Monday, August 23, 2010

Dear Lou,

Are you crying?

Are you crying?

There's no crying.

There's no crying in baseball.

There is NO crying in baseball!

You know Lou, it seems like just yesterday I was looking down at my Riddell square-toed kicking shoe in the locker room out in Geneva, knowing full well that would be the last time I ever took it off. A heartbreaking 30-28 loss to the Vikings of Geneva in the quarter-finals of the IHSA 3A State Playoffs would be my final competitive game, and it really hit me hard. The end of an era that started in 5th grade and ended eight years later that chilly Saturday afternoon in November of 1978.

No more football. No more shoulder-pads over half-shirts. No more protective cups. No more chin-strap rash. No more air-helmets with the Riddell ® Patented Safety Bladder (do not over-inflate.) No more double-sessions in the sweltering August heat.

The undefeated Redwings had been defeated and I wouldn't kick another football through another goalpost, something I'd done thousands of times in practice and in games, ever again.

It was over.

I took off my kicking shoe and jammed it in my gear bag. Tossed the left one in a garbage can next to the lockers. Turned in my uniform to the equipment manager, grabbed a quick shower, rode back to school in the quietest bus you never heard, and then went out and got loaded with Sully and Gorms, the snapper and the holder.

But I didn't cry Lou.

Got a little lumpy in the larynx.

But I didn't cry.

Bitty Schram cried when Tom Hanks yelled at her because Bitty is a girl Lou, a girl.

Girls cry Lou.

Warriors like us don't cry.

Listen buddy, the single greatest comeback I ever saw on a baseball field happened in August of 2001 between your 116 win Seattle Mariners and the Cleveland Indians, in Cleveland. It was a national broadcast, thank goodness, and I watched the entire game, unlike most people who first tuned in.

You had the Indians down 14-2 headed to the bottom of the 7th inning.

Do you remember the game ? Of course you do.

The Erie Warriors threw a 3 spot up in the bottom of the 7th, to make it 14-5. They pushed 4 across in the 8th to close it to 14-9. And then...they scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th to miraculously tie the game and send it to extras.

After a scoreless 10th, and a Mariners blank in the top half, the Fighting Braves of the Cuyahoga came all the way back Lou, scoring in the bottom of the 11th to win 15-14.

As the comeback was being mounted, the camera crew routinely cut to you sitting in the corner of the Mariners dugout, and your expression went from relaxed, to agitated, to concerned, to panicked, to bemused. After the game, you said something about baseball being a funny game and if you watch long enough you'll see just about anything.

But you didn't cry!

And now, as you announced your retirement before the agony of the 2010 season is even over, leaving the Friendly Confines for the final time as a member of the most inept franchise in the history of franchises, you took a look back on your career and you choked up.

You cried.

"It's the last time I'll ever put on a uniform. (sniff) I get emotional. (sniff sniff) I don't mean to. (tears) It's just a fun place to play baseball. Really, it is. (sniff) Maybe the most fun place in all of baseball. I'll really miss it."

Wrigley is a gorgeous park to be sure, and a great party. cub fans are having beer garden party fun Lou, not baseball fun. It's baseball hell. Wrigley Field has hosted enough beer parties in the last 102 years to float the Titanic, which was still on the drawing board the last time the cubs won a World Series by the way.

The 57 cub managers before you failed to win a World Series. Why you took the job as cub manager is anyone's guess, but you shouldn't be sad that you're leaving. You should celebrate. (And seriously dude, that Tony Soprano girth of yours is a constant reminder that baseball managers shouldn't wear uniforms in the first place.) I can understand why you're going to miss baseball in general, but you should see your departure from the Chicago cubs as the smartest career move you ever made.

Look at it like this Mr. can now enjoy a pitcher of high-balls.

Thanks for the laughs. Congrats on a fine career, and enjoy your retirement.

You're in a better place now.