Posts Tagged ‘Cubs’

I’m a baseball fan – more specifically, I’m a Chicago Cubs baseball fan. And today is Opening Day.

If you are not a sports fan, especially of a team who used to be perennial losers, you may not understand the significance of Opening Day. Let me give you a little insight…

Up until 2015, the Chicago Cubs were known as the lovable losers…maybe not to their fans, but certainly to fans of our rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. No, I take that back. To Cardinal fans, the Cubs were just plain losers.

Every year around mid to late May, most Cubs fans realized that once again, their favorite team would not be winning their division, maybe even finishing in last place…again. The catch phrase – “Wait ’til next year” – was our cry. Hope springs eternal in the hearts of life long Cub fans. And every year, we were disappointed. Oh yes – we had our moments…1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2008…always giving us a taste of what could be. But always, other teams played better in those final crucial games…and we went home earlier than we would like.

But in 2015, the tide turned. Our lowly team, with fresh young faces, started winning, unexpectedly defeating other teams who were considered “better” or “more talented.” But you can’t measure heart, and those young guys didn’t know anything about Cubs history, or the lovable losers tag, or that the Cubs weren’t supposed to win. They didn’t make it to the World Series that year, but now their die hard fans were excited. Could “wait ’til next year” actually be accurate this time?

Yes – it was. 2016 was the year of the Cubs. We won right out of the gate…played well all year, and defeated the Giants and Dodgers to make it to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs hadn’t been to the Series since 1945 – 71 years! Books have been written about this team and this series. The Cubs defeated the Indians in seven games, with more drama than a “This Is Us” episode.

The World Series trophy came to Cedar Rapids – couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see it

My Cardinal-loving son came to watch that last game at our house…”To watch you watch your team win the World Series.”  He’s such a great guy – he knew how much this meant to me and even though his team was out of it, he wanted to be a part of celebrating with me. That 7th game was a nail biter…can’t even watch a replay now without getting nervous.

Chicago trip 006

Enjoyed a win at Wrigley in August 2018 with sister, niece and son – my first night game.

My Cub-loving son was out of town, but we connected via texts…he was watching in Ames, and me on my couch. Nothing binds people together like sports and the mutual love of a team. It’s part of why I love Opening Day. Everything is fresh, hope is bright, we’re all starting from the same 0-0 score. The long season stretches before us – with promises of close games and blow outs, diving catches and wall-climbing grabs, monstrous home runs, and swinging bunt singles, sweeping tags and stolen bases.

Hello, Opening Day! Go Cubs!

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Has anyone seen Fiddler on the Roof? It is a musical set in imperial Russia in 1905. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters. Throughout the production, Tevye attempts to hold true to his Jewish traditions but outside forces creep in and change happens. It’s a longer movie, but so worth it. Tevye’s hold to tradition above all else eventually withers away as he and his family are forced to leave their village by the Tsar’s edict…Change happens…to all of us.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a few customs to hold onto…Traditions within the family can cause a cohesiveness that is hard to duplicate. Traditions can create memories which will last throughout lifetimes. The McGarvey’s have a few traditions of our own…

IMG_3835My husband is a sports lover. Fortunately, he married a sports-loving woman because we really enjoy watching and/or participating in lots of sports. And of course, we raised our two sons to be sports nuts as well. And we were very, very successful. I guess we aren’t as extreme as some families, but we taught our kids how to play all those sports at a young age. Boys_golf_partnersAs homeschoolers, we could take an afternoon and go play 18 holes of golf or start up a quick kickball game in the backyard. And sports watching is a sport in our house. The girls that love my guys have had to get used to this…and I love them for it.

This so happens to be our favorite time of year – when all the stars align, and all our sports are happening at the same time. We are a March Madness family – we’ve filled out brackets for 20 years (David wins most often). We’ve seen the process morph from copying it out of the Monday morning newspaper to multiple online bracket groups. It is also the start of baseball (two Cub fans, two Cardinal fans) and The Masters (golf, for those not sports-minded) is only a few weeks away.Cubs_fans

Our traditions center around activities we enjoy and have enjoyed together. When the kids were younger, we spent our short vacations in the Wisconsin Dells, specifically the Wilderness Resort. We have a loyalty to that location that will keep us from enjoying any other Dells resort. It’s Wilderness or nothing. It’s our tradition.

