WFB Nov 16

Giving thanks

Before we sit down to a big family dinner of bounteous proportions this week, we are asked to share what we are grateful for.

In that spirit, here are some of my blessings.

I’m thankful that the election is over, and that we can get on with our lives without the nasty discourse that divided our great nation. (Actually, that’s more of a wish than a thanks.)

I’m grateful that I don’t live in the Middle East right now.

I’m happy that I have so many channels to choose from, so I don’t have to watch stupid reality shows.

I’m thankful that the Cub’s won the World Series, and now I can start looking forward to next year already.

But, in all seriousness, here are some things I am truly grateful for:

I’m grateful for my health and job. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost either. In such uncertain times, it is the things like that that seem important.

My surrogate family that took a chance and convinced me to move to Kentucky. They took me in as one of their own and gave me an opportunity to make a difference.

And I am grateful to all the wonderful people I have met along the way. To be accepted as part of this community and trusted as such means the world to me.

I’m thankful my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents who were there when I needed them, and will always accept me, no matter what.

I’m thankful for my father. Though he may no longer be with us, he will always be a part of me. His knowledge, wisdom and enthusiasm for life made me the man I am today.

My mom deserves tons of praise as well. The glue that held our family together; and still fulfills that role, though both her kids are grown ups now.

I’m grateful for my sister. Not only has she been a trusted, and an eager ally, she has brought a terrific brother-in-law and adorable nephews into my life. Stevie, Will and little A.J. are three of the most precious little boys I know.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

I hope yours is as blessed as mine is.

Stop the Madness

It’s that time of year again. The time when peace and love for our fellow man dominate our daily lives. The time when children’s faces are filled with anticipation for the arrival of a jolly old elf. The time of year when people go crazy and get in fist fights over the last pair of shoes in the special sale bin at the local shopping mall.

Americans are driven insane at the prospect of saving $1.50 on a pair of pants, so insane that they will drive an extra 40 miles and take an extra 2 hours out of their day just so they can save $50 on something they didn’t need in the first place.

How have we as a culture been reduced to this? Why do we allow ourselves to be lead around by the noses like that? I blame all those ad executives up there in their big firms up on Madison Avenue. They get paid top dollar to find ways to make us think we are the worst person on earth if we don’t buy the newest product from Swindle Co.

These holiday sales are the worst. They offer special deals on an item that are too good to be true, and they usually are. You may have noticed this trick before in your own shopping experiences; a major discount store offers an unbelievable deal on an item, but when you get there, along with 300 other people who want that same thing, you are told that the store only got 10 of them and they have been sold out since that morning. What are you going to do? Turn around and go home?  Most people don’t, and that is what they count on. They expect you to stay around and spend your money on something that isn’t marked down.

When a company or store offers a sale on a particular item, they are still making money off you. There are very few industries that purposely try to lose money, unless they are a Major League Baseball team or congress. Most of the year the prices are inflated in anticipation of the Christmas Sale season. The companies treat us like Pavlov’s Dogs. We get so indoctrinated to an item at a certain price that when they are lowered we salivate.

I used to work in retail, and every year at this time I regreted it more and more. I would have to go into a store on the day after Thanksgiving, or better known as “Black Friday,” and have to try to work with all the screaming, pushing and whining going on.

But we can put a stop to it all.  If we all do what I do and wait until the last week to buy all our gifts, we will stop seeing holiday sales in October and the cretins on Madison Avenue will leave us alone. Just make sure to stay out of my way.

It’s over!

I can finally say that my Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions.

I can finally say that my Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions.

It took 108 years, but the ignominy of having the longest losing streak in professional sports no longer hangs over Cubs’ fans heads.

Few fans know the true feeling of that weight being lifted. Red Sox fans probably the best. UK fans only know the sting of loss when winning is not only expected, but demanded. They don’t know the prolonged depression of never knowing if “this is going to be the year.”

The win was particularly bitter sweet for me because of my father, who raised me to be as big a fan as he was.

Dad was not even 2 when the Cubs last played in the World Series in 1945, and he didn’t make it to see this one, but I know he was sitting right beside me through it all in spirit.

Dad was one of 8 kids growing up in rural Wisconsin, and when the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953, most were Braves fans, but Dad was the lone hold out for the Cubs. When the Brewers came in to existence in 1970, the family switched allegiances to the new “home-town club”– but not dad, he bled Cubbie Blue” all his life.

And that is how he raised me. We are both life-long members of the “Die Hard Cub Fan Club” and both certificates proudly hang on my wall.

We shared lots of heartbreak and few moments of unbridled joy over the years, but made lots of memories about our “loveable losers.”

One of my favorite was on May 17, 1979. A glorious Thursday afternoon and my family had tickets to watch the Cubs take on the Phillies in beautiful Wrigley Field. Little did we know what we were going to experience.

That game turned out to be one of the highest-scoring games in history.

There were only about 15,000 of us in the stands to witness history that day, and many left before it was close to being over.

Philadelphia started the game by scoring 7 runs in the top of the first. Cubs starter Dennis Lamp gave up 6 of them, while only recording one out before being pulled. The Phillies’ starting pitcher, Randy Lurch, even hit a home-run in the inning, but he himself did not last until the second, giving up 6 runs as well and Philadelphia led 7-6 at the end of the first.

The Phillies would eventually grab a 21-9 lead after four and a half innings, but the Cubs stormed back, scoring 7 in the 5th, 3 in the 6th and 3 more in the 8th to tie it 22-22 and send the game in to extra innings. Philadelphia would prevail in the 10th when Hall-of-Famer Mike Schmidt hit a home run off Hall-of-Famer Bruce Sutter.

What a game. Schmidt hit 2 homers that day, Cubs slugger Dave Kingman hit 3 and Pete Rose went 3 for 7.

I’ll never forget it.

Then there was 1984. After 12 consecutive seasons where Chicago did not finish above .500, Cubs management pulled off a series of deals that suddenly transformed them in to contenders.

That was the year of the famous “Sandberg Game,” June 23rd. The Cubs All-Star, and future Hall-of-Fame second baseman hit two game tying home runs, one in the 9th and one in the 10th to help lead the Cubs to a 12-11 win over St. Louis.

On September 24 the Cubs clinched the National League East. I have a picture of my dad and I that night celebrating at home that I will always cherish.

But that year the “curse” struck. The Cubs beat San Diego in the first two games of the NLCS, but the Padres came back and won the next three at their field to win the best-of-5 series. The final game was made infamous by an error by Leon Durham, who let a ball bounce between his legs (a similar scene Boston Red Sox fans know too well.)

My dad was so distraught over the loss he decided that not only would we not watch the World Series that year, we would take a family vacation to get out of town to avoid the ribbing he would surely receive.

We suffered together through several more losing seasons, and a few years filled with possibilities, but none compared to this one.

I wish he were here to share these moments, but I know he is in spirit.


gregDue to the overwhelming possibility of The Chicago Cubs winning The World Series there will be no Word from Bird, this week as he has “Gone Cubbin’.” Greg’s fandom and loyalty towards the cursed team is at an all time high.