Well, at least this piece is about Chicago. Yes, about Chicago and the hapless Cubs.
We’ve got some brilliant tactians in the Cubs front office who think they know what we as fans want.
We want a winning team, right? The Cubs haven’t won a World Series for over a hundred years. It’s embarassing. The Chicago Cubs need to win a pennant and the World Series, soon. Otherwise, the team is going to lose fan support and eventually just fade away as a major league team.
What a crock! Cub fans come to see exciting baseball. The fans who go toWrigley Field for the most part, understand the game of baseball. The fans actually love it. They are different from the fans who go to the other Chicago baseball park. Many of those fans wouldn’t know a double-play from a double latte. Those fans come late and leave early. They stand in the aisles and talk in small groups, socializing, drinks in hand. “Oh yeah, I guess there is a baseball game going on but listen to what happened in the office yesterday.”
Cub fans sit in their seats and agonize throughout most games. They drink beer. They know a ground-rule double from Double Mint gum. Cub fans want to see excellent, fundamental baseball and, yes the fans want the Cubs to win every game. But winning is not the only thing. For Cubs fans it is how you play the game. That’s why during these past two years we have come to love to see Tony Campana get on first.
He looks like a pick-up guy from the neighborhood who you’d put in right field. He’s small, like a bat-boy among real ball players. Tony has a quirky, child-like smile which seems to say, aw shucks, I shouldn’t be here with these big guys.
Tony Campana, though is fast, real fast. When Tony Campana’s name is announced, you can hear a murmur from the crowd. They are not saying I hope he gets a home run. They are saying, I hope he gets on. When he gets on first, he takes long leads while the next batter sets himself for the first pitch.
He feints toward second and ambles far from the base as if he is not paying attention. The pitcher keeps throwing to first, trying to keep Tony close to first. But, there he is way off the base again, always moving, distracting the pitcher.
Finally, there he goes! He races to second base and after a head-first dive, he’s standing on second, brushing the dirt off of his Cub uniform as the fans chant “To-ny-To-ny,To-ny.” They want Tony Campana to steal third. On the first pitch, he’s off again. The catcher throws a bullet to the third baseman but Tony Campana in a cloud of dust rises to a standing position on third.
Tony Campana plays baseball like Cub fans want to see it played. If the front office guys miss this –which they might because they are not from Chicago– they miss the main thing about fans from the North Side. Cub fans dislike losing but what they really hate is bad fundamental baseball, the kind of baseball the Cubs have been playing this year.
Now Tony Campana has been traded to the Arizona Diamond-backs. Tony lacks power and has a mediocre on-base percentage. So, he was disposable.
Give us a winning team, sure. We’d love to win a pennant and a World Series. But, hey you guys in the front office, give us baseball played with the exitement and passion of Tony Campana.