This is my first, and hopefully not my last, post here on FiveWide. I hope you’ll enjoy my work here in this space.
I write on other places on the Web, most notably my own blog, BlueBattingHelmet, and on ThroughTheFenceBaseball, where I write the Addison St. Blues column. I’ve also got a piece in the latest issue of Zisk, which is a very cool baseball zine that I encourage you to check out.
But enough with the resume stuff. If you want to find me elsewhere online, you can certainly do that. But I wanted to open up here with a riff on a word that I hate and will never use here, or anywhere else. The word, ironically enough, is “Cubbies.”
What’s ironic about that, you ask? Given that most of my thoughts–or at least the ones I end up writing about–have to do with the baseball team from the North side of Chicago, it seems weird to hate the name that many people apply to them. But the reason I hate it is because that’s not who they actually are.
- When I go past the marquee on Clark Street outside Wrigley Field, it doesn’t say “Home of Chicago Cubbies.”
- When I want to go to the team’s website for whatever reason, I don’t go to Cubbies.com.
- Nobody will ever refer to Ernie Banks as “Mr. Cubbie.” Or they’ll have to deal with me if they do.
The word is used often enough, but that doesn’t make it right. I spent the first ten years of my life known as “Robbie” before I decided it was time to grow up, and I’ve been going by Rob ever since. Whatever your name is, there might be a “Stevie” or a “Billy” or a similar kiddie type name in your past, too. And if you’re a ‘Tommy” and you’re reading this, relax. I’m just trying to make a point here.
The tradition of “Root, root, root for the Cubbies!” comes from Harry Caray, who brought that shtick with him from the South Side in the early 1980s. “Root, root, root for the White Sox” worked just fine when he was singing in the old Comiskey Park, because it has the same cadence as “root, root, root for the home team” does. But “Cubs” is one syllable, not two.
Harry had to keep his act going, and so he turned the “Cubs” into the “Cubbies” instead. And everyone ate it up with a spoon, for as long as he was in the broadcast booth. I didn’t love Harry the same way that I did his predecessor, Jack Brickhouse, but it was almost impossible not to respect Harry for what he meant to the game. He was like the zany uncle that you looked forward to seeing at family events.
But Harry’s been gone now for fifteen years. It’s long past time to let his cute little twist on the Cubs name go. They are the Cubs, and only the Cubs, at least in my mind. Thanks for reading, and I hope to write at you again soon.