When I moved to Toronto, to work at Sportsnet, I remember being a bit of a baseball novice…not in the sense that I didn’t understand the game, I did (and do), but I’d never really experienced that “good old ball game” vibe. As of March 2000 my only experiences of “live big league ball” came by way of the Seattle Mariners, at the Kingdome. (Not exactly intimate).
In the summer of 2001, after my first year on the desk at Sportsnet – surrounded by hard-core Blue Jays fans – I took a vacation. I offered to take any two weeks most convenient for my bosses and then planned a three MLB city tour, by myself, with the sole purpose of experiencing MLB.
New York, Boston and Chicago. By fluke the Blue Jays were playing in NY and Boston, so I had connections to get into the press boxes and batting practices. A few calls by, then travelling secretary and future Assistant GM of the Club, Bart Given saw me set up with the team rate at fantastically safe hotels in all three cities — along with my passes.
NYC is NYC….very little need to explain the awe I felt there. (more another time)
Boston, my dog’s name is Fenway, I fell in love with Boston. (more another time)
I arrived, after epic flight delays, dropped my suitcases at the Hotel and went straight to Wrigley. It was kismet: I saw Sammy Sosa‘s Cub’s host Mark McGwire‘s Cardinals….it was 110 degrees with 90% humidity on a Mid-summer Sunday evening. Heavenly. (great hotdogs — note: NEVER KETCHUP there.)
As mentioned, I had a media pass – so was standing next to the batting cage as these two sluggers proceeded to “hand out” long balls to adoring fans in the outfield stands. (This was before PED controversy for McGwire and the corked bat for Swingin’ Sammy.) It was just me watching those guys play at Wrigley.
The World series drought at Wrigley is the stuff of legend. It has been 108 years since the Cubs won it all. It’s been 71 years since they won the pennant to make it to the Fall Classic.
Today, 71 year drought is over …. Can they stop the curse at 108?
Gotta say it, I’m following my heart for this WS. Go Cubs.