Investigative Journalism, 4 of 4: The Conclusion

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Investigative Journalism, 4 of 4: The Conclusion

. Thursday, July 16, 2009

We suddenly find ourselves posting the last of the 5,000+ words we gleaned from our conversation with Cubs fans/authors Donald Evans and Don DeGrazia. What a long innebriated journey it's been. It got us through the All Star break, didn't it? Sweet, precious baseball returns tonight.

We've run out of ways to say this in a clever fashion, so we'll just go ahead and say it: Buy Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting Till Next Year immediately, or a Robert Loggia in clown makeup will creep into your room tonight and steal your soul.

Catch Part I, Part II, and Part III

Now, without further ado:

We pick up post-Malort, on the thread of how being a Cubs fan has influenced their writing

DE: In my experience, baseball and the Cubs are not the most important thing in the world. Not anywhere near it. Seems more so when you’re young, and when you’re older, you get more perspective.

DDG: Have you lost your fucking mind?

Has he, dear readers? Find out, after the jump

DE: But the thing is, it’s part of the fabric of your summer. And you can really chart time based on the Cubs. The Cubs teams in the summer. Even this summer, you can talk about the summer based on what happened in April, Opening Day, and kind of track things that way. So the way that I’ve kind of integrated it into my writing is that it’s part of the fabric of my life, and for a lot of people that are baseball fans and cubs fans. I don’t watch them all, I can’t, I don’t listen to them all, I can’t go to that many games, but there’s hardly anything that goes on that I don’t know in real time. I can’t tell you exactly how that happens, it’s the computer, the radio, the TV. But when a game is about to start, I know it’s about to start, and I know I gotta get somewhere that I can hear it. And I’m not tuned into it like when I was younger, where I’m zeroed in watching every pitch. But it’s part of what I’m doing during the games in the summer. The games at night even. West Coast? I alter my fuckin’ day because I know that I’m going to be up until one.

DDG: I have nothing good to say about the relationship between being a Cubs fan and being a writer. I would have the fuckin’ Nobel Prize right now if I wasn’t a Cubs fan. It’s done nothing but interfere with me and teach me that I can’t win. That I’m cursed. I have nothing good to say about the relationship whatsoever. The only thing worse, that I could think of, would be to be a Sox fan. But that’s never going to happen, so that’s a positive.
It’s given me some material, obviously. Including the story that I’d written for this book.

DE: When you live in the neighborhood, you’ve got a ballpark right by your house or your apartment or whatever. So the game is part of your life, the Cubs are part of what you do. There’s no other ballpark really like that. Most other ballparks now, the most important thing is that it’s convenient for parking and it’s off of a highway. And Wrigleyville, I lived there for quite awhile in college, we would be on my porch and have tickets to the game. And we’d wait until we heard the national anthem, not on TV, on the porch, and we’d walk across the street and go to the game. There’s a lot of dramatic potential in that without getting down to the level of just sports reporting. There’s a lot of literary potential, a lot of dramatic potential, that is above and beyond the usual reporting stuff, which is a separate industry.

DDG: When I was staying at my uncle’s, I would sit out on the porch and see the employees line up at the beginning of the day. The buses would start lining up. You’d see the empty field, and it would start to fill up eventually, and the game would be played, they’d leave, and the buses would leave, and the cleaning crews would clean the place up.

DE: And the neighborhood, it stays busy and loud for a couple hours after the game.

DDG: Alley cats would slink in through the turnstiles and face the rats or eat the garbage or whatever they do.

DE: Whatever alley cats do after dark.

DDG: There’s something cool about all that.

SS: I think it’s interesting that you say it’s part of your life, because when there’s an off day, something just doesn’t feel right.

DE: I feel the same way, even during a bad season when the Cubs aren’t doing that well, you’ve got the game coming up, and there’s something there for you. Something of interest. We talked about Sammy Sosa and how it’s gotten harder to root for these guys, but there’s always enough guys to root for, guys you care about, and you’re part of this. They’re the ones getting paid to do it, and they’re the heroes, but you know.

DDG: Who was that Italian Holy Roller when they won the wild card?

DE: Italian Holy Roller?

