Obligatory Ron Santo Post

I don’t, and never did, hate Ron Santo.

Admittedly, I did hate his announcing style. If he had one. He didn’t belong in the broadcast booth, and I wasn’t shy about voicing my opinion on that. I couldn’t understand the affection Cubs fans had for him, beyond his playing days. But like ketchup on a hot dog, acknowledging that you aren’t a Santo worshiper is enough to leave at least half the population of this town  horrified.

This morning, Ron Santo was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. One year after his death. And he deserves to be congratulated. Unfortunately, every single person awarded such an honor deserves to be congratulated while they’re still here. Ron wasn’t afforded that opportunity.

I lived in Pittsburgh during the 1990’s, also known as the Bill Mazeroski Hall  of Fame Hand-Wringing Era. Every year, around this time, fans would begin their campaigns for getting Maz elected to The Hall. And it wouldn’t work. I remember Maz leaving the Pirates’ spring training facility one year in tears because he had failed, once again, to make the cut. It seemed everyone who knew anything about baseball, except for those charged with the actual voting, felt he belonged there. But how could I have a dog in this race? To this day, I have yet to see more than ONE play Bill Mazeroski ever made: The 1960 World Series-clinching home run at Forbes Field. So every year, I would sit back and let others gnash their teeth over another Hall snub.

Finally, in 2001, thanks in part to a very vocal push from none other than Keith Olbermann, Maz got in. But here’s the big difference: Bill Mazeroski got to enjoy his induction. Maz got to sit on the back of a convertible and circle the warning track at PNC Park, while thousands of fans, myself included (yeah, I jumped on that bandwagon like it was the last stagecoach off the Titanic) cheered like maniacs. I doubt I was the only one in the ballpark that day who had never seen the Maz play, but there are times when you just can’t help being happy for a guy.

Ron deserved to enjoy this as much as Maz did, and every other player in every other Hall of Fame around the world. He doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall this year more or less, than he did last year. I fear his death may be the only reason he was finally elected. And that seems wrong. It’s unfortunate. But he’s in. Cub fans are celebrating globally today, with a tinge of sadness, resentment, and bitterness over the timing. Congratulations to the Santo family. They have always been a class act, otherwise I would be curious to see if they planned on shunning the Hall or welcoming Ron’s addition. They’ll be grateful, but I bet they’ll hold back on some of the things they’d like to say in the next few days.

I hope they put a singed toupee on the bust.


Goats and Ghosts that Haunt Us

It’s never going to end for us.

It happened again last night. Out of nowhere. For no apparent reason. I don’t often watch John Stewart on Comedy Central. Not that I don’t think he’s funny; I just don’t make it a point to watch. On last night’s show, he quoted a finding from the Republican Study Committee, which I guess actually exists, that reported the White House engaging in “Chicago-style shakedown politics”. Which Mr Stewart described as “regular shakedown politics, except just as you’re about to get your money, Steve Bartman screws it up for you”.

Et tu, John? Et tu? Is this what we Cub fans have to look forward to for the rest of our over-optimistic existences? Bartman references about seemingly unrelated entities? I fear the answer to be a resounding “YES!” And the obligatory sneers and derisive snickering.

I was in Pittsburgh over Memorial Day weekend. On Monday, I went to the Cub game at PNC Park. During the game, you can send a text message to the Pirates, and after what I assume to be a careful screening process, they put your messages on the 2 electronic signs along the foul lines. I looked up sometime during the 7th or 8th inning, and guess what I see? “BARTMAN 2003”. At PNC PARK! PIRATE FANS!? PIRATE fans think it’s funny to remind us of that? The Pirates? Who haven’t had a winning season since Bill Clinton was considered wholesome? THESE Pirates? Can it get worse?

Boston used to have the same problem. Anything near your feet, whether you dropped your keys, missed a soccer pass, or accidentally bowled in reverse, elicited a Buckner joke. But The Red Sawx beat the Buckner curse. They won two World Series titles. That tends to shut people up but quick! Then again, it’s easier for Boston. They scare people up there. They have those scary accents. Mess with them? They’ll throw their breakfast beverages in the hahbuh! If you drive to Boston, and you see only one light on in the church tower, keep going; they know you’re there!

I don’t think Chicagoans will get off that easy. Mark my words, even if the Cubs somehow do manage to win a World Series while I can still use the restroom by myself, our detractors, the John Stewarts of the world, will say “Wellll, you’d already have one if that dude hadn’t touched that foul ball”. Even in victory, in ultimate victory, we won’t be able to live this down. I think it’s quite sad, really. Maybe if they win four or five in a row…

July 8,2010   I think this is lame. A Major League team sets up a little skit, during the game, to mock the Cubs. Yes, this made me mad.  


And why is Mark Grace a Diamondbacks legend? Just a young franchise, I guess; they gotta pick someone.