Author Archives: Patrick Hanrahan

About Patrick Hanrahan

Patrick Hanrahan is a writer, editor, sometime musician and artist who is the founder and primary contributor to CubsFanTherapy.com.

Schwarber goes down but we stay upbeat

Some years that’s it. The slugging left fielder goes down, and three games into the season, we know. Cubs fans know. That’ll do it. Toast.

Shockingly, that wasn’t the reaction when Kyle Schwarber went down with a season-ending knee injury. Fans and pundits alike thought that the Cubs could weather this first big challenge.

There’s Jorge Soler and maybe even Matt Szczur to plug the hole in left. Super utility man Javier Baez is starting a rehab assignment. Miguel Montero will catch more, and then there’s always Wilson Contreras in Iowa.

After suffering through the Nate Schierholtz years, the current Cubs have this crazy thing called depth. Talented depth. They also have the prospects to make a bigger move if it’s warranted.

The front office should be applauded for not backing themselves into a corner in which Schwarber’s injury creates a major deficit. Theo Epstein and Co. didn’t feel the need to deal Soler to the Indians or any number of other teams to get a starter. They wanted to see what they had first. They also pulled off a major coup in bringing back Dexter Fowler after his failed courtship by the Orioles.

They signed Jason Heyward to play center between Schwarber and Soler, but he’s a better right fielder. Now, everyone settles into their best defensive position.

Of course I had just written about managing my lofty expectations for this Cubs team, and then Schwarber went down. Some other challenge will undoubtedly pop up. But we’re far from grabbing a fifth of SoCo and going to cry in the basement.

Even Schwarber knows that this Cubs team is still formidable.

Like Kyle, we can still sit back and enjoy the show.

Expectations bad for Cubs players, fans

“Life is a preparation for the future; and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.”
–Albert Einstein

We’ve heard it so many times: live in the moment, carpe diem, yada, yada, yada. But how the hell am I supposed to do that when the Cubs have won their first three games of the year in such convincing fashion?

After hearing “Wait till next year,” year after year, how am I supposed to watch this team win and not think that this is the year?

The Cubs are coming off an NLCS appearance after all. They have been deemed the favorite to win the World Series by major publications, and more importantly, Vegas.

How am I supposed to heed Albert’s advice and live without one eye on the future, on the champagne toast and victory parade in Chicago? We’re all thinking it, right? Even if we are too scared to say it out loud.

Manage expectations. Why as a fan should I? For the same reason that the Cubs players and coaches have to — because expectations corrupt.

If I don’t manage my expectations as a fan, if I ride the roller coaster of joy and despair after every game, nobody will suffer except me — oh, and my friends, and wife, probably my kids. But the Cubs will win or lose regardless.

If the Cubs don’t manage expectations, however, the whole thing can fall apart.

“The process is fearless, because I don’t want to spend time on the outcome,” Joe Maddon said recently. “For me, it’s really about staying in the moment and not worrying about the outcome of the game or managing toward the outcome. It doesn’t do anybody any good.”

It’s just a game. That’s what he’s saying. Just play the game. It’s like having a catch in the backyard. Watch the ball sail through the air, feel it snap into the glove. The laces, the grip, the movement, whoosh.

“At this time of the year, with me and the players, we’re going to be process-oriented, pitch by pitch,” Maddon said. “That’s the one that really gets you to the promised land. ‘The process is fearless,’ to me, is about that the process lacks emotion. And if you can keep emotion out of there, just go out there and play, avoid the ups and the downs, that’s your best chance to come back late, it’s your best chance to hold on to something late. That’s the part we try to get across to them.”

One of Maddon’s primary jobs this season will be to make sure that expectations do not corrupt this season, that they don’t sneak into the mindset of players and change how they play the game. Because it looks like if this team just lets itself play, lets its talent flow pitch by pitch, success will follow.

I’d like to try something similar as a fan — enjoy how these players hit and throw and catch, how they compete, how they make the most of each moment on the field. Forget the future, damn the past.

Let’s just play ball. When is game time?

geniewrigley

Would You Ask Genie For Cubs Title?

You’re walking along the North Avenue beach after a heavy storm trying to avoid the assorted beer cans and food detritus that has washed up when a blinding reflection causes you to avert your eyes. When you adjust you notice that the glimmer is coming from something oddly shaped, larger than the other crap and faintly gold. As you draw nearer you don’t believe your eyes. It’s a genie’s lamp, like a straight out of “Aladdin” or “I Dream Of Genie” lamp.

“No way,” you say and pick it up.

You look around … nobody. There’s no way you think and look around again.

“What the hell,” you say and give the lamp a rub. Nothing.

You laugh at yourself and start to wonder if you could give this to your grandma as a lame but free Christmas present when KAPOW! The top flies off the lamp and a giant glowing, but translucent genie pops out.

“Ppppploooooooeeeey,” he barks, spitting out water. “Yuck, yuck, yuck. That water had more fecal matter than a Chili Fest porta potty. People swim in that?”

