Something never seen before


As the Cubs’ season to remember keeps rolling along–and the team continues racking up victories like only a few living Cubs fans have ever seen–I’ve become more focused on the W flag. I have also written a piece about its history and significance for the Gamehedge blog. But I essentially see the flag as a validation that this year’s team is good, and has some great things in store for us over the next month or so.

According to a very good book I’ve read on the subject, the practice of running up flags at Wrigley Field after a ballgame began in the 1940s. The idea was to let the people riding the CTA’s elevated line past the ballpark know if the Cubs won or lost. That’s all. No game highlights or descriptions, just a binary result: W or L.

But from the early years of the practice until sometime in the 1980s (and the book isn’t any more specific than that with the dates), the color schemes of the flags were the opposite of what they are today. It makes sense, actually, because the Cubs team color is blue, so if they win perhaps the flag saying so should also be blue. And if the white flag symbolizes surrender, perhaps its fitting for the L flag to be that color, too. But they got switched somehow, and here we are.

This means one of two things, with regard to this season and the last time the Cubs had a similarly good season, back in 1945:

  • The Cubs hadn’t yet started flying flags after the games in 1945, because “the 1940s” is a wide span of time that may or may not include that season, OR
  • The flags that were flown in 1945 were either blue with a white W or white with a blue L, depending on the game’s outcome.

So even if the team had started with the flags in 1945, they didn’t look like the ones they use today, as shown above.

Either way, it’s worth pointing out that a white flag with a blue W on it has never flown over Wrigley Field before, when the team has 98 wins on the regular season, as they do today. They should easily reach 100 wins in the regular season, and have an outside chance to get there at home by beating the Cardinals on Saturday and Sunday. Wouldn’t it be nice to celebrate that 100th win with a W flag high above the ballpark? I know I’d love to see it.

The season really doesn’t begin until the postseason starts in October, but there’s still some dreaming left to do before that moment arrives. Go Cubs Go!

Putting 2012 in the rear-view mirror


I took this one day last Spring, after a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The tradition at Wrigley is that when the Cubs win the game, a white flag with a blue W is flown from the flagpole on the scoreboard in centerfield. When the Cubs lose, a blue flag with a white L is flown instead. If you look in the mirror real closely, you’ll see that it’s not a white flag being flown from the scoreboard. Most years, the blue flag flies from the scoreboard more than the white one does.

This year’s baseball season is still a month away from Spring Training, and more than two months away from Opening Day. I’ll have to put all of last year’s losing–a whole lifetime of losing, really–behind me, just like the flag in my car’s mirror suggests. I’m willing to move on, in the hopes that the Cubs will win for once in my lifetime.

But it’s a strategy that can work for all of 2012, too. Some good things happened, and some horrible things happened, but we all need to keep moving forward to make things better this year. If the Cubs win more than 61 games in 2013, we can say, legitimately, that they’re better than they were last year. But life itself doesn’t come with such an easily-defined benchmark number.

Whatever benchmarks I’m using to measure my life, hopefully they’ll all trend upward in 2013. And for anyone else who might read this, I hope that yours do, too.

W is for World Series

It’s sometimes difficult to remember What life was like before the internet. We’re so accustomed to it now, that it almost doesn’t seem possible that We ever got along without it. But somehow We did it. And this is is a story from back in those days.

In the early 1990s, from 1991 to 1994, I lived in a high rise building in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. The building had 17 stories, and I lived on the side of the building that faced north. Since I lived on one of the upper floors, I had a view of Wrigley Field out my Window. Whenever there was a network broadcast of a game played at Wrigley, I could see the blimps circling overhead, or Watch the small airplanes that would circle the park with a message of some kind trailing behind it.

In those days, after I would get home from Work in the evening, my first ritual Would be to grab a pair of binoculars, head over to the window, and look in the direction of Wrigley Field. Most home games were played in the afternoon back then, and the game Would usually be over by the time I got home. At the conclusion of the game, the Cubs Would run a White flag with a blue W on it up the flagpole if they won, or a blue flag with a White L on it up the flagpole When they lost. It was the best Way of finding out the result of that day’s game.

The day game at Wrigley is reserved for Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays anymore. Games at home on Mondays through Thursdays are almost entirely night games, making a ritual like this unnecessary. And having the internet at Work means that day games can be followed as they happen, and there is no suspense about What the outcome of the game is anymore. So I guess that’s progress.

The Cubs still continue with this post-game ritual, even if the need for it isn’t What it once Was. And the team now markets White shirts with a blue W on them, and uses the image as part of their current marketing campaign. It cuts both Ways, though, as I ran into a blue flag with a White L on it in Busch Stadium last year, being Waved by exuberant Cardinals fans to taunt Cubs fans like myself.

The practice of running up a flag after each home game began in the 1940s, although I haven’t been able to find a specific date for When this actually began. This could mean that there hasn’t been a flag run up following a World Series game for 61 seasons, if at all, since the last Cubs World Series appearance happened in 1945.

We all know that W stands for “Win,”  but could it one day stand for “World Series” too? This is just one more reason for daring to dream big with the new regime coming in. After all, We’ve Waited long enough.