, Brickhouse would shout into the mike, “HEY! HEY!” No ambiguity there.

When the Cubs blew a comfortable lead, Brickhouse would broadcast, “Oh, brother. It’s a brand-new ballgame.”

One more torment

Thus, when the Cubs were in their final game of the National League playoffs, the game that would decide if they would go to the World Series, my wife—a Seattle area native—didn’t get why Cubs fans (and I) were all so tense in the 9th inning. The Cubs had a seven-run lead. Surely the game was all but over, she thought.

“You just don’t understand,” I said, without taking my focus off the TV screen. “You’re not from Chicago.” The Cubs had a long history of blowing comfortable leads at the last minute. None of us fans was going to relax until the third out.

But the Cubs being the Cubs didn’t let us off the hook after winning the National League Championship. Now it was on to the World Series.

The team fell behind the Cleveland Indians—another team with a long history of disappointing fans—three games to one. One more loss to the Tribe and the Cubs would remain cursed by the Billy Goat.

The Cubs won Game 5, Game 6 and jumped to a 5-1 lead in Game 7. Then a wild pitch sent two runs in and the Indians made it 5-3.

The Cubs came back with a one-run homer to lead 6-3 going into the bottom of the 8th. A Cleveland rally tied the game.

The Cubs, true to form, had blown a comfortable lead. As Brickhouse would say, “Oh, brother. It’s a brand-new ballgame.”

The Cubs scored twice more in the top of the 10th, an extra inning, and the Indians came back with one more run in the bottom of the 10th. But that was that.

The Cubs won. The Curse was over.

Holy Cow and HEY! HEY!

38 Comments on “Pontifications: A history-making year

  1. Scott, congrats to the Cubbies. I grew up in Wisconsin and my father was a huge Cubs fan. I still remember him listening to the game in the driveway on car radio for hours. I think that’s why I like to listen to baseball on the radio to this day.
    So, do you really have to refer to a fine man as “doofus”? With that comment I now know you are part of the elite in America that wants things to stay status quo and I’ve lost much respect for you. This is your blog and you can have your opinions, but I thought politics wasn’t part of it.

    • @Boeing Employee: Trump’s election would be bad for Boeing. He’s against the ExIm Bank and his proposed trade policies (such as they are), especially toward China, will be detrimental to Boeing sales.

    • I don’t think that there is a “fine man” (or for that matter, “fine woman”) involved in the presidential race. Can you be a fine man if you’ve a string of sexual assault allegations (with the likelihood of at least some of them having some degree of substance) against your name? Additionally, I don’t think you can be a fine woman if you have a string of allegations of corruption and questionable financial moves or conflicts of interest against your name either.

      I certainly would invite neither into my home.

    • I have a hard time understanding how so many people apparently believe the things Trump says / promises and actually vote for him as president.

      Also the nonsense fed hate campaigns against Obama, Clinton, amazing stuff. How come reasonable educated Republicans allow this to happen?

      • That has many of us baffled as well though I think as baffling is the myth behind that person as a successful businessman.

        Serial Brankupist?

        I too got a “credit” when I lost a condo in a crash.

        My accountant told me it was legally a cash gift and as such they could come after me. 900 million plus and they did not go after him?

        Vs someo0ne who has been investigated continuously and no charges?

  2. Sorry Scott but the biggest news from Chicago has to be Ireland vs the All Blacks.

    Seems like Chicago might be on an upset streak.

    • +1

      111 years of trying… and failing, usually very dismally.

      There was also the heroic defeat a few years back (2013) in Dublin after building a big lead, Ireland were eventually reeled in and caught by the New Zealand All Blacks in added time.

  3. Chicago Fire of 1971? I assume if that was the case the city would have looked a lot better by now….

  4. Congratulations Scott! Cherish the moment. Miracles happen. I was in the area last week & experienced the joy of the people around me. Miracles happen. Hurray for Chicago.

  5. Sorry guys, but the biggest event in Chicago’s history was when Boeing moved its headquarters over there fifteen years ago!