“Uh, yeah, sometimes, when they don’t tell us not to,” you say.

“Disgusting,” he says. “All right, what do you want?”

“Want?” you say.

“Did you grow up in a cave?” he says. “Genies? Wishes? Sound familiar?”

“That’s real?” you say.

“Don’t I look real?” he says. “Pinch yourself. No, harder. A little harder. Really hard.”

“Ouch,” you yell.

“You appear to be slower than L.A. traffic passing a ‘Free Botox’ billboard,” he says. “What’ll it be? Fast car, hot wife, million dollars?”

“No need to be rude,” you say. “OK, give me a second.”

You wonder why you haven’t considered this question before. If you could have just three things … You smartly realize right away not to get into any more banter with the genie because that’s how they trick you into wishing for a cup of coffee while you think. Next thing you know you’re wearing a sombrero and have all the pineapples you’ll ever need, but you’re out of wishes.

So you consider … being rich? That’s got to be top of the list. Oh yeah, and world peace might be nice. But what is rich anyway? Should you put a number on it? What if he makes you the richest man in a village in Uganda? And world peace seems great but what if it comes at the cost of some kind of 1984 totalitarian society? Maybe that’s too complicated.

You’re getting confused. Suddenly the fast car, hot wife and million dollars is looking pretty good. You rack your brain. What is something that you’ve wanted your whole life? And then it hits you — the Cubs winning the World Series!

Ha! That’s it! You’re about to spit out that you want a billion U.S. dollars, the hot wife and the Cubs winning the World Series when something else needles you.

Would it be as fun if a genie made the Cubs win the title? Wouldn’t it be better if they did it on their own? Isn’t that kind of like cheating? But it would feel really really great. Oh man, now you’re really messed up. You start to rub your temples.

“I wish this was easier,” you whisper, and then looking up yell “No!”

“Done,” he shouts.

And the genie gives you a 1974 Oldsmobile, a $50 gift card to Outback and a date with your cousin’s transvestite friend.

So what would you do?

If you were granted three wishes by a genie, would one of them be a Cubs title?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Listen: A Cubs family anthem

With the regular season fast approaching, I’m working on some new Cubs/Chicago music. In the meantime, here’s a repost of last year’s tune about generations of Cubs fans and how we persevere:

It is FREE TO DOWNLOAD.

Hope you like it.


Clark and Addie’s Son

1908 when the Cubs are great
My great-grandad comes to the States

By ’18 he’s got himself a son
And they watch the Babe take the Cubbies down

’29 that son becomes a man
When everybody’s grapes just turn to wrath

He wonders “Is it worth it?”
A wrinkle on his brow
But he just sits back and grins
And this he says aloud

They say I’m a loser, but I think I won
Learnin’ this lesson since I was young
Life ain’t easy, but it sure is fun
I’m Clark and Addie’s son
Clark and Addie’s son
I’m Clark and Addie’s son
Clark and Addie

In ’32 he quietly watches Ruth
Call his shot on Charlie Root

In ’35 he could really cry
As 100 wins still come up shy

Then it’s ’38, it’s also not so great
As the Cubs go 0-4 against the Yanks

He wonders “Is it worth it?”
A wrinkle on his brow
But he just sits back and grins
And this he says aloud

They say I’m a loser, but I think I won
Learnin’ this lesson since I was young
Life ain’t easy, but it sure is fun
I’m Clark and Addie’s son
Clark and Addie’s son
I’m Clark and Addie’s son
Clark and Addie

By 1945 his son Clark’s at his side
As summer’s hopes hit October’s slide

Clark marries Addie, and then there’s me
We see black cats, Garvey at-bats and Alou let out a scream

Clark died last year, happy except one thing
He never got to see his Cubbies win that ring

And I wonder “Is it worth it?”
Did it bring him joy?
But I just sit back and grin
And say this to my boy

They say I’m a loser, but I think I won
Learnin’ this lesson since I was young
Life ain’t easy, but it sure is fun
I’m Clark and Addie’s son
Clark and Addie’s son
I’m Clark and Addie’s son
Yeah

© 2104 Patrick Hanrahan. All rights reserved.

You can reach me at Cubs Fan Therapy.

We can thank Banks for Cubs hope

I can picture the man upstairs whispering to Ernie Banks in the night.

“Your work is done, Ernie,” He says. “Time to come home.”

“What? Now? But the Cubs haven’t won the World Series,” Ernie says. “I’ve lived for the Cubbies almost my whole life. How can my work be done?”

“The World Series wasn’t your job, Ernie,” He says. “Your job was giving everyone hope, carrying the flame in the dark times, smiling in the face of hopelessness. The Cubs will be OK now. I promise.”

newyear

“I am tired,” Ernie says. “But I don’t want to miss the good times.”

“Ha,” God chortles. “You won’t miss anything. There’s PLENTY of Cubs fan up here remember. I’ve heard about 1969 more times than I can count. We’ve reserved the Heavendome to watch the World Series when the Cubs make it — seats a couple million — and we’ve got a front row seat reserved for you. Right next to a guy you might know, Ron Santo.”

