This is the final part of a series. You can start at the beginning here
I actually never thought I’d see the day.
The experience of this year’s baseball season for an old Cubs fan like me was nothing short of magical. And my lifelong quest to be at Wrigley for every postseason game in my lifetime has been completed. It couldn’t have ended on a higher note. I feel fulfilled. I was there when it happened.
This victory is so very sweet. This is for Ernie Banks and Ron Santo and Harry Carey and Steve Goodman and the millions of other fans and players who never got to see this day. It’s for every underdog in every pursuit. It’s for everyone who loves baseball, still the most beautiful, most storybook of all sports. Continue reading
This is part 8 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.
After the Cubs victory in Game 5, my phone went haywire with messages from friends and family. Everyone was asking the same question, “Are you going to Cleveland?” I responded to each one of them, “If there’s a Game 7, I’ll be there. I haven’t decided about Game 6 yet.”
The truth is, I had decided days ago that I would only go to Game 7, assuming it was played. For one thing, I had no connection for tickets in Cleveland (believe me, I tried every angle I could think of) and tickets were going for astronomical prices. By skipping Game 6 and focusing on Game 7, if I had to spend big bucks, at least it would only be for one game. Also, my travel was already set for the return flight to New York, and changing it around would be a pain in the neck. Continue reading
This is part 7 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.
Game 4, Indians at Cubs, Wrigley Field
I texted Jeff Santo to see if he was in town for the games. Jeff is the son of Cubs legend Ron Santo, and I had worked with Jeff a decade ago on a film about his Dad. Jeff replied that he was indeed in town, but that he only had tickets for Game 5. He would be watching Game 4 at a bar in Wrigleyville called the Schoolyard. We conspired to meet there prior to the game so we could see each other.
Meanwhile I started to get antsy, so I started waking toward the ballpark even though it was quite early. I purposely wove my way though side streets that I was unfamiliar with. When I finally reached the Wrigleyville area, it was almost time to head to the bar to meet up with Jeff. Just like every other bar in the area, the Schoolyard had a long line of people waiting to get in. I mentioned to the bouncer at the door that I was with Jeff Santo, and he said Jeff hadn’t arrived yet, but he had a table put aside for him and his party. As I hung out in front, a couple of other guys arrived asking for Jeff. We connected and started talking about all things Chicago while waiting for Jeff to arrive. Then I got a text from Jeff saying that his Uber was tied up in traffic. By the time he finally arrived, I had to run off to meet up with John Iltis, who had the tickets for tonight’s game. A quick hug and off I went. Continue reading
This is part 6 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.
The Cubs are in the World Series. Let me say that again. The Cubs are in the World Series. I’m going to let that swirl around in my head a bit. It was one step further toward the holy grail than the team had been in my lifetime. I was born eight years after the Cubs last appearance in a World Series. Wow. While my heart was saying 4 more wins, my head was already moving on to another place. Even if the Cubs didn’t win it all, this would be enough. Dayenu.
I had already decided that if the Cubs got this far, I would not go to Cleveland for the first two games of the series. Being there would have been nice, but my main objective was to be in Chicago for Games 3, 4 and (if necessary) 5. The games at Wrigley were the streak I was trying to protect, and I thought the odds were pretty good that the series would conclude during one of those three games. As far as Games 6 and 7 in Cleveland were concerned, I would wait and see what happens. Continue reading
This is part 5 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.
I had a morning flight to Chicago via Phoenix and my friend Janis volunteered to drive me to the airport. The first hitch was that the plane was delayed and I just barely missed my connection in Phoenix. Fortunately they were able to get me on another flight about 90 minutes later.
The next hitch came in Chicago where the Chicago Film Festival folks were supposed to take care of transportation from the airport to the hotel. The greeters informed me that we needed to wait for another person to arrive and then a group of us would be riding together. I looked at the possibility of taking a taxi, but the line looked like it was nearly an hour-long. So, I sat down at the Starbucks at O’Hare and chatted with a Greek filmmaker who was also heading to the festival. One major traffic jam later, I made it to my hotel, hungry and tired. I could now appreciate how easy my earlier trips had been made by taking public transportation. Continue reading
This is part 4 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.
