The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

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It's a little like hearing from an abusive partner a year after breaking up. Glad you're doing better, glad you're getting on your feet, but you're still doing the really bad things that led to me leaving, so no, don't call again.

I've been a Cubs fan for most of my life, as were my parents before me, and some of my ancestors before them. My mother lived and died without seeing them in the World Series, as have about two billion other people who were born after October 1945. It's possible I may never see them win the pennant either.

After last season's 89 losses—not a great improvement over 2013's 96 losses—I broke up with them. They kept saying, "I promise to do better, if only you'll give me another $1,800 and buy some $9 hot dogs." And every year, I'd fork over the money. And then I stopped.

This year they won 97 games. Mazel tov. But when it counted, when they really needed to get their shit together and win, they completely fell apart. Tonight's 8-3 loss to the Mets ended what the Tribune unironically called the Cubs' "Magical Season," perhaps forgetting that they've done this repeatedly.

Keep in mind, they were the wild card this year; the Pirates and the Cardinals had 98 and 100 wins, respectively, putting the Cubs in third place at season's end. And the Cubs had 97 wins in 2008, another heartbreaking year. (And 98 wins in 1945, which wasn't so heartbreaking only because no one could foresee, just a few weeks after the end of World War II, and after the Cubs had just played their third World Series in 10 years, that the Cubs would never win another pennant.)

So tonight, I have mixed feelings. I'm happy the Cubs did better this year than in the preceding six. And I think they have some potential to win next season. But after 70 years, I just can't keep expending emotional energy on them anymore.

Someday, probably, they will win the pennant. Someday they might even win the World Series. But after so many chokes, after so many goats, after so many abject failures when it really counted, I'm done. I was done at the beginning of this season, and I'm still done. I wish the team well in 2016. I hope the fans enjoy the games. But until the Cubs actually win the National League Championship, I'm not giving them a dime. You can call me a fair-weather fan, or you can acknowledge that after hoping against reason for more than 40 seasons that this year could be the year, not giving any more shits is a rational response.

Maybe next year...but I won't be there.

Note: The title of this post echoes a sign across Sheffield from the park. The letters "AC" mean "Anno Catuli:" "Year of the Cub." The first two digits (00) count the years from them last winning the division, the second two (70) from the National League championship, and the remainder (107) from the World Series. They had to add another digit after the 2008 season. That should have told you something.

 

Where druids get beer

While in Phoenix, I took an unscheduled side-trip to Rúla Búla in Tempe:

The bar features prominently in Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series, which one of my oldest surviving friends turned me on to about a year ago. In the series, the protagonist frequents the bar, including at one point to buy a shot for Jesus. (Yes, that Jesus, in one of the funniest scenes in the novels.)

Since I was only 18 km away, I just had to make a field trip. I did not, alas, have the fabled fish and chips, so I'll never know if they're better than the Duke's.

Chase Field

Why would anyone go to Arizona in July? A geas. On Friday I visited Park #26:

The trip also gave me a chance to take my 7D Mark II for a spin. Sitting 18 rows behind the Diamondbacks' dugout, I was able to get photos like this, no problem:

Let's take a closer look, yes? This is at ISO-3200, 1/500 at f/5.6, from about 100 meters away:

Cool, right?

More photos of the game and of my field trip to Tempe later.

Weekend plans

Tomorrow afternoon I'm flying to Phoenix to visit Park #26. Fortunately, Chase Field is air-conditioned, because the forecast calls for 38°C at game time after a high temperature of 41°C earlier in the day.

Photos and a frank assessment of the weather conditions to follow this weekend.

Plugged back in

Someimes—rarely—I disconnect for a couple of days. This past weekend I basically just hung out, walked my dog, went shopping, and had a perfectly nice absence from the Web.

Unfortunately that meant I had something like 200 RSS articles to plough through, and I just couldn't bring myself to stop dealing with (most) emails. And I have a few articles to read:

Now back to your regularly-scheduled week, already in progress...

Wrigley Field's "paid attendance"

The Wall Street Journal explains why the Cubs can sell 38,000 seats and only get 19,000 asses in them:

Since 2009, ticket sales are down almost 6,500 a game. Where have all the Cub fans gone?

The answer may be that they've in effect awakened from a beer-soaked party.

Over the first four years of Ricketts ownership, attendance sank 13.7%. It is flat so far this year versus 2013, but the figures don't include the legions of no-shows. "I have plenty of friends with tickets who can't get rid of them," said Jon Greenberg, executive editor of Team Marketing Report.

Count me in that group. After sitting through six innings of last night's sad 8-3 loss against the Giants (in which the Giants hit and fielded better than any team I've seen this season), we left shaking our heads. We've still got tonight's game available, plus the 4:05 pm back half of Tuesday's game, but we can't sell them. The Cubs will count our tickets as "paid attendance" even though no one will be using them.

It's even odds whether we're going to renew our season tickets next year, especially if the Cubs don't drop the prices. Unfortunately, it's even worse odds that the Cubs will end the season out of last place.

Indians take the lead, and the skies open up

Yep. As I feared, the Indians game last night got postponed, but not before the Tribe got ahead by one. And then:

In the moments shortly before the Tribe's game against the D-backs was postponed, [Cleveland players] Aviles, Kipnis and Chisenhall sprinted from the dugout, ran across the tarp and slid headfirst through the puddles and raindrops to the delight of the fans who remained. It was an entertaining ending to a game that was wiped out following a delay that lasted three hours and 40 minutes.

Cleveland's lone run came courtesy of an RBI double in the third inning by Kipnis, who no longer has that hit on his statistical record.

That may or may not have made him easily swayed by Aviles.

"I lost my double, so I was emotional. And an RBI," Kipnis said with a smirk. "I didn't know which way was up. I was easily influenced."

So, everything that we saw there yesterday...didn't count. Because in baseball, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes...it rains.

Regardless, thanks to the Cleveland Client for taking us to Progressive Field. And in no small irony, the tickets we used were from a previous rain-out, so if they want, the people who took us can go to the game today at 4:05 pm. Which—wait for it—might be rained out.

The rain in Ohio lands mainly on the bayou

(Hm. That didn't quite work, did it?)

We're now in our final weekend (for the time being) in Cleveland, and another person from the client has offered to take us to another Indians game. Two things:

1. I hope they play. Tonight's forecast calls for thunderstorms and rain.

2. If they do play, I hope they do better than last week.

The Indians are at .500, dead-center in the league, the division, and in all of baseball. Tonight they're (scheduled) to play the Diamondbacks, who are just one game ahead of the Cubs and so not a particularly threatening opponent.

Come on, rain. Go away.

Photo from the game

From yesterday's game—with its 22,000 paid attendance:

Progressive Field holds 43,500 people (compared with Wrigley's 41,100) and yet has worse attendance this year. The Cubs are averaging 32,000 fans per game, with no game coming in under 25,000 paid; Cleveland is getting 18,600 per game with some early spring games pulling in fewer than 10,000. This, despite the Cubs holding onto last place like they're afraid to fall off the chart, and the Indians actually being the wild card at the moment.

Progressive Field isn't a bad ballpark. The Indians aren't a bad team. I guess Cleveland just isn't a huge baseball town.