Ernie smiles as only Ernie could smile, even in the face of death. “That does sound very nice,” he says.


I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that there might not be a Chicago Cubs these days without Ernie Banks. They easily could be in Fort Lauderdale, or at least Schaumburg. The sports world is littered with teams whose fan bases’ lost interest during prolonged losing, stopped buying tickets, refused to upgrade facilities and eventually let their teams float out of town on a sea of apathy.

Not the Cubs. They not only survived through last place finish after last place finish, they flourished, becoming more entrenched at Clark and Addison even as Wrigley Field started to crumble around them. Why? Because like every good fairy tale, they had a hero. They had someone who charged forward in the face of overwhelming adversity, who smiled in the face of doom, who offered the rarest of gifts to the downtrodden: hope. That someone was Ernie Banks.

The Cubs were one of the last teams to employ an African American player. Banks didn’t just break the color barrier in Chicago, he obliterated it. When he arrived from the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues in 1953, he appeared to be really glad to be in Chicago, and he never lost that wide-eyed joy of being paid to play baseball. Fans got that on a basic level that ran deeper than skin color, and they embraced Banks for it.

Nobody likes the person who makes it big and suddenly thinks he’s much better than the people he left behind. Even after the MVPs, Banks played with the enthusiasm of a rookie and spoke to fans like they were his next door neighbor.

Some have argued that Banks’ “Let’s play two” or “The Cubs will heavenly in sixty-seven-ly” phrases, the ever-present smile, the unwillingness to express frustration — even with civil rights issues — was a well-calculated act, even to the point of being Uncle Tom-ish.

I like to think that Banks looked around at the suffering in the world, acknowledged that the Cubs’ plight was a metaphor for people’s everyday frustration and DECIDED to be a beacon of hope. Like any good beacon he knew that there are no days off. The one day that the beacon goes dark is the one day that the ship crashes on the rocks.

So he didn’t use his platform to debate social injustice. So what? Do you really want to fault a man for showing us how to smile in the face of life’s challenges EVERY DAY, for DECADES. Try being Ernie Banks at your job this week. Stay upbeat, look for the good in things, keep smiling even when life is getting you down. I bet you — I bet I — can’t make it until lunch.

Banks kept it up every day in the face of repeated seventh-place finishes. Even 1969’s debacle didn’t wipe the smile from his face. Or retiring after 19 years in the big leagues and NEVER making the playoffs. And it rubbed off.

Fans stayed interested in the team. Cubs fans developed a stubborn resilience, a reputation for having a good time even when the ship was sinking … again. “Wait till next year” was said with real belief that things will get better.

We didn’t become apathetic, didn’t tune out. We did the opposite. We became more committed to seeing this thing through, 1969 or 2003 be damned. In large part we have Ernie Banks to thank for that hope. He kept the fire burning through the darkest time and shared that spark with all of us.


“Now’s the time Ernie,” God says.

“Let’s do it,” Ernie says. “If this is the way, I’m on board.”

“Just one more thing, Ernie,” God says. “I’ve been working on something. How about this? ‘In 1-5 the Cubs are alive, thanks to Banks.'”

“Hey that’s great,” Ernie beams. “That’s great.”

You can reach me at Patrick@CubsFanTherapy.com.

You Gotta Watch Baseball Punks

Another All-Star Game Weekend is in the books, with MLB trotting out all its fun and games like the Home Run Derby and Celebrity Softball that the league hopes will lure young viewers. And MLB needs young viewers.

Compared to the other major sports, the MLB audience looks like a country club that most people don’t belong to — it’s old, male and white. Half the MLB fans are over 50, and many look remarkably like commissioner Bud Selig.

The NBA crowd, on the other hand, looks like the blueprint that President Obama used to get elected: demographics split in quarters from young people to older people, multiracial, many more women.

MLB has been trying to address this with Fan Caves and social media, but they’ve got some work to do. They could start by really trying to get the length of games down, so a kid could actually see the ninth inning before bedtime, but I’m just dreaming.

In the meantime, we’ve got a marketing song that we think that commish Selig and his cronies could use to get the attention of the young folks. It seems like something he just might do. Click on the song “Watch Baseball Punk” in the player below. Enjoy and remember its FREE TO DOWNLOAD.


Watch Baseball Punk
Hey punk, don’t want to watch baseball?
It’s an old man’s game, you say?
Well, I’m here to tell you all
It’s the best way to spend a day

You won’t freeze your ass off like the NFL
Forget the cheerleaders, check out the clientele
Girls in next to nothing, do some people watching
Maybe the kiss cam is your thing

Not enough punk, still a game for old farts?
Well, have I got news for you
You ain’t so smart, where to start
Let me give you a clue

Watch the last two minutes of the NBA
The world can have soccer and hockey’s lame
But if you wanna waste a day, there’s really only one way
It’s baseball in the USA

© 2104 Patrick Hanrahan. All rights reserved.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.