Starting Line Up by Mark Nielsen, Oct. 9, 2015
(A Song for Cub Fans …sung by Regular Joe, our manager)
“Hey Bitterness, Regret and Fear
Let me make this one thing clear:
You have a place on the team this year,
But tonight you’re on the bench. Just cheer.
Cheer for Youth and Joy and Play…
Chanting “next year” till our dying day.
Who am I to stop those who say
“Wait till this year”? Not next? Hooray!
Hope is the thing with a catcher’s mitt:
0 for 5 Wednesday but still won’t quit
The One-Hit Wonder, but what a hit!
Steals home, but doesn’t overthink it.
Your failures? That was before they were born
These kids deserve your thanks, not scorn.
This city has a mask it’s worn:
The Sad Jester, with his jersey torn.
Leading off is Second Chance:
He’s never won, but he’s been to The Dance.
Next up is Mr. Baggy Pants,
Who grew up poor, but he’s got plans.
Batting third is Dad Was a Drunk.
If he doesn’t hit, then we’re all sunk.
And even when the rest of us stunk,
He’s been the survivor; he brings da funk.
Cleanup is Joy, he’ll get it done.
Followed by Youth, he’s always fun.
And Holy Cow, can that kid run!
With the game on the line, he’s the only one.
Sixth batter is Anger, he’s turned it around.
Used it as fuel and lit up this town.
If the Redbirds think he’s gonna lay down
They’re wrong. He KNOWS he deserves the crown.
Mr. Play bats seventh, he’s our lucky charm.
A key man since he came up from the farm.
He keeps us loose and does no harm,
Plus Holy Jesus, what an arm!
Eighth up is my pitcher, Mr. Cool:
A quiet leader, with all the tools.
His splitter makes batters look like fools.
He’s gonna send them all back to school.
The last man up is as good as the first,
That’s Hope. He’s gonna break The Curse.
He’s got that magic that makes this all work
When our head’s in the clouds, his feet are on earth.
So that’s our team. Every man’s a treasure.
‘Don’t let the pressure exceed the pleasure.’
That’s what I tell them. No need to measure.
‘Cause win or lose, we’re in this together.”
#FlytheW #GoCubsGo #TakeOctober
— Scrawled quickly on the day of the first-ever postseason matchup between the Cubs and Cardinals, a rivalry dating back to 1892!
— Compare this poem –and this team– to a loaded Chicago hot dog: a little bit of everything, including the sport peppers, which you wouldn’t think taste so good on a hot dog, but somehow it all works together to achieve a quirky sort of perfection.
— This work is partly inspired by the songs of the late great folk singer Steve Goodman, writer of the well-known unofficial Cub theme song “Go Cubs Go!”, and the lesser-known but more poignant “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request”. (see below)
— Disclaimer: I didn’t have particular Cub players in mind when I wrote this and assigned allegorical names to the players. I don’t know who has anger management issues and who doesn’t… I’m just grateful for the wild ride this manager and team have taken us on this year.