The Billy Goat Curse
Whenever something bad happens and I get that awful feeling like I’m a paranoid schizophrenic and the world outside is choking my neck, I try and think about baseball and Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs, and for a split second, no one’s out to get me and everything that’s awful, isn’t so bad.
I like to think about one game in particular. A wildcard game back in the 90’s. I remember standing the whole time between my father and my brother and everything in our world seemed so clear and important because there were only two noises and two feelings. Deafening silence or eruption. Holy gratitude or madness and the swinging pendulum of an entire stadium’s spirit swaying in between. That’s what I like to think about whenever something bad happens or whenever I get down about the world around me. I think about Godless men praying. I think about the 1 and the 0 and every man’s hair-raising hope for miracles; Miracles that may or may not happen.
After watching the Mets sweep the Cubs in the National League Championship Series, my good feelings went away again and I started feeling bad, and I went back to spending most of my days feeling like this billy goat with a lynch around his neck, wondering whether or not the branch is going to snap.
Baseball, Wrigley Field, the Cubs, Chicago… I think to myself.
I grew up outside Chicago, in Mount Prospect in a bedroom with blue carpet and Cubs blankets. The Cubs were important to us; us being my family. Now, I won’t presume you care about me or us or the Cubs or Mount Prospect or any of that personal bull crap, so I won’t say much more about it. Heck, you’re probably a Mets fan. But I will presume you love Chicago, and America, and I will presume your curious about my paranoias and discomforts as I’m sure you care about your own feelings of disappointment and the sadness that strangles your own neck, so I’m writing this down in hopes that you and I might forget it all and feel good again. Really good. Like actually good. And now that I think about it… I’m not sure why I started talking about baseball. This isn’t about baseball. Baseball’s perfect. This is about trying to manage hard facts.
“I don’t know what the big deal about Cracker Jack is. Did you ever go buy a pack of Cracker Jack, thinking you’d get a prize and find no prize in the box? (pause) Here’s the pitch…”
– Harry Caray