This is the other part of falling down, the part that doesn't work out.
Such was the case tonight, when some stumbles on the way to a goal produced a big bloated inning of runs for the Cubs, an inflation could not be overcome and so a tally is recorded under the category of loss.
I was leading services to welcome Shabbat as this was going on--unbeknownst to me--which is just as well. A teenage kid heading off to college in the Fall sat in the congregation wearing a Braves hat and at one point during my prayers I thought to myself, "Ah, well, we took three of four from Atlanta this week." I also made note that between Boston and Georgia, the Braves played for a time in Milwaukee. The mind wanders, what can I say? At the Oneg Shabbat afterward, over Manischewitz, fresh fruit and cookies, I shook the hand of a Chicago native. We were like two civil warriors before a meaningless duel, a glimmer of childhood competition passing between us. "Brewers-Cubs this weekend," I offered. Nods of recognition. Two mighty men prepared for the hunt.
When I was growing up in Milwaukee, the Brewers were an American League team, so I know nothing of any kind of significant rivalry with the Cubs. On a certain level, this is a fabrication of marketers. To my mind, the Cubs were a quaint North-side Chicago amusement, playing in a park with no night games, the keepers of a fading baseball tradition--the small, old park and a shelter, if you will, against the inexorable march of big-box commercialism. Sports as business.
We lived in Chicago for a couple years in the mid-sixties and nothing of its sports teams ever made it into our family traditions--these were the Waters of Babylon, afterall. I do, however, have an old mug from "Kup's Show," a local favorite on WBKB Channel 7, where Dad worked. When my brother was born, Irv Kupcinet mentioned it in his Sun-Times' "Kup's Column." I remember a tornado tearing through Deerfield; I remember bashing my head open on a trash can and requiring stitches; I remember sitting next to mosaic lamp and pretending it was a phone. Chicago was one of the three cities Dad tore through in his career--a man of great promise and brilliance often defeated by his own errors of temperamental judgment. The numbers of the television stations he worked at in Milwaukee, Sacramento, Chicago and back in Milwaukee, are a statistical manual of success and error. Something to learn from.
Up. Down. Down. Up. So it goes in baseball and life.
When Dad walked off the field, as it were, after a heart-attack in 1983, his four kids gathered to clean out his apartment and divided among us his precious few possessions. I took his Army photographs and the mug that Irv Kupcinet gave him. When I look at it, I am comforted somehow by its confidence.
Still, it should go without saying, I'm not feeling so generously hearted that I'm willing to offer up an entire weekend of losses.
So get up, boys. And go win a few for the home team.