Why I'm Heading to Mesa for Cubs Spring Training (And You Should Too)
For those of you who aren't one of our two readers (we lost one this weekend when my Mom informed me that she is no longer reading), Martin and I started this blog about a year ago as sort of a running account of our trip to Arizona to visit the Cubs during Spring Training. Basically, we thought it would be a fun way to share our experiences and, more importantly, to make our buddies pissed that they chose to freeze in Chicago while we got a tan watching baseball for a week. It was a pretty good plan, I must say.
Fast forward almost a year later, and we're still going (somewhat) strong. We have a handful of faithful readers (surprisingly few who are related to us by blood or marriage). It has been a lot of fun even with the continued soul-crushing sadness that comes from being a Cubs fan.
So with another brutal winter in full force, we again made plans to return to sunny Mesa, AZ and begin anew our crippling obsession with the crushers of hopes, the destroyers of dreams...the one and only Chicago Cubs.
Then something happened.
As those of you who know me personally are already aware, some events in my work life in recent weeks have caused me to reevaluate things. Basically the economy took a bat to my balls, professionally speaking. With an uncertain future on the horizon, I was forced to take a hard look at my options and one thing stood out. There was no way I could go to Spring Training this year. No way in hell.
So I moped around last weekend wondering how bad a career as a shopping cart wrangler would be and bemoaning the fact that I would no longer be poolside in Arizona in a week blogging about how much scarier Milton Bradley is in person. While in this wonderful state of mind, I did something odd and, as it turned out, quite wise. I decided to look through my photos from last year's trip.
Then something else happened.
I remembered why this trip is so important.
There are very few sporting events that I have attended over the years that I recall with complete clarity. Game Five of the NLCS in 2003 (of course), Missouri's double OT win over Kansas back in college, and the moment I walked into the park for Spring Training last year.
I remember everything about that morning like it just happened 15 minutes ago. I remember how quiet it was. I remember that the only sound was a constant "whap-whap" coming from the 45 games of catch happening simultaneously on four different fields. No chatter between the players. No yelling from the fans. No pandering for autographs. Nothing but that distinctive "whap-whap" sound as ball struck glove up and down the line. It was just surreal.
I remember walking up to the fence, lacing my fingers in the chain-link above my head, and just watching grown men fire a ball back and forth repeatedly.
I remember leaning my head against the fence, closing my eyes, and smiling. I remember exhaling and thinking to myself, "This is what heaven is like. This sound."
At that moment, everything else just fell away. All the worries about my job, my finances, and my life just drifted away, and all I heard was "whap-whap" echoing across the fields. It was one of the top three happiest moments of my life.
The rest of that trip is a blur of chasing foul balls, drinking by the pool, eating at In-N-Out, losing at blackjack, and discussing the Cubs' chances from every conceivable angle. Nothing really stands out. Nothing except for that one moment by the fence.
That's when I realized that not only should I go, I NEEDED to go. No matter what the future might bring, I owed it to myself to return to that fence and that perfect sound.
God, I can't wait.
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