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This is Chicago's year ... again

OPINION

  • Fans watch the Cubs' home opener from The Lakeview Baseball Club.
Fans watch the Cubs' home opener from The Lakeview Baseball Club. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune )
April 25, 2013|By Hector Luis Alamo Jr., @hectorluisalamo | For RedEye

Ending his recap of a recent Cubs loss, a local TV sports anchor said, "D'you know what Cubs fans have to look forward to this summer? Lollapalooza."

My wife, a Sox fan, wondered how I could still get excited about the prospect of going to games at Wrigley Field. "The place is broken down," she said, "and you're only going there to watch them lose."

It's true. I've been to Wrigley plenty of times, but I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen the home team win. Yet even on the countless losing days, I always walked away smiling, knowing I'd be back in no time.

You've probably heard someone define insanity as doing something over and over again but expecting a different outcome. If that's the case, then I'm crazy about Wrigley and the Cubs.

I don't care what lies my wife tells herself—nothing tops your first glimpse of the green field, the green ivy, the green scoreboard and the red brick. Nothing compares to sitting under the blazing sun, eating a warm Polish and drinking a cold beer. All around are the apartment buildings, and unlike at U.S. Cellular Field (blah!), you're constantly aware that you're in the heart of the city—or at least under its ribs.

You're in heaven.

In reality, watching the Cubs play at Wrigley is the closest I come to religion. Wrigley Field is Chicago's civic shrine where the people go to hope and pray. The boys won't lose today—you'll see! Good guys always win in the end, and my love for this place will conquer all.

Look how white the uniforms are, and the foul lines! Look at the blue! Look at the grass perfectly mowed and how neat the infield dirt is! The players must be 7 feet tall! And the ballpark, poised like a defiant old lady wearing every piece of jewelry she owns, sitting there, daring the rain and the wind and the snow—daring time itself. Not even the pigeons have the nerve to poop on this place!

And aren't Wrigley Field and the Cubs emblematic of Chicago?

The city's been knocked down plenty, too. We've seen the jobs go someplace else, our neighborhoods dry up, our schools fail, and our plans evaporate like Wrigley's in late summer. We've heard outsiders talk about how violent our streets are, how corrupt our politicians are, and how broke the city government is.

Add to all of that the arctic winters and the sauna summers, and outsiders can't understand why Chicagoans choose to stay put and rough it out.

But that's what we do, don't we? As Cubs fans and Chicagoans, we stay put and rough it out. Every year, we emerge from the cold with new hopes and new plans, because no matter how bad last year was, this is our year. Last year was only a fluke in a long line of flukes.

I don't care if the Cubs are last in the division and Rachel Shteir writes in The New York Times that Chicago's a lost cause.

We'll still go to Wrigley, buy the Polish and the beer, cheer our loudest, because this year we're going to the dance. And we'll fix the schools, make the streets safer, kick the bastards out of City Hall, bring the jobs back, because this year the curse will be broken.

And if not, there's always next year.

Hector Luis Alamo Jr. is a RedEye special contributor.

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