About six years ago I started listening to the music of a certain band, NEEDTOBREATHE. I bought five tickets to see the band in Chicago (side note: we also took in a Cub game on that trip – we love our sports). The boys and I (with their two girlfriends) attended the concert and we were hooked. It was so much fun – not just the concert, but the whole day spent with family, in a new location, doing fun things, being flexible, enjoying each other. We still tell stories of that first concert in Chicago. We attended two more concerts that year (St. Louis and Iowa City). We’ve tried to attend at least one NTB concert each year, not just because we enjoy their music, but because we enjoy each other. We make the whole trip an experience filled with memories with people we love. Even Don’s gone a couple of times. It’s our tradition.Concert_goers

So, I have 4 small suggestions for beginning any tradition in your family:

  • Make it something all of you enjoy…or at least a large majority. Because we all love baseball, we can handle attending either Cubs or Cardinals games (though two of us will always be less ecstatic than the other two) but since only one of us is a Hawkeye fan, we don’t choose to go to any Iowa sport together.
  • Don’t adhere to too many absolutes. We fill out our brackets each year, but we don’t maintain the method must stay the same. Paper or online – doesn’t matter. We go to our annual NTB concert, but we don’t have to eat the same food every time or only see them in one city. In fact, we like seeing them in lots of different locations. Flexibility within the tradition gives you more great memories.
  • You are never too old to start a tradition. Our concert going idea started when my kids were already grown, and I was in my fifties. I’m looking forward to starting new traditions in the future.
  • Keep it simple. Allow life to happen, and as it does, natural traditions will begin on their own. Forcing traditions onto your family may backfire and cause more stress than joy.

I hope you enjoy a few simple traditions –  Making memories with family is the most important thing.

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I hope Augusta National Inc. doesn’t come after me. The title of today’s blog is a trademark they filed in 2014, after veteran sportscaster Jim Nantz coined the phrase almost 30 years ago. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just walk away right now. Save yourself a few minutes of your day. Tradition, in the McGarvey household, is spelled S-P-O-R-T-S.

We love almost every sport although we have had a few discussions (i.e. arguments, debates) about what constitutes a “sport.” I think we’ve gone both ways on horse racing, non-Olympic year curling and rhythmic gymnastics (Olympic sport or not). We most closely follow  the Big Four (baseball, basketball, football and golf) though we make exceptions for the Daytona 500, the Triple Crown and the Indianapolis 500.

The McGarveys could not care less about robins and groundhogs…in our house, the signal of Spring’s arrival is March Madness, the Final Four, baseball’s Opening Day and The Masters. Ah!  I can smell the magnolias already.

Our tradition starts with an email from David informing us of our March Madness brackets. We started filling out individual brackets when the boys were pretty young. I would photocopy the big one printed in the Monday USA Today, the morning after the announcement. When it came to picking winners, age made no difference…Sean always, always, always correctly picked one of the underdogs, but overall it usually came down to Don or David. Now, of course, we’re all high-tech with on-line brackets on various websites. Doesn’t matter to me – I still get killed in the second round.

Televised basketball games run non-stop from that opening Thursday morning through Sunday evening…and then start up again the following weekend, until there are only four teams remaining and my living room spells like a locker room, dirty socks and all. I loved it.

Each year, the men’s championship basketball game is played on a Monday night, followed by the start of The Masters (“a tradition unlike any other”) on Thursday. David used to take off from work the four days of The Masters. He almost cried when his friend scheduled his wedding on Masters Saturday. (Really? Who does that?)

Our favorite players don’t need last names (Zach, Jordan, Jason, Tiger) and we root for them as if they are our neighbors and best friends. We were all together watching when Tiger’s miraculous chip went in on the 16th hole in 2005 – and two years later, when our city’s favorite golfer claimed the green jacket – and then two years ago, when a kid the same age as our boys took home his first major championship by 4 strokes.  Just a few of our favorite memories.

This year…oh boy!…this year, baseball’s Opening Night game is the Sunday prior to the men’s basketball championship. AND, it’s the Cubs versus the Cardinals in St. Louis. Seriously – in our house, it can’t get any better.

To be honest, the hardest part of my empty nest thing is the loss of this bonding around our favorite sports. Our tradition took a hit when Sean went away to Ames for school. Last year, David was living in his new apartment and our living room was much neater (the couch cushions actually stayed on the couch all weekend) and no one ate any snacks or drank any Dr. Pepper. Even my boys notice and try to help me. Last fall, Sean and I watched a post-season Cubs game on bar stools at a bowling alley in Ames. David made it a point of coming home for Game 7 of the World Series so he could be with me when my team won (and wasn’t that a nail-biter!?) Not sure what I’ll do this year – may need to Skype in Sean when my Cardinal-loving men start trashing my Cubbies. Except, this year, I can give it back. #WorldSeriesChamps

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