Call it the winter of my discontent. Call it a case of the blahs. Call it what you will, but I will tell you this — as I write this editor’s note, I could care less about the upcoming baseball season.
Now for those of you who know me, that may be a surprise and shock. I’ve been a diehard Chicago Cubs fan since 1983, when cable first entered my parents’ home. As an eighth grader growing up in suburban Tulsa, you had two choices — root for the Atlanta Braves and watch WTBS, or pull for the Cubs and watch WGN. Since my family is filled with St. Louis Cardinals fans, the choice was obvious … cheer for the Cubs.
I’ve stuck with them for 26 years now … through the easy grounder going between Leon Durham’s legs in the 1984 playoffs, Andre Dawson winning the MVP on a really bad team in 1987, the magic season of 1998 with Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire trading home runs, the fly ball and ˆ&%&ˆ%@#$ Bartman in 2003, and being swept out of the playoffs by what were — on paper at least — inferior teams in 2007 and 2008. I’m not a bandwagon fan who pulls out the Cub jersey when they’re winning. I’ve gone to Wrigley Field at least once a year, every year, since 1988. I have the Cubs license plate holder on my car. I have the Ryne Sandberg poster in my office (truth be told, I was going to push to have my daughter named Ryne if she had been a boy. I know, I know … I’m not well.).
Honestly, when the Dodgers swept the Cubs out of last year’s playoffs, I just had an empty feeling as that last out was made. This offseason, that empty feeling has grown. With the acknowledgement of Alex Rodriguez using steroids, I think the last little bastion of respect I had for the game might be gone. I look back on the season of 1998 and watching Sammy and McGwire trade moonshot home runs, and now I realize those were the products of illegal substances. I remember my family gathered around the TV to watch the Cubs and Cardinals the night McGwire broke the all-time home run mark and what an amazing night that was. It was innocent and awe-inspiring to see history unfold. Well, that was then and this is now.
So I’ve paid my money for tickets, bought my memorabilia, and I sit here wondering if I’ve been duped all this time. I guess I have, and it doesn’t sit well with me. I know many players are “clean” and never used steroids, but unfortunately it doesn’t take away the fact that way too many of the players I used to almost idolize may have been cheaters.
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” That’s where I am with baseball. If nothing else, what has happened in MLB has allowed me to talk to my daughter about the importance of trust and how it’s one of the most valuable assets each of us have. Once you lose trust in someone or something, it’s hard to ever gain it back.
In economic times like this, there might be some pressure to “sell at all costs” or “do whatever it takes” to make ends meet. While you may meet your short-term goals with shortcuts and empty promises, you sacrifice your future. Don’t take the easy road. Respect yourself, your colleagues, and your clients enough to do the right thing every time.
Will I go back to Wrigley this year? Probably. Will I ever look at baseball the same way? Probably not.
Read on … this is your magazine.