Blue: It’s a color so cruel

I borrowed the title to this post from a song on the Fine Young Cannibals’ debut album from 1985. How I wish they had recorded more than just the two albums they did. And if you haven’t ever heard anything they did besides “She Drives me Crazy” and “Good Thing,” do yourself a favor and seek this one out. It’s worth the trouble.

I was listening to this CD on the way to work today, when one track buried in the middle of the track list came to my attention. “Blue” was a reference to Margaret Thatcher and her government in the UK, so I have no illusions that the band wrote this song with baseball in mind. But as a Cubs fan–who is once again on the outside looking in at baseball’s postseason–I gave their song an entirely different meaning.

The great thing about art is it can mean different things to different people, and one’s own interpretation is always the right one. Roland Gift thought he was singing about his hometown of Birmingham, and what Margaret Thatcher’s government was doing to it. But to me, in a car on a highway outside of Chicago, he was referencing the Cubs and all of their failures over the years.

There is never a good month for being a Cubs fan. April and May are OK because the baseball season is back, and June and July are nice when the beer is flowing and the sun is shining down on Wrigley Field, but August and September are rarely what a fan wants them to be. And October, quite simply, is the worst month of all.

Having to watch as all of the other teams in baseball make good memories for their fans is one thing. Today, for example, is the 35th anniversary of Reggie Jackson and his three home runs in the 1977 World Series. Yankees fans must have more good October memories than everybody else put together.

But the Red Sox have something, the Dodgers have something, the Cardinals have memories as fresh as this week, and every team in baseball has something to hang their hats on at this time of the year. And what do we Cubs fan have? Bupkus. Actually, bupkus suggests there are no October memories at all. I do have some October memories, but all of them are ultimately bad ones. So whatever the word for less-than-bupkus is, that’s what there is for the Cubs in October.

1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007, and 2008 are the only post-season baseball that the Cubs have participated in. And unless you’re past 70 years old (and I can’t imagine anyone at that age reading my blog), you haven’t got any more October memories than I do.

Every one of those years started off with “Yeah, we’re in the playoffs and this will be the year, at last!” And every one of them has ended in defeat, before getting to the World Series and that fancy trophy that the Cubs have never played for, let alone hoisted for themselves. And the other 30+ years where the team has missed the playoffs? Usually, the end of the season can’t come soon enough

After October ends, and a champion is crowned, there’s three months that go by without any baseball at all. There’s speculation about free agent signings and all of that, but no games on the field to consider. It’s like being on crutches, to keep weight off of the sprained or broken ankle and give it time to heal. November through January serve that same purpose, at least when it comes to baseball.

And then in February Spring Training begins, and the cycle repeats itself all over again. It’s as if the previous year’s disappointment has been packed up and put with all of the other years of failure. After all these years as a Cubs fan, I know this drill all too well.

The next two weeks will be tough, especially as the Cardinals continue to play well. I don’t root against them, or any other team, but I also can’t help envying them to some extent.

How does it feel to watch a baseball game involving my team, being played on or after October 18? Maybe I’ll know the answer to that some day but for now, all I can do is lament my team’s color and the matching feelings that it always gives me in October.

UPDATE: The picture of the blue Wrigley Field above either comes from 1962 or 1965, on the basis on when the Dodgers were in town on the days listed on the marquee. I never knew it had been blue before, but I like it, actually. It’s more in keeping with the team’s colors than the Cardinals red is.

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