The only post season Cubs game I ever attended was the first one in 1984, after a summer I’d been to nearly half the team’s home games. I spent $75 on a bleacher seat, and the Cubs won 13-1, but it was invasion of the body snatchers out there. None of the regulars were in the bleachers, not the gamblers betting on every pitch in the seats just below the concession stand, not the Trixies working on their tans, not the two blind guys listening to their transistor radio and doing funny color commentary, not the college kids measuring manhood by the number of beer cups they had accumulated, one within the next. No, they had all been replaced by the college kids’ parents, men with sweaters tied around their necks and women asking beer vendors if they had any Pinot Grigio.
So no more expensive, on-sight disillusionment for me. This year I’m going to be right in front of my t.v. or beside my radio or in a bar as I am this afternoon when the first pitch is thrown at 5:33. This one is Charlie’s Ale House two miles north of Wrigley Field right up Clark Street. It’s the kind of place that calls its chili “kick ass,” but it does have 23 beers on tap and 6 flat screen t.v.s. I’d planned to be down the street at the Hopleaf which has wonderful Belgian beers, mussels and frites, and where I’ve been invited by Jessa Crispin of Bookslut to do a reading at 7:30 (I’m hoping for a six run lead by then), but the Hopleaf has no t.v.s flat screened or otherwise, a fact I’d salute any other evening, but….
We bail out of Charlie’s after one beer and two innings. The Cubs are up two/zero on the strength of Mark DeRosa’s opposite field home run, but Ryan Dempster is nervous and wild. Out on Clark we follow the Metlife blimp as if it’s the star of Bethlehem to a Turkish pizza parlor called Konak’s next door to the Hopleaf where we eat an eggplant pizza and nurse the Cubs through two more innings while we talk to two dancers/baseball fans from The Chicago Tap Theater. They are designing their Christmas show as they cheer for the Cubs. God, I love Chicago!
7:10 and time to go. Dempster has thrown a hundred pitches already and now loaded the bases, but Piniella leaves him in to face James Loney, who promptly parks one in the center field bleachers. Down 4-2. Shit.
At a reading I’d agreed to give from my new novel, I read my piece to a crowd that’s much younger than I expected, and I know instantly that it’s the wrong one, but people are polite and attentive. Afterward I excuse myself to go to the bathroom: 5-2 Dodgers in the seventh. A couple more readers and another bathroom break. 6-2 Dodgers in the eighth. I sign a few books, drink a couple bears, and hurry back to Konak’s. There’s a soccer game on. I hesitate, then ask the old guy at the end of the bar just to be sure.
“Yeah, they lost. 7-2. Same old Cubs.”
-- Peter Ferry
Ed. note: Peter Ferry's novel "Travel Writing" has just been published by Harcourt.