The Boys of Summer are gone til Spring, but after the long-awaited Chicago Cubs victory in the World Series (assuming you consider more than a century “long”), Los Angeles writer Bill Cushing looks back and realizes, he has created a baseball monster … and she’s with him twelve months a year!
The 2016 World Series ended with just the kind of Game Seven anyone would want. And just the kind of outcome most Americans did want: the lowly “Wait til next year” Chicago Cubs finally won.
Still, I was grateful to have been monitoring it online at work rather than watching it at home. The reason for my relief was that, much like the obsessed scientist Frankenstein, I created a baseball monster some 20 years ago when my wife and I married. Had I been at home for the nail-biting final contest, she likely would’ve torn my arm from its socket after squeezing all the blood from it. Strange, since she rooted for the Cleveland Indians even though she has never been to nor is ever likely to visit Cleveland. However, since the Cubs beat her beloved Dodgers in the National League finals, she was upset with them for having the temerity to win.
Although I pointed out that the Dodgers did as much to lose as the Cubs had done to win, my argument was lost on her. So be it.
Before ‘96, my wife Ghisela never paid much attention to baseball, which makes sense. Arriving to the United States in 1987 from Peru, soccer was her focal point in sports, not baseball. It’s also odd that I introduced her to the game that year — being still upset over the ’94 baseball strike. However, I succumbed that summer as Cal Ripken chased Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. During Ripken’s rookie year I had lived in Baltimore where he played, and I admired him as both player and person.
Occasionally, Ghisela would stop and watch, asking about the game. While explaining the action on the diamond, I told her the best way to watch baseball was in person, promising to take her to a Dodgers home game some time at Chavez Ravine.
That Fall we got tickets. In the opening inning, Mike Piazza came up to bat and hit a grand slam, which was not that unusual in those years, but for my wife, it was a grand treat.
“You know,” I turned to her, shouting above the crowd while Piazza ran the bases, “I’ve been going to games all my life and have never seen one of these in person. You go to your first and whaddya get?”
Perhaps it was the manic environment although statistics, the mainstay of baseball, may have appealed to her clinical mindset. Of course, there also is the fun of the game’s connection to superstitious beliefs and behavior.
Whatever the cause, she was hooked — on baseball in general and on the Dodgers in particular, a love that blossomed into passion, with all the necessary accessories that condition entails: hats, water bottles, shirts, license plate frames. She even forbade me, a native New Yorker, from wearing my old Yankee hats around her.
So this year — 20 years later — my wife spent Game Seven of the Cleveland-Chicago series pacing back and forth, yelling at the television. Had I been home, I am sure I’d have been bruised from her reactions.
She is a baseball fiend; I created the monster.