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SportsMonday: Grandpa Rossy vs. Grandpa Bears

So what happened at the end of the latest Bears monstrosity? By then I had joined our entire city in switching to the ninth inning of the Cubs game. Come on Sox fans, admit it: you changed channels too - maybe even before then. And yes, I did check in on the baseball game reasonably frequently earlier in the evening.

I thought about just watching the Cubs all the way through but then my delightful fellow Cubs fans gave David Ross the first of his half-dozen standing ovations when he came to the plate for the first time. People, the guy played back-up catcher for the Cubs for two years! All this Grandpa Rossy garbage - he has a young family - what is the matter with us?

It should have been easy. Ross had already had a little retirement ceremony Friday. The great thing about the Cubs' 3-1 win Sunday night was that Ross actually came through and hit a home run. That was the chance to give him a proper send-off, to convince him to take the curtain call, cheer like mad and then call it a night.

But no, there were those early ovations for nothing and then Joe Maddon took him out in the middle of an inning like he was a basketball player. I thought I was going to puke. Maddon was pretty smarmy before he came to the Cubs but the guy and the fans who increased attendance when the Cubs celebrated 100 years of losing during their third tanked season a few years back have come together to take treacly sentimentality to a whole new level.

Of course I love all the wins the past two years, but God I hate the Cutesy Cubby crap. Let's be clear. I have been a Cubs fan all the way through and I am now 50. When I was really little, my mother used to take me and my brother Nat to batting practice because they would let you in free as long as you left before game time.

Then when I was a few years into grade school, Nat and I started taking the 22 Clark Street bus up to Wrigley from near our family's townhouse in Lincoln Park. We boarded at Dickens, where the stop going north was kitty corner to the Steak N Egger. We would get there early and sit on the sidewalk waiting for the bleachers to open and for the tickets to go on sale for what, a buck-fifty?

We started out as fans of Rick Monday and therefore sat in right center/center and we stayed there after he left. We could always get good seats down by the basket. We watched ushers cart out multiple drunks on stretchers over the years. One of my highlights in the '80s was watching several Mets including Lenny Dykstra and led by relief pitcher Roger McDowell compete to see if any of them could throw a ball through one of the holes in the scoreboard. In the '90s, I caught a batting practice home run hit by Pete Incaviglia.

McDowell was the all-time coolest visiting player when it came to interacting with the fans. He would bring a bucket out to the outfield, throw balls into the stands and then invite people to try to throw them back into the bucket. When I had my chance, I came up woefully, woefully short.

So I'm as much of a Cub fan as anyone. And I used to be sure that the cutesy stuff would hold us back forever. This year, maybe the team is good enough to overcome it. If they don't, there will be thousands of fans saying they had a great season anyway. And all of those people may have to die.

I don't have much to say about the Bears after their 31-17 loss at Dallas dropped them to 0-3. I'm sure those who deserve to be excoriated have been excoriated and will continue to be excoriated. Excoriation for everyone!

I hope all those who so confidently told us that the Bears were better off with Brian Hoyer as the backup quarterback than they would have been with Dak Prescott (lookin' at you Hub!) will be at least a little sheepish.

This column began as Bear Monday about eight years ago and I have always focused on the local football team during the fall. But playoff baseball will demand attention. And the 2016 Bears are already on the verge of irrelevance.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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Posted on Oct 11, 2021