Doesn’t Expecting the Unexpected Make the Unexpected Expected? (Bob Dylan)
This has been way too big of an event for me to ignore, so now I feel compelled to add my two cents worth to the ongoing public discussion. I confess that I am still reeling from the results and I’m not even an American. No doubt, it will take me some time to get use to saying this, but, here goes: the CHICAGO CUBS are the World Series champions of 2016! One hundred and eight years between championships – I had some serious reservations whether I would ever witness this day during my lifetime. Never underestimate the power of determination – hey, it took America only 240 years before it managed to elect a Donald Trump as its president. From where I’m sitting it’s the Cubs that are the more newsworthy ticket. Then again, that’s me.
I have pretty much always observed life through the prism of sports. In fact, I have a difficult time relating to people who take pride in admitting that they never watch any professional sports. No baseball, no hockey, no football….not even the occasional soccer match. I just don’t get it. Lori, like most normal people, upon waking every morning checks the weather forecast for the new day. Me, I check the box scores.
As a young child, my bedtime curfew – children actually had curfews back in the day – was no obstacle for my obsession with the day’s sporting events. With my pocket AM radio tucked neatly under my pillow I was able to follow the muffled broadcast of that night’s crucial hockey match. Not much has changed over the years. These days, I have been known to set my alarm for 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning to catch my Montreal Canadiens or Toronto Blue Jays perform during the playoffs. Why would any rational grownup behave in such a fashion? Loyalty, fanaticism, insomnia?
Following sports offers the fan a momentary respite from his everyday mundane routine. Fans everywhere celebrate the talents of incredibly gifted individuals while also paying tribute to the collective accomplishments of team play. Not to mention, it is also a wonderful excuse for some serious binge noshing.
Politicians come and go – with the possible exception of the Israeli political scene – but the heroics of our favourite players and teams remain etched indelibly in every fan’s memory. If you were a youngster growing up in Hamilton in the 60s and the 70s then you lived and breathed Tiger-Cat football. A no-nonsense team that prided itself on its toughness, the Ti-Cats exemplified the lunch pail ethos of our beloved Steel City. And no player of this era symbolized this grittiness more than Angelo Mosca who was once dubbed the meanest player in the Canadian Football League. I was privileged to watch his last game as a professional player in the Grey Cup game of 1972 that was fittingly played in Hamilton. I sat alone in the freezing cold bleachers of Ivor Wynne Stadium, the holder of a much coveted ticket courtesy of my Uncle Moe whose tavern happened to be the popular watering hole for many of the Ti-Cat players. That cherished ticket remains in my possession to this date, sharing a space of honour alongside my ticket stub from the very first game played by the Toronto Blue Jays at Exhibition Stadium in April of 1977.
True sports fans mark time by their recollection of historic sporting events. Ask any true blooded Canadian where they were on September 28, 1972 and they will tell you that they were glued to the television watching the final hockey game of the Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union. No matter that the game was played in the middle of the afternoon Canada time, for a few brief hours the country came to a virtual standstill. This deciding game was for bragging rights to the title of the greatest hockey nation on earth. School was cancelled that afternoon – what better course in Canadian civics could possibly be offered? The entire nation held its breath as Canada came from behind to secure the dramatic win in the closing seconds of the match. That is not trivia – that is history.
In years to come, fans of baseball will continue to celebrate the gutsy heroics of the 2016 Chicago Cubs. As far as the other big winner of 2016, only time will tell how many of his loyal followers will insist on preserving the memory of his timely Tweets….