These days I don’t find much that is very compelling about professional sports including the Chicago Cubs. I’ve learned that they can take a lot of your time, inevitably they disappoint and there is nothing you can do about it. Still I must admit that there was a little glimmer of interest that would come alive whenever the northsiders were doing well. The Cubs may not be big winners but they are a storied team; robbed of a pennant by Steve Bartman’s interference with a questionably catchable foul ball, the butt of Babe Ruth’s bravado, victims of a billy goat’s curse. The team’s collapse in 1969 is legendary.
Sometime in the late 1970s the first version of the play Bleacher Bums emerged exploring/celebrating a group of Cub fans who have long endured the emotional roller coaster of win-lose and lose some more but remain loyal and hopeful for eventual success. Whether the viewer of the original Bleacher Bums or its more recent reincarnations wants to find the loyal Cub’s fans experiences analogous to life is perhaps the overriding question of the play. For fans, whether really devoted or merely casual, professional sports teams like the Cubs are entertainment—but they are much more, because they are a kind of long-running saga in which the fan and the team are linked.
Teams like the Cubs provide an avenue where all kinds of people can meet and share and enjoy a moment or maybe much more of camaraderie and connectedness. I am in a hospital waiting area churning through my collection of unread newspapers while my Dad is getting a new pace maker installed. An African American man a bit older than me sits down nearby to wait while his wife has some kind of test. He gets into reading my old newspapers. And before long we are talking about baseball and those damn collapsing Cubs of 1969. He recalls growing up “in the projects” on the west side. He savors the memory of Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ferguson Jenkins. I too remember that summer of ’69, a high school junior to be, working on a huge landscape project shoveling, smoothing and planting while two “old shoe” radio announcers broadcast the Cubs games from Wrigley Field amid bright sun, warm wind, and the occasional drive by of cheerleader Barb Spreen in a red convertible who might give a little wave and a smile.
Owning a baseball team might be a great ego trip but in some ways it is a great responsibility and while the Ricketts family might be the big bosses of the Cubs, they are also stewards with an obligation to nurture that long running saga which is part of our region and a part of even the most casual fan’s life. So when the Rickett’s family patriarch takes a public stand in a presidential election he is taking a big risk. When he goes so far as to set up his own Political Action Committee that actually produces its own ads, and then spends ten million dollars to attack one of the candidates, he has acted inappropriately. To take an action with which a significant percentage of fans will firmly disagree and many will find deeply offensive is an egregious expression of outsized ego, selfishness and disregard for fans/customers.
At Redbud Creek Farm we find many of our customers and friends have strong opinions about the election. And as might be expected, these opinions break down so that there is significant support for both sides. Be assured, whichever camp you come from—your opinion is respected. But know that the Farm is a relatively free from politics kind of place. Hopefully, the Farm is a respite from a sometimes crazy world where all are welcome. As much as we love red and blue, our real preference is always for the mixed combination of red, white, and blue with maybe a little golden yellow. And with the majority of plants, while their blooms may be colorful, by far they are nearly all mostly green.