The only flight I could get to Los Angeles was with a stop in San Francisco, but fortunately I had a day in between games. I would be staying with my friend Janis Nelson (yes, the same Janis Nelson who won the ticket lottery for me) and her husband Jim Ruxin in Brentwood. I did some research about getting to Dodgers Stadium by public transportation and decided that for the first time in my life, I would NOT rent a car in L.A. The plan was to depend on Uber, some busses and the kindness of friends to shuttle me around. I was also offered a parking spot that was a 10-minute walk away from the Stadium by a former student of mine, Geoff Booth. This would enable me to avoid dealing with the horrific parking lot situation at the stadium and allow for a quick exit afterward.
I had 2 tickets for each of the games, and Richie had decided he couldn’t make the trip, so I invited different people to come to each of the games. Continue reading
This is part 3 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.
Just prior to the start of the playoffs, I got an invitation from the Chicago Film Festival to do a one hour speaking gig, and when I checked my calendar, it coincided with a possible 6th game of the NLCS, assuming the Cubs made it that far. They agreed to fly me to and from Chicago for that weekend, and to put me up in a hotel. Best case, I got my transportation and lodging taken care of for some of the games I might be attending. Worst case, I would be obligated to be in Chicago that weekend, even if the Cubs had been eliminated, or if the series had ended. I said yes, with the understanding that depending on what happened in the playoffs, I might or might not have to change some flights around.
So when the Dodgers defeated the Nationals, I could finally lock in lock in some plans. The tickets for the unplayed games in DC were completely refundable, so no loss there. I had to book a one-way ticket to L.A. for Games 3, 4 and possibly 5. And my return trip would either be to NY if it was over after game 4, in which case I would then fly back to Chicago for the Festival on Saturday, or I would use the Festival ticket to fly directly back to Chicago from L.A. You with me so far? Continue reading
This is part 2 of a series. You can start at the beginning here.
In my last entry, I neglected to mention that while in Chicago, I stayed in the home of Peter Gilbert, my friend, colleague and one of the makers of “Hoop Dreams.” Peter, who teaches in North Carolina, has hosted me for the playoffs several times over the years, including for all the games played in Chicago last year. So I’ve become a part of the family. Peter’s wife Dru and his kids Leo and Fay not only make me feel welcome, they have invested in my Cubdom by being among my stoutest supporters. As the Cubs victories have mounted up, they have expressed their belief that my staying at their home has been good luck for the team. So, they don’t want me staying anywhere else.
I also neglected to mention the fact that on the day that the Giants defeated the Mets for the Wild Card, I started growing my playoff beard. Facial hair growth has been a pretty standard baseball superstition for a long time, and I adopted the custom last year. Just to be clear, I really don’t believe that anything I do is going to affect the outcome of the games, but I like the idea of participating in some way. And besides, my grey beard makes me look a little bit like Cubs Manager Joe Madden, and he is the coolest manager in baseball. Continue reading
Anyone who has been following me on social media the last two weeks, is aware that I’ve been on the road, with fingers crossed and fandom blazing, following the Chicago Cubs, as they attempt to break their 108-year championship drought.
I should mention first that my fanaticism is no recent development. I’ve documented in other entries on this blog, in great detail, how I became a Cubs fan (thanks, Dad), how my fandom was cemented as part of my identity, and how in 1984, the first time in my lifetime that the Cubs played a post-season game, I inadvertently began the quest that I am now on. You see, I have now attended every post-season game played at Wrigley Field since the day I was born—an achievement that used to bear a punchline, since there hadn’t been very many. But as the years went on, and the Cubs managed to get into the playoffs at least twice per decade, the numbers of games I attended began to mount up. The only limiting factor was that they never seemed to be able to get very deep into the playoffs.
You might enjoy listening to this Michigan NPR Broadcast where Russ Collins from Art House Convergence and yours truly talk about my donation of my archives to the University of Michigan Screen Arts Mavericks and Makers Collection.
Comments after the break… Continue reading