DDG: Yeah, he was like a backup third baseman.

DE: Gaetti?

DDG: Yeah, Gaetti! What a classic Cub to root for.

J: That was our first year in high school. We’d never met before, but we talked a lot about the Cubs. That was Gaetti, that was Sammy’s year. Mickey Morandini, Scott Servais, Mark Grace. Brant Brown! That was the Brant Brown year.

S: Wasn’t Kevin Foster on that team?

DE: I was at a banquet somewhere in that Woodstock/Crystal Lake/McHenry area. And Mickey Morandini was, along with Ardis Gilmore and Carl Eller, the featured speaker.

S: We were way out north, so you can understand.

J: I think as a writer, you can appreciate the ridiculousness of typing “Mickey Morandini, comma, Honored Guest.”

J: We’ll just give you two more quick ones here …

DDG: That’s what she said. Glad we're not the only ones that do this. It's always a classic

J: Prediction for this year, in a sentence.

DE: You know, I was asked this a month ago …

J: Damn.

DE: And this is what I said, which seems preposterous now. I said that I thought the Cubs were the best team in the National League. And that they would win the National League and lose in the World Series to one of the American League East teams, because I think there’s four team in the American League East that are better than the Cubs, and that those are the four best teams in baseball. Now, knowing what I know a month later, man the Dodgers seem like the class of the National League.

S: And they’ve still got Manny coming back.

J: The Yankees just had to fire Torre, didn’t they?

DE: I still don’t see anyone else in the National League that is really better than the Cubs. But the Dodgers seem better. They’re 20 games over, a long way from where we are. They’ve got a deep rotation, a good bullpen, they got hitters up and down the lineup, Manny Ramirez coming back. I still think the Cubs will win their divison.

S: So it if were Dodgers/Cubs in the playoffs?

DE: I think the Dodgers would beat them.

J: Wouldn’t be unprecedented. Don?

DDG: I’ll give you two scenarios, the likely one, and if I were writing the script. The likely one is that I think they’ll end up in the playoffs, win the division or Wild Card to get there. Then they’ll probably extend their streak to 12 in a row. They’ve got 9 now, which is incredible. I think the record is Boston with 11 or 12.
Or, they’ll do something incredible and get DeRosa back, it’ll rally everybody, they’ll dub it DeRosa Bowl, and they’ll win the World Series. Actually, they’ll lose in the seventh game of the World Series.

DE: I will say that if the Cubs don’t win it this year or next year, it’s going to be at least a decade.

J: Well, a decade is a short time in Cubs fan years.

J: So last one, what do you guys want to plug?

DE: Plug the book, that’s all I care about.

DDG: Yeah, it’s a good book, and I’d like to see him do 101, 102 years of waiting.

DE: When we put this book together, I knew a few people and had a few good pieces. If we did 101 years, I’d want to expand. Obviously, we wouldn’t want to be the same book.

DDG: It’s the kind of thing that, like he was talking about earlier, book tour type shit, readings and all that, you get burned out pretty quick. But Cheryl said she got the feeling that I would like this. It’s been a lot of fun – there’s cool people.

J: It offers a really conversational, fun look at being a Cubs fan.

DE: With only a few exceptions, everyone that has been involved with the book, it’s been a great experience to get to know them better. They’re all people that I really like their work to begin with, and because I was interested in having them on, I read everything I could about them, which I normally wouldn’t do because you don’t have the time. But I felt like it was my obligation before I called Scott Simon, I gotta read his book “Home and Away,” and the other stuff. And all that’s been a real pleasure, but then the people at these events, we’ve had events where there have been 200 people, and events where no one shows up, and they’ve all bet a lot of fun.

DDG: We did one at the cigar shop on Taylor Street.

DE: Gary Matthews came in. He’s a regular there.

DDG: That was fun, sitting around, drinking beer, smoking cigars.

DE: Those are the ones that not a lot of people came to, but we just hung out. Julia Borcherts, Don and me. They’ve all been a lot of fun to get to know these people.

After the interview, the authors all lived happily ever after. And I ordered Chicago's Pizza, because I had been drinking on an empty stomach. The end.