they don’t win, it’s
29 June, 2006
My interest in the baseball season has been minimal this year. I’m finding it hard to follow a team that’s not “mine,” and I know no Nats fans whose energy I can feed off of to develop that interest. That’s basically how I became a real baseball fan a few years ago, after a history of weak and generalized rooting for the home team. I had spearheaded a family effort to get Cubs season tickets for my stepfather, who IS a life-long serious fan, and so was attending a lot more games than usual, being the partner of choice when my mom didn’t feel like sitting in 55-degree winds for hours at a time.
I thought I’d go to soooo many Nats games as a DC resident — it’s so much cheaper, for one, and a more casual vibe than I’m used to from Wrigley which really appeals to me. But I’ve only attended a handful. Partly this is because work got hot as the season started, but also, I’ve been more into taking pictures when I find myself at RFK. I’m still new enough to photography that I haven’t been to a whole lot of different types of space with my offboard mechano-electronic eye, and stadia are just dripping with subjects. I have a good-sized backlog even from the few games I HAVE attended.
The game at which I took these photos suffered from a series of rain delays, and — horrors! — I didn’t even stay to the end. Nats won tho. Which is more than I can say for my beloved Cubs, who have been stinking up the north side so badly I think I can smell from here. Yes yes, I know; there’s no need to leave “Of course they are stinking, they’re the Cubs!” comments. The unfortunate thing about them is, it’s sort of a wolf-crying situation in their bad years. Because of their rep it’s hard to tell what’s normal suckage and what’s burn-the-house-down-start-over suckage.
So it’s been tough to keep up lately. On the flip side, all praise the internets. At home, when I had the choice, I’d listen to games rather than watch them on TV (a topic on which I could post another several screens). Thanks to MLB Radio, I can do the exact same thing here. Come home from work, turn on the game, putter around doing chores and making dinner. I can listen on the laptop, quiet-like, or amuse my neighbors by plugging into the stereo. All that’s missing from the experience is the commercials and WGN station IDs. Lucky you, you might say, but this is actually a cloud inside a silver lining. No “hey hey, holy mackerel” song. No “everybody loves the Cubs” song — the first thing I hear is Pat’s “Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the air!” I miss the songs. I will admit this to you right here and now: I would often sing along to them. With feeling. There may or may not have been a little dance involved.
I even miss the incessant Old Style ads — I do! They were funny, the first few hundred times, and then after the first few thousand times they became funny again as you pondered just how many resources your brain had devoted to unconsciously memorizing every teeny tiny little detail of them. I could probably perform them for you, 2003-2005 regular season versions. I like the one about the guy who claims plague infection to go to the game (The boss’ “Feel better!” always sounds like “have fun storming the castle!” to me). I was even in one once — one of the playoff ones for 2003. I had a line, I think, in addition to my cheering-member-of-crowd duties, but my mom had a starring role. That one I don’t remember, understandably, but nevertheless ironically.
So, alas. No Old Style Guy for me. But! Inside THAT cloud is another silver lining, a pretty damn thick one too. They leave Pat and Ron’s mics live over the breaks, so instead of completely dead air, you hear all the sounds of the stadium. Cheering, PA announcements, the organ, that background hum that crowds of thousands of people generate…it’s really an awful lot like being there. It’s subtle — there’s just enough detail in it to elevate it above white noise. It just sits there in the background of my consciousness, being comforting. It was an unexpected discovery, and more than I’d hoped for from 700 miles away. Yep, thank you internets. MLB Radio is one of the better $15 I’ve spent on baseball. Thanks to it I can hear every last detail of the carnage that is the 2006 Cubs.