Three years ago I decided I wanted to follow a baseball team. I never had much of an interest in baseball before. But since I retired there were more chunks of time that I was attempting to fill with things fun and entertaining. I thought learning more about the game of baseball and feeling some sense of allegiance to a team would fit the bill.
I called upon Baseball Ron, one of the best baseball know-it-alls in my small circle of associates. I asked him to suggest a good team for me to follow. I told him I preferred a team on the brink of making it to the playoffs but still up-and-coming enough to keeping things suspenseful. He suggested the Chicago Cubs. See, I told you he knows his stuff.
So year one 2015, the Cubs made the playoffs, but not the World Series. Year two, 2016…well everyone knows what happened last year. And now, my third year following the Cubs, the team has again locked up its division and is playoff-bound.
By getting to the playoffs for a third time in a row, the stat nuts are having a heyday. Stat nuts—my term—are those fans who can quote you any and every statistic having to do with what has happened on the professional baseball field since Jesus played first base. Stat nuts also thrive on challenging anyone within a mile radius with a barrage of baseball trivia questions. So right away the Cubs 3rd-year success story has broken several old stats dealing with the amount of times a team makes it to the playoffs, their chances of going beyond and what color uniform they should wear. It’s all very baseball and all very meaningful to the hard-core who follow the sport. I am not among them.
I have enjoyed watching the Cubs, especially this year in which extending the season was seriously in doubt at the All-Star break. I even know the names of most of the players and have grown to appreciate the “holiness” of Wrigley Field. I have learned a lot about the game these past three years, although there are still tons of strategy and positioning elements that soar over my head like a long fly ball. I would suggest, however, that the stat nuts begin tracking the Marc Factor. What’s that? Well, I figure since I’ve been aligned with the team, it has progressed each year. The Cubs seem to be peaking right now—perfect timing! And me? I have transformed into your typical baseball fan. I am an invested fan with emotional ties to “my” team. I am sure the Cub’s success is due to things like how many I’ve watched, whether or not I am wearing my cubs cap or t-shirt, the number of times I run to the fridge between innings and a lot of other stuff like that. Give them time and I know the stat nuts will come up with trivia questions all these factors and more. In the meantime…Go Cubbies!