    • If Boeing keeps losing major military contracts on brand new developments it might have to move again to Washington DC area, like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

  6. I would like to extend a warm welcome to all Americans who might want to consider moving to Canada after tomorrow’s election. And if you work in aerospace there might be some job openings on the C Series in 2017. 🙂

    • Normand:

      I am too old to move (but thank you anyway)_, I will shelter in place, god forbid that actually does happen.

    • Re the typo on 1971 v 1871: I was still in shock when I wrote that….Had no idea what I was doing…

  7. You will not believe the sheer about of bandwagon Cubs fans I saw on my flight from home to (LAS) to DC with a stop at Midway. I could smell the “newness” of the Cubs apparel.

    Congrats, Cubbies, on your much deserved World Series win! Now you have no excuses or anything to live for!

  8. I am happy for you and all the other Cubs fans out there Scott.
    You sure have suffered long enough.

    • And as long as they have suffered, the rest of us have had to hear about it. Thank you Theo Epstein, for without you we would have probably still been listening to the whining from Red Sox and Cubs fans. And all the pseudo-fan frauds who think it’s cool to root for the lovable losers.

      Up next, four years of moaning from half the country about the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Oy.

      • I’d take that.

        Rather half the US moaning about a sleazy corrupt dirtbag than the other half of the US and 90% of the rest of the world moaning about a stupid, ignorant, dangerously bad-tempered oaf in residence!

      • The next occupant of the White house ?

        Hillary Rodham Clinton born and raised in Chicago- and a life long Cubs fan
        ‘”When I was a little girl, I quickly caught on that being a Cubs fan was more of a tenet of religious faith than any kind of passing fancy,” she said. “Once a Cubs fan, always a Cubs fan, but my personality was such that I couldn’t stay hitched only to a losing team and I couldn’t, with all due respect to my dear friends from my childhood who are rapid Sox fans, I could not become a Sox fan.”

        Apparently the politics of being a Senator from New York meant she supported the Yankees as her second team.

  9. Well I do hate to bust a bubble as I was torn between the Indians with their awful aberration (now) of a mascot and the Cubs (who were winning)

    Then I found that the Cubs owners were stalwart supporters of the “worst candidate any party ever nominated ” and I swung the other way.

    We can do something about the Mascot sooner or latter) , nothing we can do about the candidate.

    • Well I have to amend that, we can do something about the candidate, but we will be dealing with the fallout longer than an Atomic bomb leaves.

      We sure can’t change the candidate.

      • “We will be dealing with the fallout longer than an Atomic bomb leaves.”

        Well, we might actually have to deal with both.

  10. I’ve put into Trash a number of political comments that in my sole discretion went too far.

    So:

    No more political comments.

    Get back to baseball and your favorite commentary about this game.

    Hamilton

      • Scott: Hopefully taken with all due respect, you did introduce the Dufus (and agreed in spades).

        I will attempt to maintain commentary that’s is reigned in, I was raised far better to be what we have seen. I don’t always like what we have, but it can truly be far far worse.

        Maybe a wake up call for those who have gotten us to this point.

  11. 5 years until the first aviation fatality is pretty astonishing considering how brave the engineer’s and pilots were.
    Another great war should do similar things for development of UAVs.The great war probably could have been avoided by competent statespersons.

  12. You make a highly political comment in an Aviation analysis site and say no one should respond now. :-/ not that I care to respond and I guess you can do what you want on your site.

    • Stan, it was about the nature of the latest responses that went too far, both vis-a-vis Trump and Clinton.

  13. Yes we got the Dufus. A deeply sobering event for the US.

    Maybe the ultimate strike back from the Cowering Workers.

    I can’t think of an even other than the Civil War that had such staggering implications.

  14. Everyone:

    It’s clear I don’t think much of Trump, but he’s now going to be our president. He gave a gracious victory speech. Hillary gave a gracious concession speech. Obama pledged to work with him for the transition and noted that we are all Americans.

    Accordingly, I’d like to ask all (at least for these columns) to lay off now and try to come together after an incredibly bitter election season.
    Hamilton

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